The Casual Runner

Christmas Must Dos & Don’ts at Walt Disney World 2016

Christmas at Walt Disney World is currently happening, and we here at Casual Adventurer could not be more excited (as in we may have done four parks in one day just to check it out!  We felt it was necessary to bring back a “Must Dos and Dont’s” article so everyone knows what they can enjoy (and should skip) this winter.  There is so much to do as Walt Disney World this holiday season we enlisted the help of our friends Laura and Jason from Disney Good Eats to help Mike and I explore the must dos, because it is Disney is always more fun with friends!

Check out our hints from the 2015 Christmas Season at Disney World Now!


Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!

This is what I was probably most excited for of all the new holiday events coming to Walt Disney World.  I was very sad that the Osborne Lights would not be returning this year, so it was great to hear that something Christmasy was coming to Hollywood Studios.  


This show was very cute.  The storyline of the show is that the characters from Disney’s Prep and Landing have to find Santa Clause as he has been kidnapped.  This show is projected on the Chinese Theatre and includes laser, lights, and fireworks to add to the show.  They even make it snow in Florida to add to the show.  This shows last night to air will be December 31st, so head there soon!

*Update: Disney recently announced that, to coincide with the release of Rogue One, Both Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam! AND the Star Wars nightly spectacular will be showing on the same nights during December 2016. This is definitely a big gift to park guests and will ensure that Hollywood Boulevard will be packed on show nights!

Magic Kingdom – Jingle Cruise

When we were at Florida in November for the 2016 rundisney Lumiere Challenge we took a night ride on the Jingle Cruise, but were not very impressed as we had to sit in the back of the boat and could barely hear the skipper’s spiel.  This is, however, one of my favorite overlays at Walt Disney World and wanted to give it a second chance.  Mike and I rode it first thing in the morning and had an amazing skipper!  This is always a must do and I love seeing the Jungle decorated for Christmas.


For those of you who are new to Christmas at Disney, this is an overlay to the classic Jungle Cruise ride where new holiday decorations and jokes are added to the already-entertaining experience.

Disney Springs – Drone Light Show

Another new show that premiered at Walt Disney World this year is the Drone Light Show at Disney Springs.  I think it is actually called “Starbright Holidays – An Intel Collaboration,” but everyone is calling it some variation of “that drone show thingy,” so feel free to call it whatever you want. 


It is a short five minute show that plays twice a night over the water at Disney Springs now until January 8th.  It was a very enjoyable show and amazing to think about all the tiny droids programmed to make this.  Hint of advice: try to go on a weeknight.  We went on a Sunday night and it was incredibly crowded at Disney Springs and it was hard to hear the music over the crowd.

Disney Springs – Stitch Holiday Gift Hunt

I was really looking forward to this as I love Remy’s Hide and Squeak Challenge and the Easter Egg hunts at Epcot.  I feel that I did not get to give this the chance it deserved because Disney Springs was incredibly crowded the night we were there.  The best part of this hunt is that it is free compared to the hunts at Epcot.  You can get your map to find Stitch’s Holiday Gifts  at the Welcome Center, Once Upon a Toy, Super Hero Headquarters, or the World of Disney.  


The Stitches are spread very far apart throughout Disney Springs so this is quite a time investment.  We only found one of the Stitch’s and were very disappointed that it was just a cardboard cut out.  This is definitely one thing you can skip if you need to cut something out of your Holiday plans. However, we encourage Disney to build upon this idea in future years as it has a lot of unrealized potential. 

Disney Springs – Christmas Trees

From our Friends at Disney Good Eats: A new feature this holiday season is the Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs!  It is located next to Earl of Sandwich in the old Bus Depot and has an overall feel of a Christmas Tree lot.  There are 15 trees designed in the style of various Disney characters or movies ranging from villains to Frozen to the Muppets.  


While some of these Trees definitely give the appearance of hours of designing and amazing details (particularly The Jungle Book and The Princess and the Frog), others fell short and appeared to be thrown together at the last minute (ahem, Beauty and the Beast and Frozen). We could easily say it’s a 50/50 split of delightful and unimaginative.  If you are planning a trip to Disney Springs anyway, it’s worth a look.  But do not make a special trip for this display.

Epcot – Candlelight Processional

This was my first time attending a candlelight processional as I am not usually at the parks during the month of December.  I had heard how crazy it is to even get into a show and had been warned that you should do a Candlelight Processional dining package to guarantee your seat.  I was worried that we would not get into the show when I saw the line form almost an hour before show time, but we did get in.  


The show was not what I expected.  This is not your typical 20 minute Walt Disney World show. Instead, it is about 50 minutes long, so plan for this to take a chunk up your evening.  The show we featured Anthony Mackie as the guest celebrity narrator (I did not really know who he was before the show started).  I think I would have found the show more enthralling if someone I knew, such as Neil Patrick Harris, was the narrator.  

