Over the weekend, we attended the last Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party of the year on November first. After leaving the park late that night, we were back to Magic Kingdom early the next morning for the last day of Extra, Extra Magic Hours…and also the first day of Christmas.
We’ve all seen those time lapse videos of Magic Kingdom’s overnight transformation for the holidays, but its was nonetheless surreal going from Halloween one night, and returning roughly 7 hours later to be greeted by Christmas the following morning. Surreal, joyous, and bittersweet all at once, actually.
The bittersweet feeling was the end of Extra, Extra Magic Hours. We’ve showered this offering with effusive praise, and it deserves every bit of that–probably more. We managed to attend several ExEMH mornings and had a blast every single time. Without question, our favorite free offering in Walt Disney World since ~7 years ago, when evening Extra Magic Hours were still 3 hours long. But I digress–back to the excitement of the holidays arriving early at Magic Kingdom!
Before we dig into the update, a quick plug. I’m currently working on the 2019 edition of our free Vacation Kingdom at Christmas eBook, which is our guide to the holidays at Walt Disney World. It’s going to be my top priority throughout this week, with the goal of finishing it over this coming weekend and releasing it on November 11, 2019.
If all goes according to plan, our free 2019 Walt Disney World Christmas eBook will be 100 pages with 150+ photos and tons of great tips & info for the holiday season at Walt Disney World. For more details on how to get this totally-free ebook, click here. (Last year’s edition is currently available if you want instant gratification or need planning advice before next week.)
While this Christmas update will focus on Magic Kingdom, it’s worth noting that gingerbread displays and decorations are already going up all around Walt Disney World. You can see more of the above display (and all of the great merchandise) in our updated Contemporary Resort at Christmas post.
Although a lot of decorations are already up, the entirety of Walt Disney World 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 all of the parks, Disney Springs, and the resorts.
Anyway, back to the update. Jingle Cruise once again returns to Magic Kingdom.
This holiday overlay has been divisive among Disney fans, but we generally enjoy it.
On the first day, the decorations throughout the attraction did seem a bit sparse.
However, I’m not entirely sure if that’s just my perception, if this is the norm, or if they hadn’t finished installing all of the decor.
The various versions and iterations of Jingle Cruise sort of blur together. The only one that really stands out is Disneyland’s incarnation a few years ago (its final year there, I believe) that featured a ton of fruitcake boxes and fruitcake jokes. It was a tad weird, but also perfectly Jungle Cruise.
In any case, it’s the Skippers who carry Jingle Cruise, and our first couple of experiences were great. Witty and dry holiday humor with several jokes I’d never heard.
Over in Tomorrowland, a number of props have been installed for the Totally Tinsel Tomorrowland Trio of overlays that will run during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
The one of these that has us most excited is Tomorrowland Speedway. We have high expectations for this one!
Bouncing around a bit, here’s a look inside the Main Street Emporium at all of the new Christmas stuff.
This has been slowly making its way to shelves over the last couple of weeks, but with Halloween over, it’s now all front and center.
My favorite thing is the Mickey’s Main Street Tree Farm long sleeve shirt (bottom right).
I might have to break my normal “policy” of waiting until seasonal merchandise ends up at the outlet before buying. For one thing, this shirt already seems pretty popular. For another, I’m not sure I want to wait a full year to wear it.
The first ‘A Frozen Holiday Wish’ lighting of the Cinderella Castle Dream Lights was absolutely packed.
I’m not complaining. This was to be expected, as it’s the first time the Dream Lights were lit up for this Christmas season. There was a palpable excitement in the crowd, almost like opening night of a new Star Wars or Marvel film.
Consequently, this goes down as the most fun I’ve had watching ‘A Frozen Holiday Wish.’
Now in its fifth year, this show’s popularity hasn’t waned one bit. With Frozen 2 coming out this year, it’ll likely be more popular than ever.
The one thing I’ll caution with ‘A Frozen Holiday Wish’ is that it’s not that good.
Reasonable minds may differ as to how good it is, exactly, but it’s more of a quick presentation to light the castle rather than a fully fledged stage show. However, guests camp out as if it’s the latter. When some guests camp out…more guests camp out.
The end result is ‘A Frozen Holiday Wish’ drawing massive nightly crowds, with some guests waiting around an hour to see it.
It’s definitely worth seeing, but I’d probably check the area behind Partners 15-20 minutes before the show (that’s farther back, but it offers a nice, elevated view) and if that’s too crowded, head over to the bridge by the Tomorrowland waterfall. That side vantage is too distant to see the performers, but you’ll be able to see the projections and Cinderella Castle Dream Lights as they come on.
Magic Kingdom’s Christmas tree has also returned to Town Square. Yay?
Every year, I hold out hope that Walt Disney World will surprise us with a new tree. In my opinion, it’s the worst icon tree–not just in Florida, but at any of the parks. It boggles my mind that this relic of the early 1990s keeps trudging along at Disney’s most-visited park in the world, while even places like Disney Springs and random hotels have newer, nicer trees. With my luck, this thing will outlast me.
Ending on a positive note, it’s great to have Christmas back at Walt Disney World. I know some people grouse about the holiday season arriving too early (although there seems to be less resistance this year), but it’s a truly joyous time that brings such a happy energy to the air.
Hearing the holiday background music on Main Street, seeing the garland and multi-color lights, tasting the peppermint everything, it’s hard not to smile. Even as busy as it was this weekend–and probably will be throughout the Christmas season–it’s far and away the best time to be at Walt Disney World. We can’t wait to spend as much time as possible in the parks this holiday season!
For comprehensive tips for planning your Christmas-time trip to Walt Disney World, check out our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Walt Disney World. For Walt Disney World trip planning tips and comprehensive advice, make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide and related articles.
What do you think of Christmas arriving at Walt Disney World? Are you ready to embrace the joy of the holiday season? Are you a fan of Jingle Cruise or A Frozen Holiday Wish? 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!