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Credit: Paula K

The Best Disney World Resorts to Celebrate the Holidays

One of the most popular times of year to visit Walt Disney World is, unsurprisingly, Christmas.  Even a Guest lamenting the loss of the Osbourne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights will admit that Disney does the holidays in style!  WDW starts decorating for the holidays right after Halloween – in fact, one of our favorite things is to visit WDW from the end of October to the first week of November, so we can enjoy Halloween and Christmas decorations in the same visit!  So, if you’re planning a visit to Disney World during the holiday season, where should you stay?  Here are some top picks for WDW Resort Hotels that really step it up at Christmas

Disney‘s Wilderness Lodge

Disney‘s Wilderness Lodge Resort gets top marks by Guests for its holiday spirit!  As soon as you step into the charmingly rustic seven-story lobby, you’ll see why.  Center stage is the 60-foot Christmas tree, with its classic decorations in red, green, and gold.  Poinsettias, wreaths, and a beautifully lit woodland scene of deer and trees dot the Resort.  Wilderness Lodge has plenty of comfy places to curl up and enjoy the scenery – try a spot by the fireplace, in a rocking chair.  Humphrey the Bear’s gingerbread cabin, an edible display that debuted a couple of years ago, was a hit, but it’s unknown so far whether it will return in 2021.  Luckily, the traditional Christmas ambiance is enough of a reason for a visit!  

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort

Looking for more holiday fun in the great outdoors?  Take a quick walk or boat ride over to Disney‘s Fort Wilderness Resort to check out the decorations put up by the campers, and while you’re there, take a holiday sleigh ride through the woods (on throughout the month of December).

Disney‘s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

When visiting Walt Disney World during the holidays, we never miss a chance to Resort-hop over to Disney‘s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, because it features perhaps the most famous of Disney‘s life-size edible displays: the huge, impeccably decorated gingerbread house, from which you can buy holiday treats!  Check out the recipe (anyone know what half a ton of honey actually looks like?), and learn about the process of creating this yummy behemoth.  There’s something timeless and nostalgic about the classic elegance of a Victorian Christmas, and it’s evident everywhere in the Grand Floridian, from the towering, elaborately festooned Christmas tree in the lobby to the opulent holiday touches throughout the Resort.

Disney‘s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter

Most of the WDW Resort Hotels listed here belong to the Deluxe Resort tier, since those Resort Hotels tend to have the most magnificent holiday theming and displays.  But Disney‘s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter, in the Moderate Resort tier, definitely holds its own at Christmas!  Plus, it’s a more affordable alternative to a Deluxe Resort for Guests for whom budget is a priority.  Port Orleans Resort also enjoys close proximity to Disney Springs, where you can enjoy even more WDW Christmas fun! 

French Quarter, as its name implies, is inspired by the romance of the French Quarter in New Orleans – and it’s a stunner, any time of the year.  With its wrought-iron railings and its cobblestone streets, it lends itself particularly well to Christmas theming.  During the holidays, marvel at the many colorful Christmas trees decked out in Mardi-Gras-esque decorations, and gaze at the lampposts adorned with garlands.  Take a romantic stroll along the gorgeous Sassagoula River, or enjoy a festive beignet at the Scat Cat’s Club – Café to complete your holiday experience.

Disney‘s Contemporary Resort

No matter what Disney World Resort you’re staying at, it’s always a treat to spend some time at Disney‘s Contemporary Resort – watching the monorail pass right through the Resort lobby never gets old.  And who doesn’t love being able to walk to Disney‘s Magic Kingdom?  During the holidays, there’s even more to enjoy at the Contemporary Resort.  Outside, make sure you stop and gawk at the positively massive Christmas tree in front of the Resort, featuring retro decorations (selfies, anyone?).  Back inside, head to the lobby, where Guests love to view the Mary Blair-style edible Christmas displays (most recently, this has consisted of a Cinderella Castle with a Frozen twist).  Note: for 2021, there’s no word yet on whether the gingerbread display will be returning, possibly due to construction at the Resort.  But here’s hoping!

Disney‘s Beach Club Resort

For a whimsical take on the holidays, a Guest needs to look no further than Disney‘s Beach Club Resort.  From November until January, the popular life-size carousel (yes, it even spins) returns, in all its gingerbread glory.  Unlike many WDW Resort Hotels, you won’t find a huge central Christmas tree here, but don’t let that deter you – Beach Club Resort has some of the most elaborate holiday décor of any Disney World Resort!  For 2021, the theme of the carousel is Disney‘s Little Mermaid, and one of the carousel horses clearly takes its inspiration from Ariel.  Ten points if you can spot Scuttle and his dinglehopper.  Too easy?  Try searching for the 21 hidden gold Mickeys that are part of the display!

One of the great things about Disney‘s Beach Club Resort is its location adjoining Disney‘s Yacht Club Resort.  This means a Guest can easily walk over the Yacht Club lobby to check out the miniature holiday village complete with working train!

Bottom Line

Spending any part of the holiday season at Walt Disney World is simply magical!  Staying on property at a Disney Resort Hotel will maximize that holiday magic.  All Disney Resorts decorate for the holidays, but if you’re looking for the most spectacular displays on property for your holiday celebrations, think about staying at or visiting one of these Resort Hotels.  Let the holiday magic begin! 

About Stacy Milford

Stacy has lived in 4 countries on 3 continents, and travels whenever humanly possible. Passionate about music theatre, dessert, and adventure in the great wide somewhere, she visits Walt Disney World every year, usually during Halloween! Stacy currently divides her time between writing and teaching English as a second language to children in China, and is pretty sure growing up is over-rated.