What’s more magical than Christmas at Disney World? Christmas around the world, of course! And during Christmastime, Epcot combines the magic of the holidays with the fun of discovering global Christmas traditions.
Is it the same as actually traveling to those countries? No, of course not. So if you can experience the holidays in another culture, you absolutely should. But if your budget is more stateside than worldwide, Epcot is a fun way to experience the cleaned up, enhanced, Disney versions of international Christmas celebrations.
(If you haven’t read my general tips and secrets for visiting Disney World, read this first!)
As with the other parks, Epcot has festive accents everywhere you look, this time with an international flair.
Epcot, which stands for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow,” features 11 countries that you can walk through and experience their food, traditions and culture: Canada, England, France, Morocco, Japan, Italy, Germany, China, Norway, Mexico and the United States.
One of the things I love about the park is that each country has Christmas decor that is traditional to the location, as well as descriptions of how the holidays are celebrated in each place.
When Greg tried to order a beer at Magic Kingdom, he was disappointed to learn that alcohol isn’t served at that park unless you’ve made a dining reservation at select restaurants. At Epcot, however, alcohol is plentiful, and many people (Greg included) enjoy sampling “local” beers in each country.
As far as rides go at Epcot, there aren’t very many, especially for adults. It’s worth visiting Soarin’ Around the World and Frozen Ever After, but that’s really it, and those rides aren’t anything special.
For a full list of Epcot’s rides, click here.
Something to keep in mind when planning your rides, is that Epcot only allows you to select one FastPass from “Tier 1” rides. Tier 1 rides are predictably the most popular rides, and include both Soarin’ Around the World and Frozen Ever After (the two rides I just recommended) as well as Test Track and Epcot Forever. Essentially this means that if you select all three of your FastPasses at Epcot (for more information on the FastPass process, click here) you’ll likely have to choose two rides that you aren’t interested in. Therefore, it seems like a waste to use all three FastPasses at Epcot. My advice, if you have a Park Hopper ticket, is to select three rides in the morning at another park. Then, once you use them, you can travel to Epcot where you’ll have an extra FastPass slot open up that you can then use there. This way you won’t feel like you’re wasting FastPass slots on lame Epcot rides.
To be fair, most people don’t visit Epcot for the rides. The big draw is the ability to eat (and drink!) around the world. My favorite restaurant at Epcot is Chefs de France which has French food that’s so delicious you’ll forget you’re dining inside a theme park.
But don’t just make a reservation at Chefs de France. Make a reservation through the Candlelight Dinner Packages. This will allow you to dine at select Epcot restaurants (including Chefs de France) and be guaranteed seats at the Candlelight Processional, an event that fills up quickly.
Not familiar with the Candlelight Processional? It’s one of the most special Christmas celebrations in all of Disney World. On select evenings over the holidays, a celebrity narrator reads the biblical story of Christmas accompanied by a full orchestra and local and professional choirs. It’s beautiful and, rather than “Disney” magical, focuses on the true magic of Jesus’ birth. It’s a religious celebration of Christmas, and an incredible way to remind yourself of the true meaning behind the holiday. It is absolutely a “must do” at Disney World during Christmastime.
Nighttime is when Epcot is at its best, and it’s worth walking from country to country either before or after the Candlelight Processional.
A day at Epcot ends with a stunning fireworks show called Epcot Forever. I don’t want to give anything away, but I saw some spectacular features during the show that I’d never seen before, and it’s something you can’t miss!
Joyeux Noël, Frohe Weinachten, Buon Natale and Crăciun fericit.
For all of my tips for visiting Disney World, click here.
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