What to Expect During the Holidays at Walt Disney World
Halloween won’t arrive for a couple more weeks. Still, many Disney Vacation Club members are already thinking about the joyful November/December part of the park calendar. Here’s what you can expect during the holidays at Walt Disney World.
What to Expect at Magic Kingdom
On November 1, all parts of the Disney campus will switch from Halloween to Christmas decorations. Usually, the whole process takes about five days to complete, but some changes are immediate.
For example, the Christmas tree on Main Street, U.S.A., will be there when you enter the park on November 1. Also, Jungle Cruise will operate as Jingle Cruise starting that morning as well. It’s the same ride, but it adds Christmas decorations and holiday puns.
The big news for 2022 is the return of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) as opposed to the Disney After Hours event during 2021. So, it’ll be the Magic Kingdom you remember this year rather than the one with pandemic-forced concessions.
Tickets are already on sale for MVMCP, which starts on November 8 and operates on select dates through December 22. As a reminder, many of the “exclusive” events from the party become free as part of Disney’s Christmas Week celebration that begins on December 23.
Specifically, Mickey’s Once Upon a Time Christmastime Parade and Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks are part of MVMCP. You can watch them with regular park admission on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, though.
Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration will also return for a fifth consecutive year. Here’s a reminder of how the show looked in 2019 before the pandemic:
The legitimately exclusive parts of MVMCP are the attraction overlays. Disney transforms several into unique holiday versions. For example, Space Mountain will appear white inside the building, while holiday decorations light up the track on Tomorrowland Speedway.
The other two attractions with holiday overlays are Mad Tea Party and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. You may wonder how the latter works. Basically, the jokes take on a yuletide form.
What to Expect at EPCOT
Two events signify the start of EPCOT’s holiday season. The one that everyone can attend is the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays. The 2022 version debuts on November 25 and lasts through December 30.
As usual, Disney will update its EPCOT kiosks into Holiday Kitchens that serve the finest international dishes and drinks. The World Showcase pavilions also have Cultural Representatives who tell stories of their countries’ various holiday customs. If you’ve never watched any of these narrations, you’re missing out, as they’re amazing.
For 2022, Disney has also promised holiday performances from Canadian Holiday Voyageurs, Las Posadas with Mariachi Cobre, and something called the Chinese Lion Dance.
Perhaps the biggest surprise at EPCOT this holiday season involves its newest attraction. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will add a holiday overlay! I presume it’ll work like Alien Swirling Saucers in that it’ll feature special lighting and holiday music. That’s merely my speculation, though.
This is all Disney has said on the subject:
“This season, the Guardians are trading in their classic hits playlist for a mash-up of seasonal jams at Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Blast off to the tune of an awesome holiday single, bringing joy to Xandar and Terra, too.”
The Candlelight Processional Returns Next Month
The other seminal event at EPCOT each holiday season is the Candlelight Processional. It, too, returns on November 25. As a reminder, this presentation of the nativity story sells out every show. So, you should book a Candlelight Processional Dining Package asap if you want to watch the presentation.
Here is the current list of 2022 Celebrity Narrators:
- “Simu Liu
- November 25 and 26, 2022
- Edward James Olmos
- November 27 through 29, 2022
- Raul Esparza
- November 30 and December 1, 2022
- Whoopi Goldberg
- December 2 and December 3, 2022
- Isabella Rossellini
- December 4 through December 6, 2022
- Daymond John
- December 7 through December 9, 2022
- Josh Gad
- December 10 through December 12, 2022
- Gloria Estefan
- December 13 and December 14, 2022
- Neil Patrick Harris
- December 15 through December 18, 2022
- Mariska Hargitay
- December 19 and December 20, 2022
- Cal Ripken Jr
- December 21 through December 23, 2022
- Marie Osmond
- December 24 through December 26, 2022
- Courtney Vance
- December 27 and December 28, 2022
- Angela Bassett
- December 29 and December 30, 2022”
What to Expect Everywhere Else at Walt Disney World
Magic Kingdom and EPCOT definitely count as the epicenter of Disney’s holiday celebrations. However, DVC guests know that you’ll find plenty at the resorts.
The seasonal decorations at several resorts have become integral parts of family vacations. For instance, the gingerbread house should return at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa this year.
This architectural wonder isn’t just a display but also a storefront. Disney sells gingerbread treats and other snacks here. At a minimum, you’ll want to visit during your vacation whether you’re staying here or not.
Similarly, the Gingerbread storefront should return at Disney’s Contemporary Resort on the Grand Canyon Concourse. It’s conveniently located close to the doors for the bridge to Bay Lake Tower!
Disney’s Beach Club Resort will also bring back the beloved Gingerbread Carousel. Meanwhile, the decorations at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge are also always popular. I’m hopeful that Wilderness Lodge will bring back the gingerbread cabin for 2022.
At Disney Springs, the Christmas Tree Stroll will return as well. Unfortunately, management hasn’t confirmed the complete list of trees yet. However, we usually get some new trees each year.
For example, Disney added Raya & The Last Dragon last year but not Encanto, which had just come out in theaters. So, I expect a tree that talks about Bruno for 2022 and probably some new Marvel ones as well.
Disney Springs will also add Let It Snow! each night. Florida doesn’t get its own snow as a rule, but some Disney magic makes it happen nightly anyway!
Meanwhile, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar will celebrate its annual tradition. It’ll temporarily transition to Jock Lindsey’s Holiday Bar to make the season feel less lonely for Indiana Jones’ favorite pilot.
Finally, you’ll find Santa meeting guests at Disney Springs. Plus, there’s the annual holiday entertainment like DJs, Toy Soldier Stilt Walkers, and Snowflake Skaters. So, in just a couple of weeks, it’ll begin to look like Christmas everywhere at Walt Disney World!