If you're heading to Disney World for Thanksgiving, you'll find plenty to do to celebrate the holiday in the theme parks and resorts. The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom are all open on Thanksgiving Day, so pick your favorite park (or two) and join in the turkey-day fun. All of the parks will already be decorated for the holidays, so you can enjoy Thanksgiving and ease right into the Christmas spirit.
Another thing you will see on Thanksgiving Day: crowds. Thanksgiving Day is one of the busiest of the entire year, so it's definitely the moment for you to take advantage of ride reservations using Fastpass+, single rider lines, and the rider switch program to make the most of your holiday visit.
While all four of the Walt Disney World parks are open in 2020, special guidelines are in place. Tickets must be purchased in advance for a specific day and face masks must be worn at all times by guests aged 2 and older. In addition, some holiday attractions are not being offered, so confirm details with your resort or park employees.
Experience the American Adventure at Epcot
Epcot presents the American Adventure show, a memorable 30-minute journey through the history of America. This program, packed with innovative audio-animatronics, visual effects, and patriotic songs, is stunning any time of year, but Thanksgiving is the ideal time to be reminded of the country's humble beginnings—be on the lookout for the pilgrim vignette at the beginning of the presentation. The American Adventure theater seats 1,035 guests and everyone gets a great view of the show from any seat.
Feast on Thanksgiving Dinner
Just because you are on vacation doesn't mean you need to miss out on a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings. All of the restaurants in the Disney resorts and parks are open on the big day, and many of them typically serve turkey in one form or another. However, with updated guidelines for restaurants in 2020, the Thanksgiving plans for many Disney eateries have yet to be released. Confirm with individual restaurants or the concierge at your Disney hotel to find out exactly where you can enjoy a Thanksgiving meal.
One restaurant that has already confirmed its Thanksgiving menu for November 26, 2020, is the Whispering Canyon Cafe in Disney's Wilderness Lodge. Enjoy a traditional holiday meal with turkey and your favorite sides for a Thanksgiving dinner with a touch of Disney magic. Regardless of where you decide to eat, don't forget to make reservations for this especially busy day.
Grab Turkey on the Go
If you can't get a restaurant reservation (or don't want one), you can still grab a smoked turkey leg at the Frontierland Turkey Leg Cart in the Magic Kingdom and bypass the Thanksgiving meal entirely. You'll still enjoy a satisfying meal and be ready to hop aboard your favorite attractions with less of a wait. Time your rides at typical dinner times to avoid the longest lines.
If you go to the park early in the day, you can avoid the worst of the Thanksgiving Day crowds and have your big traditional Thanksgiving meal later.
Learn U.S. History at the Hall of Presidents
If you are feeling patriotic for Thanksgiving and will be in the Magic Kingdom, then check out the updated Hall of Presidents attraction in Liberty Square. Abraham Lincoln is the main star of the show, but guests can see and hear animatronic versions of all of America's presidents. The life-like displays are accompanied by a 25-minute film created by a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian telling the story of America's founding, which runs continuously throughout the day.
Check Out the Festive Decorations
Thanksgiving is usually considered the unofficial start of the holiday season, and Walt Disney World starts decorating in early November so the majority of the park is all dressed up by Thanksgiving. It's an excellent time to get into the Christmas spirit with colorful lights, seasonal parades, and a special holiday-themed fireworks show every night. Special holiday events also begin to take place starting around Thanksgiving, and even the characters around the park dress up in festive gear.
One of the most popular holiday events, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, is canceled in 2020. The nightly parades around the park have also been temporarily put on hold until further notice.
Start Your Christmas Shopping
Give your loved ones the gift of Disney magic. Shop for authentic Disney Parks merchandise including toys, apparel, and more. It is the perfect time to get collectible pins, designer MagicBands, and customized Mickey Mouse ears. You can't go wrong with gifts from Disney World, especially those that are customized with names or made on the premises. If you're staying at one of the Disney resorts, ask about your purchased items being delivered directly to your room so you don't have to lug them around all day.
Check Out the Resorts
Several resorts go all out with their decorations. Disney's Grand Floridian is perhaps the most festive place to stay during the holiday season thanks to its spectacular life-sized gingerbread house display. For a frame of reference, the gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian requires 1,050 pounds of honey, 700 pounds of chocolate, 600 pounds of confectioner’s sugar, 35 pounds of spices, 800 pounds of flour, 140 pints of egg whites, and 180 pounds of apricot glaze.
The Yacht Club Resort has a railroad village covering one entire corner of the lobby, and The Contemporary Resort has special goodies for sale. The Christmas trees at the Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge are massive. The Beach Club usually has a full-size chocolate carrousel with hidden Mickey's all around it, although this resort is closed in 2020 until further notice.
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays
Join in a spirited celebration of joyful traditions during the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays at the World Showcase, which kicks off the day after Thanksgiving and runs until the end of December, from November 27 to December 30, 2020.
Discover a festival that features the holiday traditions of 11 different cultures around the world to experience the festivities from both near and afar. Delight in stirring live musical productions, savor seasonal food and beverage specialties at the expanded holiday kitchens, and take a festive global tour as costumed performers bring time-honored traditions to life throughout the world showcase.
See the First Performance of Candlelight Processional
The Candlelight Processional is canceled in 2020.
Hear the stirring story of Christmas as told by a celebrity narrator and accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and massed choir at Epcot during the Candlelight Processional. This dazzling presentation returns the day after Thanksgiving.