As the saying goes, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” So, of course there are many people who wish that the holidays were available year-round. In the case of Orlando’s theme parks, there are some options where you can experience Christmas all year long. As we head toward the end of 2020, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can continue celebrating throughout 2021. Keep in mind that some of these offerings may not currently be available due to temporary closures..
Shopping is a big part of the holiday season and there is no lack of shopping available at the Disney Parks. If you love the Christmas season, you’ll definitely want to check out the various holiday shops at Walt Disney World. Most of them feature holiday ornaments and decorations, and they’re always fun to look around in, even if you’re not in the mood to buy.
Let’s begin with It’s A Wonderful Shop, located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This cute, little shop is named after the Christmas movie classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I love this movie and therefore the attributed store name, but did you know there’s another “It’s a Wonderful Life” movie reference in Disney’s Hollywood Studios apart from that shop? If you’re walking around Echo Lake, you may notice some shipping crates as part of the year-round décor. Look closely and you’ll find one from Wainwright Enterprises, New York, NY being shipped to George Bailey, 320 Sycamore, Bedford Falls, NY. These, of course, are fictional characters from the classic film.
If you’re looking for even more Disney holiday shopping, you have a few other choices. There’s Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe, located in Liberty Square at Magic Kingdom; Die Wiehnachts Ecke (translates to The Christmas Corner) in the Germany Pavilion at Epcot; and Disney’s Days of Christmas at Disney Springs.
Universal Orlando Resort also has a couple of year-round holiday shops. If you’re in Universal Studios Florida, be sure and check out the Park Plaza Holiday Shop. If you’re visiting Islands of Adventure, there’s the Porte of Entry Christmas Shoppe right near the entrance of the park.
Perhaps one of the reasons that we love the winter holidays in Florida so much is just to get a bit of relief from the common heat and humidity. So, if you’re looking to get some winter feels off-season, head to Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park. Perhaps the sight of snow will simply cool you off a bit.
One of my favorite year-round winter settings is definitely Hogsmeade at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Islands of Adventure (and Universal Studios Hollywood). The snow-capped rooftops are a festive sight to see every day of the year. You can even find a snowman near the entrance of Hogwarts. But no, his name’s not Olaf and he doesn’t particularly like warm hugs.
While you’re at Islands of Adventure, you may just want to take a leisurely stroll through Seuss Landing, as you never know when you might see one of the most iconic Christmas characters hanging around. No, not Santa, I’m talking about The Grinch. It’s not uncommon to see this character performing a little show or taking photos, even on a hot summer day.
I think a lot of people’s favorite part of the holidays at a Disney Park is the ride overlays. If you’re in the mood for a Christmas-themed ride any time of the year, be sure and hop on Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress in Magic Kingdom. You’ll not only be able to celebrate Christmas in the final scene, but you’ll also get a bit of Valentine’s Day, Independence Day and Halloween.
If you’re the type of person where it’s all about the specialty holiday food, there’s even an option for you. I would be remiss not to mention the Holiday Turkey Sandwich available year-round at Earl of Sandwich in Disney Springs (along with Disneyland Resort’s Downtown Disney District). This may just be the holiday offering I frequent most of all. This hot sandwich is stuffed with turkey, cornbread stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and mayonnaise. Yes please, I’ll take two!
No matter what it is that you love about the holidays, whether it’s shopping, the winter landscape, the attractions, or the food, there’s a touch of it available year-round at both the Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort.
Which is your favorite to experience? Do you have any that I didn’t write about?
If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com.