Santa may have elves, but our cast members are working their merry magic preparing for the Walt Disney World Resort holiday season, which officially begins Nov. 11, 2023!
I’ve spent the last month getting a firsthand look at preparations that go into holidays across the resort. (Here’s a hint: They never really stop!) From new details about Disney Jollywood Nights, a new separately ticketed event coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, to a first look at your favorite Disney holiday traditions, come along for a behind-the-scenes peek at what’s in store.
Holiday Happenings: Disney Jollywood Nights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
It’s the glam holiday event we’ve all been waiting for: Disney Jollywood Nights! This swanky Hollywood party filled with merriment, music and spirited good times on select nights Nov. 11 to Dec. 20.
The all-new separately ticketed event features new live stage shows, special character greetings and the “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” Nighttime spectacular finale. You can also indulge in delectable treats and cheerful sips, dance the night away and enjoy many of your favorite attractions.
Two mesmerizing new shows will immerse guests in the joy of the holidays. Head to Theater of the Stars and get ready for “Disney Holidays in Hollywood,” a star-studded variety show in the grand tradition of Tinseltown holiday specials – all with a twist of today’s Hollywood magic.
With special guest stars including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Tiana, Belle, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, there are plenty of surprises in store, including a brand-new original song by Tiana. Singers, dancers and live jazz musicians round out the talented cast of entertainers in this dazzling performance. Jolly vignettes remind everyone that the holidays mean something special to each and every one of us.
You also won’t want to miss “What’s This? Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Sing-Along.” Enter a dreamlike adventure in The Hyperion Theater where Jack Skellington takes us on an ethereal exploration of “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Sing along to beloved songs from the iconic film and discover peculiar magic in unexpected places. Along the way, you’ll conquer Oogie Boogie and be encouraged to follow your curiosity.
New ‘Fits for the Fête
@disneyparks The Sensational Six are ready for Disney Jollywood Nights 🤩🧣 #Disney #DisneyParks #DisneyWorld #HollywoodStudios #JollywoodNights #Holidays #HolidayDecor #Fits ♬ original sound – Disney Parks
Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and friends are wearing new outfits exclusively for this glitzy celebration – and they invite you to do the same. The new outfits are inspired by the party’s vintage vibe, which celebrates the glitz and glam of Hollywood. Art directors, show producers and designers worked together to land on just the right combination of colors and fabric for these special looks. Delve into any old collection of ornaments from the ‘30s, ‘40s or ‘50s, and you’re sure to find an array of colorful pastels. And that’s exactly what we see here! Mint green and soft reds in sumptuous fabrics set the tone as you encounter Mickey & Friends Holiday Greetings in Animation Courtyard. The gang has just wrapped on the set of their new holiday film, and you’re invited to catch a glimpse of the magic!
Even More to Adore
A DJ will play the merriest of mash-ups, featuring a mix of smooth classics layered with modern beats. While tunes at the entrance set the tone for the evening, stroll around Echo Lake for a trip down a more recent memory lane featuring holiday music and characters from classic Disney Channel favorites, including Powerline Max, Rescue Rangers Chip ‘n’ Dale and Phineas and Ferb.
Throughout the event, revel in oodles of spectacular entertainment. At Welcome to Disney Jollywood Nights, strike your best pose for “The Gram” in front of a stunning new neon sign before joining the dance party. Disney PhotoPass photographers will be there to capture the moment, and complimentary digital downloads of your Disney PhotoPass photos captured during the event are included with the price of your ticket.**
Beyond marvelous entertainment, there’s so much more that’s new and fun. Since the night is Hollywood – get ready to pose for special photo opportunities. A Robotic Arm Magic Shot will capture your red carpet moment with a glamorous, show-stopping video. There’s also a Camera Array Magic shot – nine cameras that will shoot a boomerang-style photo of your group in front of a Disney Jollywood Nights backdrop.
Plus, you can enjoy favorite attractions with lower wait times during this limited-capacity event, and a virtual queue will be in place for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.* Remember to link your event tickets in the My Disney Experience app to be eligible for this virtual queue opportunity.
And don’t forget: Disney’s Hollywood Studios will once again present Sunset Seasons Greetings nightly throughout the season, as The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is magically transformed into an array of holiday scenes as snow falls along Sunset Boulevard.
Fractal Frenzy: NEW Frozen Holiday Surprise at Magic Kingdom Park
At Magic Kingdom Park, “Frozen” friends from Arendelle are conjuring up something new and extra-special for the holidays.