Editor’s Note: If you do not know who Anthony Mackie is, perhaps you should check out #5 on Casual Runner’s list of the Top 10: Running Scenes in Non-Running Movies of all time – COME ON! 

It is definitely something worth seeing once, but I’m not sure that I would make it a must do every year.  If I do see this again I will plan on going based on someone I want to see.  The singing was very good and I found that to be the most enjoyable part of the show. That being said, Jason and Laura absolutely LOVE this show, so it just depends on your preferences.

Epcot – Holiday Illuminations Tag

I am going to leave this for Mike to tell everyone about because I know that this is his absolute favorite! Go ahead Mike…

Thanks Candace…I LOVE THIS! With Osborne off in Disney retirement, this is my favorite holiday treat at Disney. Illuminations is already my favorite nighttime show at Walt Disney World, and, during the holiday season, after the regular show is a “tag” added on at the end. I cannot describe it without giving away spoilers, so I won’t. I will merely say this: this is an absolute MUST-DO during the holiday season. So come early, grab a good spot along the rail, and don’t be surprised if it brings a smile to your face and a tear to your eye!


Epcot – Food Kiosks

From our Friends at Disney Good Eats: Another Holiday feature at Walt Disney World is the Holidays Around the World food kiosks located around World Showcase!  This is a treat that has been going on for a few years; they just basically recycle some of the Food and Wine Kiosks and give them festive names like “Feast of the Three Kings” and “American Holiday Table.”

Our favorites at Disney Good Eats would be the Gluhwein (hot spiced Wine) and Stollen Fruit Cake from Germany, and the Fondue from Alpine House!  A major miss was the “Crazy Elf” from Joffrey’s Coffee!  It should be called the “Sensible Elf,” since there was no flavor or anything crazy about it.  There is one overall factor that is bittersweet:  all items are full size.  So while at Food & Wine you could do a tasting here and there for $3-$6 each, these are full size servings for $9-$12 each.  Unless you split everything with family and friends, it will be hard to drink and eat the Holiday items around the World in one day.


Walt Disney World Parks – Christmas Trees

Each park has a Christmas Tree unique to its park. Magic Kingdom has a tree that is decorated in a classic Christmas motif, Animal Kingdom’s tree is decorated in a safari theme, Hollywood Studios is decorated to reflect film, and Epcot’s tree is decorated to represent the nations around World Showcase.  All of these trees are magnificent and typically a photopass photographer is available to snap some shots of you in front of them.  Sometimes they even have a magic shot, so don’t forget to ask the photographer! 

Hint: If you do not have a park ticket, you can still visit the trees at Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom as they are located outside of the turnstiles, but the Epcot and Magic Kingdom trees are located inside the parks themselves.


Monorail Resort Crawl

I absolutely loved going around the monorail resort hotels and enjoying the decorations!  I would definitely say this is a must must must do! When we set out to do this we planned a mini monorail crawl and ending at Narcoossee’s to watch Magic Kingdom’s Holiday Wishes.  


We started at the Polynesian Hotel and had some snacks at Captain Cooks.  We then monorailed over to the Grand Floridian where we enjoyed a Pumpkin Spice Martini (deliciously strong) at Narcoossee’s while we watched Holiday Wishes.  

We then headed back inside the Grand Floridian to see the lifesize Gingerbread House and victorian style decorations.  Next we monorailed over to the Contemporary and viewed the Frozen Gingerbread castle and my absolute favorite tree in all of Walt Disney World!


Boardwalk Resort Decorations

In our four parks one day we decided to park at Epcot where we were going to end our night. From Epcot, we walked to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and back to Epcot.  In doing this we were able to look at the decorations along the Boardwalk resorts. We stopped at the Boardwalk Hotel on our first walk to Hollywood Studios. The Boardwalk was probably my least favorite decorated resort of them all.  They had handmade gingerbread houses on display.  Mike tells me that this is a serious downgrade from past decorations at this resort. 

On our way back to Epcot we stopped at Yacht Club and enjoyed their miniature train winter village then hopped over to Beach Club to see the AMAZING gingerbread carousel.  If you have time to walk thru these resorts it is definitely worth your time.


Thanks to our friends at Disney Good Eats for helping us out this week, make sure to follow Disney Good Eats on Instagram and on Twitter!
img_2100We hope you enjoyed the list of our favorites, and remember, ADVENTURE IS OUT THERE!
Check out our hints from the 2015 Christmas Season at Disney World Now!
Check out other installments in our Casual Adventurer Series by clicking here.

Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!

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Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!