If you ever wondered to yourself, “Can Walt Disney World get any more magical?” The answer is, yes! As the holiday season rolls into the happiest place on Earth, the scent of gingerbread seems to fill the air and every inch of the parks and resorts is decorated with the most beautiful and breathtaking decorations you’ve ever seen.
Unlike Fall at Disney World, where only the Magic Kingdom is decorated and celebrates, all 4 parks are completely transformed during the holidays. And although they’re a sight to see, what I love most about this time of year is how the Disney Resorts decorate and celebrate the holidays. I compiled a list and narrowed it down to my Top 5 favorite Disney Resorts during the holidays.
5. Animal Kingdom Lodge
I recently talked about how this is easily Disney’s most underrated resort. Even if you’re not staying there, I highly recommend visiting this resort during the holidays (I’m confident that after visiting, you’ll want to stay there on your next vacation).
The crown jewel of this resort’s decorations is the 45-foot-tall tree in the lobby that features authentic African decor of handmade baskets and reproductions of traditional African masks. The balconies that overlook its grand lobby are draped with decadent garland that sparkle and shine with their shimmering lights.
I suggest visiting the Animal Kingdom Lodge around the golden hour of the day. When the sun has about an hour before it sets and the sky seems to be glowing. The giant window in the lobby that overlooks the Savanna, allows for all of that golden sun color to shine in and the holiday decorations almost come alive. It’s a beautiful sight.
4. The Wilderness Lodge
Much like the Animal Kingdom Lodge, this resort also features a grand lobby. Between the two, The Wilderness Lodge is still my favorite, but equally as beautiful during the holidays. What makes The Wilderness Lodge so special is something I credit to the Imagineers. They created a resort where you can leave behind the landscape of Florida and escape to the rustic majesty of America’s Great Northwest. The Wilderness Lodge is inspired by turn-of-the-century National Park lodges, and it stays true to that during the holidays. If you want that “home for Christmas” feel, this is the resort to be at.
The entire lobby is decorated from top to bottom. With its woodlands themed garland draping the balconies, to its 60-foot-tall Christmas tree complete with ornaments carved out of wood and miniature teepees.
Just beyond the Christmas tree is the giant fireplace complete with a roaring fire and rows of rocking chairs in front. Even if it’s 90 degrees outside, you’ll want to claim a rocking chair, grab a cup of hot chocolate and put your feet up after a long day in the parks. The Wilderness Lodge makes this CT girl feel like she’s back home again, and that’s what makes this resort so special during the holidays.
3. Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club
Ok, maybe I’m cheating a little, because technically they’re two separate resorts. But because they’re connected, the flow as one making it easy for guests to visit both of them for the holidays. Both resorts feature festive by-the-sea holiday decorations.
The Beach Club lobby smells of gingerbread. It’s not because they’re making cookies, it’s because there’s an actual Gingerbread Carousel that spins in the lobby! The three horse carousel features a different theme every year, but remains the only operating and edible carousel on Disney property.
The Yacht Club lobby will live up to your holiday expectations, as well. Every year, the resort displays a gigantic Christmas village complete with a working train and gondola system. The majority of the Disney pieces in the display are Department 56 and are available to purchase online.
2. Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
Just across Crescent Lake from Yacht and Beach is the Boardwalk Resort. This is one of my favorite resorts any time of the year, but it becomes a league of its own during the holidays.
I love how the Boardwalk decorates trees outside. After walking back from Epcot as you approach the Boardwalk, it’s a beautiful sight to see when the trees are lit up with colorful Christmas lights. You’ll also find the outdoor paths lined with pots full of beautiful poinsettias.
The lobby features garland and a tree decorate with glass ornaments and twinkling lights. But the decoration you don’t want to miss is the giant gingerbread version of the Boardwalk entertainment area, complete with BoardWalk Bakery, Flying Fish, Trattoria al Forno and more! Be sure to look in the window of the Bakery, you might even see a miniature Chef Mickey in there!
- The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
This should come as no surprise that I would list this resort as my top pick to stay at or visit during the holidays. The Grand Floridian Resort is a beautiful resort at any time, but it’s truly comes alive at Christmas time. Not to be out done by the other resorts, there’s a stunning giant Christmas tree in the middle of the lobby adorned with Victorian Era themed ornaments and garland.
What makes this resort my number one is that it’s home to the famous life size gingerbread house, which celebrated it’s 25th Anniversary in 2018. The gingerbread house, made from ingredients such as over 800lbs of flour, 140 pints of egg whites, and over 700lbs of chocolate, takes months to complete by the Grand Floridian bakery team. The Gingerbread House is world renowned and is also a fully functioning store. You can purchase various gingerbread treats such as cookies and ornaments, as well as chocolate lollipops and even mini gingerbread house kits. I can smell the gingerbread now and it’s giving me all the Christmas feels!
No matter where you stay or visit during the holidays at Walt Disney World, one thing’s for sure- it will be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. The way I describe it to people who haven’t been there is like this; Imagine as a child, everything you thought the North Pole was or looked like. All the magic of Santa, the toys, the delicious smell of cookies in the air, that’s Walt Disney World during the holidays.