Over the weekend, we visited Magic Kingdom to see whether the Christmas decorations would go up overnight on November first as the Halloween decor came down. (Since this post exists, that should answer that question!) Here we’ll share a couple dozen photos, plus first impressions of the holiday season at Walt Disney World.
We’ve all seen those time lapse videos of Magic Kingdom’s overnight transformation for the holidays, but it’s nonetheless surreal going from Halloween one night to Christmas the following morning. Even if you’re an ardent “Turkey Before Tree” believer, it’s also undeniably cool what Walt Disney World’s Holiday Services team can accomplish in a single night.
Speaking of which, although a lot of decorations are already up all around Walt Disney World, all of the parks and resorts won’t be fully decorated for several weeks. Read our When Do Christmas Decorations Go Up at Walt Disney World?post that covers anticipated date ranges for everything–Disney Springs, hotels, and theme parks.
Fair warning: we are always down to celebrate Christmas early, but that’s doubly or triply true this year. If you’re out there exclaiming, “2020 HAS BEEN THE BEST YEAR OF MY LIFE!” I’m going to go out on a limb and say you’re in the minority. For most of us, this year has sucked. “Joy” has been in such short supply that it almost feels like a foreign concept.
Accordingly, if you see people getting hyped on the holidays in early November, you might consider just letting it go. No need to rain on the proverbial parade or offer your input that it’s too early for Christmas. We all own calendars, we’re aware of the date (well, at least in a general sense–perhaps not the day of the week). Pick your battles–let people enjoy harmless things that bring them happiness.
In our household, the Christmas trees, lights, and assorted decorations are going up on Wednesday. The cornball made-for-TV movies and old holiday episodes of Home Improvement will go into our entertainment rotation. Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Amy Grant, etc. music will be playing on loop with that Hallmark cat & dog yule log in the background while we work. In short, we are beyond ready for some holiday cheer, sentimentality, and warmth.
Obviously, none of that is really relevant to the Christmas decorations going up in Magic Kingdom. Perhaps just some (unnecessary) background to explain why we can barely contain our excitement for the start of the holiday season at Walt Disney World…
Moving along to the actual substance of the topic, here’s a wide look at Main Street on November 1, 2020.
While it has been the case in recent years that Christmas decorations go up the same night that Halloween ones come down, it has not been the case that everything is done in a single night. Last year, it took two nights for the holiday transition to be completed.
This year, that was not the case–almost everything did go up overnight after Halloween.
There are a couple of possibilities as to why the Holiday Services team was able to accomplish this. First, there was no Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party the previous night, which meant an earlier closing time and more overnight hours. Second, there were far fewer Halloween decorations than normal this year, which meant less to remove.
This second point had us worried that Christmas decorations would be similarly sparse, with only lamppost Mickey head garland like what was done with the pumpkin heads.
Thankfully, that is not the case. The overhead wreaths, garland, and more is in place. Not everything had been installed (yet), but it already feels like Christmas on Main Street.
Notably, the Main Street USA Christmas Tree has already been installed.
In a normal year, I’d grumble a bit about this relic of the early 1990s–the worst icon tree anywhere–keeps limping along at Disney’s most-visited park in the world, while even places like Disney Springs and random hotels have newer, nicer trees.
This year, the Main Street Christmas Tree is a sight for sore eyes–familiar and reassuring. (I’m still very ready for it to be replaced, but it’s good to see this “old friend” once more.)
While it’s unsurprising that this tree wasn’t upgraded in the abnormal year, a pretty big surprise did greet us in Magic Kingdom…
Jingle Cruise once again returns to Magic Kingdom!
Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising since this overlay can be installed in a single night, but we still weren’t expecting it given the circumstances. It seemed like yet another thing on an attraction that has already seen a lot of post-reopening modifications.
The Jingle Cruise holiday overlay has been divisive among Disney fans, but we generally enjoy it.
In fairness, we are also most definitely not Jungle Cruise purists. But I’ll spare you another tangent and my “controversial” take on that “classic” attraction.
Our ride-through on Jingle Cruise was phenomenal.
As we’ve noted in several posts, Jungle Cruise has been the attraction (in our view) most negatively impacted by the attraction modifications. Jungle Cruise is wholly dependent upon the connection between the Skipper and guests. That is very difficult right now due to the physical barriers, masks, etc. It’s no fault of the Cast Members, they are (figuratively) try to paddle upstream.
