Thanksgiving at Disney World

Ryan, Barb (Ry’s Mom), and I spent Thanksgiving at Disney this year. So how was our trip to the most magical place? We had a great time. There are most certainly aspects of it I would do all over again and a few maybe not. Let’s jump right into it and start with the highlights.

Thanksgiving at Epcot

We spent Thanksgiving at Epcot, which was terrific. Since we stayed onsite, we entered the park an hour early. The park didn’t get really busy until later in the day. Even then, it wasn’t terribly crowded. We rode most of the rides and walked through several countries. It was a fantastic way to spend time with one another and enjoy a day off.

We had our Thanksgiving meal in Canada at Le Cellier Steakhouse. The food was delicious and the service was great. I most certainly want to revisit and try a few other items on the menu. The brussel sprouts, signature poutine, and creme brulee were my personal favorites. I highly recommend this restaurant if you’re looking for a sit-down option.

Disney Decorations

If you’re looking for a mostly free activity, we highly recommend visiting the Disney resorts during the holidays. Parking and treats would be your only costs. The treats from Contemporary were really good. We each got a cookie to try, and these cookies were much better than the cookies at Epcot. You can also get a variety of treats at the Grand Floridian.

Most, if not all of the resorts, have holiday trees, displays, and lights. We spent a few hours visiting the Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Yacht Club, Dolphin & Swan, and Beach Club. We especially enjoyed the gingerbread displays. The tree outside of the Contemporary was a sight to see on the ferry to Magic Kingdom at night. We obviously didn’t make it to all the resorts due to time. You could probably fill an entire day with this activity.

Holiday Lights and Decor at the Parks

Each park is decorated for the holiday season. We had the opportunity to visit all of them. Each park approaches the holidays differently, so it’s worth visiting all four. The lights on the castle at Magic Kingdom are really something. The projection show at Hollywood Studios is fantastic. The new puppets at Animal Kingdom are beyond adorable. The decor and array of activities at Epcot will most certainly put you in the holiday mood. Disney does a fantastic job decorating.

I will admit spending Thanksgiving at Disney felt a bit odd, but it’s a great way to mix things up. We had a really great trip and were able to do a lot at the parks. So what would we change?

Epcot International Festival of the Holidays

If you’ve been following our Disney trips this year, you know that I really enjoy the festivals at Epcot. I was super excited about this one, because I love the holidays, and I wanted to complete the cookie stroll.

The festival started the day after Thanksgiving, so we decided to go that evening to experience it. I would not go on the first night ever again. It was super crowded and super frustrating. I don’t know why people bring their fussy children and strollers to Epcot for these festivals. I just don’t think most young children enjoy it. Anyway, the crowds were just a bit much for us. We did sample a couple of items from the holiday kitchens. The cheese fondue from Germany was my favorite.

One of the big activities is the cookie stroll, which Disney introduced last year. Ryan and I have been eagerly looking forward to this event. Let me first say that I would do this again; however, most of the cookies were not good. I really think it depends on what you like though. Here’s our quick rundown on the cookies.

  • Black & White – Surprisingly, this was my favorite. It was a lemon-flavored cookie covered in white and dark chocolate. It was really soft and almost cake-like.
  • Gingerbread – Flavor was good but the cookie was hard.
  • Chocolate Crinkle – I wanted to like this one and was so disappointed. It tasted like watered down hot cocoa. Please add more chocolate!
  • Linzer Cookie – Both Ryan and his mom enjoyed this one. I thought it was too sweet. It’s a powered sugar cookie with raspberry.
  • Peppermint Pinwheel- This cookie was super hard. The flavor was fine though. It seemed too thick and was probably overcooked.
  • Completer Cookie (Sugar Cookie) – Terrible. We threw it away.

This is a super affordable activity, it’s just that the cookies weren’t great. They were an improvement from last year. Maybe they should partner with Great American Cookie Company for this.

Mickey’s Merriest Christmas Party

The big question for me going into this was whether or not it’s worth the money. It’s not cheap! I’m going to provide a quick summary of our experience and then give you the answer.

If you plan accordingly, you can ride a bunch of rides. I think we rode eleven or twelve rides total between the time we arrived and left. We got there around 3:45 and left at 11:30. Several of the rides had fun holiday overlays, which you can only enjoy by attending a party (excluding Jingle Cruise). I think Jingle Cruise was actually our favorite. Do note that the biggest attractions still have longer waits, roughly 45-60 minutes.

Cookies, a pretzel, and a few beverages were treats included in your admission. We visited a few of the treat spots, but the cookies aren’t that great. They’re basically prepackaged cookies you’d get at the grocery store. The beverages included apple cider (apple juice), hot cocoa, eggnog, and Fanta. We didn’t spend much time getting treats after I tried a couple of cookies.

The new firework show is amazing; however, it doesn’t feature nearly the amount of projections that the Halloween show does. It’s a ton of fireworks though, and the crowd was surprisingly manageable. We watched a couple of the stage shows from afar while we waited for the parade. The parade is pretty magical. I most certainly favorite it over the Halloween one. I highly recommend watching it on Main Street.

Would I spend the money again? Honestly, I probably wouldn’t. We’ve sort of figured out the best times to visit the park to maximize our ride time. The decorations are up whether you attend the party or not. The treats don’t really add any value for me as the trick or treating did in September. Don’t get me wrong…we had a blast. It just isn’t something I’d spend money on again anytime soon. We may try it again in a few years.

Meals

I know this post is super long, but I wanted to provide as much information as possible. Here’s a rundown regarding our Disney meals this trip.

  • Il Mulino (Swan Hotel) – All three of us enjoyed dinner here. The service was quick and the food was good. The complimentary bread had really good flavor.
  • Garden Grill (Epcot) – We had a good breakfast, but I don’t think it’s worth the money. Food included sticky buns, breakfast meats, eggs, potatoes, and waffles.
  • Sunshine Seasons (Epcot) – An affordable and tasty option for breakfast. I really enjoyed the french toast.
  • 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian) – We had an early dinner here after having a spectacular breakfast months ago. The breakfast is the better value, but the dinner is good. The buffet has plenty of options for everyone. Cinderella’s stepsisters were hilarious. One of them screamed for a child across the restaurant. Fantastic!
  • The Diamond Horseshoe (Magic Kingdom) – This was surprisingly good. The food at Magic Kingdom is hit or miss in our opinion. The food was really good, and the service was great. Our meal included salad, cornbread, a variety of meats, macaroni, baked beans, and cake for dessert.

Overall, we had a great time and did some fun things outside of Disney too. If you missed the ICE! post, click here. We’re thinking about planning a trip in December of 2020. Stay tuned.

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