Disney World Special Events, Festivals and Parties

LAST UPDATE: 12/2/22

This page covers Walt Disney World special events and annual festivals in the theme parks, Disney Resort Hotels and Disney Springs.

Notes:

Walt Disney World Special Events, Festivals & Parties

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January-May Events

June-August Events

September-December Events

New Year’s Day

Christmas decorations remain up throughout Walt Disney World through New Year, and generally several days past the first of the year.

There are special meals available at certain restaurants on New Year’s Day. You can reserve holiday meals up to 60 days in advance by calling (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463).

Note that “holiday pricing” (i.e. higher prices) will be in effect for some restaurants (particularly the buffets and character meals) from mid-December through the first few days of January (holiday season). Other restaurants may charge a premium on New Year’s Day, so be sure to ask when booking reservations.

Chinese New Year

Each year in January or February the China Pavilion in Epcot has a Chinese New Year celebration. Usually there are Chinese acrobats and special activities for kids.

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

In 2023, the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend will be held January 5-8. Registration opened April 19, 2022 at 10 am ET.

The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is an entire running weekend at Walt Disney World Resort. Other highlights include a Half Marathon, Goofy’s Race-and-a-Half Challenge, a Family Fun Run 5K and kids’ races. There may be a virtual race option for some race events.

Walt Disney World annual passholders, Disneyland annual passholders, DVC members and Club runDisney members are able to register ahead of the general public for some runDisney events. Check the annual passholder or DVC member website for details closer to the public registration date.

Epcot International Festival of the Arts

In 2023, the Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts will be held January 13 – February 20.

The Epcot International Festival of the Arts celebrates the visual, culinary and performing arts. There are over 15 food studios serving culinary art all around World Showcase; performances by Epcot musical artists Mariachi Cobre and the JAMMitors; art by Disney and other invited artists on display in marketplaces encircling World Showcase Lagoon. 

Purchase any 5 menu items from the Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine locations and collect a stamp in your Festival Passport. Once you have all five, bring your stamped Festival Passport back to Decadent Delights in Epcot for a colorful culinary prize.

Along with the visual arts, Disney Theatrical brings a showcase of music and Broadway talent to the America Gardens Theatre stage. Disney on Broadway concerts take place daily and are included with admission to Epcot. You can book a Disney on Broadway Concert Series Dining Package that includes lunch or dinner and a guaranteed priority seating at one of 3 concerts held the same day. 

For kids, there is Figment’s Brush with the Masters Scavenger Hunt; maps and stickers are available for $10.64, tax included, at various retail locations in Epcot. Kids search for artwork with Figment in the picture and add the location sticker to their map. Turn in the map to a Cast Member at a retail location to pick up a surprise.

Disney on Broadway Concert Series

Disney on Broadway concerts brings music and Broadway talent to the America Gardens Theatre every night from January 13 – February 20, 2022 as part of the Epcot International Festival of the Arts. Disney on Broadway concerts take place daily and are included with admission to Epcot. Performances are at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00 pm. 

You can book a Disney on Broadway Concert Series Dining Package at select restaurants that includes lunch or dinner and a guaranteed priority seating at one of 3 concerts held the same day. 

2023 Disney on Broadway Concert Series (schedule subject to change):

Disney on Broadway Concert Series Dining Package

The Disney on Broadway Concert Series Dining Package is available at participating Epcot restaurants, as part of the Disney on Broadway Concert Series at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts. Cost will vary depending on restaurant and mealtime selected. 

Dining packages include an appetizer, entrée, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage or one full buffet, where applicable, and guaranteed priority seating at one of 3 concerts held the same day. Dining reservations must be at least 2.5 hours prior to showtime.

  • 2023 Disney on Broadway Concert Series Dining Package reservations will be available to book on December 13, 2022. For more information or to make a reservation, go to the Disney on Broadway Concert Series Dining Package page or call (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463). Please note: admission to Epcot and a theme park reservation are required and not included in the price. Advance reservations are highly recommended.

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is February 14 every year. Walt Disney World does not generally have any special events or activities for Valentine’s Day, but we have plenty of tips and ideas for adding some romance to a Walt Disney World trip.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

In 2023, the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend will be held February 23-26. Registration opened June 21, 2022 at 10 am ET.

This annual event includes the Princess Half Marathon, Princess 5K, Enchanted 10K, kids’ races and other events. There will also be a sunrise yoga event in front of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park to kick off the weekend. There may be a virtual race option for some race events.

Walt Disney World annual passholders, Disneyland annual passholders, DVC members and Club runDisney members are able to register ahead of the general public for some runDisney events. Check the annual passholder or DVC member website for details closer to the public registration date.

Mardi Gras

In 2023, Mardi Gras will be February 21.

A little-known event on Mardi Gras is the mini-parade through Disney’s Port Orleans Resort. Several departments of the resort build floats on golf carts. The floats are judged and then parade through the grounds. During the parade they throw New Orleans-style trinkets (beads, candy, doubloons) to the guests who line up to watch. If you will be at Port Orleans Resort on Mardi Gras, be sure to ask at the front desk when this event will take place.

Several Disney Springs eateries, such as House of Blues and Maria & Enzo’s, celebrate Mardi Gras (or Carnevale, the Venice version of Mardi Gras) with special meals or menu items. Usually these special meals and menus are offered for several weeks.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

In 2022, the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival was held March 2 – July 4.

