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How to Celebrate the Holidays in Walt Disney World without a Holiday Party Ticket!

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Jollywood Nights are amazing enhancements to a vacation at Walt Disney World during the holiday season, but those tickets can be rather difficult to get your hands on if you’re planning a last-minute vacation. If you’re on a budget or planning a spontaneous trip, we have some good news for you! You can still enjoy the holiday season in the parks without attending a sold-out party.

It isn’t the holiday season without the big man himself. While he does have a meet-and-greet during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in Magic Kingdom, there are other ways to meet and see Santa Claus that don’t require a party ticket! While he is guaranteed to be at all of the Christmas Parties, he also makes appearances in Magic Kingdom most days in Liberty Square from 10 AM to 5 PM. In EPCOT, Santa greets guests and takes photos in his sleigh inside the Odyssey Pavilion. This meet-and-greet operates using a traditional stand-by queue inside the Pavilion, with a Photopass photographer on site—making it the perfect spot for Christmas card photos. In Hollywood Studios, Santa greets guests in the “It’s a Wonderful Christmas Shop” located near Muppet*Vision 3D. To meet Santa, guests need to approach the cast member standing at the podium, provide their phone number, and receive a text confirming their spot on the virtual list. Another text will notify them when it's their turn to meet Santa, with a one-hour window to return to It’s a Wonderful Christmas Shop. While Santa may not pose for photos in every park, you can spot him in Animal Kingdom, where he floats by in a floatilla on Discovery River. Pay close attention and listen for the music to shift to Christmas tunes—that signals Santa's arrival! Great spots to watch for Santa include Nomad Lounge if you want to relax and enjoy a bite or drink, or hanging out in Asia by Expedition Everest.

The newest stage show in Magic Kingdom is a huge hit. Although it's listed in the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party pamphlet as an 8:15 show, here's some good news! Every night, Frozen Holiday Surprise takes the stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle at 6:15, and you do not need a party ticket for this showing! Join Olaf and his little siblings as they decorate the castle for the holiday season. We highly recommend stopping by the churro and popcorn cart before or after the stage show to grab a Hot Cocoa Churro and a Red Velvet Wreath Donut to fully embrace the flavors of Christmas!

Animal Kingdom arguably has one of the best Christmas trees at Walt Disney World, but the holiday festivities don’t stop there. Dinoland gets a holiday makeover, and you never know which characters you’ll find donning their holiday best. One of our can't-miss holiday favorites at Walt Disney World is the Merry Menagerie. These winter animals, such as reindeer, polar bears, and penguins, are transformed into life-size puppets accompanied by musicians. These puppets are absolutely stunning and can be found out and about in the Discovery Island Plaza area. If you can’t get enough of the Merry Menagerie, have no fear! This year, they even have their own line of merchandise, including an ornament to adorn your very own Christmas tree!

Don’t forget to add Memory Maker before your holiday trips! There are special holiday-exclusive magic shots in each park. Don’t be afraid to ask the Photopass photographer taking your photos if they can add a little extra magic. Some known locations for holiday magic shots include in front of the Christmas tree at the entrance to the World Showcase in EPCOT, in front of the Christmas Tree in Hollywood Studios near Hollywood and Vine, along Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom, and near the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom.

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