Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Walt Disney World has had to reduce the scope of their Epcot International Festival of the Holidays in 2020. It is hoped the full event will return in 2021
Originally called “Holidays around the World”, the last festival in the calendar year at Disney’s Epcot has been called the “Epcot International Festival of the Holidays” since 2016 but for 2020 it is known as the “Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Holidays” presented by AdventHealth.
In 2020 the “Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Holidays” runs every day from November 27 until after Christmas on December 30, typically starting a few days after the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival normally ends.
Like all Epcot festivals, basic admission is included with a standard admission ticket and includes food, merchandise and entertainment. Unfortunately the festive Candlelight Processional where celebrity narrators tell the story of Christmas accompanied by a mass choir is cancelled in 2020.
Don’t forget to pick up a Festival Passport at the Epcot Entrance as it will give you details of all the entertainments including times, merchandise and more importantly all the food options and where you can find them.
The theme is still holidays around the world and the festival gives guests a chance to savour how other cultures celebrate the holiday season.
In 2020 the Disney Deluxe Resort Hotels will not have their normal gingerbread displays. Instead the Disney chefs have built a gingerbread city. It is normal to be found inside the American Adventure pavilion but this year it can be found in the World Showplace. It features iconic US landmarks including the United States Capitol Building, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the Washington Monument.
All around the World Showcase, you would normally find native Holiday Storytellers in traditional costumes sharing the traditions of their countries around the holiday time. Performance times vary. It is thought they will not appear in 2020.
If you want to get a photo with both Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, head for the right hand side of the American Pavilion.[ true?]
Character Holiday Promenades
Whilst walking around the World Showcase you may get to see one of several character cavalcades, all dressed in their holiday best:
- Mickey and Friends World Tour — Mickey and friends
- Frozen Promenade — Queen Anna and Elsa
- Princess Promenade — some of your favourite Disney princesses riding in a horse-drawn carriage
- Santa Claus Promenade — see Santa in his horse-drawn carriage wishing everyone a merry Christmas
Around sixteen themed holiday kitchens are located around the World Showcase including three inside the World Showplace Events Pavilion. They offer festive sampler sized portions of food and treats plus a range of drinks (both non-alcoholic and alcoholic). Some of the food dishes are nearer to meal size portions.
Prices are typically around $4 to $8 per dish and $5 to $16 for speciality drinks.
The kitchens are open from noon until around 8:00 p.m. As well as the standalone kitchens you will also find a number of carts selling festive food items and many of the existing eateries have special festive additions to their menus including such delights as Sweet Potato Casserole Funnel Cake at the Funnel Cake kiosk.
The 2020 holiday kitchens (going clockwise around the World Showcase) are located at:
- Showcase Plaza — Citrus Blossom, Holiday Sweets and Treats, Mele Kalikimaka
- World Showplace Events Pavilion — Festival Favorites ‡, Holiday Hearth and Prost!
- Mexico — Posadas Holiday Kitchen
- China — Shanghai Holiday Kitchen
- Germany — Bavaria Holiday Kitchen ‡
- Italy — Tuscany Holiday Kitchen
- The American Adventure — American Holiday Table ‡
- Japan — Shi Wasu Holiday Kitchen
- Morocco — Sapphire Holiday Kitchen
- between Morocco and France — L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen ‡
- France — Le Marché de Noël Holiday Kitchen
- Canada — Yukon Holiday Kitchen ‡
‡ — Holiday Cookie Stroll locations
Holiday Cookie Stroll
Pick up your Festival Passport and then take part in the Holiday Cookie Stroll. There are five different stamps to collect when you purchase freshly baked holiday cookies from five select locations (see Holiday kitchens above). Cookie prices are around the $2.50 mark.
Stick them in your passport and then you can redeem them for a complimentary Peppermint Minnie Cookie at the Sweets & Treats Holiday Kitchen in Showcase Plaza. You don’t have to get all five stamps on the same day, just remember to bring your passport back with you if you visit again.
One of the highlights of the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is the Candlelight Processional which takes place three times each evening at the American Gardens Theatre. Unfortunately the Candlelight Processional and Candlelight Processional Dining Package are casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
At each performance a celebrity narrator tells the biblical Christmas story accompanied by a 50 piece live orchestra and massed choirs.
Some perennial favourite narrators like Neil Patrick Harris draw a large crowd.
Admission to the concerts is free but by purchasing a Candlelight Processional Dining Package] you get a guaranteed same day reserved seat.
Joyful! A Celebration of the Season
Even though the Candlelight Processional is not going ahead in 2020 there are still plenty of places to listen to holiday music.
Each day at the World Showplace Stage, you can listen to D’Vine Voices as they perform “Joyful! A Celebration of the Season” holiday melodies including gospel, jazz, R&B and both contemporary and traditional Christmas and holiday songs.
The performances also include African-American Kwanzaa celebrations and they take place several times a day.
Normally the Voices of Liberty performing carols and Christmas songs would appear inside the American Pavilion, but for 2020 they will be singing their 8-part harmonies on the America Gardens Theatre stage.
The Mexican Mariachi Cobre are also performing “Las Posadas”, a celebration of Mexican holiday customs at both the Mexico Pavilion and at the America Gardens Theater. Meanwhile the JAMMitors are rocking at the Mill Stage at the Canada Pavilion.
Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition
There is a new scavenger hunt for 2020 called “Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition” which takes place around the World Showcase. This replaces “Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree” from previous years.
You can purchase a map and set of stickers for $7.99 plus tax at several locations including Mouse Gear, Port of Entry, Disney Traders and World Traveler at the International Gateway.
As you walk around the World Showcase look out for holiday traditions that Olaf has “lost” in the pavilions, put the corresponding ornament sticker onto your scavenger map and once you have completed the hunt, take your map to Disney Traders, Mouse Gear or World Traveler for a festive gift.
Epcot Forever Fireworks
New for 2019 was the “Epcot Forever Fireworks” display which replaced “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth”.
In 2020 there are no evening fireworks
In past years, the show was interspersed with classic holiday music, holiday greetings in the native language of the countries throughout the World Showcase and ending with a message of peace on earth and goodwill to men.
To get the best view you will need to arrive early at the Showcase Lagoon and find a spot that is not obstructed by trees or light poles. Alternatively you can:
- grab a Fastpass+ for a reserved spot at the World Showcase Plaza Viewing Area between the Tower gift shops
- purchase a ticket to the Frozen Ever After Dessert Party which includes reserved viewing of the fireworks
- take an Epcot Fireworks Cruise and watch the fireworks from on the water near the International Gateway; prices start at $299 plus tax for up to 8 guests
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays Merchandise
No festival would be complete without merchandise and the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is no different!
You will find a range of themed clothing, backpacks, Christmas plush toys and festive MagicBands.
Annual Passholders may also find complimentary gifts like fridge magnets and the option to buy exclusive passholder gifts.
In previous years, Epcot used to be decorated with the Lights of Winter lighted canopy that danced to holiday music over the walkway linking Future World and the World Showcase.