The Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs is back and even better than last year! In addition to 10 new themed trees, you’ll get to feel extra festive with carols and plenty of faux snow. 🤗❄️
Brilliantly, they’ve added a few PhotoPass photographers AND a snack stand. I cannot tell you how tempted I was to buy the hot, buttery popcorn and the cinnamony, glazed almonds and MIX THEM TOGETHER (Please let me know if you do this so I may live vicariously through you). The smells were deliciously intoxicating. Hot cocoa, soda, and beer are also available.
The Christmas Tree Trail is open daily; be sure to check the Disney Springs website for the most up-to-date hours. Right now, it looks like the Trail is open 12:00 PM – 10:00 PM on weekdays and 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM on weekends.
Awesome bonus: experiencing the Trail costs exactly zero dollars. I recommend starting at the entrance near Once Upon a Toy.
Have you visited the Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs yet this season? Leave a comment letting us know which Tree was your favorite!
PS for fellow red lip fans: I’m wearing a combination of Urban Decay 714 and Nars Red Square. 😉
Experiencing the magic of Gluhwein.
I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to start trying treats from the holiday kitchens at Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays (yes, I’m probably gonna slip up and call it Holidays Around the World a time or two!).
Yep – as we move toward All Festivals, All The Time at Epcot (I’m ok with this) Holidays Around the World has grown and officially become Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays. If you’ve never experienced it, imagine a winter holiday-themed Flower & Garden or Food & Wine. If you’ve never experienced either of those, imagine lots of little kiosks with internationally themed and inspired foods and drinks.
These items are at the top of my “must try” list:
Chocolate Peppermint Glazed Croissant Donut
Yukon Holiday Kitchen (Canada)
Ice Wine Flight. ICE WINES. Winessss. Plural. More than one. Yes please. Merry Christmas, Kevin.
Maple Buche de Noel. A kind of maple and gingerbread yule-roll-type thing. I need it. Canada has a special place in my heart; maybe it’s because I spent three years living between Seattle and Vancouver, BC. Maybe it’s because of their delicious foods like nanaimo and poutine. Maybe it’s a little because of Justin Trudeau. I guess we can’t be sure.
Alsace Holiday Kitchen (France)
Spiced Rum Punch Slush. I haven’t yet met an Epcot slush I didn’t enjoy, and this one is delightfully red and contains spiced rum, orange, and cinnamon. It sounds SO endearingly Christmassy, I can practically hear sleigh bells and reindeer hooves. I’m just picturing drinkable holiday cheer. Side note: I wasn’t really even considering trying this (not much of a rum person) until Disney Food Blog tempted me with their photo and review. Now, it’s one of the items I’m MOST excited about.
Hokkaido Holiday Kitchen (Japan)
Cinnamon Mochi Cake: Cinnamon and Coconut Cake. I’m in love with cinnamon this time of year and I always love coconut, so what could go wrong?
Strawberry Nigori Sake Cocktail: Semi-sweet Unfiltered Sake with Puréed Strawberry. I’ve never had Sake because I’m afraid it’ll taste like gasoline, but this sounds so juicy and tempting.
American Holiday Table
Slow-Roasted Turkey with Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, and Cranberry Sauce. All the holiday foods in one boat. I’ll take it.
Chocolate Apple Shake featuring Twinings Winter Spice Herbal Tea and Bols Butterscotch Schnapps. Oh. Em. Goodness. Also available in a nonalcoholic version.
Cocoa Candy Cane: Nestlé Chocolate Delights Hot Cocoa with Peppermint Schnapps. Yuuuuup. Pretty sure this is the kind of thing you’re supposed to leave out for Santa.
Bavaria Holiday Kitchen (Germany area)
So basically, I’m gonna need this entire menu. It offers a bunch of my favorite holiday things: cheese, melted cheese, mulled wine, and cider. My heritage is Bavarian so I feel especially validated in my love for those foods, too.
German Artisan Cheese Plate: German ButterKase with Ham, Mushroom Brie with Pretzel Crostini, and Tillamook Cheddar. Had this last year. Having it again this year. The ButterKase is so creamy (imagine Gouda meets Munster, maybe?) and the Mushroom Brie gives a little something extra to one of my favorite everyday cheeses.
