The holidays have arrived at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
For the first time since the pandemic, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is back at Magic Kingdom and World of Color – Season of Light is back at Disney California Adventure, but those aren’t the only things returning for the 2022 holiday season.
Year after year, Disney lovers are drawn to the elaborate decorations, seasonal food and beloved entertainment at the Florida and California resorts, making the holidays among the busiest times to visit the parks.
Here’s what travelers should know about spending this holiday season at Disneyland and Disney World.
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Both Disneyland and Disney World go all out for Christmas, but that’s not the only holiday they celebrate.
Disney Festival of the Holidays at Disney California Adventure revels in Three Kings’ Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Diwali.
EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays also celebrates Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, in addition to Christmas traditions around the world.
Like Cinderella’s carriage turning into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight, Walt Disney World’s transformation begins after parks close Halloween night, so guests feel like they’re walking into winter wonderlands starting Nov. 1.
Disneyland’s transformation takes several weeks and begins during the Halloween season, though guests may notice until Nov. 1 when larger pieces go up.
All November and December, the parks dazzle with decorations that take a full year to prepare.
Disney Festival of the Holidays runs until Jan. 8 at Disney California Adventure.
Disney World’s holiday decorations are usually up through the first week in January.
Reservations are required on top of tickets at all four Disney World parks and both Disneyland parks. Disneyland park reservations are currently open through Feb. 2023.
Disney World park reservations are available into Jan. 2024. Some parks are already booking up for the holiday season, and most Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party dates have sold out.
At both resorts, reservations for dining and “enchanting extras” like Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique open 60 days out. The most popular experiences book up within minutes, but some dining windows may open up last minute. Both Disney World and Disneyland now allow guests to cancel most dining reservations up until to two hours beforehand without penalty.
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Like all things Disney, the answer is subjective. Some guests prefer the international festivities at EPCOT and Disney California Adventure, while others like classic Christmas at Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park.
A look at each resort’s plans for this holiday season can help travelers decide for themselves.
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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party made its pandemic return on Nov. 8 at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. The specially ticketed, after-hours event is only offered on select nights and is not included with regular theme park admission. Daytime guests should note Magic Kingdom will close early to them on event nights, and they will not be able to watch fireworks inside the park without party tickets.
Party attendees can experience Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade and other entertainment exclusive to the event through Dec. 22. The party also includes a dance party with Disney Junior characters, free cookies and hot cocoa, and shorter lines for attractions like Space Mountain, Tomorrowland Speedway, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and Mad Tea Party, which have holiday twists just for the party.
Tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2022 range from $149 to $199, depending on the day. For comparison, regular one-park, one-day adult tickets start at $134 during the holiday season. Effective Dec. 8, Magic Kingdom prices will top out at $189, around the holidays. Guests ages 10 and up are considered adults.
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EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays is back Nov. 25 through Dec. 30 and is included with regular park admission.
The popular event gives guests a literal and figurative taste of holidays around the world (showcase) with Holiday Kitchens and the Holiday Cookie Stroll as well as seasonal storytelling and musical performances like JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season and the fan-favorite Candlelight Processional featuring a massive choir, orchestra and celebrity narrators.
At all four Disney World parks, seasonal displays are added to the Beacons of Magic that illuminate park icons nightly as part of the resort’s 50th anniversary celebration. Other festive offerings across the Florida resort include:
Disneyland transforms from the “Happiest Place on Earth” to the “Merriest Place on Earth” for the holidays. Festivities run Nov. 11 through Jan. 8 and are included with regular park admission. One-day, one-park tickets range $114 to $179 for adults during the holiday season.
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Guests visiting Disneyland Park over the holidays won’t want to miss “A Christmas Fantasy Parade” or the “Believe … In Holiday Magic Fireworks,” which are included with regular park admission all season.
Other must-sees include the holiday overlays “it’s a small world” Holiday and Haunted Mansion Holiday, carried over from the Halloween season with “The Nightmare Before Christmas” theming.
Fans of Mickey, Minnie and their friends will also want to keep an eye out for the gang wearing new holiday attire in Town Square.
Over in Disney California Adventure, Disney Festival of Holidays celebrates a host of holidays with international foods, live music and Mickey’s Happy Holidays processional with life-size toy soldiers. This year, Visions of Sugar Plums joins the Festive Foods Marketplace and Tina and The Sounds of Celebration! join the line-up of multicultural performers.
Guests can keep the party going with Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party, which features traditional music and dance from Mexico and Brazil and appearances by Mickey, Minnie and the Three Caballeros.
Also during the holidays, Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters becomes Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is transformed into Mater’s Jingle Jamboree, and the nighttime spectacular “World of Color” makes way for “World of Color – Season of Light,” returning for the first time since the pandemic.
Downtown Disney: Disney lovers can enjoy seasonal entertainment, festive foods and holiday shopping without visiting the parks in Downtown Disney District.
Disney resorts: In addition to appearing at both Disneyland parks, Santa stops by all three Disneyland hotels, which are decorated for the holidays. Guests can see where he’ll be on Disneyland’s app. Don’t miss the gingerbread display at Disney’s Grand Californian. All three hotels are within walking distance of the parks.