Walt Disney World is home to four parks full of Christmas decorations and entertainment from November to early January. The holiday cheer doesn’t stop there as the resorts and Disney Springs get in on the fun. In some cases the decor outshines what you can see in the parks. In this post I’m going to go through some of WDW’s best Christmas spots outside of the parks, adding some photos and tips along the way.
We haven’t made it to every single resort at Walt Disney World during Christmas time, although we’re close, and all of them have Christmas decor up one way or another. In the name of brevity, not exactly what this blog is known for, I won’t dive into what every single resort has in the way of Christmas decorations. Even if a resort isn’t listed below, it may be worth checking out if you’re close by and have a decent amount of time at Walt Disney World.
You will notice that all of the resorts listed are deluxe Disney World resorts. We hardly ever stay at these but instead just visit the lobbies and do some walking around. The value and moderate resorts don’t quite match the extravagant decorations that you can find elsewhere. There are still trees, wreaths and a little bit of extra goodwill towards men in these resorts. Coronado Springs and Port Orleans: French Quarter just narrowly miss the list. Ultimately, I wouldn’t make a special trip to see those places but you can expect to see some holiday decor if you book a stay at any resort.
I’ll save my thoughts on Disney Springs until the end, as they have a variety of Christmas decorations and events. Let’s get to it!
No sense in burying my favorite Christmas resort further down the post. Wilderness Lodge is gorgeous and worth a visit any time of year but seeing it at Christmas brings the resort to another level. With the lobby inspired by the Pacific Northwest, it feels like there could be a mountain blanketed with snow right outside of the window. The Christmas tree in the lobby is stunning, my favorite tree in all of Walt Disney World. Grab a drink, get a seat by the fireplace and just relax while enjoying the tree and all of the other Christmas sights throughout the lobby. A few steps away from the tree is the gingerbread log cabin at Wilderness Lodge. While not as magnificent as the Contemporary and Grand Floridian’s, this gingerbread display fits in nicely with the surroundings and is new for 2019. If you finish up at Wilderness Lodge and want a little more of the outdoorsy Christmas feel then take a boat over to Fort Wilderness to see a few more fun decorations.
If Wilderness Lodge is there to give that warm, “Chestnuts roasting by an open fire” feeling then the Grand Floridian is there to remind you that you’re at Disney World and they decorate for Christmas better than you do. Continuing the Victorian theme of the hotel, the Christmas decorations here are extravagant starting with the tree that greets guests as soon as they enter the lobby. With the high ceilings, the tree stretches a few stories and manages to look elegant against the white backdrop. Down on the bottom floor of the lobby is the Grand Floridian gingerbread house. It’s so large that they fit a shop to buy Christmas treats inside of the house. Both the tree and gingerbread display are wow-inducing, making the stop at the Grand Floridian (an easy monorail or boat ride away from Magic Kingdom) more than worth your time. There are some decorations throughout the grounds and it’s always pleasant to take a stroll around no matter the time of year.
The Contemporary isn’t as complete of a package as the Grand Floridian or Wilderness Lodge but makes the list due to the excellent gingerbread house on the fourth floor concourse. Over 1,000 pounds of sugar and honey went into the massive house. Sweet! This is the most ‘Disney’ of all the gingerbread houses, with a Cinderella theme as well as Mickeys sprinkled throughout the display and a nod to It’s a Small World. There’s a little shop right beside the house that sells gingerbread and other Christmas treats. Being a short walk away from the monorail stop, this is a convenient place to visit if you’re at Magic Kingdom for the day. Elsewhere at the Contemporary is a giant Christmas tree in the parking lot. While it’s not my favorite of the Disney World Christmas trees, it is one of the biggest and worth walking down to if you’re a tree-enthusiast. I know this blog is really popular among ‘tree-enthusiasts’.
Unlike the other three entries, I clumped the Boardwalk Resorts together and they partially made the list out of convenience. Being a short walk away from Epcot and Hollywood Studios, stopping by to see the Boardwalk, Beach Club or Yacht Club lobbies is easy. They are gorgeous, with plenty of decorations in each, but without the high ceilings that make these other resorts so appealing for giant Christmas trees. Boardwalk Inn features a miniature gingerbread display of the resort, raising the dumb question of “if someone ate the gingerbread display would the actual resort disappear?” I’m guessing no but am hoping we don’t find out. A joke worth making? No, but I’m not deleting it. The Beach Club has a gingerbread carousel (no, you can’t ride it) which I personally like better than the Boardwalk Resort’s gingerbread display. The Boardwalk is always pleasant to walk around, no matter the time of year, but even more so at Christmas time.
There’s a variety of Christmas decorations throughout Disney Springs that I’m lukewarm on. The large tree in the center of the complex is nice but nothing we haven’t seen before. Disney Springs does have a few events for the holidays, with the standout being the Christmas Tree Trail. This is located on the far end of the Marketplace, close to the Christmas store and Once Upon a Toy. While the outside of the trail is kind of walled off and doesn’t look the best, the inside is a really pleasant surprise. There are 22 trees, mixed in with a few snack stands, all uniquely decorated to Disney movies or attractions. While we wouldn’t call the trail an absolute highlight of the Disney World Christmas season, it’s a fun way to spend 20 or 30 minutes and also free of charge. If you’re in the area then absolutely check it out. The Christmas Tree Trail is open from 11 AM to 11 PM.
Outside of the Christmas Tree Trail, there isn’t much I’d recommend at Disney Springs in the way of Christmas decor. Some restaurants offer Christmas specials if that’s your thing. Unless you’re doing some shopping for the actual holiday, I’d recommend visiting the resorts over Disney Springs (again, just in the context of wanting to see Christmas decor).
Disney World is full of places to get into the holiday spirit even without a park ticket. If you’re a Christmas fan, Disney World is a tough place to beat during the holidays.
What are your favorite Disney World places to visit during Christmas season? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below! Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our planning guide to help you along the way! Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney. If you enjoy the site please subscribe to the blog via WordPress and like our social media pages. You can find all of those on the right side of this page. Have a great day!