Disney was made for Christmas. We usually spend at least one, but more often two weekends enjoying the Christmas season in Disney. This year we visited Hollywood Studios and EPCOT parks twice, while visiting Magic Kingdom once, as well as other areas of the property.
This is the season for the entertaining Jingle Bell Jam show. This show includes amazing projection on Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. There is a cute story line about the Prep and Landing elves looking for a missing Santa in time for Christmas. We won’t give away the ending, but rest assured there is a happy ending!
This year as well as last year we attended the separate ticketed dessert party event prior to the Jingle Bell Jam show. This includes all kinds of bite-size holiday desserts, ice cream, and drinks (including alcoholic cocktails). We also had a visit from Santa Goofy at the party! Both years we received paper glasses 3-D style to wear during the show. Last year they changed the lights and fireworks into images of the Prep and Landing elves. This year they changed them into snowflakes – just another way of adding to the holiday magic.
A new show has been added to Hollywood Studios that features projections on the Hollywood Tower of Terror. There are a series of projections themed around Toy Story, Frozen, a classic Christmas scene, and our favorite – the Muppets turning the Tower into a gingerbread house. This best part of the show for us Floridians is the snow! At the end of each segment it snows on Sunset Boulevard.
Hollywood Studios has also recently opened a new brew-pub/tap-house with a California vibe called Baseline Taphouse. They themed it as a bar in a former print house with old printing materials, plates, paper and ink around which appeals to the marketer in me. The menu includes cider, beer, wine, cocktails and snacks. We highly recommend the California cheese and charcuterie board. It serves as the perfect accompaniment to my pineapple cider and Jeff’s IPA. We have truly enjoyed spending time here and it is a perfect reminder of our trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA.
EPCOT hosts their annual International Festival of the Holidays. The entire park is decorated, however most of the Christmas activities are in the World Showcase section of the park. The food stands/huts for each country are still up from the Food and Wine Festival, but now serve holiday themed treats and drinks from each country.
The Festival Center, located in the Odyssey building is home to the “Cookie Nook” this year. That is our favorite spot with gingerbread, chocolate peppermint, sugar, and chocolate chunk cookies!
We enjoy walking around the world, taking in the decor, seeing the Santas from each country, snacking, drinking and feeling the Christmas spirit all over. Both visits saw us having our usual lunch sandwiches at Les Halles Boulangerie- Pattiserie in France. Both visits saw these lunches include a baguette for the road. One day the baguette came in handy as an accompaniment to the cheese plate and fondue at the Germany stand.
This year the America pavilion has a gingerbread display of the Capitol Building, Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. It is quite impressive – and smells wonderful as a bonus! We happened to time our visit around when the singing group Voices of Liberty performed, so we also enjoyed a 10 minute holiday concert.
With the movie Coco in theaters the Mexico pavilion is transformed into a Coco celebration. There are many sugar skulls around, merchandise, and fun photo ops with Photo Pass photographers.
We planned an evening in the Magic Kingdom for one reason alone – to see Cinderella’s Castle lit up for Christmas.
After walking through the train station and into the Magic Kingdom we waited in line to have our photo taken at the tree in Main Street Square. We usually bypass this line, however this year the train decorations are themed to trains. With Jeff being a train-nut we had to have our photo taken here. It was well worth the wait. As expected, the decorations are perfect.
At 6:15 we were having dinner outside Casey’s on Main Street looking over to the Castle. We did not plan this, but it turns out this is the perfect place to be for the Castle lighting ceremony which includes a visit from Elsa, Anna and Olaf of Frozen fame, and a cute story.
Whether you are a Disney fan or not you have to admit the Castle looks magical lit up for the season. Plus, for the second time, it snows in Florida! This just adds to the magical and festive atmosphere in the park.
Out and About on Property
The festivities don’t end when you leave the parks. The holidays are felt all over the Disney property.
This year we visited the Boardwalk Resort to see the gingerbread display of the Boardwalk entertainment area. The Beach Club has their annual gingerbread and chocolate display of a working four-horse carousel. The Yacht Club has the enchanting train display (especially for Jeff). We did not make it to the Grand Floridian or Contemporary to see their displays – there is always next year (or next weekend knowing us!)
New to Disney Springs this year is the tree trail There are too many trees to count on this trail that leads to Santa’s Chalet. Each tree is themed to a movie or character. As we walked through the trail it snowed (for the third time in Florida – I hope this doesn’t become a trend!). There are roving Photo Pass photographers available to take photos next to your favorite tree.
There are lots of Christmas treats to eat and drink at the Disney Springs restaurants and snack locations as well as plenty of Christmas merchandise to be purchased all over!
Christmas wouldn’t be complete for us without these weekends in Disney to kick-start our celebrations. We are looking forward to a happy season, and Disney is the perfect addition to our traditions in Florida.