During the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, Disney punches up their landscaping at Epcot with additional topiaries, display gardens, wildlife habitats (including a butterfly garden) as well as offering some special tours. Outdoor Kitchens feature foods & beverages from the garden and grill.

Purchase any 5 menu items from the Garden Graze list in your Festival Passport and get a stamp. Once you have five stamps, bring your Festival Passport back to Pineapple Promenade Outdoor Kitchen in Epcot for an exclusive prize.

Garden Rocks concerts, featuring popular bands, rock the open-air America Gardens Theatre every night and are included with admission to Epcot. New for 2022, internationally recognized artists will perform Fridays-Mondays and local Orlando bands will perform Tuesdays-Thursdays. Garden Rocks Dining Packages are available Fridays through Mondays at select Epcot restaurants.

For kids, there is Spike’s Pollen Nation Exploration a springtime scavenger hunt. In each garden, search for the plant Spike has pollinated, identifiable by Spike himself and a Spike’s Pollen Nation Exploration plant stake. Once you find him, add the corresponding sticker to your map. Maps and stickers are available for $10.64, tax included. After your search is complete, return your map to Disney Traders or World Traveler pick up a surprise.

Annual passholders, Disney Vacation Club members and Disney Visa cardholders get 15% off the Behind the Seeds and Garden of World tours.

MouseSavers.com reader Carrie B offers this tip: “Festival merchandise usually gets marked down 50% off one full week before the end of the Flower & Garden Festival.”

Garden Rocks Concerts

Garden Rocks concerts, featuring popular bands, rock the open-air America Gardens Theatre every night from March 2 – July 4, 2022 as part of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, and are included with admission to Epcot. New for 2022, internationally recognized artists perform Fridays-Mondays and local Orlando bands perform Tuesdays-Thursdays. 

You can book a Garden Rocks Dining Package on Fridays through Mondays at select Epcot restaurants that includes lunch or dinner and a guaranteed seat at one of the Garden Rocks concerts held on the same day.

2022 Garden Rocks Concert Series (schedule subject to change):

Garden Rocks Dining Package

The Garden Rocks Dining Package, available for lunch or dinner on Fridays through Mondays, is offered during the Garden Rocks Concert Series. Dining packages are available at select Epcot restaurants. Cost will vary depending on restaurant and mealtime selected. Dining packages include an appetizer, entrée and dessert—or one full buffet or family-style dining, where applicable—along with a non-alcoholic beverage and a guaranteed seat at one of the Garden Rocks concert performances later that day.

  • 2022 Garden Rocks Dining Packages went on sale on January 19, 2022. For more information or to make a reservation, go to the Garden Rocks Dining Package page or call 407-WDW-DINE (939-3463). Please note: admission to Epcot and a theme park reservation are required and not included in the price. Advance reservations are highly recommended.

runDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend

In 2023, the runDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend will be held April 13-16. Registration opened August 23, 2022 at 10 am ET.

The 2023 Springtime Surprise Weekend theme will be a celebration of friendship and magic of Pixar. Events include:

There may be a virtual race option for some race events.

Walt Disney World annual passholders, Disneyland annual passholders, DVC members and Club runDisney members are able to register ahead of the general public for some runDisney events. Check the annual passholder or DVC member website for details closer to the public registration date.

Easter

In 2023, Easter Sunday will be April 9.

Magic Kingdom

Epcot

Hotel Events

Some of the Disney hotels offer egg hunts, egg decorating, characters in Easter costumes, etc. to their guests on Easter morning. If you are staying at a Disney hotel, inquire at the front desk when you arrive.

Pastry chefs display elaborate edible Easter Eggs in several Disney Hotels. In 2022, the Grand Floridian had a temporary store in the lobby, the Grand Cottage, selling Easter treats.   

Special Meals & Meal Pricing

There are special meals available at certain restaurants on Easter Sunday. An Easter Brunch is usually held each year at the Epcot World ShowPlace located between Canada and the United Kingdom pavilions. Regular Epcot admission is required. You can reserve holiday meals in advance on the Walt Disney World dining page or by calling (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463)

Note that “holiday pricing” (i.e. higher prices) will be in effect for some restaurants (particularly the buffets and character meals) for the two weeks on either side of Easter. Other restaurants may charge a premium on Easter Sunday, so be sure to ask when booking reservations.

Religious Services

In the past, services have been held on Easter Sunday only in the Fantasia Ballroom at the Contemporary Resort. Catholic Mass is at 8:00 am and 10:30 am. A Protestant service is held at 9:15 am. If you plan to attend, it is best confirm the time and location with the front desk or concierge.

You may not park at the Contemporary for these services, so to get there, you must do one of the following:

Earth Day Celebration at Animal Kingdom

In 2022, the Earth Day Celebration was held April 18-24.

During the Earth Day Celebration, Animal Kingdom hosts limited-time experiences, unique character appearances and learning opportunities, as well as specialty food, beverage and merchandise items. Earn a special Wilderness Explorer Earth Day Nature badge by completing a series of self-guided, nature-themed challenges.

New for 2022, there was a special Disney Character Cruise on Discovery River. 

At the Animation Experience at Conservation Station, learn how Disney animators bring favorite characters to life using real life animals as inspiration. There are special Disney characters featured for the Earth Day Celebration.

