It may still be July, but Christmas will be here before we know it. On July 25 I was lucky enough to be part of a media preview group to learn what we can expect during the upcoming season at Walt Disney World. There was a lot of information. Right now I’d like to focus on the four theme parks, because the parks are the main reason why people visit Walt Disney World.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom:
We’ll start at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. For the past several years the park hasn’t quite reached the same level as the other three parks, but all of that is about to change. You’ll notice the moment you enter the park. Discovery Island will have life-sized puppets during the day. The puppets will feature animals that aren’t normally found at the park such as polar bears and penguins. Once the sun goes down, luminaries will line the roofs of the area and light up the night. There will be special surprises on the Tree of Life after dark as well.
The holiday fun won’t end in Discovery Island. In Africa you’ll be able to experience traditional celebrations. Donald’s Dino-Bash will have the characters ready for the season, and Chip ‘n’ Dale will lead the party at night. Diwali, which is the Indian Festival of Lights, will be celebrated in Asia. Even Pandora – The World of Avatar will be in on the festivities. After all, the expats who live there want to celebrate the season as well.
Christmas at the Magic Kingdom means Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and it sounds like this year will be the best one yet! Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show will debut this season, and I’ve been promised that there are great viewing areas throughout the park. There will also be some seasonal ride enhancements for the party. Tomorrowland Speedway, Space Mountain, and Mad Tea Party will have holiday overlays. The latter two are just for the party, but guests who visit during non-party hours will be able to enjoy the overlay on Tomorrowland Speedway. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor will have a new holiday theme for the party as well. The party will once again feature your favorites from past years, including hot cocoa and cookies, rare character appearances, and the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.
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At Epcot there are not going to be many changes for the upcoming holiday season. All of your favorite activities will return. We did learn that Lisa Ling will be the celebrity narrator for the Candlelight Processional on December 29 and 30. We also learned that the Holiday Cookie Stroll will return. You’ll purchase five cookies and have your Passport stamped, and then you will receive a sixth cookie for free! One of the cookies this year is vegan, so people who can’t or don’t eat eggs and dairy can still enjoy one of these delicious treats.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios:
This year the holidays at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be similar to last year. That is not a bad thing. That means the return of Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! fireworks, and the decorations throughout the park. The holiday overlay will return in Toy Story Land as well. It also means that Sunset Seasons Greetings will be back. The projections on the “Hollywood Toy Hotel” give the creepy old building a festive feeling, and there will once again be “snow” on Sunset Boulevard.
The fun at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will begin on November 8. That’s also the date that Disney’s Hollywood Studios will light up. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will run on select nights from November 8 until December 22, and a separate ticket is required. Epcot International Festival of the Holidays will run from November 29 through December 30.
The annual Christmas in July event always puts me in the mood for the Christmas season. It doesn’t matter that it’s 90 degrees outside, after today I can’t wait for the holidays!