No matter what time of year you visit, Walt Disney World is sure to have a celebration going on. But during the holidays, it ramps up the fun and even has its own version of snow in the theme parks. What about outside of the parks? I can honestly write that it’s just as beautiful. From gorgeous, traditional decor to self-decorated spots, here are the ten Disney resorts with the best Christmas celebrations.
1. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Always the top pick for best holiday decorations out of all the Disney resorts, Wilderness Lodge has the quintessential traditional Christmas look and vibe. Walking into the giant lobby, complete with a 60-foot Christmas tree, is like getting a big ol’ hug from Santa himself. With several lit fireplaces and more miniature holiday decor throughout the rest of the resort, this is the palace to stay in if you want the feeling of family Christmases of days gone by.
2. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
The Grand Floridian Resort’s Victorian theming is lovely to see. At Christmastime, however, the resort’s beauty is incomparable. Each year, Disney chefs and artists create a life-sized gingerbread house in the main lobby that showcases their talent. As for the decorations and music, it’s “ye old” style. Elegant in style and feel, this resort is very popular at Christmas for those desiring to be immersed in yuletide cheer. Remember, you don’t have to have a resort reservation to visit any of the Disney resorts!
3. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Another resort on the Disney World Monorail route, Polynesian Village, or “the Poly” as the locals like to call it, is a delight to see at Christmastime. While its Christmas tree may not be as grand as the one at Wilderness Lodge, it’s decorated beautifully with flowers and bright colors. This is one of the best Disney resorts to “monorail hop” during the holiday season. Grab a bite to eat or a drink at Tambu Lounge and people-watch.
4. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort
I’ve had the pleasure of staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge during the Christmas season, so it’s at the top of my personal list. From the moment you hit the lodge’s lobby, its giant Christmas tree is the focus of its decorations. In a non-traditional style, you’ll find wooden animal ornaments and warm lights flanking the tree, along with festive garlands. If you plan on visiting, check the hourly schedule, as the resort offers Christmas photos in front of the tree, carolers, and children’s activities.
5. Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts offer a different feel from each other, but they’re connected and share a pool, so I’m keeping them connected on this list. Having written that, Beach Club gets the gold star of the two as it has a massive, edible carousel made from gingerbread that draws in plenty of guests to see it each season. As for the Yacht Club, it’s highly ornate village and miniature train in the lobby are worth checking out.
6. Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort
As Boardwalk Inn looks like a collection of several shops and buildings, the draw of several beautiful gingerbread houses on display perfectly matches the theme. The decorations are of a vintage style that, again, fits the theme and everyday decor, and they are a gorgeous sight to see. While there’s no indoor Christmas tree, make sure to walk outside to the outdoor courtyard for a peek at a pretty one. If you’re not staying at one of the Disney resorts and want to avoid parking fees for visiting, you can always park at Disney Springs and take the resort bus over to check out the decorations for free.
7. Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Another resort with no lobby tree, you’ll find the largest Christmas tree on Disney World property at the Contemporary Resort (just not in the lobby). This resort’s Christmas decorations are more demure and modern than the others, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit. In fact, an edible display in the style of Mary Blair is worth a gander at this monorail resort.
8. Disney Art of Animation Resort
Since opening on May 31, 2012, Art of Animation Resort has been a popular place to stay at Disney World. It’s filled with larger-than-life Disney icons, a main pool with underwater character voices, and resort rooms that immerse families into the world of Cars, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid. When it comes to Christmas, the giant white Christmas tree packed with neon-colored ornaments and character drawings makes my heart melt. Also, it’s worth mentioning that Disney’s Pop Century resort is its sister property and only a short walk away via the Generation Gap Bridge.
9. Disney’s Port Orleans Resort—French Quarter
Quick clarification if you don’t know about Disney World Resorts—Port Orleans has two distinct areas, French Quarter and Riverside. Both are beautiful in their own way, but French Quarter wins at Christmastime thanks to its Mardi Gras-themed displays and tree. Flanked in gold, purple, and green, you won’t have to wait for spring to celebrate and “Laissez les bon temps rouler!” or, as the non-French speaking folks say, “Let the good times roll!”
10. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
Hands down, Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground is the coolest place to visit on Halloween as the RV’ers and campers pass out all the candy, decorate to the hilt, and even theme out their golf carts. At Christmas, while not as over the top, it’s still an all-in style of decorating for the guests. Each year, the theming gets more elaborate, and neighbors try to outdo each other—in the name of friendly competition, of course. If you prefer to avoid walking around, find a resort bus that traverses the campground area for a great view of the decorations.