E47 – From Jingle Cruises to Gingerbread Dreams: Discover the Fun of Walt Disney World During the Holidays
In this episode of The Roaming Yeti podcast, you join host Beth Schillaci as she shares her excitement for her upcoming trip to Walt Disney World during the holiday season. Beth discusses the festive atmosphere and magical experiences that await visitors in each park, from the Jingle Cruise in Magic Kingdom to the holiday storytellers in Epcot and the Mary Menagerie in Animal Kingdom. She also highlights the unique decorations and entertainment at the resort hotels and Disney Springs, providing options for experiencing the holiday magic without park admission. Beth’s genuine enthusiasm and insider knowledge make this episode a must-listen for Disney enthusiasts planning a holiday trip to Walt Disney World. So grab your Mickey ears and get ready to be enchanted by the joy and wonder of Disney’s holiday festivities.
Here is a transcript of the podcast. Please remember this was done via AI, so there are typos and mistakes.
Welcome to the roaming Yeti podcast where we share travel stories fold nostalgia, interesting locations and the tales behind those locations. I am your host and head Yeti Beth Schillaci. And if you listened last week, I talked about universal and our planning. So you know, we’re heading tour to Orlando in December. I’m very excited about this. It’s, it’s a, it’s a nice long vacation for us. And while we’ve been to Disney Rome for the holidays, in the past, it’s been a while to get the full holiday experience. That includes all the parks. Looking at you peptide, you’re always The Late Late one. But again, just like last week, again, as I’m going to give you a recap episode, sort of what we did Tips Tricks, what like what worked, what didn’t work afterwards, but I just wanted to do a preview episode just to sort of talk about how Disney celebrates the holidays in the parks, the hotels, and even the rest of the resort. And you know, just to get started getting into the spirit and then I’ll do a recap of what we did again, you know, sort of what what worked what was great what didn’t wasn’t so great. What What have what meltdown we had at what point in time. But you know, let’s start in the parks. Let’s go you know, Walt Disney World holiday version. Let’s start with Magic Kingdom. Now. You know, if you’ve if you’ve listened for a while i i Hit Main Street, I see the castle. Tears doesn’t matter how many times. But honestly, this time of year, holidays is extra special. There’s a huge tree there’s nutcrackers and wooden soldiers. And it’s just it’s so pretty. And it happens from the moment you walk in. There’s Garland’s up on the train station. And it’s just it’s just a really you know, you just get in the spirit and it’s just a really special thing to see decorated. There’s decorations throughout the park, of course theme to each area. And it just again, it just, it adds just another element to it. I it’s my favorite time to be there. I think if you are big into the holidays, and you want to see Disney at its finest, I just feel like I feel like that’s the time. My favorite thing to do in Magic Kingdom and you know, Magic Kingdom. And I have a quite the relationship. I love the Jungle Cruise. So basically what they do is they take the Jungle Cruise and they just put this fun festive transformation to the ride. Everything in the queue, the jungle skippers, they even the their jokes, our theme for the holidays, the riders theme, it’s just it just as another. It’s just so much fun. The queue the little details, just if you’re on the ride, take you won’t mind standing in the ride in that line. I mean, you don’t want to be there forever. But it’s not bad because there’s just so many things to see and how they decorate and the little details and the names they change. So it’s just it’s a really fun overlay. I’m glad they’re doing it. I will definitely be joining one of the cruises and seeing my favorite thing. They’re also a Magic Kingdom this year they actually announced a a new Frozen holiday surprise, a show not a food that is going to be taking place at Cinderella’s castle in the evening. So that’s something new I haven’t haven’t seen it. I don’t really know a lot about that. But I know that was was a new new announcement. I’m heading over to Epcot. Epcot is the last part to decorate because they wait until the end of Food and Wine Festival to do the switch. That’s why I was sort of making fun of it early is they don’t start until November 24. And we typically go sometime in December. I mean in November before Thanksgiving, so we see all the other holiday holiday decorations, but we don’t get to see Epcot usually. So very excited. I know there’s been some changes, some updates, and I’m looking forward to seeing what those are. They have holiday storytellers throughout the countries sharing traditions and stories about Hanukkah, Christmas Kwanzaa, Lunar New Year and more. I just think it’s fun to see the different cultures and things talk about you know the difference Stories and traditions. That’s one of my favorite parts about the countries is talking to the people and finding out different different things about their country. There’s also a candlelight processional, which tells the story of Christmas that takes place in the American Pavilion, and it’s done by a celebrity narrator. There’s a full orchestra and a choir. There’s actually some cast members in the choir, if not the full choir, I’ve totally forgot that and I forgot to look it up. But again, this takes place in the American Pavilion. We watched it one year, meaning that when was the narrator, it’s really special. It’s really cool. You know, like anything with the American Pavilion, if you want to see everything, definitely get your seat. If you just want to hear it and sort of experience it. You can be anywhere within the American Pavilion and really enjoy that and take time in that without standing in the line to sit down. They do have they have quite a