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Christmas at Disney World 2013

The Florida Resort is Extra Magical During the Holidays


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Disney World.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Disney World.

© Arthur Levine. Licensed to About.com.
Santa meets Mickey: It's a perfect partnership based on warm nostalgia and unabashed corniness. Like some idealized Currier and Ives vision tucked away in our collective conscious, Disney World delivers a holiday wonderland of epic proportions. Dozens of impossibly perfect Christmas trees (they used to be real, but Disney replaced them with artificial ones a few years back), miles of garland, millions of twinkling lights, and other holiday signposts appear overnight and transform every corner of the resort.

See the resort all decked out. Go to the Photo Tour of the Holidays at Disney World.

Special holiday attractions and events, such as the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights abound throughout the parks and across the resort, but Disney's Christmas magic may best be appreciated in the unexpected discovery of some of its less-trumpeted features.

For example, a fragrant and festive gingerbread house inside the lobby of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort bombards the senses. By itself, that may not be much of a revelation, but this is no ordinary house of cookies. At 16 feet high, and comprised of thousands of gingerbread pieces, guests can actually walk inside the life-size Victorian house. No nibbling is allowed on the walls, however (not that it never happens; Disney's gingerbread repair squad spruces up the house daily). The curiosity doubles as a mini bakery and gift shop, and patrons can purchase edible gingerbread cookies and other goodies. There are other Christmas creations throughout the World, including life-size carousel horses made from chocolate and gingerbread in the lobby of Disney's Beach Club Resort.

Are you planning to visit Disney World at Christmas time? Learn how to navigate through the different admission options, save some money, and land the best deal for your holiday visit with my overview of Disney's Magic Your Way Ticket Program.

Holidays at Disney World Highlights

Magic Kingdom
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party plus Jingle Cruise and other daytime fun
  • 2013 dates for the nighttime party: Nov. 8, 11, 14, 15, 17, 21, 22 and Dec. 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20.
  • Separate admission. Discounts available for advance-purchased tickets on select dates.
  • More info: 407/W-DISNEY or Disney's official Web site.
  • The vendor, Best of Orlando, offers Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party tickets at a small discount. Buy direct from Best of Orlando.
The park presents a special Christmas parade, a Holiday Wishes fireworks show, special performances, complimentary Christmas cookies and cocoa (I don't mean to get all Scrooge on you, but with an admission price starting at $62, the goodies are hardly "complimentary"), and -- get this -- "snow" falling on Main Street USA. Cinderella's Castle will be decked out in "Castle Dream Lights" for the holidays. The most popular Magic Kingdom attractions are open for the events.

Official Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party info

In addition to the nighttime party, the park will be spiffed up for the holidays during the day. New this year will be the Jingle Cruise, a holiday makeover of the classic Jungle Cruise ride. On nights when Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is not offered, guests will be able to experience the Castle Dream Lights and special fireworks presentation.

Candlelight Processional

  • 2013 dates: Nov. 29 to Dec. 30, several performances nightly
  • Included with admission
The solemn retelling of the Christmas story includes a choir, symphony orchestra, and celebrity narrators such as Neil Patrick Harris and Sigourney Weaver.

Holidays Around the World

  • 2013 dates: Nov. 29 to Dec. 30
  • Included with admission
In the multiculti spirit of the park's World Showcase, Epcot's pavilions present holiday traditions from across the globe. The nightly Illuminations show includes a holiday overlay.

See my exclusive photos of Holidays Around the World.

Official Epcot holiday events info

Disney's Hollywood Studios
Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

  • 2013 dates: Nov. 8 to Jan. 5 (2014)
  • Included with admission
The megawatt light display fills the Studios' backlot with a zillion or so twinkling lights all set to carols and other holiday music. Disney even includes some "real" snowflakes to go with the dazzling lights. It is a sight to behold.

See my exclusive photos of the Osborne Lights display.

Official Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights info

Disney's Animal Kingdom
Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade

  • 2013 dates: Nov. 7 to Jan. 2 (2014)
  • Included with admission
Simba meets Santa when the colorful parade winds through the Animal Kingdom. Other holiday features include a decked-out Dinoland U.S.A.

Official Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade info

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