You are the ultimate holiday elf, you are the hero of the family. You are taking your family to the most magical place on earth during the most magical time of the year…Christmas in Disney! But now what…you aren’t really feeling the holiday party vibe, but you want the family to experience all of the Disney holiday FEELS. What’s a festive family to do if they aren’t hitting Jingle Bell Jingle Bam?! Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle, we are here to help.

It’s no secret that Disney does the ultimate Christmas; being “extra” is just how they roll and the holidays are no exception. There are so many popular, publicized events that they make having a Merry Christmas a complete no-brainer. For starters there’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Hollywood Studios’ popular holiday party “Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam!” and of course the iconic and beautifully orchestrated “Candlelight Processional” at Epcot, but what else is there for you to do away from the fray? Here are my top five suggestions for immersing your family in holiday magic off the popular park party path. (Say that three times fast!)


#1: OH SNAP-I smell gingerbread cookies!

No one does gingerbread quite like Walt Disney World resorts! The scent is intoxicating and is immediately associated with all things good, warm and Christmasy. (Which may not be a word, but absolutely should be!) Make it a point to tour the resorts if not for any other reason than to check out their amazing gingerbread displays. The Grand Floridian has larger than life gingerbread houses in their expansive lobby. (You can even buy a shingle to nibble on.)

The Yacht & Beach Club won’t be outdone as have a moving gingerbread carousel with a mini village and working train in their lobby. “It’s a Small World” fans may be interested in stopping by The Contemporary as they’ve been known to have displays done by famed artist and Small World designer Mary Blair. If gingerbread isn’t your thing but cozy fireplaces, enormous Christmas trees and the illusion of a Northeastern chill (but without the pesky snow and flight delays) are your thing, swing by Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and cozy up to their fireplace while relaxing in their spacious, yet cozy cabin-like lobby. You’ll never want to get up from their deep, comfortable couches.


#2: On Dasher! On Dancer!

What’s Christmas without a sleigh ride? There may not be any reindeer involved, but your family can have it’s own sleigh ride at either Port Orleans-Riverside or at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resorts. For a nominal fee, your family can be whisked away on a 25 minute sleigh ride while you discuss who REALLY made the naughty and nice lists.


#3: Toast to a Happy New Year in style

Kids don’t corner the market on holiday excitement, anticipation and cheer! Build in some adult time to toast to both the old and the new at somewhere fun like Disney Springs’ new Wine Bar George. Kick back with a glass of their holiday house specialty mulled wine and savor the holidays with the people you love. Wine Bar George is the perfect blend of laid back and elegant style. If you’re fortunate enough to be spending Christmas Eve in Disney, make your reservations NOW to have a delicious prime rib Christmas Eve dinner at Wine Bar George. Santa shouldn’t be the only one with a happy belly on Christmas Eve!

#4: Gazing at one, big Christmas tree is SO basic

Why “ooooooo” and “ahhhhhh” at just one giant Christmas tree when you can walk the Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs and be blown away by 27 Disney themed Christmas trees?! Stroll down the trail during a gentle snowfall and marvel at decorations only Disney could dream up. (A Haunted Mansion tree-yep, they’ve thought of that!) All of that strolling and marveling will surely work up an appetite which is great, because there are holiday snacks AS festive as the trees waiting to tempt your sweet tooth. How does Frozen Hot Chocolate or Frozen Egg Nog sound? (I’ll have one of each!) And you know, there will be a coveted holiday themed popcorn bucket for sale that you will just HAVE to have!

#5: Who am I kidding; we HAVE to go to the parks!

We aren’t going to lie, the parks are going to be BUSY. Lots of people had the same amazing idea that you did, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t check out all of the holiday magic that the parks have to offer. Magic Kingdom, of course will have amazing decorations, Santa will be hanging out at Tour Guide Gardens (next to City Hall) and characters will be decked out in their holiday best.

Animal Kingdom will FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER be putting their best holiday food forward and going all out with new lights, new music and a holiday dance party in Dino Land. Hollywood Studios will wow you with their snow, their amazing light shows and if the 10 ft tall Hamm sugar cookie in Toy Story Land doesn’t melt a frozen heart, I’m not sure what will.

But to me, Epcot is holiday central. I love the “cookie stroll” through the countries as well as the amazing “holiday kitchens” throughout World Showcase. Munch on tasty treats while listening to storytellers and holiday music. The kids (and adults) will get a kick out of Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree Scavenger Hunt throughout the park. Lastly, don’t forget there is a BRAND NEW nighttime show happening at Epcot now…and apparently “forever” as it’s ambitiously titled, “Epcot Forever.”

To me, Disney is always one of those places that is so much more than just the attractions and characters, there are gems hidden in plain sight all over the property. Christmas is the perfect time to dig a little deeper and discover some holiday magic where you may not have thought to look for it.

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