Did you miss Christmas at Disney in 2021? That's okay. It just means you have several
months to plan for your 2022 trip. The holidays are a busy time for all of us-Disney included. This is why its best to begin planning NOW! If you're a "newbie" to Walt Disney World, there's a ton to learn then add to that holiday specific details... It's A LOT! All the information you're going to need to have the best experience, can get jumbled in our brains during the holidays when we already have a million and one things to do and remember. So by starting to plan now, you can learn all you need to know ahead of time so that when the time comes, you don't have to "cram" all that information into your already overwhelmed brain.
So...let's talk Disney at Christmas. Each park has it's own theme through the holidays. While there are many individually decorated trees, the "big trees" at each park are definitely worth visiting. In the past, my daughter and I have visited all 4 parks in a day to take photos with each tree. It was part of our annual Christmas visit tradition. Magic Kingdom turns Main Street USA into a traditional Winter Wonderland. To experience some extra Christmas magic, you can attend the after-hours event, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. On select nights, this event is hosted at the Magic Kingdom and is held during times after the park has closed to general admission guests. Mickey and pals throw a huge party including a special fireworks presentation, a parade, visits with Santa, and even snow falling on Main Street USA. They also offer treats like hot chocolate and cookies. It does require an additional ticket outside of regular park admission. EPCOT has a magnificent tree that holds ornaments for each of the countries represented throughout World Showcase. EPCOT is also home to the annual "Festival of the Holidays" where you can experience the traditional holiday foods and beverages from cultures around the globe. Another part of EPCOT's holiday celebration is the presentation of the Candlelight Processional. Each night, a celebrity narrator tells the Biblical story of Christmas with multiple choirs who perform songs of hope and traditional Christmas Carols. Hollywood Studios breaks out the Santa hat for Gertie next to her beautiful tree located in Echo Lake. Also, the Tower of Terror gets its own Christmas glam as the sun sets each day. Animal Kingdom is home to the Merry Menagerie, a collection of winter animals that you can interact with in Discovery Island. There's definitely something for everyone and you have to see them all to pick your favorite!
Another way to experience some really magical decorations is by visiting the resorts. Each Disney Resort is themed differently so of course, their Christmas decorations are as well. But the best part...there are so much more than trees and wreaths these days! Disney's Grand Floridian is home to the famous gingerbread house. Now guys, this isn't some little house sitting on a table with some gumdrops on it. OH NO!!! In true Disney fashion, this "house" actually houses Cast Members inside providing souvenirs you can only get during the holidays from this location. Did you catch that? THERE ARE PEOPLE INSIDE OF IT! This is gingerbread taken to a WHOLE new level and worth the trip to visit! But do not fear, there's more gingerbread magic where THAT came from. At Disney's Beach Club Resort, they have a gingerbread carousel in their lobby that is themed to a different Disney movie each year. In 2021, it was The Little Mermaid. This carousel is a moving carousel that will truly blow your mind! Definitely a must see! Want to experience the beauty of the Disney Springs also has it's own themed decor and typically each year, they have a scavenger hunt called the Christmas Tree Trail. This hunt allows you to find the 20 individually themed trees around Disney Springs.
There truly is so much to see through the holidays at Walt Disney World! I'll be honest, it is hard to see everything in one trip so you may want to find a few opportunities to visit during this time. The good news though, decorations start going up each year on November 1st and last through about January 2nd or so. This year I made 3 trips during the holidays and I recommend that everyone visit to experience the Disney Christmas Magic.
A few things to keep in mind are:
The two weeks around Christmas are peak season with some of the largest volumes all year. The closer you get to Christmas day, the more crowded the parks will be. Understand that the experience you will get depends on the dates you visit.
With after hours events, this means park times are adjusted. Also throughout the holidays, there are television productions that are filmed in the parks after they are closed to the public. This can also result in changing park times. If you're visiting a park that typically closes at 10 pm and you don't realize it is closing at 5 pm, that can be a significant loss of your visiting time. Be sure you check this out ahead of time.
Parks can reach maximum capacity during the holidays. Be sure you get your park and resort reservations made as early as possible if you're planning to visit during this time.
Merchandise that is only offered during the holidays is available all across the property. However, if there are specific items you are interested in purchasing, if you find them in one store, it's best to go ahead and buy it then. The merchandise does vary from store to store and park to park so it may not be available somewhere else. The more popular items tend to sell out quickly so general rule: if you really want it, you better grab it quick.