What we love about the holiday season is that no matter which traditions you celebrate, it's a time for family and friends to gather and spread love, gratitude and goodwill to all. We frogs also enjoy learning about different traditions than our own and believe representation is important for all frogs in the pond. That's the main reason why we love the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays and the Disney Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure Park. These festivals highlight seasonal celebrations from all over the world!
In recent years, we've also seen more of these celebrations, including Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Diwali, spread to even more theme parks during the holiday season. We've compiled this full list of where you can find touches of these holiday traditions throughout the theme parks on both coasts.
Celebrating Hanukkah at the Theme Parks
Walt Disney World Resort
- EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays Storyteller: Storyteller Zachary shares the legends and songs of Hanukkah celebrations worldwide between the Morocco and France pavilions.
- L'Chaim Holiday Kitchen (EPCOT): The L'Chaim Holiday Kitchen serves up Pastrami on Rye, potato latkes and sufganiyot (mini jelly-filled doughnuts) — all traditional Jewish foods.
- Voices of Liberty (EPCOT): The Voices of Liberty perform as Charles Dickens carolers in the American Adventure rotunda, and they sing a special Hanukkah medley.
- Hanukkah Merchandise Collection: There are a lot of new Hanukkah merchandise items this year — including a super cute plush Mickey with a dreidel — that you can find at the theme parks, Disney Springs and ShopDisney.
Universal Orlando Resort
- Menorah Lighting Ceremonies: Each of the eight Universal Orlando Resort hotels has a menorah lighting ceremony in its lobby for every night of Hanukkah. The ceremonies begin at sundown nightly — though for exact times, confirm at the front desk.
- The Holiday Tribute Store (Universal Studios Florida): Stop by the Holiday Tribute Store, where you can find a small selection of Hanukkah merchandise.
- Hanukkah Celebration: From Dec. 18-26, guests can view the traditional lighting of the menorah during Hanukkah in Sesame Street Land. Big Bird will also be telling Hanukkah stories throughout the season.
- Mostly Kosher (Disney California Adventure): The lively Yiddish band, Mostly Kosher, celebrates Hanukkah with a contemporary spin on klezmer, jazz, Latin and rock music in Paradise Park during the Disney Festival of Holidays.
- Free Hanukkah Craft (Disney California Adventure): Make your own dreidel.
- Hanukkah-inspired Dishes at Carts and Restaurants: Try loaded latkes at Smokejumpers Grill or a Hanukkah cookie at the holiday cart in the Grand Californian lobby.
- Festival Food Booths (Disney California Adventure): Try lox and everything bagel nachos (A Twist on Tradition booth), or a brisket slider (Winter Sliderland booth).
- Hanukkah Merchandise Collection: Find Hanukkah Merchandise at the festival merchandise stands, in Julius Katz & Sons and Plaza Point.
- Decor: Locate menorahs in each park. You can find Hanukkah decor in the shop windows of Julius Katz & Sons in Disney California Adventure and Disney Clothiers in Disneyland. During Hanukkah, there is a menorah in an upper window on Main Street, U.S.A. (above Dr. Silverstein's office).
- Jewish Music: Keep an ear out for Hanukkah songs on the Festival of Holidays playlist in Disney California Adventure and The Dreidel Song during Believe ... in Holiday Magic fireworks at Disneyland Park.
Sesame Place San Diego
- Hanukkah Celebration: On Dec. 19, guests can celebrate Hanukkah with Sesame Street friends. Spin the dreidel with Elmo to see who can win the most Gelt, dance along to festive Hanukkah music, watch a menorah lighting ceremony and eat special Kosher food.
Celebrating Kwanzaa at the Theme Parks
Walt Disney World Resort
- Joyful! A Celebration of the Season (EPCOT): This jubilant, a cappella group celebrates the spirit of Christmas and Kwanzaa with uplifting gospel, R&B and jazz songs at the World Showcase Plaza Stage.
- Kwanzaa Festivities: From Dec. 26 through Jan. 1, reflect and celebrate African heritage with the nightly lighting of the Kinara in Sesame Street Land. Big Bird will also be telling Kwanzaa stories throughout the season.
- The Mistletoes (Disney California Adventure): Performing on the Pacific Wharf Stage, this a cappella vocal ensemble celebrates the spirit of Christmas and Kwanzaa with rhythm and soul.
