You cannot begin to imagine how excited I get over Walt Disney World at Christmas time! I start planning next year’s holiday trip probably before I leave this year’s vacation. Visiting Walt Disney World during the holidays has become tradition for my family, and as much as there is to see and do, there are a few things I encourage you to put at the top of your list.
A Cup of Christmas Tea
The Garden View Lounge at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort is where you’ll find this jewel of an afternoon break. Afternoon Tea is served daily from 2 PM until 4:30, and honestly, this is a meal – and an event – unto itself. Choose from a selection of packages that include tea, sandwiches, pastries, scones, and fruit; or opt for the a la carte service, where you can choose the components of the meal you want. It is a great way to kick off the holiday season, and it’s usually where my family begins our Christmas holiday at Walt Disney World. We head from the airport to the resort, and we are checking in for a relaxing tea service right around 3 o’clock. I love sitting with my girls around the table, enjoying their company in a way that we don’t always get to do in the hustle and bustle of home – OR during the hustle and bustle of a theme park vacation. It’s a must do for me.
World Showcase Santas
Where else in one afternoon can you visit Santa, Father Christmas, Pere Noel, AND the Monkey King? And where else in one afternoon can you give your kids such an amazing holiday cultural lesson without the whining and complaining that comes normally with trying to teach kids something on Christmas vacation? I like to clear an afternoon and have the girls go from country to country in the World Showcase to listen to the stories of Christmas in other cultures. The “Santas” are all wonderful, and the children are glued to the stories of how other kids are waking up on Christmas morning. You’d think there was a Hannah Montana marathon on, they’re so attentive! If you can’t give up a whole afternoon/evening, choose the countries significant to your family – perhaps La Befana in Italy can give your kids a glimpse into what it was like when Great Grandma woke up in her country on Christmas day. I love it when learning and playing are almost the same thing!
Jennings Osborne Is My Hero
Long before his lights became a holiday tradition at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I couldn’t help but admire a man who held Christmas and the joy of his daughter in such high regard that he went to court to defend his right to celebrate both things. Unfortunately, Jennings lost his court battle, but fortunately for the rest of us who couldn’t get to Arkansas for the holidays, he was kind enough to share his love of Christmas with us at Disney. If you have ever wanted to burn your neighbor’s house down, because he has the most obnoxious holiday light display on the block, you might want to skip this part of my annual holiday tradition, but if you find joy in the bright celebration that is Christmas, you won’t want to miss the Osborne Spectacle of the Dancing Lights. I have to tell you, I could do without the dancing part, which was added a few years back, but I still wouldn’t miss a chance to go see this outrageous display of Christmas celebration at least once (but usually twice) during my Christmas vacation. You’ll see flying angels, marching soldiers, dancing lights, and even snowflakes (yes, in FLORIDA!!). If you linger after the initial massive crowds when the lights first come on (usually around six in the evening), you can grab a cup of hot cocoa (yeah, I know, it’s 80 degrees – but ya gotta….) and meander up and down the street, soaking up the holiday festivity. I’d venture to guess this is the very top of the must do list for my two littler girls, but it’s a holiday favorite for all of us.
EPCOT Candlelight Processional
It is here every year that I find the true meaning of Christmas. Yep, in the middle of a loud, busy theme park. Surrounded by people whose feet hurt. Crowded by crying children. Overwhelmed by all of the “I want…” and “Can I have…”s. If you don’t find your holiday spirit here, you are not going to find it.
This is the retelling of the Christmas story – remember that one? No, not the “You’ll shoot your eye out” one – the ORIGINAL Christmas story. A celebrity narrator tells you of the birth of Christ and his impact on the world. I gotta tell you, by the time the essay “One Solitary Life” is read, I’m crying. I’m crying right now just thinking about hearing it. It is the most moving theme park experience I have ever had, and I cannot wait each year to enjoy it again. The music is outstanding, and the reminder of the reason for the season much welcomed. If there was only one thing I could do at Walt Disney World during the Christmas season, this is the thing I would do. (and after I did it, I’d push to do all the other things!)
This is a can’t miss vacation, no matter what. I hope you get to enjoy some of the wonderful things my family goes back for year after year, and I hope some of our family holiday traditions become some of your favorite family traditions as well!