The holiday season at Disney’s Parks and Resorts is filled with delights for food fans, and if you ask us, it’s never too early to start planning for holiday fun!!
We’ve compiled years of Disney Parks holiday experience so that you don’t miss a single treat, holiday meal, event, or activity. The DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays 2020 includes NEW events and holiday happenings for 2020, over 350 photos, an events calendar, touring suggestions, and an informative FAQ section!
Below, you’ll find some of our favorite holiday events, tips, and suggestions for making this year’s Disney World holiday trip your merriest one yet!
Dining at Walt Disney World During the Holidays
There are plenty of special Disney holiday events for the food lover at Walt Disney World. For Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, guests can expect specialty menus and holiday meals at many Disney restaurants in the Parks, at the Resorts, and in Disney Springs.
Here’s what you can expect for Christmas Dining Options in Disney World:
- Restaurants that are often closed will be open during this busy season. For example, look for Tomorrowland Terrace in the Magic Kingdom to be serving quick service eats.
- Many restaurants — both Table Service and Counter Service — will add holiday meals to the menu. You can see the list of locations which have announced special meals and items for Christmas 2020 by clicking here!
For information on every single Disney World restaurant holiday option, treat yourself to the DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays 2020!
For more ideas, check out our reader-suggested restaurants for Christmas in Disney World! PLUS our readers have chimed in on their favorite spots for Thanksgiving meals in the World, too!
Learn how to budget your time during the holidays at Walt Disney World in this DFB Guide Video!
If you’re looking to plan a festive News Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World, scroll on down for all the delicious and celebratory options!
Holiday Treats at Walt Disney World
The holidays are another welcome excuse for Walt Disney World to introduce lots of special treats just for the holiday season. From sundaes and yule logs to cupcakes and hot spiked beverages, there’s a holiday-inspired treat for everyone! We sampled OVER 100 holiday treats (and counting!) in 2020 and we’ve gathered our list of ALL our reviews for you right here!
Epcot Holiday Treats
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is a global celebration of the Season! This year the Festival runs November 27 – December 31! During the Festival, guests can enjoy enhanced offerings around World Showcase and experience holiday traditions from various cultures as expressed through decorations, stories, music, cuisine, and additional special events.
Epcot will feature internationally-themed food booths called Holiday Kitchens! Look for the ramped-up food offerings at booths like American Holiday Table, Las Posadas, and Festival Favorites. Typically, many counter service restaurants (and even some table service locations) add holiday treats!
Magic Kingdom Holiday Treats
Magic Kingdom adds plenty of holiday treats to jingle our taste bells, and while some of them are typically exclusive to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (which is not being held in 2020), oodles are available all day, every day during the long holiday season. We’re always fans of a seasonal cupcake or classic sugar cookie, but we love the very unique Belle’s Enchanted Christmas Tree!
Yep, it’s holly-jolly time again in the Magic Kingdom. And DID YOU SEE ALL THE TREATS!!???!!!?
We reviewed all the eats available this year including the Twice Upon a Cupcake, the Let It Snow Taco, Yuletide Wishes, the Spice Up Your Holiday sandwich, Fa La La La Funnel Cake, and Orange Bird Christmas, and more.
Hollywood Studios Holiday Treats
In the past few years, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has really stepped-up its holiday game… as it should after the unfortunate closure of the Osborne Lights Spectacular in 2015! Typically, the featured events include Flurry of Fun which brings a projection show called Sunset Seasons Greetings, a fireworks and projection nighttime spectacular called Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam!, and lots of sweet, festive treats!
And though things look a little different this year, guests can still enjoy special offerings like the HOLIDAY Tower Hotel, featuring yuletide projections on the park’s icon, the Tower of Terror Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in the evenings, along with vintage-inspired decorations around the park all day long!
And, of course, there is NO SHORTAGE of festive treats!!
We reviewed SO MANY holiday eats and drinks in Disney’s Hollywood Studios including: the Peppermint Bundt Cake Shake, Holiday Tree Mousse, Holiday Whoopie Pie, Apple Bourbon Creme Brulee, Christmas on the Beach, Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake, Hollywood Lights, Frozen Winterberry Margarita, Olaf’s Snow Flurry, Frozen Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, Chocolate-Chestnut Pinecone, Hot Cocoa Flight, Mickey’s Holiday Cookie, Festive Holiday Popcorn, and Spiced Surabat Cider (from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge!).
