Complete Guide to Disney World During Christmas Time

Complete Guide to Disney World During Christmas Time

This article is your ultimate holiday guide to Disney World during Christmas time in 2021! There is simply no getting around it, a Disney Christmas is … so magical. There is no doubt that Christmastime is the most popular time to visit Walt Disney World. Between the Christmas lights, food, and all-around atmosphere, there’s no beating it!

In this article we’re going to break down everything you need to know about Disney World at Christmas time including the Magic Kingdom Christmas guide, the best Disney parks during Christmas, how to purchase Disney World holiday tickets and so much more!

We hope you find this post helpful, and if you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World during Christmas be sure to check out our other FREE vacation planning tools. Our goal at The Park Prodigy has always been to help you save time and money on your next vacation. This includes helping you find the best time to buy Disney World tickets as well as book amazing Walt Disney World vacation packages!

So if you’re looking for a Disney World Christmas vacation read on!

SPECIAL NOTE: If you’re looking for the best time to visit Disney World during the Holidays be sure to check out our Disney Crowd Calendar! 

Disney World Crowd Calendar

When Does Disney World Christmas Start?

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So when does the 2021 Christmas season at Disney World start?

2021 Holiday season at Walt Disney World will be officially kicked off on November 12th, for the Spirit of the Season celebration. It’s important to note that this year is going to be unlike any other Disney Christmas season we have experienced before, as WDW will also be celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary! 

Luckily for all of us you’ll have plenty of time to visit Disney World during Christmas as the holiday season starts the minute Halloween is over. When the last Boo Bash After Hours Party ends on November 1, Magic Kingdom turns into a winter wonderland, as if Halloween didn’t just exist the night before. All four Walt Disney World parks will be transformed with yuletide cheer by mid-November.

Disney Park Christmas Decorations

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Walt Disney World transports you to a Winter Wonderland starting in November and all the way through December. Each park gets a wintery, magical makeover with twinkling lights, beautiful bows and Christmas trees! Walt Disney World has 29 large custom trees that are up to 70 feet tall, 596 smaller trees, and a Christmas tree trail at Disney Springs. Disney World holiday decorations truly make the holiday season special.

As noted above guests will start to see Christmas decorations pop up at Magic Kingdom on November 2nd. From there, Christmas is in full force, especially with the addition of the new 2021 Very Merriest After Hours party in the Magic Kingdom.

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Related Post: When Does Disney World Decorate For Christmas? 

When is the Best Time to Visit Disney World During Christmas?

The holiday season in Walt Disney World is the most sought out time during the whole year. The merriment and cheer draw in huge crowds, and can be very overwhelming especially the closer to Christmas you get.

However, because Disney starts to celebrate Christmas so early in November there can still be some great times to visit! Our first step when trying to figure out the best time to visit Disney World during Christmas is to check out our Disney Crowd Calendar! We break down estimated foot traffic, daily ticket prices, and also average temperature for that time of year.

The second most important thing we would take a look at when deciding the best time to visit Disney World at Christmas is to look at the ticket prices. Disney World ticket prices now fluctuate based on day, with the least crowded days having the lowest prices. So if you’re trying to figure out the least crowded Disney Christmas days just look for the cheapest ticket prices!

As a general rule of thumb we typically see the largest crowds during the first few Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties. With Very Merriest After Hours party having similar dates, we can expect there to be similar crowd patterns in 2021.

Historically, it is busiest around Thanksgiving, and also the two weeks leading up to Christmas day and New Years Eve.

Best dates to plan a Walt Disney World Christmas vacation:

  • Nov: 29th, 30th
  • December 1st – 15th

Magic Kingdom Christmas Celebration

All the parks have a beautiful charm to them in Disney during Christmas. While the other parks really do a great job with celebrating the holidays, a Magic Kingdom Christmas is unlike any other, and seems like the best Disney Park at Christmas to visit. Not only is there an abundance of activities, but the Magic Kingdom Christmas is unlike any other.

There simply is nothing more amazing than walking down Main Street U.S.A as the Christmas music plays and snow falls. So below is everything you need to know about Magic Kingdom during Christmastime! 

Castle Dream Lights – Not returning for 2021

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*Due to the 50th Anniversary Celebration, Dream Lights will not be playing in 2021. Instead, Beacons of Magic will be projected and intermittently changed out with Christmas projections. 

Beginning mid-November, every night at dusk plays “A Frozen Holiday Wish,” which is displayed beautifully on Cinderella Castle. Queen Elsa used her powers to transform the Castle into a sparkly ice palace with 200,000 white lights. This light display is truly like no other, making Disney World Christmas light decorations near-impossible to beat.

Cinderella Castle Nightly Holiday Projection

***Special note: During the 50th Anniversary celebration, we will be getting the Cinderella Castle holiday projections. It will alternate between the Beacons of Magic projections and the holiday projections!

