The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is short this year, because Thanksgiving was the latest that it can be in the year. Just because it is a short season does not mean that the annual festival isn’t jammed packed. Here are a few of the highlights. The cost is included in Epcot admission, although food and merchandise will of course cost extra.
1. Holiday Kitchens
One of the nice things about World Showcase is that you can try specialties from countries around the world. During Festival of the Holidays, you can try different seasonal treats as well. There are special Holiday Kitchens set up throughout World Showcase where you can enjoy bite-sized dishes such as Potato Dumpling with Mushroom Sauce, or Queso Fresco-stuffed Arepa topped with Shrimp, Crushed Avocado Aji and Tomato Sauce. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll want to try the Holiday Cookie Stroll. Purchase five cookies from participating Holiday Kitchens, and you will receive a special sixth cookie for free! All of the information can be found in your Festival Passport, which you can pick up for free when you enter the park. You’ll need to have the passport stamped at each location in order to receive your free cookie.
2. Storytellers and Additional Entertainment
The storytellers at Epcot date back to when the festival was called Holidays Around the World. Several World Showcase pavilions have storytellers who will explain a Christmas tradition from their country. Other pavilions will instead share traditions through music. If you’re looking for a more American twist, you’ll want to watch Voices of Liberty. They perform Christmas favorites a cappella. If you want to hear Christmas songs with a soulful twist, check your Times Guide for JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season.
3. Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree
Scavenger Hunts have become a staple at the Epcot festivals. For the holiday season it is Chip ‘n’ Dale who you will want to find! They are busy gathering ornaments around World Showcase. Purchase a map for $6.99, match the stickers with the correct spots on the map, then return with your map for a prize. This year there are three ornaments to choose from. If you don’t finish the map, don’t worry. You will still be able to pick up your prize.
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4. Chip ‘n’ Dale Merchandise
Have you ever wished that you could take this mischievous pair home? Now you can! Chip ‘n’ Dale are featured on much of the Festival of the Holidays merchandise this year. You can buy shirts, ornaments, mugs, and MagicBands that feature the world’s most famous chipmunks. Not every piece of Festival of the Holidays merchandise includes them, but a lot of it does.
5. Living with the Land: Merry and Bright Nights
If you ride Living with the Land during the day you can enjoy the holiday decorations. If you ride after dark, you will discover something that will put an even bigger smile on your face. With Living with the Land: Merry and Bright Nights, parts of the ride are lit up for the holidays! It is not overdone, so the decorations to not distract from the ride. This is a great way to relax and get into the mood for the holidays at the same time.
6. Candlelight Processional
One of the most loved Disney Parks traditions is the Candlelight Processional. It dates back over 60 years! It started at Disneyland, long before Walt Disney World was built. In Florida it was first held at the Magic Kingdom in 1971, and then in 1994 it moved to Epcot. The show lasts about 45 minutes, and it is held three times each evening. A guest conductor will oversee a 50 piece orchestra. The Voices of Liberty will then join in. A mass choir joins them, each member carrying a candle. Many of the choir members are Cast Members or attend local high schools. The center group is dressed in green and they form a human Christmas tree. A celebrity narrator is then announced, who will take the stage. He or she will tell the Biblical story of the birth of Jesus. After each passage, a song will be performed. The story of the beloved Christmas hymn Silent Night is told as well, and the audience is asked to sing along. If you have never been to the Candlelight Processional, it needs to move to the top of your must-do list. It is an amazing experience.
7. Dining Package
The America Gardens Theater tends to fill up early for the Candlelight Processional, and most shows will be full. If you want to be sure to get a seat but don’t want to wait in a long line, consider reserving a Candlelight Processional Dining Package. Pick a participating restaurant, book the package, and then after your meal you will be able to sit in a reserved section. Remember when you make the reservation to book a dining package. If you only dine at a participating restaurant you will not be eligible for the reserved section.
Most of the holiday offerings at Walt Disney World run a few days into January, but that is not the case with the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. The fun will end on December 30. That will give the Cast Members plenty of time to get everything ready for the Epcot International Festival of the Arts. That is going to run January 17 through February 24, 2020.