July 22, 2024

2024 Christmas at Disney World Dates & Details: What’s New, Returning & Not Coming Back

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Walt Disney World has announced Christmas dates & details, with new info about some of the entertainment, decorations, food, etc. at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Disney Springs, and the hotels. In this




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Walt Disney World has announced Christmas dates & details, with new info about some of the entertainment, decorations, food, etc. at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Disney Springs, and the hotels. In this post, we’ll share everything revealed today as part of the “Halfway to the Holidays” celebration, and offer commentary about what’s coming, what’s (likely) cancelled, and what’s still unknown.

This year, Walt Disney World has not announced official start or end dates for the Christmas season as a whole. It’s possible that’s still coming, but honestly, it makes sense not to set a single start date. That’s because the parties at both Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios start on different dates, and EPCOT is always later to begin its holiday celebrations.

With that in mind, it’s likely that November 8 will be the unofficial start of Christmas 2024 at Walt Disney World. That’s the first night of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and we’d expect the other offerings (see below) at Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom to start on the same date. As always, three of the four parks will be decked out for the holiday season by then, too.

Although it’s also unofficial, expect the holiday season to end on December 31, 2024. Last year, most holiday entertainment concluded on that date. The lone exception is EPCOT’s Festival of the Holidays, which wraps up on December 30, 2024–decorations come down there to prepare for the big New Year’s Eve bash. Everywhere else, music and decorations will gradually go down in the first week or so of January 2025. (Outside of EPCOT and entertainment, it’s common for Christmas to unofficially continue through Marathon Weekend.)

Turning to the substantive news, let’s start with Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney World already confirmed that Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will be held on select nights in November and December 2024.

See Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2024 Prices, Dates & Details at Disney World for full details, dates, ticket prices, and more than a little commentary!

Magic Kingdom will once again host the “Frozen Holiday Surprise” in front of Cinderella Castle, featuring Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff and the adorable Snowgies. “Frozen Holiday Surprise” can be seen during regular park hours and during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

Last year, “Frozen Holiday Surprise” started on November 7, which was two days before the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The first MVMCP this year is on November 8, 2024, but we’d still expect a similar cadence–meaning “Frozen Holiday Surprise” would start showing on Nov. 5 or 6.

We saw “Frozen Holiday Surprise” a few times last year and it was incredibly underwhelming. I don’t know how they managed to add a stage show component to this and still somehow made the end result worse than the previous projections, but it was quite a feat. Here’s hoping that, at the very least, they overhaul the projections at the end to make them less static. The ones from 2020-2022 were better.

The fact that it wasn’t mentioned alongside “Frozen Holiday Surprise” probably means that the Cinderella Castle Dream Lights once again are not returning for Christmas 2024. It’s still possible that they could happen–the announcement leaves the door open for them–but we’re not holding our breath.

(Before anyone makes any claims about it “not being possible” because Walt Disney World disposed of the old lights or because they got complaints about the crane, two things are worth noting. First, new lights can be purchased or fabricated–the lights used in 2019 were not the same as the ones in 2007. Second, the last two years of the Dream Lights, Disney lowered the crane during the day. That problem was already addressed. These are just excuses!)

The hard-ticket Disney Jollywood Nights event returns to Disney’s Hollywood Studios starting November 9, 2024 for its sophomore season. After an opening night meltdown and negative word of mouth, we weren’t sure it’d be back. However, we’re very pleased to see Walt Disney World not giving up on the concept and instead iterating and (attempting to) improve it.

Obviously, Disney Jollywood Nights is not new–but there are a bunch of changes and additions to it. The big one is a new dazzling skating spectacular set to your favorite holiday tunes on Hollywood Boulevard. Several times each evening, take in the grace and skill of international champion skaters in an awe-inspiring twist on the traditional ice show.

The 2024 Disney Jollywood Nights will also include over 20 unique character experiences featuring both new and returning favorites. Reunite with beloved characters like Phineas and Ferb, Santa Duffy and Santa Stitch, and look forward to fresh new faces such as Bo Peep, Lotso,  Baloo, and King Louie from TaleSpin.

That’s not all–so be sure to check out Disney Jollywood Nights Christmas Party 2024 Prices, Dates & Details at Hollywood Studios for full details, dates, ticket prices, and more than a little commentary!

Also at DHS, Sunset Seasons Greetings returns to the Hollywood Holiday Tower Hotel on Sunset Boulevard.

This park icon will twinkle with projection effects, transforming into a snowy corner of Arendelle, a Muppets gingerbread masterpiece, a Toy Story toy hotel, and a Dickensian village inspired by “Mickey’s Christmas Carol.”

Walt Disney World didn’t provide dates for Sunset Seasons Greetings, but we’d expect it to quietly start showing a day or two before the first Disney Jollywood Nights. Meaning that you can probably expect to see it around November 7 or 8, 2024.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Echo Lake is once again expected to get decked out for the holidays. This is one of our “sleeper spots” for Christmas at Walt Disney World. We could sit on a bench in front of Santa Gertie for hours, just soaking up the atmosphere and listening to the great background music.

