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Your Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Disney World

Thinking about going to Disney World for Christmas? Check out all of the fun ways to have a joyful holiday at Disney!

Christmas at Disney World is a magical and enchanted time, full of festive decorations and activities!

Mickey and Minnie characters in Christmas costumes aboard a parade float at Disney

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Every day is magical at Disney World, but Christmas at Disney World? That’s a whole new ballgame!

Planning a Disney vacation for the Christmas holidays is one of the best ways to spend time with your family and get into the holiday spirit.

Today I’m sharing all of the information that you need in order to plan an unforgettable trip. We have more tips for visiting Disney World in the winter, but today we’re talking all things Christmas!

From when the decorations are up, what holiday events are available, and how to book reservations ahead of time, we have it all!

Disney Christmas Holidays 

Planning a Disney Christmas trip can be a daunting task with so many great options to explore.

In this article, you’ll get an overview of everything that you need to know to make your Disney Christmas trip perfect!

When does Disney decorate for Christmas?  

If you’re wondering when Disney World decorates for Christmas, the answer is: sooner than you think!

The decorations at Walt Disney World Resort typically go up just after Halloween at Disney is over, and stay they usually stay up until early January.

This allows for plenty of time for visitors to enjoy them and to get in the holiday spirit!

What to expect during Christmas Time at Walt Disney World

There are so many fun things happening around the holidays at Disney World. Let’s take a look at each specific area.

a large wooden nutcracker on display for Christmas at Disney World in the Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom is adorned with festive decor as the park prepares for the holidays.

Throughout the park your family can enjoy special castle projections, holly jolly seasonal décor, and limited time treats.

Disney characters are decked out in their holiday finest for cavalcades and shows.

Nothing will get your family in the holiday spirit faster than visiting the Magic Kingdom!

The Magic Kingdom also has a special ticketed event this year called Disney Very Merriest After Hours where you can celebrate with character sightings, themed fireworks, tasty treats and more!

Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks show will also be on full display in the evening, which you won’t want to miss.

Mickey and Minnie characters on a Christmas parade float

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom’s holiday transformation includes the gorgeous Tree of Life Awakenings– Holiday Edition coming to life to celebrate the season.

Guests will enjoy seeing these characters sail down the Discovery River to a festive holiday soundtrack, including:

  • Santa Claus Flotilla
  • Donald’s Dino Bash Flotilla
  • Chip & Dale’s Festive Flotilla
  • Discovery Island Drummers Festive Flotilla 

The best place to see the decked out flotillas are on the bridges around the Animal Kingdom Park.

Be sure to also check out the Discovery Island luminaries, which are stunning!

tree of life awakenings at animal kingdom for christmas in disney world


One of the best places to spend Christmas at Disney is at Epcot’s World Showcase, where you can embrace holiday traditions, décor and cuisine from around the world.

The highlight of the season is the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays

Family-friendly experiences include seasonal décor, delicious flavors from Holiday Kitchens, inspirational music from the Voices of Liberty, and a tasty Holiday Cookie Stroll. 

In fact, we wrote an entire article about what to do at Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays, so you won’t miss any of the fun!

topiaries at Epcot during the Festival of the Holidays

Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios transforms into a magical place filled with lights and colors to celebrate Christmas holidays. 

Guests can enjoy daily shows including For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration with everyone’s favorite snowman, Olaf.

Minnie typically also serves a special meal during the holiday season at Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine. Although 2021 plans haven’t yet been announced, if this festive event occurs this year, you’ll definitely want to book reservations for this delicious dinner.

Make sure you also catch the Santa Claus Merry Motorcade, traveling up Hollywood Blvd. in his red convertible, packed with presents!

The Sunset Seasons Greetings is a captivating projection show on the Hollywood Tower Hotel, which your family is sure to love. 

lights displayed on the Hollywood Tower Hotel at Hollywood Studios, making it appear to be a wrapped Christmas present

Disney Springs & hotels

The holidays are the perfect time to visit the Disney hotels to see their Christmas trees and special decorations. Several locations have limited time snacks to enjoy as well.

Many people don’t realize that Christmas at Disney Springs is full of festive offerings.

From the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll full of decorated trees to the special holiday treats offered by restaurants, there’s something for everyone.

You can be inspired to create your own Disney themed Christmas trees at home (we love these Mickey Mouse Christmas tree ideas!)!

Is Disney World Crowded on Christmas Day?

Yes, Christmas Day is more crowded than you might think at Disney World! Typically, busy parks like the Magic Kingdom reach capacity fairly early in the day on Christmas.

If you’re planning to visit a park on actual Christmas Day, I recommend getting there an hour before they open, to make sure you are admitted.

Keep in mind that you may not be able to ride many rides and you’ll likely have longer lines.

I’d plan on staying most of the day, as you probably won’t be able to get back in if you leave mid-day.

Christmas decorations at Hollywood Studios in Disney World

Is it Worth Going to Disney at Christmas?

The week of Christmas Day through New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest times of the year at Disney World. If you don’t like crowds, I would recommend avoiding this week.

However, since the Disney Christmas festivities begin a few weeks before Christmas, you have plenty of time to enjoy the fun prior to Christmas! Mid-November or the first couple of weeks of December will typically be less crowded.

Enjoying Christmas at Disney World

We hope you enjoyed these ways to celebrate your Disney holiday vacation. Now that you know more about what to expect, you can get even more excited about spending Christmas at the Most Magical Place on Earth!

Be sure to check out our favorite Disney family shirts to see the Christmas-themed options!

If you’re planning a Disney Christmas, be sure to take advantage of the Disney payment plan options to make it more affordable.

More Disney Planning Resources:

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Hollywood Tower of Terror with lights displayed on it during Christmas at Hollywood Studios in Disney World, making it look like a Christmas present