Christmas at Walt Disney World resort

Christmas is one of the busiest and most exciting times of the year at Walt Disney World. Despite the unseasonably warm and humid weather all too common in Florida this time of year, both the theme parks and resorts are totally decked out in holiday cheer. So, while it may not look a lot like Christmas outside, Disney on the other hand, is well known for their over-the-top extravagant Christmas decorations. You may have seen the Magic Kingdom, as well as some of the resorts spotlighted on the Travel Channel.

Additionally, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party invites you to explore various seasonal activities throughout the Magic Kingdom including a holiday themed parade, festive decor and treats, snowfall on Main Street, and a special fireworks show. After a long day at the parks, it’s nice to keep the festivities going, albeit in a more relaxing manner. Fortunately, all Disney resorts go all out with abundant decor.

Below are the best Disney resorts for anyone seeking to enjoy the holiday ambiance outside the parks.

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Highlight: Rustic mountain ambiance

The amazing Christmas tree at Disney's Wilderness LOdge

The attractive wilderness theme, modeled after National Park lodges in the Pacific Northwest, draws many Florida locals to this resort each December. It’s nice to escape the palm trees and hot weather in exchange for pine trees, rustic decor, and a roaring fireplace, if only for a few days. Unfortunately, this means that this resort tends to fill up fast, and therefore, you must make reservations early on in the year.

Around Christmas, this hotel is just magical, especially for anyone longing to spend Christmas in a traditional cold climate. The decorations, the beautiful lobby tree, the pine trees – everything is perfect. As you enter the cozy lobby, you really are transported to another place. You can almost imagine being stranded in a cozy inn during a blizzard (that is until you step outside and the heat & humidity hit you). For anyone who cannot live without the traditional Christmas ambiance (let’s face it – you can’t have Christmas without cold and snow!), the Wilderness Lodge is your best bet.

More pics of the festive decor

Festive decor at Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Festive Christmas decor at Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Gift shop at Christmas in Disney's Wilderness Lodge

More details on Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Highlight: Amazing restaurants and an enchanting overall theme

Gorgeous Christmas tree at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Animal Kingdom Lodge is Disney’s most unique themed resort as it is built on a wildlife reserve. As soon as you enter the property, you will feel as if you have been transported into the heart of Africa. The interior designers really did a nice job on this one. You will get the opportunity to see over 30 forms of wildlife during your time here including zebras and giraffes. One of the best restaurants in Orlando, Sanaa, is located on-site. This eclectic African/Indian themed restaurant serves excellent food in a beautiful dining room which overlooks the savanna.

Veggie curry at Sanaa at Disney's Animal kingdom Lodge
The Zanzibari Vegetable Curry is delicious
Indian bread service at Sanaa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Do start with the delicious Indian bread app!

While the grand architecture and exotic decor give this hotel appeal anytime of year, the holiday transformation adds a spectacular festive touch. There is a gorgeous grand tree in the lobby adorned with festive themed ornaments, plus lots of pretty garland and decorations. Overall, this is a great place for anyone who loves animals, unique food, and wouldn’t mind exploring an unusual, yet gorgeous twist on Christmas decor.

More details on Disney’s Animal Kingdom lodge

More pics of the festive decor

Christmas tree at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Pretty holiday decor at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

Highlight: Luxurious & romantic vibe

Beautiful Christmas decor at Disney's Grand Floridian resort

Although the Grand Floridian does not offer the woodsy wintry appeal of the above mentioned resorts, it sure is gorgeous at Christmastime. For anyone not overly nostalgic and willing to forgo a traditional Christmas setting, this resort is quite stunning. The vibe is definitely upscale and romantic. A few of the top rated restaurants in Orlando (Victoria & Albert’s, 1900 Park) are located here. A grand Christmas tree and a massive gingerbread display really make this place feel extra festive.

The bright airy lobby and tropical plants give this resort a special Florida-ish vibe over the others on this list. The decor is very classy and simplistic. As expected, the 14 foot tall gingerbread display draws massive crowds each December. As it has been featured on numerous Travel Channel specials, this is the most popular holiday resort. Enjoy the festive ambiance while indulging in holiday treats and drinks. Add in a lobby pianist playing popular holiday tunes, and you really have a magical experience.

