It may be the most magical time of the year but Christmas time is also one of the busiest times of the year at Walt Disney World. So should you even be considering a Disney vacation at Christmas? Many would say that the answer is a definite yes! Yes the lines may be long and the parks sometimes full to capacity but many guests feel that the magic of Disney at Christmas is worth joining the crowds.
There are so many special displays and events in Disney World at Holiday time that any visit is going to be extra special. Look out for special parades at Magic Kingdom and Disney”s Animal Kingdom. Or if you are there in the time before Christmas week consider if Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party would be a good choice.
Photo courtesy joe penniston
As always with a Disney vacation a little planning goes a long way. This is even more important at this special time of year. In particular if you want to dine at a Disney restaurant you may make Advance Dining Reservations. At the moment you can only do this 90 days in advance but this is set to chance on 27th October 2009 to as far in advance as 180 days. Disney resort guests have an advantage as they can make reservations for up to 10 days of their stay. To make an Advance Dining Reservation call 407 WDW DINE or book online with Disney. Gone seem to be the days when you could leave your dining plans to the last moment. Restaurants do get booked up well in advance so make your reservations as far ahead as you can.
Disney World operates Holiday Prices (that is of course increased pricing) for the season from 16th December until 3rd January. So you may find your meals costing a little more than usual. Always check when you make your Advance Dining Reservations.
Photo courtesy of amandaB3
The parking lots do reach capacity at Disney World at Christmas and New Year so you really do need to arrive early. If you can then arrive before opening time to be sure you will get in. They will also close the parks if they reach capacity – yes it really does happen. I know this from personal experience one Christmas time and it was not a magical moment! For this reason it is better not to consider park hopping at these busy times. You may leave one park and then find you can’t get into another! This applies to all Disney guests even those staying in the resorts. If they have reached capacity fire codes dictate that no more guests can get into the parks.
Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party
Photo Courtesy of steve-stevens
You may have heard of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and wondered if it was worth the extra expense.This is a separately ticketed Disney event held every year on select nights in the run up to Christmas. So you need to buy a separate ticket for this event specifically for the Very Merry Christmas Party.â€¨â€¨Tickets go on sale early each year and many dates sell out. Whilst this is a wonderful and very popular event, guests should be aware that Mickey’s Christmas Party is very popular and it can get pretty crowded. So don’t go expecting lines to be shorter as more often than not the waits for the rides can be pretty long. But do go if you want the great Christmas events and atmosphere.
Most guests say that Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a good bet if you are visiting before Christmas and want to get into the Holiday mood. The 2010 tickets are now on sale – get them early as they do sell out. Dates for 2010 are:
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party starts at 7pm and closes at midnight. Officially you can’t enter Magic Kingdom prior to 7pm with just the party ticket but some guests have reported in previous years that they have got in earlier than that. But don’t plan on it!
ADVANCE PURCHASE: Adults: $57.46; Children 3-9 $51.07 (not available Dec 7, 10, 12 and 19th,)
DAY OF EVENT (IF AVAILABLE): Adults $63.85 Children 3-9 $57.46
ANNUAL PASSHOLDER AND DVC DISCOUNTS: Adults $53.20; Children 3-9 $46.81 available only for the following dates: Nov 8,11, 12, 16, 18, 19, 28 and 30th; Dec 2, 3, 5 and 9th.
All prices do include taxes.
If you have a particular day in mind then buy your tickets as early as possible as some dates, particularly those closer to Christmas and at weekends, do sell out. Of course you can expect those dates to be pretty crowded too so perhaps it is best if you go expecting the party spirit but with long lines for the rides.
Is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party worth it? Well most guests agree that it is as it gives you the chance to get that wonderful Holiday atmosphere in the build up to Christmas. Disney World is a very special place to be at Christmas.But if you are going to be at Disney for the days just prior to Christmas right up to New Years Eve as well then you will get all of the benefits of the parade,fireworks, snow on Main Street as part of your regular Magic Kingdom Admission.
