Christmas is just around the corner, and now we know what NEW holiday festivities and offerings will be coming to Walt Disney World this year! While there have been a few changes to the event and entertainment lineup because of Disney’s reopening phase health and safety measures – including the cancellation of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and the EPCOT Candlelight Processional – the great news is that there will be some new holiday experiences and offerings coming soon to the parks and Disney Springs.
Take a look at all the announcements below for more details about what guests can expect to see at The Most Magical Place On Earth during the 2020 Holiday Season!
Beginning November 6th, 2020
This year, the holiday festivities will officially begin on November 6th and continue through December 30th – the day before New Year’s Eve. Though the holiday season at Walt Disney World will be different this time around because of the current health and safety measures, Disney has announced that guests can still expect to find seasonal decorations, merchandise, food and beverages, and even some holiday-themed entertainment, including “pop-up appearances” by Santa Claus. According to Disney Parks Blog, these special offerings will be for all four parks as well as Disney Springs.
Christmas Character Cavalcades
We are especially excited by the announcement that some of our favorite characters featured every year in Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade will be returning this year in an all new way! The Walt Disney World character cavalcades have already become favorite entertainment offerings for many guests (including us!) since the parks reopened back in July. These pop-up mini parades are fun surprises throughout the day, and we love that Disney will be including holiday theming and a few seasonal characters for most of November and December this year.
At Magic Kingdom, characters will be riding on “festive floats” and wearing their holiday outfits. Characters from the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade joining the cavalcade fun will include the Gingerbread Men, Elves, and the Reindeer. The life-size Toy Soldiers will also make an appearance with the Main Street Philharmonic, which is sure to be a fan-favorite holiday offering this year. If you’ve never had a chance to see these characters dance and march up and down Main Street USA before, then you will definitely want to try to catch this Christmas cavalcade if you’re visiting the Magic Kingdom this holiday season!
There will also be special holiday-themed cavalcades at the other three parks as well. Animal Kingdom will feature “festive flotillas” (most likely these will be holiday versions of the character floats guests can currently see on Discovery River), EPCOT will offer “holiday promenades”, and Hollywood Studios will have “merry motorcades”.
Cancelled Events and New Cinderella Castle Projections
All crowd-drawing events and entertainment have been cancelled this year, including Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and EPCOT’s Candlelight Processional. Sadly, this means that the Castle Dream Lights will not be returning this year either. However, in place of the annual Dream Lights castle overlay, special holiday-themed projections will be displayed on Cinderella Castle once the sun goes down. These projections will rotate and will feature designs such as a “whimsical Christmas sweater”. You can see a few of these new projections in Disney’s official video announcement below:
EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays
Much like the “Taste of EPCOT Food & Wine Festival!” taking place in the park right now, a slightly smaller version of the annual “EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays” will return this year beginning on November 27th. Holiday inspired dishes will be featured all around World Showcase at specialty food kitchens, and some entertainment will be offered at a couple of locations. JOYFUL! will perform inside World ShowPlace this year, while the Voices of Liberty will perform at the America Gardens Theatre located in The American Adventure pavilion.
Holiday Character Dining at Hollywood Studios
With character meet and greets unavailable right now, we were not certain if there would be a holiday-themed character dining opportunity for Christmas at Walt Disney World this year, but it looks like there will be! Disney Parks Blog has announced that Minnie Mouse will host a “yuletide gathering” at Hollywood & Vine beginning on November 6th. According to Disney’s announcement, this character dining experience will feature Minnie Mouse, Santa Goofy, and a few of their other pals wearing their holiday attire.
We expect that this dining experience will mirror that of the current character dining experiences located at Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort and the Garden Grill Restaurant in Future World at EPCOT, which have returned with a unique physical-distancing approach to their character appearances.
Christmas at Disney Springs
There’s no official word yet on whether the annual Christmas Tree Trail will be returning this year, but there will be other decorated Christmas trees located all around Disney Springs. There will also be “snowfall” each evening in certain areas of Town Center, West Side, and The Landing, much like there has been in years past on Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom (snow on Main Street was not specifically mentioned for this year at Magic Kingdom, so at this time we aren’t certain if it will return there this season).
Also announced is the transformation of “Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar” (Disney Spring’s Indiana Jones themed restaurant/bar) into “Jock Lindsey’s Holiday Bar”. This little eatery will be adorned with holiday decor for the 2020 Christmas season and feature a few limited-time “festive favorites” on the menu.
Disney Resort Hotel Holiday Decorations
There’s also great news for anyone staying on property for Christmas at Walt Disney World – guests can still expect to find holiday decor at the Disney Resort hotels for this season! Unfortunately, the annual gingerbread displays will not be returning this year due to the need for physical distancing in the hotels as well, but we should still see plenty of Christmas trees, wreaths, and lights scattered all throughout the main common area of each resort.
It is important to note that not all Disney Resorts are currently operating (some are still closed until further notice), but it does sound like all the resorts that will be open during November and December will at least have decorated lobbies.
That wraps up Disney’s first official announcement about the 2020 holiday season at Walt Disney World, but Disney Parks Blog hints that there are still more details to come.
We will be updating our site with any new info that comes along, so be sure to sign up for our free newsletter so you don’t miss a post!
As always, we encourage you to visit Disney’s website for all official information and to make sure that none of this information has changed since this article was written. Disney frequently makes changes and updates to their parks and offerings. Because of this, the information in this post was current at the time of publishing and is subject to change at any moment. We update our website and articles as often as we can, but it is always a good idea to double check Disney’s official website before planning your trip or visiting the Walt Disney World Resort.Last Updated September 17, 2020