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo (5th of May) is a celebration of Mexican heritage and commemorates a Mexican victory in the 1862 Battle of Puebla. There is a relatively low-key Cinco de Mayo celebration centered on the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot, tied in with the International Flower & Garden Festival. It usually features some sort of special activity for families.

Mother’s Day

In 2023, Mother’s Day will be May 14.

On Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, some Walt Disney World Resort restaurants offer a special brunch menu.

Disney Channel Fan Fest

In 2020, the Disney Channel Fan Fest was scheduled to be held on May 16-17, 23-24 and 30-31. 

The Disney Channel Fan Fest takes place at Epcot. During this fan-focused day there will be activities such as Disney’s “QUIZney” trivia challenge; “Descendants” and “ZOMBIES”-themed dance parties; and learn-to-draw sessions with creators from Disney Television Animation. In addition, there will be a cavalcade down Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland Park featuring Disney Channel stars and Disney characters.

Cast members from popular Disney Channel shows will be available for meet and greets for fans with a wristband. Please note: Wristband distribution is on a first come, first served basis, beginning when the park opens, while supplies last.

Disney H20 Glow After Hours at Typhoon Lagoon

In 2022, Disney H20 Glow After Hours at Typhoon Lagoon were held every Saturday night from May 28 through August 27, from 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm.

On select Saturday nights, special lighting effects transform Typhoon Lagoon Water Park into an evening dance party. Admission includes complimentary snacks, including ice cream, popcorn and select beverages, plus all attractions will be open. H2O Glow ticketholders can enter Typhoon Lagoon as early as 6:00 pm. Tickets must be purchased in advance and there are a limited number of tickets for each date.

Tickets cost $79.88 per adult (age 10 and up) and $74.55 per child (age 3-9), tax included.

Annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members can purchase discounted tickets for $62.84 per adult (age 10 and up) and $57.51 per child (age 3-9), tax included.

Tickets must be purchased in advance and there are a limited number of tickets for each date. Please note: Disney H20 Glow After Hours is a separately ticketed event and the party is not included in daytime admission.

  • 2022 tickets for Disney H20 Glow After Hours went on sale for guests staying at select Walt Disney World Resort Hotels, the Swan & Dolphin and Shades of Green on March 29, 2022 and for everyone else on April 1, 2022. Tickets are available through Undercover Tourist at a small discount, or at full price direct from Disney via the Disney H2O Glow After Hours page or by calling (407) 939-1872. Please note: this ticket does not include daytime admission to Typhoon Lagoon.

Independence Day (July 4)

Magic Kingdom offers a special Independence Day fireworks show on July 3 & 4 in the Magic Kingdom above Cinderella Castle. There are also dance parties in Tomorrowland and Frontierland during the fireworks show. These activities are included in regular park admission. 

At Epcot on July 4, Disney characters are dressed in patriotic attire throughout the day at the American Adventure Pavilion. Voices of Liberty, the eight-part a cappella group, has a special performances at the American Gardens Theatre at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00 pm. These activities are included in regular park admission.

On July 4 there is a special Independence Day version of the Epcot evening spectacular.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom does not offer fireworks since they would disturb the animals.

If you plan to visit one of the theme parks on July 4 (particularly if it falls on a weekend), be aware that it is one of the most popular days of the year. The parks may reach full capacity at some point during the day, and you may not be admitted (or re-admitted) to the parks until the crowds die down again, usually around dinner time. (This can happen even if you have a ticket, even if you’re staying at a Disney resort and even if you have dining reservations in the park. If the park is full, it’s full — Disney has to follow fire codes!) For that reason it’s best to arrive first thing in the morning and stay in the same park all day, or if you plan to leave, don’t plan anything (like dinner reservations) that would require you to re-enter in the afternoon. Bring any items you may need later and stow them in a locker when you arrive (the lockers will also sell out). Get Genie+ and buy paid Individual Lightning Lane reservations right away, because the lines will be very long by noon and reservations will be gone quickly.

Bastille Day

On July 14 the France Pavilion in Epcot celebrates Bastille Day, which commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution. This is a low-key event, but there are special activities for kids and adults.

Gay Days

In 2023, Gay Days will be held May 31 – June 5. 

While this is not a Disney-sponsored event, it is a very well-attended one.

Gay Days originally began in 1991. At the time it was “Gay Day in the Magic Kingdom,” a single day when the gay and gay supportive community was encouraged to “Wear Red and Be Seen” while visiting the world’s most popular theme park. Over the years it has grown to a week-long event. Visit GayDays.com for more info.

Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

The 2022 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival was held July 14 through November 19.

Each fall, Epcot hosts the International Food and Wine Festival, Epcot guests can enjoy the flavors of more than 25 international marketplaces dotting the World Showcase promenade. Tapas-sized portions of regional specialties run $3 to $8 each; recommended wines and/or beers pairings are available at each kiosk as well. 

Eat to the Beat Concerts take place on select nights and are included with admission to Epcot. New for 2022, internationally recognized artists and local Orlando bands will perform. Eat to the Beat Dining Packages are available to book for lunch or dinner on Fridays through Mondays at select Epcot restaurants.

The Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend takes place towards the end of the Food and Wine Festival.

For kids, there is Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak, a search throughout the World Showcase for Remy statuettes and the ingredients he needs to make his signature ratatouille. Maps and stickers were available for $9.95 plus tax at the following locations in Epcot: Mouse Gear, Port of Entry and World Traveler (International Gateway). Return your map toDisney Traders by the last day of the Food & Wine Festival to pick up a surprise.

