2022 Christmas Day Parade Filming at Disney World & Disneyland
Viewers of ABC’s ‘Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade’ commonly ask what dates it’s filmed, what watching it performed live is like, and how to get tickets to see it in person for Walt Disney World and Disneyland. If you want to view the parade filming live in Florida or California, here’s what to know. (Updated December 25, 2022.)
First, ABC’s Disney Christmas Day Parade is not filmed live. Showing up to Walt Disney World or Disneyland on Christmas expecting to see these celebrity performances live is about the biggest possible Disney-related mistake you can make. Not only will you not see the parade in person, but you will be subject to one of the busiest days of the year in the parks. No joke–it’s nuts!
With that said, we highly recommend visiting Walt Disney World during the holiday season. (If you read our Best & Worst Months in 2023 to Visit WDW, you’ll see both November and December rank well, including our #1 week of the year.) For planning basics beyond that, read our 2023 Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Guide. Beyond that, here’s what you need to know about ABC’s Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade…
Let’s start with how all of this is typically recorded for television and Disney’s streaming services.
In “normal” years, Disney typically records the Christmas special for ABC, Disney Channel, Disney+ and other outlets (usually, multiple specials are recorded all at once) during the daytime park hours over the course of a few dates in early November when crowds are low. Recording is spread out over many takes, consuming several days. It is most certainly not one-time pass-through of a parade.
Last year, filming for the television specials occurred during normal operating hours once again at Walt Disney World. At Disneyland, some of the filming still occurred overnight while some happened in the daytime while the parks were open.
We saw television crews in Epcot and Magic Kingdom a couple of times. To our knowledge, filming was done November 10-14 and again November 30 and December 1. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list; it’s entirely possible that recording occurred other days or in other parks and we just missed it.
Filming for this year’s Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade occurred November 12-13 in Magic Kingdom. This was during the busy Veterans Day weekend, which is not seem ideal, but Walt Disney World has to work around celebrity schedules, meaning sometimes there’s no viable alternative.
It remains to be seen when the 2023 Disney Christmas Parade will be filmed at Walt Disney World. Our best guess is sometime between November 7 and November 15, 2023. It’s possible that additional footage will be recorded at the beginning of December 2023–that’s happened on a few occasions in recent years.
The earlier the better, both in terms of the impact on crowds and the lead-time to edit the footage before the Thanksgiving weekend special airs on ABC and Hulu. (The added filming days in early December are exclusively for the Christmas Day Parade.) Usually, principal filming takes up 4 days, taking place in different parks on different days.
The 2022 Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade airs Christmas Morning on ABC at 10 a.m. ET and 9 a.m. CT/PT and begins streaming on demand the next day on Hulu. The official performer lineup has not yet been released, but for the last few years, Derek and Julianne Hough have hosted.
Last year, they were joined by Trevor Jackson and Sherry Cola from Disneyland in California. Additionally, comedian Kevin Nealon filled the role of Kevin Winterbean, also known as “The Christmas Day Guy” who answers any and all questions relating to Christmas Day. (Kevin Nealon has done this for a few years.)
Recording in early to mid-November gives Walt Disney World a chance to take down the Halloween decorations and get up Christmas decorations in advance of the recording. Moreover, Disney starts airing these television specials on Thanksgiving, which pretty much requires at least a couple weeks of lead-time for sufficient edits. So, if you do want to attend the Christmas parade filming, that’s the window to aim for.
One thing that’s worth noting is that more recording is now done in out-of-the-way locations. Disney used to record everything on stages in front of Cinderella Castle, which caused congestion. That stage is still used to some degree, but not nearly to the extent it used to be, when there were several consecutive hours of high-profile performers (like Mariah Carey) who drew crowds. With Walt Disney World attendance increasing, recording for the holiday specials is more spread out to diffuse crowds.
In actuality, only stage performances and interviews will be recorded at Walt Disney World, and not the traditional parade segments. The traditional parade segments will likely be recorded at Disneyland once again. Dates for Disneyland are always less certain. Again, Disney uses this footage for Thanksgiving specials in addition to the popular ABC’s Disney Christmas Day Parade, so the timelines will be similar–but typically not overlapping–between the two coasts.
Nowadays, ‘parade’ is probably a misnomer for what’s broadcast on ABC Christmas Day, because what airs is so broken up and more like a synergy fest to promote upcoming movie releases, television shows, Disney Parks, up and coming artists under Disney labels, and more. It’s basically a thinly-veiled infomercial for all things Disney…but a fun one, nonetheless!
