What could be more magical than meeting Santa Claus when you're at Walt Disney World? Fortunately, there are many opportunities for local guests and for visitors staying on property to persuade the Big Man they belong on the Nice List.
Leading up to Christmas Eve, Santa welcomes guests at his chalet at Downtown Disney. This is one of the most popular locations, perhaps because it is completely free. There is no charge for parking and no obligation to purchase professional photos from Disney's PhotoPass team. Families can use their own cameras, though the lighting in the chalet isn't the best for point-and-shoot cameras or cell phones. A more advanced camera, though, would be able to compensate.
If you don't have an expensive camera, though, consider purchasing a professional image. Prices start at about $15 for a download, which is a lot less expensive than many other locations.
Santa's Chalet is located between World of Disney and Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop and is open from noon to 9:30 p.m. daily through Dec. 24. Santa takes short breaks to feed his reindeer at 2:15, 4:45 and 7:30 p.m. As you would expect, a line forms before the chalet opens. The average wait is about 30 minutes, I'm told.
This year, the new animated movie, "Disney's Frozen," has a presence at Santa's Chalet. There are signs showing the main characters and a cute photo opportunity with a statue of Olaf the snowman. Plus, when we were there last weekend, cast members were handing out "Frozen" trading cards at the exit.
My husband and I have been taking our children to this location since they were very little, so I was surprised when a cast member told us recently that Santa's Chalet will be moving to the West Side near Cirque du Soleil for the 2014 season. Apparently, the chalet will be only one part of a larger Winter Wonderland area. Sounds interesting, right?
If you're going to be at the Magic Kingdom or Epcot before Christmas Day, you'll be able to find Santa splitting his time there, as well. As improbable as it sounds, Santa is at Candy Cane Garden adjacent to City Hall in the Magic Kingdom each day between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. He also stays for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and can be seen in the party's Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade.
At Epcot, guests also can meet Mrs. Claus with her hubby outside the American Adventure. The couple appears at 1:30, 3:30, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. daily for 70-minute sets. Plus, each country in the World Showcase also features storytellers who describe native holiday traditions. In many countries, the storyteller is a representation of Santa, such as Pere Noel in France and Father Christmas in England.
Finally, as in years past, if he's not called back to the North Pole, Santa likely will be in most hotel lobbies between 5 and 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve. (At Fort Wilderness, he can be found on the porch at Crockett's Tavern.)
The previous post in this blog was Disney World's Limited Time Magic allows guests to donate Duffy bears to Toys For Tots.
The next post in this blog is Disney-sponsored turtles finish amazing race off coast of Florida .