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The Ultimate Disney Lover’s Gift Guide

Want to win the holidays? Think beyond the traditional gift box with these incredible Disney experiences that travel to the theme parks and even around the globe, making them magical gifts sure to impress every Disney fan in your life.

Disney CruiseChuck Wagner/Shutterstock

Meet Mickey and Minnie at sea

Not only are Disney cruises filled with on-board fun and fabulous ports, making them a perfect present for even the pickiest friend or family member, but as soon as you book a Disney cruise as a gift, you can schedule a special holiday phone call from Mickey and Minnie to surprise your gift recipient with the news about their special vacation present. Add even more holiday spirit with seasonally themed Very Merrytime Cruises and special New Year’s sailings, too. No gift-wrapping dilemma for this one! Here’s where to splurge, and how to save, on a Disney cruise.

New Years PixarCourtesy Disney Parks and Resorts

A New Year’s celebration with Pixar pals

Gift a fun-filled New Year’s with a Pixar Celebration at the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World (extra bonus: no park admission required for this one). The festive evening includes immersive recreations of Pixar movie sets along with meet-and-greets with favorite characters from Toy Story, Up, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Monsters, Inc. There’s a decadent buffet, a DJ spinning Radio Disney tunes, and special activities for kids including Pixar face painting and Basic Training with Sarge (from Toy Story). The final touch? At midnight, they’ll enjoy a special viewing location for the Magic Kingdom’s epic fireworks.

Holiday Danube River Adventure by DisneyChloe Rice/Courtesy Disney

Holiday cruise on the Danube

Send them rolling on the river with a festive holiday cruise along the scenic Danube through Germany, Austria, and Hungary with Adventures by Disney. Stops include iconic landmarks like the rolling hills made famous in The Sound of Music, not to mention Europe’s famed holiday markets filled with local crafts and festive seasonal treats. Back on board, there’s holiday-themed activities, including gingerbread cookie decorating and a Junior Adventurer gift exchange, for total holiday spirit immersion. These are the ultimate VIP Disney vacations.

Aladdin on BroadwayJoseph M. Arseneau/Shutterstock

Long weekend city escape

Want to let them unwind closer to home? Surprise them with a long weekend getaway to Boston, New York City, or San Francisco with Adventures by Disney. These urban adventures are packed with VIP experiences (picture stepping backstage at Aladdin on Broadway in NYC or into Lucas Studios in San Fran), awesome accommodations, and fabulous dining. Book before Thanksgiving and they’ll throw in an extra night, too, for even bigger gift bonus points for you.

Holiday dinnerCourtesy Disney Parks and Resorts

Holiday dinner in paradise

Picture this: A classic Christmas dinner…..on a tropical beach in Hawaii. Sounds pretty good. Now add live music, local entertainment, and Mickey, Moana and friends in their finest beachwear, and you have the makings of the Seafood Feast at ʻAMAʻAMA, the greatest holiday meal your gift recipients will ever eat. Aulani, Disney’s spectacular resort on the island of Oahu, isn’t just about holiday meals, of course; your gift also comes with soft sand beaches, pools with water slides and lazy rivers, cultural activities including ukulele lessons, and complimentary kids’ clubs, too.

Two giraffes walking in animal kingdom parklegenda/Shutterstock

Safari style

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for animal lovers, the Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom will make them roar with excitement! A private guided tour of the Safi River Valley provides VIP access to the wild animals of the savanna, including giraffe, hippos, rhinos, and crocodiles, as guests ride, walk, and swing on a rope bridge on their expedition. They’ll also be treated to gourmet safari snacks, a surprise gift, and complimentary photos (so they can show you their wild time)! Maximize your experience at the parks with these 14 insider tips from a Walt Disney World super-fan.

Disney everydayCourtesy Disney Parks and Resorts

Disney every day

How to fill the entire year with Disney fun for a giftee who lives in southern California or near Orlando? Splash out on Annual Passports to Disneyland or Walt Disney World, where they’ll be able to visit the parks as much as they wish and also receive discounts on merchandise, food, and invitations to special Passholder events, meaning you’ll be hearing “thank you for the amazing gift” all year! Only true fanatics know about these secret spots in Disney parks.

