This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We LOVE Christmas at the Orlando Theme Parks. It’s hard to beat Halloween in Orlando. Universal has its world class Halloween Horror Nights while Disney has their Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, both of which are among the highlights of the theme park year. It is just an amazing time, but can there actually be a time that’s better? Yes there is, and it’s called Christmas season. Not only are the hotels decorated (in fact a day could be spent resort hopping at WDW just to see the Christmas decorations such as the giant tree at Wilderness Lodge or the huge gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian) but the parks have a whole bunch of new stuff. Plus IT’S CHRISTMAS! To paraphrase Frank Cross in Scrooged, it’s the time of the year when we all act a little nicer, we give a little more, and we actually are the people that we always hoped we would be. So today we are going to look at some of our favorite reasons that Christmas in the Orlando Theme Parks is our favorite time of the year….
# 6 -Macy’s Holiday Parade
For our family, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV every year is the official start of the Christmas season. Universal has it’s own version of that parade starting in December with the Macy’s Holiday Parade in Universal Studios Florida. Not only are there the large balloons (several from the actual parade in New York), but guests can sign up to be balloon handlers! There are also many floats and of course your favorite characters.
Balloons making their way in Macy’s Holiday Parade. (photo by Mike Sperduto)
Straight from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York comes the Happy Hippo balloon. (photo by Mike Sperduto)
I know November is behind us, so this may not help for the moment, but I have something to share with those already planning for next year’s vacation to Walt Disney World: November is a great time to visit! I recently returned from a Veterans Day stay at Walt Disney World and discovered that this particular months offers some perks that other times of the year may not. So stay tuned to find out just why you should visit Disney World in November.
Catch Several Special Events at One Time
While the dates for Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival do tend to vary from year to year, the festival usually ends the second week of November. What’s great about this is that the last week or two of the festival overlaps the start of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! Rarely can you catch two big Disney World events in one trip. When I visited Walt Disney World in early November, I loved getting to sample the treats and eats at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival during the day and then hopping on the Monorail to head to the Magic Kingdom for the party at night or over to Hollywood Studios for the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights! (I know, I know… The Osborne Lights is in its last year, but I’m still holding out hope for a new location for this seasonal favorite next year.) The overall point is: guests can experience some of Disney World’s best special events in one week. Now that’s maximizing the Disney magic!
Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel… My fave item at the Food and Wine Festival.
While weather these days rarely seems consistent, and November is the tail end of Hurricane Season, Central Florida does offer more ideal temperatures for Disney World guests during this month than what you experience in the summer. For the first half of November, the average temperatures hover from the mid-eighties during the day to the mid-sixties at night; and for the second half of the month, drop to the mid-seventies during the day and then the sixties to even the fifties at night. Here are the benefits with these averages. If guests visit during the first half of November, they can still enjoy a Disney World water park or their resort pool! It’s the best of summer without the blistering heat and crowds. If you visit during the second half of the month you may still be able to enjoy the resort pools (they are heated), but what they will truly appreciate is the ability to walk through the parks comfortably and without sweating! You’ll be surprised by how much you can accomplish in the parks when the temperatures are cooler.
Walt Disney World and the Christmas Season. It just doesn’t get any more magical than that. I absolutely love this time of year as the Disney World Parks and Resorts begin to deck their halls and debut their annual holiday events and roll out new festive merchandise, it sort of helps me to kick off my own holiday preparations. One way to prep for the upcoming holiday is to take a few moments to drop by the Magic Kingdom or the Santa Chalet at Disney Springs to let the kids, and yourself, tell Santa what’s on your wish list. This tradition got me thinking… If I could, what would I ask Walt Disney World to get me for Christmas? If you will, indulge with me in a little bit of Christmas fantasy as I fill out My Disney World Christmas Wish List!
Bring Back the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights – Of all the holiday entertainment at Walt Disney World, the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights is my personal favorite. I love the fake snow, the music and carols, the looks on everyone’s faces as they take in the lights, and the fact that it’s free with park admission! So as you can imagine, I was pretty much crushed when I heard that this is the last year for the Osborne Lights, yet I’m just as thrilled about the new developments coming to Hollywood Studios such as Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land. At this point, I’m holding onto a hope that Disney may move the Osborne Lights to another location at Walt Disney World. An announcement confirming my hopes is most definitely on my Christmas Wish List this year.
