The holiday season is in full swing at Walt Disney World...here's a complete guide to the festive happenings. Walt Disney World doesn't embrace Christmas in quite the same way as the Disneyland Resort, which gives many of its attractions "holiday makeovers" for the season. Still, there are a host of special events on offer at the resort's theme parks and at the Downtown Disney shopping and entertainment district. Whether you're planning on visiting Walt Disney World around the holidays or just like looking at pretty pictures of the parks in their festive finery, read on for a complete guide to the goings-on at the resort this Christmas!
Once again, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is underway at the Magic Kingdom. The separately-ticketed affair runs from 7pm to midnight, November 8 to December 20. This year, the theme is based around the name of the event (a Very Merry Christmas), with Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group fashioning a new logo and a host of over-the-top merry scenes. Everything is inspired by Disney's classic animated shorts and vintage holiday greetings cards.
The event features its very own backstory, explaining the origins of Mickey's first Very Merry Christmas Party. You can read up on this here.
At the party itself, expect to see sparkly lights shimmering on Cinderella Castle, Santa himself in Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, a special version of the Celebrate the Magic projection show and the Holiday version of the Wishes fireworks spectacular. Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski and Stitch will fight holiday doldrums across the galaxy in the musical revue A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald will also star in the Celebrate the Seasonshow, with their own special version of the Nutcracker. Meanwhile, guests will be able to grab complimentary cookies and hot cocoa and enjoy fake snow showers on Main Street, USA.
The talk of the town is the park's new Jingle Cruise(an overlay that will also take place at Disneyland) in which the Jungle Cruise skippers will get nostalgic for the holidays and decide to celebrate by decorating their boathouse and telling holiday jokes.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
The highlight of the holiday season at Disney's Hollywood Studios will be the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. The display was first started by the late Jennings Osborne in 1986, at the request of his daughter Allison. Initially located at the family's home in Little Rock, Arkansas, it grew from 1,000 lights to 3 million within the space of 7 years. This caused complaints and ultimately a legal challenge from neighbors, with Disney eventually acquiring the show and installing it at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 1995.
Now featuring more than 5 million lights, as well animated holiday displays and accompanying music, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights always draws huge crowds. This year, for the first time, Disney's Glow with the Show ears can be used in conjunction with the display, with the ears lighting up in sychronisation with the lights and music. The ears can be purchased throughout the park for $25 each.
Over at Epcot, Holidays Around the World returns for another year on November 29. The World Showcase will embrace festive traditions from all over the globe, from visits with Santa Claus at The American Adventure to tales from the jolly witch La Befane in the Italy Pavilion. In China, the Monkey King will welcome guests, while Los Tres Reyes Magos will entertain in the Mexico Pavilion.
New for this year are the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs. Featuring members of the popular Celtic rock band Off Kilter, they will take guests on a musical journey across the Great White North, bringing to life holiday traditions from across Canada.
Elsewhere, the uplifting Joyful! A Gospel Celebration of the Season will return, along with the nightly Candlelight Processional. It will all be capped off by the a special holiday finale to Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.
Disney's Animal Kingdom
While it's perhaps the least suited of all of Walt Disney World's parks to host a Christmas event, Animal Kingdom does boast the cheerful Mickey's Jungle Jingle Parade, featuring a selection of characters and dancers.
Head on down to Downtown Disney, currently in the midst of a major reconstruction program, and you'll find Disney's Festival of the Seasonsin full swing until December 30. The area is filled with seasonal decorations and enormous Christmas trees, while carolers, stilt walkers, street performers and a dance party will form part of the entertainment line-up.
Look out as well for Santa's Chalet, where kids can meet-and-greet Jolly Old St. Nick himself.
Walt Disney World fans may look jealously over at Disneyland's holiday line-up, where holiday makeovers for the likes of the Haunted Mansion are a Christmas tradition. But, still, there's a huge line-up of festive fare at the Florida resort, with many elements - such as the Osborne Lights and Candlelight Processional being unique to Walt Disney World. If you've been to Walt Disney World during this special time, what's your favorite limited time offering?