For me, every trip to Disney is magical. It’s a chance to see the world through my inner child’s eyes and the opportunity to create new magical memories. Yet if there was one time of year where the magic seems to fill the air, and wonder is all around, I’d say it’s when I visit during the Christmas season. Once the decorations go up and the festive music starts playing, the most magical place on earth becomes the most merriest place to be!
Now I know it’s July, and Christmas is still half a year away, but I thought it would be a good time to look back on the holiday celebrations that happened in 2019 and add a little Disney Christmas Spirit to 2020.
As Walt Disney World has begun their phased reopening, we do not yet know if all of these experiences will be available for 2020. Yet, hopefully this blog can help inspire you for some holiday activities to enjoy on a future trip!
Here are the 5 ways I LOVE to celebrate the holidays at Disney.
1. Resort Decorations
Wow! When Disney decides to decorate, the focus is on the details. Each resort’s theming is seamlessly woven into their holiday decorations.
Be it a ship’s steering wheel on a tree at Disney’s Beach Club Villas, a mini replica of Disney’s Boardwalk made out of gingerbread, or tropical flowers adorning the wreaths throughout Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, each set of decorations are sure to impress.
When I visit Disney during the holiday season, I make it a point to tour around to each of the DVC resorts and see their decorations.
Often times, people will talk about the gorgeous tree at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House at over 40 feet tall, and last year when I saw it in person, it did not disappoint. It was a beautiful sight to see.
Of course, talking about resort decoctions wouldn’t be complete without highlighting the decadent, delicious, and all-around impressive gingerbread house at Disney’s Grand Floridian!
With this tradition having begun in 1999, last year was the 20th anniversary for the Grand Floridian full-size gingerbread house. As soon as I entered into the main building, I was greeted by the smell of sweet gingerbread in the air. Cast Members sell a variety of treats from within the house, and I could spend hours staring at all of the amazing details that are part of its design.
2. Holiday Snacks
I’m no foodie, but I LOVE food, and holiday treats are no exception! Be it a gingerbread treat, or a themed dessert, there were more than a few offerings to enjoy.
While touring around Walt Disney World, it gave me the perfect opportunity to indulge in some of the festive fare. A gingerbread cookie has always been my go-to snack, but last year I heard talk of a s’mores cookie (available from the Gingerbread House at Disney’s Grand Floridian) and let me tell you it was ooey-gooey scrumptious! This large chocolate chip cookie served as a perfect base to add a layer of toasted marshmallow, and it was topped off with mini M&Ms. If I was to sum up the cookie in one word, it would be “Yum!”
3. Park Decorations
In addition to the resorts being decorated, guests can also enjoy decorations at the theme parks. Each park has a giant Christmas tree, as well as a variety of other festive decors.
There’s garland hanging across Sunset Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and countless lights twinkling on the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street U.S.A.
If time allows, I’d recommend seeing the park decorations in daylight and after the sun goes down. During the day, the dark greens and pops of colors offer picture-perfect opportunities with a blue-sky background. Then in the evening when the lights come on, and Cinderella Castle shines from the middle of the Magic Kingdom, it’s a whole other beautiful experience!
I’ve always said that I can never have too many photos of Cinderella castle, and seeing it lit up for the holidays is no exception! I found it to be gorgeous!
4. Character Sightings and Festive Performances
For me, no trip to Disney is complete without waving at Mickey and friends or watching some great performers.
Being at WDW during the holidays adds a whole new level of fun as characters can be seen in holiday attire, and there are some amazing performances to watch. Some of these experiences are part of separate ticketed events, like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, yet others are included in your park admission. For example, last year, there was the Candlelight Processional at Epcot, Voices of Liberty, the Main Street Trolley Show, and the Dapper Dans; all of these acts added in holiday magic to their performances without any additional cost above a park ticket. Guests could choose to make an entire evening enjoying a large-scale performance such as the Candlelight Processional, or there were smaller more in-the-moment performances of stopping and listing to the Dapper Dans on Main Street. Both styles of performers offered a great way to add some extra Christmas spirit to your vacation.
5. Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail
Last but not least, is the Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs! This pathway with more than 20 themed trees was a perfect mix of Christmas and Disney!
Each tree had its own specialized Disney theme, some pulled inspirations from movies, while others choose to highlight WDW attractions. I easily spent hours looking at these trees!
In 2019 the Christmas Tree Trail was open from November 8th through to January 5th, 2020, and guests could enjoy the trail daily from 11:00 am-11:00 pm.
Throughout my week-long visit, I found myself back at the trail on three separate occasions, just so I could see it one more time!
Yes, every WDW trip is magical, but for me, being there when the Christmas lights are on, there’s the smell of gingerbread in the air, and every resort is decorated, makes it the most merriest time of the year!