Irritated by the commercialism of Christmas at Walt Disney World? Distracted by all that tinsel? Realized there has to be another way while raining blows upon another guest fighting over the last pair of Baby Yoda socks? Does celebrating a new holiday scratch you right where you itch? (Updated December 23, 2019.)
If you answered “yes” or “what?” to any of these questions, then it’s time to embrace the time-honored tradition of Festivus. For the uninitiated, Festivus is a nondenominational holiday for the rest of us that has been celebrated by billions* of theme park guests since 1997 when fabled visionary Frank Costanza graced us with it.
Unlike Christmas, which has now become a meandering “season” starting around mid-September and overstaying its welcome with Christmas music and decor still up in Future World halfway through January, Festivus is a no-nonsense holiday. It starts and terminates on December 23 each year. How can a holiday that means so much to us all only take one night to accomplish? Toughness, probably.
I know what you’re thinking: “I find your belief system fascinating and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.” (Oops, a bit of a mashup, there.) You’re probably also wondering how you can embrace the central tenants of this glorious winter holiday while you’re in Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or beyond.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered…
Like any good holiday, Festivus has a glorious centerpiece. I’m not really sure why, probably for branding and marketing purposes or for families to gather around. Unlike a highly impractical tree that sheds needles and eventually dies, Festivus embraces the slick charm and high strength to weight ratio of the aluminum pole.
And, good news! Every Disney park contains one of the grandest, unadorned Festivus poles you’ve ever laid eyes upon for just the occasion. (It may not even be aluminum, I dunno; Festivus is no time for fact-checking.) After flag retreat, head over to the Festivus Pole on Main Street to start the festivities!
The protocol for honoring the Festivus Pole varies by region and even household. I recommend paying your respects by each member of you party reciting their favorite Al Roker quote aloud, and having your family portrait taken in front of the Festivus Pole. Fortunately, Disney stations a PhotoPass photographer in this area, as Festivus Pole portraits are quite popular with the guests of all ages these days.
A traditional Festivus dinner entails cramming round the table with friends, acquaintances, and random strangers to enjoy a freshly-baked meat or meat-like substance.
Choosing the perfect venue for such a special gathering is of paramount importance, so of course I recommend Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. (If you’re into fancy-shmancy stuff, Plaza Restaurant is an acceptable alternative.)
The quintessential Festivus dish is meatloaf, but some more relaxed practitioners have also been known to enjoy a fine ham or something of that sort. Since it’s an intergalactic eatery that doesn’t celebrate the high holidays (typical), Cosmic Ray’s doesn’t have a special Festivus menu. You can improvise by ordering a Falafel Burger and some barbecued pork, and mashing them together. I promise it won’t make either dish taste any worse than they would individually.
Airing of Grievances
I got a lot of problems with you people and now you’re gonna hear about it. You complain about one policy for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and complain about the exact opposite policy! Your comments stink! You couldn’t comprehend a slick reference if you had a hot date with a…I lost my train of thought.
Oh wait, this is how you should air your grievances in the park, not me airing my grievances with you. (Besides, I’ve already done that.) While you could air your grievances around the table at Cosmic Ray’s in traditional Festivus fashion, we feel doing so could be disrespectful to the performance of Sonny Eclipse. (Have some manners!) Also, after a long day in Magic Kingdom, half the guests in Cosmic Ray’s are probably airing their grievances with one another in breakdowns totally unrelated to Festivus.
Instead, head to Monsters Laugh Floor and text your grievances to the monsters. There is nothing in Festivus protocol that prohibits this and it’s very progressive.
Feats of Strength
While we don’t endorse the concept of fathers and sons wrestling on the ground of Main Street, we don’t not endorse it, either. However, there are more dignified ways of honoring the Festivus celebration in a theme park setting than by acting like a couple of UCF frat bros who were over-served at Food & Wine Festival.
The mature among us find a more adult way of engaging in the Feats of Strength to be chugging a Dole Whip Float followed by a Citrus Swirl, and then racing up Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. Repeat until one of you pins themselves to the ground.
If you have followed protocol in celebrating the components of Festivus, you’ll be rewarded with a Festivus Miracle. It could be scoring a same-day FastPass+ for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. It could be walking up to Country Bear Jamboree 2 minutes before the show is about to start instead of 16. It could even be finding a pristine turkey leg in the trash resting on a napkin. A Festivus Miracle is a wish your heart makes upon a dream or something like that, so it’s really a your mileage may vary sorta thing. Happy Festivus!
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.
Will you be celebrating Festivus at Walt Disney World this year, or are you observing the holiday outside the park? Are you still a bit baffled over what the heck this post is even about, and how it relates to Disney? Care to air your grievances here? What Disney feats of strength have you accomplished this year? 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!