It doesn’t quite feel like the holidays until you make a trip to the Disney resorts at Christmas!
There’s nothing like the holiday season at Walt Disney World. Even if it’s just sitting cozily next to a fireplace with family or feeling the spirit of Christmas while walking around the Walt Disney World onsite hotels.
Although I love both activities, I think you’d probably guess that the latter has become my new holiday tradition.
A few years ago I discovered this cool new way of enjoying a free visit for Christmas at Disney World.
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Why You Must Visit the Disney Resorts for Christmas
When I first set out to do a post to help you save on your theme park holiday fun, I had no idea I’d discover how wonderful AND FREE a Disney holiday experience could be.
During the holiday months all of Walt Disney World Resort is transformed into a Christmas mecca for everyone and every culture.
So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see the fun flowing over into the already majestic hotels on the Disney property.
A few years ago I walked through Fort Wilderness Resort, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, and the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa during the holidays and I was officially hooked!
As each year passed, I would add a new hotel in my Disney holiday route and that’s how I was able to come up with the best Disney resorts at Christmas for you to visit.
Today We’ll Go Through:
- The Best Disney Resorts at Christmas
- Your Itinerary for Doing Christmas at Disney Hotels
- Tips for Touring the Disney Resorts During Christmas
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4 Disney Resorts You Have to Visit for Christmas
I’m so excited to take you on this journey through my favorite Disney hotels during the holidays.
Do keep in mind that you don’t have to visit them on Christmas.
You can start visiting the hotels around early to mid-November as that is the time that Disney starts decorating for Christmas.
…and remember that this can be done for free!
Learn how to tour the Disney Resorts during Christmas for free here!
4 – Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
Step into a time of classic Americana charm in this turn-of-the-century Atlantic City inspired resort.
Here you’ll get to smell the pure, sweet magic of a gingerbread house and the opportunity to taste the holiday cookie.
Disney’s BoardWalk area in the back of the resort is the perfect romantic spot where you’ll get to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere, take a stroll, have dinner, and watch the fireworks at both Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
You can do all this holiday fun for free, unless you have dinner and it’s a great way to enjoy Christmas at the Disney hotels without spending a fortune.
You can learn more about Disney’s BoardWalk Inn here!
3 – Animal Kingdom Lodge
At Animal Kingdom Lodge you get to escape deep into an African adventure on your Walt Disney World visit. While there be sure to enjoy all of the Christmas décor and holiday traditions explained by the Cast Members.
The Cast Members come from all over Africa from places such as Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Mozambique, and Botswana to welcome you with oral tales of their culture.
The lobby of the Animal Kingdom Lodge has a similar feel to Fort Wilderness Lodge that’s complete with a grandiose entry with a huge Christmas tree in the center to greet you!
Hipster Power Tip: Be sure to go up close to the Christmas tree to check out all the unique ornaments on it.
Not only do you get to cozy up in front of firepits, you can sit on the back-patio area of the resort in a classic rocking chair while watching the exotic animals on the savanna.
It’s absolutely breathtaking and a great way to enjoy Christmas at Disney World!
You can learn more about Animal Kingdom Lodge here!
2 – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
This Northwestern-inspired Disney Resort is quintessential Christmas to me. Not only are welcomed into a massive lobby, you’re greeted with a majestic tree right in the middle.
With the rustic feel reminiscent of any outdoorsy adventure, you can sit in over-sized chairs while you listen to holiday tunes and feel the warmth coming from the fireplaces.
When you’re not basking in the cozy cabin feel, be sure to admire all of the incredible decorations that will make you feel as if you’ve been placed directly into your own Hallmark movie!
When planning your visit to the resort remember that on each night there’s something for you to do that’s a holiday activity to get you into the Christmas spirit such as:
- A Choir singing Christmas songs in the lobby
- The Hand Bell Ensemble playing yuletide tunes
- Gift shops with Christmas trinkets and gifts perfect for grabbing your holiday essentials
While you’re visiting Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, be sure to take the walking trail over to Fort Wilderness Campgrounds.
This area will also be decked out in its own rustic Christmas finest décor.
Plus, I just love how peaceful the walk through the woods is since it reminds me of growing up in Lake County, Florida.
You can learn more about Disney’s Wilderness Lodge here!
1 – Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
You must visit this Victorian-inspired resort on your visit to Walt Disney World.
As soon as you walk through the magical doors you’ll be flooded into sensory overload with the festive smells, sounds, and sights.
The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa takes Christmas in the most magical direction with smells of gingerbread flooding your spirit and a spectacular Christmas tree that stands perfectly in the center of the lobby.
If that wasn’t enough, you’ll hear yuletide music coming from a live band that automatically puts you in such a great mood.
