by Disney Magic Diva
*Note this is a throwback article featuring the events of the 2019 Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, while we hope all the wonderful things will return to Epcot in the future it is uncertain what the 2020 Festival will bring* Holiday Magic returns November 6, 2020*
Most people hear about a festival at Epcot, and think, “Oh, yeah. Food booths.” And while the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays does indeed have some wonderful Holiday Kitchens, (check out what we sampled!) food is not the only thing happening here this holiday season. So, if your stomach or your budget isn’t interested in sampling some outstanding holiday dishes, here’s what else you can do at Epcot during the Festival of the Holidays:
1. Holiday Storytellers
Learn about how the holidays are celebrated around the world from storytellers located throughout World Showcase. You will find times and locations in the Festival Passport, available at the entrance or in merchandise locations throughout the park. You might see Père Noël in France, Father Christmas in United Kingdom, or a mischievous Barn Santa in Norway. Listen to the tale of La Befana in Italy, learn about Daruma dolls in Japan, or hear highlights of Hanukkah celebrations between Morocco and France. There’s so much to discover!
2. Musical Entertainment
Every Epcot Festival offers a wide variety of music, and the Festival of the Holidays is no different. In addition to the Holiday Storytellers, there are numerous venues for musical entertainment. New for 2019 is Chilli Da Mur, a German vocal group that celebrates the season with folk and pop selections. Or enjoy the music of Mariachi Cobre (along with dancers and piñatas!) in Mexico. “Joyful! A Celebration of the Season” celebrates the joy of Christmas and Kwanzaa through uplifting Gospel, R&B and holiday songs at the Showcase Plaza Stage; or you can find Chinese Lion Dancers in a performance that brings good fortune for the Lunar New Year in China. Times and locations for all the musical entertainment is in your Festival Passport.
3. Chip and Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree
Looking for something to entertain the kids? How about a scavenger hunt? Purchase a map and sticker set ($6.99 plus tax) at Pin Central or other merchants, then help Chip and Dale search World Showcase for ornaments for their tree. When you find an ornament, place the appropriate sticker on your map. Return your map and receive a prize for your very own tree!
Diva Tip: If you aren’t able to finish getting all the stickers on your map, you can still redeem the map for your prize!
Okay, I know I said these were things to do besides eating, but what’s the holiday season without a cookie or two? Well, actually, five. When you purchase each of five designated cookies in the Holiday Cookie Stroll throughout World Showcase, be sure to have the back page of your Festival Passport stamped. Collect all five and return your Passport to Holiday Sweets and Treats for a complimentary Santa Mickey Sugar Cookie! The best part is you can complete your Cookie Stroll over several days, so you don’t need to have a sugar meltdown by having all five cookies in one day.
As you’re making your way around World Showcase on your Holiday Cookie Stroll, be sure to watch for Epcot SCROLLS. Located near the entertainment in each country, these Epcot SCROLLS tell the story of traditions in the country. Find them all, and you’ll learn about new traditions your family may want to adopt as well as great tips for new photo spots throughout the park!
6. Green Landing Family Play Zone
If your kids ate all those cookies you collected in the Holiday Cookie Stroll, they may need to burn off some of that sugar high. Head on over to Green Landing Family Play Zone behind Mouse Gear. It’s a great place for parents to relax for a few minutes and let the kids enjoy some imaginative play with Wall•E and Eve.
As evening nears, it may be time to calm down and listen to a glorious retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator, choir, and 50-piece orchestra. With performances at 5:00pm, 6:45pm, and 8:15pm each evening; the Candlelight Processional is one of the most popular events at Festival of the Holidays. The event takes place at American Gardens Theatre. Lines begin to form for entrance to the theatre long before performance time.
There is a dining package available that will guarantee seating for Candlelight Processional. You can choose between breakfast, lunch, or dinner and several Epcot restaurants. Your reservation guarantees you seating at a chosen time for the Candlelight Processional performance as well as your meal. It is 2 table service credits on the Disney Dining Plan.
Guests without a dining package reservation will want to get in the stand-by queue 60-90 minutes before the performance. The lines were incredibly long when we visited the first week of December. Cast members advised us the seating in the theater available for stand-by guests was extremely limited, and not all stand-by guests would be admitted.
If you have an opportunity to see Candlelight Processional, I would highly recommend doing so. The music is very well done, the celebrities are top-notch, the herald trumpets are so festive, and the candlelight sets such a warm, holiday glow. It really is a remarkable performance.
Diva Tip: If you aren’t able to get in the Theatre or don’t have time to wait in line, you may stand in the walkway outside the theatre and enjoy the show. Your view may be somewhat obstructed by the crowd and trees, but you will definitely hear the beautiful music.
8. Living with the Land Merry and Bright Nights
You may have ridden Living with the Land, but have you seen it with holiday lights? Take a tour and enjoy seeing the greenhouse sparkling like never before! It’s a very merry way to see the Land! Check out a partial ride through video on our YouTube channel!
You may have heard about the magnificent gingerbread displays at several of the resorts at Walt Disney World. (Read about our complete resort tour, here.) But did you know there is also a display at Epcot? Inside the American Adventure building, just to the left, is a gingerbread display of the National Mall! It has the Captitol Building, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial and Lincoln Memorial. It’s somewhat of a hidden gem and is rarely crowded. Stop by and take a look!
What’s on your “to-do” list at Epcot International Festival of the Holidays? With all these choices, you may want to have more than one day to visit!
If you’d like help planning your Disney vacation, Patricia at All for Dreams Travel is happy to provide you FREE expert advice! Let her worry about booking all the reservations, and you just worry about how to eat all the cookies!
***Disclaimer – We at Tips from the Disney Divas and Devos hope you enjoy reading our articles and encourage you to share any you feel may be of interest to someone else. We do ask, however, if you choose to share the photographs attached to our articles, you give credit to the photographer. Thank you for your cooperation and sharing our love of Disney!