As a Family of Florida natives, there’s no better way we know to kick off the holidays than with our favorite mouse at Walt Disney World! The parks and resorts are decorated with gorgeous, meticulously themed garlands and trees with aromas of sweet sugar cookies and gingerbread filling the air. Our favorite past time: EPCOT’s International Festival of the Holidays! As Disney pro’s, I’m here to tell you EVERYTHING you need to know about the Festival of the Holidays at Walt Disney World and all of the MUST-DO’s if you’re visiting the park this holiday season!
A huge thank you to Walt Disney World and Disney Parks for inviting us to enjoy the events at EPCOT’s holiday media event! Bucket List item: CHECK!
The International Festival of the Holidays is one of many annual festivals EPCOT hosts for their guests. This one though has a few specific extras that we adore and go back for year after year. The Festival of the Holidays features traditions from all around the world, including curated cuisine and special holiday treats with some kid-worthy activities. If you’re not in the holiday spirit yet, this festival is sure to spark some magic!
Things to Know Before Your Visit to the International Festival of the Holidays 2021:
- When is it? November 26-December 30, 2021
- What is it exactly? The International Festival of the Holidays is a collection of seasonal food and beverage offerings, holiday themed activities and experiences focused on highlighting holiday traditions from all over the world, holiday ride layovers, a stunning Candlelight Processional, meetings and storytelling with holiday figures from places near and far, and of course, an adorable scavenger hunt with our favorite flurrying snowman, Olaf.
- Is it included in my park ticket? Yes! Well, for the most part! But, there are certain extras along with food and beverage that are an additional charge. Definitely budget for those, they’re totally worth it!
- What is the cost? (Besides your park ticket) There is no single set price for this event. Attending it once you’re in the park is totally free but, the cost of experiences and food items do vary.
- Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt: Stop by World Traveler at International Gateway, Port of Entry or Creations to grab the scavenger hunt map for $9.99 (annual passholder discounts available)
- Cookie Stroll: $2.50/Cookie with a free 50th Anniversary Cookie if you complete the Cookie Stroll or $3 for the 50th Anniversary Prize cookie
- Food Items from Holiday Kitchens: $3-8 for food items with beverages up to $12
- How much should I budget? With the scavenger hunt and cookie stroll, I would budget $50 per person in your party, generously. However, our family of 6 could easily share two scavenger hunts, one or two cookies at each cookie stop, and overall only a few of the meals from Holiday Kitchens. This would put us right at $100-150 total if we were on a budget!
- Do I need a park reservation? Yes! This event is held within the golden Disney gates of EPCOT so, you do need a park ticket as well as a park reservation to attend.
- What time does it start? ALL DAY! While there are events and viewings held at specific times throughout the day, you will be able to do things like the Cookie Stroll, Holiday Storytellers, and Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt all day long!
- What should I bring? Definitely check the weather and bring a light jacket for the chilly evenings! Otherwise, make sure to bring your ID, your Magic Band or phone with your My Disney Experience app, and an empty belly for snacking! Do not forget to pick up your free festival passport on the way in!
- What’s a FREE Festival Passport? THIS IS A MUST HAVE! Just like a park map, or even moreso, you’ll need a free Festival Passport for all of the fun extras, which can be picked up at one of the large display kiosks as you enter the park or in most merchandise locations, Holiday Kitchens, and Guest Relations. Did I mention that it’s free?! If you’re into sweets and want to take on the Cookie Stroll, you’ll use your passport for Cast Members to stamp off each of your cookie stops in order to earn your prizes! It also makes for a great keepsake!
- Do I need any other reservations? The short answer: possibly! If you’re planning on attending the Candlelight Processional and want good seats, go ahead and grab a special dining package for that! For us, the fireworks show, Harmonious is one of the greatest firework displays of all time from Walt Disney World and booking a dessert party with the VIP seating for that show is a splurge, but hands down worth every penny!
- Can I use my annual passholder discount on anything at the festival? Depending on what you’re purchasing, yes! The holiday kitchen items are excluded from annual pass discounts but, if you’re shopping for holiday or festival merchandise in the actual stores like Creations or The Fjording in Canada, you can use your annual pass for up to 20% discount on merchandise!
- Is it fun for/with kids? Yes! If you have kids in tow, even the littlest of babes, they’ll have a great time! Bring a stroller and do the Cookie Stroll and Olaf Scavenger Hunt! Also, DO NOT miss the Holiday Storytellers! Our boys all agree that it’s their favorite of the entire festival!
What You Should Expect from the 2021 Festival of the Holidays:
Strategically scattered throughout the World Showcase, you’ll find 14 holiday kitchens (food booths) serving delectable fare curated for each country, specialty holiday food and drinks, holiday storytellers from around the world, including Santa Claus, La Befana, and Pere Noel, holiday promenades, musical and comedic holiday performances, and of course, hidden Olaf statues! Take a peek below to get the details on each experience at the 2021 International Festival of the Holidays!
