LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – It’s the month before Christmas and throughout Mickey’s house, the trees are all glowing, bringing smiles to The Mouse. Choirs are singing, bakers taking great care, sounds and smells of the season are filling the air…
At Walt Disney World Resort in 2011, it begins to look a lot like Christmas as early as Nov. 8. Santa’s elves bedazzle every corner of the Vacation Kingdom for a seasonal spectacle filled with heartwarming stage productions, enchanting parades, garlands and wreaths, millions of sparkling lights and even the first flakes of winter.
And with a ho, ho, whole lot of cheer being spread over more than a month, guests have more choice as to when they join in the magical, one-of-a-kind celebration.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party – On 19 special nights, holiday revelers can delight during this cheery, family-friendly event. Party-goers embrace the joys of the season – sipping cocoa, catching a “snowflake” and enjoying merry shows, fireworks, carolers and special character meet and greets.
This after-hours party on select nights between Nov. 8 and Dec. 18, 2011, features a sleigh full of merriment:
- An enchanting Cinderella Castle adorned with Castle Dream Lights (through Jan.8)
- Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, complete with a special appearance by Santa Claus himself
- An exclusive holiday fireworks extravaganza — Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season
- Live entertainment featuring Disney characters
- Meet and greet opportunities throughout Magic Kingdom theme park with favorite Disney characters
- Complimentary cookies, apple slices and hot cocoa
- A magical snow fall on Main Street, U.S.A.
- Many popular Magic Kingdom attractions open for fun
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will take place Nov. 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 18, 27, 29, 30, Dec. 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16 and 18, 2011, from 7 p.m. until midnight. Day-of-event pricing is $62.95 and $57.95 for ages 3 to 9. Savings of $6 per ticket are available if tickets are purchased in advance. VisitDisneyworld.com/holidays.
Castle Dream Lights – Each evening of the season, Cinderella Castle shimmers with lights brought to beaming brightness during a ceremonial show performed at dusk. Beginning Nov. 8 and continuing through Jan. 3, 2012, Cinderella and favorite Disney characters decked out in festive holiday garb take center stage and magically transform Cinderella Castle into an ice palace draped with 200,000 ice cycle-white lights – a breathtaking focal point to a park ready for revelers with wreaths, bows, garland, towering Christmas trees and scarlet poinsettias dominating the landscape.
The Magic, The Memories and You! – The nightly light show on Cinderella Castle gets in “the spirit” throughout the holidays with a special segment that wraps the Magic Kingdom landmark in colorful bows and boughs, gift paper and ribbons, ornaments, candy stripes and multi-colored strands of lights … and gingerbread.
Candelight Processional – An inspirational retelling of the Christmas story accompanied by a mass choir and 50-piece live orchestra punctuates the reason for the season during this time-honored Epcot tradition. Each evening Nov. 25-Dec. 30, 2011, a celebrity narrator (from a lineup that includes Steven Curtis Chapman, Marlee Matlin and Neil Patrick Harris) takes to the America Gardens Theatre stage and shares the story of Christ’s birth. Guests can sing along as the trumpeters and full orchestra offer a riveting performance featuring seasonal melodies. Shows are at 5, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m.
To ensure a seat for this memorable performance, Candlelight Dinner packages are available at select Epcot restaurants. They include a special fireworks viewing area and guaranteed seating for Candlelight Processional. For bookings call 407-WDW-DINE.
Holidays around the World – Throughout World Showcase, international storytellers share traditions and tales from their homeland. Strolling along the promenade during the Holidays around the World celebration may put you face-to-face with the good-hearted witch La Befana, known in Italy for filling children’s shoes with treats, or the jolly gift-bearer Father Christmas in the United Kingdom. There are meet and greets with Santa and Mrs. Claus in the American Adventure, plus other legendary icons who share messages of goodwill. The celebrations of Kwanzaa and Hanukkah are celebrated as well.
The evening is capped by “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth,” the mesmerizing Epcot spectacular on World Showcase lagoon featuring fireworks, laser lights and water choreographed to a musical soundtrack – with a holiday finale.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights – Entering the Hollywood Studios backlot, guests discover a virtual city of lights. On, over and among the cityscape buildings are millions of dazzling bulbs, dancing lights and animated displays synchronized to high-energy holiday tunes at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Nov. 10-Jan. 7, 2012.
It’s truly a mega-watt spectacle for the eyes with colorful wreaths, twirling carousels, flying angels, Santa and his reindeer, swirling snow flurries, and amazing 3-D effects around every corner.
The tradition began in 1986 in Arkansas, at the home of businessman Jennings Osborne, who strung 1,000 lights as a Christmas gift to his daughter. After the exhibit grew larger and brighter each year, it was transported to Disney in 1995 where the light exhibit now mesmerizes guests from all over the world each year. The tradition continues after Jennings’ death on July 27, 2011.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade – King Louie and Baloo lead a rousing musical cavalcade – safari style – through the park from Nov. 10 to Jan. 3, 2012, during Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade. The wild side of Disney’s Animal Kingdom blends with a playful spirit of the holidays as Chip & Dale, stilt walkers and savannah friends dance alongside decorative floats at 4 p.m. daily. The savory scent of chocolate floats thru the air as Minnie’s candy cane and hot cocoa float roll by.
Santa Goofy’s Holiday Village at Camp Minnie-Mickey has decked the halls big time with festive décor. A perfectly trimmed Christmas tree adorned with animal crafted ornaments welcomes guests at the park’s entrance. Carolers spread holiday cheer and Santa Goofy and friends greet guests for photo opportunities.
With dozens of shops that stretch from the Marketplace to the West Side (and plenty of taste-bud-tempting treats!), Downtown Disney is a shopper’s delight. There are one-of-a-kind boutiques such as TrenD, a sports shop at Team Mickey, plus enough toys, games, character merchandise, and costumes to fill Santa’s sleigh at Once Upon a Toyand World of Disney. There’s also Fuego by Sosa Cigars, Ghirardelli Chocolates, Basin (soaps and bath products), LEGO Imagination Center and much more – including Disney’s Days of Christmas where guests can choose Disney ornaments and decorations any season of the year.
School choirs and bands often perform at the dock stage to ring in the season. Kids can pose for pictures and sit with Santa Claus, Nov. 19 – Dec. 24, 2011.
Disney resort hotels are dressed up for the holidays, offering an ideal home-away-from-home during the season. An intricate, life-size gingerbread house cooked up by Walt Disney World pastry chefs is a must-see at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. The yummy sugar shack is baked with 1,050 pounds of honey, 600 pounds of powdered sugar, 35 pounds of spices and more. It even has a chimney that puffs out delicious cinnamon smoke.
A magnificent gingerbread carousel complete with chocolate and soft-candy ponies and oversized candy-cane poles takes center stage at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Other hotels are spruced up with wreaths and trees decorated with miles of garland, ribbon and glistening ornaments. Check each hotel for holiday dining offerings and special entertainment.