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Top Ten Reasons to Visit Walt Disney World RIGHT NOW! Holiday 2021 Edition

The holidays could be our favorite time of year to visit Walt Disney World. The weather is great, and there is extra magic around every corner. The 2020 holiday season was scaled back, making 2021 even more special.

Here are the top ten reasons why you need to drop everything and head to Walt Disney World right now so that you can experience the holiday magic for yourself.

10) The World’s Most Magical Celebration, Everywhere

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The 18 month celebration of Walt Disney World’s Golden Anniversary started on October 1, which means that by the time the holidays are over there will only be 15 months left! You need to experience Beacons of Magic and the Fab 50 Character Collection for yourself, so start making your plans.

9) Echo Lake, Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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It’s hard to not get into the Christmas spirit when you see Echo Lake. The tree in the water may be the centerpiece, but you need to experience it all. Dinosaur Gertie is now Santa Gertie, and there are giant colored ornaments in the water.

Visit during the day, and then go back after dark. You won’t be disappointed.

8) Gingerbread House, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

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Last year the decorations at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa were beautiful, but without the Gingerbread House, something was missing. The return of this classic is reason enough to drop everything and head to Walt Disney World.

This year’s house feels smaller than the past (that’s unconfirmed) but it is still glorious. As soon as you enter the lobby you will smell gingerbread! Take a few pictures, and then purchase some gingerbread to eat. You can even purchase an entire gingerbread house; it’s just not as big.

7) The Christmas Tree Stroll, Disney Springs

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In 2020 the Christmas Tree Stroll replaced the Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs, and we’re okay with that. We loved the former, but the new version spreads cheer throughout the entire district.

There are 20 themed trees for you to find. Pick up a map, find the trees, and receive a prize! The Christmas Tree Stroll is free, and it’s fun to see the new trees this year.

While you’re at Disney Springs your little ones can meet Santa. This year they are using a Virtual Queue, which you will access on the My Disney Experience App. You must be physically at Disney Springs to join the queue.

6) Main Street, U.S.A. Decorations, Magic Kingdom

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There is nothing quite like Main Street, U.S.A. during the holidays. You can almost picture Walt Disney himself strolling through the area with a smile on his face. We aren’t going to say anything more because you need to see the decorations for yourself.

5) Merry Menagerie, Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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Merry Menagerie brings the holidays to Discovery Island. Skillful puppeteers make winter animals come to life. It’s for kids of all ages.

You’ll only see Merry Menagerie during the daylight hours, but you’ll still want to walk through Discovery Island after dark. The luminaries alone will fill you with a warm holiday feeling, plus you need to see the Tree of Life after the sun goes down.

4) EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, EPCOT

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As the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival winds down, another festival is about to begin. The EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays will allow you to experience the season across the globe.

There are treats from around the world sold in the Holiday Kitchens. Being the Christmas season of course there are cookies, and you’ll want to participate in the Holiday Cookie Stroll. Purchase the five cookies on the list and receive a sixth for free!

3) Sunset Seasons Greetings, Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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Sunset Seasons Greetings is a show that runs after dark during the holidays. It turns the Hollywood Tower Hotel into the Hollywood Toy Hotel.

Using projections, four different scenarios take place. You’ll see scenes based on ‘Frozen’, ‘Toy Story’, a Muppets Gingerbread House, and ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’. There is a video before each scene.

In 2020 we just had projections instead of the full Sunset Seasons Greetings. This is still scaled back (there are no lasers) but it’s nice to watch the full 11 minute show again.

Sunset Seasons Greetings runs at the top and bottom of each hour. The rest of the time after dark it’s Beacons of Magic.

2) Disney Very Merriest After Hours, Magic Kingdom

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Disney Very Merriest After Hours is this year’s replacement for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. It is a four hour special ticketed event.

Parades have been absent since Walt Disney World reopened, but not at Disney Very Merriest After Hours! The full Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade runs twice during the evening.

You can pick up Snickerdoodle Cookies and Hot Cocoa for no extra charge. Being a Disney After Hours event, popcorn, ice cream bars, and bottled beverages are also included.

At 11:15 Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show lights up the sky. This could be our favorite fireworks spectacular that we’ve seen in a long time. For some, it is reason enough to buy a ticket and head to Florida right away.

1) Candlelight Processional, EPCOT

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It almost didn’t feel like a Disney Christmas last year without the Candlelight Processional. This classic experience dates back to 1958 at Disneyland!

The Candlelight Processional runs three times each evening. There is a mass choir and a 50 piece orchestra. A celebrity narrator tells the story of the birth of Jesus.

If you hope to attend the Candlelight Processional this holiday season, you might want to book a Candlelight Processional Dining Package. That will guarantee you a seat. It must be the Candlelight Processional Dining Package that you book, only dining at a participating restaurant will not get you a voucher.

The Candlelight Processional is part of the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, but is a tradition in its own right. The Festival of the Holidays runs from November 26 through December 30. The rest of the holiday activities here are already underway.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.