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 be decorated for the holidays—just not the Thanksgiving holiday. You will be eased right into the Christmas spirit. The one exception to this is the Land Pavilion at Epcot, where pumpkins, gourds, and scarecrows are usually on display in Living With the Land and the Behind the Seeds Tour at Epcot.
Another thing you will see on Thanksgiving Day: crowds. Lots and lots of crowds. Thanksgiving Day is definitely a day 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.
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 will be serving turkey in one form or another. Virtually all of the Disney hotels will also be offering some type of Thanksgiving fare as well. Check out our list of Walt Disney World restaurants where you could celebrate Thanksgiving. Be sure to make dining reservations well in advance so you don't miss out.
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.
Attractions in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom
If you are feeling patriotic for Thanksgiving and will be in the Magic Kingdom, then check out the updated Hall of Presidents attraction (which includes President Donald Trump) in Liberty Square. You could also take a ride around the Rivers of America aboard the Liberty Square Riverboat.
Other Things to Do at the Magic Kingdom
There are other things to do at the all-American park to help get you in the holiday spirit:
- Visit Main Street U.S.A., the idealized turn-of-the-century American downtown as envisioned by the Imagineers.
- Board a fire truck, jitney, or other vehicle for a one-way drive down Main Street U.S.A.
- Visit the Old West of Frontierland and take a ride aboard Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or visit Tom Sawyer Island.
- Take a ride back in time aboard an old steam train on the Walt Disney World Railroad.
Check Out the Festive Decorations
Decorations for Christmas start going up in Disney World around the first week in November. The parks might not be completely dressed for Thanksgiving, but they should be be nearly complete. It’s an excellent time to get into the Christmas spirit. Plus, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party begins in November (although it is not scheduled to be held on Thanksgiving night). You could enjoy the party if you will be at the resort the following week.
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. Another benefit of staying at a Disney resort is if you buy a ton of stuff, you can have your purchased items delivered to your room and won't have to lug it around all day.
Check Out the Resorts
Several resorts go all out with their decorations. Disney's Grand Floridian has a spectacular, life-sized gingerbread house display. The Beach Club usually has a full-size chocolate carrousel with hidden Mickey's all around it. The Yacht Club resort has a railroad village covering one entire corner of the lobby. The Contemporary has special goodies for sale. The Christmas trees at the Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom lodges are massive.
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.
See the First Performance of Candlelight Processional
Hear the stirring story of Christmas—as told by a celebrity narrator, and accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and massed choir at Epcot. This dazzling presentation returns the day after Thanksgiving, November 27, and continues through December 30, 2020.