Families can also participate in Emile’s Fromage Montage. Purchase any 5 cheese dishes from select Global Marketplaces listed in the Festival Passport and collect a stamp for each one. Bring the stamped Festival Passport to Shimmering Sips for a special prize.

A Few Tips

Eat to the Beat Concerts

Enjoy musical evenings during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival with Eat to the Beat Concerts scheduled July 14 – November 19, 2022 on the America Gardens Theatre stage. Concerts take place select nights and are included with admission to Epcot. Performances are at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00 pm. New for 2022, internationally recognized artists and local Orlando bands will perform.

You can book an Eat to the Beat Dining Package on Fridays through Mondays at select Epcot restaurants that includes lunch or dinner and a guaranteed seat at the Eat to the Beat concert held on the same day.

2022 Eat to the Beat Concert Lineup (schedule subject to change):

Eat to the Beat Dining Package

In 2022, Eat to the Beat Dining Packages were available for lunch or dinner Fridays though Mondays during the Eat to the Beat Concert Series. Dining packages are available at 6 Epcot restaurants. Cost will vary depending on restaurant and mealtime selected. Dining packages include an appetizer, entrée and dessert—or one full buffet or family-style dining, where applicable—along with a non-alcoholic beverage and a guaranteed seat to the Eat to the Beat Concert held on the same day.

Dining Packages can be booked in advance at Biergarten, Coral Reef Restaurant, Garden Grill and Le Cellier Steakhouse.

Same-day dining packages will be available at Regal Eagle Smokehouse and Spice Road Table. To book a same-day dining package, visit the restaurant in person that day.

Halloween at Walt Disney World (Overview)

 Halloween decorations start going up in the Magic Kingdom in August and are complete in time for the first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

There is a Halloween-themed cavalcade down Main Street, U.S.A. with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and pals wearing their favorite Halloween costumes and on select days there will be a cavalcade of Disney Villains. 

New for 2022, Epcot had Pluto’s Pumpkin Pursuit, a Halloween-themed pumpkin hunt. Search for different hidden pumpkins in Epcot, each inspired by a different Disney character. Once you find a pumpkin, place the corresponding sticker on your game board. Game boards and stickers are available for purchase at select locations in Epcot, including: Creations Shop, Port of Entry and World Traveler (International Gateway). Return your map to Disney Traders by October 31 to pick up a surprise.

If you are staying at one of Disney’s resorts over Halloween, ask the front desk concierge whether any special events are planned. Frequently the resorts do offer some kind of festivities.

Disney Springs offers live entertainment such as music, storytelling, a dance party, stilt walkers and/or magicians on Halloween.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

In 2022, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party was offered from 7:00 pm to midnight on August 12, 16, 19, 23, 26, 30; September 2, 5, 9, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 27, 29, 30; October: 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30 and 31.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is held on select nights in August, September and October each year from 7:00 pm to midnight, after the regular closing of Magic Kingdom, and requires separate admission. (You don’t have to have a theme park reservations or paid admission on the same day to the Magic Kingdom in order to attend the special after-hours event.) Guests with Not So Scary Halloween Party tickets are admitted to the park as early as 4:00 pm. You will need to get a wristband that allows you to stay in the park after the party begins.

Admission to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party includes trick-or-treating for adults and kids, character meet-and-greets, a Disney Junior Jam at Storybook Circus dance party, fortune tellers, Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween parade and a fireworks show: Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular. Plus, most of the major attractions are open. 

Attendees can wear costumes (subject to a few rules based on safety and appropriateness), but guests ages 14 and older are strongly discouraged from wearing layered costumes or costume props that surround the entire body. They may be subject to additional security screening. Check Walt Disney World’s costuming guidelines for more details.

Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, performed on the Castle Forecourt Stage, features the mischievous Sanderson Sisters from Disney’s Hocus Pocus. With the help of the Disney villains, Winifred, Mary and Sarah gather together sinister shadows, nefarious nightmares and the power of their frightful friends to conjure the ultimate Hocus Pocus Party Potion and cast a spell on everyone in the Magic Kingdom Park.

Several attractions will be transformed just for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, including Space Mountain, Mad Tea Party, Pirates of the Caribbean and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.

Is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party worth the money?

Depends on how much you are “into” Halloween. Some of the experiences available during the party are not offered at any other time, so it allows you to enjoy Magic Kingdom in a unique way.

Although the number of people admitted each night is limited, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party can feel quite crowded, particularly on weekend nights and the last couple of nights it’s offered. The rides will be less busy than they would be at that time on a regular park night, but the headliners can still build up some decent wait times, and the special character meetings will often have quite long lines. Don’t necessarily expect to walk onto every ride. The party is more about the parades and Halloween “atmosphere.”

It’s fun to have dinner at one of the in-park restaurants like Jungle Skipper Canteen, Tony’s Town Square, Liberty Tree Tavern or Be Our Guest just before the party. This allows you to be in the park right when the festivities begin. The in-park restaurants book up quickly, so make reservations as early as possible (60 days in advance).

Adult ticket prices start at $116.09, tax included. In the past, Friday nights in October and the final week leading up to Halloween have sold out in advance.

Disney Vacation Club members and Walt Disney World Annual Passholders can save $10 per ticket on select nights.

