December Feature: Disney Magic During the Holidays

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FashionEarsta celebrates December Disney magic with some of our favorite holiday festivities at Disney World and at home!

How is it already December, FashionEarstas? Thanksgiving has flown the coop and there are just a few hectic weeks between now and the start of 2022! With all the holiday shopping, travel, and (ugh) cleaning still on our December to-do list, we want to make sure to take the time to enjoy some Disney magic! So, whether you’re celebrating the holidays in the parks or at home, here are some FashionEarsta tips and tricks to make the most of this magical time of year!

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks

There’s no place that gets into the holiday spirit better (or earlier) than Walt Disney World! After last year’s abbreviated festivities, we were excited to see more of our favorite holiday traditions (and some new ones) returning to the parks this year. From the Gingerbread Creations at the Grand Floridian and Beach Club resorts to “snoop” falling on Main Street, the Fancy Floridian has experienced it all this holiday season.

Here are some of our stories from Epcot and the Magic Kingdom this holiday season, plus FashionEarsta’s pro tips for making the most of the holiday Disney magic in the parks this December!

Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays

The Fancy Floridian and family were lucky enough to attend the very first day of Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays this November, and we are excited to report that the holiday spirit is back BIG TIME this year! After last year’s pared-back festivities, Disney World is pulling out all the stops for their food-and-beverage-centric international celebration of the season!

A Few of our Favorite Things

First things first: The entertainers have returned to Disney World! Epcot was positively packed with festive performers new and old alike! The kids’ favorite was JOYFUL!, a high-energy choir that performed Christmas and Kwanzaa music on the World Showcase stage right behind the Christmas tree!

Pro tip: while you’re watching JOYFUL! perform, jump in line to take your photo with the giant Christmas tree! The Photopass line starts right at the back of the World Showcase stage area, and this is the best spot to get the whole tree in frame.

Here are the other festival entertainers (in addition to Epcot’s year-round acts like the Japanese drummers and Italian clown)!

JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season – Showcase Plaza Stage

Las Posadas Celebration – Mexico Pavilion

A Mischievous Barn Santa – Norway Pavilion

Chinese Lion Dance – China Pavilion

La Befana – Italy Pavilion

Santa Claus – The American Adventure Pavilion

Daruma Storyteller – Japan Pavilion

Hanukkah Storyteller – Between Morocco and France Pavilions

Père Noël – France Pavilion

Father Christmas – United Kingdom Pavilion

Canadian Holiday Voyageurs – Canada Pavilion

My favorite performance was by the Hanukkah Storyteller next to the L’Chaim booth! His music, singing and storytelling were immersive and got the whole crowd clapping along to “Hava Nagila!”

Another favorite element of the Festival of the Holidays: the fashion! Park guests were going all out with their holiday outfits during our visit, and it was one of the first times I’ve felt underdressed at the parks! In fact, a lot of families seemed to be using the gorgeous decorations, especially the Christmas Tree, as backdrops for their holiday cards (why not take advantage of that PhotoPass service?)

Heading to the festival? Have the best-dressed family for your photos with these outfit pieces! They come in adult and youth sizes so your whole crew can coordinate!

Another new favorite thing: the new Holiday Light Show projected onto Spaceship Earth! This limited-time show is alternating with the 50th Anniversary “Beacons of Magic” projection show that we have been loving since it debuted on October 1st.

Imagineer Zach Riddley shared the meaning of this spectacular new experience on his Instagram:

We spent an extra 30 minutes leaving Epcot because we couldn’t tear our eyes away from Spaceship Earth! That’s the sign of true holiday magic!

One Festival Flop

Ok, we were really excited to do the Holiday Cookie Stroll this year during the Festival of the Holidays. If you haven’t experienced this yet, the basic premise is that you buy 5 cookies at various booths, get a stamp in your festival passport for each purchase, and can then redeem your stamped passport for a free cookie. It’s a fun way to get the whole family excited about eating around the world, and we were super excited about the gorgeous 50th Anniversary cookies that are this year’s “redemption cookie.”

Sadly, our family didn’t particularly like any of the 5 cookies that were a part of the stroll this year. The most popular with the kids was probably the Chocolate Crinkle Cookie at the American Pavilion, but that’s probably because of the Dove Chocolate square plopped on top of it that they picked off and fought over. The Linzer cookie didn’t even get finished, and I ended up spending a lot more on other food at the booths because the kids were cranky from waiting in the long lines (that’s how Disney gets your money, I suppose)!

This year’s “Redemption Cookie”

The ornament-shaped 50th Anniversary “Redemption Cookie” that we earned at the end of the stroll was gorgeous, but definitely a pretty generic cookie. Also you could just buy the cookie from the Holiday Sweets and Treats booth for $3, which makes the $12.50 you spend on the cookie stroll seem a little redundant if all you want is the ornament cookie. We did love the free chocolate soft serve that we received at the redemption window, though!

Pro tip: if you want an interactive trip around the world, buy Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt ($9.99) instead. Looking for Olaf around every country’s pavilion was much more fun for the kids and didn’t involve standing in long lines for extra sugar that nobody really wanted.

Disney Very Merriest After Hours at the Magic Kingdom Park

Walt Disney World’s other big holiday event is the Disney Very Merriest After Hours ticketed event at the Magic Kingdom Park. Unlike the Epcot Festival of the Holidays, this is an add-on experience that is not included with your park ticket or annual pass, so these extra special holiday events come with an extra special price tag (tickets start at $209 per person and go up to $229, with many dates sold out).

