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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn

November & December

Holidays at Disney


There is nothing like the combination of the magic of the holidays and the magic of Disney. Starting in November and ramping up throughout the month, holiday decor, fun, and events can be found everywhere you look on property. As you might expect, the holidays also bring holiday crowds, with some of the busiest days of the year being Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Eve. We heartily recommend people experience the holidays at the parks, we also recommend going mid November or early December if you can swing it. If you are working to a school schedule, we still think this can be a perfect time to visit, but make sure you have a plan in place to tackle the crowds.



November marks the transition from the Halloween season to the holiday season. Starting in November, the Christmas decorations start to come up and the holiday offerings begin. We’ll start off by saying that Disney really does the Christmas season right, with festive decorations and fun events in all of the parks, Disney Springs, and even extending to resort hotels. Consequently, November and December are a great time to visit, especially if you can manage to go during the early and middle parts of the months when crowds will be more moderate and you can take full advantage of the events and generally nice weather.


If you are working around a school calendar, these are still good months to go, you’ll just need to make sure you have a plan in place to maximize your park time with the heavy crowd levels that descend over the thanksgiving and winter breaks.


In addition, the weather continues to improve, while you may still hit a hot day it is equally possible a cold front will come through and you’ll be wanting a thick sweatshirt and jeans. It’s best to check the forecast before going and pack accordingly plus bringing a couple extras for surprise weather changes. In general, the weather should be mild and pleasant, which is ideal for enjoying all the events and fun available this month.


In addition to special decorations and offerings throughout the park, November is when Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party returns, with frequency ramping up in December. This is another incredibly popular hard ticketed event (i.e. you pay extra for it) that takes place in the Magic Kingdom on select evenings and often sells out very quickly. It has a special Christmas parade, fireworks, unique character meet and greets, hot chocolate and cookies, and, of course, many of the rides are open and can be ridden with little to no wait.


Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival continues to run through mid-November. Then, after Thanksgiving, Epcot’s Festival of the Holiday’s starts up, with unique holiday offerings in each of the World Showcase countries and a special Candlelight Processional show every evening that can’t be missed. The Candlelight Processional is a retelling of the Christmas story with a celebrity narrator (we saw Neil Patrick Harris!) and accompanied by a choir singing seasonal melodies. It’s really a great show and very popular so either get there early or purchase a dining package, which guarantees entry.


Pros:

  • Holiday decorations start popping up, and by the end of November Christmas is in full swing at Walt Disney World. Decorations will remain up until early January.

  • Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival runs through mid-November.

  • Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays begins at the end of November and runs throughout December.

  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party returns and has dates available throughout November and December.

  • Disney will be decked out with holiday decorations in each of the parks, resorts, and at Disney Springs.

  • Some rides get a festive overlay, including Jungle Cruise (which becomes Jingle Cruise) at the Magic Kingdom, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, which will be Guardians of the Galaxy: Christmas Rewind.

  • If you are looking to meet the Disney characters done up in their finest Christmas attire, over in Hollywood studios the character meal at Hollywood and Vine becomes Minnie’s Holiday Dine.

  • There is also a Santa Claus motorcade at Hollywood Studios, which can be a fun glimpse of Santa for the little ones.

  • Animal Kingdom has even gotten in on the festivities with special night time projections onto the Tree of Life, special winter themed animal puppets that come out to interact with people accompanied by live musicians to create a festive atmosphere, and a Christmas Flotilla.

  • At Disney Springs you can check out some incredible themed trees, everything from the Muppets, the Haunted Mansion, Tangled, and more.

  • Santa meet and greets are available at the Magic Kingdom behind Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square, and in Disney Springs, check your MDE app for times.

  • The resort hotels are included in the festivities, with themed trees and decorations featured at each. This includes some incredible gingerbread creations at some of the deluxe resorts, including a life size house at the Grand Floridian, and a carousel at the Beach Club Resort.

  • Earlier in the month, for both November and December, the crowd levels tend to be moderate.

  • Park hours tend to be longer with the increased crowd levels around the holidays.

  • The weather can be unpredictable, but in general is more mild than previous months. The average temperatures range from lows in the 50s and 60s to highs in the 70s. However it is winter so there can be days when it gets colder, so make sure to check your weather forecast and pack an extra jacket just in case.


Cons:

  • Crowds ramp up around the holiday’s making Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving week, and Christmas one of the busiest times to visit the parks.

  • Some Christmas offerings don’t start until around Thanksgiving, so if you go earlier you will miss them.

  • Resort Prices and Ticketing are at the highest from the second week of the month on.  Rarely will you see any discounted packages available during the holidays, making this the most expensive time of the year to visit.

  • Water parks are sometimes closed during the winter months, check for availability prior to your trip.


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