2022 Regular prices for all guests:

In the past, Active Duty, Retired, and Permanently Disabled US Military (with current military ID) have been able to purchase discounted tickets for themselves and up to 5 family/friends for select dates. The tickets may be purchased at any theme park ticket window or Guest Relations Office. They may also be available at Shades of Green or MWR/ITT locations, which do not charge tax. Tax is added if purchased at the theme parks.

  • 2022 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party tickets went on sale May 18, 2022. Guests of Walt Disney World Resort Hotels, Swan and Dolphin Hotels and Shades of Green could purchase tickets starting May 12, 2022. Tickets are available through Undercover Tourist at a small discount, or at full price direct from Disney via Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party page or by calling (407) 939-4240. These tickets do not require a theme park reservation. 

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend

In 2022, the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend was held November 3-6. 

The Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend includes a 5K, Half Marathon and the Disney Wine & Dine 10K, kids’ races and other events. There may be a virtual race option for some race events.

Walt Disney World annual passholders, Disneyland annual passholders, DVC members and Club runDisney members are able to register ahead of the general public for some runDisney events. Check the annual passholder or DVC member website for details closer to the public registration date.

ESPN’s Orlando Invitational

The 2022 Orlando Invitational will be held November 24, 25 & 27 at the HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Each year ESPN cooks up a Thanksgiving weekend basketball feast so big that even if a match-up or two turns out to be a proverbial “turkey,” the event still will provide roundball junkies with a memorable holiday treat.

Thanksgiving

In 2023, Thanksgiving will be November 23. Thanksgiving is always the fourth Thursday in November.

Walt Disney World does not offer a Thanksgiving parade or decorations in the parks. (However, the Christmas decorations are normally in place by Thanksgiving weekend.)

There are special meals available at many Disney World restaurants on Thanksgiving. Reservations for holiday meals can be booked up to 60 days in advance by calling (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463).

Note that “holiday pricing” (i.e. higher prices) will be in effect for some restaurants (particularly the buffets and character meals) from the weekend prior to Thanksgiving through the weekend after Thanksgiving. Other restaurants may charge a premium on Thanksgiving Day, so be sure to ask when booking reservations.

Christmas at Walt Disney World (Overview)

First, be sure to read our survival guide to visiting Walt Disney World at Christmas!

Christmas decorations at the Walt Disney World Resort usually begin going up in early November. The decorations are gradually added at night and are substantially complete at Magic Kingdom by the time of the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (in 2022, that will be November 8), with the resorts and other parks completed by the day after Thanksgiving. Each theme park will have an enormous decorated Christmas tree at the park entrance and are a popular place to take a photo. The decorations usually start coming down about January 3.

Each of the theme parks and Disney Springs have their own themed decorations, as well as special holiday entertainment and activities. Some activities are included with general admission, such as Cinderella Castle Dream Lights in Magic Kingdom and the Candlelight Processional in Epcot. There are also a number of dessert parties that include access to a reserved viewing area for that park’s evening holiday fireworks or projection show. While these parties can be somewhat pricey, it is one way to be sure you get a good view of the show, without having to spend time staking out a spot (which is time you can’t be going on rides). 

Santa Claus makes appearances at each park, as well as Disney Springs.

Jump to: 

The Disney Resort Hotels are also decorated for the holidays, and each of the Deluxe resorts have a decorated Christmas tree in their lobby. The Deluxe resorts also have fantastic edible displays. Beach Club Resort has a fully detailed, life-sized gingerbread carousel in the lobby. The lobby of Yacht Club Resort has a miniature New England-style train racing through a sugary rock mountain surrounded by a candy-coated model village. The Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House lobby has a life-size gingerbread baby giraffe and baby zebra. The Contemporary Resort has a Mary Blair-inspired Cinderella Gingerbread Castle. BoardWalk Resort usually has a gingerbread displays.

The biggest edible production is a gingerbread house at Grand Floridian Resort that is large enough that it doubles as a real bake shop. Featuring gingerbread using a classic Austrian recipe, the bake shop offers freshly baked items such as cookies, ornaments and miniature gingerbread houses. Other homemade items for sale may include Stollen Bread, chocolate peppermint bark, lollipops and special Grand Floridian logo boxes filled with truffles. Demonstrations of how to decorate a gingerbread house take place in front of the bake shop. The gingerbread house usually opens in mid-November.

Christmas at Magic Kingdom

For 2022, Magic Kingdom will have holiday entertainment and décor November 11 through December 31.

Seasonal characters – including gingerbread men and elves – join Disney characters in cavalcades through the park. On Main Street, U.S.A., toy soldiers will march with the Main Street Philharmonic. The Dapper Dans perform while riding the horse-drawn trolley down Main Street, U.S.A.

Santa will have individual time with guests to take photos and share their Christmas wishes.

In 2022, on select evenings, Cinderella Castle will be transformed with special projection effects, including a whimsical Christmas sweater and an overlay of red, green and gold ornamentation, followed by a transition into a Beacon of Magic, illuminating the night with an EARidescent glow. This takes the place of the “Dream Lights” effect, that makes the Castle seem to be covered in ice, that normally decorate Cinderella Castle for the holiday season. 

Each year during the holiday season, Jungle Cruise transforms into the Jingle Cruise. As you make your way through attraction queue, check out all the merry décor that’s been mailed to the skippers, or that they’ve created themselves. They even add a few holiday jokes to their tours to help everyone get in the spirit. 

