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Where To Find Santa Claus At Disney World For The 2021 Holiday Season

HomeWhere To Find Santa Claus At Disney World
Where To Find Santa Claus At Disney World For The 2021 Holiday Season

A big part of the holiday season at Walt Disney World is meeting Santa Claus! Who doesn’t want to say hello to the big guy himself during the most wonderful time of the year?

But, where exactly can you find Santa Claus at Disney World? That is a very good question! And one that we’re here to answer.

The holidays kicked off on Nov. 12 and will run through the end of December, with some of the decorations most likely sticking around into early January.

But when it comes to Santa, you have to act fast because not only is he a fan-favorite to meet, but as soon as Dec. 25 hits, he heads back to the North Pole to prepare for next year’s festivities.

Not only is it even more magical to meet Santa at the most magical place on earth, but 2021 also marks the first year that there is a black Santa Claus at Disney World (and also Disneyland) for guests to take photos with and to wave to.

Now, where can you see Santa Claus at Disney World in 2021? Here’s a complete list!

Magic Kingdom

There are several places to see Santa at Magic Kingdom during official park hours and in the evenings when Disney Very Merriest After Hours is held.

Disney Very Merriest After Hours

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is part of Disney Very Merriest After Hours, which has replaced Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in 2021.

Of course, you can spot Santa Claus as he waves hello from his sleigh during the parade.

The parade begins in Frontierland near Splash Mountain and works its way towards the end of Main Street, U.S.A.

santa mickey's once upon a christmastime parade

There’s also a modified Santa meet and greet during the After Hours event at the Liberty Square Gazebo near the Ye Old Christmas Shoppe.

By “modified” we mean little ones can’t sit on his lap, nor can you hug him or stand near him for photos.

santa claus photopass very merriest after hours

Keep in mind that a Disney PhotoPass Photographer takes pictures here, which can make for a nice holiday photo!

This line can get very long due to Santa’s popularity, so plan accordingly.

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

At the end of December, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade will show during regular park hours outside of Disney Very Merriest After Hours.

Here are the daytime parade times:

  • Dec. 22-29: 12 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.
  • Dec. 30-31: 12 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
santa claus mickey's once upon a christmastime parade magic kingdom

Be sure to check the My Disney Experience app for the latest schedule. The parade takes the usual route: starts in Frontierland by Splash Mountain and ends on Main Street, U.S.A. next to the Fire Station.

Liberty Square Gazebo

During the day at Magic Kingdom, you can also meet Santa at the Liberty Square Gazebo.

You can check the My Disney Experience app for times, but he typically arrives between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. intermittently.

santa claus magic kingdom liberty square gazebo

Here is the exact location for the modified Santa meet and greet (no hugging or sitting on his lap, along with distanced photos).

santa claus location liberty square gazebo magic kingdom

Check out our complete guide to the 2021 holiday season at Walt Disney World.


Alongside the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays (runs from Nov. 26 through Dec. 30), there are plenty of opportunities to see Santa around the World Showcase, including a chance to have a Disney PhotoPass Photographer take your photo with him.

American Adventure Pavilion

There is a modified Santa meet and greet in the American Adventure Pavilion! He usually appears at specific times that you can look up in the My Disney Experience app.

Typically, Santa makes appearances at 11:45 a.m., 1:45 pm., 3:45 p.m., and 5:45 p.m.

santa meet and greet epcot america pavilion

You can find Santa’s meet and greet to the right of the American Adventure, near the restrooms.

santa claus meet and greet america adventure pavilion

World Showcase Storytellers

What makes Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays so special is the chance to learn about how different cultures celebrate the holidays, including how they view Santa Claus and what he means to them.

santa in france at epcot festival of the holidays

Stationed in the World Showcase pavilions are “Storytellers,” who share holiday traditions from across the globe.

Some of these Storytellers are Santa Claus’ from different countries, including the following. You can find showtimes for each of these Storytellers in the My Disney Experience app.

France Pavilion

per noel storyeller epcot france

You can visit with Père Noël in the France pavilion and rediscover the magic of Christmas through the letter of a delightful child.

Norway Pavilion

magical barn santa norway epcot

In the Norway pavilion, a mischievous Barn Santa visits Sigrid, an unsuspecting Christmas storyteller.

United Kingdom Pavilion

father christmas united kingdom epcot

Father Christmas makes an appearance in the United Kingdom pavilion and shares the traditions of the U.K. and good cheer.

Animal Kingdom

While there is only one chance to spot Santa Claus at Animal Kingdom, it’s better than nothing!

Santa Claus Festive Flotilla

Santa Claus floats around in his festive flotilla and waves to guests along the Discovery River. You can’t miss him in his bright red suit!

santa festive flotilla animal kingdom

Be sure to check the My Disney Experience app to see exactly when the festive flotilla (alongside the many other seasonal boats) is running.

santa claus festive flotilla animal kingdom

Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios is yet another park where you can meet the actual Santa Claus and a fan-favorite character who dresses up as Santa.

Santa Claus Merry Motorcade

You can’t miss Santa Claus riding in his bright red motorcade down Hollywood Boulevard, along with his elves and reindeer.

Santa Motorcade Hollywood Studios

This is a very cute cavalcade that you want to make time for. As you can see below, motorcade times are posted in the My Disney Experience app.

santa claus merry motorcade hollywood studios

Minnie’s Holiday Dine

If you’re wondering about Santa Goofy, yes, he’s still around at Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood Studios.

Santa Goofy Hollywood and Vine

During Minnie’s Seasonal Dine, aka Minnie’s Holiday Dine, Santa Goofy shows up alongside Minnie, Mickey, and Pluto, who are also all donning festive attire.

If you want more information about this character dining, we have a full review.

Disney Springs

If you happen to be shopping around Disney Springs, you’ll definitely want to take photos with Santa Claus. But, compared to past meet and greets at Disney Springs, the location and experience has changed a bit.

Once Upon a Toy

In order to meet Santa Claus this year at Disney Springs, you have to join a virtual queue in the My Disney Experience app at either 9 a.m. or 4 p.m. and you must be at Disney Springs to do so.

Santa will meet at Once Upon a Toy (in the Disney Springs Marketplace near Earl of Sandwich) for physically distanced photos on the following dates and times:

  • Nov. 12-Dec. 14 from 10 a.m.- 9 p.m.
  • Dec. 15-Dec. 24 from 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
santa claus meet and greet disney springs
Photo courtesy of Natalie Engle

Masks are required for guests 2 and older, since the modified meet and greet is indoors. Little ones aren’t allowed to sit on Santa’s lap, nor are hugs permitted.

A Disney PhotoPass Photographer will take photos, as you can see above.

When it comes to joining the virtual queue, it’s pretty easy. Simply open the My Disney Experience app and then click the 3 lines at the bottom right of the screen.

Then, you’ll select “Virtual Queues” before clicking “Join Virtual Queue.” You’ll want to select the “Disney Springs” tab and follow the onscreen instructions.

As noted below, you’ll be able to see the estimated wait time, which groups are being welcomed, and whether or not you’re eligible to join the queue. Again, you must be at Disney Springs to join.

meet santa claus at disney springs

Read our guide on where you can find characters across Walt Disney World.

Frequently Asked Questions

Allow us to answer some questions that may be on your mind!

How long does Santa make appearances?

Typically, Santa will begin making appearances at the beginning of the holiday season through December 24.

Does Santa Goofy still make appearances?

Yes, Santa Goofy still makes appearances, but only during Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood Studios.

Are character meet and greets back to normal?

No, they are not. But, we’ve made progress with character meet and greets since the parks reopened in July 2020.

Instead of being called “meet and greets,” they are now referred to as “sightings.”

You’re able to have 1-on-1 time with select characters, but you must keep your distance. There is no hugging and autographs aren’t allowed. This also includes with Santa.

Most of these experiences don’t have PhotoPass photographers, so you need to take photos/selfies with your own camera and/or mobile device.

You can check wait times for sightings in the My Disney Experience app.

mickey mouse 50th anniversary outfit town square theater

Will Santa sign autographs?

No, he will not. And neither will Disney characters.

At this time, autographs aren’t allowed for health and safety reasons. Even during character dining experiences guests receive a postcard with pre-written character signatures that also serves as a souvenir.

Chef Mickey's autograph card

Will Cast Members take photos for guests?

At this time, Disney PhotoPass Photographers aren’t taking guests’ photos with Disney characters, including at select “Sighting” locations across the theme parks.

This means you have to use your own camera, phone, or mobile device to take pictures with characters. You can either take a selfie or have someone in your party snap the image.

As for Cast Members, they will take your photo for you, but only if they feel comfortable doing so. If not, they may decline. It’s important to be polite and respectful, because not everyone has the same level of comfort during these times.

FYI: There are PhotoPass Photographers stationed with Santa at Disney Springs and at the Liberty Square Gazebo during Disney Very Merriest After Hours.

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Allyson Koerner