By Guest Blogger Liliane Opsomer, co-author of “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids”
My favorite Epcot holiday event is Holidays from Around the World. While strolling from land to land, I enjoy listening to the storytellers in each country of the World Showcase. In Canada, Nowell explains how our neighbor to the north celebrates Christmas. At the United Kingdom Pavilion, Father Christmas tells of his country’s holiday customs. France is the home of Père Noël, and in Morocco, Taariji explains the Feast of Ashoora. In Japan, the Daruma Seller talks about how the Japanese celebrate the New Year. (Daruma dolls are symbols of the New Year and are said to bring good luck.)
On Fountain Stage with the iconic Epcot Spaceship Earth in the background, Joyful! – A Gospel Celebration of the Season is performed daily at 1:15, 2:15, 3:15 and 4:15 p.m.
At the American Adventure rotunda, you can visit Santa’s Bakeshop, a life-size gingerbread house made with real gingerbread, candies and icing. Santa and Mrs. Claus are also on hand for that very magical Christmas picture for your Christmas greetings. Special storytelling programs are held for Kwanzaa and Hanukkah as well.
In Italy, meet la Befana, the good witch who brings gifts to children on Epiphany. Germany honors St. Nicholas on Dec. 6, and Helga welcomes visitors throughout the afternoon telling the story of the first Christmas tree, the advent calendar and the nutcracker’s origin.
Visit China and listen to the funny stories of the Monkey King. In Norway, meet the Christmas elf Julenissen, who represents simplicity and peace, and in Mexico, the Three Sage Kings (los Tres Reyes Magos) make appearances throughout the afternoon, bringing Christmas celebrations held in Mexico to life.
Don’t miss the Candlelight Processional, featuring a celebrity narrator accompanied by a huge live choir and a full orchestra. The show takes place three times a day (5:00 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.) at the America Gardens Theatre and is included with regular admission.
Special lunch and dinner packages are available for an additional charge and include preferred seating for the processional (call 407-WDW-DINE for reservations). If you don’t want to spring for one of the packages, I recommend lining up at least 60 minutes prior to the show of your choice. Guests with preferred seating are well advised not to come at the last minute either and instead should arrive at the reserved seating entrance 30 minutes before the beginning of the show. Seats within this section are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are opened to general admission 15 minutes before the beginning of the show. Here is the schedule of narrators.
The icing on the cake is the nightly fireworks, water and laser show, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, with an extra special holiday finale.
Liliane Opsomer is the co-author of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids. Find her on Facebook.