The Festival of Holidays at Walt Disney World runs November 29 - December 30, 2019 and here is everything you need to enjoy the festive holiday season! With outdoor kitchens, performances, and holiday traditions galore this is one festival to get you into the holiday spirit. One of our favorite things about this festival is that you don't need an extra ticket to enjoy it! The Festival of Holidays is included with your Epcot admission. Here's our Top 10 tips for Epcot's International Festival of Holidays.
Visit the Holiday Storytellers in the World Showcase Countries
Everyone has a story. And lucky for us, the holiday storytellers of the World Showcase are perfectly themed characters that truly transport you to their time and place. Ready to share their most precious holiday stories. These performances happen through the day, so check the times guide when you arrive. It wouldn't be the holidays at Epcot if you didn't set a little time aside to learn about the other cultures and countries this Holiday Season. You can visit Santa in America, La Bafana in Italy, Helga in Germany and many more.
Tip: Unless you're taking pictures and need the daylight, save time in the evening to listen to the Storytellers, when crowds are lower.
Taste the Treats at the Holiday Kitchens
Holiday foods from around the world? Yes, please. With cookies, cakes, candies and the coziest holiday feasts, the food is a must-do. Each Holiday Kitchen is themed to its respective country and you're sure to find something to try in each country. In America you'll get a Christmas dinner, in Italy you'll get fruitcake, and there's a whole kitchen booth just for cookies. Check out the 2020 menus here.
Tip: Skip the quick service lunch on the day or days you're visiting the festival. With so many foods to try you can build a lunch with foods from the holiday kitchens and save some money too.
Take a Break with Chip and Dale
The Christmas Tree Spree with Chip and Dale game is one of our favorite festival games. This scavenger hunt game involves finding our favorite mischievous chipmunks, hiding in wreaths across the countries. Taking the time away from the food allows you to explore each country, see the decorations and even chat with cast members to get a hint on where Chip and Dale may be hiding. Tip: You can grab your prize and your scavenger hunt game board at the same time. That way you won't have to fight the busy night time crowds in the gift shops just to pick up the prize.
Make Time for the Candlelight Processional
Frankly, the Candlelight Processional lives up to the hype and deserves 40 minutes of your time. A retelling of the Nativity Story, this reading is told by a celebrity speaker and accompanied by a full orchestra and chorus. Held at the America Gardens Theatre, this performance is given a couple times a night, so check the times guide.
Tip: We suggest attending the last performance of the day. Traditionally less crowded, the lines are smaller, and you can be seated closer to the stage. Plus the darkness of the evening really makes the lights inside the theater glow.
Take a Stroll for Epcot Holiday Cookies
Like cookies? Got Milk? Well you can get both at the Cookie Stroll at Epcot. Visit all 5 official cookie stroll locations, collect a stamp in your Cookie Stroll passport at each and head to the Sweets & Treats Holiday Kitchen to receive a FREE Santa Mickey Sugar Cookie.
Tip: The 5 cookies you're on a mission to find add up to 10 dollars, and really is more about the experience than the treats themselves. Our suggestion? Dedicate one family member to be the collector of the cookies so you can "complete the challenge" and get your prize. And instead, spend your cookie money on the more extravagant treats at each holiday kitchen.
International Festival of Holidays Crowds
Crowds at Walt Disney World during the holidays are crazy! Starting the week of Thanksgiving guests can plan to see long lines, frustrated families and delayed transportation. You can take advantage of the free Disney transportation to get you anywhere, but don't plan for it to be "on time". with 10 times more guests than usual buses, monorails and the gondolas fill up fast.
Tip: If you've booked a dessert party, important dining reservation or tour plan to book a Minnie Van or Uber and book it early. Yes, you'll have to pay for transportation, but it is more dependable and will give you peace of mind you can get there on time.
Visit Living with the Land: Merry and Bright Nights
Living with the Land gets all dressed up for the holidays and features twinkle lights in the evening. One of the rides at Epcot with historically lower waits, this boat ride is easy for both kids and adults and a perfect way to get in out of the crowds.
Tip: Make the most of visiting the Land building and plan to stop at Sunshine Seasons for dinner before or after your ride. And if it's late enough you may find the line for Soarin' short too.
Head to America for More Gingerbread
Check out the America Pavilion to see the Washington D.C. Capitol Building and Washington Monument gingerbread display. And if you check the times guide you just may also hear the seasonal tunes of the Voices of Liberty. We love this pavilion during the holidays for that old-fashioned Christmas feeling and it's definitely worth a visit.
Tip: Make America the place you stop to grab your Christmas Dinner. Complete with turkey, stuffing, and pecan pie, the American Holiday Table booth pulls out all the stops for festive holiday foods.
Meet Belle in her Enchanted Christmas Dress
This is the only time of year you can head to France to meet Belle in her classic red velvet gown getting ready for the holidays. the Disney Princesses love it when you dress to match too. So whether you’re Disney bounding or dressing your little one in a similar gown, make the most of your visit with Belle.
Tip: You don't need a FastPass for Belle but being near France at opening is easy when you grab breakfast at Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie ahead of time. This will help you be close to the line at rope drop.
Dress for the Florida Weather
You may not believe it but Florida in the winter gets chilly at night. So bring a lap blanket or a hoodie if you plan to stay for the evening shows. And plan for a cup of hot cocoa or two.
Tip: Use the gift shops to get in out of the cold. This will give you time to browse the holiday merchandise and warm up before your next holiday storyteller or show.
The Festival of Holidays offers so many holiday things to do and so many memories, you and your family are sure to want to make this a holiday tradition. If visiting Walt Disney World specifically for the festival consider staying at the Boardwalk Inn or The Beach Club. Both have walking access to the Epcot International Gateway Entrance and offer a great way to make the most of the festival by avoiding transportation chaos and being able to take breaks throughout the day at leisure. Hopefully these 10 tips can help you maximize your festival time this year. From all of us to all of you we hope you have the very best holiday at Epcot this year.