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is held after the regular closing of Magic Kingdom and requires separate admission.

Christmas at Animal Kingdom

For 2022, Animal Kingdom will have holiday entertainment and décor November 11 through December 31.

On Discovery Island, there is a celebration of winter, with sparkling white holiday decorations, animal-inspired luminaries and wireframe lanterns in the shape of birds. There is also the Merry Menagerie, featuring life-size puppets of winter animals. These reindeer, foxes, polar bears, penguins and more interact with guests, accompanied by serenading musicians. At night, the Tree of Life awakens with a series of wintry tales, complemented by holiday-inspired music. There are a variety of character appearances and musical performances on festive flotillas on Discovery River, including Santa Claus, Donald Duck & Friends and the Discovery Island Drummers. 

For 2022, on nights when Animal Kingdom is open after dark, there is the Tree of Life Awakenings – Holiday Edition with holiday-themed images. 

In Asia, the residents of Anandapur decorate in celebration of Diwali, the holiday festival of lights in India. Glowing flowers, lanterns and more illuminate the square between Anandapur Theater and the waterfront stage.

The village of Harambe in Africa blends the inspiration and style of western traditions with the colors and textiles of African celebrations. The performers in Harambe add holiday-inspired enhancements to their performances.

The holiday spirit even reaches Pandora – The World of Avatar, where the ex-pats living and working on the moon of Pandora bring a little Christmastime fun to their alien home, with a display at Pongu Pongu of kitschy holiday décor, combining vintage pieces from Earth with items handcrafted from materials indigenous to Pandora.

Christmas at Hollywood Studios

For 2022, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will have holiday entertainment and décor November 11 – December 31.

Toy Story Land is decorated for the holidays with oversized cranberry-and-popcorn garland, a 10-foot-tall Hamm sugar cookie and more. Guests can hear sleigh bells ringing on Slinky Dog Dash, while Alien Swirling Saucers offers two holiday tunes with themed lighting. Characters dress up as well; Woody and Jessie sport special holiday vests and sprigs of holly on their hats, while Buzz Lightyear wears a snazzy Santa hat. There is a Santa Claus Merry Motorcade, where an entourage of Elves lead Santa up Hollywood Blvd. in his candy-apple red convertible. 

Each night during Sunset Seasons Greetings, billboards on Sunset Boulevard come to life and tell a tale, courtesy of iconic characters sharing their love for the season. All the while, the Hollywood Tower Hotel — a.k.a. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror — magically transforms into a Muppets gingerbread masterpiece, a Toy Story toy hotel, a snowy corner of Arendelle and a Dickensian village from Mickey’s Christmas Carol. This experience runs continuously throughout the night.

For 2022, each night after sunset Seasons Greetings the Hollywood Tower Hotel becomes a Beacon of Magic, evoking the golden age of imagination and adventure.

Just for the holidays, Olaf joins the cast of For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration at the Hyperion Theater. The holiday version of the show includes a seasonal finale featuring Olaf and three songs from Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.

Epcot International Festival of the Holidays

For 2022, Epcot International Festival of the the Holidays will be held November 25 – December 30.

For Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, each pavilion’s holiday celebration comes to life for through the sharing of joyful music and time-honored traditions. In past years, the Epcot nighttime spectacular completed the celebration for the night. Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is included with regular Epcot admission.

For 2022, on select nights Spaceship Earth becomes a Beacon of Magic, with lights shining from the reflective panels, along with a rotation of holiday-themed displays.

There are live musical performances, including the Candlelight Processional, and multiple Holiday Kitchens, serving up holiday cookies and other sweet seasonal treats from around the world. Use the Festival Passport to track your purchases of five select holiday cookies, then, stop by Holiday Sweets and Treats to receive a special complimentary “completer” cookie and a glass of milk! The Gingerbread Bake Shop in Epcot is a life-sized gingerbread house is made entirely of gingerbread, cookies and icing. Santa Claus will appear with storytellers from around the world.

In 2022, Santa Claus will be at The Odyssey from November 25 through December 24, for photos and individual visits. 

New for 2022, on Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind a mash-up of seasonal jams will replace the classic hits playlist.

In 2022, in the American Adventure Rotunda there will be gingerbread versions of the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and The American Adventure building on display starting November 25.

Kids can be on the lookout for Olaf in each World Showcase pavilion. Once you spot him, match the tradition on his sleigh to the location on your sticker map. The Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition map and stickers can be purchased for $10.64, tax included, at select merchandise locations (while supplies last). Return the completed map to the designated location and exchange it for a gift.

Holidays at Disney Springs

For 2022, Holidays at Disney Springs will be held November 11 – December 30.

Holidays at Disney Springs includes a variety of holiday entertainment, specialty foods and festive décor. Enjoy Toy Soldier stilt walkers, Snowflake Skaters, pop carolers and a cappella groups. There are special performances celebrating Kwanzaa, songs and stories in honor of Hanukkah as well as a magical snowfall each evening. Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar transforms into Jock Lindsey’s Holiday Bar with seasonal décor and a special limited-time menu.

Santa will be at the Once Upon a Toy store and you can get individual time with him and take photos with your own camera or use PhotoPass. Use MyDisneyExperience to join the virtual queue to meet Santa. Santa greets guests daily through December 24.

