Winter Holidays at Walt Disney World: What’s New in 2016

2016-winter-holiday-happenings-at-walt-disney-worldDeck the halls! Walt Disney World Resort does that and plenty more this holiday season – turning up the yuletide magic with new shows, thrilling spectaculars, beloved characters to create lasting memories, yummy and festive holiday treats, and theme parks and resort hotels all aglitter with holly, jolly decorations.

Here’s a sampling of the holiday fun in store for guests:

Magic Kingdom

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party: It’s a Christmas party like no other, with joyful music, a shimmering Cinderella Castle, characters in their festive finery and the Magic Kingdom decked out and even more magical for merry-making guests of all ages. Disney princes join princesses at Princess Fairytale Hall. Guests can meet Nick and Judy from “Zootopia” in Tomorrowland. The special party – complete with cookies, cocoa and snow flurries – begins at 7 p.m., after regular park hours. Dates for this year:

November 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 18, 27, 29

December 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 22

For more information and to purchase tickets for this after-hours spectacular:


All new! Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration: New to the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Mickey and his pals host some of their friends for an unforgettable Christmas soiree filled with medleys of delightful classic and contemporary holiday songs, and magical holiday projections on Cinderella Castle building to a sensational, snowy finale. (Also available Dec. 23 – 31 during regular park operating hours).

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade: The enchanting holiday parade during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party transforms Main Street, U.S.A. Santa Claus, gingerbread men, elves, reindeer, toy soldiers and other friends from the North Pole join Mickey and his pals. Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf from “Frozen” join in the fun.


A Frozen Holiday Wish (Castle Dream Lights): This season, the wintry wonder and magic of Disney’s blockbuster “Frozen” enchants park guests as Queen Elsa transforms Cinderella Castle into a glimmering, shimmering ice palace for the holidays.

Holiday Wishes – Celebrate the Spirit of the Season: The night sky bursts with color high above Cinderella Castle with a holiday fireworks spectacular.


New Holidays Around the World Marketplaces – Explore what the holidays taste like around the globe at five new marketplaces: indulge in duck confit and dumplings from the Alpine Haus Marketplace, celebrate with the shredded beef tamale from the Three Kings Feast Marketplace, toast with Williams Punch from the Germany Marketplace, and more.

Prost!: Germany Pavilion

  • Artisan Cheese Plate
  • Sauerbraten with Red Cabbage and Spatzle
  • Alcoholic Ciders
  • Williams Punch (hot)
  • Caramel Kiss (Werther’s Caramel and gluwein)

American Holiday Table: American Adventure Pavilion

  • Slow Roasted Turkey with Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, and Cranberry Sauce
  • Seared Pork Tenderloin with Green Bean Casserole, Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges, and a Champagne demi-glace.
  • Shipyard Eggnog White Porter Aged on Bourbon
  • Firenog (Eggnog with Fireball Whisky)
  • Great American Wine Company Red Blend
  • Great American Wine Company Chardonnay
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Eggnog
  • Cocoa Candy Cane (Hot Chocolate with Peppermint Schnapps)

Alpine Haus: Between Morocco and France

  • Duck Confit
  • Dumplings and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with a Fig Reduction
  • Cheese Fondue in a Bread Bowl with Fresh Steamed Vegetables
  • Sachertorte (A Chocolate Cake with Apricot Jam and Dark Chocolate Glaze)
  • Frozen Winter Spice Hot Chocolate featuring Twinings of London Tea (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)
  • Weingut Stadt Krems Gruner Vetliner White Wine
  • Heinrich Red Blend

Seasonal Southern Delights: Near World Showcase Plaza

  • Hoppin’ John (Black-Eyed Peas, Ham Hocks, and Kale with Rice, and Cornbread Crumbles)
  • Blackened Catfish with White Cheddar Grits with Okra, Tomato, and Onion Stew
  • Chocolate Pecan Tart
  • Frozen S’mores
  • Central 28 Beers

Three Kings Feast: Near World Showcase Plaza

  • Shredded Beef Tamale with Avocado Crema
  • Roasted Pork with Mashed Yucca and Pickled Green Bananas
  • Three Kings Bread
  • Coquito (Coconut Milk)
  • Coquito with a Rum Floater


Holidays Around the World entertainment – Enjoy the sights and sounds of the nations of World Showcase, as each country’s holiday heritage comes to life amid joyful music and time-honored traditions.


A cherished Epcot tradition, the Candlelight Processional captures the spirit of the season in the retelling of the Christmas story by celebrity narrators, accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and choir. The Candlelight Processional is performed three times each evening, 5:00, 6:45 and 8 p.m. at America Gardens Theatre from Nov. 25-Dec. 30. Narrators in 2016 include Neil Patrick Harris, Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Meredith Vieira, and Cal. Ripken, Jr. Candlelight dinner packages are available through


Disney’s Hollywood Studios

An all-new nighttime spectacular, “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!,” premieres at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Nov. 14-Dec. 31, sending beloved Disney animated characters on a spirited yuletide adventure to get Santa back to the North Pole in time for Christmas Eve. “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” combines state-of-the-art projections, fireworks, special effects and Christmas music to create a dazzling, one-of-a-kind holiday experience for guests – capped by a special message from Santa himself.


