Disney World announces 2024 holiday parties and ways to save

As you plan your holiday trip to the parks this year, make sure to keep the following events in mind.
Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and friends are donning new outfits exclusively for Disney Jollywood Nights, a new separately ticketed event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Photo: Steven Diaz)
Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and friends are donning new outfits exclusively for Disney Jollywood Nights, a new separately ticketed event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Photo: Steven Diaz)

It’s that time of year again! No, not summer vacation. I’m talking about planning for the holiday season. (Yes, already.) When it comes to planning ahead for the holidays, few are as on top of their game as Walt Disney World. With June coming to a close, we’re already “halfway to the holidays,” which is traditionally the time when Disney World makes a series of announcements regarding the year’s holiday parties and other limited-time seasonal offerings.

This year is no different, with after-hours events, limited-time food and merchandise, and more in the works for guests visiting the parks in November and December. My favorite time to celebrate the holidays at Walt Disney World is in early to mid-November after all of the decorations are up, but before the big holiday crowds arrive. As you plan your holiday trip to the parks this year, make sure to keep the following events in mind.

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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (Photo: Matt Stroshane)
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (Photo: Matt Stroshane)

When does the 2024 holiday season take place at Walt Disney World?

The holidays will kick off at Walt Disney World on November 8, 2024. From there, multiple after-hours parties and seasonal festivals will return throughout the month of November, with everything more or less in “full swing” the week following Thanksgiving.

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The holiday season continues in full force through December 20 as the parties and festivals begin to wrap up. By New Year’s Eve, most of the holiday offerings will have concluded for the year, but you may still see some decor remain up for the first week or so into January.

Two seasonal after hours parties will return in 2024

Some of Walt Disney World’s most popular offerings during the holiday season are the after-hours, separate ticket parties. These events allow attendees to enjoy the theme parks with fewer crowds and tons of exclusive holiday entertainment. Two parties are returning to Walt Disney World this year: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom and Disney Jollywood Nights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is the long-standing after-hours event that will take place in Magic Kingdom on the following evenings from November 8 through December 20:

  • November 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26, 27, and 29 
  • December 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, and 20 

This party includes the fan-favorite Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show, and Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration. Limited-time treats, merchandise, character meet and greets, and more will also be available–all with lower wait times to your favorite attractions.

You may also remember Disney Jollywood Nights, which debuted last year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This year, there are more dates added to the lineup, with Jollywood Nights taking place on the following evenings from November 9 through December 21:

  • November 9, 13, 16, 18, 23, 25, and 30 
  • December 2, 7, 11, 14, 18, and 21 

Jollywood Nights brings glitz and glamour to the holidays through themed entertainment, dining, and more. New to Jollywood Nights this year is an ice skating spectacular featuring international champion skaters. Other returning elements of Jollywood Nights include Jazzy Holidays at The Hollywood Brown Derby, Disney Holidays in Hollywood hosted by Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, and What’s This? Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Sing-Along.

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There are some ultra-rare character meet-and-greets available at Jollywood Nights as well, like Santa Stitch, Santa Duffy, and Phineas and Ferb.

Tickets for both Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Disney Jollywood Nights go on sale on July 2, 2024, for guests staying at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels (including Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels and Shades of Green). Tickets go on sale to all guests on July 10, 2024.

EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays

You can also find plenty of seasonal festivities around Walt Disney World without an after-hours party ticket. During the day, check out the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts, which returns this year from November 29 through December 30. This festival features an array of Holiday Kitchens serving up seasonal small bites and sips, along with the Candlelight Processional, which performs nightly. Storytellers are found throughout the park during the day, telling the stories of the different holidays celebrated that time of year, including Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza.

The best part about the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts is that it is included with the price of admission. While food and beverage items are separate purchases, EPCOT makes its festivals part of the full-day experience for its guests. It is one of my favorite parks to visit during the holidays since nothing is behind a paywall.

More holiday entertainment at Walt Disney World

Other entertainment offerings around Walt Disney World this holiday season will include the return of the fan-favorite Merry Menagerie at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the Frozen Holiday Surprise castle show at Magic Kingdom, and the holiday projection show at the Hollywood Tower Hotel in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While there are more exclusive character meet-and-greets at the after-hours parties, guests may still spot characters in festive outfits in the four parks this time of year.

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Outside of the theme parks, holiday decor is always abundant, seen around Disney Springs in the Christmas Tree Stroll and at select resort hotels with their gorgeous gingerbread houses. Resort hotels traditionally offering gingerbread displays are Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House.

And, of course, Santa Claus himself will be around in all four theme parks, Disney Springs, and the water parks, ready to greet guests and hear all about those wish lists.

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The holidays are festive at Disney World (Photo: Disney)

New ways to save on a Disney World vacation this holiday season

Thinking of booking a holiday trip to Walt Disney World? It can be a pricier time to visit, but there are some new promotions that could help bring the cost down.

Disney announced a new holiday promotion for those looking to book a trip in November or December. Starting June 27, guests can save up to 30% on their resort hotel for stays most nights from November 24 through December 25. Looking to visit a little sooner? There will be additional savings opportunities for stays Sunday through Thursday evenings from October 6 through November 21.

If you’re considering adding the Park Hopper option to your ticket—that is, the ability to “hop” and visit multiple parks in one day—there’s another offer you’ll want to consider. Guests can add the Park Hopper option to their ticket at no extra charge when they upgrade to a Walt Disney Travel Company package that includes a non-discounted four-day or longer date-based ticket. 

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If you think you may want to book a trip, I advise you to do so sooner rather than later. The holidays are among the busiest weeks of the year at Walt Disney World, with many families ready to book their hotel reservations and purchase tickets to those after-hours events. Expect offerings to sell out, fill up, and become unavailable the longer you wait. 

This philosophy holds true after you arrive at Walt Disney World and are on vacation. Be ready with those Genie+ Lightning Lane reservations, especially for newer attractions like Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, TRON Lightcycle/Run, and Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind. While busy, you may find the holidays one of the best times to visit Disney World, as I have found after years of visits. The weather is far more agreeable than in the summer months, and the decor can be absolutely beautiful!

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Carly Neil
Carly Neil is a New England-based writer who specializes in theme parks, local attractions, food and drink, and travel. Her expertise for all things Disney has been featured in numerous industry-leading sites, and over the years she has become a trusted voice in helping first-timers and experts alike plan their Disney vacations. When Carly isn’t planning her own Disney getaway, she can be found catching the latest Broadway play. Visit her website at carlyterzigni.com for more information, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @itscarlyneil for theme park news, other daily musings, and pictures of her pets.