Did you know that once a year it snows in Florida? That’s right, during the holiday season in November and December, you will find SNOW in Florida, on Main Street, USA, at Disney’s Magic Kingdom park. Isn’t it magical? Ok, it’s not actual snow, it’s Snope, but with a little Pixie Dust — poof, SNOW!
Disney during the holidays, with the sprinkling of twinkle lights, the scent of Mickey-shaped gingerbread wafting through the air, and the sounds of Christmas tunes is like no other place in the world. My family has been visiting Walt Disney World in early December every year for more than a decade, and it is our most cherished family tradition!
I know holiday travel can be stressful, and that is exactly why I’m here for you, to guide you and take away that stress. Working with me, your only job will be deciding which holiday-themed Mickey-shaped treat to try next! I will take care of the rest.
Here are a few tips to make the most out of your Disney trip during the holidays.
Be Aware of the Weather in Florida During Winter Months
Winter in Florida is delightful and usually temperate. However, this time of the year can bring a wide temperature range, so I always suggest my guests to pack mittens, hats, sweatshirts, as well as swimsuits and t-shirts. You never know! You need a little bit of everything to be prepared. I have been there during a cold front, with all guests scurrying to the Emporium to find hats, and I have also been there in December during a heat wave, when we were glad we had packed tanks and shorts.
Usually, I find early mornings and late evenings a bit chilly, while mid-day tends to be pure perfection and the ideal time to relax poolside. Keep in mind that all Disney pools are heated. My daughter, along with most kids, will swim no matter what the temperature is outside. Ponchos are a must at any time of the year, though the winter months are typically less rainy than other seasons. Ultimately, Disney in winter means being prepared for chilly mornings/evenings and warmer afternoons, even though most of the time the weather in winter is dreamy.
When to Visit Walt Disney World in the Winter
My family has visited Disney during all the winter months, from November to February. While January and February both have desirable weather, we don’t want to miss all the holiday decor that goes up in the parks immediately following Halloween and comes down right after the new year. That is why our favorite time to enjoy Disney during the winter season is early December. But don’t tell anyone, it’s our secret!
Visiting during the actual week of Thanksgiving or Christmas also means huge crowds and lots of lines. These weeks are still magical ones, but if you can visit during another winter week, I certainly would advise you to do so. Post-Covid, the crowd calendars seem to be more of a “suggestion” than actual facts. Right now, with the 50th anniversary celebration, busy is just the norm. Still, any time you visit during an actual holiday week the crowds will increase, so I recommend traveling to see Mickey either before Thanksgiving or before Christmas and New Year’s weeks.
All the parks and resorts have unique holiday happenings, which means there is literally no end to the holiday happiness you will experience. Here’s what each location has to offer.
DISNEY’S MAGIC KINGDOM
Let’s begin with the Magic Kingdom and my favorite event, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This special event is back this year in full swing, and I could not be more excited! We have attended this hard-ticket event many times and never tire of its holiday cheer. There is something magical about the larger-than-life tree on Main Street, the harmonies of the Dapper Dans, the holiday projections on Cinderella’s Castle, and the toy soldiers click-click-clicking their way down Main Street during Mickey’s Christmastime parade (which runs twice during the evening), topped off by Minnie’s Christmastime Fireworks. All of it is truly MAGICAL.
Cast members begin filtering out guests late day so that only those who have purchased a ticket for this event can enter at 4 PM, and stay until midnight when the park closes. Did you know that you may also get in line for an attraction right before the clock strikes midnight and be permitted to ride? So, channel your inner Cinderella, don’t lose a shoe, and run to that line before the park closes!
Because Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is packed with magical events, I always suggest that my guests have a plan and prioritize. There is simply no way to see and do it all in the time allotted, otherwise. You have the special Holiday Character greetings, Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration stage show, Santa sightings, parades, snack locations, AND experiencing the rides. My family finds this night more about the holiday ambiance, the parade and shows rather than the rides. But if you are a family who prioritizes the attractions, then my advice is to enjoy the rides during the first parade, when most people line up to watch and wait times drop. After that, you can scoot back to Main Street for the second viewing of the parade.
Also, make sure you dress up! Dressing up in matching family holiday PJs or family holiday outfits is a thing! And you will see guests in the parks, especially during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, all decked out in their holiday’s finest. Although always be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
With the implementation of the Park Pass Reservation System, it is important to consider and revise your theme park passes for the entirety of your trip, since on dates when there is a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, you must exit the Magic Kingdom park early. If you have a Park Hopper ticket, party days might actually be a good time to visit the Magic Kingdom in the morning, since guests with base tickets would typically skip the park on this day. After that, at around 2 PM, you can hop to another park for the evening hours. Your Magical Vacation Planner can definitely help you create a personalized Park Plan to maximize your Holiday Happiness.
DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
Echo Lake and Gertie (IYKYK) are decorated, and there is usually a Photo Pass photographer at this spot ready to take the most beautiful picture of your enchanted family. A must-do! Which leads me to Memory Maker. If you do not usually purchase Memory Maker, a holiday trip is definitely the time to splurge on this added magical feature, as you will likely want to capture and keep all the memories.
