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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Guthrie

Top 9 Things to do on a Holiday Date at Disney

If you can get away to Walt Disney World (WDW) during the holiday season, you’re in for a real festive treat. Bringing your sweetheart along makes it that much sweeter.

We like to plan a date weekend to WDW during the holidays when each park, resort and Disney Springs is decked out with holiday cheer. The decorations, music, food and things you can do make for a great couples’ weekend. From holiday themed dining and snacks to pictures with Santa, festive trees and Festival of the Holidays; you’ll be sure to bring the spirit of the holiday season home as we do each year.

Before even arriving in WDW, the airports greet you with festive decorations, getting your Disney trip prepped into holiday mode. My husband is a Delta Skyclub Member and each club at the Delta airports have their own version of cheer. We flew from direct from DTW (Detroit Metro) to MCO (Orlando International). Who do you think decorated their Delta Sky Club best? Detroit with the gingerbread scene or Orlando with the elf on the plane scene?

We thought Orlando was super cute and creative but we’ve gotta give it to Detroit ‘cause it’s our home state and the state of Mickeyganders!

Obviously we had fun the entire trip, even making the most of our time at the airport. The trick to a successful time at Disney, or anywhere you travel, anytime you go, is to go with the flow and to not feel pressured into having to do everything or have everything go perfectly planned. As Elsa would say; “Let it go! Let it go!!!”

This picture of me (below)… is me being stuck under a pavilion in a downpour (August 2021) without my rain poncho waiting for the rain to subside. Letting my plans go and going with the flow is something I learned early on with my many trips to Disney.

Hiding from a downpour at the Boardwalk

We don’t try and do everything Disney has to offer for the holidays on a weekend trip. We choose a few different things to do and plan the ones we couldn’t get to for the coming year or our next trip. Being DVC (Disney Vacation Club) Members means we don’t feel stressed out to fit everything into a weekend trip or week long trip with the grandkids.

During the holiday season, you can bet Disney World is pretty packed with high crowds and you can bet they’re pretty decked out from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve with plenty of festive holiday fun. This year, in 2021, WDW had 50th decorations and holiday decorations so it didn’t seem as holiday festive as years past.

See our picture below where 50th decorations are in place of holiday decorations that are normally in place at the Magic Kingdom. I’m not mad about it. I turned 50 three days before Disney World so I’m happy to celebrate 50 years with Disney and the BIG five-o everywhere.

Christmas 2021 taken in the middle of December

Even without as much Christmas decorations this year, holiday cheer will surround you and put you into the festive spirit if you let it. We try and put on our most spirited selfs and transcend that to the hard working cast members.

With all the rides, parks, and added festivities for the holidays going on, it can be sensory overload! We plan ahead and narrow down our top must do rides and things to do during our trip. Here are our Top 9 Things To Do on a Disney World Holiday Date Weekend Trip between Thanksgiving and New Years:

1. Take part in Epcot International Festival of the Holidays: Savor seasonal favorites from around the globe at special kiosks in World Showcase. Each Epcot festival sees flavor menu changes inviting your foodie senses to want to dig in. These are small, shareable plates with small price tags giving you a great opportunity to taste seasonal favorites from around the globe at Epcot.

2. Do the Cookie Stroll!! My personal favorite. Yum!! Or yuck depending on what you get and I am pretty much in love with trying different desserts so I’m game on with the Cookie Stroll. I like to think of it as a ‘taste testing date’. We don’t necessarily eat every bite of each cookie. If we don’t like it, we don’t finish it. I’m not about to force something down my throat I don’t like and is not worth the calories.

Start off the Cookie Stroll by getting a Festival Passport (free) and journey through the World Showcase on the search for tasty treats! There are 5 official Holiday Cookie Stop locations––each one offering a different decadent dessert! As you tour World Showcase, stop and purchase each treat along the way, and commemorate the visit with a stamp in your Festival Passport. Once you’ve collected all 5 stamps, you can present your Festival Passport at Holiday Sweets & Treats to receive a specialty cookie!