You’ll find the Holiday Kitchens as marketplace style booths lining the streets of the World Showcase with menu boards featuring food items at the start of the line in each country. Each menu includes curated items familiar within each country focused on flavors of the holidays. The bonus for this festival is the portion sizes! Holiday food items for this festival are larger than the usual festival size portions from other events throughout the year! This makes it a great way to split the cost with friends to save room for the rest of the World Showcase samplings!
Find the full list of menu items and their prices, HERE!
Food Items from Holiday Kitchens range from $3-8 for food items with beverages up to $12
All 14 Holiday Kitchens from this year’s International Festival of the Holidays, in order, from the front of the World Showcase, going right-towards Mexico:
- The Donut Box (Located near Test Track)
- Mele Kalikimaka
- Chestnuts & Good Cheer Holiday Kitchen
- Las Posadas Holiday Kitchen
- Lotus Blossom Café Holiday Kitchen
- Refreshments Outpost
- Bavaria Holiday Kitchen *COOKIE STOP
- Tuscany Holiday Kitchen
- American Holiday Table *COOKIE STOP
- Funnel Cakes
- Shi Wasu Holiday Kitchen
- Tangierine Café: Flavors of the Medina
- L’Chaim! holiday Kitchen *COOKIE STOP
- Le Marché de Noël Holiday Kitchen
- Yukon Holiday Kitchen *COOKIE STOP
- Holiday Hearth Desserts *COOKIE STOP
- Refreshment Port
- Holiday Sweets and Treats (This is where you pick up your prize collection from the Cookie Stroll!)
Our personal favorites are the Shrimp Ravioli at Tuscany in Italy & the Kabobs at Tangierine Café in Morocco!
One thing you can’t miss when you’re visiting EPCOT for the International Festival of the Holidays is the Cookie Stroll! You’ll find Cookie Stroll specific cookies at 5 Holiday Kitchens throughout the World Showcase (Port of Entry, Morocco, Germany, American, and Canada). Cookies are each an additional, separate purchase at each of the locations with prizes at the end of your Cookie Stroll once you’ve purchases each of the 5 cookies. You’ll need your free Festival Passport for this one! A Cast Member will stamp the passport with each cookie purchase in order for you to redeem your prize! (You don’t need to complete the Cookie Stroll all in one single day but you DO need to keep your partly completed passport until it’s complete, in order to get your prize!)
For completing the Cookie Stroll, you’ll get 3 prizes! Yes, THREE!
- What are the prizes and where do I get mine? Your prizes include an exclusive 50th anniversary ornament shaped Cookie, a mini peppermint sundae in an adorable keepsake cup, and a Freeform ornament. Pick them up at the Holiday Sweets and Treats booth, located in the World Showcase Promenade.
- How much are the cookies? $2.50/Cookie (there are 5 total, each at different booths in different locations, charged separately) with a free 50th Anniversary Cookie if you complete the Cookie Stroll or $3 if you just want the 50th Anniversary Prize cookie
- Do you have to buy all 5 of the same cookies to get the prize? NOPE! You can get duplicates or even all 5 of the same cookie in order to complete the Cookie Stroll stamp page to redeem for your prizes!
- Where can I find the cookies and what kind are they?
- Yukon Holiday Kitchen in Canada – SNICKERS®-Doodle Cookie made with SNICKERS® bar pieces
- L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen in Morocco – Black and White Cookie
- American Holiday Table in America – Chocolate Crinkle Cookie made with DOVE® Dark Chocolate
- Bavaria Holiday Kitchen in Germany – Linzer Cookie *My personal favorite!
- Holiday Hearth Desserts at Port of Entry – Gingerbread Cookie
- *Don’t forget to pop by the bonus location for your FREE cookie at Holiday Sweets & Treats!
Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt
This one is a family favorite for us! If you’re looking for a full day of fun in EPCOT and want to take your time strolling through the World Showcase, this is the activity for you! If you haven’t participated in one of Walt Disney World’s park scavenger hunts before, you’re in for a real treat! You’ll pick up a game board for $9.99 at one of the included locations and search for hidden Olaf statues representing different holiday traditions throughout the World Showcase. Your game board includes each country that has a hidden statue as well as a sticker sheet with one sticker for each of the countries. The stickers are your indicators for the Olaf’s that you’ve found! Once you’re done, you’ll get a prize!
- What should I be looking for? You’ll be looking for mini Olaf statues that are about a foot tall.
- Where do I look? All but one of the Olaf statues are hidden outside! You’ll see him on balconies, in bushes, near water, and on top of buildings!
- Where do I get a game board? Pick up a game board at Disney Traders, World Traveler (International Getaway), Creations, and Festival Markets throughout the World Showcase!
- Can I use my passholder discount? Yes! You can use your annual passholder discount to purchase your game board and save a few bucks!
- What’s the prize? This year’s prize is and it can be picked up where you purchase your Game Board at: Disney Traders, Creations Shop, or World Traveler!
- Do I have to complete the board to get the prize? No! You don’t have to complete your game board in order to get your prize. Sometimes, when you pick up your game board the Cast Member will have you choose your prize first so you can get it before they run out for the day!
