No matter the time of year you visit Disney World you will always find it brimming with magic. However, something about the Christmas season at Disney World takes the pixie dust up about 10 notches. All the parks and all the Disney Resorts get a holiday season makeover! This isn’t just limited to deluxe Disney Resorts either, everything down to the value resorts get some holiday trimmings. Of course, as this is the Disney decorating team everything is over the top and bursting with flair.
Remember, you don’t have to stay at a Disney World resort to see these decorations. There are some fantastic hotel decoration crawls you can find out there. But you can always create your own.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort is home to the tallest Christmas tree at Walt Disney World. This 70-foot-tall tree is adorned with 16,000 lights and more than 200 custom ornaments. If you are looking to get a picture with the tree here at the Contemporary you will need to go outside. It actually sits in front of the hotel by the parking lot.
The feature here is the Gingerbread display. This display is inside behind the two gift shops where the monorail lets you out – not in the lobby like many of the other resorts. This year marks the 10th anniversary of its iconic gingerbread Cinderella Castle. This 18-foot-tall display is crafted from more than 5,000 gingerbread shingles, 47 pounds of rolled fondant, 38 pounds of modeling chocolate and much more!
If the display has you feeling hungry you are in luck. Conveniently right next door is a sampling of holiday treats including some tastey gluten free options.
Transportaion Options: Monorail, boat or walk from the Magic Kingdom. They will allow you to park here as well, as long as you have a dining reservation at one of the Contemporary resort restaurants.
You would think this resort would have some more grand decorations but the holiday season is much more subtle here, considering it is classified as deluxe. They have a few smaller trees set up in the lobby and outside of Ohana. I enjoy seeing the lavish garlands strung around perfectly Polynesian themed.
Here you find the tree outside on the turf lawn at the boardwalk. I think the most remarkable decor here lies on the inside of the resort lobby though.
Inside is a full gingerbread replica of the Boardwalk. This includes your favorites ESPN Club, BoardWalk Bakery, Flying Fish, Trattoria al Forno and more. The ingrediants for the 2019 gingerbread display here include:
- 42 gallons of honey
- 364 pounds whole rye flour
- 364 pounds of light rye flour
- 336 eggs
- 10.5 pounds ammonium carbonate
- 336 pounds of bread flour
- 21.16 pounds of gingerbread spice
- 6 gallons of egg whies
- 60 pounds of powdered sugar
- .75 pounds of cream of tartar
- 280 pounds of granulated sugar
- 40 pounds of fondant
Transportation Options: You can walk here from the International Gateway at Epcot. Also you can take the Skyline from Hollywood Studios to Epcot and walk as well. Of course buses from Disney Springs or any theme park are always an option too. They will allow you to park here as well, as long as you have a dining reservation at the Boardwalk resort.
Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
While these resorts seem to have a very similar vibe, their Christmas decorations are not. The Beach Club taking on a seaside approach while the Yacht Club goes for a classic nautical look.
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Holiday Carousel gingerbread display at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. This life-size spinning carousel features 20 “Hidden Mickeys,” 5 Peter Pan-themed horses and handcrafted gingerbread shingles.
Transportaion Options: You can walk here from the International Gateway at Epcot. Or you can take the Skyline from Hollywood Studios to Epcot and walk as well. Of course buses from Disney Springs or any theme park are always an option too. They will allow you to park here as well, as long as you have a dining reservation at the Yacht or Beach Club resort.
Fort Wilderness Campground
This resort is really unique in how it makes the list here. It actually is not Disney’s decorations but those who setup campsites here at Fort Wilderness. If you think your neighbors are in a fierce holiday decorating battle, well you haven’t seen the campsites here at Disney then. The RV’s are trimmed to the top and it makes for a delightful holiday stroll.
You can take a walk around the grounds on your own or for a fee you can take a 25-minute sleigh ride through Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. Sleigh rides are available 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. and depart from Crockett’s Tavern.
Transportaion Options: Take a bus or boat from the Magic Kingdom. They will allow you to park here as well, as long as you have a dining reservation at the resort.
This resort is a popular stop for holiday decorations at Disney World. For a good reason, when you come here you expect to step outside into a blanket of snow. The entire resort is modeled after the great National Park lodge and it gives it a cozy feel while still standing grand.
I recommend that you not only walk around the lobby level to see everything, but for some breath taking views head a few stories up and take a look down into the grand lobby.
Brand new this years is a gingerbread cabin in the lobby. It features the resort’s unoffical mascot Humphrey’s the bear. My favorite touch is Chip and Dale playing by the campfire around back of the cabin. Bonus points if you can spot the five hidden Mickey’s on this gingerbread cabin.
Transportaion Options: Bus or boat can take you from the Magic Kingdom. They will allow you to park here as well, as long as you have a dining reservation at the Wilderness Lodge resort.
The Grand Floridian
It’s no surprise that the most expensive Walt Disney World resort tops our list. Here you will find a life-size holiday gingerbread house in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. This elaborate 10-foot-wide,15-foot-long and 14-foot-tall structure is covered with more than 10,000 pieces of gingerbread and is the perfect place to pick up holiday sweets and treats. Best of all make sure you come hungry. The house isn’t just a pretty thing to look at, it actually serves up a selection of holiday treats! From 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. you can get cookies, ornaments and even adorable gingerbread house kit.
Transportation Options: You can take the monorail or boat from the Magic Kingdom. They will allow you to park here as well, as long as you have a dining reservation at the resort.
Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is home to a 45-foot-tall tree featuring authentic African décor and reproductions of traditional African masks. This is my favorite out of all the Christmas trees here at Disney World. It’s just such a stunning sight. I really love the whole hotel so it’s not an surprise I suppose that I picked this one as my favorite.
Transportation Options: Here you are limited to just a bus. They will allow you to park here as well, as long as you have a dining reservation at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
How to Take a Disney Resort Christmas Tour
So you may be wondering how you can best tackle trying to see all these beautiful resorts in one day. We find this a great filler for the day you go to Mickey’s Very Merry Chirstmas party and don’t have a theme park ticket. Here is our recommended touring plan.
To start head to the Magic Kingdom resorts first. Once you park at the Magic Kingdom you can hop on the monorail to get to the Polynesian, Contemporary and Grand Floridian Resorts. Once you wrap up these three you can hop on a boat over to the Wilderness Lodge to enjoy their holiday decor.
For the next phase of the tour you will need to drive your car or take a bus over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This allows you to boat or take the Disney Skyliner to the Epcot Resorts. A second option is to take a bus from the Magic Kingdom directly to one of the three Epcot resort hotels.
Lastly, you should bus (from any theme park or Disney Spring) or take a car over to Animal Kingdom Lodge.
I have been visiting the parks annually since my parents first brought me at just a year old. Recently I was able to fulfill my life long dream of being a Florida local and moved from the wintery Northeast to the sunshine and fun of central Florida. Now I am hoping to share my Disney knowledge with you so you can have the best vacation possible!