Sure, the holidays are for family and traveling back to your hometown. It’s just not Christmas without 13 cousins sharing a bedroom and unspoken tension as the in-laws analyze your gift wrapping abilities. Right?
It’s no wonder that Disney World is attracting more and more visitors throughout the holiday season.
Many families (including mine) are choosing to use their precious vacation days and time off school to enjoy the warm weather and the enchantment of Disney World. After all, if Christmas is the season for magic – nobody does magic better than the Walt Disney World Resort!
While Orlando‘s largest theme park promises a once in a lifetime experience year round, Disney truly pulls out all the stops for the winter holidays. You’ll enjoy attractions and sights that are only available for visitors in November and December.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party – this Magic Kingdom event is not available during regular park hours. It’s a special evening event on select nights in November and December.
In addition to most of the rides being fully functional, party attendees can also enjoy the evening Christmas parade. Of course, the biggest difference between this and the usual Magic Kingdom evening parade that is included with regular park admission is that all of the characters and floats are themed in holiday garb. What you can’t get any other night is free hot chocolate and cookies!
Personally, I think the best thing about Christmas at the Magic Kingdom is the Cinderella Castle glittering with holiday lights. It’s a constant reminder that I need to convince my husband to buy more icicle lights next year.
Epcot’s Candlelight Processional at the American Gardens Theatre – easily the most faith based of all the Disney Celebrations, this nightly event takes the Christmas concert to a whole new level. It boasts a 50-piece orchestra and a mass choir of amateur vocalists, just like at home (if your home happens to have a world renowned orchestra). And of course, the biblical Christmas story is read aloud – by celebrity narrators like Neil Patrick Harris.
If you’re planning to attend one of these shows, prepare to get in line early. My family arrived an hour before one performance and were the very last people allowed in for that showing.
The Osborne Family Spectacle Of Dancing Lights at Hollywood Studios – this is the most underrated Christmas destination as far as I’m concerned. What Disney’s web site unenthusiastically describes as holiday light display is the physical personification of the Christmas Spirit.
Based on the free light display an Arkansas man once hosted in his own neighborhood before neighbors sued to have it removed, the Spectacle Of Dancing Lights features an illumination spanning nearly three city blocks and requiring over 20,000 man hours to assemble. Holiday music keeps time for the blinking displays as crowds of people do nothing more than stand and stare.
But what truly makes this a must-see is the snow. Several snow machines set loose a swirling snow storm on the city “streets” that is so realistic you’ll see children and adults alike trying to catch flakes on their tongues. They’ll soon discover the snow is made from soap.
Standing between the two story buildings covered in pulsing lights, listening to the notes of holiday classics and watching the snow fall around you in Florida is, I’m convinced, the closest one can come to knowing what it feels like to be inside a Christmas movie.
Oh, yeah. Animal Kingdom offers a Jingle Jungle Parade, too.
All pictures taken by Britt Reints.