Once every fifteen minutes throughout the night at The Magic Kingdom park guests can enjoy holiday projections on the iconic Cinderella Castle. Each projection offers something different from Christmas decorations, to festive wrapping paper, as well as a burst of fireworks to end each projection.

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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

*Will not be returning for 2021

Very Merriest After Hours Party 2021

Gather together for joyous holiday fun with the new Very Merriest After Hours party coming to Magic Kingdom in 2021. For maximum celebration on your holiday trip, try planning your Disney World holiday dates around one of the Very Merriest After Hours parties. This way, you can book the party early, as tickets for this limited celebration sell out fast.

The party includes treats like ice cream, popcorn, and beverages, which are passed out around designated spots in the Kingdom. There’s also new Holiday shows, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, character meet and greets, and Holiday themed PhotoPass opportunities.

Tickets are on sale now for Very Merriest After Hours party. You can purchase Disney’s Very Merriest After Hours party tickets right here with the Park Prodigy! Click here for tickets! 

Related Post: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

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Parades will be returning to Disney’s Very Merriest After Hours party, and Mickey and his friends will be toting along with Santa periodically throughout the cheery night! Disney’s Very Merriest After hours party will begin after a showing of Enchantment, and then joyful festivities will begin.

Disney Christmas Parade Showtimes

In the past, we have seen two showings of the Mickey Once Upon a Christmas Parade:

  • 8:30PM
  • 11 PM

We assume that Very Merriest After Hours party will run similar, and there will be two showings of the parade. Make sure to check back once we know for sure!

Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks

* Will be returning in 2021 … yay! 

Minnie Mouse is our holiday host and is celebrating the most wonderful time of the year! This nighttime spectacular illuminates the night sky to favorite Christmas tunes. Projection mapping also creates stellar pictures of heartfelt Disney moments of home and family.

Magic Kingdom Holiday Schedule

Typically, Magic Kingdom hours run as normal. It’s always best to check our  Disney World crowd calendar when planning out your holiday extravaganza, as a Walt Disney World Christmas always means more crowds!

When does Very Merriest After Hours Party start?

Very Merriest After Hours parties will be on select nights from November 8 thru December 21st, 2021. Very Merriest After Hours parties will be running from 9PM to 1AM, closing normal Magic Kingdom hours at 7PM for select party nights.

What are Disney’s Very Merriest After Hours Party Dates?

  • Monday, November 8, 2021
  • Tuesday, November 9, 2021
  • Thursday, November 11, 2021
  • Friday, November 12, 2021
  • Sunday, November 14, 2021
  • Tuesday, November 16, 2021
  • Thursday, November 18, 2021
  • Friday, November 19, 2021
  • Sunday, November 21, 2021
  • Tuesday, November 23, 2021
  • Sunday, November 28, 2021
  • Tuesday, November 30, 2021
  • Thursday, December 2, 2021
  • Friday, December 3, 2021
  • Sunday, December 5, 2021
  • Tuesday, December 7, 2021
  • Thursday, December 9, 2021
  • Friday, December 10, 2021
  • Sunday, December 12, 2021
  • Tuesday, December 14, 2021
  • Thursday, December 16, 2021
  • Friday, December 17, 2021
  • Sunday, December 19, 2021
  • Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Disney World Christmas Day Events

Keep in mind that not only do these magical events happen just on Christmas Day, but they happen through the entire season. If 2021 is anything like 2020, we can expect cheery cavalcades with our favorite characters in their holiday gear. With the 5oth Anniversary Celebration underway, we may have more than exciting new holiday events!

2021 Holidays at Disney World Epcot

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Epcot will create its very own magic for the 2021 Disney World Christmas season. As this park is known for its culture (and food), the holiday season features a very special festival. The Epcot Festival of the Holidays features Marketplace booths open around the World Showcase which offer seasonal snacks from around the world.

The Candlelight Processional also gives a retelling of the Christmas Story by a celebrity narrator and features a choir performing holiday songs and a 50-piece live orchestra. Another way to hear Christmas stories is through the Holiday Storytellers, who can be found all throughout the World Showcase. These international storytellers share traditions and tales from their native country.

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Holidays at Disney World Hollywood Studios

Sunset Seasons Greetings: One of our favorites in all of Walt Disney World during Christmas time plays right atop the Hollywood Tower Hotel on Sunset Boulevard. Once the sun sets, festive yuletide projections begin and change out ever 15 minutes!

Minnie’s Holiday Dine: Another unique Christmas experience at Walt Disney World which can only be found at Hollywood Studios is Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine. This unique character dining experience is only available during the holidays.

Santa Claus Motorcade– Catch the Santa Claus Merry Motorcade right down Hollywood Blvd in his bright red convertible!

