It’s here! The 2019 holiday season arrived at Disney Parks a few short days ago and, just as sure as it will snow on Main Street USA, each year delivers more thrills, merriment, and good-feels moments than the year before. We’re here to share some of the can’t-miss fun as you plan your visit to Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida.

First, though, there’s big news that has nothing to do with the holidays. Star War’s: Rise of the Resistance debuts on December 5, 2019 at Walt Disney World (and January 17, 2020 at Disneyland). This is huge, so let’s get you up to speed.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance within Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the cornerstone attraction within Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the new Land within Disney’s Parks in both Florida and California. This attraction is described as a multi-platform experience that’s among the most advanced and immersive experiences ever undertaken by Walt Disney Imagineering. Our sources on the inside are saying that it is nothing short of revolutionary.

In a nutshell, the attraction asks guests to accept a secret mission from the Resistance. With the First Order on its own mission to hold back the Resistance, you can imagine the twists and turns (and thrills and gasps!) the attraction presents.

Got it so far? Stick with us.

Okay… Riders join the Resistance, departing from Batuu (the location of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge) in a transport ship to meet General Leia Organa at an undisclosed meeting point. On the journey to this secret base, guests are taken prisoner by the First Order and drawn into a Star Destroyer. Then, of course, riders’ main objective becomes, you know, escaping Kylo Ren and the First Order.

Whew! That’s a lot to handle, but you didn’t think this would be easy, did you?

What’s more, Walt Disney Imagineering combined several cutting-edge ride systems to bring Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance to life. For example, riders will experience a new simulator that will give guests the sensation that they are falling from space to crash land on Batuu. Yeah. No big deal.

To get up to speed on all things Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, you can check out a podcast episode we recorded. And be sure to check back in early December, because we’ll be giving you a first look at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Okay, back to holiday merriment.

Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks (photo courtesy of Disney)

Holiday must-dos at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida

  • For the first time, holiday décor and entertainment can be experienced across Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. We’re especially excited about the transformation at Pandora – The World of Avatar where expats “living/working” on Pandora have brought some decorations in the name of Christmastime fun.
  • Magic Kingdom Park has debuted an all-new fireworks extravaganza, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks. Hosted by Minnie Mouse, the show features holiday music and an epic finale. Guests can see the fireworks show during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on select nights from November 8 to December 22.
  • Disney Springs is a place we always hit during the holidays. In addition to a festive Christmas Tree Trail (don’t miss the Haunted Mansion inspired tree), this dining and entertainment gathering place offers a lot of holiday hoopla to get you in the spirit. Our best advice: come at night and coordinate your visit to maximize enjoyment of the lights and entertainment found throughout Disney Springs.

Viewfinder Tip: Disney’s holiday season runs through January 6th, 2020.

BONUS: Don’t forget to take a ride on Disney’s Skyliner, the new gondola system at Walt Disney World. Looking for a place to stay? We recommend Disney’s Coronado Springs Hotel (with the new Gran Destino Tower). Finally, be sure to make your way to Epcot for the new nighttime spectacular, Epcot Forever.

It’s a Small World – Disneyland Resort

Holiday must-dos at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California

  • If we arrive in the evening, we like to start our visit at the Buena Vista Street Holiday Tree Lighting within Disney California Adventure Park. We then make our way through the park to check out all of the clever ways they’ve decked things out for the season. Tip: Do not miss Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party.
  • Over at Disneyland “it’s a small world” Holiday Lighting is another favorite. Every 30 minutes during the evening, a light projection show animates the attraction’s façade with festive images and colors.
  • The food! Disney Festival of Holidays includes incredible food and beverage offerings at Festival Foods Marketplace. We especially love that the offerings include dishes and beverages that represent an array of cultures and family traditions. This year, our favorite host was Shepherd’s Upside-down pie at Food at Grandma’s Recipes. It’s vegan, and you’d never know it.

BONUS: It is the season of indulging. If you’ve been saving up calories, now is the time to go all out. Head to Black Tap Craft Burgers and Shakes in Downtown Disney and order the burger or salad that sounds best. Can’t decide? We recommend the Crispy Chicken Caesar salad. Then, pick an over-the-top Crazy Shake and share it with your group or, if you’ve saved up a lot of calories, keep it all to yourself! And be prepared to make your friends very envious. These creations are made for posting on Instagram.

That’s it! You’re all set to tackle all the holiday fun at either Disney Park.

One final, final thing. If your home airport is served by Alaska Airlines, book your air on an Alaska flight and see if you end up on a Disney-themed plane. We recently had the chance to witness the launch of the airline’s Friendship and Beyond aircraft, Alaska Air’s 6th Disney-inspired livery. It’s incredible to see how the artisans bring Disney themes to life on these aircraft. And your kids will love you for it!

Header photo courtesy of Disney.

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