First, let’s take a look at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. (If you haven’t already done so, check out our recent Least Crowded Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties blog post.) This year’s parties will take place on select nights from September 15 through November 1. Parties will run from 7:00 p.m. until midnight. Pricing for the party nights varies depending on the evening, and there are discounts for select nights. Typically there is an advance purchase discount, minus a few exceptions.
Here’s what you can expect to pay (prices do not include tax):
Dates: September 15, 18, 20, 22, 25, 27; October 1
Adult (Ages 10+)
Child (Ages 3-9)
Advance Purchase Discount
Day of Event
Dates: October 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, and November 1
For Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, the event will be held on select nights from September until November; the first party starts later than it did last year; the kick-off date is September 15 and parties will take place up until November 1. Overall, there will be 25 parties total to celebrate the spooky season. Dates for the 2015 season are:
Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re stopping by Disney’s Hollywood Studios, checking out some sweet treats at the Contempo Cafe, and taking another detailed look at the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. I can’t wait – so let’s get going!
Now, you might be asking yourself why I’m not covering the new Polynesian lobby or the Comedy Warehouse returning to the Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While I pride myself on bringing you guys the latest news from the parks every week, I’m home enjoying some time with my family for the holidays. Rather than leave you without any Disney goodness at all, I decided to pull some extra fun from the past couple of weeks to share with you. I’ll be back next week to share the latest news and to get ready for the craziness that is New Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World! I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday! How are you celebrating? I’d love to hear in the comment below!
We started celebrating a couple weeks ago in the Disney parks. As you can see to the left, we wanted to build a snowman! While it was only about six inches tall, it was the best these Floridians have done in a while. 😉 Want to see what else we did? Click to read more.
The most magical place on earth gets a little more magical around this time of year when the parks and resorts deck the halls with holiday finery and give Disney fans a reason to take one more Walt Disney World vacation! My family and I love to take a trip to Disney World around the holidays, and we have created a few festive traditions over the years. Check out a few of my Disney World Vacation Christmas Traditions.
Downtown Disney’s Days of Christmas Store
Buying a New Ornament
It just wouldn’t be right to leave Disney World around Christmastime without a new ornament to add to our tree. My favorite place to shop for ornaments is the Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe at the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square. I love how it feels like we’re walking through an old, colonial home. For a wider variety of Christmas décor, we like to drop by Disney’s Days of Christmas Store at Downtown Disney, where it really does feel like Christmas all year round.
Epcot’s World Showcase is one of my favorite corners of Disney World, and I especially enjoy Holidays Around the World this time of year, where performances educate guests about the different holiday traditions of their respective countries. It’s a lot of fun to hear and see how other countries celebrate the holidays. Our favorites would be Father Christmas at the United Kingdom and the Voices of Liberty Dickens Carolers at the American Adventure. The special holiday treats and the chance to do a little Christmas shopping is pretty great too. After all, there’s no chance that what you’re buying as a gift is something someone already has when you shop at the stores in the Norway or China or Morocco pavilions.
I was absolutely over the moon when I got the email from Touring Plans asking if I wouldn’t mind attending the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The truth was I’d been on the fence about going the first night, but the tickets sold out before I pulled the trigger. So let this serve as a warning to all of you to not delay picking up those party tickets! But what if you can’t make it this year? Well, no worries! Just click to read all about it.
The Castle lights are a highlight of the party. Photo – Laurel Stewart
The fine print: my ticket to this party was courtesy of Disney and WDWToday. I had already purchased a ticket, which I was able to pass on to the lovely Daisy Lauren, so there should be lots of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party coverage from TouringPlans this week.
As always, while the official start time is 7:00PM, guests with party tickets are allowed to enter the park and get wrist banded at 4:00. This allows Disney to help spread out the exiting day guests and entering party guests in addition to giving party guests a few extra hours in the parks. Try not to arrive right at 4 or right at 7 to avoid crowds.