For kids, there is Stitch’s Holiday Gift Hunt – use the clues to find Stitch’s gifts for his family. Pick up a Holiday Gift Hunt booklet containing a map, clues and stickers at any participating location. Visit each gift hunt site, spot the hidden Stitch holding up one of his presents and then match the correct gift sticker to its corresponding location on the map. Then go to a redemption center to collect a festive surprise.

As part of the Christmas Tree Stroll, there are elaborately decorated Disney Christmas trees throughout Disney Springs. Each one has been designed to capture a popular Disney theme. Maps with the locations of all the trees are available at: City Works Eatery & Pour House, Crystal Arts by Arribas Brothers, Planet Hollywood, The Boathouse and Uniqlo. You can return your complete map to one of those locations and receive a surprise. 

There are over-sized toy sculptures throughout Disney Springs, the perfect place to pose for family photos.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Scrooge McDuck

Scrooge McDuck by Sam Howzit (CC)

In 2022, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will be offered from 7:00 pm to midnight on November 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 22, 27, 29 and December 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20 and 22.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is held after the regular closing of Magic Kingdom and requires separate admission. (You don’t have to have paid admission or a theme park reservation to Magic Kingdom in order to attend the special after-hours event.) The event is held from 7:00 pm to midnight on select nights, usually running from about the second week of November through approximately a week prior to Christmas. Guests with Very Merry Christmas Party tickets are admitted to the park as early as 4:00 pm. You will need to get a wristband that allows you to stay in the park after the party begins.

Admission to the event includes complimentary hot chocolate and cookies, “snow” on Main Street, holiday stage shows, carolers, Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime parade and the Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime fireworks show. Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration is presented on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage. Mickey and his pals invite some of their friends for an unforgettable Christmas party filled with music, dancing, color and fun. Plus, most of the major attractions will be open. In Tomorrowland, there is the Club Tinsel dance party and the Totally Tomorrowland Christmas, an intergalactic musical revue where Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski and Stich perform holidays songs with a modern twist. Over in Storybook Circus there is the Disney Junior Jingle Jam, a dance party with characters from Disney Junior shows.

Select Magic Kingdom attractions receive holiday enhancements just for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. On Tomorrowland Speedway, you cruise a festive freeway filled with thousands of lights and stylized décor. The crew at Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor have a special holiday-themed show just for the party. Space Mountain has special lighting and high-energy holiday tunes, and at the Mad Tea Party in Fantasyland, the teacups spin to one of four holiday combos of lights and music.

Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime fireworks show celebrates the magic of Christmas with medleys of holiday songs, from “Joy to the World” and “Deck the Halls” to “Up on the House Top” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” 

Is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party worth the money? Depends on your plans. Be aware that the same parades, shows, “snow” experience and fireworks (but not the hot chocolate and cookies) are offered as part of regular admission if you visit Magic Kingdom starting the day after Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party ends, through New Year’s Eve. So if you will be visiting Magic Kingdom between the day after the party and New Year’s Eve, it might not be worth the extra money to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party earlier in the month. The special ride enhancements, special character meet and greets, some special decorations, and some commemorative merchandise are only available at the party.

Although the number of people admitted each night is limited, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party can feel quite crowded, particularly on weekend nights and the last couple of nights it’s offered. The rides will be less busy than they would be at that time on a regular park night, but the headliners can still build up some decent wait times, and the special character meetings will often have quite long lines. To give you some idea, on the final sold-out night of 2013, before the party started the wait time for Space Mountain was hovering between 40-45 minutes. After the party started, the wait went down to 15-25 minutes. On the other hand, the Haunted Mansion didn’t change; it was 10-15 minutes before the party started and 10-15 minutes after the party started. It can be a lot of fun to attend if you want to get into the Christmas spirit in late November or early December, but don’t necessarily expect to walk onto every ride. The party is more about the parades and Christmas “atmosphere.”

It’s fun to have dinner at Tony’s Town Square or Liberty Tree Tavern just before the party. This allows you to be in the park right when the festivities begin. The two restaurants book up quickly, so make reservations as early as possible (60 days in advance).

Typically, ticket prices are least expensive for early November, a bit more for mid-November and early December and most expensive for the last few dates in December. In the past, the last party before Christmas has sold out well in advance.

Ticket prices start at $158.69, tax included, per adult. There are a limited number of tickets for each date. The last party before Christmas is likely to sell out well in advance.

2022 Regular prices for all guests (tax included):

  • $158.69 (age 10+), $148.04 (age 3-9) for November 10, 14, 15, 17
  • $169.34 (age 10+), $158.69 (age 3-9) for November 8, 11, 18
  • $179.99 (age 10+), $169.34 (age 3-9) for November 27, 29; December 1, 2, 4, 6, 8
  • $190.64 (age 10+), $179.99 (age 3-9) for November 20, 22; December 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18
  • $211.94 (age 10+), $201.29 (age 3-9) for December 20, 22

Disney Vacation Club members and Disney Annual Passholders can save $10 per ticket on select nights.

In the past, Active Duty, Retired, and Permanently Disabled US Military (with current military ID) have been able to purchase discounted tickets for themselves and up to 5 family/friends for select dates. The tickets may be purchased at any theme park ticket window or Guest Relations Office. They may also be available at Shades of Green or MWR/ITT locations, which do not charge tax. Tax is added if purchased at the theme parks.

  • 2022 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets went on sale July 7, 2022. Guests of Walt Disney World Resort Hotels, Swan and Dolphin Hotels and Shades of Green could purchase tickets starting June 30, 2022. Tickets are available from Undercover Tourist (at a small discount for select dates), or directly from Disney via Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party page. These tickets do not require a theme park reservation.

