15 Festive Must-Dos for a Disney World Christmas with Kids
Without question, you won’t find a more magical time to visit Walt Disney World than during Christmas. Disney World goes all out for the holiday season, transforming the resort into a veritable winter wonderland. And with Disney World’s 50th anniversary in full swing, that’s especially the case this year.
With whimsical decorations decking the halls, cozy Christmas goodies on offer, merry entertainment, a steady stream of holiday tunes and even appearances by Santa Claus, this festive season is an enchanting time for anyone to visit, but especially families traveling with kids.
Kid-Friendly Fun Around Walt Disney World at Christmas
Whether it’s your little one’s first time spending Christmas at Disney World or just your first holiday visit in forever, make sure to add these festive, family-friendly activities to your Walt Disney World Christmas to-do list.
Across Walt Disney World
No matter where you are during Christmas at Disney World, you’re never more than a snowball’s throw away from a sleighful of festive fun. These holiday-themed offerings are sure to have your family feeling merry and bright.
Ooh and Aah at the Walt Disney World Christmas Decorations
Starting the day after Halloween, the Holiday Services department at Walt Disney World takes to the streets like a team of tinsel-wielding elves, leaving twinkle lights, ornaments and boughs of holly in their wake. Within just a week or two, the entire resort receives an elf-made makeover worthy of the North Pole – and oh, what a joy it is to behold.
Don’t just dash through the lobby on your way to your dining reservation or onto your next attraction. Instead, allow some time in your day to admire the uniquely themed Christmas decorations around you at places like the parks, hotels and Disney Springs. It’s sure to put you in a jolly mood.
Sample Some Special Holiday Goodies
No holiday season is complete without cozy family classics and treats like Christmas cookies. While you might not be able to have a holiday dinner around the kitchen table, Walt Disney World has you covered with a cornucopia of Christmas dishes and drinks at the hotels, parks and Disney Springs.
See Giant Gingerbread Displays & Over-the-Top Christmas Trees at Disney World Hotels
If you’re looking for a fun (and free!) thing to do with your family during Christmas at Disney World, then resort hopping is for you. Although many Walt Disney World hotels decorate for the holidays, the headliners of this yuletide tour are the deluxe resorts, such as the Grand Floridian and Wilderness Lodge, which dazzle with gingerbread cottages, cabins and carousels, resplendent Christmas trees and elegant garlands.
Play Putt-Putt with Santa & His Elves at the Disney Winter Summerland Mini-Golf Course
For a unique outdoor activity the whole family will love, play a round at the Disney Winter Summerland Mini-Golf Course. While you can play putt-putt at this Disney World mini-golf course year-round, it’s particularly fitting during the holiday season.
Each of Winter Summerland’s two courses is themed after Santa Claus and his elves. The Winter Course shows the Jolly Old Elf as he gets ready for his big day, while the Summer Course sees St. Nick and his crew unwind in the islands.
Beat the Heat While Making Merry at the Disney Blizzard Beach Water Park
Make a splash (and your spirit bright) during Christmas at the Disney Blizzard Beach Water Park. In November and December, this snow-capped aquatic playground gets a merry makeover with tons of yuletide touches, including holiday-themed tubes, seasonal treats, a photo opportunity with Santa Claus (with a tropical twist) and even an enchanting snowfall. Talk about a magical place to celebrate the season, keep cool and hang out with family!
Christmas is a dreamy time to visit all of Walt Disney World, but nowhere more so than Magic Kingdom Park. Holiday decorations, including a massive Christmas tree, bring festive cheer to Main Street, U.S.A., Liberty Square, Frontierland and, of course, Cinderella Castle, and even some of the attractions get in on the fun.
Of course, the star of the show is Cinderella Castle. Sadly, the Magic Kingdom icon isn’t getting the twinkle-light-covered treatment this year due to the 50th Anniversary Celebration. However, by day, its lush garlands, blue ribbons and glittering ornaments are elegantly festive, while yuletide castle projections make the palace merry and bright by night.
