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Hi there, I’m Trevor, a Disney and theme park fan and contributor for Fabulous Adventures Travels. A few days before Christmas, I spent an evening going to all four Disney parks to see how each one made the holiday season come to life in its own unique way. 

If you’ve never visited Walt Disney World during the holidays, hopefully this post will entice you to make the trek to Florida, and spend the season with Mickey! Fair warning; this isn’t an exhaustive review of every single seasonal offering at every park. Just know that there will be special food & drinks, as well as special shows and events (not forgetting merch), at all 4 theme parks for the Christmas season. You will always find something new and exciting to get you in the holiday spirit! I’ve never visited all 4 parks in one day, let alone a single evening, so this was a new experience for me. Along with the holiday highlights, I’ll also be sharing how I got around as well!

Confession time, I didn’t walk through the entire park, as I knew it was going to be a long night, but if the entrance was any indication, the subtle decorating allowed you to know it was Christmas without hitting you over the head with it. And it would most likely carry throughout the entire park.  Again, because of the authentic and natural feel of Animal Kingdom, I think they made a good choice going subtle.

I walked back to the tram pickup and once in my car, headed over to Epcot. The plan was to take the Skyliner from Epcot over to Hollywood Studios, head back to Epcot for a bit, then take the Monorail over to Magic Kingdom, which was open the latest, then head back to Epcot to get my car. In theory, this was the perfect plan. However, as I said I’ve never done this before so it didn’t quite go as planned.

My first stop was to Animal Kingdom. I decided to start here because it’s the least connected of the parks. I parked and took the tram to the main entrance, which is going through some changes and updates, so the tram dropped us farther away from the gate than I’m used to. When I finally got to the entrance, the ticket kiosks were decorated nicely within the parks theme, and a large Christmas tree was hung with many beautifully themed ornaments.

Once through the gate, Animal Kingdom showed no sign of Christmas at all.  This park is as natural an environment as you can possibly get for a fabricated landscape, so I appreciated that the natural look of the jungle/rain-forest that you first walk through upon entering the park was intact. The music was perfect; it was Christmas music, but the orchestration had lots of drums and rhythms indicative of the different areas AK represents. Once over the bridge and into the first “village”, the Christmas decorations began. They were tastefully done and blended into the theme very well. 

When it comes to Christmas theming, Studios doesn’t disappoint. It’s not just Christmas there, it’s Christmas back in the 30’s and 40’s when it wasn’t just the screen that was silver, but also the garland! Not only do they do some pretty spectacular projection mapping on Tower of Terror and Grauman’s, all of the decorations are meticulously themed to the time period. As opposed to Animal Kingdom, there is nothing subtle about Christmas at HS, and that’s a good thing! From the lamp posts and the strings of garland and lights hanging over main street,  to the giant Christmas tree with huge ornaments floating in Echo Lake, it truly is an intoxicating experience. I popped into Toy Story land and was happy to see that Woody and the gang had also gotten an overlay for the holidays. Once relegated to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, there is now “snow” at HS during its night time show. I wouldn’t try to catch it on my tongue since it’s made of soap, but it does add to the magic in a big way.

Back on the Skyliner and over to Epcot! I was immediately struck by the difference between Future World and World Showcase when it came to decorations. Not that I don’t totally get it, but where World Showcase is lush with decorations from each country, Future World was sparse, to put it mildly. Again, I get it, with Future Worlds slick and streamlined metal and plastic look, decorations have to be more intentional so as not to take away from the main theming.

Once in World Showcase however, things really get festive. There is, of course, the giant Christmas tree, and every country showcases their own cultural take on the holidays. Remember, you’ve got plenty of holiday food and drink offerings, as well as the “Santa Claus” character from each country (though some aren’t Santa at all).

Best of all is the show stopping Candlelight Processional that features local Highschool choirs along with Epcot’s performers and stellar orchestra offering up some more traditional Christmas songs, and a celebrity narrator to lead us through the Biblical account of Christ’s birth.

Leaving Epcot behind, I boarded the Monorail to Magic Kingdom, my last stop of the night. It was 9:30 pm and Epcot was closing, but MK was staying open until Midnight. However, I needed to remember that the parking lot trams don’t run for very long after a park closes, so I needed to be aware of my time!

Magic Kingdom is where the splendor of Disney World at Christmas really shines! From the moment the monorail goes through The Contemporary and pulls up toward the station, you get amazing views of Main Street U.S.A, looking like a million bucks, and Cinderella’s Castle all decked out in its Christmas best. Once clear of the gate and through the train tunnels, you’re greeted with the single best overlay in the whole complex of parks. Christmas really comes alive at Magic Kingdom, and it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

When I arrived, the Happily Ever After fireworks spectacular was just ending. The street was packed with people watching the show, and then, like an exodus, leaving the park. However in spite of that, there was magic in the air as it began to “snow”. It’s the same type of soap-snow used in Hollywood Studios, but for some reason, it feels more real at MK. Walking down Main Street, taking in the special display windows, and beautiful decorations, my eyes kept getting drawn to the star of the entire Christmas Season at Walt Disney World, Cinderella’s Castle decked out from top to bottom in icy white lights. The rest of MK has decorations that match it’s theming, some subtle, like Tomorrowland, and other areas more conventional, like Liberty Square. However the beauty of Magic Kingdom at night, is that almost anywhere you go, the Castle is visible, always reminding you that it’s Christmas.

I stayed far longer than I should have, just soaking up the ambiance, and by the time I decided to head back to Epcot, I was joined by thousands of other guests. Add to that the fact that there was some sort of issue with the monorails, and they sent me to the ferryboat, by the time I finally arrived back to Epcot, the trams were no longer running and I was one of the last cars in the lot…..a long walk away from the monorail station. Oh well, it was worth it.

There is nothing quite like Christmas time at Walt Disney World, and if you’ve never had the opportunity to experience it, I implore you to do so! Next time you’re planning your Disney vacation, give some serious thought to coming in December, I promise it’ll be a memory you cherish for years to come! And please remember that we here at Fabulous Adventures Travels want to help you make it the best vacation you’ve ever had!