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Anytime is a good time to visit the Walt Disney World Resort, but the holidays take “festive” to a new level. Special parades, spectacular decorations and endless amounts of magic take over Walt Disney World during the holidays.

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I’ve been to Walt Disney World too many times to count, but have only been during the holidays twice. My family went for Christmas in 1971, the year the park opened, and again a few years later. Although I was a child, I can still remember the ornaments as big as basketballs on the large tree in Town Square in the Magic Kingdom. This year, my husband and I decided that we would go back for a quick trip the week before Christmas. I’m so glad we did!

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We stayed at The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa; our favorite of the Disney Vacation Club resorts on-property. The decorations at the Grand Floridian are stunning; the oversized tree took my breath away, and the life-sized Gingerbread House was whimsical. On the other side of the Gingerbread House is a storefront, where you can buy holiday treats.

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We spent one evening in the Magic Kingdom at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, which is a special event with separate admission. We’ve always found that these special events are well worth it; in this case, the party included Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration, Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, Holiday Wishes and and A Frozen Holiday Wish, where Queen Elsa from “Frozen” uses her powers to turn Cinderella Castle into a sparkling icy centerpiece. Holiday music was everywhere, and “treat stations” were scattered around the Magic Kingdom to help keep you in the holiday spirit. Everywhere I looked, families were happy and smiling, and after the parade, snow cascaded onto Main Street. Magical indeed!

Photo credit: Matt Stroshane

Photo credit: Matt Stroshane

I was anxious to visit the reimagined Disney Springs, formerly Downtown Disney. Many shopping venues have been added, and for the holidays, there was “Starbright Holidays – An Intel Collaboration” of hundreds of drones with synchronized choreography set to a specially orchestrated arrangement of classic holiday music. There was also a Christmas Tree Walk. The whole complex was decked out for the holidays, which really added to the atmosphere.

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The shopping at Disney Springs is great, with beauty options including MAC, Origins, L’Occitane, and of course, Sephora. I love the transformation of Disney Springs, and look forward to see it continuing to evolve. We had dinner at Frontera Cocina and Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming Restaurant; I’d recommend both for an excellent experience.

Photo credit: Kent Phillips

Photo credit: Kent Phillips

Walt Disney World Resort is the number one family vacation destination in the world, and whether you’ve never visited before, or have visited many times like I have, enjoying the holidays there is special. With so many holiday-themed offerings, taking them all in is nearly impossible, but with some planning, you can have holiday memories that you’ll treasure for years!

Have you been to Walt Disney World over the holidays? What was your favorite memory?

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