Honestly, can you imagine a more perfect place to have your kiddos see Santa Claus and pose for a picture? We sure can’t! Though St. Nick has greeted guests down on Main Street in previous years, this year, look for the Jolly Old Elf at the Liberty Square Gazebo during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party or in the daytime during regular theme park hours in the few days leading up to Christmas.
Celebrate the Season at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
It wouldn’t be the holidays without a party or two. For a seasonal soiree unlike any other, don’t miss Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Held at the Magic Kingdom on select evenings, beginning November 8 and continuing until December 22, 2022, this separately ticketed event is a fun addition to any Walt Disney World Christmas vacation.
The festive fête is filled with Santa-approved activities and plenty of yuletide vibes. Partygoers can enjoy bottomless holiday treats like cookies and cocoa, marvel at an enchanting snowfall on Main Street, watch the event-exclusive Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, see some festive fireworks and even hang out with Disney characters in their holiday best, including Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.
Since the event takes place after regular park hours, running from 7:00 PM to midnight, this can be a pretty long night, particularly for those with small children. Consider an afternoon nap before you head to the party (ticketholders can enter Magic Kingdom as early as 4:00 PM) so you can fully take advantage of everything the evening has to offer.
Get in the Holiday Spirit with a Christmas Parade & Fireworks Display
Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, with its flurry of wintry fireworks sparkling over Cinderella Castle and soundtrack of holiday tunes, and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, which features an army of toy soldiers, prancing reindeer and festively clad Disney characters, are two of the highlights of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Luckily, depending on when you visit, you won’t need to splurge on this after-hours event to experience them. Starting around the last week of December, typically the 22 or 23, and continuing through the end of the month, both the festive fireworks spectacular and the spirited parade are offered at Magic Kingdom during regular park hours, no pricey special event ticket necessary, with two afternoon showings of the parade and fireworks at night.
Embark on a Festive Adventure on Jingle Cruise
Keep the Christmas vibes flowing even while you’re on an attraction at Jungle Jingle Cruise in Adventureland. Complete with holiday decorations throughout both the ride and queue and a plethora of holly jolly puns and dad jokes, Jingle Cruise is a perennial Magic Kingdom favorite sure to charm guests of all ages.
But the Jingle Cruise isn’t the only attraction to undergo a yuletide transformation. Some other rides also get dressed up for the festive season with their own ho-ho-holiday overlay, including Space Mountain, Mad Tea Party, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and Tomorrowland Speedway. Sadly, for these, you’ll need to go to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party to experience them.
Christmas at Epcot takes guests on a yuletide tour across the globe during the International Festival of the Holidays, allowing festivalgoers to savor the sights, sounds and flavors of the season with a multicultural twist. At first glance, this isn’t the most kid-friendly thing to do around Walt Disney World at Christmas, especially when compared to Magic Kingdom.
However, there’s so much more to this seasonal event than Christmassy cocktails – although you can certainly enjoy those, too. Holiday Kitchens cook up traditional favorites from cultures around the world, including a tantalizing array of Christmas cookies. To sample them all, check out the Holiday Cookie Stroll. Just be sure to share so your little ones don’t get a sugar rush.
After the Holiday Cookie Stroll, be sure to take in some of the festival’s heartwarming performances around World Showcase, such as the perennially popular Candlelight Processional. With stirring Christmas music, a full choir and celebrity narrators, the Candlelight Processional is a Disney Christmas mainstay. The show is held three times each night at 5:15 PM, 7:00 PM and 8:30 PM.
Along with the Candlelight Processional, there is also a stockingful of live performances to enjoy, including Canadian Holiday Voyageurs, Las Posadas with Mariachi Cobre, the Chinese Lion Dance and much more.