Our favorite holiday meal is at Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood and Vine, a crowd-pleaser for the whole family. Making dining reservations at the 60-day mark is incredibly important, especially during the holidays, and your Magical Vacation Planner can perfectly guide you through this process. My family likes to end the night at Hollywood Studios with the Sunset Seasons Greetings Show, which has music and projections on the Tower of Terror during the evening hours. And it Snopes here, too!
EPCOT hosts The International Festival of the Holidays, which draws crowds of its own, especially for the retelling of the Christmas story by celebrity narrators during the Candlelight Processional. And while we like this event, we also love the Holiday Cookie Stroll around World Showcase. When it comes to trying cookies from all around the world, COUNT ME IN!
The Chip and Dale Christmas Tree Spree scavenger hunt is also one of our favorites. My daughter is 16 but still wants to do this every year. You can purchase a cute map at the Ports of Entry and begin the hunt, which ends with an adorable Disney prize.
The MOST exciting holiday news for Epcot this year, however, is that the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction will have its own Christmas Overlay, with a holiday tunes mash-up replacing the classic tunes. Seriously, CANNOT WAIT! Don’t forget, this attraction does not have a stand-by line, only a Paid Lightning Lane or the Virtual Queue, and I have done both because it is that good. So don’t worry, Groot and I have you covered, and I’ll make sure you understand the Boarding Group Process.
DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM
The highlight for my family during the holidays at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the Tree of Life Awakenings at night, featuring the sweet holiday stories overlay. This favorite mesmerizes us, we can literally stand and watch endlessly. Do be cognizant of the park hours, though, as Disney’s Animal Kingdom usually closes earlier than the other parks.
RESORTS AND DISNEY SPRINGS
Staying in the Disney bubble on-property has perks, and during the holidays each resort is decorated, which is just the icing on an already magical cake. We love taking a Monorail Hop or a stroll around the EPCOT resort area to view the decorations and taste each resort’s specialized holiday treats. The life-size gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian is not to be missed! If you happen to find yourself at Ft. Wilderness, I advise you to take a walk and see all the decorations. The long-term guests staying at the campgrounds are known to go ALL OUT during the holidays.
An evening in Disney Springs shopping and dining is also a must on our to-do list, and a nice break from the parks. Disney Springs has its own Christmas Tree Stroll with elaborate trees decorated with specific Disney theming. We prefer to visit Disney Springs at night with all the lights because it just really feels like the holidays.
One last festive tip, bring holiday lights and decorate your room or balcony, or even your stroller or scooter. Just remember, no tape allowed!
My best advice and number one tip for traveling to Disney during the holidays is to go slow and soak up the magic. Take time to watch the shows, meet the characters, take family pictures, and allow the happiness of Disney combined with the spirit of the holidays to surround you and fill your heart.
The magic is waiting. Are you ready to hug Mickey this holiday season? I will be there, and I am ready to help your family plan a holiday trip that is dusted with Snope and, of course, Pixie Dust.
Ronna EdelsteinJuly 11, 2022
I have not been to WDW in decades—and I have never visited during the winter holidays. Now, thanks to the enthusiastic and well-written blog of MVP Cala Brown, I am contemplating a trip. Ms. Brown’s love for WDW has inspired me to experience the magic in person.
Cala BrownJuly 13, 2022
I would be so honored to help you plan a Most Magical Disney trip!
JoyceJuly 12, 2022
This is an amazing post. Cale is amazing. I’m going to Disneyworld for my first visit in 2 weeks. Without Cala’s help, our trip would have been a disaster. She’s amazing and knows everything about Disneyworld. She’s a pro…
Cala BrownJuly 14, 2022
Joyce, you are a dream Guest, it has been my absolute pleasure helping you plan a Magical trip!
Audra GluntJuly 12, 2022
I have been to Disney during the holidays and this blog mentioned things I haven’t heard of to date! So excited to have a travel advisor with experience!
CalaJuly 14, 2022
Audra, oh my gosh! You have to go back durning the Holidays and do allll the things! Can’t wait to help you plan a Holiday trip for your Princess!
Pam GnerlichJuly 13, 2022
You are exactly right about everything!! Do d the holidays many times and it IS the best time of year!
CalaJuly 14, 2022
Pam you could not be more right! I love helping you plan, you share my love of the Magic!
CeciliaJuly 13, 2022
Omg this just made me so much more excited for my trip in early December!!! I’ve only been in July so this will be amazing. Thanks Cala and thanks for helping me plan this awesome trip!
CalaJuly 14, 2022
Cecilia, I am SO excited for your Magical Holiday Trip! You are going to have the best time! Working with you is a Dream!
DaphneJuly 13, 2022
Thank you for this magical article reminding me of why I also love visiting during the holiday season, there’s no better place than wdw!
CalaJuly 14, 2022
Daphne, I could not agree with you more. Thank you for your kind comment!
Liz RogersJuly 13, 2022
I have visited WDW during fall with the Halloween decorations but never during the holidays. The magic that Cala always shares about her December trips, and her expert advice on this blog, has put it on my bucket list for my next visit. Oh, to see the castle lit up in festive lights!
CalaJuly 14, 2022
Liz, I see a Holiday trip in your future! The Castle with the Dream lights is quite literally the most beautiful sight EVER.