As you go deeper into the Grand Floridian, you’ll notice that the ginger smell is actually coming from a life-size gingerbread house that sells cookies and other sweets for to complete your holiday voyage at Walt Disney World.
While at the Grand Floridian be sure to take a walk around the resort to get some epic views of the fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom to complete you visit.
You can learn more about The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa here!
Itinerary for Doing Christmas at Disney Hotels
As you get yourself ready to enjoy Christmas at the Disney hotels, let’s go through a sample day I had on my last holiday visit.
My day began at Hollywood Studios Film section of the parking lot.
I then made my way over to Disney’s BoardWalk Inn to start my yuletide hotel adventure.
It was then followed by Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa to top the day off.
Let’s walk through my photo journey across the Walt Disney World hotels to see how each hotel celebrates this joyous season!
First I took a scenic walk from Hollywood Studios along the Swan and Dolphin canal to the BoardWalk Inn.
Christmas at BoardWalk Inn
On my visit there was a life-size replica of a Jersey Shore Boardwalk concession stand made of gingerbread.
It was serving holiday treats such as ice cream cones, gingerbread houses, cookies and stollen bread.
There were also sweet wreaths and Mickey and Minnie-shaped gingerbreads that decorated the house.
On your visit, you may have the opportunity to make your own gingerbread house with kits for sale.
Christmas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
After the ole time holiday tour of the Boardwalk Resort, I hopped onto the next bus to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
I spent a lot of time here discovering all the nooks and crannies. I was also able to sit down for an hour just to relax and rest my feet.
Christmas at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
Now it was time for the last hotel of the fun filled day.
Once inside I could immediately smell the sweet scent coming from the life-size gingerbread house.
This house celebrated the 16+ years at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
The pastry chefs are known for using the same building plans to re-create a fresh masterpiece each year by using a classic gingerbread recipe from Austria.
They estimate 400 hours of baking.
Gingerbread House Fun Facts
- The gingerbread house stands 16 feet high
- Features 40 window panes
- Made with 1,050 pounds of honey
- Has 700 pounds of chocolate
- Uses 600 pounds of confectioner’s sugar
- Made with 35 pounds of spices
- Has 800 pounds of flour
- Uses 140 pints of egg whites
- Has 180 pounds of apricot glaze
- Features more than 10,000 pieces of gingerbread to make up the house
More Gingerbread Fun at The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
You can enjoy gingerbread house decorating demos daily during the holidays.
While you’re there be sure to buy gingerbread cookies, stollen, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate-peppermint bark, gingerbread ornaments, mini-gingerbread houses and other goodies.
Tips for Touring the Disney Resorts During Christmas
Now that you know what the best Disney Resorts are for Christmas and you have your itinerary together, let’s go through some tips to help you have an easy day.
1 – Start Early
If you plan on using the Walt Disney World transportation system to save money, then I suggest you start your holiday hotel adventure early.
Although you may not be spending your money, you will be investing a significant amount of time waiting for the buses and other forms of transportation.
2 – Park at Disney Springs for Free
You can currently park in Disney Springs at no cost. However, it may make your holiday hotel hopping a bit longer.
If you are a Disney Passholder, then I suggest you park your vehicle at your favorite theme park and catch a bus to the first hotel you would like to start at.
On my last trip I parked at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and walked over to the Boardwalk Inn for my first stop.
It’s a scenic route especially when the Florida weather is smiling perfectly on you.
3 – Take loads of photos!
The Walt Disney World Resort hotels offer so many picturesque photo opportunities for the season.
Disney onsite hotels are already exquisite, but the holiday detail added by Cast Members puts a magical finish to the décor.
The hotel transformation affects many of the sense! Especially, the smell of sweet, savory gingerbread and other sugary delights in the air.
It makes the free Christmas at Disney World experience more enchanting.
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Final Thoughts on Disney Resorts at Christmas
If you want to start a new Disney holiday tradition (for FREE), then I suggest you take the holiday hotel tour.
It’s something you will totally enjoy and will look forward to doing each and every year!
I hope you all will be able to experience this new way of enjoying Christmastime at Disney.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy Christmas at Disney World? Let us know in the comments section below!
If you enjoy this article, then you’ll love these:
- Epcot Candlelight Processional
- Disney Christmas Decorations
- Epcot Festival of the Holidays
- Tips for Doing Christmas at Disney World
- Christmas at Busch Gardens
- What to Do at SeaWorld for Christmas
- Christmas at Universal Orlando
Read the Disney Vacation Planning Guide for your next dream trip!
Until next time, Happy Holidays Hipsters!
(Original Article Date: December 26, 2014/Updated October 20, 2019)