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My Disney World Christmas Vacation Traditions

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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
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.

Holidays Around the World

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.

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights
Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights

Dinner at Le Cellier

The holiday season is synonymous with good food; and in my family’s opinion, there are few places on property that compare to the menu at Epcot’s Le Cellier. This delicious restaurant is tucked away in the Canada pavilion and very popular with regular guests. Their Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup is the perfect remedy for the winter chill, and I can’t get enough of the pretzel bread. However, my absolute favorite menu item has to be their filet mignon. Trust me, you’ll never be the same after you have sampled this dish. My family is crazy about this restaurant, and it has become our tradition to enjoy a meal here when we need a little escape from the holiday festivities.

Photo in Front of Cinderella Castle

Cinderella Castle is magical any time of the year, but you really haven’t seen it until you behold it covered in delicate, icy lights during the Christmas season. This year, Elsa from Disney’s Frozen lights up the castle in its icy finery during the Frozen Holiday Wish show at the castle stage at 6:15 PM. Our tradition? A photo of our family at night in front of the castle. It makes a great Christmas card!

Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

While the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom is incredible in its own right, my family simply can’t miss the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Hollywood Studios. The thousands upon thousands of lights, gently falling snow, and classic Christmas tunes combine to make this experience a must-do. It’s impossible not to feel the holiday spirit when wandering up and down the display, and did I mention that this experience is free with park admission?

Shopping at the Grand Floridian Gingerbread House

We always have to drop by the Grand Floridian Resort during this festive time of year to see the resort’s annual giant gingerbread house. The house is so big that it’s actual a working store with a Cast Member inside selling chocolate and gingerbread treats. Our favorites? An edible gingerbread shingle, just like what covers this house’s roof, and a mini-gingerbread house ornament to add to our own Christmas tree.

Magic Kingdom Window Display
Magic Kingdom Window Display

Visiting the Wilderness Lodge Resort

While all of the resorts around Disney World are decked with holiday decor to put guests into the Christmas spirit, there is probably no other resort on property that puts you into the mood quite like Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort.  The log architecture, the pine trees outside, the crackling fireplace, and the giant, towering Christmas tree at the center of the resort makes you feel like you’re in the snowy mountains enjoying a cozy Christmas. It’s a tradition to drop by this resort for a meal and then enjoy a few hours of lounging in the lobby and revisiting a few of our favorite corners of the resort before heading back to the parks in the evening.


Appreciating the Magic Kingdom Window Displays

The Magic Kingdom window displays are enchanting all year round, but my family likes to see what kind of scenes Disney has created for the holidays. In addition to the creative arrangements of toys and accessories and more in the windows, there are a few magical displays too. One of my family’s favorites has always been the Mickey’s Christmas Carol windows outside the Emporium on Main Street, U.S.A. Each window has always shown a scene from Mickey’s Christmas Carol and some of the figures even move!

Visiting the Park Trees

Every park at Disney World has its own giant tree to celebrate the holidays, and each reflects the theme of the park. When we arrive at each park during our vacation, it’s a tradition to snap a photo of the park’s tree, as well as taking the time to look at the different ornaments. Animal Kingdom’s ornaments are usually my favorite and so fitting for the park, and Epcot’s tree looks amazing lit up at night.

Next to my own home, there is probably nowhere else on earth I would rather be during the Christmas season than Walt Disney World. It’s the ultimate destination for families to spend time together and to make memories, and all of the holiday extras, treats, decorations, and more make a Disney vacation a whole different experience during this time of year. Have you ever visited Disney World during the holidays? Does your family have any Disney Christmas traditions?

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Savannah Sanders

Savannah has been visiting Disney World since she was a year old and has gone back almost every year since. In the real world, she teaches high school history and government and enjoys writing about all things Disney. Savannah can be reached on Twitter @DisneyParkSavvy.