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  • Cecily North

The holidays at Disney

Updated: May 24, 2020

I will be the first to admit that fall at Walt Disney World is my favorite time to be there. The Mickey pumpkins are my favorite decoration of all and seeing all the different carved pumpkins on Main Street in Magic Kingdom always make me smile (especially the ones for the bathroom). I love attending Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, watching Hallowishes and seeing everyone in costumes. But now the time has come to discuss ... that magical time of the year ...

So once the clock strikes midnight on November 1st, Disney transforms their parks from fall and Halloween to winter and the holidays overnight! Goodbye pumpkins and scarecrows and hello ornaments, wreaths and snow on Main Street!

So this post will strictly follow what happens between November 1st into early January at the Disney parks. So this will cover both Walt Disney World and Disneyland ...

#1 - The Nightmare Before Christmas takes over the Haunted Mansion and the Holidays Around the World takes over It's a Small World

In December 2017, I was lucky enough to do a coast to coast trip, starting in Orlando and ending in Anaheim over the course of 11 days. This was the first time I got to see NBC overlaid on the Haunted Mansion and let me tell you, it is no less than jaw-dropping. We only got to ride it once as the ride kept breaking down every time we had a fastpass for it after that first time ... (I will grumble about that part of the trip in another post in the future). Every little detail is amazing and makes me fall in love with NBC and the Haunted Mansion just a little more. I am a little sad that Disney World doesn't have this overlay but they make up for it in other ways.

In addition to the NBC overlay, there is a holiday overlay over at It's A Small World as well. Now, I will always choose the Disneyland version of this ride over Walt Disney World any day. Fight me. The reason why I love it? I ADORE that they have incorporated Disney characters into their various locations. My personal favorites are Lilo and Stitch as the Polynesian part of this ride is my absolute favorite. But in addition, the holiday decorations go above and beyond. If you haven't gotten your fill of christmas lights then just ride this once and I think you'll have your fill for the whole season.

#2 - Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

If trick-or-treating down Main Street in Walt Disney World wasn't enough for you ... how about watching it snow? Now, living in Colorado seeing "snow" in Orlando is laughable but the magic it creates for all those that are either not expecting or who don't live in a snowy state always brings a smile to my face. I also love watching Holiday Wishes and the parade during the party (although nothing compares to the gravediggers during "Boo to You"). I also adore the characters dressing in their holiday gear. But my favorite part of this event... Cinderella's Castle lit up like the magical castle it is (to be honest, I'm tearing up just thinking about it). I could sit and stare at that castle for hours with those twinkling lights (and I may or may not have done that ...)

#3 - Gingerbread Everywhere

Now, as I have admitted in the past, I am a picky eater. And I'm not a fan of gingerbread (my mom could probably write a novella about her love for the Gingerbread Mickeys that Disney bakes almost all year long), but I would travel to Disneyland or Walt Disney World just to see the gingerbread "houses" on display every year. You could easily spend a full day just resort hopping to see the gingerbread creations at the Contemporary, the Grand Floridian, the Boardwalk and the Beach Club at Walt Disney World.

  • The Contemporary hosts a large display that has been Cinderella or Frozen themed in the past few years.

  • The Grand Floridian is host to a full-sized gingerbread house with real chimney! The "house" serves as a shop where you can buy gingerbread shingles, gingerbread houses and other holiday goodies.

  • The Boardwalk has been host to a gingerbread display in previous years but did not have one in 2017.

  • The Beach Club hosts a real, working carousel complete with four horses made mostly of chocolate.

  • The Disneyland Hotel hosts a large Sleeping Beauty castle with Mickey and Minnie standing in front of it.

  • The Grand Californian has a scale model of their hotel made out of gingerbread.

  • Even the Cozy Cone in California Adventure has a gingerbread display!

The things I have listed are just the beginning of the holiday magic at Disney! But I highly recommend experiencing it for yourself!

Happy Holidays!


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