German Artisan Cheese Plate
Cheese Fondue in a Bread Bowl with freshly steamed Baby Vegetables and Marble Potatoes. Also had this last year. It involves melted cheese, so I’m DEFINITELY having it again. You can’t go wrong with melted cheese at any time, but hot, melted cheese on a cold Florida evening, surrounded by evergreens and fairy lights? Heart eyes.
Hard Apple Cider and Hard Blackcurrant cider. Oh yeah. Mmm hmm.
And last but not least, my personal favorite: Glühwein! Imagine red wine mulled with clementine, cinnamon, and every delicious Christmas spice imaginable. HOLIDAY JUICE, if you will. You drink it warm, and it is perfection.
Gluhwein makes me happy.
Tuscan Holiday Kitchen (Italy)
Panettone alla Milanese: Warm Italian Fruit Cake with Vanilla Sauce and Cherry Syrup 😳
(If the words “fruit cake” scare you, Panettone is not very similar to the heavy, sticky thing I bet you’re picturing. The versions I’ve had have been more akin to a light, fluffy raisin bread.)
Norway: Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe
Traditional Holiday Rice Cream. No idea if this is different from the rice cream served at Kringla Bakeri year-round, but I’m kind of hoping for something with apple, cardamom, and raisins – yummm.
The Cookie Nook (Odyssey Center)
Warm Apple Fritter with Cinnamon Ice Cream and Warm Caramel Sauce
Gingersnap Cookie with Cream Cheese Icing and Cranberry Jam
Florida Orange Groves Winery Sparkling Cranberry Wine
Someone please fetch me a paper bag to breathe into.
Las Posadas Holiday Kitchen (Mexico)
Tostada de Tinga: Crispy Corn Tortilla smothered with Black Beans, topped with Chipotle Chicken and garnished with Crema Mexicana, Queso Fresco, Avocado, and Tomatillo Sauce. “Oooohhhhh” is the only commentary I’ve got right now.
Okay, well, now I’m starving. Someone we know will probably be leaving Epcot quite a few dishes fuller bit also several dollars poorer.
Your turn! Are you visiting Epcot during International Festival of the Holidays? What are you most eager to try? Have you experienced any of the dishes I’m longing to get? If so, what did you think?
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You guys, I went to the Magic Kingdom on Christmas Eve. And I lived to tell about it. More on that in a moment, but first:
As promised in my previous post, I have an update on the holiday-related shows, parades and festivities:
Please note: showtimes vary based on the day of the week and are subject to change. Please refer to your printed times guide (available near the park entrance), the My Disney Experience app, or this handy online calendar for exact and up-do-date showtimes. Based on the current schedule, all Christmas shows end on Saturday, December 31.
- Showings of Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire still occur throughout the day (usually starting around 10:00 AM and ending shortly before A Frozen Holiday Wish)
- Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration starts after dark and has several showings each evening
- Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade runs twice per day (12:00 PM and 3:30 PM)
- A Frozen Holiday Wish happens once per evening. Time varies depending on the day of the week, but it’s usually in the 6:15 range – shortly after the last Move it, Shake it parade.
- Wishes has been earlier than usual – 9:00 PM. Once Upon a Time happens at 9:30 PM.
- A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas generally has several showings from late afternoon to evening (last show is generally around 9:30 PM)
- You can see snow during the stage shows, but there’s no snow on Main Street this year.
So yes, back to my Christmas Eve adventure at the Magic Kingdom. I was nervous. I’ve heard horror stories. When I got there around 3:00 PM, though, I was pleasantly surprised! Crowds weren’t bad. My monorail car was near empty. The Villians lots weren’t even filled past Zurg. I spent about half the normal amount of time in line at Starbucks, and then I sat peacefully at a table on the Tomorrowland Terrace and people-watched for a bit. It was nice.
Once the sun set, though, oh dear lawd. People were everywhere. It became difficult to get around. It wasn’t exactly shoulder-to-shoulder, crammed in like sardines, but it was close. Getting from one side of the hub to the other was a stressful endeavor. And sadly, people didn’t seem to be filled with the Christmas spirit. There was lots of rudeness and carelessness – people cramming their way in front of other people for shows, leaving heaps of garbage everywhere, etc. Physically, emotionally, and intellectually draining. Not my favorite environment at all. It was a huge relief to finally get home. Three days later, I still feel tension in my neck and shoulders. Yikes!
