Thanksgiving in Walt Disney World

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For our family, Walt Disney World has always been a summer vacation destination.  However a few years ago, we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving in Walt Disney World and what a treat it was.  There’s really no other place that we have ever found that celebrates the holidays quite like Disney.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are magical times in Walt Disney World.  The parks are transformed into a winter wonderland.  There are so many events and special parades to celebrate the season and most of it begins in early to mid-November.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Parade begins in November and runs through December on select evenings in the Magic Kingdom.

 Disney’s Hollywood Studios presents the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights beginning on November 9.  It’s a massive display featuring millions of lights and animated displays complete with 3-D effects and a beautiful snowfall.

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom you’ll see Mickey’s Jingle Jungle parade, a fun Christmas parade featuring traditional holiday songs with a special Animal Kingdom twist.

In Epcot you’ll find the Candleight Processional beginning the Friday after Thanksgiving featuring an orchestra, a choir and a guest celebrity narrator presenting the Christmas Story.

In addition to the many unique activities, the weather is mild and if you’re fortunate enough to arrive at the parks a few days before the “official” Thanksgiving school break begins, the crowds can be light.

Make no mistake, Thanksgiving week in Walt Disney World is extremely busy.  The crowds will be huge, but that really shouldn’t stop you from planning a trip at this time.  There are a few tips I can share that helped us manage our time there effectively.

1.  Make advance dinner reservations early.  As soon as you know you’ll be going to Walt Disney World, start looking into which restaurants you want to dine at.  Call (407) WDW-DINE or (407)939-3463 to book your reservation.

2.  Arrive at the parks early in the day.  This strategy worked well for our family.  We arrived at the “rope drop” and left the parks around mid-day, then we returned in the early evening.  I would recommend this for every day except Thanksgiving.  On Thanksgiving Day, since the parks will most likely be very crowded, I would suggest you pick your park and stay there.  Another idea would be to use Thanksgiving day as an “off day” to enjoy Downtown Disney.

3.  Plan time during your stay to visit the beautifully decorated resort hotels which are dressed up with festive decor, gingerbread houses and more.

4.  Have a safety plan if you’re traveling with small children.  Make sure everyone knows what to do and where to go if separated from each other.

Guests in Walt Disney World can experience all this magic and more this season with great holiday pricing.  Visit for details.

*I was not compensated from the Walt Disney Company for this article and all opinions are my own.  Pictures courtesy of WDW Media