A new dessert party themed to the show will be offered nightly, one hour prior to each performance, in the courtyard of the Chinese Theater. Guests who book the “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” Holiday Party enjoy holiday-inspired snacks, decadent desserts and specialty beverages. Guests can call 407/WDW-DINE or visit to reserve their spot (November 14 – December 17, $69 adults, $39 children, including taxes and gratuities; December 18-31 $79 adults, $45 children, including taxes and gratuities).

New for 2016 is the opportunity to meet Santa Claus at the Once Upon a Time shop. The beautiful and vintage setting reflects the bygone days of Santa’s visits to the great department stores across the country.

During the holiday season, “Tinsel Town” takes on a new meaning at the theme park celebrating the magic of movies and television. A giant Christmas tree towers over the main entrance, holiday displays capture the imagination, shops along Hollywood Boulevard welcome holiday shoppers and colorful garlands and lights sparkle throughout the park.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Disney’s adventure park presents holiday themes in a whole new “dark,” with new daytime-into-night experiences, including Tree of Life transformations, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Kali Rivers Rapids and Expedition Everest.  For the holidays:

Guests will be greeted, at the park’s entrance, by a dramatic, animal-themed holiday tree.

Mickey and Minnie don their holiday best to meet and greet guests at Adventurers Outpost. Their friends Santa Goofy, Baloo, King Louie, Donald and Chip and Dale also show off their holiday finest.

Disney Springs

With a multi-year makeover nearly complete, every corner of Disney Springs is wrapped and ready for its first full season of holiday cheer. Disney Springs becomes “the place to be” as each of its four neighborhoods is transformed through festive décor, entertainment and holiday shopping at exciting new retail locations, from name-brand to cozy boutiques to everything in between.


A sampling of what’s new:

Disney Springs’ Christmas Tree Trail: From November 11 through January 8, Marketplace guests can stroll among 15 custom decorated holiday trees, each dedicated to a popular Disney theme. During this walk-through experience, you’ll wind through a winter wonderland, where you’ll see toy soldiers, singers, snowfall, and lots of photo opportunities. Here’s the list of themes that each tree will be decorated as:

  • Mickey and Minnie Mouse
  • Disney Villains
  • Moana
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • The Little Mermaid
  • Cinderella
  • The Princess and the Frog
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Frozen
  • The Jungle Book
  • Mulan
  • 101 Dalmatians
  • Tangled
  • Mary Poppins
  • The Muppets

At the Once Upon a Toy Fountain (Marketplace), toys have magically come alive for an interactive holiday dance party nightly on the plaza. There’s pin trading, a nightly tree lighting ceremony and more.


Marketplace will be a holiday shopper’s delight. Seasonal offerings will fill shelves at Disney’s Days of Christmas, Art of Disney, Wonderful World of Memories, Marketplace Fun Finds and Marketplace Co-Op. Goofy’s Candy Co. is the place for yummy holiday treats. At Art of Disney, guests can find sketch artists doing holiday artwork. Meantime, some of the most recognizable names in retailing have opened their doors at Town Center, alongside venues unique to central Florida.

At Every Corner of Our World: Holiday Displays

Disney bakers and magic-makers transform Disney resort hotels and theme parks for the holidays. Just a few of the festive sights to greet guests:

Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will feature an African Marketplace – made of gingerbread.

Guests of Disney’s Contemporary Resort (Grand Canyon Concourse) will marvel at a world of majestic mountains and fjords anchored by a 17-foot-tall Gingerbread Holiday Ice Castle, inspired by Frozen and adorned with sugar snowflakes, gingerbread shingles and chocolate-coated trees.

An annual treat, a life-sized holiday gingerbread house, is an eye-filling (and aroma-savoring) sight in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. The Bake Shop uses a classic gingerbread recipe from Austria for its cookies and ornaments.


A life-sized, edible spinning carousel is a holiday tradition at Disney’s Beach Club Resort while a holiday village with miniature train holds forth at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.

No holiday is complete without a special dining experience. Holiday menus that celebrate the season may be found at restaurants throughout Walt Disney World Resort. For holiday dining information and reservations, call 407 WDW-DINE.

Photos courtesy of Disney

26 thoughts on "Winter Holidays at Walt Disney World: What’s New in 2016"

  1. Love having this info all in one place for our upcoming trip!!

  2. I wish Duffy could have stayed at the parks…

  3. Geraldine Blerot Deirdre Blerot

  4. Faye Menage Angela Baechler

  5. Amie Diane Hallissey Ellen Waldron Hallissey

  6. Ellen Kristinek Kelly Ramsey! It’s getting close!!

  7. Amy Li says:

    Jen Everett-Bowlby Joy Bevilacqua Alycia Bevilacqua Daniel Bevilacqua a good summary of the Christmas stuff to see.

  8. Amy Snyder says:

    Bobbi Hancock Weaver

  9. Ann Marie Vitello Hanes
    Joseph Vitello

  10. As busy as Disney is during the holidays, it still ranks as my favourite time to visit. A Disney Christmas is so Magical. Some of our best family memories were made during the holidays with Mickey & Friends!

  11. Micah Harp, Emalee Powell

  12. I wish it expensive this time of the year

  13. Heidi Kelzenberg, firenog!!

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