I’ve been several places that I’d dub a must-visit during the holiday season, from Stowe, Vermont; to Quebec City, Canada; and of course my hometown, New York City. But why spend your holiday season in one place, when you can immerse yourself in the holiday culture of eleven different countries at Epcot’s World Showcase, in Orlando, Florida?
The Magic Kingdom is known as the go-to park for Disney holiday celebrations, and for good reason, which you can read about here. But Epcot gives off an entirely different, though no less festive vibe.
Holiday Storytellers from Around the Globe
From Thanksgiving to the end of December, Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays becomes even more immersive, with holiday storytellers detailing the holiday traditions of all eleven Epcot pavilions. Guests can hear the story of Epiphany in Italy from La Benafa, otherwise known as the Holiday Witch; meet Father Christmas in the United Kingdom courtyard, learn more about Kwanza and Hanukkah in America, and many others. Some traditions are very recognizable or similar to traditions you may already take part in, but you always end up leaving feeling more informed and interested in foreign holiday customs than you may have been before.
The Holiday Kitchens
Similar to the Food & Wine Festival, the Holiday Kitchens provide guests the opportunity to try some popular holiday treats from various regions, as well as some familiar snacks. This year’s Holiday Kitchens included:
- The Alsache Holiday Kitchen
- The American Holiday Table
- The Bavarian Holiday Kitchen
- The Cookie Nook
- Feast of the Three Kings
- The Hokkaido Holiday Kitchen
- Holiday Sweets and Treats
- Las Posadas Holiday Kitchen
- The Shanghai Holiday Kitchen
- The Tuscany Holiday Kitchen
- The Tarabaki Holiday Kitchen
- The Yukon Holiday Kitchen
While I wish I could’ve tried every dish from each Kitchen, there were some I just had to repeat during my stay. (More on these amazing bites here.)
The Candlelight Processional
The Candlelight Processional has always been ridiculously popular, and it’s not rare to see guests lining up two hours before the show just to potentially grab a seat. It’s highly recommended to grab a dining package which includes access to the show; plus you might end up having an amazing festive meal somewhere like Biergarten, and there is nothing like a couple of pints to prepare you to sit in 40 degree weather, huddled together with you family for an hour. It was, and often can be very cold during the show. However, I will say that it is very, very worth it. Whether you’re there to hear the story of Jesus, or just to awe at the amazing harmonies sung by the Disney chorus (made up of local choirs and select Disney World employees), this show definitely brings some magic back into the season.
The Illuminations Conclusion
Unlike Magic Kingdom, which has an entire nighttime show dedicated to the Christmas season, Epcot instead kept their own night show, Illuminations, as is while adding on a heart-warming ending during the finale. It’s really touching to watch each country pavilion light up, followed by “Let there be Peace on Earth” playing. The show ends with a sentiment that we should all remember, not only during the holiday season, but all year ’round – “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
Festive Photo Ops
The holiday season at Disney World is the best time to snap next year’s holiday card photo, and if you paid for Disney’s Memory Maker as part of your vacation package, which allows unlimited photos by Disney photographers at every park, then it wouldn’t be right to not make the most of every photo opportunity. The entrance to Epcot, as well as the stretch between Epcot’s Future World and Epcot’s World Showcase, are lined with photographers waiting to snap your next family photo. But be sure you grab a times guide on your way into the park, so you don’t miss photo ops with some holiday-ready characters, such as Belle in her stunning Christmas gown.
Unique and Beautiful Holiday Decorations
This goes hand in hand with those festive photo ops that I mentioned above; but the way Disney is able to tweak their already detailed designs into one that’s perfect for the holidays deserves recognition. I absolutely loved strolling down the back alleys of the France pavilion, which reminded me of Quebec during the holidays, and the done-up shop windows that blended perfectly with the countries they were portraying. Even Biergarten, which is already delicious, is a little more fun when you get to enjoy German music on a stage decked out in tinsel.
Would you visit Epcot during the Festival of the Holidays?
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