Animal Kingdom Holiday Treats
We took in all the sights, sounds, and tastes when all-new Animal Kingdom holiday celebrations debuted in 2019! Elements of the celebration are a part of the yuletide offerings in 2020, including a wintery version of the Tree of Life Awakenings in the evenings and the park’s uniquely gorgeous decorations.
One returning holiday treat that we were excited to see make its way back for this year’s celebration is the Double-Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Sandwich at Dino-Bite Snacks.
Disney Springs Holiday Treats
Watch for TONS of seasonal treats — you can see them ALL here! — found at various locations throughout the entertainment, shopping, and dining district. We love the Gobbler (holiday turkey) Poutine at The Daily Poutine and the Holiday Turkey Burger at D-Luxe Burger for some unique savory options!
But there’s plenty of SWEET going on in Disney Springs, too… find ALL of our Disney Springs holiday treat reviews here!
Disney Resorts Holiday Treats
The Resorts at Walt Disney World like to show off their seasonal creations too, and many of them are delicious! One of our favorites this year is the red and green batch of Holiday Oreo Bon Bons at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts!
Many treats include design elements and flavors typically associated with the holiday season, like gingerbread, cinnamon, and more!
Keep an eye out for seasonal beverages and holiday-themed cupcakes, tarts, and treats at all of the Resorts!
Holiday Events and Experiences at Walt Disney World
Disney World Gingerbread Displays and Activities
There are typically wonderfully aromatic and gorgeous gingerbread displays at the Contemporary Resort, BoardWalk Resort, Beach Club Resort, Grand Floridian, Epcot, Amorette’s Patisserie in Disney Springs, and more! However, please note that the Resort Gingerbread creations are not on display during the 2020 holiday season.
Though this tradition is not taking place in 2020, you will still find nods to these beautiful displays, such as this perfect replica — made of chocolate! — of the Grand Floridian Gingerbread House that we spotted at the Grand Floridian Cafe!
Magic Kingdom celebrates the holiday season in a BIG way with larger-than-life decor and — of course!! — Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!
Though Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party was canceled for 2020, you can still click here to read all about the Party for your future planning reference. The Party includes exclusive offerings like a unique parade and fireworks spectacular — Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks — and MUCH more!
Epcot celebrates with the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays from November 27 to December 31, 2020! Expect delicious treats from the Holiday Kitchen food booths, festive decorations, and music and entertainment celebrating holiday traditions around the globe!
Don’t miss out on Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition, a family-friendly scavenger hunt in which guests search for holiday traditions that Olaf has lost and found around the world. Guests can purchase a map and stickers from various merchandise locations to begin, then travel around the World Showcase to find Olaf and his traditions! Return your completed map for a festive surprise!
Though the beloved Epcot Candlelight Processional is not taking place in 2020, it is typically one of the most anticipated events of the year. We have information about Candlelight Processional Dining Packages here — which make it easy for guests to get reserved seating for a show that combines the traditional Christmas story with a choir of singers and meaningful music — for your future planning reference.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! — a Holiday Spectacular revolving around a search-and-rescue mission for Santa Claus — made its debut in 2016 and returned for 2019 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios from November 8 – January 5. NOTE: This event is unavailable for 2020.
Flurry of Fun
Enhanced Decor Around Echo Lake
Festive decor will transform this central part of the park — including dressing Dinosaur Gertie up in her dino-sized Santa hat!
And the Hollywood Studios Christmas Tree in Echo Lake is truly a stunner!
Guests can typically have a chat with Santa at the Once Upon a Time shop.
In 2020, Santa is STILL paying visits to Disney’s Hollywood Studios — and ALL the theme parks! — by way of Holiday Cavalcades, so keep your eyes peeled for ol’ St. Nick!
Holiday Cheer in Toy Story Land
In previous years, guests could celebrate the holidays with seasonal tunes at Alien Swirling Saucers and special decorations unique to Toy Story Land. We look forward hopefully seeing these special touches return next year!
Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood and Vine
This character-filled meal is centered on seasonal delicacies at lunch and at dinner. Guests can dine with Minnie and her best festive friends, like Mickey and Santa Goofy in their holiday finest from November 6, 2020 – January 4, 2021!
The Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Holiday Dessert Party — Unavailable for 2020
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! features some our favorite holiday music, fireworks, special effects, and super-fun seasonal projections that are happening at Disney World this Christmas season! This party is an option for guests to add to their experience including desserts (of course!), specialty beverages, and a reserved viewing are. Click here for more info on this fun add-on!
Find out how to watch Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam! from home.
Holiday Tower Hotel
This holiday experience brings guests to a twinkling Sunset Boulevard where holiday decorations set a festive mood. Throughout the night, scenes of the holiday are displayed on the billboards of Sunset Boulevard, and the Hollywood Tower Hotel features a gingerbread house, a pile of Christmas gifts, and a winter wonderland. And everyone’s favorite snowman Olaf makes an appearance as well!
The Holiday Tower Hotel projections run continuously every night of the holiday season.
Disney Springs showcases festive décor, entertainment, and holiday shopping during the season, including:
Disney Springs’ Christmas Tree Stroll: Stroll, indeed, among custom decorated holiday, Disney-themed trees placed all around Disney Springs! From time to time in the evenings, magical snow will fall upon Town Center, the West Side, and The Landing.
Stitch’s Holiday Gift Hunt: This scavenger hunt allows you to search throughout Disney Springs for your favorite experiment 626! Starting the day after Thanksgiving, this scavenger hunt activity is fun for the whole family. Once complete, visit participating locations for a limited-edition button. NOTE: Stitch’s Holiday Gift Hunt is unavailable in 2020.
Santa’s Chalet: In previous years, Santa has met with guests and accepted wish lists through Christmas Eve.
In 2020, Santa (and Mrs. Claus!) can instead be spotted ON THE WATER! Watch for Santa’s Winter Watercade on Lake Buena Vista!
As you shop your way around Disney Springs this holiday season, be on the lookout for great entertainment offerings like the Toy Soldier stilt walkers, carolers, and Living Statues dressed in holiday attire. The festive fun continues with Christmas-inspired treats throughout Disney Springs.
Other Holiday Happenings in Disney World
Cookie Decorating and Crafts
Many of the Resorts offer cookie decorating and other special activities to small guests.
After all, just because you’re on vacation, you don’t have to miss one of the season’s most beloved traditions! And please note that, while some Resort activities may not be available for 2020, you can rest assured that the Resort’s will be providing plenty of options for yuletide cheer. Check your Resort’s entertainment schedule for this year’s offerings.
Likewise, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels offer cookie decorating frequently throughout the holidays starting at 6PM; this year, this will take place at the Swan pool. (Note that, in 2020, reservations are required for this activity.)
Special Holiday Music Performances
Holiday music is always a great way to set the mood for a festive celebration. And at Disney World during the winter holidays, you’re bound to find lots of talented musicians sharing joyful cheer!
Many of the Deluxe resorts will often feature carolers throughout the season. Typically, you’re likely to see them at the Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, and Yacht Club. Though we are not certain if the carolers will return for 2020, we can happily report that the Grand Floridian pianist is performing for guests on the weekends, and we look forward to more live music returning!
You will also often find carolers strolling the “streets” of Disney Springs throughout the season. And on the Marketplace Dock Stage, watch for school choir groups singing festive songs. This year, special entertainment includes a DJ, the popular Toy Soldier Stiltwalkers, and Snowflake Skaters!
Visits with Characters and Santa Claus
But it would hardly be Christmas for the little ones without a visit from Santa Claus. And we are happy to share that Santa is making appearances at ALL FOUR Disney World theme parks and Disney Springs this year!
Appearances are physically-distanced for safety (and times are not published), but trust us… you will DEFINITELY feel the yuletide cheer, and Santa sightings are quite frequent thanks to Holiday Cavalcades in each park!
In previous years — and potentially future years as well — you could spy Santa at various places throughout the parks and at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, he’s also often available to hear your Christmas wishes at other spots. Disney Springs hosts both Santa and Santa Goofy!
Holiday times are so busy that Disney pulls out all the stops to entertain the large number of guests. It’s quite common throughout Christmas week to find character meet and greets at Deluxe Resorts! In fact, for 2020, characters have already been spotted making physically-distanced surprise appearances in various Resorts, so keep your eyes peeled!