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights
Photo Courtesy of dreamagicjp
The amazing Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights event is held every year at Disney Hollywood Studios. In 2010 it will run November 8th 2009 to January 4th 2011. This particular Disney Christmas tradition has an interesting story. Since 1995 the Osborne Family Lights have been lighting up the streets of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The story begins with Jennings Osborne, a Little Rock, Arkansas, businessman who put up Christmas lights for his young daughter. Over the years the display got big. Well huge really. Mr Osborne bought the 2 homes next door for his amazing display which consisted of 3 million lights! The neighbors didn’t share his enthusiasm for the lights and took him to court. The Arkansas Supreme Court declared them a public nuisance and he was fined and given a suspended jail sentence.Disney World stepped in to rescue the Osborne Family lights which have been displayed at Disney Hollywood Studios ever since.
The display now has 5 million lights, and 66 snow machines! They were renamed the Dancing Lights in 2006 – some of the lights are now animated and appear to ‘dance’ to the music!
The display is free as part of your admission to Disney Hollywood Studios. They are located in the Streets of America backlot and each night there is a lighting ceremony.
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights have become a favorite Christmas tradition for Disney World and are well worth a visit. Be sure to check them out if you are visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Christmas and New Year.
Disney Christmas Decorations
Disney certainly knows how to decorate for Christmas! Each park has a huge Christmas tree with it’s own individual theme. The Christmas tree at EPCOT, just over the bridge of the entrance to World Showcase, has presents representing all the nations included in EPCOT.
Decorations usually start going up in the park by mid November at the time that Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party starts. So this year they should be starting around 10th November to appear in the parks. Much of the work is done at night so of course the results seem to magically appear in the morning when you arrive at the park.
It a great time to visit from this time onwards as the decorations for Christmas make Disney an even more magical place! If you can possibly visit the first 2 weeks of December, following Thanksgiving, then you will find crowds and relatively light. You get all the benefit of the Christmas decorations without the long lines of the Holiday Season.
There is a short Christmas tree lighting ceremony each day at 6pm in EPCOT. Christmas time at EPCOT is a particularly magical time. Each of the World Showcase countries has it’s own Christmas celebration which runs from November 26th to December 30th 2010. Each country has it’s own storyteller who will give you an insight into their heritage and Holiday celebrations. Make sure that you stop by the beautiful Christmas shop in the German pavillion which is full of amazing decorations for the Holidays.
Epcot Candlelight Processional
Photo Courtesy of amandaB3
A spectacular event of mass choir and orchestra held in EPCOT’s America Garden’s Theater just in front of the USA pavillion in the World Showcase.¨The Candlelight Processional is free on a first come first served basis as there is limited seating in this undercover, but outdoor venue. If you can’t get a seat then it can be a good idea just to stand at the back for a while and listen to this spectacular event. It can get a little cold at that time of year so try a hot chocolate drink to get into the spirit of Christmas!
The Candlelight Processional begins on November 26th and ends on December 30th 2010. The scheduled guest narrators for this year are:
26th to 28th November – Isabella Rossellini
29th November to 1st December – Not Yet Announced
2nd December to 4th December – Frank Langella
5th December to 6th December – Ed Asner
7th December to 9th December – Jodi Benson
10th December to 11th December – Whoopi Goldberg
12th December to 15th December – Steve Curtis Chapman
16th December to 18th December – Thomas Gibson
19th December to 21st December – Trace Atkins
22nd December to 23rd December – Brad Garrett
24th December to 27th December – Edward James Olmos
28th December to 30th December – Marlee Martin with sign language interpreter Jack Jason
If you do want to reserve seating then a Candlelight Processional Dinner Package is available by calling 407 WDW DINE or by booking online.
The Theater is small and it is often difficult to get a seat – so the only way to guarantee a seat is by booking the Package which also includes access to a preferred viewing area for Epcot Illuminations Reflections of Earth.
Seating in the Theater for the dining package is in 3 different tiers according to which restaurant you choose. You eat your dinner before the Candlelight Processional and reservations are available in all the World Showcase restaurants. Prices vary according to which one you choose. The prices range from $32.99 to $51.99 for lunch for adults or $44.99 to $58.99 for dinner. Child places are available at discounted rates. If you have the Disney Dining Plan you can use two of your credits for the Candlelight Processional Package.
Disney Resort Hotels at Christmas
Photo Courtesy of tcarter81
It can be a lot of fun to spend some time in a Disney resort hotel at Christmas – even if you are not a guest there. Every hotel has wonderful decorations. One of my favorite places to visit is Disney World Grand Floridian which has a huge tree in the lobby which has to be seen to be believed. And look out for the Gingerbread House too – a Disney chef Holiday tradition.