- Do I have to finish in one day? Nope! Keep your game board if you don’t finish it in one day and come back before December 30th to finish your scavenger hunt! Make sure to save it along with your sticker sheet!
You’ll find special character appearances throughout the park promenading in their holiday best! Keep a lookout for Santa, Mickey, Anna and Elsa, and more!
- Santa Claus Promenade: Be on the lookout for Santa meeting guests from his big red chair in The American Adventure Pavilion near the Christmas tree! *Meet Santa at 11:45, 1:45, 3:45, & 5:45
- Mickey Holiday World Tour: Watch for Mickey and his pals hanging out in their holiday best!
- Frozen Holiday Promenade: Keep an eye out for Elsa and Anna visiting with friends in Norway!
- Princess Promenade: Your favorite Disney princesses can be seen throughout the World Showcase!*Make time to see Belle in her gorgeous Christmas gown in France and Snow in Germany!
Throughout the World Showcase, you’ll find storytellers sharing holiday traditions and stories intermittently throughout the day in each of the 11 pavilions. You’ll find all of the storyteller times listed in your free Festival of the Holidays Passport ( a Hanukkah storyteller will be located along the promenade as well, on a stage right near Morocco)!
All 11 Holiday Storytellers from this year’s International Festival of the Holidays, in order, from the front of the World Showcase, going right-towards Mexico:
- Las Posadas in Mexico
- Sigrid and Barn Santa in Norway
- Chinese Lion Dance in China
- La Befana in Italy
- Santa Claus in America *Meet Santa at 11:45, 1:45, 3:45, & 5:45
- Daruma in Japan
- Hanukkah Storyteller near Morocco
- Père Noël in France
- Father Christmas in the UK
- Canadian Holiday Voyageurs in Canada
Catch this popular and ever loved retelling of the Nativity Story, told by rotating celebrity speakers paired with a full orchestra and chorus! You’ll find this stunning performance daily at the America Gardens Theatre! Times are listed in your Festival Passport.
- How long is it? Approximately 40-50 minutes, arrive 30 minutes before your reserved or preferred show time
- Do I need a special ticket for this? You don’t! BUT, if you want a guaranteed (and better) seat, book a dining package in advance.
- All about the Candlelight Processional dining package:
- Candlelight Processional dining packages are available at 4 restaurants inside EPCOT for either lunch or dinner!
- Biergarten (Germany) – $62 adults/$35 kids 3-9
- Coral Reef (The Living Seas) – $74 adults/$25 kids 3-9
- Garden Grill (The Land) – $71 adults/$46 kids 3-9
- Rose & Crown (UK) – $63 adults/$25 kids 3-9
- Dining packages include:
- An appetizer, entrée, and dessert or one (1) full buffet (where applicable) and a non-alcoholic drink per person
- A guaranteed seat for each paying person in the dining package reservation for the Candlelight Processional of that day
- Guests with a dining package receive Candlelight Seating badges at the restaurant of their dining package reservation which lists the time of your seating for the Candlelight Processional.
- Guests with the Dining Package will enter America Gardens Theatre in a separate queue for guaranteed seating on a first-come, first served basis.
- All guests who don’t have a Candlelight Processional Dining Package are seated on a first-come, first-served basis until the seating is full. Seats are not guaranteed without a dining package.
- Candlelight Processional dining packages are available at 4 restaurants inside EPCOT for either lunch or dinner!
- When can I see it? Make sure to check your Festival Passport or check the sign for the Candlelight Processional at the America Gardens Theater
- JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season: This year, you’ll find the uber talented voices of the EPCOT Center Christmas Show singing a mix of jazz, gospel, R&B, and more! Check out theChristmas schedule of performances in your free Festival Passport!
- Disney Christmas Concert: Find The Voices of Liberty at the Americans Garden Theater singing holiday favorites throughout the day!
- JAMMitors are also performing Christmas shows in Canada at the Mill Stage!
Holiday Performances & Entertainment
Aside from the gorgeous holiday decorations you’ll find all throughout the park, there are some magical extras added to some of our favorites!
- American Gingerbread Display: While you’re passing through the America Pavilion make sure to stop for a peek at the gingerbread creations of the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, US Capitol Building, and Washington Monument! Take a hard look and see if you can spot all SIX hidden Mickey’s in this display!
- Living with the Land Holiday Overlay: One thing you can’t miss is the holiday overlay on the Living with the Land ride! The ride is transformed into a fabulous light spectacular, making this slow ride an even more perfect break during your park day!
- Figment in his Christmas Sweater: If you’re a fan of the good ole’ classic purple dragon, hop onto Journey into Imagination to see Figment in his blue Christmas sweater. This little friend is always cute but, the sweater is a perfect holiday touch paired with his usual loving demeanor.
While you’re making your time through holidays around the world, don’t miss popping into the Holiday Markets along the way! You’ll find festival exclusive merchandise and International gifts perfect for giving this season!
SEE IT ALL LIVE:
If you’re looking for a live peek at the holiday festivities taking place in EPCOT this season, head over to Instagram and watch my story highlight for more tips, tricks, and a look at the fun!