Learn Holiday Customs from Other Cultures with Olaf & World Showcase Storytellers
As Epcot is more of an interactive educational experience than an attraction-filled theme park, some might be wary of visiting during the Christmas season. Don’t be! Thanks to festival offerings like Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition scavenger hunt and seasonal storytellers, your kids are sure to stay entertained all day long.
Turn the festival into a yuletide treasure hunt with Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition. This spirited Disney scavenger hunt ($9.99 plus tax) sets guests out in search of Christmas customs from different cultures before culminating in a festive reward.
Or, make the spirit of the season come alive – a learn a little something in the process – with holiday tales told by Festival of the Holidays storytellers from various cultures. Lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour in length and starring everyone from Santa Claus, Father Christmas and Père Noël to the Norway Pavilion’s mischievous Barn Santa and La Befana, Italy’s Christmas witch, these charming performances will certainly have you feeling jolly.
Festival of the Holidays Storytellers
Las Posadas Celebration
25-minute performances at 11:05 AM, 12:05 PM, 1:05 PM, 2:45 PM, 3:50 PM and 5:15 PM
A Mischievous Magical Barn Santa
15-minute performances at 11:35 AM, 12:35 PM, 1:35 PM, 2:35 PM, 4:35 PM, 5:35 PM, 6:35 PM and 7:10 PM
15-minute performances at 11:30 AM, 12:15 PM, 1:00 PM, 2:40 PM, 3:35 PM, 4:20 PM, 5:05 PM and 5:45 PM
The Odyssey Pavilion
60-minute performances at 11:00 AM, 12:30 PM, 2:00 PM, 3:30 PM, 5:00 PM and 6:30 PM
15-minute performances at 11:20 AM, 12:40 PM, 1:40 PM, 3:20 PM, 4:20 PM, 5:05 PM, 5:50 PM and 6:35 PM
Between Morocco and France Pavilions
15-minute performances at 10:15 AM, 11:30 AM, 12:40 PM, 1:15 PM, 2:45 PM, 3:45 PM, 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM
15-minute performances at 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 12:10 PM, 12:50 PM, 2:15 PM, 3:15 PM, 4:30 PM and 5:15 PM
Magic Kingdom rides aren’t the only attractions to receive a merry makeover. Over at Epcot, Marvel fans and Christmas music lovers alike won’t want to miss the Guardians of the Galaxy holiday overlay. While the ride itself doesn’t change, the soundtrack does, swapping out the rollercoaster’s usual oldies for a remix of Christmas classics, including an all-new mashup.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Christmas is, without a doubt, one of our favorite times to visit Disney Hollywood Studios. In fact, with its retro-themed decorations and festive, family-friendly activities, Hollywood Studios puts up some stiff competition against Magic Kingdom as one of the top spots to go around Disney World at Christmas for those with kids.
During the day, keep an eye out for St. Nick as he cruises through Hollywood Studios in a candy-apple red convertible in the Santa Claus Merry Motorcade. While you’re there, don’t forget to stop by Toy Story Land. While this whimsical corner of Hollywood Studios was left off the Christmas list for the past two years due to the pandemic, holiday decorations are back for 2022 and just as adorable as ever.
Then, later on in the evening, wander down Sunset Boulevard toward The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror for Sunset Seasons Greetings, which transforms the Hollywood Tower Hotel into everything from a ginormous gingerbread house to a snow-covered Christmas village with the help of magical holiday projections. You’ll often find a Disney PhotoPass Photographer posted up during the show, so be sure to take advantage.
Spread Holiday Cheer at For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
As a wise elf once said, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” If that isn’t reason enough to participate in For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration this Christmas season, then we don’t know what is.
Sure, this interactive Disney attraction looks like a winter wonderland no matter when you visit. But, an extra-special ending starring Olaf, as well as an enchanted snowfall, make this one jolly jam session you and your Frozen-loving kiddos won’t soon forget.
Mix & Mingle with Disney Characters at Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine
We don’t know about you, but we love meeting Disney characters, particularly when they’re all dressed up for the season. Another thing we love? Food. So, if you’re anything like us, you’ll definitely want to book a table for Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood Studios.