3. Find Olaf!!! He’s one of my favorite characters and I love searching for him and have discovered sections of Epcot I never noticed before doing this scavenger hunt. Go on a quest finding the many locations he’s hidden but first, purchase your scavenger hunt map and stickers to get started. You use the stickers on your map, marking the tradition that Olaf has found in each Pavilion. Once you complete the expedition, redeem your map for a gift. This is fun for all ages and I see people doing this all the time. If you‘re struggling to find him, cast members are happy to give you some clues. Here is one place we spotted him below on top of the L’Chaim kiosk. Isn’t he cute?!

4. Listen to Storytelling throughout Epcot. Stop standing in line for a ride and instead, stand near one of the small performance stages and enjoy one of the many holiday tradition storytelling’s from Father Christmas to Hanukkah and many more. You’ll be glad you did but come 10 minutes or so early to the stage so you can get a good viewing spot. Except for the Canadian stage, a main theater stage at Epcot, all of the other stages are close to ground level.

5. Listen to the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs. These performances are in the Canadian section of World Showcase up on a larger stage set year round with seating and a dance area for people. As part of Festival of the Holidays, the performers explore holiday customs from the various regions of Canada on a musical tour of the Great White North with the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs. This joyous experience has always been one of my favorites. You can eat your cookies while enjoying the show.

6. Do the Christmas Tree Stroll at Disney Springs. This is one of my favorite things to do during the Festival of the Holidays and we love doing this on our last day before heading to the airport after we’ve checked out of our resort. Scattered throughout Disney Springs, you’ll find Disney themed trees. Each year they’re a little different and we love to see what they come up with. It also gives us inspiration for when we go back home to decorate our trees. We actually did a Star Wars themed tree this year with the grandkids. You can purchase a passport for this activity too but we’ve only walked around snapping shots of the trees. Next time.

Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll

7. Enjoy time away from the parks and Resort Hop! Each resort is decked out in a spirited resort style holiday theme. It’s fun to see what they come up and visit the different resorts. Make a dining reservation at one or two of them and check out the resort while you’re there. The two best ones to check out are the Grand Floridian and Wilderness Lodge. On this trip, we stayed at Old Key West (OKW) and checked out their decoration. Their tree is way smaller than Wilderness Lodge! I highly recommend hopping over to Wilderness and Grand Floridian during the holidays. You’ll be glad you did. Which resort is your favorite during the holidays? Comment below.

Old Key West Lobby Tree 2021

Lifesize Gingerbread House at Grand Floridian 2019

8. Visit Magic Kingdom of course! You can’t go to Disney World during the holidays without going to Magic Kingdom! Is it busy? Yes! Are there large crowds? Yes! Is it still magical? Yes! Yes! Yes!

Magic Kingdom Christmas Tree 2021

There is something magical about entering the Magic Kingdom and seeing that huge tree and walking on main street all decked out for the holidays. We try and do at least three rides, a sit down restaurant, a festive food item and fireworks. This year we shared a 50th Anniversary treat, had a magical view of the fireworks, tried a new adventure and and we both felt so blessed to be together at Magic Kingdom we both literally got tears in our eyes during the fireworks. It was magical.

Magic Kingdom Castle 50th Celebration

9. Do Some Shopping. I’m not talking shop til you drop. I’m talking check out the latest commemorative items. Of course we like to check out some of the merchandise during each visit. We check the merchandise at our resort gift shop and the parks. It’s not our top priority by any stretch of the means, but we do like to check things out if we have the time and the patience. Disney stores get pretty packed so we don’t linger too long. We like to peek in the stores and see if there is an ornament to commemorate our trip, a gift for someone special or maybe a new pair of ears! How are these things so addictive to buying and wearing?!?! I don’t actually know but they are! Check out my new ears below!

Cheers to new festive ears!

Those are our Top 9 Things to do on a Holiday Date at Disney. These are easy to do snd stress free. We also fit in a couple of our favorite rides while we’re at the parks and enjoy seeing certain ones decked out for the holidays.

What are your favorite things to do during the holidays on a date? Comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

Deborah is a Disney aficionado who travels from her home in Michigan on weekend trips to Disney several times a year. She helps families, couples and solo travelers plan weekend trips to Disney and other U.S. destinations.

Follow Deborah on Instagram. All pics are copyrighted and her own.

Follow Deborah’s Mickeygander adventures on social media and subscribe to her blogs.

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