The holiday season is underway at all Disney Parks around the world! Christmas is our favorite time to visit Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and all of the other parks in Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, (and hopefully someday, Shanghai…we haven’t been there at Christmas yet).
We have several posts with tips & tricks for making the most of Christmas time in the parks, and we’ve had a few questions about where to find some of these (it turns out combing through all 100+ of our Christmas posts is too much work for most of you lazy bums 😉 ).
We thought we’d compile some of our least awful best posts. Whether you’re trying to figure out if you should go to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, wondering what to pack for the colder months in the parks, what gifts to give Disney Parks fans on your list, or taking better photos at Christmas, we have you covered!
Let’s cover crowds and weather first. While only Walt Disney World and Disneyland are impacted by Thanksgiving (since it’s a distinctly American holiday), every park sees larger crowds around Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Early to mid-December weekdays are typically thought of as a quieter time to visit, but you need to check the calendar for Walt Disney World (covered in our December 2018 at Walt Disney World post), as the Pop Warner Nationals can make it busy.
In terms of weather, every park is colder from November through February. The parks can get downright cold–snow is even possible at Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris–and you’ll definitely want to consult our Winter Disney Packing List if you’re visiting during these months. The winter weather is least pronounced at Hong Kong Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but even these parks can get cold, so you need to plan accordingly no matter where you visit.
With that, let’s hop on Santa’s sleigh (that’s pretty corny, but whatever) and take a flight around the world to the different parks at Christmas!
We’ll start with Walt Disney World…
Walt Disney World – The parks where Christmas is the biggest “thing” are those at Walt Disney World, where three of the four parks have fairly significant offerings (and this year, Animal Kingdom even has some new and cool decorations–we’ll have a new post on this soon), all of which we cover in our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Walt Disney World. That’s our one-stop resource if you want to cover everything at WDW.
If you’re wanting specific info, we have a post with Tips for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, for those considering attending this hard ticket party, which is Magic Kingdom’s main Christmas event. Our Candlelight Processional Info & Tips and Holidays Around the World at Epcot posts cover the main draws at Epcot. Then there’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which is doing a new fireworks show called “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!”
In case you’re feeling nostalgic, our Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights Tribute post takes you back to that wonderful event.
If you’re looking for a free option or a different “Christmas-y” way to spend a day at Walt Disney World, read our Self-Guided Yuletide Walt Disney World Hotel Tour post. No park admission required for a day of fun!
Disneyland – Anyone with any sense knows the holidays at Disneyland are about one thing and one thing only. That’s right, I’m talking about Yule Logs. Disneyland has them in two varieties, pumpkin (November through early December) and chocolate coffee (remainder of December and early January), both of are served at Plaza Inn, and, together with the fried chicken, are the epitome of “Disney Magic.” We cover some of the other delicious snacks in our Disneyland Christmas Snacks Tips post.
More importantly, there are actually a number of other Christmas offerings at Disneyland, from attraction overlays like ‘it’s a small world’ holiday and Haunted Mansion Holiday to A Christmas Fantasy Parade and more (our biggest tip: don’t make the mistake of overlooking the underrated Viva Navidad at DCA). There’s really a lot to see and do during the holidays, and December probably ranks as the busiest month of the year at Disneyland, so plan accordingly by reading our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Disneyland.
Disneyland Paris – Ahh, Paris at Christmas. Is there anything more romantic than the City of Lights during the Season for Romance? Yes. Being in Disneyland Paris! You can check out some of what’s done for the season in our Christmas at Disneyland Paris post, which features photos and my rambling thoughts.
For those of you who just cannot get enough Frozen (have you heard of it?), the big thing is Disney Dreams of Christmas, which is a Frozenified version of the nighttime spectacular. There’s other entertainment and a lot of decorations (including the best Christmas tree of all the castle parks), too.
Tokyo Disney Resort – Santa’s flight to Japan is a long one, fueled by plenty of sugar cookies and peppermint mocha lattes. Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea really get into the spirit of the season. The Christmas parade at Tokyo Disneyland is excellent, and the unique Christmas trees themed to each port in Tokyo DisneySea are really clever. Our Christmas at Tokyo Disneyland and Christmas at Tokyo DisneySea posts cover this, plus everything else these parks do for Christmas.
Tokyo Disney fans love their holidays, and Christmas is no exception. While Christmas isn’t celebrated in the same way it is here in the United States (it’s mostly a romantic date holiday), it is celebrated in the Western sense at Tokyo Disney Resort. The decor plus the dressed-up look of guests as they go on romantic date nights gives these parks an incredible ambiance for the holidays.
Finally, Tokyo Disneyland still has Country Bear Christmas (called Jingle Bell Jamboree there), and it is absolutely awesome.
Hong Kong Disneyland – Santa has had a long flight by the time this is all said and done, and I think he forgot some of his Christmas cheer along the way. We visited Hong Kong Disneyland at Christmas, and once you left Main Street, you wouldn’t have even known it was Christmas-time.
Basically, you have light decorations, a tree, and characters in holiday (not Christmas outfits) and Hong Kong Disneyland calls it “Disney’s Sparkling Christmas.” We were a bit surprised by how little Hong Kong Disneyland does for the holiday–in the city where “East Meets West” there probably are a decent number of people who celebrate Christmas, so what gives?
Shanghai Disneyland is the one park we’ve yet to experience during the holiday season, but you can read about its Christmas offerings here. Exact dates and entertainment haven’t yet been announced for 2018, but we’d expect a similar schedule to last year. It looks like there are some cute shows, great decorations, and themed treats.
With the exception of Hong Kong Disneyland (which still has Mystic Manor, so no big loss), you really can’t go wrong with any of the parks at Christmas. Sure, it can be very busy in the couple of weeks before and after December 25th, but in general, the weather is better, the atmosphere is spectacular, and the Christmas season is just a special–dare I say magical–time of year at the Disney Parks.
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Are you a fan of Christmas in the Disney Parks? What’s your favorite Christmas offering in the parks? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts on these questions, or anything else, in the comments!