I just saw a Hallmark Christmas movie on TV and was so tempted to bake some cookies and light a Christmas candle. Although I thought that may be a little much, I decided dreaming about how to celebrate at Disney this year and what anyone with kids shouldn't miss would be perfectly acceptable. So...Merry Christmas in July 🎄
If you haven’t been to Disney at Christmas time, it is 100% worth the visit. The decor is so beautiful, there is a joyful buzz everywhere you turn and the weather is incredible :) Ditch the shorts and enjoy some hot cocoa! I have to say, I love the Halloween party at Magic Kingdom, but you cannot beat the ambiance around the parks and resorts November - January.
At Magic Kingdom, although you can check out the parade the week prior to Christmas as a day guest, I highly recommend checking out Mickey's Very Merry Christmas party. At this event, not only are there fewer guests admitted than during a regular park day making parade viewing easier, but there are also special fireworks, treats, snow on Main Street, shows, dance parties and character meet and greets you can only experience at the party. I have to say, the treats have really gotten an upgrade recently! All of the treat locations in years past served only snickerdoodle cookies, apple slices and hot chocolate, all of which were delicious. However, after a few stops eating the same treats, we reached our limit. Last year, they changed the treats and had different items throughout the park. Of course there were still yummy cookies and fruit, but one of my favorite surprises was at Tortuga Tavern. Not only did they have sno-cones but they also had soft pretzels!! It was the perfect salty way to end our evening otherwise filled with Christmas sweets!
Another awesome thing about Christmas at Disney is the hotel decorations. Every single hotel is decked out for the holidays in beautiful decor perfectly fitting for the theme of each resort. Some of the most incredible hotel Christmas decor can be found at the Grand Floridian where a life-size cottage made of fresh gingerbread fills the lobby with the most wonderful smells. Also, the Boardwalk has a carousel made of gingerbread in their lobby that is absolutely breathtaking. They are definitely worth visiting along with the themed decorated trees at each resort on property!
I don’t know if we’re the only parents that get annoyed with the wait times and cost of the not-so-nice mall Santa at Christmas, but we thought that may be our only option, until we realized there are free Santa sightings throughout the Disney parks that are included with regular park admission and let’s be real, Santa has a much happier glow about him when he’s visiting Disney ;) We did quite a bit of research, and found that he meets at Magic Kingdom in the front of the park by City Hall during the Christmas parties, then during the day the week before Christmas. He meets with Mrs. Clause at Epcot in the American Adventure pavilion, at Disney Springs in his chalet and our favorite spot is at Hollywood Studios. The set is really pretty and the couch Santa sits on fits the whole family. His greeting at the studios is in the Carthy Circle shop directly before the Beauty and the Beast show entrance. We still had to wait about 30 minutes to meet him, but it was completely worth it. Plus after we met him, we took full advantage of playing in the park as a family... a very welcomed added bonus in my opinion :)
I had to save the best for last... my favorite thing at Disney during Christmas time is the Candlelight Processional at Epcot. It is such a beautiful retelling of Christ's birth with an incredible orchestra and choir accompanying the narrator. Being reminded of the true reason for the season in such a powerful way leaves you filled with hope as you exit the park. Since this offering is so popular, I highly recommend booking the Candlelight dining package early so you’re guaranteed a spot. They start booking early so it may already be available. The theater does have some standby spots but I’d say 75% or more of the theater is filled with Candlelight Package guests. You can see and hear the presentation for sure in the walkway around The American Adventure but it gets very busy and you may be asked to move to keep the walkway open, so it’s best to get a seat to enjoy it in it‘s entirety. Since they have a live orchestra and trumpets, I definitely recommend bringing ear protection for your little ones as well as adults with ear sensitivity. Even with ear protection for Tallulah, I stepped aside in what I like to call the “get the energy out” area on the side for wiggly kids :) to keep her ears extra protected. This is definitely the best offering at Christmas time at Disney and well worth the dinner package. Also the celebrity narrators change regularly so you can plan around who you’re interested in hearing present, which keeps it fresh each year.
Is it Christmas time yet?? There are so many more offerings for Christmas at the parks and I‘m excited to share more as we get closer to the season. But for today, thanks for dreaming with me about Christmas past and future! I’ve been hearing some exciting buzz about new Christmas offerings this year at the parks and I can’t wait to learn more and check them out! But I think for now, I may need to break out the cookie sheets and a Christmas candle and keep this celebration going 😉