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Christmas at Disney World in 2021 (The Holiday Guide)

Christmas at Disney World in 2021 is literally right around the corner!

Anyone visiting Walt Disney World during Christmas is in for an exhilarating adventure full of holiday magic! Let’s face it; no one does Christmas like Disney World! And you’re not going to want to miss a single thing!

In this guide, we will take a look at what’s happening for Christmas at Disney World in 2021. Disney has begun to release information regarding the holiday season this year, and there are several things we’ll need to cover.

For starters, the Christmas season at Walt Disney World will officially begin on November 12th. More than likely, this year will be different than most. That’s because Disney World begins celebrating its 50th anniversary in October.

How long will the 2021 Christmas season last? Well, the majority of offerings will be available through the New Year holiday. In the past, most decorations are usually left up through the first marathon weekend of the year. If that practice holds true, some Christmas decorations may remain up through January 9, 2022.

Below we’ll go over what each park will be offering and add information about the resorts and Disney Springs. I can almost hear the faint tune of “We’re simply having a wonderful Christmastime” in the distance. Can you?

Magic Kingdom

Over at Magic Kingdom Park, guests can expect tremendous decorations down Main Street U.S.A. The background music transitions from one holiday carol to the next, and you’ll immediately know that you just stepped into the most magical place on earth.

At dusk, castle projections will be displayed on Cinderella Castle. These will happen most evenings in rotation with the special 50th projection that is said to turn the castle into a beacon.

Disney is offering an extra-cost ticketed after-hours event instead of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party this year. This new after-hours will be called Disney’s Very Merriest After Hours. The event will be held on select evenings between November 8th through December 21st.

One advantage of attending the after-hours is that guests will get to see a performance of Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks. Tickets will go on sale in August for this event and will be limited.

If this is something that interests you, make sure to check with our friends at Firefly Travels. They’ll help get your tickets reserved on the day they are released. After Hours events typically last four hours after the park closes. They give guests a chance to experience attractions with minimal wait times due to the limited number of guests.

Unfortunately, it appears that Cinderella Castle will not be frosted with castle dream lights this season. Given the additional decor added to the castle for the 50th anniversary, this is understandable.

If you are staying at a resort that offers early theme park entry, try to take advantage of it. That way, you can see the castle decked out first thing in the morning before it gets too crowded.

Additionally, with the lack of dream lights, a Frozen Holiday Wish (nightly castle lighting ceremony over the holidays) will likely not return in 2021.

And there has been no mention of Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime parade. More than likely, Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade will come through the park several times per day. That is the new pop-up parade for Magic Kingdom beginning in October to celebrate the 50th. That float will include classic characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

For a preview of the things you can expect, make sure to check out our Magic Kingdom at Christmas overview. It has tons of pictures and details on what to expect.

Epcot

Over at Epcot, guests can take part in the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. The dates for this year’s festival will be November 26th through December 30th. Guests can enjoy treats from holiday kitchens that are scattered throughout the World Showcase.

Additionally, the Voices of Liberty will be performing during the holiday season.

At this time, there are no other updates about Epcot. Unfortunately, it appears the popular Candlelight Processional will not be returning this year. If we here of any other special events, we’ll add them to this guide.

For more information abouot the festival, check out our review of the International Festival of the Holidays from last year. Or you might enjoy browsing our full review of Epcot at Christmas.

My personal favorite thing at Epcot during Christmas is the Merry and Bright Lights on Living with the Land. Hopefully, that ride layover will be available this year as well.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Moving on over to Hollywood Studios, there are several items worth mentioning. For starters, Sunset Seasons Greetings will return. Sunset Seasoons Greetings is a nightly projection show that displays fun holiday scenes on the Hollywood Tower Hotel attraction.

The projection perfomances will alternate nightly with the special Beacon of Magic transformation, similar to Magic Kingdom. The projection show can easily be seen from Sunset Boulevard, allowing plenty of space for guests to stop and enjoy it at their leisure.

One of my favorite places at Disney World to meet Santa is usually at Hollywood Studios. However, at this time, it appears that standard character meets will not return in 2021. Now that could change. But given that the holiday announcements of Santa’s motorcade returning to Hollywood Boulevard, I doubt it.

The good thing about the current line-up of characters at Disney World is that they are easy to see and don’t require waiting in line. This allows more guests to see their favorite characters in the park. However, even I admit, I miss the more intimate meetings where guests can share a special moment with beloved characters.

Another new thing at Hollywood Studios is a special holiday ending that will be added to For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along. The new finale is said to feature Olaf adding a bit of festive flair! The Frozen Sing-Along is really cute in and of itself. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see it, this might be a good time!

Those who enjoy character dining at Disney World, will definitely want to look into Minnie’s seasonal meal offering at Hollywood and Vine. Characters at this dinner include Minnie and friends wearing festive holiday attire, and Santa Goofy will be there. That alone probably makes the entire meal worth a visit.

You may or may not remember that Santa Goofy used to turn the Osborne Lights on in the evenings. It was a wonderful time to be a Disney World fan. Not that it isn’t now. But sometimes, looking back on cherished times in the parks brings back a sense of longing for days far gone.

Anyway, Hollywood Studios is a park that definitely holds a lot of charm. And I think you’ll find it even more special during Christmas, especially after the sun sets. So don’t skip out on touring this park with its in the evening no matter what time of year you visit.

