Christmas at Disney World has dazzling decorations, holiday lights and special events, starting in late November. Yes, the theme parks are crowded; but during peak weeks Magic Kingdom stays open as late as midnight, with extra parades and special fireworks. Almost all special events are included with regular park admission. Many people consider "Disney Christmas" one of the best times to visit Disney World.
The Magic Kingdom is Disney's iconic theme park, with several versions around the globe. It's the most popular of the four theme parks at Disney World, and especially beloved by families with little kids.
The park entrance leads to at Main Street USA, seen above with Cinderella's Castle in the background. A tree-lighting ceremony takes place most nights.
Castle Dream Lights
Cinderella's Castle is the focal point of the Magic Kingdom's night-time festivities, and the emblematic image of Disney World. Extra sparkle starts as early as the second week in November: over 200,000 lights twinkle, and every night, the "Castle Dream Lights" show lights up, featuring Disney characters.
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Wishes Fireworks, Magic Kingdom
On any night of the year, families love watch the "Wishes" fireworks over the Cinderella Castle, in the Magic Kingdom. At Christmas, "Wishes" has a special version, "Holiday Wishes--Celebrate the Spirit of the Season".
Billed as a "night-time spectacular", Wishes has fireworks orchestrated to holiday tunes. Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio, Cinderella, Ariel, Peter Pan and other Disney characters appear amid pyrotechnic effects.
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Wishes Fireworks, Over Cinderella's Castle
Another view of the special holiday version of the nightly Wishes fireworks show, in the Magic Kingdom.
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Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is a special-ticketed event held in the Magic Kingdom theme park on multiple evenings in November and December, complete with snow flurries on Main Street and hot cocoa. The theme park is open only to Party guests.
Popular attractions are open; these special ticketed parties (-- there's a Halloween party, too --) are a great chance to ride the best rides without long line-ups.
The highlight of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is "Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade" (shown above.) The Party also has live holiday stage shows featuring characters such as Buzz Lightyear and Stitch, and special Holiday Wishes fireworks.
Sample advance prices for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party: $55.38 with tax for adults, $48.99 for ages 3-9. Buy tickets early! See details.
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Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade starts the holiday season as part of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (- a special-ticketed event.) After the Party dates are finished, the Parade continues nightly, for all Magic Kingdom theme park guests.
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Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade - Toy Soldiers
Toy soldiers from "Babes in Toyland" -- the classic Disney movie, from 1961-- are a tradition in "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade"; above, they march down Main Street, U.S.A.
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Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade - Santa's Sleigh
Santa makes an impressive appearance during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade.
See more about Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade; you can also check Youtube for videos.
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Holidays Around The World - Epcot Theme Park
At any time of year it's fun to tour the world at Epcot, by visiting the pavilions from 11 different countries around the World Showcase Lagoon.
During December, all the countries in the World Showcase present their Christmas traditions. Kids can enjoy storytelling and different celebrations at each "country".
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Candlelight Processional - Epcot Theme Park
The "Candlelight Processional" -- a major Disney Christmas highlight-- takes place in the Epcot theme park: a celebrity narrator retells the Christmas story, accompanied by a choir and a 50-piece orchestra.
The Candlelight Processional is included with Epcot park admission, and is performed several times nightly in the America Gardens Theater in the World Showcase. (This is an uncovered venue; concerts take place regardless of the weather.)
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Candlelight Processional - Celebrity Narrator
Every year, a set of celebrity narrators is announced for the Candlelight Processional performances. Edward James Olmes (above) is one of several celebrities who's narrated the Christmas story on multiple years. (Read more about the Candlelight Processional at Epcot.)
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More Disney Christmas at Epcot
Also at the Epcot theme park, during the holiday season:
- Mickey's Tree Lighting Treat: every evening, Mickey and friends light a Christmas Tree in the World Showcase Plaza
- Lights of Winter: a musical light show happens nightly at the World Showcase Plaza
- Special IllumiNations: year-round, families love to end their night at Epcot by watching "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth", the laser light and fireworks show that lights up the lagoon in the World Showcase area of the theme park. During the Holiday Season, IllumiNations has a special finale that includes the classic song "Let There Be Peace On Earth".
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Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
Another star attraction during Christmas at Disney World is the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, in Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.
Millions of lights shine in the Streets of America backlot area of the theme park, and get even more sparkly during the nightly falling snow.
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Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights - Background
The history of this lights display goes back to Little Rock Arkansas in 1986, when businessman Jennings Osborne (above) strung up 1000 red lights for his 6-year-old daughter.
The display grew every year, so much so that-- by the time it reached 3 million lights-- the neighbors took legal action! Fortunately, the whole thing moved to Disney World. Now guests enjoy 5 million lights in on trees, carousels, Mickey, Santa, and lots more, and the Spectacle of Lights is a major feature of Christmas at Disney World.
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Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights upgraded to the "Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights": choreographed “dancing” lights swirl to a medley of classic holiday music; snow flurries, too.
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Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights - Angels
The Osborne lights can be seen from mid-November to early January. It's all part of your general admission to the Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.
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Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights - Reindeer in Sky
Above: few more thousand of the millions of lights that make up this gigantic lights display (Read more about the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.)
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Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade - Animal Kingdom
Over in the Animal Kingdom theme park, the daily parade gets a holiday makeover: Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade turns into Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade for the Disney Christmas weeks.
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Disney's Wilderness Lodge, Giant Christmas Tree
Disney World has over twenty themed resorts ranging from Value (which really are great value) to Moderate, to Deluxe Resorts, and suites at Vacation Club Resorts, plus the unique Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. Guests at any of these properties get all the Perks of Staying at a Disney Resort.
All the resorts get decorated for the Holiday Season. The Christmas Tree above is in the lobby of Disney's Wilderness Resort, a Deluxe resort with a location close to the Magic Kingdom, the venue for so many special Disney Christmas events. Guests at the Wilderness Resort can take a boat ride to Magic Kingdom. (Read more about Disney World Resorts - by Location, and Resorts near Magic Kingdom).
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Disney's Beach Club Resort: Carousel
It's an annual tradition, at Disney's Beach Club Resort: a full-size carousel made with delectable treats. Ponies made of chocolate, giant candy cane poles... The spinning carousel above was created by Disney Pastry Chef Stefan Riemer and his team, part of a theme of edible displays that can be found at Disney World.
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Giant Gingerbread House
Another example of the amazing edible creations to be found at Christmas at Disney World resorts. This giant gingerbread house is at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
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Disney's Grand Floridian Resort: Giant Tree, Gingerbread House
View of the giant Christmas Tree and gingerbread house in the multi-story grand lobby of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
This resort is one of several that are ideally located near the Magic Kingdom theme park: guests can take a short boat ride to the Magic Kingdom, where so many Disney Christmas events take place. Also, a monorail runs directly from the Grand Floridian to both the Magic Kingdom and the Epcot theme parks.
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Animal Kingdom Lodge Decorations
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of the most stunning resorts at Disney World: not only does it have savannas outside with giraffes and other African animals, the architecture of the resort and its decor and artifacts are magnificent.