For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration – Its our favorite Frozen show but featuring Olaf in the finale!

Related Article: The Complete Guide to the Best Restaurants in Hollywood Studios 

Holidays at Disney World Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the latest park to get a Christmas makeover, and is one of the reasons we can’t choose the best Disney park for Christmas.  We truly feel that each park brings something special to the table. Holidays in Walt Disney World Florida cannot be complete without a trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom Holiday Decorations

Pandora World of Avatar: This newer feature provides cheery entertainment and decorations in the newest addition to this park Pandora World of Avatar. (decorations are also displayed all over the park).

Discovery Island:  Discovery Island hosts a celebration of winter, where hand-crafted holiday decorations are made by artists from the land. A life-size “Merry Menagerie” of artisan-sculpted puppets roam throughout the day, including reindeer, polar bears, penguins, and seals. Twinkling lanterns light up the sky, as the unique pieces of holiday decoration bring all Animal Kingdom guests to somewhere magical.

Tree of Life Holiday Awakenings: The Tree of Life projects a nightly show with snow at its trunk, and tells a series of winter tales throughout the night.

Festive Holiday Flotillas

Last year, Disney evolved with social distancing rules and Animal Kingdom started offering flotillas, which are pontoon boats that float around the river that surrounds the park. During Disney World Christmas time, we got to see Mickey, Minnie and even Santa boarding on the cheery vessels, waving to guest and spreading holiday fun! We hope that they continue this tradition for 2021.

How Much is Disney World at Christmas?hollywood-studios-christmas

Usually, ticket prices tend to surge during bigger holiday events. In 2019, tickets during peak Christmas and New Year’s days costed $159, which were up from the previous years. The same happens on other holidays like Memorial Day and Easter. The price of hotels and be twice as high as during the regular season, and this is because Disney during Christmas time has peak crowds. The same goes for Christmas Eve at Disney World. Don’t forget, Christmas break (including Disney Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve) is the time where families are off, and where else would you really want to be during Christmas break?!

When Does Grand Floridian Decorate for Christmas?

*Coming back in 2021

The Grand Floridian, along with all other major hotels, decorate at the same time the parks do. It’s here where you’ll find the iconic gingerbread house, a massive Walt Disney World Christmas tree, and more elegant decorations. The Grand Floridian markets as a Christmas attraction, so it’s something to consider seeing during your visit.

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Disney World Christmas FAQ

Q: When do Christmas Decorations Come Down at Disney?

A: Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, so when does Disney Christmas end? Most activities run through December 30 or 31st.  January 5th is the latest any holiday decor would be seen in the parks.

Q: What Time Does Magic Kingdom Open on Christmas Day?

A: Magic Kingdom opens the same time on Christmas Day as any other, but beware of the crowds. Everyone wants to experience the magic of a WDW Christmas (and rightly so) but the park tends to get near full capacity. If you are a resort guess, you may want to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours to get an extra hour or so before the crowds pour in.

When is The Best Time to Visit Disney World?

Our Disney Crowd Calendar is the best tool to help you get the most out of your time in the parks. We break down park crowds, park hours of operation, ticket prices, and average temperature. We also break down the best time to visit Disney World based on specific times of the year and special events.

Are You Ready to Plan Your Next Disney World Trip?

Are you planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Be sure to speak with a Disney World Travel Agent for the most recent deals and promotions. The Park Prodigy will provide a Free Quote for all Disney World Vacation Packages.

The Park Prodigy can also help you save up to $20 per ticket when purchasing your Walt Disney World Tickets, and we offer promotional discounts for special events such as Boo Bash After Hours party and Very Merriest After Hours Party Tickets.

If you’re brand new to Disney vacation planning we recommend our Walt Disney World Planning Page! Learn more about Disney hotels by reading our Walt Disney World Hotels Review page.

Last but not least if you’re also planning a trip to Universal Studios, be sure to check out the best time to visit Universal Studios and our Universal Orlando Tickets! All Park Prodigy Universal Orlando tickets come with Universal Studios Early Park Admission.

Michael Belmont

Michael Belmont is the owner and chief editor at Theparkprodigy.com, an authorized Disney and Universal travel agent. He specializes in Disney and Universal theme park tickets and vacation packages, as well as daily park plans to help optimize vacation time. Michael and The Park Prodigy have been featured on ABC’s Florida affiliate, WTFV, as well as over 10 Disney focused blogs. As owner, Michael manages The Park Prodigy blog and social media, a Disney themed podcast, and a Disney and Universal focused YouTube channel. Prior to starting The Park Prodigy, Michael was a long time Disney and Universal enthusiast, frequent visitor of the parks, and even served as a Walt Disney World Cast Member in Orlando, Florida!