Related: Hollywood Studios at Christmas

There has been no mention of Flurry of Fun returning this year. Make sure to see the Disney Springs section below on where to find warm weather snowfall.

Animal Kingdom

Last but not least, we have one of the most surprising parks at Christmas. By surprising, I mean, you’re not gonna believe how absolutely stunning Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park is at Christmas! The decor will blow you away!

Similar to Hollywood Studios, guests can expect to encounter Festive Flotillas (including Santa) on the Discovery River during the holiday season. These character cruises come along several time throughout the day and are fairly easy to see while touring the parks.

One of our favorite spots to enjoy them is from the outside deck of Nomad Lounge. Parents, you can relax here, while children are eager to watch for passing characters.

You can also enjoy a special holiday edition of the nightly Tree of Life Awakenings throughout the holiday season. Additionally, the Tree of Life will transform into a beacon of magic nightly in celebration of the 50th anniversary.

Related: Animal Kingdom at Christmas

Disney World Resorts

Christmas at Disney World wouldn’t be complete without a look at the resorts. Given the anticipation of this upcoming holiday season, we recently put out an article on The Top Disney World Resorts at Christmas.

Make sure to read it over if you haven’t had a chance to yet. It details each Walt Disney Word resort we consider a must-visit at Christmas. And we included advice on how to spend a whole day of your trip doing a little resort-hopping.

As for Disney Resort Christmas news, you’ll be happy to learn that select gingerbread houses will be returning to some resorts! Additionally, these select resorts will have special holiday treats available for purchase.

Below is a preview of the gingerbread carousel that’s usually on display in the lobby of Disney’s Beach Club.

Disney’s Boardwalk and Disney’s Grand Floridian usually have a gingerbread house on display. Make sure not to miss the one at Disney’s Grand Floridian. It’s sure to put you in the holiday spirit.

Each resort will have its own unique Christmas trees on display as well. And the holiday decorations at each hotel usually have a fun theming to match the resort. For instance, at Disney’s Yacht Club there are sailboats and rope knots in all of the decor! I’ll list our resort-specific Christmas guides below for you to browse if you’re trying to decide where to stay.

Related Holiday Resort Reviews:

Disney Springs

Lastly, Disney Springs will have a few fun items to add to the mix of Christmas at Disney World. Aside from the beautiful decor, guests can take part in the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to see the trees at Disney Springs, it’s worth the visit over. Many of the trees are elaborately themed to different Disney movies and attractions. We always enjoy pointing out details on them and picking out our favorites.

A special snowfall experience will be available in Town Center as well. This usually happens after dark and is a delightfully clean experience. I think Floridians call it snoap.

Additionally, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar will transform into Jock Lindsey’s Holiday Bar. Special holiday offerings will be available.

Check out our Disney Springs transportation guide for tips on getting to and around Disney Springs. And if you are planning a meal there, you’ll definitely want to browse our best restaurants at Disney Springs guide.

Weather at Disney World Around Christmas

Now, if you’re planning a trip in what’s considered the winter months (December-February) of Orlando, Florida, get ready to pack. Why? Well, the weather can be all over the place. It can even be all over the place during the week you are there.

On average, you can expect daily highs of around 75 to 80 degrees, with evening cooling off to the low 60s. The average weather report is available here.

From experience, I’ve spent a week’s vacation over Christmas at Disney’s Beach Club, and we hit the 90’s almost every day. Needless to say, we spent a good amount of time at Stormalong Bay during that trip.

We’ve been there when it was super chilly too. On one trip, I remember having to really bundle up in the evenings because it felt like it was near freezing. That’s probably the upper 40’s in Orlando.

This past December it was hot upon my arrival, and a cold front hit on day three. The cold lingered for about 2 days before a warm front moved back through. And the last few days were extremely pleasant.

In my opinion, this is the hardest time of year to pack for a Disney vacation. I know I always end up bringing way more than usual. The thing is, you hate for it to get cold and then have to buy long sleeves to endure the outdoor elements. Or if you bring too many long-sleeves you might end up burning up and being miserable every day.

The best way to pack for Disney World at Christmas is to bring layers. That way if the day starts off cool you can shed a layer after it heats up. Then when nightfall returns, you can add back to it. I like to bring a scarf, toboggan, and sometimes a pair of gloves in my backpack during this time of the year.

And remember that children tend to get colder easily than adults. So make sure to bring a nice, warm jacket for them to wear in the evenings.

Final Thoughts on Christmas at Disney World

Sure a visit to Disney World during Christmas can be stressful. There will definitely be long lines. But for most, Christmas is the most wonderful time of year at Disney World. The decorations go up and everywhere you look there’s something new and fresh to see.

Between the holiday decorations and the Christmas-y background music, most can’t help but get that little twinkle in their eye. Maybe it’s pixie dust.

Regardless, the season offers the opportunity to pause and enjoy the surroundings. You don’t have to hit Main Street U.S.A. and run off to your favorite attraction. Last year I spent an entire afternoon browsing the shop and the Confectionery. Every time a cavalcade came by, I would pop back out onto the sidewalk and enjoy the festivities.

And if you don’t want to deal with crowds at all, make sure to do a little resort holiday tour. Plan a few meals, treats, and transportation along the way. You’re going to have the best time!

What is your favorite thing to do at Disney World during the holidays? Or if this is your first time visiting at Christmas, what are you looking forward to the most? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

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