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How to Enjoy the Holidays at Disney Without a Party Ticket

How to Enjoy the Holidays at Disney Without a Party Ticket

Disney is hosting TWO holiday parties this year. For whatever reason, you may find yourself not wanting to attend either Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party OR Jollywood Nights. That’s ok! There is plenty of holiday cheer to be had at Disney World without a party ticket!

Enjoy the decorations and festivities during the day

Credit: KtP

The decorations don’t magically appear for the events. No, they are out for the entire season! All four parks have big beautiful trees to start.

Magic Kingdom is beautifully decorated with wreaths along Main Street and garland hanging from buildings. You’ll find toy soldiers in Town Square as well. During the week of Christmas, you can also see the parade and fireworks show during normal operating hours.

Credit: Susan

Hollywood Studios may just be my favorite park during the holidays! I love all of the vintage decor around the park and tinsel stars on Sunset Boulevard. Toy Story Land looks incredible – especially at night!

Epcot hosts Festival of the Holidays which does not require a separate ticket. You can meet Santa, eat all the holiday treats, and enjoy an incredible retelling of the nativity story. Not to mention the Holiday Storytellers share the customs and traditions of each country.

Credit: Monica

Animal Kingdom may not celebrate the holidays as much as the other parks, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get in the holiday spirit! The decor is so unique here. I really love the natural materials used for wreaths and such. And, Dinoland has some new funky decor this year!

The Merry Menagerie is a must-do for a visit to Animal Kingdom during the holidays! These large puppets are so cute, and we love interacting with them. You can find them near Island Mercantile and the Tree of Life.

Book a character meal at Hollywood and Vine

Credit: Monica

If you are going to book one holiday meal, make it Hollywood and Vine. During lunch and dinner, you’ll see Mickey and his friends in their holiday best. It’s the only character meal on property that changes outfits for the holidays.

Buffet offerings include oven-roasted turkey and chicken, pork and beef, and all the sides you could want. It’s the perfect comfort-food holiday meal, and because it’s a buffet, there is something for everyone.

For more meals you should consider booking for the holidays, check out this post.

Head to Disney Springs

Credit: Maggie

Disney Springs actually has a lot going on during the holidays. Not only do you not need a party ticket, but you also don’t need a park ticket!

The Christmas Tree Stroll is back this year. All throughout the shopping and dining complex, you will find themed trees. Make sure you grab the complimentary map to help you find all 19 trees! Use the correct stickers once you locate each tree and turn it in to receive a prize. Map distribution and redemption locations include:

  • City Works Eatery & Pour House
  • Crystal Arts by Arribas Brothers
  • Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company
  • The LEGO Store
  • Planet Hollywood
Credit: Maggie

You can meet Santa at Once Upon a Toy as well. A virtual queue will be in place for this experience. This is one of the only places on property where you can meet Santa without entering a park.

Nightly entertainment includes stilt walkers, a rollerblade duo (both roam Town Center), a DJ in the marketplace, and snowfall (near the Town Center tree). Many dining locations also have a special holiday menu. We recommend having breakfast with Santa at Maria and Enzo’s Hideaway. You can read about Maggie’s experience from 2022 HERE.

Do a resort tour around Disney World

Credit: Monica

One of my favorite activities to do during the holiday season does not require any party or park ticket. I love to do a resort tour to check out all the holiday decor at the resorts.

The most famous resort is Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Each year, Disney erects a life-size gingerbread house in the lobby. They also sell treats! Hop on the monorail to check out the Contemporary’s gingerbread display as well. Other displays include:

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Resort
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Credit: Monica

But, the fun does not stop at the deluxe resorts! The moderate and value resorts are decked out, too! While the displays may not be as impressive, there are trees and garland decorated to the theme of the resort. You could make a fun afternoon by checking out 3-4 resorts and grabbing a treat. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Crescent Lake: Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk. All three displays sell treats.
  • Monorail: Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and Contemporary. Both Contemporary and Grand Floridian sell treats, or you could grab a Dole Whip from the Polynesian. Then, take the boat to Wilderness Lodge to look at their beautiful tree.
  • Take the boat to visit Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter (beignets!), Saratoga Springs, and end at Disney Springs.

Participate in your resort’s activities

Credit: Susan

No matter the resort you stay at, there is holiday fun to be had. Check the resort schedule for holiday movies to watch during your visit. Most resorts also have seasonal treats as well. Grab some hot chocolate and a treat then head to the resort lawn for a movie!

A few years ago, the Grand Floridian had a “Letters to Santa” station with elves during the nightly movie. My kids were able to write their letters, and the elves assured them the letters would make it to the North Pole. I’m not sure if other resorts do something similar, but it may be worth asking what fun activities the resort hosts when you arrive.

Pool games and resort activities may also be holiday themed. In short, don’t skip out on what your resort has to offer! There is so much festive fun to be had around property.

Do you participate in any of these activities during the holiday season? Let us know in the comments below. And, share this post with a friend!


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