Really — can you imagine anything more enchanting than Christmas Minnie and Mickey? Be sure to check with the concierge for more information on appearance times for future trips. (Thus far in 2020, appearances have been on a happy surprise basis!)
And you’ll also spy the big guy in front of his Tiki Hut at the Swan and Dolphin — perfect for a Florida Santa photo opp!
New Year’s Eve
If you’re welcoming 2021 in Walt Disney World, New Year’s Eve festivities will look different this year.
The primary difference is that each of the four theme parks will close prior to midnight, with hours as follows:
- Magic Kingdom: 8AM-11PM
- EPCOT: 10AM-10PM
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 9AM-9PM
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 7AM-8PM
- Disney Springs: 10AM-11PM
However, Disney has shared that the Resort hotels will offer “fun and festive activities” for guests. Full details for these activities are set to be provided upon guests’ arrival at their hotel. And you can get an idea of late-night DINING options which will be available at the Resorts here!
New Year’s Eve Dining Options
PLEASE NOTE: Specialty dining options — such as these listed below — are unavailable in 2020. We are keeping the information from 2019 (ringing in 2020) below for your future planning reference.
Unless otherwise noted, book these New Year’s Eve options at 407-WDW-DINE.
Here are three events at the Contemporary Resort — Disney Countdown to MidnightDisney Ink & Paint Club, and Pixar Party: A New Year’s Eve. All of these events are currently available to book on Disney World’s website.
There is ANOTHER event taking place at the Contemporary Resort — An Elegant Evening Under the Stars at the California Grill. Enjoy a champagne toast, a magician, a portrait artist, and more as you approach the beginning of a new year. At the end of the night, you’ll get to witness Magic Kingdom’s fireworks from California Grill’s observation deck! To reserve this event, dial (407) WDW-DINE
A New Year’s Eve event is set to take place at the new Riviera Resort — Mezzanotte at Topolino’s: An Italian Masquerade. The event will take place at Topolino’s Terrace — Flavors of the Riviera and will include food, beverages, and musical entertainment. You can currently book this event by calling (407) WDW-DINE or by visiting Disney World’s website.
If you’d like the chance to celebrate the new year at one of Disney World’s newest locations, now’s your chance! Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood, located at the new Gran Destino Tower, will hold Feliz Ano Nuevo: A New Year’s Eve Party at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Guests will dine on Spanish New Year’s cuisine while enjoying entertaining music. This event will cost $400 per person and you may call (407) WDW-DINE or visit Disney World’s website to book.
If you plan to be around Disney’s BoardWalk on New Year’s Eve, there are two events you need to know about! First up is Disney’s BoardWalk Countdown 2020 at Atlantic Dance Hall. The event “includes views of the Epcot Fireworks a live DJ, party hats and horns, a confetti drop, a mouthwatering light-bite menu with savory and sweet eats, and a complimentary Champagne toast at midnight.” This event will be available to book soon, so keep checking Disney World’s website for more information!
You also have the chance to celebrate at the BoardWalk’s Flying Fish! Chef Tim Majoras will present a multi-course, pre-fixe menu during this dining event. According to Disney, “seatings are available from 5-6:30pm and 8:30-10pm on Dec. 31, with a sustainable seafood tower and intermezzo included in the second seating.” Booking information is expected to be available soon on Disney World’s website.
Disney’s Grand Floridian is also holding a duo of events. Narcoossee’s will host A New Year’s Eve Celebration at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. According to Disney, you’ll want to reserve an earlier dinner time for a relaxed experience and a later dinner time for an upbeat experience with a band and dance floor. Call (407) WDW-DINE for more information and to book!
If you want to have a truly luxurious experience on New Year’s Eve, look no further than Victoria & Albert’s! During your meal, you’ll enjoy live music from a harpist, a champagne toast, and a AAA Five Diamond culinary experience. Booking information will be available soon on Disney World’s website.
Holiday Options at On-Property Hotels
Disney and non-Disney-owned hotels on Walt Disney World property have an assortment of holiday options.
Featuring an entire calendar filled with holiday activities, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel celebrates the season with two special guest hosts – Santa and Mrs. Claus!
Tables in Wonderland
Keep an eye out for holiday events for Tables in Wonderland members!