Christmas at Disney Parks Around the World
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!
Hi Tom! Tell you what? I agree that Hong Kong Disneyland’s Christmas very bad and not special nowadays. In the past, everything was good. Like the Castles in Anaheim, Orlando and Paris, Sleeping Beauty Castle was also covered up with ice and snow. Small World originally had a holiday overlay. And the plaza hub was rethemed into a Candy Town. But now, everything was gone. I sure hope HKDL’s holiday spirits could be as better as those in 2009-2010 one day.
I knew some of that was done, but I had no idea about all of it. That’s pretty insane that it’s so barebones now. Any idea why it changed? Were the guests not responding to it?
No idea, and no guests were responding to it. To me, I think it is because that the park earns less money than the other Disney Parks, and it cares more abour the park expansions than the seasonal events. Or we say, Hong Kong Disneyland cares too much about the mainland Chinese instead of the Hong Kongers and the Overseas, so then they don’t focus on the Western culture too much. That’s my opinion. I don’t know whether it’s true or not.
I’m from Spain, from the Canry Islands, and I have been planing my trip to WDW for the first time ever with my parents (65 & 66) (I’m 37, by the way), since June!
We are going to be at Port Orleans Riverside in a Royal from 30th Dec to 7th Jan and we have mad ADRs for Nicoosee’s, Flying Fish, BOATHOUSE, Coral Reef, Cinderella’s Table (Breackfast), Crystal Palace (carÃ¡cter Breakfast), Sci-Fy Theater (BK), Monseur Paul, Le Cellier, 50’s Café, and so on.
I tell you this, because we go on the Premium package and we are going to have three table services per day (or at least, we are going to try). Having read ALL your tips and opinions, and even knowing that is almost imposible to have so much food (for me for sure it will, I eat very Little) I want to treat my parents to I great trip as I’m paying for the three of us, so I will tell you if we end it in good shape or if we need a crane to get back to Spain 🙂
Also I have ordered things in Amazon and sent them to my room (the essential disposable ponchos and rain shoes for me :-))
And now, after all this, you will think: why the H… she writes? because I still have one question: Nwe Year’s Eve.
Is it better to buy a “special dinner package” or to have what we have now that is a Fulton’s booking and to stroll walking to Epcot for a drink after dinner and see what night offers?
In case you prefer option one, which one will you recomend (La Hacienda, California Grill…)?
About tips, as European, I always tip according to Service, not according to food value, but I know your custom is different. Any advice on that?
Finally, what’s that pennypress thing I’ve been Reading? Can you explain?
Thanks in advance and have a great Christmas and Year 2016, your blog is a lifesaver for “first-timers” like me 🙂
I love Christmastime at all the Disney Parks! Nothing beats the sparkle and shine that Disney magic helps create during this time of year. Thanks for all the great info about the parks across the world!
Hi Tom! This year, Hong Kong Disneyland is calling their Christmas celebration “A Happily Ever After Christmas” to match their Happily Ever After 10th Anniversary celebration. It’s still pretty light compared to WDW’s Magic Kingdom on a day without the MVMCP offerings, but on Sunday, my husband and I saw the Hong Kong Disneyland Band in red & green outfits performing Christmas carols by the tree, and the pedaling piano player had donned a scarf to perform a few Christmas songs. There was also a Frozen – themed Christmas tree lighting (that we skipped in favor of a nighttime ride on Big Grizzly Mountain). Characters wore Christmas outfits during the afternoon. During the morning, they met in their 10th anniversary outfits. I love your site; it was abubdantly helpful to us in planning our first visit to HKDL, and we expect to use it a lot as we work on determining when to visit TDR. Thanks for all the great information!