In my previous post, I said I wasn’t sure if it was really worth it to attend a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party since you can see most of the shows as part of regular park operations once the parties end for the season. I changed my mind after my Christmas Eve experience. Now, I think if you can, you should absolutely attend a party. Crowds are much more intense once the parties end for the season, and the less-crowded party environment alone is worth the price to me. Plus you get the special music, pretty lighting, enchanting snowfall, and heaps of free cookies.
We finally made it to a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, woohoo! (We = my husband and me.)
Ordinarily, I take the day off so we can get there early (for Halloween parties, anyway – this was my first Christmas party). I wasn’t able to do that this year, though, and some last-minute work stuff kept me in the office longer than planned. Plus… Friday night traffic on I-4.
We finally made it into the park just as A Frozen Holiday Wish was beginning (8:15 PM). I LOVE this little show, but I was starving and had a ferocious headache. You can experience AFHW on non-party nights and I’ve seen it several times this season, so food was the priority. Now, though, I’m actually really sad we missed it. It’s such a perfect kickoff to a magical holiday evening!
We decided to grab dinner at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, which converted to Club Tinsel for the night. You can’t go wrong with a burger, fries, upbeat music, and dancing polar bears, right? Well, Cosmic Ray’s was packed. We waited for about 20 minutes and none of the lines budged. My husband wanted to try Friar’s Nook for Pot Roast Mac and Cheese (mmmm!), but it was closed. We ended up at Pinocchio’s Village Haus (because hanger), which was busy but still much calmer than Cosmic Ray’s.
That night’s party sold out. The park was busy but not intolerable. Cosmic Ray’s and the treat stations were the most crowded bits of the evening.
After dinner, we planned to snag some free hot chocolate and cookies from The Lunching Pad to enjoy while watching A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas. There are multiple free treat stations, and they each have something different! By the time we got to Tomorrowland, treat lines at The Lunching Pad were looooong and we didn’t have enough time to wait before the show started.
A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas was delightful. I saw it last year and loved it; this year was just as charming. Stitch’s little face is just so cute! If you like Mike Wazowski and Buzz Lightyear, they make appearances in this show.
After ATTC, it was time for Holiday Wishes – Celebrate the Spirit of the Season! My favorite viewing spot is the area in front of Casey’s Corner. I don’t remember being especially thrilled with Holiday Wishes last year, but I really enjoyed it this year! The Christmas music and festive colors really helped me get into the spirit.
Next up: pin shopping! We headed to Big Top Souvenirs in Storybook Circus for party pins. I picked Elsa and Stitch. The passholder pin was still in stock, but I wasn’t thrilled with the design – gingerbread people – so I didn’t buy that one.
We were hoping to do the Santa Goofy and Donald Duck & Scrooge McDuck meet and greets. Donald and Scrooge were delightful, but Santa Goofy was on his break and then a looooong line developed. We had to rush to Town Square to catch the parade, which meant skipping Santa Goofy. 🙁
Next, we headed to Town Square to catch Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. I’m always in awe of the performers. I would have to be carried off 100 yards into the parade route, but they dance enthusiastically all the way from Frontierland to Town Square. The floats are intricate and SCENTED (Mr. EC loved the Clarabelle Cow gingerbread, while I favored the sweet piney scent from Kristoff’s float). There are even real horses! But my favorite part? Seeing the reactions of the little girl (3 or so?) sitting next to us. So. Cute. I love seeing people experience the magic of Disney!
Heaps upon heaps of people leave after the last parade (steps off in Frontierland at 11:00 PM). Just keep that in mind if you’re on Main Street or in Town Square!
And finally: Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration. I was not excited for this show. I’m sad to say I almost skipped it!
While we were waiting for the show, my husband dashed over to the Lunching Pad for hot chocolate and peppermint bark cookies. Bless him. Those cookies were delicious and I’m still thinking about them. Imagine chewy chocolate chip cookies with bits of peppermint bark baked in. Sweet, a tiny bit salty, chocolaty, and pepperminty. Oooh yeahhh. They even had that nice cooling quality, but not in a toothpastey way. I could’ve eaten dozens.