lineup this year, just to name a few of the celebrities. SEMO lujo, Seema Leo from Shang chi and Barbie. Are you gonna be there? He’s gonna be there. John Stamos Neil Patrick Harris, Marlee Matlin Brendan Fraser, Jordan Fisher and Broadway. Great Audra McDonald. So yeah, they really have a nice lineup. I’m not 100% sure who’s there while we’re there. But we’ll we’ll definitely check it out. Also in Epcot, right, that gets an overlay, shall we say is living with the land, they they sort of get this holiday makeover with lights on the trees and, and in the tunnel, and it’s just, it’s really cool. It’s fun in the evening, when it’s dark outside. It just adds a new dimension to the ride. It makes the line a little longer. I’m not gonna lie, but it’s totally worth it. And it’s just, it’s a fun, fun, festive way that they make that you know, just sort of their, their overlay. The Food and Wine booths are used again, for the holiday festival for the scavenger hunt. Remember, we did the Remi scavenger hunt for food and wine. It’s an Olaf scavenger hunt. And instead of the cheese stroll, there’s a holiday cookie stroll that you can do at the Food and Wine Fest, or I’m sorry, at the holiday festival. So we will probably be checking one or both of those out. I’ll let you know how that goes. If you’ve done either, if you’ve done the cookie stroll, let me know in on social media, interested in what you thought. And also, I don’t want to get in trouble here with figments biggest fan. She’s not with me on this one. But so I need to bring up the fact that in the past few years on the figment ride near the end of the ride, figment usually has a yellow sweater on. But for the past few years, he has been put in a lot. It’s supposed to be an ugly holiday sweater. It’s adorable on his ride, and we have yet to see it in person. So I’m really Fingers crossed. They put the sweater on him on the ride. And we get to see it. Better yet there’s a meet and greet figment now. And maybe he’ll have the same holiday sweater. I don’t know Fingers crossed. We can hope Animal Kingdom Animal Kingdom is. I don’t know it has one of my favorite trees in the whole resort. So when you walk in, it’s before even you get into the into the gates before you give your passes. It’s just really cool. It has it just the handmade looking ornaments and mask and I believe this year and it’s probably every year there’s Winnie the Pooh characters around it and it’s just I don’t know, it’s it’s a really fun different tree. And it’s it’s cute. It’s it’s very special.
And they’ve really added sort of the seasonal direction decorations really within the past several years. They that was the one part that didn’t really decorate. But they do now and it’s it’s great. My favorite thing there is it’s called the Mary Menagerie. And it’s these amazing puppets of Arctic animals. Penguins, seals, polar bears, I believe reindeer and they’re just so cool to watch and interact with the cast member puppeteers are so talented like you feel like when you pet that the seal like its interaction with you have like a real one. It’s it’s really cool. I’m not doing it justice at all. Even if you see videos of it, you’ll be like okay, yeah, sure. To experience it is It’s just It’s magical. There’s no other word for it, it really is, is a cool experience. And in that same area, it’s sort of in that area, in front of the tree, the tree of life and the shops and up on the shops, they have these really cool luminaries of the animals that light up and they’re just, they’re gorgeous. And they’re just, they’re perfect for animal kingdom. You know, you don’t want to overdo it in that park, especially in that area. And just it’s very classy. It’s very cool. And a lot of fun. And the expats that are now on Pandora, they’ve brought the holidays from Earth with them, and you can find decorations around the, the restaurants. It’s really fun, how they’ve, how they’ve brought the holidays, into an area that wouldn’t normally celebrate holidays, but it’s very cool how they do that. Our favorite, you know, we love our Dinah land, we’re gonna enjoy it. Well, it’s still it’s still there. It gets all decorated and much more of a traditional sort of over the top trees, lights, Santa hats on dinosaurs. So, you know, that’s a really fun area. And that was a great addition as well. And also the Tree of Life has an awakening presentation. That’s like a projection show on the tree each night. Around dusk. There is a holiday edition as of that as well. That you can check out so you know animal kingdom, like I said, Didn’t always used to be they didn’t really decorate. They’ve added it in very respectful and cool ways. And it’s definitely something to see. Now Hollywood studios, I they have these vintage vintage decorations when you walk in, you know through the the Hollywood section, and I just love it though. They have these vintage ones near the entrance. Gertie the dinosaur has a hat and a an ornament. And Toy Story land it is just a really fun, fun park. Again, each area is themed to that area. And it just it makes it different. There is a frozen, the frozen sing along celebration apparently has a fun holiday finale featuring our favorite snowman, Olaf. And there’s also a song called it’s called Sunset season’s greeting. And it’s a really fun festive projection show that takes place on Hollywood Tower Hotel, also known as the Tower of Terror ride. It’s, it’s just it’s fun, it has a lot of the characters that were used to even get a little least we used to, I’m not sure how to find out. Prep and landing makes a little appearance. So it’s, it’s a fun way to use that. That real estate and you know, get a spiked hot chocolate or a regular hot chocolate and and watch that. And that’s in the evening and it and the nice thing is there’s no line necessary people sort of stop and watch it and keep moving. It’s not a big congested area. So definitely check that out. If you’re in the parks for the holidays. Toy Story land is all decked out ham as the