Christmas at Walt Disney World: Guide to the Parties, Celebrations & Fun!

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Christmas at Walt Disney World

Christmas at Walt Disney World

While Christmas has been in full swing at Disney World since the day after Halloween, the rest of the world is finally in the peak of the holiday season. Even though it is a bit late in the season, if you are thinking about a future trip during the holidays, here are some tips and tricks to survive Christmas at Walt Disney World.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

The Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a special ticketed event held during select nights in November and December in Magic Kingdom. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is an explosion of Christmas, and features special Christmas parades, fireworks, stage shows, character greetings, and other entertainment. Free unlimited cookies, soft pretzels, hot chocolate, and apple cider are also passed out throughout the party to all ticket-holders. Since the main draw for most people is the Party-exclusive holiday entertainment, lines for rides and attractions also tend to be shorter than usual.

Christmas at Walt Disney World
Christmas cookies included as part of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. 

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Tickets & FastPass+

You will need a separate Christmas Party ticket from the regular day ticket to enter the party, but you do not need a regular day ticket to purchase the Christmas Party ticket (in fact, I recommend skipping the parks that day, and instead sleep in, relax, and do one of the other free Disney holiday activities listed in this article).

Guests with a regular day ticket and without a Christmas Party ticket must leave the park by 6 p.m., as the Party officially starts at 7 p.m. Guests with a Christmas Party ticket can enter the park at 4 p.m., meaning you can get 3 bonus hours of park time before the Party (which is why I do not recommend having a regular day ticket that day – it is just overlap time that you are paying for twice!).

FastPass+ reservations can be made between 4 and 6 p.m. After 6 p.m., FastPass+ reservations cannot be used, but lines should be short anyway. I like to schedule my three advance FastPass+ at 3:15-4:15 p.m., 4:15-5:15 p.m., and 5:15-6 pm. I head straight to my first FastPass+ reservation after entering the park at 4 p.m. (grabbing the free Mickey cookie on the way), and then continue riding until 6 p.m.

walt disney world at christmas

Walt Disney World at Christmas – Attraction Holiday Overlays

Some attractions get a special Christmas themed overlay, which are only available during Christmas Party hours. These overlays are super fun (some, like Space Mountain, I even enjoy more than the ride’s regular state). However, if you are only visiting Magic Kingdom during the Christmas Party and want to ride these rides in their normal state, make sure to get on that ride before 6 p.m.

Attractions with holiday overlays during the Christmas Party include:
  • Tomorrowland Speedway – pretty holiday lights line the Speedway tracks
  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor – characters tell special holiday themed jokes
  • Space Mountain – unlike the usual state of total darkness, holiday lights illuminate the ride, meaning you can actually see the tracks (which I thought made for a rather enjoyable ride)
  • Mad Tea Party – holiday lights and music
  • *Jungle Cruise aka Jingle Cruise – holiday scenes, decorations, and jokes (*this ride is in the “Jingle Cruise” state during normal park hours, so ride this before 6 p.m. for the same holiday fun with shorter lines)

Do’s and Don’ts for the Walt Disney World Christmas Party

Take my word for it – the hours during the Christmas Party go by very quickly! To make the most of your precious Party time, follow these do’s and don’ts:

  • Do have a plan – do your research and determine your priorities (rides, shows, characters – you won’t have time for it all!)
  • Don’t be too strict with the plan. Surviving Disney takes that delicate balance of knowing when to follow the plan and when to follow the fun
  • Do take advantage of the special holiday shows and entertainment – this is what you came for after all
  • Don’t spend too much time eating – eat before the party or grab a quick bite during the party, but avoid sit down restaurants
  • Do take time to look around and absorb all of the Disney holiday wonder!

Prices + Walt Disney World at Christmas in 2020 & Beyond

While it is late in the season, it is never too early to start thinking about a future Christmas Party trip. Early to mid November and early December are great times to visit Walt Disney World at Christmas and attend the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. 

In 2019 tickets for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party could be purchased in advance for between $99 and $139 for adults, depending on the day, with child tickets costing $5 less. However, you can often find Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Disney tickets at a discount through Disney partners such as Undercover Tourist. This is the perfect way to do it if you want to wipe off the charge with your Capital One® card. It should also code towards your Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 travel credit.

You can even stretch the savings further by going through the Rakuten portal (previously Ebates) to get an additional 1% back on Undercover Tourist purchases. Tickets through partners like Undercover Tourist have the same rules and functionality as any other Disney ticket, and are linkable to your My Disney Experience account.

Walt Disney World at Christmas – Free Holiday Entertainment

Believe it or not, there are many free ways to entertain yourself and your family over the holidays at Disney World.

Disney World Guide 2020
Gingerbread carousel at Disney’s Beach Club
Village and train as part of the Christmas display at Disney’s Yacht Club.

Resort Hotel Decorations

Many Deluxe Resorts (like the Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club, BoardWalk, etc.) have elaborate Christmas decorations, such as giant gingerbread houses or detailed gingerbread carousals. You don’t need to be staying at the resort to view the decorations. This is also a great time to check out new Disney resorts that you may not have seen before.

A lot of people dedicate a day to their Walt Disney World Christmas trip just to checking out the decorations. It is fun to use various modes of transportation (see below) to check out the various resorts.

Disney Springs

Disney Springs is an outdoor complex filled with shops, restaurants, and other outdoor entertainment. It is a popular place to grab a bite to eat, shop, or just get that Disney fix without having to spend money on a park ticket.

During the holidays, there are several free ways to entertain yourself at Disney Springs, including:

  • Walk through the Christmas Tree Trail: the Christmas Tree Trail features trees themed to different Disney movies and characters, including Frozen, Toy Story, and Star Wars
  • Catch some live entertainment, holiday carolers, or a street party
  • Visit one of several photo ops, including photos with Santa Claus
  • Window shop through the stores: Disney Springs has nearly endless stores, many of which will have fun Disney holiday merchandise. Spend some time looking at fun Christmas items (sadly baby Yoda cannot be spotted this Christmas season).
walt disney world at Christmas
Shawn’s daughter Ellie playing at Disney Springs during the holiday season.

Ride Disney Transportation

As I mentioned before, Disney transportation can be a great way to see the holiday decorations around Walt Disney World. Disney transportation is free and does not require a park ticket and you can take the brand new Disney Skyliner or bus/boat/monorail transportation between resorts. These can become fun free “rides” for the family!

Christmas at Walt Disney World – Bottom Line

Christmas at Walt Disney World (and the entire holiday season) can be a truly magical place to spend the holidays. Instead of buying toys and material items next Christmas, why not gift your family a trip to Disney that they will remember for years to come.

Disney during the holidays – do you love it or hate it? Share in the comments.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Just spent Christmas Eve at Magic Kingdom and Christmas at Hollywood studios. Note to self and all my friends please save yourself a whole lot of aggravation and skip the parks completely during the peak holiday dates. There is nothing magical when it takes you 1.5 hrs just to get back to your car from the park. If it was a small business the fire Marshall’s would have shut the place down for being a safety hazard but Disney brings in big bucks so gets away with it

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