With a buffet of cozy Christmas dishes, holiday décor and appearances by characters like Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse and Goofy in their festive finery, this Disney character meal will leave you fed, happy and feeling merry and bright.
Christmas is an enchanting time to go to the Disney Animal Kingdom Theme Park, especially for those visiting with kids. Like the rest of Disney World at Christmas, Animal Kingdom transforms during the holiday season, with much of the park receiving its own festive touches, like crafty recycled decorations in Africa, colorful lanterns in Asia and appropriately tacky touches in DinoLand U.S.A.
Naturally, the centerpiece of the season is the Tree of Life. However, this isn’t any ordinary Christmas tree. Each evening, the Disney icon shimmers with the festive spirit during Tree of Life Awakenings, with magical holiday projections featuring an array of wintertime creatures.
As you walk throughout the park, keep your eye on the Discovery River. Cruising by from time to time and making a joyful noise, the Discovery Island Drummers Festive Flotilla will have you rocking around the Tree of Life with their yuletide rhythms. You can even see St. Nick himself set sail on the Santa Claus Festive Flotilla – a relaxing change of pace from his usual sleigh, we’re sure.
Come Face to Face with a Merry Menagerie of Arctic Animals
Want a temporary escape from the traditional holiday trappings? Then be sure to make some time during your vacation for a visit to Animal Kingdom. Unlike the rest of Disney World, Christmas at Animal Kingdom shines a light on Earth’s cold-weather creatures.
Some of them even stop by to say ‘hello’ – in puppet form, that is. Located in front of the Tree of Life on Discovery Island, a Merry Menagerie of artisan-sculpted puppets – such as reindeer, penguins, polar bears and arctic foxes – greet guests as they enter the Disney Park. Not only are our little ones sure to delight in meeting these adorable ‘animals,’ but the interactions make for some super-cute photo opportunities.
Christmas is a time for delicious food, fun times with family and friends, and lots of shopping. Luckily, Disney Springs has it all. Whether you’re stopping by for dinner or doing some souvenir or gift shopping, save some time to soak up the festive scene.
Do your kiddos have any last-minute requests for their Christmas lists this year? Not to worry! At Disney Springs, Santa Claus holds court over at Once Upon a Toy in the days leading up to the big night. When you’re finished, pop into Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar. During the holidays, this quirky Disney Springs lounge becomes a full-on Christmas bar, including merry décor and holly jolly bites and beverages.
Go Walking in a Winter Wonderland at the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail
Nothing says the holidays like a Christmas tree, and although each of the parks and many of the resorts have one or two, you’ll find a whole bunch of them right here at Disney Springs. Starting November 11 through December 30, guests can embark on the entertainment district’s yearly Christmas Tree Stroll.
For this spirited scavenger hunt, folks use a map to track down each of the 20 trees on the list. Then, once you’re done, simply turn it in for a free holiday pin. This year, thanks to a bit of digital magic, you can even take the fun home with you with Christmas Tree Trail Trivia on the Play Disney Parks app.
Get Caught in a Central Florida Snowfall
One of the most delightful parts of the holiday season throughout much of the world is the promise of freshly fallen snow. Sadly, as this is Central Florida, your chances of having a white Christmas are pretty slim – unless you’re at Walt Disney World, that is.
What’s more, you don’t need to go to Blizzard Beach to get in the wintry mood. With the help of a little Disney magic (AKA soap), shoppers and diners at Disney Springs are treated to festive flurries of snow (or snoap), with toy soldier stilt walkers and a wandering sleigh further setting the scene.
Well, festive fans, that wraps up our list of kid-friendly Disney Christmas activities the whole family will love. Which park do you love visiting during the yuletide season? Is the Grand Floridian gingerbread house worth a visit? Let us know in the comments! Then, learn how to stretch your travel budget and save more for Christmas gifts with our discount Disney World tickets.