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Not To Miss Magical Experiences This Holiday Season at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World is always magical, but during the holidays the magic is pushed up a notch or two.  We have some of the magical experiences you won’t want to miss this holiday season in Walt Disney World.

Credit: PaulaK

Merry Menagerie In Animal Kingdom

We were thrilled when Disney announced that the Merry Menagerie would be returning to Disney’s Animal Kingdom this holiday season.

Located on Discovery Island, you will experience a variety of adorable winter animals such as foxes, reindeer, bears, penguins, and more that will interact with Guests.

These life-size, amazingly sculpted puppets are sometimes accompanied by musicians as they create a holiday display that is spectacular.

We love how these puppets look so real and interact in such a unique way with Guests.

If you are visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom during the holiday season, take time to experience the Merry Menagerie on Discovery Island. It only takes place during daylight hours.

Gingerbread Creations

Another holiday tradition that is back this year in Walt Disney World is the fantastic gingerbread creations.

While visiting Walt Disney World during the holidays, you will want to take time to visit the Gingerbread House in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa as well as the carousel that is found in the Beach Club.

The Gingerbread House in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has become an icon for the holiday season in Walt Disney World.  This year the house has some EARidescent touches to help celebrate Disney World’s 50th anniversary.

Instead of the typical greens and reds, the 2021 house has touches of blue and gold in the tinsel.  There is also a beautiful 50th anniversary logo above the windows, and even Santa is dressed in blue for the occasion.

Over at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, you will want to take in the beautiful gingerbread carousel.  This year the carousel has a Little Mermaid theme to it and it is wonderful.

The details on each of the four horses are fantastic and bring the movie to life.  Ursula, Eric, Ariel, as well as Flounder, Scuttle, and Sebastian can all be seen on the carousel display.

These are such unique creations that you will want to stop by to see them during your holiday visit to Walt Disney World.

Festival of the Holidays

EPCOT takes holiday fun to an all time high with the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays.  Guests can enjoy a variety of Holiday Kitchens that bring seasonal foods and drinks from different countries to the Theme Park.

Festival of the Holidays runs from November 26th to December 30th.  With this festival, there are more than just the Holiday Kitchens to enjoy.

Kids (and adults) will enjoy the Holiday Cookie Stroll and Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition.  With the Holiday Cookie Stroll you will buy five specific specialty cookies. You can then receive a sixth cookie for free.

Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition is a scavenger hunt around EPCOT where you look for Olaf and holiday traditions he has lost or misplaced.  This can keep big and little kids entertained.

We have some great information on EPCOT when it comes to all the holiday entertainment and experiences not to miss.

Check out the Holiday Kitchens for some delicious food and keep the kids entertained with Olaf.

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Candlelight Processional

Candlelight Processional is a magical retelling of the traditional Christmas Story using a 50-piece orchestra, a choir as well as a guest narrator.

Throughout the Festival of the Holidays there are typically three shows each evening at around 5:00, 6:45, and 8:15.  These shows fill up early, so consider booking a Dining Package to reserve your seat for this magical experience.

Credit: Tricia Kennedy

See Santa

Make sure you take time to visit Santa while visiting Walt Disney World during the holiday season.  Santa can be seen throughout the Parks as well as in Disney Springs.

 In Magic Kingdom, Santa appears at the end of Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas Parade during Disney Very Merriest After Hours. He also makes an appearance near Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe during the special ticketed event.

At EPCOT, you can see Santa at the American Adventure. He’s also part of the storytelling experience in the Norway Pavilion.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Santa Claus Merry Motorcade features Santa in a shiny red sports car as he rides down Hollywood Boulevard.

Over in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you can find Santa on a pontoon boat in the Santa Claus Festive Flotilla as he floats down the Discovery River.

Finally, for a more one-on-one experience with Santa, you can find him over in Disney Springs.  From now until December 24th, Guests can have a physically distant photo opportunity with Santa.  There is a Virtual Queue for this and masks are required, but it is a fun way to capture some fun holiday magic.

Christmas Tree Stroll

When visiting Disney Springs during the holidays, take a stroll and visit the amazingly decorated trees themed on our favorite movies and rides.

There are maps this year to help make sure you don’t miss any of them and you can use stickers to mark your progress.  There is a special prize if you find them all.

Disney Very Merriest After Hours

Finally, for a truly magical holiday experience, don’t skip out on this year’s Disney Very Merriest After Hours at Magic Kingdom.

On select nights in Magic Kingdom, Guests can purchase a ticket to attend this special event that runs from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Guests can enjoy Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, the new stage show Mickey and Minnie’s Very Merry Memories, and the full nighttime holiday parade Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.

If Christmas is one of your favorite holidays, you won’t want to miss out on this special event at Magic Kingdom.

Walt Disney World is a magical place any time of year, but the holiday season brings in an extra dash of pixie dust.  We hope that you enjoy the holidays.

About Jennifer Retzlaff

My name is Jennifer Retzlaff and I became a lifelong Disney fan during my first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of my life. I live in Iowa with my husband and two kids who are growing up too quickly for my liking. I started introducing my love for Disney early to my family with a Disney honeymoon and then trips when our youngest of 18 months. Since then, our family has been to Walt Disney World over five times and we continue to plan and dream for the next trip. I love the magic that Disney brings to people through the theme parks, cruises, adventures and movies they create. As a teacher, I try to bring that magic into my classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” I recently reached a dream of mine as I joined Magic Vacation Planner as a personal travel advisor. With this team, I can now help others plan magical vacations. As a passionate writer, I also have my own blog at magicalvacationsbyjen which is also where you can follow me on instagram for trip reviews along with tips and tricks for your next magical vacation.