The aroma of baked sugar and cinnamon perfume the air, classic Christmas melodies float from the hidden speakers, and guests are sporting red, green, and gold Mickey and Minnie ears. Lush garlands greet you at guest services and check-in as you feel the seasonal wave of “The Happiest Place on Earth” wash over you.
Christmas is always a magical time, but Christmastime at Walt Disney World is totally over the top. Many attractions have their own special decorations that sparkle day and well into the night. The most over-the-top decorations are the 60-foot-tall Christmas trees that greet guests at each park. Individually themed, it is worth visiting every park to enjoy the glittering fir trees and the must-see decorations at Disney World this season.
With the final days of the 50th anniversary approaching, the parks are slowly being transformed from the anniversary celebration to decorations heralding the holiday season. This season, you will find the parks decorated a little differently since some of the anniversary celebration decor will remain in place through the Christmas holidays.
After the parks close to guests, crews of Disney elves descend upon the parks and transform everything from Main Street at the Magic Kingdom to gardenscapes at EPCOT. Huge cranes swoop in to expertly land the enormous, fully decorated tree sections. There are four tiers for each giant tree requiring precision to perfectly place them in their designated spot. If you visit during the transition time, you will notice big changes from one day to the next, until the Christmas decorations are completely installed.
1. Giant Tree At Magic Kingdom
The moment you are through the gates, the Magic Kingdom’s giant tree greets you with its multi-colored lights and glowing bells. Decorated with rocking horses, stockings, and gingerbread men, the popcorn garland tree evokes sweet childhood memories. As you meander down Main Street, storefronts and lampposts sport holiday decor that glitter and sparkle, causing your neck to swivel with each step so as not to miss one little thing.
Disney’s Very Merriest After Hours is an exciting guest experience in the park after dark. It requires a special ticket that allows access to a holiday parade, fireworks, special treats, and festively dressed characters. The after-hours event runs select nights until December 21 from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. This is the best way to experience the Magic Kingdom at Christmas. Since an extra ticket is required, this event tends to be less crowded, translating into shorter wait times for rides. Also due to the late hours, you will find fewer young children giving the Magic Kingdom an adult-style kid-in-the-candy store feel.
2. It’s A Small World
It’s A Small World is one of Disney World’s classic rides. Sweet, costumed characters representing countries across the world sing, dance, and play their way into your heart while you enjoy the playful antics from the comfort of your boat.
During the Christmas season, every character on It’s A Small World undergoes a holiday transformation. From complete outfit changes to simple seasonal updates, the charming miniature diplomats are a delight to experience.
3. Carousel Surrounded By Poinsettias
In the center of the princesses’ home village sits the beautiful carousel. Evoking many fond childhood memories and creating new ones for the upcoming generation, the carousel remains a steadfast symbol of amusement parks. Surrounded by hundreds of poinsettia plants, the carousel’s horses travel around and around a sea of crimson.
Throughout Disney World, thousands of poinsettias bring the Magic Kingdom Christmas holiday decorations to life. If you are visiting from the frozen northern states, the beautiful, planted directly in the ground, poinsettias take on magical appeal all their own.
4. Giant Tree At Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom does not escape the giant tree treatment. Protected by Winnie the Pooh and his gang of charming companions, the Animal Kingdom tree is dripping with safari-themed ornaments. Giraffes, zebras, elephants, and other assorted wild animals peek out between the branches and shiny baubles on this glorious tree.
There are a few Christmas-themed decorations at this park, but since the main focus is the animals, you will have to search for silver and gold decorations.
5. Giant Tree At EPCOT
EPCOT is the adult playground at Disney World. The park’s centerpiece is the around-the-world holiday-themed Christmas tree. It welcomes you to joyfully explore all the countries in the World Showcase.
During Thanksgiving weekend, the pop-up stalls in EPCOT switch over to their Christmas-themed offerings. The EPCOT international festival, where pop-ups offer food and libations from across the globe, transforms into stalls whose fair is seasonally themed goodies from around the world. If you are interested in the foodie aspect of the Christmas celebration at EPCOT, then plan your visit for the weekend after Thanksgiving to ensure all the pop-up stalls are open and ready for business.
6. Alice’s Teapot
Nothing says the United Kingdom like Spode china. This giant Spode teapot and teacups have been gracing the UK pavilion in EPCOT’s World Showcase for several years. Many grandmothers collected the classic Christmas Spode Ware and have passed them down to their younger generations. It is a Christmas dinner tradition to dine on this delicate and highly decorated pottery.
7. Three Peppermints
Charming and sweet characters surprise guests as you turn a corner or alight from a ride. You can spot these festive creatures throughout the World Showcase. Be sure to keep your eyes wide and scan the gardens to capture all the fun and whimsical creations.
8. Snowmen In The Land
Christmas trees and holiday decorations can be found inside rides as well as around the park’s gardens. The Land Pavillion’s Living With The Land ride comes with decorations nestled in amongst the hydroponic garden display. Christmas balls, festive plants, and even snowmen weave their way around the state-of-the-art planting areas. You will even spot strings of Christmas lights wound around climbing Cinderella pumpkin plants floating above the ground in their suspended growth environment.
9. Christmas Store Fronts
Shops and storefront windows receive extra special care during the jingle bell season. Brilliant red, green, silver, and gold decorations add to the festive holiday spirit throughout the Disney World theme parks.
Take care to slow your roll down and simply enjoy the gorgeous Christmas lights and holiday decorations.
10. Giant Ornaments
Disney loves to supersize everything, including ornaments dotting the gardens. This series of half ornaments in the World Showcase offer tableaus depicting famous landmarks. The intricate elements of each scene are crafted with precision detailing. There is a reason guests queue up to take photos of these iconic landscapes sitting in an ornament ball.
11. Giant Tree At Disney Springs
Disney Springs offers guests a break from the theme parks, a place to shop for all their Walt Disney World goodies, entertainment opportunities, and a wide selection of fun restaurants. Like every Disney property during the holiday season, Disney Springs receives a giant, themed tree. This one is decked out with elegant silver and gold baubles wrapped up with a lush garland creating a dazzling sparkler.
To keep the fun going, the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll is a walk-about through the shopping and dining area in search of the themed trees. You can pick up a Holiday Stroll Guide as you enter Disney Springs and keep the whole family entertained while shopping.
The parking at Disney Springs is free, which makes it a good option for a 2021 Disney World Christmas outing.
12. World Of Disney Store
Shopping for the perfect Disney gift is easy when you visit the World of Disney store in Disney Springs. An entire section of the store houses clothing, accessories, and souvenirs made exclusively for Christmas at Disney.
Be sure to visit the Mickey and Minnie “ears” section. You will find classic Mickey and Minnie ears along with creative and fun updates. Santa-inspired ears sit alongside ears depicting the newest rides like Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Leave some time for mirror gazing as you select just the right pair for your Disney World Christmas.
13. Garlands At Disney Springs
Decorations are not just at eye level. Gorgeous garlands are strung across pedestrian streets and fun decorations adorn lampposts and windows. Be sure to look up and take in all of the pretty sights.
Walt Disney World Christmas Decorations
It is always a wonderful time to visit Disney theme parks. When you add the magical holiday-themed decor, you have a long list of must-see Christmas decorations at Disney World.
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Here is more Disney parks information before your next visit: