By Leigh Jenkins
The holiday season at Disney can be a special treat for even the most Disney savvy families. And with Christmas decorations going up as early as the first week of November, there's plenty of time to get into the holiday spirit. Here's our list of upcoming holiday tours, parties, parades, and events for 2012—think of this as your official Disney holidays calendar.
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Select dates November 12-30; December 2-21
A special ticket event, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is a spectacular way to start off the holidays. Celebrated at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, the party lasts from 7-12 pm. Since a limited number of tickets are sold, this is a great chance to enjoy holiday offerings with a minimal crowd. The highlight of the evening is the Christmas parade, an elaborate spectacle with horses, characters in Christmas finery, and even an appearance by Santa. But the fun doesn't stop there—hot chocolate and cookies are served around the park while specialty entertainment provides shows and meet and greets that aren't seen anywhere else in the parks. A unique fireworks show tops off the night. Prices range from $59-$69 for adults and $54-$63 for kids 3-9. There are discounts for military and for purchasing in advance, so make sure to plan ahead!
Skate into the World of Tinker Bell
Daily through January 12, 2013, 11 am to 10 pm
Guests at the Disneyland resort can visit Downtown Disney to ice-skate in a rink decorated to match Tinker Bell's village. The snow covered pines and interactive experiences at four different chalets will give guests a chance to dine, relax, and create "Santimals." an art project for younger kids. Skates rent for $15, protective gear is offered free of charge.
Holiday Time Tour
Daily at 12:30 and 3:15 pm
For those in awe of Disneyland's holiday decorations, consider the Holiday Time Tour, a two and a half hour guided tour throughout Disneyland. Guests explore holiday traditions, enjoy two specially-themed attractions, and receive a collectable pin. Learn how decorators dress up the enormous entrance to "It's a Small World," and see Jack Skellington make mischief at the Haunted Mansion. Also included is reserved seating for the Christmas Fantasy Parade that evening. Prices begin at $68.
Monday-Thursday at 4 pm during December
Want to know all the secrets to Disney holiday magic? Walt Disney World offers Holiday D-Lights, a five hour tour to guests ages 16 and up, delving into all the holiday decorations Disney can muster. The tour begins with a meal at Whispering Canyon Café at the Wilderness Lodge. Then take in the sites at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios, and learn how teams decorate the parks overnight, including setting up the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Hollywood Studios. Guests will also meet the people who bring Disney's holiday decorations to life. Price for the tour is $199, and includes dinner and a commemorative pin.
Photo credits: All photos courtesy of Walt Disney World