The Ultimate Guide to the Holidays at Epcot

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Epcot is the theme park that sleeps in when it comes to the holidays. While Magic Kingdom has been in holiday mode for almost a month now, Epcot waits until the day after Thanksgiving to kick off its festivities. This is purely due to the International Food and Wine Festival running until November 23, 2019, but still, it’s nice to have something in Orlando that follows old school tradition. Epcot’s holiday festivities cover the globe. Over the past few years Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays has become another food and wine festival, with a holiday twist. And as we have seen in other Disney parks this year, the holly jolly fun is bigger than ever. 

Festively red Mickey Mouse icon at Epcot

Holiday Storytellers Throughout World Showcase

I can’t resist starting with my favorite holiday tradition at Walt Disney World. The Holiday Storytellers from around the World are the most important part of the festivities at Epcot this time of year. Each World Showcase pavilion has a live entertainer who tells the story of that region’s winter celebrations and traditions. Learning about the traditions of each country represented in the World Showcase pavilion inspires understanding and empathy. It is important to learn about the diverse celebrations and holidays around our world.

Holiday Decorations Throughout World Showcase

Give me a festively decorated theme park and you’ll see a very happy theme park fan. The holiday decorations around World Showcase are some of the most detailed in any theme park. The ornaments and embellishments tell the story of each country’s traditions. Look closely to see fun details in the garlands that adore doorways and windows. You’ll be treated to a whole world of colors and details.

Holiday decorations at United Kingdom pavilion

Holiday Kitchens

Welcome to a miniature version of Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, full of holiday flavors. The most festive time of year is also the most delicious. Discover the flavors of the holidays from a country you’ve never been to or enjoy a creative interpretation of a traditional recipe you love. The holidays have never tasted better!

Early favorites of this year’s offerings include:

  • Tamal de Pollo – Braised Chipotle Chicken inside a tamale, topped with Yellow Mole and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Queso Cotija and Crema Mexicana $6.75 at Los Posadas Holiday Kitchen (Mexico pavilion)
  • Horchata Cheesecake – a blend of cheesecake with rice and cinnamon topped with Cajeta caramel sauce (made with goat’s milk) $5.00 at Los Posadas Holiday Kitchen (Mexican pavilion)
  • Collezione Barilla – penne pasta tossed with Sweet Sausage, Caramelized Onions $7.99 at Tuscany Holiday Kitchen (Italy pavilion)
  • Canadian Wild Rice and Ham Soup – savory and tender ham with wild rice in a heart soup served with a pretzel roll $5.00 at Yukon Holiday Kitchen (Canada pavilion)

 

Holiday Cookie Stroll

The holiday season isn’t complete without an abundance of cookies. As if the Holiday Kitchens aren’t serving enough culinary goodness, you can indulge in the Holiday Cookie Stroll. This stroll includes five stops around World Showcase. A diverse selection of flavors make this a fun and tasty activity only Epcot could pull off. Share it with friends or as a fun family experience. Grab a Festival Passport and as you purchase each cookie at each stop get your Passport stamped. Bring your complete Passport to the Sweets & Treats Holiday Kitchen to receive a complimentary Santa Mickey Sugar Cookie – nothing sweeter than a bonus cookie!

©Disney

Each cookie is full sized. Check out the list:

  • Linzer Cookie at Bavaria Holiday Kitchen at the Germany Pavilion 
  • Gingerbread Cookie at American Holiday Table at the America Pavilion
  • Peppermint Pinwheel Cookie at Yukon Holiday Kitchen at the Canada Pavilion 
  • Chocolate Crinkle Cookie at Feast of the Three Kings near the Mexico Pavilion 
  • Black-and-White Cookie at L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen between the Morocco and France Pavilions. The cookie is plant based, so it’s a nice option for those that have dietary restrictions or prefer plant-based foods.

Here’s where it gets really sweet, you don’t have to purchase all the cookies on one trip. Complete the stroll as you wish, the Passport can be redeemed anytime by December 30, while supplies last. Each cookie is $2.50, so it’ll cost $12.50 to complete the crawl. 

Candlelight Processional

Nothing is more peaceful and more inspirational at Epcot than the Candlelight Processional. It is one of the most ambitious traditions Epcot has. A combination of Cast Members who volunteer their time to perform in the choir, local schools’ choirs, a live orchestra, and a celebrity narrator make up this compelling performance. 

Candlelight Processional
©Disney

The Candlelight Processional started at Disneyland in 1958. Choirs holding actual candles proceeded down Main Street U.S.A. and gathered in Town Square for the telling of the Bible’s Christmas story. It is still performed at Disneyland, but not nightly the way it is in Epcot. Being performed in the American Adventure pavilion, at the center of World Showcase seems fitting as the sound of the choir, orchestra, and narrator echoes over World Showcase lagoon. 

Of course, Disney leadership came up with the idea to monetize this spiritual show with reserved seating and dinner packages. If you have a celebrity narrator you’d absolutely love to see then the dining package is a smart way to go.

Living with the Land Holiday Overlay

Each year, it feels like, Disney gifts us with a new holiday overlay for a beloved attraction. The surprise this year is the addition of holiday lights and effects on Living with the Land. In the past, Disney Horticulturists would add a few festive touches to the greenhouse portion of the ride. Now, there are lights and a few other additions to make this classic ride a little more joyful.

Tips and Information

  • Most the holiday festivities are in World Showcase and do not start until the early afternoon, take this into consideration when planning your visit.
  • A light jacket or sweater is a good idea as Epcot truly is an evening park and temperatures can get a little chilly at night, yes, even in Orlando.
  • Get your spot for the Holiday Storytellers about 10 minutes in advance, maybe grab a snack from a nearby Holiday Kitchen while you wait.
  • Most of the food and beverage at the Holiday Kitchens count as Disney Dining Plan Snacks.

Dani

Born and raised in the land of sunshine and dreams come true, Dani is a proud Orlando Native who loves sharing her hometown with others. She's worked in nearly all of Orlando's theme parks, on board Disney Cruise Line, and in hotel management. Follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram @thisfloridalife

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