More details on Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

More pics of the festive decor

Festive holiday garland at Disney's Grand Floridian resort
Festive holiday decorations at Disney's Grand Floridian resort
Beautiful Christmas decor at Disney's Grand Floridian resort
Gift shop at Disney's Grand Floridian at Christmas
Festive poinsettias at Disney's Grand Floridian resort

Disney’s Boardwalk Inn

Highlight: Coney Island style boardwalk

Festive holiday decor at Disney's Boardwalk Inn

Although the decor is nowhere near as extravagant at this resort, there is a sort of whimsical charm at the Boardwalk Inn. The interior is very festive and colorful with little touches of holiday decor (wreaths, garland) all around the property. In addition to two lobby trees, you will find another gorgeous tree outside. The ornaments are colorful and plentiful, with everything from candy canes and carousels, to flamingos.

The fireplace seating area is especially festive. The perfect place to sit and relax with a drink after a long day at the parks. Another highlight is an annual gingerbread display which replicates the boardwalk. On a side note, this resort is a great place to stay anytime of the year. The Atlantic City style boardwalk, many recreational opportunities, and unique gondola tram service to Epcot, make this a fun & convenient place to stay. Bonus – this one is a bit more affordable!

More details on Disney’s Boardwalk Inn

More pictures of the festive decor

Festive Christmas garland at the entrance to Disney's Boardwalk Inn
Christmas wreath at Disney's Boardwalk Inn
Festive garland around the fireplace for Christmas at Disney's Boardwalk Inn
Christmas display at Disney's Boardwalk Inn
Festive Christmas tree at Disney's Boardwalk Inn

Do you need to be a resort guest?

Note: You do not need to be a guest to check out any of the resort decorations. Simply take a free shuttle to the resort of your choice from Disney Springs. Staying at any of the above mentioned resorts is a wonderful experience, however, it will definitely cost you a pretty penny. Simply touring each of the resorts will allow you to take part in the Disney holiday festivities without shelling out big bucks.

Disney Springs directory

Disney Springs Holiday Decor

Beautiful Christmas tree at Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida

If you plan to take the shuttle over from Disney Springs to any of the resorts, you will want to take a walk around and enjoy all the holiday cheer. This entertainment oasis is jam packed with restaurants, entertainment, and shops. The decor this time of the year is absolutely gorgeous. Add in a Disney Christmas shop, festive music, lights everywhere, and a Christmas tree trail, and this is just another fantastic place to add to your Disney holiday bucket list.

Minnie Christmas tree at Disney Springs

10 things to do at Disney Springs

The best time to plan your visit

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is typically the busiest time of the year at Disney. Pricing is not cheap this time of year, at the theme parks, nor at the resorts. Book a stay outside of the New Year period to avoid the most hefty traffic. Also, if just touring the resorts, consider visiting in late November-early December to obtain easier photos.

Best mode of transportation

As parking is often unavailable at the resorts due to the massive crowd levels, it is recommended to take a complimentary shuttle from Disney Springs. Shuttles take about 10-20 minutes and will cost you nothing. This is a convenient means of transport during a very busy time of the year. Plan about 1-1.5 hours for each resort taking into account shuttle time. This means if you only have one day, you will want to get an early start!

More details on complimentary Disney Springs transportation

Where to dine

Ragland Road in Orlando, Florida
Live step dancing while you dine on authentic Irish fare!

A few great restaurants/cafes to check out at Disney Springs before/after hitting the resorts.

Earl of Sandwich (Disney Springs) – Awesome quick service sandwich shop with options for vegetarians and carnivores. Features tasty sandwiches, great tomato soup, and nice outdoor patio.

Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC (Disney Springs) – Amazing gluten-free & vegan treats.

Raglan Road (Disney Springs) – Amazing Irish pub which offers great food, a gorgeous dining area, and live step dancing performances. More details on Raglan Road.

GF onion rings and risotto at Raglan Road in Disney Springs
Delicious GF onion rings & fries, plus fresh butternut risotto

Planet Hollywood (Disney Springs) – Comfort style American food served in a fun movie themed room.

Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Lodge) – Eclectic African themed restaurant which serves food with an Indian twist. The decor is exotic and the dining room features a prime view of the resort’s lush savannah. Do start with the Indian bread service (so good!).

Christmas at Walt Disney World resorts