All the seasonal entertainment at Walt Disney World is included in the normal ticket admission with the exception of the night time Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom which is by separate ticket admission.
The Walt Disney World Resort offers everything from the Candlelight Processionals at EPCOT, “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the new illuminated Cinderella’s Castle, fireworks spectacular and parade at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom.
Note that the second parade at the Magic Kingdom is usually quieter so it is often easier to get a good view if you plan to watch the second parade. Frontierland makes a good vantage point.
You can book a special Candlelight Processional dinner package which includes dinner at one of the Epcot restaurants, plus preferred seating for the nightly choral performance.
In the Magic Kingdom, “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party” starts before Thanksgiving in 2017 on November 9 and runs on 21 selected nights (one more than last year) until just before Christmas on December 22.
This special event includes a firework spectacular, two parades, sweet holiday treats (cookies and hot cocoa), character greetings and live holiday stage shows for the whole family.
Epcot’s Holidays Around the World festivities has been replaced by the Epcot International Festival of Holidays and this year it runs from November 19 to December 30.
The traditional Candlelight Processional takes place in 2017 from November 24 every day until after Christmas on December 30.
Each evening at the America Gardens Theatre, there is a musical performance by a mass choir and a 50-piece orchestra retelling the Christmas story with the help of a special celebrity guest narrator. The performance runs three times a night at the American Gardens Theatre at 5:00 pm, 6:45 pm and 8:15 pm.
Read more about the Candlelight Processional.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Christmas is celebrated at Disney’s Hollywood Studios every day from November 9 to December 31, 2017.
New from 2016 is “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” which is an evening light show featuring characters from Disney classics projected on to the exterior of the Chinese Theater as well as a special dessert party.
A new event for 2017 is “Sunset Seasons Greetings” which takes place on Sunset Boulevard every evening. As snow begins to fall, billboards along the boulevard leading to the Hollywood Tower Hotel come to life with Disney character moments including Mickey and Minnie Mouse reminiscing about their hometown Christmas, characters from Toy Story trying to guess what new toys will arrive on Christmas Day, the Swedish Chefs from The Muppets and finally Olaf pining over his holiday wish. There are also holiday inspired projections onto the front of the Hollywood Tower Hotel.
This year there will be more decorations around Echo Lake with extra large decorations, garlands and a giant Christmas tree.
At the “Once Upon a Time” store on Sunset Boulevard plays host to Santa Claus from November 9 to December 24, 2017. Santa Goofy takes over from December 25 to December 31, 2017.
The amazing “Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights” used to be held at Disney’s Hollywood Studios each holiday season but it closed for the last time at the end of 2015 to make way for the major expansion for Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land.
History of Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights was originally started with just 1,000 red lights back in 1986 in Little Rock, Arkansas by Jennings Osborne for his daughter Breezy but by 1993 so many people were coming to see it that his neighbours went to the Arkansas Supreme Court to get it closed down.
Disney invited Jennings to Disney-MGM Studios (as it was then called) in 1995 and it grew into one of the major annual holiday season events at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Over 5 million holiday lights were used to decorate the area around the Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and you could walk amongst them and marvel at all the different decorations using special holographic glasses.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the park is decorated for the holiday season from just after Thanksgiving until early in the New Year.
To mark the holiday season, there is a giant 65 foot tree by the entrance. In previous years the afternoon parade was “Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade” but the parade was stopped due to building work and there are no plans to reintroduce it at this time.
The “Donald’s Breakfastosaurus” character breakfast takes on a seasonal flavour with Deck the Halls with Donald in Animal Kingdom’s DinoLand U.S.A.
Disney Springs takes on a holiday feel from mid November through to early January.
New for 2016 was a Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail which started outside Once Upon a Toy in the Marketplace and the Starbright Holidays - An Intel Collaboration drone show. The Christmas Tree Trail is returning for 2017 only bigger but there has been no word yet on Starbright Holidays.
The Christmas Tree Trail in 2017 features 25 decorated and themed trees including Snow White, Dumbo, Peter Pan, 101 Dalmations and Sleeping Beauty.
For children there is a scavenger hunt called “Stitch’s Holiday Gift Hunt” with 16 locations throughout Disney Springs.
All the shops and restaurants have special holiday window dressings and there are holiday carollers, stilt performers and holiday music.
Don’t forget to visit Disney’s Days of Christmas shop in particular and of course Santa at Santa’s Chalet.
Read more about all the holiday events at Disney Springs.
In Disney’s town of Celebration the “Now Snowing” event begins after Thanksgiving and continues until New Year’s Eve.
Each night at 6:00 pm, 7:00 pm, 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm “snow” falls down Market Street for 10 minutes. There are also opportunities to have your photograph taken with Santa, listen to Charles Dickens holiday carollers and ride on the Celebration Express train or one of several horse-drawn coaches and wagons.
Click here for the dates of all the seasonal celebrations in Florida.