Look, I get it: the holiday season is coming to an end. And so is the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, which concludes on December 30, 2022. Christmas preparations and celebrations absorbed much of my time these past few weeks, but I still wanted to write about my experience at EPCOT’s holiday festival, if only to say how much I enjoyed it, and to provide tips for parents who may be on the fence about attending next year.Here is how to enjoy the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays with kids.
The EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays is the final of the four calendar year EPCOT festivals that usually lasts from the end of November through the end of December. Like other EPCOT festivals, the food booths and holiday decorations are rightfully the main attractions. But food booths tend to attract large crowds, and the attractions can sometimes also have long waits, depending on the day. As much as I am a proponent for taking kids to Walt Disney World, I am not a fan of long waits, with or without kids. In addition to a strategy for riding your favorite attractions throughout the day–something I won’t be getting into in this article–I recommend exploring other offerings available at each Disney park. These are theme parks, after all. Luckily, EPCOT shines in this department; here are a few tips for enjoying a day at EPOCT with your kids during the International Festival of the Holidays.
Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition is a fun scavenger hunt where the goal is to find Olaf, who has been busy collecting holiday traditions around World Showcase pavilions. Once you find Olaf in each country/pavilion, mark your map with a corresponding sticker. The map and stickers can be purchased at festival merchandise locations around EPCOT, including Creations Shop, Port of Entry and World Traveler at International Gateway. The map and stickers cost $9.99.
The prize for completion is a Frozen-themed coin purse. Pro tip: you do not need to actually complete the expedition before collecting your prize; you can simply pick up the prize when paying for the map. This is great for parents of little ones who may not finish the expedition, or who may not have time to go and collect the prize. Before becoming a father, I was the typical ride enthusiast who didn’t spend time on scavenger hunts and the like. But, now that I do have kids, I can no longer to race around the Disney parks riding each ride. I now search for fuller experiences at each park that can entertain the entire family; and this experience did just that.
Holiday Cookie Stroll. Grab an EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays festival passport and purchase five cookies from one of the cookie stroll locations. (Yes, each cookie must be individually purchased.) Make sure you get a stamp in your passport when buying the cookie! Once you purchase five, you can redeem your prize—you guessed it, another cookie!—at Holiday Sweets and Treats. Here are the cookies and locations:
- Nochebuena Cocina: Alfajores – Vanilla Shortbread Cookie with Dulce de Leche and Coconut
- Yukon Holiday Kitchen: SNICKERS®-Doodle Cookie made with SNICKERS® Bar pieces
- L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen: Black and White Cookie (plant-based)
- American Holiday Table: Chocolate Crinkle Cookie
- Bavaria Holiday Kitchen: Linzer Cookie
- Holiday Hearth Desserts: Gingerbread Cookie
- Sunshine Seasons: M&M’s® Sugar Cookie
- Connections Café: Sugar Cookie
Though I am not big on sweets, I found the stroll to be fun. Trying the new foods naturally takes you to so many areas of EPCOT, and it was fun to try all the flavors along the way. My favorites are the Chocolate Crinkle Cookie and the Linzer Cookie.
Green Landing Family Play Zone. This playground is not unique to the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, but it is perhaps most enjoyable during the festival because of the cooler weather. With its WALL-E theme, the playground sits quietly between Creations Shop and Test Track. You may be thinking that a playground is a waste of time when you spent money on a ticket to Disney World. But I would disagree. This is a space for the smaller kids to get their energy out and socialize after being in lines for attractions or strapped into a stroller. It’s also a good place for you, as a parent, to take a breather and let them play around mostly soft surfaces. Do yourself a favor and try this out in between rides on your next visit.
And there you have it. Just a few tips for enjoying the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays with kids. Have you tried any of these options? Let me know!
Don’t be confused at Walt Disney World. Check out my book, The New Parents’ Guide to Walt Disney World.