- Free Kwanzaa Craft (Disney California Adventure): Make you own mkeka (decorative mat).
- Decor: Look for the kinara in a window across from The Little Mermaid.
- Festival Food Booths (Disney California Adventure): Enjoy southern mac and cheese (Holiday Duets booth), a sweet potato–stuffed corn muffin (Visions of Sugarplums booth) or a hummingbird cocktail (Grandma's Recipes).
Celebrating Diwali at the Theme Parks
Walt Disney World Resort
- Diwali Lanterns (Animal Kingdom): To celebrate Diwali (the festival of lights observed by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs), you'll find strings of beautiful and colorful lanterns in the Asia section of the park.
- Blue13 Dance Company (Disney California Adventure): This high-energy dance troupe performs traditional Indian dances that build up to a Bollywood-style dance party for all.
- Festival Food Booths (Disney California Adventure): At select festival food booths, you can try new dishes and drinks, including chicken tikka masala (Favorite Things booth), a guava-melon lassi (A Twist on Tradition booth), ceylon smash (Holiday Duets booth) or curry mac and cheese (A Twist on Tradition booth).
- Diwali-Inspired Menu Items (Downtown Disney District): Naples Ristorante e Bar is serving up special menu items, including a tikka masala pizza and a Tuk Tuk beverage (both nonalcoholic and alcoholic versions are available).
- Free Diwali Craft (Disney California Adventure): Make your own Akash Kandilt (lantern).
Celebrating Latin American Holiday Traditions at the Theme Parks
Walt Disney World Resort
- Las Posadas Celebration (EPCOT): From Sundays through Thursdays in the Mexico pavilion, celebrate Las Posadas with dancers, piñatas and Mariachi music performed by Mariachi Cobre.
- Las Posadas Holiday Kitchen (EPCOT): This year, you can try the new cochinita pibil tamales or the Frog Family favorite tostada de barbacoa. If you have a sweet tooth, then the Dulce de Leche churros are calling your name! For adult frogs 21 and up, there's a variety of margarita flavors to enjoy, including pomegranate and horchata.
- Three Kings Celebration: On Jan. 1, 2 and 6, 2023, commemorate the arrival of the Three Wise Men through Latin American traditions. Watch the live nativity scene, complete with a storyteller who narrates the tale of the wise men's journey, and dance along to live musical street acts.
- ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party (Disney California Adventure): Join the Three Caballeros for the ultimate fiesta for Navidad! The street party celebrates holiday traditions from Mexico to Brazil, complete with Folklorico dancers, mariachi musicians, Brazilian samba dancers and giant mojiganga puppets of Santa and Mrs. Claus. Mickey and Minnie even make a special appearance in their fiesta best!
- Three Kings Day (Disney California Adventure): Known as El Dia de Los Reyes Magos in Mexico and Central and South America, this unique event honors the Ephinany, or the twelfth day of Christmas, during which the Three Wise Men visited the nativity. There is traditional decor and a photo opportunity from Jan. 2-8, 2023.
- Free Navidad Craft (Disney California Adventure): Color and create your own papel picado lantern.
- Food at Paradise Garden Grill: Enjoy Mexican foods such as chicken tinga burrito, pozole dip torta, chicken tinga arepas and loaded yucca fries. For dessert, get the mango tres leches parfait.
- Food at Cocina Cucmonga: Try Capirotada (Mexican bread pudding) and holiday ponche (both nonalcoholic and alcoholic versions are available).
- Festival Food Booths (Disney California Adventure): Try a piña-hibiscus mezcal mule (Visions of Sugarplumbs booth), Impossible chorizo queso fundido (Brews & Bites booth), and the esquites carnitas mac and cheese or spicy apple cider margarita (Merry Mashups booth).
- Food at Carts and Other Stands: Get a bean & cheese pupusa (seasonal festival cart), caramel toffee horchata cold brew (Cappuccino Cart), hot chocolate churro (Terran Treats) or chicken tortilla soup and peppermint bark bread pudding (Pacific Wharf Cafe)
- Characters: Meet Mirabel, the Three Caballeros or Mickey and Minnie and pals dressed in their Navidad best.
The holiday season encompasses lots of traditions from many different cultures and religions around the world, but all share a similar message — peace, joy and love to all. We love learning about and experiencing all of the global celebrations through food, dance, storytelling and more at the theme parks!
Related: The Best Central Florida Theme Park by Holiday Tradition