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Top 5 Holiday Events at Walt Disney World

Friday, November 11, 2011

It’s hard to believe we recently turned the calendar to November.  As they say “Time marches on” and so do the events at Walt Disney World.  The resort is just about finished with its holiday transformation.  Elves with mouse ears invade the parks and resorts at night while guests are fast asleep hanging Christmas lights, garland, wreathes, and building Christmas trees.  It’s all designed to get you into the holiday spirit during your Disney World vacation in November, December and even into early January.   

If you’ve visited Disney World during the holiday season before you know what to expect.  We can sometimes take for granted how wonderful the parks and resorts look for the holiday season since a majority of the décor is the same year after year.   Who can blame Disney World for decorating the resort almost the same each year.  We do the same to our homes year after year.  We decorate our homes with the same ornaments, lights, and wreaths each year with a couple additions or removals to spruce things up a bit.   Regardless of our feelings about the Christmas décor at Disney World we have to appreciate, and considering Thanksgiving is right around the corner, be thankful for how wonderful the parks and resorts look for the holidays. 

Its true visiting Walt Disney world during the holidays provides you and your family with a totally different vacation experience.  There are many additional vacation experiences to enjoy all over the mega resort to get you further into the holiday spirit.  Some of these experiences are simply awesome and shouldn’t be missed if you are visiting Disney World.  Let’s take a look at the top 5.

Number 5 – Holidays Around the World – EPCOT’s World Showcase

Several countries inside World Showcase share their Christmas stories and traditions with guests through their version of Santa Claus or iconic holiday representative.  It’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit by understanding how the holidays are celebrated throughout the world.  Appearances in each country vary so make sure to check the times guide when you enter EPCOT. 

Number 4 – Visiting Ft. Wilderness Resort & Campground

I learned about this activity a few years ago from some friends who found it very entertaining.  The campground comes alive for the holidays as guests decorate their campsites with lights and other holiday décor.  Rows and rows of Christmas cheer are on display.  Most of these guests plant themselves at the campground for the entire month of December.  Also available at the campground resort are sleigh rides available for anyone to enjoy.  The sleigh rides are 25 minutes long from 5:30 until 9:30PM nightly from Dec 1st through Dec 30th.  Call (407)WDW-PLAY for more information. 

Number 3 – Holiday Resort Hopping 

Although resort decorations have been declining over the years it’s still worth visiting the deluxe resorts to see the various holiday displays each one offers.  The grand-daddy of resort holiday decorations is Disney’s flagship resort, the Grand Floridian.  There you will find a real life gingerbread house in the lobby that sells gingerbread flavored goods inside.  Most deluxe resorts have a central holiday piece for guests to admire. 

Number 2 – The Candlelight Processional – EPCOT’s America Gardens Theater

the Candlelight Processional is not to be missed. A mass choir, joined by a 50-piece live orchestra, and a celebrity narrator tell the story of Christmas in words and music in a very moving performance.  Celebrity narrators change every 2 to 3 days so make sure to check the schedule.  The narrator can make a big difference in the overall enjoyment of the show.  Performances are held each evening from 11/25 – 12/30 at 5:00, 6:45, and 8:15PM. 

Number 1 – The Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The late Jennings Osborne brought his household Christmas light display to Walt Disney World years ago.  Each year the lights have grown into a mega display of Christmas amusement for guests who visit the park.  Staged in the Streets of America section of Hollywood Studios you won’t want to miss this ginormous display of lights set to holiday music, artificial snow, and hot chocolate.  The lights are turned-on each evening around 6:00PM and stay lit usually 30 to 45 minutes after park closing.  This year’s display will start on 11/10 and continue through 12/3.  Continue to follow Studioscentral.com's coverage of the 2011 light display.      

You may notice I did not mention Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom.  In my opinion this hard-ticketed party has become over priced the past 5 years.  Since several of the party events like the parade and fireworks can be experienced between the Christmas and New Year holiday with regular park admission paying $65 to $70 for an adult hard ticket is not a good value.  The party lasts 5 hours and if your children get tired later in the evening you may end up leaving the party around 11:00PM.  I know you can enter the Magic Kingdom at 4:00PM with your party ticket, but I still feel with the party exclusions over the past 3 years this holiday party has lost some of its luster.  If you are visiting Walt Disney World for the first time, or this is your first holiday experience at the resort you may want to try it and see if you like it.   

If you plan on visiting Walt Disney World during November and December make sure you check crowd levels during that time.  The busiest week of the year at Walt Disney World is typically the week between Christmas and New Years Day.  The weeks leading up to Christmas are usually less hectic and much more enjoyable.  If you must visit Disney World during the busier weeks around Christmas and New Years make sure to plan accordingly and get to the parks early when attraction lines are shorter.  Also pack your patience as you will encounter long lines even for food and drinks.  It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also one of the busiest times of the year as well.      

From all of us at Studioscentral.com we wish you and your family a very happy and safe holiday season.

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About this column

Aaron DelPrince looks at the various activities you and your family can experience at Walt Disney World


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