Adventures by Disney Yellowstone National ParkMatt Stroshane/Courtesy Disney

National parks tied with a bow

Wow them with the natural wonders of the Grand Canyon and Arches, Denali, or Yellowstone National Parks with Adventures by Disney‘s week-long group trips to the Old West, with stops that may include Arizona, Utah, Alaska, and Wyoming. Filled with the meticulous attention to detail and outstanding entertainment elements Disney is known for, including knowledgeable guides (plus collectible pins), these are the perfect trips to get travelers back to nature. Present them with a Disney Gift Card to turn it into a reality (you might want to tuck it into a Dooney & Bourke Disney-themed bag for an extra surprise). Here are some more great options for enjoying Disney without actually visiting the parks.

Typhoon LagoonShutterstock

Buckets of watery fun

You won’t believe the great deal you’ll get when you help your loved ones beat the heat in central Florida. A Water Parks Annual Pass grants one year of admission to Disney’s two themed water parks, splash-tastic Typhoon Lagoon and super cool Blizzard Beach, for just $130. (A single day zipping down the water slides and riding the lazy rivers here usually costs $65.) Wrap up some passes with a great Little Mermaid towel and they’ll think of you every time they plunge into the wave pool.

Foodie in DisneyCourtesy Disney Parks and Resorts

Foodie fun in Disneyland

On the West Coast, gift givers can treat the foodie in their life to special tastings during the 2019 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival by purchasing a Dining Gift Card for delicious experiences, like sampling California’s premier wines and craft brews, gourmet bites, and decadent desserts. Help them save more dough while they’re there by making sure they know about the sneaky ways Disney gets you to spend more money.

Memory MakerCourtesy Disney Parks and Resorts

Memory Maker

Want your gift recipients to remember their awesome adventures long after they’ve returned home? (Like that’s even a question.) Get them a photo package where they can keep unlimited photos they have taken around the Disney parks. One great option: A pre-purchased Memory Maker package for $169 (savings of $30 over a later purchase) will give them unlimited access to all photos taken at PhotoPass locations, so you’ll be able to see them smiling in front of Cinderella Castle from the comfort of your couch.

Disney GiftcardsJeff Bukowski/Shutterstock

Harness the Force

Star Wars fans are going to feel like they’ve arrived at a galaxy far, far away when Galaxy’s Edge opens in 2019 at both Disney World and Disneyland. Here they’ll be able to fly the Millennium Falcon, board a Star Destroyer, explore the land of Batuu, and even spend the night in a Star Wars hotel. Since neither is open yet, create a special package with a Disney Gift Card to use on admission, packaged with a new Disney Star Wars tee or Galaxy’s Edge print. Find out other awesome experiences at Disney for Star Wars fans.

Tokyo DisneylandChih Hsuan Peng/Shutterstock

A whole new world

Here’s one they’ll thank you for for years to come: Fulfill a bucket list travel wish with a trip to Tokyo Disney and its unique maritime DisneySea park for the ultimate Disney trip. Combine it with Adventures by Disney’s new Japan itinerary, which will have them traversing Kyoto and its bamboo forest on an authentic Japanese rickshaw ride, learning to keep the beat on a Taiko drum, perfecting the art of origami with experts in Hiroshima, and watching live Sumo wrestling up close in Takayama. Then take a bow—you’ve officially won the holidays forever! Read on to find out about the 14 best Disney resorts for a perfect family vacation.

Melissa Klurman
Melissa Klurman is a freelance travel writer and editor with more than 27 years experience who reports on travel trends around the planet for Reader's Digest. Winner of a Lowell Thomas Gold Award for excellence in travel writing, she started her career as an editor at both Frommer’s and Fodor’s travel guides, then went on to write about travel for many publications including Family Traveller, Parents, and Working Mother magazines. More recently she has been a contributing editor at Saveur, Islands, and Caribbean Travel and Life and a senior contributor at Travelocity. A New Jersey native, ice cream addict, and a lifelong Bruce Springsteen fan, Klurman lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband, son, and rescue dog.

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