However, our Skipper on this ride-through absolutely crushed it. He was loud enough to “overcome” the mask, his spiel was clear, and his timing excellent. All of this despite the fact that it was raining, which could’ve further muffled his jokes and hampered the experience.
While this Cast Member deserves full credit, he did get a nice assist from a trio of small kids in the front of the boat. They were very skeptical of his animal “facts” and made that very clear. He did a great job riffing–hilarious all around.
After finishing up on Jingle Cruise, we headed over to Frontierland just to double-check whether Walt Disney World resurrected any other holiday overlays.
Sadly, they did not. However, Country Bear Jamboree had a longer line that Splash Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Literally–no joke. Perhaps everyone assumed Country Bear Christmas had made its overdue return? I can’t think of any other explanation as to why all of these people would be queued up for the next show.
While we didn’t see the bears out, Pooh and friends were on the patio of Crystal Palace.
That restaurant’s exterior is totally decked out for the holidays (as it was for Halloween), and we continue to wonder when it’ll reopen as a modified family style meal. At this point, we get more questions about it than any other restaurant at Walt Disney World.
Dusk came early due to the overcast sky and rain showers, which also pushed guests towards the exit.
At this point, Magic Kingdom was still open for over 2 hours, but most lands were emptying out. We were hoping that Walt Disney World would also offer a sneak peek of the Cinderella Castle projections, but it appears those won’t debut until the official start of the holiday season on Friday.
Since it was a weekend, that meant Magic Kingdom was open late.
Thanks to the time change, sunset is now approximately 75 minutes before park closing right now even on a normal weeknight. Add to that the post-closing time Main Street is open for shopping, and there’s currently over two hours to enjoy the Christmas lights in Magic Kingdom on a regular evening.
The downpours were coming in waves, with sprinkles followed by torrential rain.
We were undeterred, wanting to soak up as much of the holiday atmosphere as possible. Also, I needed a fresh stockpile Christmas on Main Street stock images without the Cinderella Castle Dream Lights in the background (womp womp).
Also, we always have a half dozen umbrellas in our car, and always check the weather forecast before going anywhere. For an audience that’s disproportionately Floridian right now, I’m surprised that so many guests still get caught unprepared for the rain.
Speaking of which, one such umbrella-wielding guest just had to step in front of the Christmas Tree, ruining my otherwise empty Main Street photo above. Oh wait…
(Since someone didn’t get it last time I made this “joke,” Sarah is the one holding the yellow umbrella, and that’s me giving a half-hearted camera wave in her video above. I don’t actually think the seas should part when I want to take a photo.)
Rainy nights–especially during the Christmas season–are our favorite time in Magic Kingdom. I’m fine getting soaked if it means a serene, ‘silent night’ on Main Street.
I love the soft glow the rain (plus my foggy lens) gives to Main Street. It’s perfectly befitting of the holiday season.
The only downside to the evening is that the Christmas background music has not yet started playing. However, the rain was coming down so hard at this point that it was providing its own natural soundtrack to the evening.
All things considered, it’s absolutely fantastic to have Christmas back at Magic Kingdom. We couldn’t have had a better way to kickoff the holiday season, and it’s great to see Walt Disney World going all out for Christmas (well, minus the many entertainment cancellations that simply are not feasible right now). After being somewhat disappointed by Halloween, we were a bit weary about Christmas. Thankfully, it appears to be a “normal” holiday season, decor-wise.
Hopefully, we’ll have a few more nights like this in Magic Kingdom the next couple months that we’ll really be able to savor. Normally, we would’ve stayed until the bitter end, capturing some truly empty Main Street photos as the park cleared out. However, we left about 30 minutes before park closing–not because we were rain soaked and exhausted. Rather, because we decided to call a last-minute audible and head over to Universal Studios Florida to finish out the night. We’ll pick things up from there in our next photo report…
What do you think of Christmas arriving at Magic Kingdom? Are you ready to embrace the joy, warmth, and sentimentality of the holiday season? Are you a fan of Jingle Cruise? Surprised and/or happy to see its unannounced return? Do you plan on visiting Walt Disney World this Christmas, or are you sitting this year out? Any cool Christmas merchandise you plan on purchasing? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!