The Holiday Season
Christmas in Disney
The Epic décor inside the magic kingdom (and all the parks, really) is something to behold. It’s worth the ticket and crowd. There are a few special insider tips I want to share with you before you show up during the holiday season.
- Jingle Cruise. The ride “Jungle Cruise” is completely revamped and becomes the “Jingle Cruise”. The Jingle Cruise is decked out with holiday décor and has a new Christmas themed joke reel from the skippers. It’s a really fun thing that Disney does.
- Frozen Holiday Wish. Each night, as the sun sets, there is a frozen themed holiday show in ceremony to light up the Cinderella Castle. Elsa uses her power to glisten the castle into an ice palace. Over 200,000 lights are lit up on and around Cinderella’s Castle.
- Holiday Wishes. This fireworks show can be seen during the Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Party. Or for all guests after December 22nd.
- Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party. This is a special ticketed event. There is a special “Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade” that ends with snow flurries falling over main street. They also provide FREE cookies and hot cocoa all over the park.
- Christmas Treats. In all the bakeries and
EPCOT: Christmas around the world
- Mexico – Mariachi Cobre and dancers celebrate the joy of the season in performances that are more vibrant and entertaining than they are educational.
- Norway – Storyteller Sigrid shares Norwegian Christmas traditions and lore about Julenissen, the gnome, who appears and mischievously interrupts the storytelling. This is our pick for the top Epcot Storyteller(s)–it’s a can’t miss, and kids in the audience seem to love it.
- China – Lion Dancers ring in the Chinese New Year with a dragon dance that is very captivating.
- Germany – Helga tells the story of the Nutcracker. It seems like Germany would be the perfect place for a “traditional” Saint Nicholas, but instead we get Helga. There’s nothing wrong with her, but we prefer other countries.
- Italy – La Benafa is Italy’s “holiday witch.” Really, she has a broom and everything. She tells the story of the Epiphany in Italy as well as some other holiday lore. This one is highly recommended.
- America – Hannukah and Kwanzaa presenters are more informative than they are entertaining, but that might be the best approach for a mostly American audience, many of whom may not have much knowledge of how other Americans celebrate Christmas.
- Japan – This is the story of O-Shogatsu, the Japanese New Year. It features the Drauma doll, which has an important cultural role. We find this Storyteller more dry and slow-developing than others. We typically skip it.
- Morocco – This multi-cultural storyteller is another one that skews towards straightforward education, with the Morocco storyteller sharing info on various festivals, holiday traditions, and celebrations that are like the “spice of life” across Morocco.
- France – Pere Noel reads a little girl’s letter and tells of French tradition, including kids leaving out their shoes for Christmas. France is the first of two (normally three) consecutive Santas who will be most historically recognizable to Western guests. While each tells a different story and each are pretty interesting, we recommend seeing only one of the three for the sake of variety and time.
- United Kingdom – Father Christmas shares historical traditions of Christmas in the United Kingdom. It’s been a few years since we’ve seen this one, but it doesn’t stick out as anything memorable. Cool outfit, though, so at least stop for a couple photos.
Canada – Canada has (or had?) the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs, which is a band with songs inspired by Canadian holiday customs. Given how much Canada’s entertainment has changed over the course of the last year, we wonder if they will return for Christmas 2016.
‘Joyful! A Gospel Celebration of the Season’ – Joyful performs on the Fountain of Nations Stage for the fourth straight year from the end of November until the end of December. Showtimes should be 1:15pm, 2:15pm, 3:15pm, and 4:15pm (daily).
It’s a fun show, actually, it’s surprisingly good, but it’s still not an adequate replacement for the gorgeous Lights of Winter that were deemed obsolete a few years ago.
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays – For 2017, Epcot has rebranded its Holidays Around the World as the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. It’s still basically the same thing, just with a different name. There are Marketplace booths open around World Showcase offering different seasonal snacks from around the world. Think of this as the “Epcot Food & Wine Festival Lite.” Epcot International Festival of the Holidays will run from November 19 until December 30, 2017.
The full lineup for booths for this year have not yet been announced, but last year they included Alpine Haus Marketplace, Three Kings Feast Marketplace, Germany Marketplace, Seasonal Southern Delights Marketplace, and American Holiday Table Marketplace. We would expect all of those to return for 2017, plus some new options as this expands even further. In addition to dedicated booths, many of the restaurants and bakeries around Epcot will have special snacks, as they have in the past.
Another new offering for 2017 is Chip and Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree, which is a paid scavenger hunt (akin to the Figment and Ratatouille ones during other festivals at Epcot). Chip and Dale are collecting ornaments for their Christmas tree, and you go around looking for them as they gather ornaments from holiday decorations in each World Showcase pavilion.
Candelight Processional – Candlelight Processional is a retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator, along with a mass choir performing seasonal melodies, and a 50-piece live orchestra. It performs nightly from Thanksgiving until New Year’s at 5, 6:45 and 8:00 p.m. Candlelight Processional runs after Thanksgiving through December 30, 2017. You can find the celebrity narrators for each night by clicking here (opens in new tab).
Illuminations: Reflections of Earth Holiday Tag – Everyone loves fireworks, especially when they’re accompanied by a score as great as that of Illuminations. Disney kicks the pyro into high gear during the Christmas season as the explosive “Peace on Earth” holiday finale ends the show with a heart-warming bang.
One other nice little touch at Epcot is the Gingerbread Village at The Land pavilion, which consists of sweet recreations of Walt Disney World Resort’s theme park icons.
Christmas 2017 is the second holiday season at Walt Disney World since the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights has been retired. The display ended so that construction for Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land could begin, and with significant construction ongoing, the holiday season is somewhat sparse at the Studios this year.
The upside is that “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” has been added to the lineup at DHS. The downside is that this mixed-media fireworks show centered around Grauman’s Chinese Theater, featuring a montage of Disney Christmas favorites is a bit of a disappointmnent. You can read more of our thoughts on it in our “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” Tips & Review post.