With no end to the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, Disney World has canceled two of its seasonal events for the holiday season.
Disney World announced Tuesday that in 2020, there will be no Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party — a hard-ticket event held on select nights at the Magic Kingdom starting in November — and no Candlelight Processional at Epcot.
“We know these experiences are a cherished part of holiday traditions that will be missed by guests and cast members alike, but we’re glad to be able to bring holiday magic in other creative ways,” Walt Disney World communications manager Laurel Slater wrote on the official Disney Parks Blog.
Those “creative ways” will include holiday-themed offerings that respect the physical distancing and crowd requirements of the COVID-19 world. Disney guests can expect to see holiday characters from afar at all four of Disney World’s theme parks, such as Toy Soldiers joining the Main Street Philharmonic marching through Magic Kingdom.
The holiday season will also mark the return of projections at Cinderella Castle.
“When night falls, special projection effects will give a festive look to Cinderella Castle this year, providing a colorful backdrop for our guests’ photos,” Slater wrote. “The appearance of the iconic castle will be transformed with a rotating series of designs including a whimsical Christmas sweater and a regal overlay of red, green and gold ornamentation. This will be in place of the Castle Dream Lights.”
At Epcot, the International Festival of the Holidays will be held this year. Beginning on Nov. 27, guests can find holiday food booths around World Showcase, while the World Showplace facility will provide an air-conditioned marketplace and performances from Joyful!, who will “present a journey through R&B, Gospel, contemporary and traditional Christmas and holiday music,” according to Disney.
The America Gardens Theatre, typically occupied by the Candlelight Processional during the holidays, will instead be a temporary home for the Voices of America singing group.
Resorts around Disney World will feature their usual holiday decoration packages, but one hotel pastime will be taking a hiatus.
“One thing to keep in mind is that our gingerbread displays will not return to the Resort hotels this year,” Slater wrote. “While we know they are a favorite of people taking in the holiday décor, we’re not able to include those displays due to physical distancing guidelines.”
The slimmed-down holiday offerings at Disney World are not a surprise, considering COVID-19’s impact on seasonal Halloween events in Central Florida. Disney’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights were canceled, while other events like Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s Howl-O-Scream are going ahead in a reduced capacity.
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