Disclosure: I was an invited guest of the Walt Disney World Resort to experience the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, however all opinions are 100% my own.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.
The Epcot International Festival of Holidays fills the park with holiday magic, international seasonal delicacies, captivating live entertainment, and festive decor daily until December 30th. And the best gift of all? Most of what you can experience is included with your theme park admission!
The Festival is a great way for families to learn about and even celebrate Holiday traditions from around the world, and at this year’s Epcot International Festival of Holidays you can also experience a new Holiday Cookie Stroll as well as new food and beverage items at Holiday Kitchens throughout Epcot.
With so much to do, I thought I would share my Epcot International Festival of the Holidays must do’s and tips!
Top 7 Epcot International Festival of the Holidays Must Do’s and Tips
Try a tasty teats at the Holiday Kitchens
At the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays you can savor holiday dishes and beverages from across the globe at 12 specialty kitchens set around the park’s World Showcase.
New items this year include black forest roulade with cherry whipped cream at the Bavaria Holiday Kitchen in the Germany pavilion and sofrito-marinated beef with sweet plantains, and olives at the Feast of the Three Kings Holiday Kitchen.
AND a brand-new kitchen this year, L’Chaim!, will feature traditional Jewish dishes such as pastrami on rye, chicken and matzo ball soup, and more. I can tell you that this Holiday Kitchen is an ABSOLUTE MUST DO!!!!
If you want to find out a COMPLETE list of what you can find at each Holiday Kitchen, visit the official Festival website to plan your culinary celebration!
Tip – If you want to sample dishes at the Holiday Kitchens, you can stay on budget by using Disney Gift Cards! Also, don’t forget to register your card on disneygiftcard.com, because if you lose the card you can still have access to the money you’ve loaded onto the card.
Three words…Holiday Cookie Stroll
New this year is the Holiday Cooke Stroll where you can enjoy delicious cookies from cookie stroll locations around World Showcase.
As you enjoy the cookies you will collect stamps for each one in your Holiday Passport, and if you get all five stamps you will be rewarded with a complimentary “completer” cookie and a cold glass of milk!
Tip – You don’t have to eat all all five cookies in one day, but I won’t stop you…you have until December 30th to present your completed passport for the Cooke Stroll.
Candlelight Processional is the heart of Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays, and is a retelling of the story of Christmas by a celebrity narrator accompanied by a full choir and a 50-piece orchestra in a performance that inspires joy and fills you with the holiday spirit.
This elegant showcase is performed three times nightly at 5:00 PM, 6:45 PM and 8:15 PM through December 30th at the America Gardens Theatre in Epcot’s World Showcase.
Here’s a list of this year’s remaining celebrity narrators:
- NEW! Alfonso Ribeiro – November 27, 2018
- Robby Benson – November 28 to 30, 2018
- John Stamos – December 1 to 2, 2018
- Neil Patrick Harris – December 3 to 6, 2018
- Whoopi Goldberg – December 7 to 9, 2018
- NEW! Bart Millard – December 10 to 12, 2018
- Blair Underwood – December 13 to 14, 2018
- Gary Sinise – December 15 to 17, 2018
- Pat Sajak – December 18 to 20, 2018
- NEW! Auli’i Cravalho – December 21 to 23, 2018
- Edward James Olmos – December 24 to 25, 2018
- Jodi Benson – December 26 to 27, 2018
- Cal Ripken Jr. – December 28 to 30, 2018
Tip -Seating for Candlelight Processional can get quite packed, so if there is a celebrity narrator that you MUST see consider taking advantage of a Candlelight Processional Dining Package. You can choose to enjoy a delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner at some of the tastiest restaurants in Epcot and the adjacent Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts followed by reserved seating at a performance of the Candlelight Processional. To reserve Candlelight Dining Packages, call (407) WDW-DINE.
Storytellers and Holiday Entertainment
Another MUST DO for the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is to stroll the World Showcase stopping to see costumed performers bring the traditions of their home countries to Epcot with holiday stories and music, along with a variety of other international festive entertainment.
Tip – As soon as you get into the park pick up a times guide (or two) for the week, because this is the only way to find out what times performances are happening in each pavilion.
Chip ’n Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree
Chip & Dale are on a scavenger hunt, collecting ornaments for their Christmas tree—and they need your help!
To get started, simply purchase a map and stickers ($6.99 plus tax) from select merchandise locations including Pin Central, Disney Traders, and World Traveler at International Gateway.
As you travel around World Showcase, be on the lookout for Chip & Dale in each World Showcase pavilion.
Once you spot them, add the corresponding ornament sticker to your map.
Then, take your completed map to Disney Traders or World Traveler and exchange it for a festive surprise, courtesy of Chip & Dale!
Tip – Look carefully for Chip & Dale on wreaths on the Holiday Kitchen buildings…some are hard to find, so be patient!!!
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
The Illuminations: Reflections of Earth nighttime spectacular of fireworks, special effects, flame torches and more includes a special holiday finale nightly until December 30, 2018.
This will be the final holiday season for IllumiNations, as the show is currently scheduled to conclude at the end of summer 2019, with new thrills on World Showcase Lagoon set to debut immediately afterward (more on this soon).
Tip – While most of the fireworks and special effects take place in the air, I still like to arrive 30 minutes before Illuminations: Reflections of Earth begins (make sure to check your times guide) to find a spot close to the water so I can see all of the magic!
Meet Santa and Mrs. Claus
If you are looking to take an iconic Holiday photo, head to The American Adventure pavilion where you can pose for a photo and share their holiday wishes with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Tip – The lines to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus can get quite long, so if you are visiting with little ones try to have one adult wait in line while the other adult keeps the little elves busy with the Kidcot Fun Spot at the pavilion or by grabbing a snack from the nearby Holiday Kitchen.
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