5 reasons Epcot is a must-visit park at Disney World during the holidays, according to travel experts

5 reasons Epcot is a must-visit park at Disney World during the holidays, according to travel experts
  • There's a misconception that the only highlight of Christmas at Disney World is Magic Kingdom.

  • But travel experts said guests shouldn't miss out on Epcot Center.

  • It's home to magical events such as the Candlelight Processional and the holiday cookie stroll.

You might think Magic Kingdom is the be-all and end-all of the Christmas season at Disney World, with highlights including Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, holiday parades, holiday fireworks, and snow raining down on Main Street USA.

But it's not the only park you should make time for during a vacation to Disney World during the holidays.

Three travel experts told Insider their favorite park during the holidays is actually Epcot, even calling it "the hidden gem" of the Disney World holiday season.

Here's why they love it.

The Festival of the Holidays brings together holidays from all over the world

Holiday window displays at Epcot's Germany pavilion.
Holiday window displays at Epcot's Germany pavilion.Dewayne Bevil/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The World Showcase at Epcot is known year-round for illustrating different nations' culture and heritage through architecture, decorations, food, arts, and entertainment. The 11 nations included are the US, the UK, France, Canada, Morocco, Mexico, Italy, Japan, Germany, China, and Norway.

During the Christmas season, the newly named Festival of Holidays allows guests to experience the "sights, sounds, and flavors" of holidays around the world, according to Disney Parks.

"It keeps getting bigger every year, and it's a time when the World Showcase really shines in terms of getting to learn about the various countries that are represented, and it gives you the warm fuzzies about holidays all over the world, as well as brings everybody together," Jill Knonenborg, a travel agent whose specialty is Disney destinations, told Insider.

The Candlelight Processional is a once-in-a-lifetime experience

In terms of entertainment, you can't leave without experiencing the beauty of the Candlelight Processional, said Rachael Saldana, a Disney travel-planning expert at Allonsy Travel. It is one of the best-kept secrets of Disney World during the holidays, she added.

The Candlelight Processional is a retelling of the story of Jesus, so while the story will not be for everyone, the event does include a full orchestra, a full choir, and the chance to listen to a celebrity narrator.

The event, which is free with park admission, is held three times a night at the America Gardens Theatre, and this year, it will feature celebrity narrators including John Stamos, Eva Longoria, Audra McDonald, and Neil Patrick Harris, among others.

The holiday storytellers highlight each country's holiday season

The Candlelight Processional isn't the only entertainment at Epcot, according to Knonenborg, who shares her park advice with her 78,000 followers on TikTok.

Whether it's Father Christmas representing traditions in the UK, or the telling of La Befana, the good-natured witch who delivers gifts to children on the Eve of the Epiphany in Italy, holiday storytellers give short performances you can catch throughout the park.

"Each of the countries represented has a performer, an actor who is telling the story of that country's holiday tradition. It's just a really great way for families to do a little bit of 'funducation' on your holiday trip," she said.

The holiday cookie stroll is a scrumptious introduction to different countries

At more than 15 "Holiday Kitchens" throughout the park, Epcot makes treats to go along with visitors' holiday fun.

"There's something like 250,000 cookies they're going to be making for people to try from all different kinds of countries," Amber Travis, a Missouri-based Disney travel agent with Mickey Travels, told Insider.

There are official "cookie stroll" locations that guests can visit in the Festival Passport, which is a free pamphlet. After you purchase five cookies from any of the locations — for which you receive a corresponding stamp to go with each cookie — you can bring the complete passport to the Holiday Sweets & Treats Holiday Kitchen for a specialty cookie.

'Luminous: The Symphony of Us' is a new way to celebrate the holidays at Disney World

General view of 'Harmonious' during "The World's Most Magical Celebration" Walt Disney World Resort 50th Anniversary at Epcot in Orlando, Florida.
General view of 'Harmonious' during "The World's Most Magical Celebration" Walt Disney World Resort 50th Anniversary at Epcot in Orlando, Florida.Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

A new addition to Epcot's many holiday offerings is "Luminous: The Symphony of Us," a nighttime fireworks and laser show starting December 5, Travis said. It also corresponds with the Walt Disney 100th anniversary.

Ultimately, the experts told Insider, Epcot advertises a well-rounded holiday experience you can't get at Magic Kingdom and that you shouldn't miss out on if you're going for the ultimate holiday vacation at Disney World.

"Disney during the holidays just has a different feel," Saldana, who goes by @rachaelplansdisney on TikTok, added.

But at Epcot, "it's simply Christmas magic," she said.

Read the original article on Insider