Anyway, back to Mickey’s Most Merriest! Thankfully I caved in my steadfast curmudgeon-ness, because it ended up being my top favorite part of the entire evening. The production was aces; it was like watching a mini broadway show on the castle stage. MMM was adorable, funny, heartwarming, and it featured some of THE BEST Christmas songs. My eyes might even have leaked a little. Pluto barks when the doorbell rings, all of the costumes are stunning, and the integration of pop culture elements was a lot of fun. My favorite part of the night, for sure.️
The last showing was at midnight, so as soon as it was over, it was time to go home!
Oftentimes, the shops along Main Street will stay open past closing time. For the Halloween and Christmas parties this year, they were rolling up the sidewalks at midnight! This is so odd to me, as there are still plenty of people around!
I stopped into Starbucks/Main Street Bakery on the way out – yay, still open! – to pick up a Frozen Holiday Wish cupcake, but they were all gone 🙁 The barista informed me that they are delicious and popular, so they sell quickly. I THINK this cupcake is similar to Anna’s Birthday Cupcake from Epcot, so let me know if you get to try it!
In all, I really enjoyed the party. The shows were my favorite part. We didn’t take advantage of the treat stations nearly enough due to our tight schedule. We also didn’t partake in any rides, but that’s something I can do anytime as a local and a pass holder. I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get a chance to do Jingle Cruise, but there’s still time in the season.
So, is it really worth $100 per person to experience a Christmas party? Honestly, I’m undecided. I think it depends on what’s most important to you. Will I go next year? Almost certainly. The shows and parade become part of daily operations after the last party, so if you’re local and don’t mind braving the crowds, you can see them that way. If you’re visiting before then and you can make it work with your budget, go for the party! Personally, I feel like the parties have a festive holiday vibe you don’t really find during standard operations.
Here’s what I would do differently:
- Take the day off. Get there at 4:00. Eat. Avoid stress and being hangry.
- Decide on character meet & greets and integrate the ones I want to experience into my plan.
- Try to visit every treat station. Visit the peppermint bark cookie station twice. 😉
- Spend more time on Main Street enjoying the music, lighting sequences, and snow
- Get a Frozen cupcake early in the evening
- Catch A Frozen Holiday Wish
And here’s what worked really well for us:
- The show schedule we followed (A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas at 9:20 PM, Holiday Wishes at 10:00 PM, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade at 11:00 PM, Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration at 12:00 AM)
- Catching the later Once Upon a Christmastime Parade (11:00 PM) and last Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration (12:00 AM)
Annnnd here’s what I recommend for you!
- Arrive early. Like, 4:00 early. The party and festivities officially start at 7; however, you can get in as early as 4:00. Do it. Get in, eat dinner, grab a times guide, and get your plans in order.
- Pick up a party guide on your way in. This will tell you where the treat stations are, which restaurants are open, which shops feature exclusive merchandise, show descriptions, and show times.
- Not all rides, shops, and dining outlets will be open. Refer to your party guide.
- Party-exclusive merchandise is not available in all shops. Again, refer to your party guide.
- The shows and parade are very much worth watching. Don’t miss them! I tend to favor the later parades and castle show, mainly because the crowds are thinner.
- There’s no Once Upon a Time on party nights.
- Treat stations have different varieties of cookies and beverages.
- If there’s a particular party-exclusive treat you want, get it early in the evening. Sometimes they sell out. 🙁
- If there’s exclusive merchandise you want, aim to attend a party earlier in the season.
- If you have PhotoPass, there are several fun enhanced photo opportunities throughout the park!
If you make it out to a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party this season (there’s one more left!) I hope you have a wonderful time!
If you’re reading this after the parties have ended, the Christmas parade will usually replace the Festival of Fantasy parade during the day. A Frozen Holiday Wish and A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas will usually have a few have showings nightly. I’m not quite sure how Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire and Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration will be scheduled, but I’ll keep you posted!
Annnd if you’re reading this after the holiday season has ended, this info will still be handy to have for next year’s Halloween and Christmas parties!
Please feel free to leave any questions below and I’ll do my best to answer.