When celebrating the most wonderful time of the year, there’s no place like Walt Disney World. Every park and resort is beautifully decorated, with touches of holiday magic everywhere you turn. Each year, Disney finds more ways to make your holiday vacation more enchanting. The holiday season officially begins at the parks on November 11, 2023, and will run through New Year’s Day. However, you can still enjoy some holiday decorations and theming throughout the parks several weeks before and after. This year, several special events allow you to celebrate the holidays at Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, and Disneyland. Learn more about the Disney Parks holiday events below!
This brand-new, after-hours event at Hollywood Studios combines the glitz and glamor of Hollywood holiday movie classics with the magic of Disney. This event has a more adult feel and is perfect for anyone who loves the atmosphere of the parks on Dapper Days. Jollywood Nights features a slew of live musical performances, from DJs spinning seasonal tunes on Hollywood Boulevard to jazz bands playing in pop-up lounges inside The Hollywood Brown Derby.
Live entertainment —including new event-exclusive shows—are plentiful, too. Disney Holidays and Hollywood is an homage to retro Hollywood variety shows (similar to the performances featured in movies like White Christmas). The show features Muppets like Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie, Belle, and Tiana, as well as singers, dancers, and live jazz musicians. Tiana even sings an original song developed just for the show. The show performs on event nights at Theater of the Stars (where Beauty and the Beast plays during the day). There is also a Nightmare Before Christmas sing-along hosted by Jack Skellington at the Hyperion Theater (where the Frozen sing-along performs).
At the end of the night, Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM projects holiday images and scenes from Disney movies on the Chinese Theater with holiday music and fireworks. If you’ve traveled to Hollywood Studios during the holidays previously, you may recognize this show as it used to play for all guests. Now, it’s an event-exclusive experience.
The event features several other event-exclusive experiences, like the Holiday Fiesta en la Calle, a holiday street party with live entertainment, rich cultural traditions, and food. The party takes on ABC Commissary Lane. There are also two clubs at the event: Jazz Holidays inside The Hollywood Brown Derby and Twilight Soirée in the courtyard at the Hollywood Tower Hotel, in the queue line for Tower of Terror.
There will also be rare character meet and greets throughout the park, including Rescue Ranger Chip’ n’ Dale, Powerline Max, Phineas and Ferb, Edna Mode, and Frozone.
Jollywood Nights is a separately ticketed event held on select nights from November 11th through December 20th. Tickets start at $159 per person and include PhotoPass photo downloads taken at the party. There are lots of event-exclusive food and drink options that are available for purchase (check out the complete food guide here). The first two event nights are already sold out, so reserve your tickets early to experience this.
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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
This long-standing Christmas party at the Magic Kingdom runs from November 9th through December 22nd this year. This limited-ticket event allows you to experience the magic of holidays in an all-immersive fashion. The event begins with a special showing of the new Frozen Holiday Surprise in front of Cinderella Castle. During the show, Anna, Kristoff, and the “snowgies” help Elsa light Cinderella Castle with new, festive projections. Elsa’s ice powers linger as you stroll around Main Street, U.S.A., creating magical snow flurries. Enjoy complimentary Christmas cookies and hot cocoa as you go through the park, enjoying holiday music at every turn.
Many of the park’s main attractions are open during the party, so it’s a great time to enjoy rides like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain (which has a holiday overlay), and Thunder Mountain, with shortened wait times. Tron Lightcycle Run has an additional virtual queue time for party guests at 6pm. Another can’t miss attraction is the Jingle Cruise, a holiday take on the classic Jungle Cruise attraction. It features skipper boats with festive decorations and even some holiday puns. View a complete list of party attractions here.
Other offerings include character meet and greets in their holiday attire, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmas Fireworks display, the truly enchanting Once Upon a Christmastime Parade (which usually performs twice during the event), the Most Merriest Celebration show on the castle stage, and themed dance parties. Tickets start at $159 per adult. Like Jollywood Nights, the first two event nights are sold out. Events also tend to sell out closer to Christmas, so don’t wait to add this party to your vacation!
EPCOT Festival of the Holidays
EPCOT is known for its seasonal festivals, and this one is one of our favorites. The best part is that the festivities are available to day guests—no special ticket required. The festival runs from November 24th through December 30th this year and includes special shows, live entertainment, musical acts, and food kiosks.
The most popular festival offering is the Candlelight Processional, a live show at the American Gardens Theatre. It features a 50-piece orchestra, mass choir, and celebrity narrators who tell the Christmas story. This year, celebrity hosts include:
- Chrissy Metz
- Neil Patrick Harris
- Eva Longoria
- Brendan Fraser
- Joey McIntyre
- Sterling K. Brown
- Jordan Fisher
- Steven Curtis Chapman
- Audra McDonald
- Lisa Ling
- John Stamos
- Marlee Matlin
- And more!
Get the schedule and view all celebrity hosts here. This rich tradition at EPCOT is extremely popular, and seating is limited. Luckily, you get three opportunities to see it each night, with performances at 5:15, 7:00, and 8:30pm (we recommend seeing the earliest show). If you can’t get a spot in the theater, you may be able to peek in by standing outside the theater in the walkway between the World Showcase Lagoon and the American Adventure Pavilion.
Want to enhance your Candlelight Processional experience? Add on the Candlelight Processional Dining Package. You can dine at one of eight select restaurants and get guaranteed reserved seating for one of the performances on the same night.
Another popular event at the festival is Holidays Around the World, which profiles how countries around the World Showcase celebrate the holiday season. Join a Las Posadas celebration in Mexico (complete with a mariachi band) or learn about the holiday tradition of La Befana in Italy. Explore the story behind the invention of nutcrackers in Germany, or visit Pere Noel in France. View a performance by an authentic Chinese Lion Dancer and learn about Lunar New Year traditions. There is also a special meet and greet with Santa Claus at the Odyssey Pavilion.
You won’t want to miss a performance by Joyful!, a gospel and R&B ensemble that performs at the World Showcase Pavilion several times each event night. You can also explore several Holiday Kitchens throughout the World Showcase, featuring delicious holiday dishes from around the globe.
Holidays at Disneyland
Visiting Disneyland during the holiday season? There’s lots to experience, all included with park admission. Disney’s California Adventure hosts a Festival of the Holidays, similar to EPCOT’s. There is also the ¡Viva Navidad! Street party, which features live music and cultural dancers celebrating Three Kings Day. Gaze upon Sleeping Beauty Castle and enjoy the Believe in Holiday Magic Fireworks. Or, watch a holiday edition of World of Color. Disneyland also has a holiday parade that performs daily from November 10, 2023, through January 7, 2024. Several attractions have seasonal overlays, including “It’s a Small World,” the Haunted Mansion, and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.
Celebrate the Season at Disney!
What better way to celebrate the magic of the holidays than with a trip to the most magical (and happiest) places on earth? With so many things to experience, it’s no wonder the holidays are one of the most popular times to visit the Disney parks. Whether you want to plan a last-minute holiday trip or are looking ahead to 2024, let our team at Wishing on a Star Travel® help you take advantage of everything the season offers! Get a quote for your vacation today. We can’t wait to help you plan a magical holiday vacation!