Join in the celebration of the new “Frozen Holiday Surprise” as Olaf and more than 100 of his Snowgie siblings decorate Cinderella Castle with festive touches. Appearing live on stage in new holiday looks, Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Kristoff each bring something special to the gathering. Festivities culminate as Elsa adds sparkling finishing touches, transforming Cinderella Castle into a shimmering crystallized palace – a look that will remain throughout the evening.
Bringing this spectacle to life is no small feat, as lighting designers, video technicians, composers and even a full orchestra worked together to create this new holiday magic.
Debuting Nov. 7, “Frozen Holiday Surprise” will occur nightly throughout the holiday season.
Also, families and kids of all ages can enjoy the most wonderful time of the year at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, a separately ticketed event offering warm-hearted fun at Magic Kingdom on select nights Nov. 9-Dec. 22.
Making Magic: Walt Disney World Holiday Services
The magic makers at Holiday Services neither sleep nor slumber. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but this team of designers, decorators and other professionals ready more than 600 trees and 1,700 wreaths and hang nearly nine miles of garland each year. Santa would be proud! How long does all this merry-making take? Almost a full year. As soon as one holiday season wraps up, the Holiday Services team begins preparing for the next year.
Whether they’re creating new items or making sure that existing decor remains merry and bright, our band of specialists ensures that the entire resort sparkles.
Comfort & Joy: Gingerbread Galore at Disney Resort Hotels
If you’ve ever gazed in fascination at the larger-than-life gingerbread displays that appear each holiday season at Disney Resort Hotels, you’ve probably asked yourself how long it takes to create such wonders. Planning and preparation begin a full seven months ahead! The culinary team at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa starts mixing the fragrant dough for its life-size gingerbread house in May ahead of a two-month curing process. Individual shapes, from shingles to Mickey cookies, are baked and decorated throughout the summer and then stored for “construction” in November. The house itself takes three days to build.
This year, guests can once more enjoy these stunning works of art in six Disney Resort Hotels, including a new display at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. I can’t wait to see the incredible creations that our cast members have in store for us! Look for displays – no doubt, with a few new surprises – at these locations.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s BoardWalk Resort
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Delicious Doings: EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays
At EPCOT, cast members have been dreaming up the menu and testing new recipes for the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays presented by AdventHealth. Planning for this popular event starts a year in advance. The team focuses on creating dishes and drinks that celebrate the diversity of holiday traditions with comfort foods that inspire warm memories.
Ensuring that each guest has a delicious encounter every time is top of mind for the team, so thorough testing is imperative. And, once that’s complete, it’s on to production. During last year’s festival, the culinary team baked more than 250,000 cookies in just five weeks for the event’s Holiday Cookie Stroll.
Be sure to mark your calendars for Festival of the Holidays, which begins Nov. 24. This year will bring several “firsts” to the festival. The all-new fireworks-and-laser spectacular “Luminous: The Symphony of Us” will debut Dec. 5, 2023. And, with EPCOT being home to The Walt Disney Company’s 100th anniversary celebration, guests will find beautiful holiday decor at the park entrance commemorating the Disney100 celebration.
More Merriment: Holidays Around Our World
At Disney Springs, guests can shop, dine and play amidst a wonderland of beautiful decor and an incredible array of dining options beginning Nov. 10. Be sure to save time to visit Santa Claus at Once Upon a Toy, and don’t miss the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll presented by AdventHealth. 19 Disney-themed trees will be on display throughout the shopping, dining and entertainment district. Plan at least one nighttime visit to experience snowfall in Town Center for more unforgettable memories.
Cheerful decor and festive flotillas are some of the holiday highlights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. In addition to meetings with favorite Disney characters and Santa himself, guests can interact with a Merry Menagerie of life-size, artisan-sculpted animal puppets daily on Discovery Island. The park’s iconic Tree of Life also awakens each evening with a colorful tableau of wintry tales accompanied by a musical score.
With so much to see and experience, there’s no end to the delight that holidays inspire at Walt Disney World Resort. Plan your visit today.
*Guests attending the event can request to join the queue beginning at 8:00 p.m. Each guest can request to enter this virtual queue no more than once per event. This is only available for guests on the day of the event they are attending, and their specific event tickets must be linked to their My Disney Experience account in order to join the virtual queue. Guests attending this special ticketed event do not need to be in Disney’s Hollywood Studios to request to join at the time the queue becomes available.
** Disney PhotoPass service is subject to Disney PhotoPass terms and expiration policy at https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/photopass-terms-conditions. Online registration required. Subject to restrictions and change without notice.
(The Twilight Zone® is a registered trademark of CBS, Inc. and used with permission pursuant to a license with CBS, Inc.)