sugar cookie is is great. He has a little Santa hat on and you have to just walk take a walk behind the cookie to see who is helping him stay standing. So I’m just gonna leave that at that. There’s two special events, nighttime events that are extra you get to buy tickets for so there’s always been Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom. And there’s a new one called jolly wood nights at Hollywood Studios. And we’ll get to that in a minute but Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is really you know the the Christmas version of not so scary Halloween. There’s rides open their special characters, their special food instead of trick or treating. There’s free cookies and cocoa and other drinks. So a lot of the same things. I know it the seven dwarfs are backed they have the dance parties. It’s a really fun, fun experience. There’s a firework show, there’s a parade, I love that parade. It’s very similar to the one you see Christmas Day from the parks on television. The wooden soldiers are my favorite the noises they make when they go by have their feet on the on the on the blacktop. It’s it’s really cool. It’s a really fun party. Definitely we’ll get you an expense France in the Spirit, and it’s definitely fun. So that’s a great option. Now, we will not be attending Merry Christmas party because we are going to check out the new jolly wood knights. And this is a new event and I’m I’m not sure what to expect, and I’ll talk about some of the things I’ve heard from that first night in a few minutes, but we do know a few of the details. It’s taking place at Hollywood Studios. There’s rides open, there’s characters. I know one of the popular ones that’s there is Phineas and Ferb. So all my old Phineas and Ferb fans there, you can get your picture with them. But this will this party seems to have a little more of a adult twist to it, I think mainly because it is at at Hollywood Studios has a little more sophisticated food and beverage options, including those adult beverages for those of us over 21 There’s celebrations in the courtyard at the Hollywood Tower Hotel, you can eat at the Brown Derby. And there’s a cool sounding holiday holiday Fiesta celebrating Latin holiday traditions along the avenue that the commissaries app. There’s two shows, I know there is a stage show that has I’m Kermit and Miss Piggy, sort of emceeing the show. There’s also a sing along Nightmare Before Christmas as well. It seems people were sort of sort of they telling people sort of to dress up I’m not really sure how that’s all gonna play out. It is still Florida I don’t know if the holiday sweater will work or not. So we’re playing up on by year we’re going to figure that out. Like I said, I’ve heard a little bit of news from opening night it wasn’t 100% positive but I’m I’m still looking forward to experiencing myself this was a first time event it was the first night so I get that there’s logistical issues and and you know, based on the people going maybe they weren’t spreading out to rides and it’ll just be really interesting to experience it. And I will let you know sort of how things are going you can you can count on me for the the honest truth there. But honestly, really you know, we talked about the parks we’ve talked about the special events but you don’t really need Park Admission to see the Disney holiday magic. Go visit one of their resort hotels or or Disney Springs. The hotels are all decorated to whatever their theme of the hotel is. And a lot of them have these giant gingerbread bread displays and the one at Grand Floridian is the biggest most popular one It really is amazing in the past at Boardwalk they had a carousel one it’s they just really do a amazing job and I’m looking forward to to checking them out. Also the hotels all they have their own seasonal food available so you know if you get a little hungry while looking at the director decorations and this might be you know if you’re in the area and you don’t want to do the parks this might be a good time to do like a monorail crawl for snacks or drinks to the three resorts on that monorail contemporary Polynesian and flora Grand Floridian or maybe a skyline or crawl. So yeah, I mean there’s definitely other ways to to get in the spirit, the Disney holiday spirit. Disney Springs in addition to getting your getting some shopping done,
you know it’s another great place to get in the spirit. They have special entertainment through the holiday season. might even see some magical snow while you’re there. And they have something they call the Christmas tree stroll. Which is you can check out all these decorated Christmas trees that are put throughout Disney Springs. If you get a little hungry and a little thirsty while doing your shopping and strolling. I’m going to recommend jock Lindsey’s to you which is a favorite of ours. It’s getting decked out is getting sort of the holiday inspired overlay is well I looked at the menu. The menu looks really cool. Definitely some good food to check out. So you know if you can get a seat in there do that. But I’m sure yeah, we are going to be busy getting into the holiday spirits and all the festivities in addition to our usual activities. I’m I’m really excited. Really hoping the weather cooperates us cooperates with us a little more than it did September. Um, I want some more warmth but not quite that much for sure. So, you know, thanks again for listening. Again, please reach out to me if you have ideas, either things we should cover for the parks or just other topics. I really want roaming Yeti to sort of be our community or our Oasis among the chaos of life. So let me know topics you can reach out on social media or fill out the contact form on my website, the Roman yeti.com. And I do hope these episodes inspire you to get out and roam even in your own neighborhoods. So please subscribe so you don’t miss future episodes. And if you like what we’re doing here, please leave a review and a rating. We’ll talk to you soon and keep roaming.