At Toy Story Land, you can once again spot Woody, Jessie and Buzz sporting their holiday best. (This means scarves and/or Santa hats.)

Again, no start dates for any of this. If past precedent is any indication, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be decked out for the holidays starting in early November. Since the park doesn’t celebrate Halloween, we’ve seen decor in previous years going up in late October.

Also at DHS, Minnie Mouse will be hosting a yuletide feast at Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with the return of Minnie’s Holiday Dine (which we absolutely love). Santa Goofy will be there, along with Minnie and others in their holiday finery.

Continuing with characters, you will also be able to enjoy “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration,” with its festive finale featuring Olaf.

The biggest Christmas “character” of all is, of course, Santa Claus.

Jolly Old St. Nick will make special appearances throughout Walt Disney World in all four parks, Disney Springs and even at a water park, where he’ll be donning his tropical holiday beachwear.

At EPCOT, Santa Claus will join storytellers from around the world as a part of the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays from November 29 to December 30, 2024.

Enjoy festive traditions from around the world with amazing holiday storytellers, delicious dishes, merchandise, entertainment and more, each celebrating unique cultural traditions.

Get ready to satisfy your festive cravings at Holiday Kitchens. Located throughout the park and serving up a mouth-watering array of seasonal foods and drinks, there are delicious treats waiting for you from around the globe.

One of the highlights for me is the Candlelight Processional. Listening to a celebrity narrator tell the Christmas story, accompanied by a full orchestra and mass choir, is such a moving experience—it truly captures the magic of the holidays.

We don’t have specifics about narrators, dining packages, or anything else, but that’s common–those usually aren’t announced until late summer into early fall. We’ll update our Guide to the 2024 Candlelight Processional at EPCOT the moment any additional news is released!

Turning to more of what is confirmed as returning, Animal Kingdom will come alive with the return of a Merry Menagerie of winter animals realized in the form of life-size, artisan-sculpted puppets. During the day, Discovery Island is alive with a life-size “Merry Menagerie” of artisan-sculpted puppets that include reindeer, foxes, polar bears, penguins, birds, seals—and probably other critters we missed.

These winter animals are accompanied by serenading live musicians who mingle amongst guests and the Merry Menagerie of critters to create festive atmosphere. Seriously, these puppets are something special–truly some Real Christmas Magic at Walt Disney World!

Walt Disney World didn’t announce dates for Merry Menagerie, but we’d expect it to begin on or around November 8, 2024. We’ll keep an eye on the entertainment schedule and keep you posted.

No word yet on what else is happening at Animal Kingdom for Christmas, but that’s not uncommon.

Our expectation is that the Tree of Life Awakenings – Holiday Edition will make its return. These beauty scenes of wintry wonderlands are accompanied by a heartwarming musical score.

This is a lovely little plussing, but Walt Disney World tends to not announce it for whatever reason.

Walt Disney World resort hotels will be decked out for the holidays, with their lobbies featuring iconic trees and other festive flourishes. Definitely good news for fans of Wilderness Lodge, Grand Floridian, Animal Kingdom, and other holiday favorites.

Gingerbread displays will once again be part of the holiday season at Walt Disney World! Select resorts will also offer holiday menus and specialty food & drink at their restaurants. All of this usually rolls out in phases, likely beginning the first weekend of November 2024 and continuing through the week before Thanksgiving.

To sweeten the deal for guests of Walt Disney World resorts, starting on June 27 you can save up to 30% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels for stays most nights from November 24 to December 25, 2024, plus other savings for stays most Sunday to Thursday nights between October 6 and November 21, 2024. You can also get a free Park Hopper option added to your tickets when you upgrade to a vacation package that includes a non-discounted 4-day or longer date-based ticket.

At Disney Springs, the Christmas Tree Stroll will once again return. These elaborately decorated, Disney-themed trees will consist of returning favorites plus some new dazzling décor.

Additionally, nightly snowfall will add a touch of wonder for holiday shoppers in Town Center. Expect all of this to also start around the first weekend in November 2024.

Ultimately, it sounds like this is the “new normal” for Christmas at Walt Disney World. There are still a handful of things that have not been announced as returning as compared to pre-closure, but it’s likely some or most of that is gone for good. Honestly, this is a tad disappointing, as Walt Disney World used the (totally valid) explanation of physical distancing and avoiding crowds back in 2020 when suspending certain offerings, and then the (less valid) excuse of the 50th Anniversary celebration followed by Disney100 for the last few years. All of that is over–there’s no indication of another celebration in November or December 2024–and yet, things aren’t back to 100%.

With that said, it’s only June (less than two months until Halloween season!), which is still early. This is not presented as an exhaustive lineup of Walt Disney World’s Christmas 2024 entertainment and offerings. Several more things will almost certainly be announced in the coming months, which is what happened the last few years. This is merely a teaser for this #HalfwaytotheHolidays (or Christmas in June/July), so here’s hoping that Walt Disney World has more surprises up its sleeve!

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think of this Walt Disney World news? What about Christmas entertainment, decorations, and various offerings this year? Will you be disappointed if there aren’t lights up for the holidays? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!




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