So, your friend just came back from Disney World and told you how it was the most magical place to be in the whole world for Christmas. You’d like to jump on a plane and be there right now to bask in the balmy holiday season of sunny Florida, but you just can’t make vacation plans in the fall and winter. Is there any way to visit Disney when it’s convenient for you, but still enjoy Christmas while you are there? You bet!
Most Disney fans know that visiting the parks at Christmastime can be one of the most festive and enjoyable vacations that your family can take. What happens if you can’t visit during the holidays, but you still want to feel some holiday cheer while you are in the World? Well, as usual, Disney has you covered, with Christmas-themed experiences that span three of the four parks and a few spots outside of the parks.
The most obvious place to go to feel the Christmas Spirit all year round is one of the four Christmas shops that populate Disney World. Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe is located in Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom, and while it isn’t the biggest Christmas shop on property, it does weave itself into the story of its host land better than any of the others. The Shoppe is actually three separate late 18th century locations that have been combined; they are the home of a music instructor (Ichabod Crane), a woodcarver’s shop (the Woodwrights) and the home of German folk artists (the Kepples – a nod to Walt Disney, whose grandfather’s first name was Kepple). The exterior still maintains the appearance of three separate facades; the stores are connected inside, but have each maintained their respective personalities. This is not only a great place to shop for Christmas souvenirs, but Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe also really helps to tell the story of Liberty Square.
There are two other Christmas shops within the parks that help to tell the stories of their locations. The first is housed in the Germany Pavilion of Epcot’s World Showcase: die Weihnachtsecke. This shop offers many Christmas items, specializing in those that exhibit German craftsmanship. This is also a perfect place to get a pickle ornament, a German Christmas tradition. The other in-park shop is It’s a Wonderful Shop, located in the Streets of America section of Hollywood Studios. Like many spots in this section of the park, it is dressed to appear as though it is being used to film a Christmas movie: decorations are visible, but props and “off-camera” areas are left untouched. These two are small shops, but offer nice, quick doses of holiday cheer.
The biggest Christmas Shop on property is located in Downtown Disney and anchors the Marketplace: Disney’s Days of Christmas. This massive shop houses everything you can think of to hang on a tree, place on a mantle or top an antennae. While the other shops offer better theming, this is definitely the place to go if you are looking for the widest selection. There is also personalization offered on most items. (Tip: Get off the bus at the Marketplace end of Downtown Disney and make this one of your first stops. By the time you are done walking the other shops and are returning to your bus, your personalized items will be ready!)
There are a few other locations to get your year-round Christmas fix during your Disney World vacation. The first is Winter Summerland Miniature Golf, which tells the story of a holiday-themed vacation spot for Santa’s off-duty elves. It’s a little off the beaten path, but Christmas fanatics won’t want to miss it. Two attractions also offer some allusions to Christmas. Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress features four scenes, each set in a different time of year. The final scene, which reeks of the ‘80s, is set during Christmas in the home of the story’s family. A much more subtle reference is made in the final scene of Soarin’, which features a flyover of Anaheim’s Disneyland during Christmastime, made most clear by the Clark Griswold-inspired lighting of it’s a small world in the upper right-corner of the park.
So, don’t be a Grinch if you can’t make it to Florida during the actual Christmas season. Take advantage of these experiences to keep a Disney-themed Christmas with you all through the year!