We are now officially in the throes of the holiday season. In many instances, the spirit of the season is synonymous with– if not dominated almost entirely by–Christmas festivities. But we must keep in mind that the “holidays” refer to more than just Christmas and can be used to describe a whole host of seasonal and religious observances. Hanukkah (alternately spelled Chanukah), for instance, is a pretty important annual celebration in Judaism and is observed by countless Jewish people across the globe. Many live right here in the United States, and several proudly admit to being diehard Disney fans. So it goes without saying that Jewish Disney fans would want to add the same magical touches to their annual holiday celebrations as well. We’re listing some of the many ways that Jewish Disney fanatics can embrace the spirit of the season, from themed merchandise and apparel to celebrations happening onsite at Walt Disney World Resort.
Holiday shopping often starts online for most self-professed Disney fanatics. While shopDisney.com is a big-name suggestion, several other Internet sites proudly sell Disney accessories and apparel as well. And these, of course, include celebratory items specific to a given season or holiday: in this case, Hanukkah. In addition to online shopping, adamant Disney fans visiting Walt Disney World Resort should take note of the many brick and mortar locations all throughout the different Parks (and in Disney Springs) that also have Hanukkah-themed merchandise. One very unexpected example of such is the Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe, which is located in Liberty Square within Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park.
Related: Thoughtful Gifts for Disney Lovers
Every year EPCOT leads an International Festival of Holidays celebration. Presented by AdventHealth, this multicultural exhibition spans the vast makeup of nations represented through EPCOT’s World Showcase. The focus is fixed heavily on the diverse, seasonal holiday celebrations and traditions as observed by people from all around the world. It’s not only an excellent way for Guests to familiarize themselves with how different cultures carry out holiday traditions, but also a way to gain insight into less-familiar religions and the traditions connected to them.
In the spirit of Hanukkah, as has been the case in years past, Guests will have an opportunity to listen to an onsite speaker—a storyteller, who can be found in the area situated between the Morocco and France Pavilions. The storyteller will explain the history of how this “festival of lights” is celebrated for eight consecutive days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev (the third month in the Jewish calendar) and how it is a commemoration of the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem by Judah Maccabee. The speaker will also recount experiences from traveling abroad in the exploration of diverse music and other cultural Hanukkah traditions as celebrated throughout the many different nations of the world.
L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen
Every year during the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, the various representing pavilions in the World Showcase feature temporary establishments known as Holiday Kitchens. Presented in the form of unique quick-service vendors, each Kitchen boasts an enticing array of international menu offerings connected with the spirit of holiday celebrations. And for those of you who are already exploring the area between Morocco and France to hear the storyteller, you may also have an interest in trying some Jewish-inspired deli-style cuisine favorites at the L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen. Featured menu picks include:
- Pastrami on rye with house-made pickles and deli mustard
- Smoked salmon potato latke (gluten/wheat-friendly)
- Potato latkes (plant-based and gluten/wheat-friendly)
- Sufganiyot: Mini jelly-filled donuts
Additionally, Shmaltz Brewing Company will be offering their Hanukkah beer and there will also be a featured Blue Cosmo Cocktail that you can order. Because each Holiday Kitchen is featuring a special cookie as part of their cookie stroll, there will also be a specialty black and white cookie representing Hanukkah at this year’s installment. Holiday Kitchens run from now until December 30th. Click here to learn more.
Other Kosher Eats
In general, Walt Disney World Resort is excellent at accommodating the specific dietary needs of its Guests. It is encouraged, as always, for those with specific requests (in this case those who keep to a kosher diet) to make any table service reservations well in advance and to let the relevant Cast Members know what you require. You may do so by calling 407-824-1391 or emailing email@example.com. It’s always best to give at least one day’s notice for kosher-specific requests. And while having prearrangements for your Disney meals is always ideal, do take note that there are several venues throughout Disney World that offer kosher meals regularly. Many are quick-service locations, including the following:
- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
- Satu’li Canteen
- ABC Commissary
- World Premiere Food Court
- Intermission Food Court
- The Mara
- Centertown Market
- Gasparilla Island Grill
- Everything POP
- Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory
- Riverside Mill
- Artist’s Palette
Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC in Disney Springs is another excellent venue offering baked goods that are vegan, gluten-free, and kosher.
Related: 15 Best Snacks At Disney World
Christmas songs tend to take over the holiday season, with celebrants of other faiths proudly proclaiming that they too enjoy such melodies. But for those who are looking for tunes that are more Hanukkah-focused, it may surprise you to learn that EPCOT’s own Voices of Liberty singers have been known to produce such entertainment. Decked out in Victorian garb and assuming their alternate identity as the “Dickens Carolers” this time of year, this renowned acapella group performs both traditional Christmas Carols and other seasonal hits. And in keeping with the spirit of Hanukkah, they sing such hits as “The Driedel Song,” “Eight Days of Hanukkah,” and more.
The Walt Disney Company thrives on diversity and sharing in mutual respect for people of all creeds and religions. In addition to Christmas and Hanukkah observances, there are many other religious, cultural, and seasonal celebrations highlighted in EPCOT’s World Showcase Pavilion this time of year as well as at any other time. Magical holidays know no limitations and can always be found with Disney.