In terms of who is allowed to watch, tickets for the performance/reserved viewing areas at Walt Disney World are distributed to Cast Members and their families. The general public is allowed to watch from farther back, but crowd control often necessitates people not being able to stand in certain areas.
We’ve also heard reports that guests have been randomly selected to receive tickets to these viewing areas, but that’s very much luck of the draw. It’s probably dependent upon how much Disney-branded Christmas garb you’re sporting or how photogenic your kids look.
These segments used to be filmed in early December, and we’re not totally sure why they’ve moved to November, but we have a couple of guesses. The most likely scenario is because ABC has been airing multiple holiday specials each year during its “25 Days of Christmas” and the longer lead time allows for footage from the filmings at Disneyland and Walt Disney World to be used prior to Christmas day.
On Thanksgiving, ABC airs “The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration” which featured an identical lineup of performers, and was filmed simultaneous to the Christmas Day Parade. This special kicked off the holiday season with a star-studded celebration showcasing musical performances, special appearances, and Disney magical moments including the castle lighting from Disney Parks around the world: Florida, Anaheim, California, Paris, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.
Even if ABC were to stop doing this special, which necessitates filming early in November, growing crowds in December make the parade filming a nightmare for Magic Kingdom operations. Typically, early November crowds are much lighter. We can’t say for certain if the filming would occur in November irrespective of the Thanksgiving special filming, but we think it’s pretty likely.
We’ve been at Walt Disney World a few times in the past when the parade segments were filmed there, and it was a miserable experience. Banish whatever notions you have of it being fun, and getting up close to celebrities. It’s long, drawn out, and what you’ll witness does not resemble the finished product.
We actually recommend avoiding the parks where the Disney Christmas Day Parade is being recorded, as it’s boring to watch in person and it creates congestion in the parks. What you’re seeing on television now might look really fun to see in person, but we promise you that’s the result of meticulous work in shooting, re-shooting, and careful editing.
This really goes for the parade segments more than the stage show performances, which are more enjoyable to watch, and typically involve less arbitrary stopping, pausing, and restarting. Still, it’s worth noting that the songs are not like a traditional concert with the performer singing a variety of different holiday hits. It’s the same song several times, and then the next performer moving on to their song…also performed several times.
Of course, reasonable minds can vary on this. We have friends who go every year to linger in the areas where the performances are filmed, and they generally enjoy the ‘behind the scenes’ nature of the experience, and getting to see some of their favorite celebrities ‘up close’ (err…from about 100+ yards away).
There’s definitely something to be said about the inside look at how the parade is shot, but it’s not something around which you’ll want to plan a trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland. If you want to see a celebrity in the parks, we think the better experience (by far) is Candlelight Processional at Epcot or Disneyland, which is presented as a finished product.
It’s also worth noting that in early November when the Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade is filmed, Walt Disney World is not yet totally celebrating Christmas. Magic Kingdom is totally decked out for the holidays due to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but the same can’t be said for Epcot or the resort hotels.
While early November is one of the lowest crowd times of the holiday season, we personally favor the couple of weeks after Thanksgiving. We detail everything you need to know about visiting during the holiday seasons in our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Walt Disney World and Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Disneyland.
Overall, we enjoy the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade, and it’s nice to see it returning to some semblance of a “parade” format after being simply a “celebration” for a few years. Yes, it boils down to being an extended commercial for the parks and other Disney stuff, but it’s fun. However, it’s best enjoyed as a finished product from the comfort of your home on Christmas morning. If you’re planning a Disney vacation in 2023, you can subscribe to our free email newsletter for regular updates, planning tips, and everything else you need to know before you go!
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What do you think of ABC’s Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade? Have you been in the parks during a filming? What was your experience like? Would you like to attend? 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!
What is the name of the young woman pianist who was featured at the very end of this year’s Disney’s Magical Christmas Day Parade on Channel 12 ABC ( Grants Pass, Oregon ) 2022. Her showmanship, incredible expertise, and passionate flair in performing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” was astounding and unforgettable. Those arpeggios were something else , and I loved her playing as did the audience. It was wonderful and tremendously entertaining … and surely one of a kind…in the most precious sense of that phrase. …even though some might claim it was over the top. I felt it was sincere and as I said…. unforgettable.
We really loved her too. It was Chloe Flower….a tremendous composer, performer, and kick ass pianist. Check her out online on Instagram and elsewhere! 🙂
Thank you , thank you, thank you.. ! I never thought I’d find out who she was with the schedules they keep… yes, Chloe Flower is an awesome talent ! You have just made my evening on the internet …..a great success …and many a day to come no doubt as I discover more.