The Fancy Floridian attended the “Very Rainiest” Very Merriest After Hours event in November and so didn’t get the full magical experience. But since she also didn’t get a refund, we figured we’d still share our experience with you!

Of course, we completely understand that Disney (contrary to what some might believe) can’t control the weather. And even the holidays can’t stop the Florida rain! Everyone’s #1 priority should be cast member safety, so it’s understandable that Disney cancelled the “Mickey & Minnie’s Very Merry Memories” Stage Show and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. The Rainy Day Christmas Cavalcade did still march down Main Street twice, so the kids did get to spot Santa and Mickey Mouse.

Plus there were still fireworks! Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks were adorable, even in the rain.

Hilariously, my favorite special entertainment of the night ended up being Club Tinsel Dance Party, which Disney describes like this: 

Club Tinsel in Tomorrowland becomes the coolest place to get down when denizens of the North Pole drop by for the cheeriest dance party in the whole Magic Kingdom park!

The high-energy MC on the Tomorrowland stage was blasting Millennial-favorite songs like Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” with Santa Stitch. And since we ended up spending most of our night just riding the Peoplemover over and over, we had fun grooving to the beat at Club Tinsel.

Santa Stitch at Club Tinsel. Photo: WDW News Today

The one thing that I did take full advantage of during the After Hours event was the complimentary ice cream novelties, popcorn, bottled drinks, hot cocoa and snickerdoodle cookies. At $229, I was grabbing as many of the included “snacks” as physically possible. The cast members were all for this: one adorable CM put at least 20 packaged snickerdoodle cookies in my bag and the CMs managing the long lines at popcorn stalls would just hand you a Mickey Ice Cream Bar to eat while you waited. Of course, 4 of the stands managed to run out of bottled water before the end of the party, but I did take home plenty of Coca Cola products.

Photo: wdwinfo

Overall, it was still a fun family event, but just be forewarned that Disney won’t give rainy day refunds (and will only offer a free ticket to a future party if the parades and fireworks are cancelled due to weather). For the money, I’d recommend splurging on holiday treats at the Festival of the Holidays instead of rolling the dice on the After Hours event. But do whatever jingles your bells!

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Disney Holiday Magic at Home

Like many of you, we are THAT family. We long to be at Walt Disney World for the holidays but if we are not able to be in the most magical place on earth, we do our best to bring the magic to our home.

So we are the family that dresses in matching Disney pajamas, wraps presents in Disney wrapping paper and opens the Disney-wrapped gift under a tree full of Disney themed Christmas ornaments! Even my teenage daughter is obsessed with collecting Disney ornaments. And we’ve added a few brilliant ones to the tree this year! We were able to get one of the 50th Anniversary ornaments from shopDisney but we also shopped with some cast members that had started side businesses to supplement their income through the pandemic. We loved our Daisy handmade ornament so much that we ordered a Belle one too!

But, we also try to combine our love for Disney with the older decorations handed down by family members. It makes for a memorable mix of family heirlooms and Disney magic!

Decorate with Disney Magic

shopDisney has some wonderful holiday decorations to brighten up your home. But take your time selecting which pieces to add to your home. Choose ones that will last years and maybe even be passed down to your kids. That way the magic lasts generations. Some of our favorites are a classic train set a beautiful wreath that works with almost every design style.

What is Your Level of Cozy?

Are you the family that dresses up for Christmas or the family that stays in the pajamas all day? Our family is definitely the latter! Each year, we all choose matching Disney pajamas to get cozy and comfortable for a day spent inside with family. If you are the family that is one step up from pajamas, there are a ton of sweatshirts, joggers, and lounge pants to celebrate the spirit! If you haven’t decided on your attire this year, check out these fun styles:

Let’s Eat!

One way to incorporate Disney magic into your home is to cook up a little Disney recipe. Our family loves to dive into Mickey waffles on Christmas morning. Some of us mix in chocolate chips and others choose to smother the waffles in maple syrup! There is really no better way to bring home a piece of the Disney Parks magic than with a Micky waffle! It always gets us reminiscing of our Disney vacations.

A fun tradition to start with your family is to cook up a new food inspired by the Disney Parks each holiday. That way you can try recipes inspired by your favorite restaurants or snacks at Disney. And, we all know that Disney Snacks are their own food group! Or, if incorporating a new drink is a festive way to celebrate Christmas dinner, check out this Unofficial Disney Parks Drink Recipe Book and re-create your favorite Drinks at Disney.

Family Night In at Christmas

Our family always ends Christmas with a game and movie night. We grab our favorite Disney game and battle it out to see who will be the Christmas winner and score an extra candy cane! This year, we are looking forward to trying the new Nightmare Before Christmas Yahtzee game.

And, after game night, we finish our Christmas magic with a few of our favorite Disney movies or stream a new classic on Disney +. Before you know it, we are falling asleep in the same Disney pajamas we started the day in! Fortunately, it’s the holidays and laundry is not on our magical to-do list!

If you are looking for ways to decorate your home with some Disney magic, check out FashionEarsta’s Guide to EVEN MORE Disney Holiday Decorations!

EVEN MORE Disney Holiday Decorations!

Let us know what your holiday plans look like in 2021! What are some of your Disney Christmas traditions? Let us know here, on Instagram and Facebook (@fashionearsta) and our brand new YouTube channel! Be sure to follow us so that you’re always in the loop and can follow along with our adventures!

Pixie dust and glamour!

The Fancy Floridian and Belle of the Ball

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