You Guide to a Disney Hanukkah (Chanukah)
Disney honors and celebrates all holidays and Hanukkah is a vibrant but solemn event in their parks. Jewish visitors will enjoy exploring Disney theme parks during this holiday period as there are reminders and decorations honoring the tradition all around. You may ask at the parks about the Hanukkah happenings if you are celebrating it there. The parks and the events constantly change in time for various holiday celebrations. There are new schedules added to the line-up and it’s always smart to ask for updates.
All around the Disney parks there are signs of the Hanukkah celebration. A Disney Hanukkah menorah is placed at the Main Street Window of Disneyland and the candles are lit correctly for each night. You can see it on the west part of the street in between the New Century Jewelry and Crystal Arcade.
Hanukkah in Disney Epcot
Likewise, exploring Epcot will surprise you with a beautiful storytelling show at the World Showcase. In time for Hanukkah the Holiday Storyteller will explain the Festival of Lights. It is located just around the American Adventure Rotunda and it is a heartwarming attraction to watch and enjoy.
Also inside the park is a spot in the America Showcase where performers put on a lovely open air concert with lovely holiday songs. They are called Dickens Carolers or The Voices of Liberty and they sing a Hanukkah Medley beautifully. The medley includes many favorites like the dreidel song and Eight Days of Hanukkah.
A reminder of why we celebrate Hanukkah
Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that is celebrated for eight consecutive days. It starts on the 25th day of Kislev or the third month of the Jewish calendar. In other terms it is also called the Festival of Lights. This celebration is in remembrance of how Judah Maccabee reaffirmed the Temple of Jerusalem in 165 BC. This temple has once been tainted by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the King of Syria and the Overlord of Palestine.
After Jerusalem and the Temple were recovered, he ordered for the cleansing of the Temple and for a new altar to be built. Likewise, he asked for a new holy vessel to be added. According to records, the Temple was lit with a menorah that contains oil good enough to burn for one day only. But miraculously, it continued burning for eight days. It was the time needed to prepare new oil for the menorah. Thus, the Hanukkah Festival of Light is celebrated to commemorate this miracle.
Disney takes its part seriously in the celebration of any holiday. Whether it is a cultural, religious or historical celebration you can see signs and decorations to indicate the festivities. This is why many Jewish families love spending Hanukkah and other holidays in Orlando. They can stroll around and see the wonderful ways of how Disney honors this sacred Holiday. Plus the fact that Disney is always the happiest place on earth!
One of the most sought after experiences at Disney Resorts during the Hanukkah festivities is the availability of Hanukkah inspired merchandise. These items are available throughout the park and property stores. If you are exploring Epcot, it is at Mouse Gear and at the World of Disney.
The items are not just for the little ones, although there is quite an exciting number of mugs, pins, dreidels and crayons for them. Likewise, parents and adults will also enjoy choosing housewares and memorabilia that celebrate the Festival of Lights with a hint of Disney wonder.
Disney Hanukkah merchandise is also loved for their collectable value. They serve as precious reminders of your exciting celebration at the happiest place in the world. More so, Disney-inspired houseware items like Pepper and Salt Shakers, Dish Towels and Serving Plates can be used on your next festivities.
The theme for the festivities also changes every year. The most recent one features a lovely monochromatic blue scheme with “Light, Laughter and Latkes.” One of their most-loved finds is the cozy fleece blanket that is perfect for the upcoming colder weather.
Each Hanukkah merchandise is beautifully designed and instantly delights visitors who are there to celebrate the festivities. They are ideal for any Jewish homes, but they also make great gifts for loved ones and friends at home. And much to the delight of every homeowner is the Hanukkah banner with 8 pouches. It is one useful display that that family can use especially if they give small gifts every night of the Hanukkah.
Special Meals, Parties and Special Activities
While there are no special parties to celebrate Hanukkah, there are special events and experiences around Disney parks to commemorate the event. Epcot International Festival of the Holidays features great food and stories about Hanukkah from all over the world.
This event runs soon after Thanksgiving and it also opens a new marketplace with a delicious menu - the L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen. It is located between the France and Morocco World Showcase Pavilions.
This deli can nosh out some of the best Hanukkah delights for you and your gang. They serve generous pastrami on rye topped with house-prepared pickles and mustard. For your little ones, they also have potato knish ready with sour cream that is perfect for those tiny hands noshing around the park.
They also serve chicken and matzo ball soup which may sound a little strange for a Disney theme park snack. But this item on the menu is a crowd favorite as it can become a little chilly in Orlando during the night.
L’Chaim has a New York deli-inspired menu and recently they have included latkes or jelly donuts to their menu due to popular demand. Likewise, they do have some tasty egg cream and giant black and white cookies. All items on the menu will be sure to make you zaftig enough for the day.
For grownups, they also serve frosty Brooklyn Brewery’s Lager or a swanky Blue Cosmo to wash down all these delicious food.
The Hanukkah Storyteller
Apart from the festive foods for Hanukkah, Disney Epcot’s Storyteller shares wonderful stories of traditions and holidays around the world. It is a well-loved experience and entertainment offering in the Epcot’s World Showcase.
There are several storytellers strolling around at Epcot and they are fun to listen to and watch while you wait for your next ride. Over the years, the stories have become more engaging with the mix of stories and music from the band. If you are here during the Hanukkah, try to catch the presenters from America. They have an informative presentation of how Americans Celebrate Christmas with Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.
Some other interesting and entertaining stories include the story of Mariachi Cobre and the dancers featuring the joy of the season in Mexico, the Norwegian Christmas traditions including the lore about Julenissen and the gnome, Lion Dancers from China for captivating dragon dance and many more.
Many visitors say that the Storytellers at Epcot is the most exciting experience at the park. They are the highlight of the Festival of Lights and they are not to be missed when you’re there during this season.
Jewish Hanukkah Classics at the American Adventure
The American Adventure Pavilion is located across the lagoon and is the centermost area of the World Showcase. It is bordered by Italy on its east, Japan on its west and is the southernmost tip of Epcot.
The spot has an Audio-Anomatorinic platform named American Adventure, an amphitheatre and outdoor stage called the American Gardens Theater, a rotating exhibit called the American Heritage Gallery, a fast-food called Liberty Inn and a small souvenir shop called the Heritage Manor Gifts. The whole area is set in landscaped gardens and walkways.
During Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, the American Adventure has special related exhibits at the Rotunda. The a capella group Voices of Liberty also sings a medley of Jewish Hanukkah classics. You may listen to them at the American Adventure Rotunda and their presentation usually lasts for around 15 minutes.
Disney Springs Special Holiday Performances
Apart from Epcot, Disney Springs, particularly in the Waterside Stage in Marketplace also has Special Holiday Performances for Hanukkah celebrations.
The park features a wide variety of entertainment options for the whole family. It has rides available for mini guests while adults rest and relax among the many restaurants at the Waterside Stage. After exploring Walt Disney parks, this place is perfect to pass the time and enjoy kosher meals for dinner. During holidays and festivities, there are also performances at the Marketplace Stage to celebrate Hanukkah.
While there are no parties for the occasion, Disney does have special experiences to ensure that you have a grand Hanukkah celebration at the resort. During this season the spirit of Hanukkah has a wonderful presence at Walt Disney World including the hotels and theme parks. Make the most of your holiday vacation by making magical memories with the help of this guide. Chanukah Sameach!