Susan Lynn Zabbo
Do you know when Disneyland will be filming the parade?
I can say definately that it is very boring watching them film……………been there , done that
My family attended the 2009 filming when Jonas Brothers were performing, and it took many takes. Also saw Celine Dion at the Grand Floridian. This year we are planning a trip to Disneyland for the holidays. Anyone knows the days of filming at the west coast?
It looks like they may be gearing up to film Nov 12 and 13 at Magic Kingdom. Many cavalcades and the stage show are canceled that day. It’s also odd that the parade is at 2pm instead of 3pm and it’s only once each day instead of twice like all other days leading up to it. Although it seems counterintuitive to be injecting all that extra stuff during the busing Veteran’s Day weekend. Thoughts on any of this?
If memory serves me correctly it is usually the second week of December. At least that was when they did it when my daughter was there as part of the DCP. The shows are ticketed events, and a good portion of the people you see on camera in the audience are cast members and their family and friends.
Oops typo on my part,I meant to type November instead of December.
@Josh – Good catch! It’s highly likely those are the dates. I don’t get doing it Veterans’ Day weekend, but they have to work around celebrity schedules, so there may have been no other option.
@Henry – It used to be later, but now they film the Thanksgiving and Christmas specials together (for the most part). Can’t film a special that airs on Thanksgiving in December! 😉
Mike’s comment is accurate, one big infomercial. My oldest daughter and her dance studio were in the parade back in 2013 when Neil Patrick Harris was there. Was called Dance the Magic back then. Good times to be had even with the massive crowds. Great Times, great memories
I can remember when my daughter was working there on the DCP in WDW. Filming was usually in the mid to late afternoon during the first 2 weeks of November. She attended a couple of the filmings but due to her work schedule wasn’t able to get into a spot where she could be seen on camera. Outside of the secured zone things were a bit chaotic with everyone trying to get a glimpse of the performance.
In 2018 we went to Disneyland in early November and we were there the day they recorded the parade even got some tv time. Just stand along the parade route during the normal parade. Nothing was inconvenient about watching the parade. But it was fun seeing the behind the scenes.
One big Infomerical
I typically have it on as background, no longer has my full attention since they changed it years ago from a real parade format. The true parade format had more heart and feeling than what they show now – at least that’s how I remember compared to what is today’s show.
I think it’s Daytime Emmy Winner for Children’s Programming Dee Bradley Baker!
This year’s parade host will be Daytime Emmy Winner for Children’s Programming Dee Bradley Baker & Pat Finn’s daughter Kaitlyn at the Magic Kingdom & Jesse Palmer with Pat Finn, Corey, Sienna, Sofia Finn, Michelle Baker, Josie & Cora Baker at Disneyland! The performers for this year will be Maroon 5, Pentatonix, Shawn Mendes, Kidz Bop, Demi Lovato, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber & One Direction!!!
A little birdie told me that Matthew Morrison will be hosting Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade on Christmas Day 🙂
Why can’t we see a repeat performances of the Disney Parks Magical Christmas celebration anywhere? I saw it on Christmas day and enjoyed it so much I would love to see it again.
The 1994 Christmas Day parade was live. We were there with front row view of it. It was awesome. It was a dream come true for me and mine. Knowing it is not live now, we do not watch it. It has lost the magic of the day in a magical place.
Any update? I’ll be in Orlando with some free time on Sunday. Debating if I should try to get to one of the parks.
Not worth it while filming is going on …. the parks was too packed and the nightly Castle shows were blocked and bad views due to Movie equipment .
Any word on filming dates at Disneyland? We’re going to be there this weekend to celebrate my kiddos 5th birthday and so hoping to be able to see the parade at least once uninterrupted!
The parade is always interrupted and/or restarted. They repeat parts of the parade over and over.
Hey, do you have any updates or know more about where they are filming each day? Attempting to work around it if possible!
We’re just a week out; had scheduled Magic Kingdom for Sunday. But Tom and some of the commenters have convinced me to move MK to another day; it is a MVMCP day, but with low-attendance projection. Wish me luck!
Heading there for a couples trip from Michigan. We are literally going to be there from the 7-10th. I think my friends and I will probably just bypass if we see performances being filmed and I’ll wait to watch them on my dvr. Ain’t nobody got time for hanging around trying to see a C or D-llist celebrity when there is Splash Mountain to be had!