With more than 1,300 decorated trees and 8.5 million lights strung throughout the property getting into the spirit of the season is easy at Walt Disney World.
If you’re staying at a Walt Disney resort over Christmas, the first order of business is to consult with the concierge and find out what holiday event your particular resort might be offering. Happenings can range from carolers, brass bands and country singers to Christmas cookie decorating, visits with Santa and readings of The Night Before Christmas.
Staff members create gingerbread houses, on display in the lobby of your resort, and you are asked to vote for the best entry and on Christmas Day resorts offer free cookies and punch. Last but not least the resorts are decorated to the max.
The decorations are attractions in their own right and each resort incorporates its theme into its holiday finery. One of my favorite resorts is Fort Wilderness Camp Ground. You will be blown away by the efforts guests put into decorating their home away from home. It is simply incredible to walk around the campground and take in the decoration, which is as elaborate as you would expect back home in your own neighborhood.
Campers are eager to strike up conversation and if you are up for it you can go for a 25-minute “sleigh” ride through the woods of Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. (The horse-drawn vehicle is wheeled but made to look like a red sleigh, complete with sleigh bells!)
The rides are offered every 30 minutes 5:30–9:30 p.m., departing from Crockett’s Tavern. The cost is $60 per sleigh. (Each sleigh can accommodate up to four adults or two adults plus up to three children age 9 and under.) You can book up to 180 days in advance by calling (407) WDW-play.
At Port Orleans Resort the Mardi Gras colors are incorporated in the trees, while the Yacht Clubhas trees adorned with miniature sailboats. At the neighboring Beach Club, poinsettias and a gingerbread carousel are the big draw.
However, for the mother of all Christmas trees, make sure to visit the Grand Floridian Resort,where a five-story tree dominates the lobby. The resort also is home to a huge gingerbread house. Several times a day the pastry chef meet guests and gives tips about creating and decorating a gingerbread house. The presentation concludes with guests receiving a free recipe brochure and a taste of freshly made gingerbread. Not to be missed and absolutely yummy!
And if you need more holiday cheer board a bus to Downtown Disney. The atmosphere is festive, with special window dressings at shops and restaurants. If you are looking for a perfect Christmas card, pay Santa a visit. He appears in his chalet at Downtown Disney Marketplace, and you can take pictures with your own camera or use Disney’s PhotoPass service. For a less classical picture, Santa Goofy appears in the chalet December 25 through January 3.
There is so much to do and so much to see during the holidays make sure you relax and take in the spirit of the season. If you are traveling with very young children consider having a Christmas tree in your room and reassure your little one that even though you are not home for the holidays Santa will know where to find your family on Christmas Eve. Happy Holidays!
Liliane Opsomer is the coauthor of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids and a photographer to The Color Companion: The Unofficial Guide.
She is passionate about travel, Disney, fairies, hobbits and all things magical. Some of her favorite destinations are Orlando, Anaheim, Middle Earth, Belgium, Sydney, Dresden, Patagonia and Hawaii. Liliane lives in Birmingham, Alabama and visits the parks several times a year.