Candlelight Processional

In 2022, the Candlelight Processional will be held November 25 – December 29.

There are three performances each night, at 5:15, 7:00 and 8:30 pm. 

The Candlelight Processional is an annual event at the America Gardens Theatre in World Showcase at Epcot. It consists of a celebrity narrator presenting the Biblical Christmas story, plus a large choir and an orchestra performing traditional religious Christmas carols. The Processional is an explicitly Christian religious presentation with a “church service” feel to it. Each show runs about 40 minutes. You’ll need to line up at LEAST 45 minutes prior to the show if you want to have any hope of getting in (or buy the Candlelight Processional Dining Package for guaranteed entry).

There is no additional charge for the performance over and above your Epcot admission.

2022 Candlelight Processional Narrators (schedule subject to change):

  • November 25 – 26: Simu Liu
  • November 27 – 29: Chita Rivera
  • November 30 – December 1: Raul Esparza
  • December 2 – 3: Whoopi Goldberg
  • December 4 – 6: Isabella Rossellini
  • December 7 – 9: Daymond John
  • December 10 – 12: Josh Gad
  • December 13 – 14: Gloria Estefan
  • December 15 – 18: Neil Patrick Harris
  • December 19 – 20: Mariska Hargitay
  • December 21 – 23: Cal Ripken Jr.
  • December 24 – 26: Marie Osmond
  • December 27 – 28: Courtney Vance
  • December 29 – 30: Angela Bassett

Candlelight Processional Dining Package

In 2022, the Candlelight Processional will be held November 25 – December 30.

You can purchase a special Candlelight Processional Dining Package. With this special package you pay a flat rate for a sit-down meal or full buffet at an Epcot restaurant and you receive “preferred seating” for the Candlelight Processional. Admission to Epcot is not included in the dining package price.

Lunch and dinner packages are available at select Epcot restaurants: Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway Pavilion, Garden Grill in The Land Pavilion, Coral Reef in The Living Seas Pavilion, Rose & Crown Dining Room in the UK Pavilion, Le Cellier Steakhouse in the Canada Pavilion and Biergarten in the Germany Pavilion. Cost will vary depending on which restaurant you pick. Reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance of your visit.

New for 2022, same day Candlelight Processional dining packages may be available at Spice Road Table in the Morocco Pavilion or Regal Eagle Smokehouse in the American Adventure Pavilion. No reservation is needed; check with the restaurant in person to see if a dining package is available for later that day. The same day dining package is subject to availability.

Based on our experience, getting the package may be the only way you’ll get a seat at all, particularly on weekend nights. Expect to wait in a significant line to enter the show, even if you have the package.

Holiday Sleigh Rides

During the month of December, Disney offers 25-minute “sleigh” rides through the woods from the Ft. Wilderness Campground. (The horse-drawn vehicle is wheeled but made to look like a red sleigh, complete with sleigh bells!) Each person receives a special limited-edition pin. After your ride you can stroll through the barn to check out where the horses live and learn more about them.

You can book up to 60 days in advance by calling (407) WDW-PLAY (939-7529).

Christmas Eve & Christmas Day

First, be sure to read our survival guide to visiting Walt Disney World at Christmas!

There are special meals available at certain restaurants on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. You can reserve holiday meals up to 60 days in advance by calling (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463).

Note that “holiday pricing” (i.e. higher prices) will be in effect for some restaurants (particularly the buffets and character meals) from mid-December through the first few days of January (holiday season). Other restaurants may charge a premium on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day, so be sure to ask when booking reservations.

Religious services have been held on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the Fantasia Ballroom at the Contemporary Resort. On Christmas Eve (December 24) there is a Christmas Eve Vigil at 6:00 pm and a Midnight Mass at midnight. On Christmas Day (December 25) Catholic Mass is held at 8:00 am and 10:30 am and a Protestant service will be held at 9:15 am. If you plan to attend, it is best confirm the time and location with the front desk or concierge.

You may not park at the Contemporary for these services, so to get there, you must do one of the following:

  • take the monorail to the Contemporary
  • take a boat to the Contemporary
  • take resort transportation (monorail, boat or bus) to the Magic Kingdom and transfer to a shuttle bus serving the Contemporary resort

New Year’s Eve

First, be sure to read our survival guide to visiting Walt Disney World at Christmas! (The advice also applies to New Year’s Eve.)

Disney Springs is also a VERY popular place to celebrate New Year’s Eve. If you are planning to take a taxi or ride-share back to your hotel after midnight, be prepared for long lines and/or wait times! Wait times for the Disney buses may be longer than usual too. 

Theme Parks

In the past, Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios all stayed open late on New Year’s Eve and offered extra entertainment, usually including live performances, extra parades and fireworks. These festivities were included in regular park admission. 

Christmas decorations remain up throughout Walt Disney World through New Year, and generally several days past the first of the year.

Special Meals

There are special meals available at certain restaurants on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. You can reserve holiday meals up to 60 days in advance by calling (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463).

Note that “holiday pricing” (i.e. higher prices) will be in effect for some restaurants (particularly the buffets and character meals) from mid-December through the first few days of January (holiday season). Other restaurants may charge a premium on New Year’s Eve and/or New Year’s Day, so be sure to ask when booking reservations.