My Three Favorite Christmas Activities at Disney World

Written by Jessica Ma'ilo. Posted in Animal Kingdom, Disney, Disney Hollywood Studios, Disney Parks, Epcot, Features, Magic Kingdom, Park Wise, Walt Disney World

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Published on December 19, 2013 at 3:00 am with 13 Comments

I’m a Disney geek.  I’m a Christmas nerd.  Is it any surprise that I LOVE visiting Walt Disney World at Christmastime (which actually begins almost overnight after the last Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party)?!  Here are my three favorite Christmas activities at Disney World.

1. Resort Hopping
While it’s no secret that Disney does everything on a grand scale, I think they really outdo themselves at Christmas!  With giant trees, life-size gingerbread and candy creations and Christmas carols (themed to the resorts, of course!) wafting through the lobbies and grounds, you really feel like you’re in a wonderland.  Peek in the gift shops for fun Christmas merchandise, and you may even find special gift shops selling gingerbread goodies and chocolate deliciousness in select resort lobbies.


Get Christmas Wise: Our favorite resorts to visit are Wilderness Lodge, the Grand Floridian and the Boardwalk for their great Christmas decor, but all resorts on property get decked out for the holidays, so be sure to take some time to take in the decorations.


2. The IllumiNations Holiday Tag
This may not count as an “activity,” but this is not only one of my favorite Christmas extras, but it’s one of my favorite “Disney things” period!  The special ending is so beautiful, hopeful and wonderfully written that it gets me a little teary every time.

Get Christmas Wise: Other nighttime spectaculars and parades also take on a holiday flair. Holiday Wishes takes center stage at Magic Kingdom during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and then nightly starting December 21 through New Year’s Eve.  The Once Upon A Christmastime Parade at Magic Kingdom follows a similar schedule.  Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade at Animal Kingdom morphs into the Jingle Jungle Parade, which is loads of fun!


3. Spectacle of Dancing Lights
This is my piece de resistance during the holidays at Disney World.  Our family loves a good light display and even enjoys driving around our hometown on a cold evening with a hot chocolate looking for great lights.  You can imagine how much time we spend poking around the millions of lights at Hollywood Studios.  From looking for hidden Mickeys to finding that elusive black (well, more purplish) cat to taking TONS of pictures and video, we love an evening with the lights.  And who doesn’t love snoap in the Florida weather?


Get Christmas Wise: Be sure to stick around the area for a little while, as the lights dance approximately every ten minutes.  This is a great time to capture some video, while the “intermissions” between dances offer great backdrops for pictures, as the lights stand still.


What’s your favorite Disney Christmas activity?

EDITORS NOTE: Please join us in wishing one of MiceChat’s brightest stars a very happy birthday. Our best to you today and always Ms. Jessica!   -Dusty and the MiceChat Crew

About Jessica Ma'ilo

Jessica is a special education teacher by day and blogger and Fairy Godmother Travel agent by evening. When not supervising play dates or sleepovers, she can be found creating, sewing or singing. She loves hitting the Disney Parks, and she and her family escape to the World and Land as often as they can. She can be contacted at [email protected], and you can also check out her family blog, Magic, Memories, Mayhem.

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  • FerretAfros

    I agree that the holiday tag to Illuminations is one of the best things that Disney does, regardless of season. It’s been far too long since I’ve seen it in person (which may have been as part of Holiday Illuminations, before ROE and the Millennium Celebration), but it’s stuck with me that long because it’s so great

    And happy birthday!

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      I love it. Gets me every time. I’m a little bummed I won’t see it live this year, but I’ll definitely be watching on our family home videos. <3

      And thank you!!

  • Dusty Sage

    First, and most importantly, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESSICA!!!

    While I’m a big fan of the Christmas parade and fireworks at the Magic Kingdom, I’m not fond of charging extra to see them. The lack of park decorations make it feel like Scrooge McDuck is running the Magic Kingdom. It’s a customer-hostile money grab and I’d really like to see them include the holiday festivities with regular park admission. It should be Christmas all day and not just for those paying extra at night.

    The Osborne lights at the Studios gets it right. You can end your day at the studio with the magical display without having to pay extra.

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      Thanks, Dusty!! :)

      Once they start offering the Christmas extras as part of a regular day, the parks are packed! So, you either have to fork over your $60 per ticket or wait until you’re in Magic Kingdom with eleventy billion of your new closest friends. I don’t have an issue ponying up for the Halloween Party, but the Christmas Party should offer a little more, especially as the prices rise, to make it worth the ticket.

      And, yes, so nice to end the day with the lights!

  • llmeeko

    We’re just back from a trip to WDW for the holidays. It was the one remaining big WDW event we hadn’t seen and interesting is how we sum it up. We always hotel hop and GF, Yacht Club & Beach Club get A’s for decorations. Sadly the Polynesian was drab, dank & our allergies went nuts. Some claim it will get a complete rehab when the DVC addition is complete but that doesn’t excuse the dust and mold we found clinging to what decorations they had. This was a major conversation topic overheard on the bus among other guests who also resort hopped.
    Loved Osborne Lights. We paid for the party at MK in order to see the parade and the fireworks. The cookies were stale and the hot chocolate was a blob of undissolved mix in the bottom of our cups but the fireworks were amazing. Like I said, interesting trip.

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      As much as I love the Poly, they don’t do much for holiday decor. I think the club lounge there may actually be more festive than the public areas.

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    I’m ok with ponying up a little for an extra ticket event if it means lighter park crowds (I was at the Magic Kingdom briefly last Friday and it was INSANE and it wasn’t even noon yet! I hightailed it to Epcot for the rest of the day pretty fast.). I went to the Christmas party for the first time last year and ended up having a great time. This year I was lucky enough to win tickets, so I could experience it again. They do need to step it up in comparison to other parks though (Universal, Sea World & Busch Gardens have some great stuff and their parks are FULLY decorated). And I’ll say I’m not a big parade fan, but the Christmas parade is one I absolutely adore.

    I love the Holidays Around the World at Epcot. It’s interesting to learn about holiday traditions from the countries around World Showcase. The storytellers from Norway are especially fun!

    I finally saw Osbourne Lights for the first time last year and was FLOORED. One of my favorite things about the holidays is the lights. Seeing that many was just insane.

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      The World Showcase during the holidays is WONDERFUL! We always have a lot of fun wandering (and Christmas shopping!) during December.

  • BradyNBradleysMom

    It doesn’t have to be Christmas to get a present around here. EVERY column from Jessica is a treat for my family! I had to think for a minute what “snoap” was, but then Jessica had me giggling again, as usual. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a bodacious New Year Jessica!!!

    • DobbysCloset

      I am still puzzling over “snoap” but perhaps when I grow up I will understand.

      • WorldLover71

        Snow on Main Street which is actually made of soap.

      • Country Bear

        It’s Liquid soap turned into foam, which looks a lot like snow when blown into the air because it falls so light and fluffy. Quite convincing actually.

    • Jessica Ma’ilo

      Thank you so much!! You’re so sweet!