The holidays are almost here. And Walt Disney World and Disneyland have been planning all year.
Fans of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party have eagerly awaited the pandemic return of the after-hours event at Magic Kingdom, but that’s not the only thing coming back for the 2022 holiday season.
Year after year, Disney lovers are drawn to the Florida and California resorts’ elaborate decorations, seasonal food and beloved entertainment like Disneyland’s “A Christmas Fantasy Parade” and EPCOT’s Candlelight Processional, making it one of the busiest times to visit.
Here’s what travelers should know about spending this holiday season at Disneyland and Disney World.
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What holidays does Disney celebrate?
Both Disneyland and Disney World go all out for Christmas, but that’s not the only holiday they celebrate.
Disney Festival of the Holidays at Disney California Adventure also revels in Three Kings’ Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Diwali.
EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays also celebrates Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, in addition to Christmas traditions around the world.
What day does Disney put up Christmas decorations?
Like Cinderella’s carriage turning into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight, Walt Disney World and Disneyland transform after parks close Halloween night, so guests arriving on and after Nov. 1 feel like they’re walking into winter wonderlands.
All November and December, the parks dazzle with decorations that take a full year to prepare.
How long does Disney Christmas last? Is Disney still decorated for Christmas in January?
Disney Festival of the Holidays runs until Jan. 8 at Disney California Adventure.
Disney World’s holiday decorations are usually up through the first week in January.
How far in advance do you have to make a reservation for Disney?
Reservations are required on top of tickets at all four Disney World parks and both Disneyland parks. Disneyland park reservations are currently open through Feb. 2023.
Disney World park reservations are available into Jan. 2024. Some parks are already booking up this holiday season, and some dates for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party have sold out, but availability may open up as fellow guests change their plans.
At both resorts, reservations for dining and “enchanting extras” like Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique open 60 days out. The most popular experiences book up within minutes.
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Which Disney park is best for the holidays?
Like all things Disney, the answer is subjective. Some guests prefer the international festivities at EPCOT and Disney California Adventure, while others like classic Christmas at Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park.
A look at each resort’s plans for this holiday season can help travelers decide for themselves.
Holidays at Disney World
The “Most Magical Place on Earth” gets an extra dash of pixie dust around the holidays. Here are some of the highlights.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party makes its pandemic return on Nov. 8 at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. The specially ticketed, after-hours event is only offered on select nights and is not included with regular theme park admission. Daytime guests should note Magic Kingdom will close early to them on event nights, and they will not be able to watch fireworks inside the park without party tickets.
Party attendees can experience Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade and other entertainment exclusive to the event through Dec. 22. The party also includes a dance party with Disney Junior characters, free cookies and hot cocoa, and shorter lines for attractions like Space Mountain, Tomorrowland Speedway, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and Mad Tea Party, which will have holiday twists just for the party.
Tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2022 range from $149 to $199, depending on the day. For comparison, regular one-park, one-day adult tickets range from $134 to $159 during the holiday season. Guests ages 10 and up are considered adults.
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EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays
EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays is back Nov. 25 through Dec. 30 and is included with regular park admission.
The popular event gives guests a literal and figurative taste of holidays around the world (showcase) with Holiday Kitchens and the Holiday Cookie Stroll as well as seasonal storytelling and musical performances like JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season and the fan-favorite Candlelight Processional featuring a massive choir, orchestra and celebrity narrators.
- Nov. 25-26 Simu Liu
- Nov. 27-29 Chita Rivera
- Nov.30-Dec. 1 Raul Esparza
- Dec. 2-3 Whoopi Goldberg
- Dec.4-6 Isabella Rossellini
- Dec. 7-9 Daymond John
- Dec. 10-12 Josh Gad
- Dec. 13-14 Gloria Estefan
- Dec. 15-18 Neil Patrick Harris
- Dec. 19-20 Mariska Hargitay
- Dec. 21-23 Cal Ripken Jr.
- Dec. 24-26 Marie Osmond
- Dec. 27-28 Courtney Vance
- Dec. 29-30 Angela Bassett
More holiday happenings
At all four Disney World parks, seasonal displays will be added into theBeacons of Magic that illuminate park icons nightly as part of the resort’s 50th anniversary celebration. Other festive offerings across the Florida resort include:
- Magic Kingdom: The Jungle Cruise turns into the Jingle Cruise.
- EPCOT: EPCOT’s new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind gets a holiday soundtrack.
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios: For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration adds a holiday finale, Hollywood & Vine offers Minnie’s Holiday Dine, and Santa Claus Merry Motorcade comes to town.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Tree of Life Awakenings has a holiday edition, arctic animal puppets come to life in a Merry Menagerie, and flotillas carry Santa Claus and Disney characters down Discovery River in their holiday best.
- Blizzard Beach: Reopening on Nov. 13 after renovations, Blizzard Beach welcomes Santa in tropical attire, snowfall in select areas and “Frozen” additions to Tike’s Peak. Guests should note Typhoon Lagoon will close for refurbishment when Blizzard Beach reopens.
- Disney Springs: No park tickets are needed to see Disney-themed Christmas trees on The Disney Christmas Tree Stroll, experience snowfall in Town Center, meet Santa, watch seasonal performances, grab a bite at Jock Lindsay’s Holiday Bar and holiday shop at Disney Springs.
- Disney resorts: All the resorts get decked out for the holidays, but some like Disney’s Grand Floridian become a destination themselves. Guests who want to resort hop to see decorations can take Disney transportation. Parking is only available for guests staying or dining there with reservations.
Holidays at Disneyland
Disneyland transforms from the “Happiest Place on Earth” to the “Merriest Place on Earth” for the holidays. Festivities run Nov. 11 through Jan. 8 and are included with regular park admission. One-day, one-park tickets range $114 to $179 for adults during the holiday season.
‘A Christmas Fantasy’ at Disneyland
Guests visiting Disneyland Park over the holidays won’t want to miss “A Christmas Fantasy Parade” or the “Believe … In Holiday Magic Fireworks,” which are included with regular park admission all season.
Fans of Mickey, Minnie and their friends will also want to keep an eye out for the gang wearing new holiday attire in Town Square.
Disney Festival of Holidays
Over in Disney California Adventure, Disney Festival of Holidays celebrates a host of holidays with international foods, live music and Mickey’s Happy Holidays processional with life-size toy soldiers. This year, Visions of Sugar Plums will join the Festive Foods Marketplace and Tina and The Sounds of Celebration! will join the line-up of multicultural performers.
Guests can keep the party going with Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party, which features traditional music and dance from Mexico and Brazil and appearances by Mickey, Minnie and the Three Caballeros.
Also during the holidays, Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters becomes Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is transformed into Mater’s Jingle Jamboree, and the nighttime spectacular “World of Color” makes way for “World of Color – Season of Light.”
Other Disneyland festivities
Downtown Disney: Disney lovers can enjoy seasonal entertainment, festive foods and holiday shopping without visiting the parks in Downtown Disney District.
Disney resorts: In addition to appearing at both Disneyland parks, Santa will stop by all three Disneyland hotels, which will be decorated for the holidays. Guests can see where he’ll be on Disneyland’s app. Don’t miss the gingerbread display at Disney’s Grand Californian. All three hotels are within walking distance of the parks.