Holidays at Walt Disney World Resort Hotels
Each holiday season, like Santa’s elves, the Disney chefs work many hours creating larger-than-life displays from edible ingredients all across Walt Disney World Resort.
The following are holiday offerings for 2019. 2020 offerings can be found here.
Resort Decoration Highlights & Edible Displays
Most of the gingerbread displays have delicious sweets for sale, and activities like gingerbread decorating. Don’t miss these special holiday highlights at the Walt Disney World resorts.
70-foot-tall Christmas tree in Disney’s Contemporary Resort entrance lobby featuring nearly 35,800 white LED lights, and giant themed Christmas trees in the lobbies of Animal Kingdom Lodge, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Wilderness Lodge and other Deluxe resorts. Each tree’s decorations are themed to its particular resort. Also, don’t miss the largest wreath at the WDW Resort, which is 25 feet in diameter with 18′ elliptical ears. It is located on the exterior window 4th floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort facing Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
This year the Gingerbread Holiday Ice Castle can be found on the 4th floor concourse of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Inspired by the art of Disney legend Mary Blair (who designed the mural in the Contemporary concourse), the Ice Castle is decorated with characters from Cinderella. The display is made with 311 lbs of honey, 514 lbs of flour, 212 eggs, 67 lbs of spices, 222 lbs of icing, and 423 pounds of chocolate. There are even 1,500 gingerbread shingles. For sale nearby, look for a selection of holiday treats.
The life-size, edible carousel at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, featuring ponies made of chocolate and fondant, giant candy cane poles, handcrafted snowflakes and 16 hidden Mickeys. The carousel is surrounded by poinsettias and a there are even hand painted chocolate Disney characters surround by snowflakes. Don’t forget to look for the miniature Magic Kingdom made out of gingerbread! Holiday treats will be sold from the Beach Club Marketplace.
The 16-foot Victorian gingerbread house at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is made from 1,050 pounds of honey, 600 pounds of powdered sugar, 800 pounds of flour, 700 lbs of Chocolate, 140 pints of egg whites and 35 pounds of spices. It even has smoke coming from the chimney! Plus, the gingerbread house actually serves as an operating store from which to purchase holiday goodies from 10am-10pm daily. You’ll find gingerbread shingles iced with chocolate, gingerbread cookies, gingerbread ornaments, miniature gingerbread houses and chocolates of all types, shapes and sizes, including Disney characters, peppermint bark, assort truffles and more! Guests can also take part in gingerbread house demonstrations from December 1-25 from 1:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m. in the lobby.
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort features an edible train display with a rock candy mountain and village. Look for favorite resort locations within the display such as the Yacht Club Galley, as well as Mickey’s Village.
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn features Ginger’s Bread and Cookie Shoppe where Guests can purchase sweets such as Candy Cane Gelato, Brownie Pops, Gingerbread Cupcakes, Sollen Bread, Mickey and Minnie Cookie Dipped in Chocolate, and a Snowflake Shingle Cookie. The display features 11 hidden Mickeys and a gingerbread Mickey sculpture on top!
In the past, there have also been edible Christmas village displays at Animal Kingdom Lodge outside of Boma on the lower floor and one the second floor of the Polynesian Resort lobby. More info about the return of these edible displays will be posted if and when it becomes available.
Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground Sleigh Rides
Holiday sleigh rides will be available from late November – late December. A fire-engine red sleigh with garland and holiday lights will take you through parts of the 700-acre backwoods resort and along the shores of Bay Lake. The magic-makers at the resort’s Tri-Circle-D Ranch have equipped sleighs with tires for rides around property. Four adults or two adults and three children should be able to ride on each sleigh. You’ll depart from outside Crockett’s Tavern at Pioneer Hall and travel through the campground on a 25-minute ride that highlights many of the extravagant decorations put up by campground guests. The holiday sleigh ride experience costs $84.00. Call 407-WDW-PLAY to make reservations up to 180 days in advance.
Character Appearances at Deluxe Resorts
Look for characters such as Mickey and Minnie to make appearances at most Deluxe resorts during the week prior to Christmas. Appearances typically occur throughout the day beginning in the afternoon and select times are listed below. Consult your resort front desk for more information and additional times. Also check the Resort Recreation Calendars for other Holiday experiences.
Resort Holiday Entertainment & Activities
The Walt Disney World Resorts have a lot of activities and entertainment planned for guests staying at a Disney Resort each holiday season. On Christmas Eve, Santa makes an appearance in most hotel lobbies and on the porch at Crockett’s Tavern at Fort Wilderness.
Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground: If you can find the time, drop by the campground for the afternoon Christmas Golf Cart Parade on December 24 and be sure to checkout the decorated campsites while you are there. Many of the campsites are much more elaborate than one would expect and it’s fun to just stroll through the area. Campsite decorations begin going up anytime after Halloween and many of them border on spectacular. All are original! This is definitely a great place for photo ops during the holiday season. From Pioneer Hall near the boat marina, a 1- to 2-mile walk will easily cover many if not all of the campground loops, or for a fee, reserve a horse-drawn sleigh ride to see the sights. Cheaper horse-drawn wagon rides departing from Crockett’s Tavern at Pioneer Hall may be available without a reservation.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: Each holiday season, with help from the Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Savanna Guides, families and children use colorfully dyed ostrich egg pieces – from eggs laid by the resort’s and Disney’s Animal Kingdom ostriches – to create holiday ornaments that they can take home.
TheMouseForLess Resort Tips
Due to the busy holiday season, many Walt Disney World Deluxe resorts will have restrictions for the Guest parking lots. The parking will be restricted to only those staying at the resort, attending a convention event at the resort or with dining, recreation or spa reservations. Because of this guests may have to park at Disney Springs or at a theme park and take a bus to the resort they wish to visit.
There are many holiday photo opportunities in the lobbies of Deluxe Resorts in front of towering Christmas trees and in many cases, Disney PhotoPass photographers are on hand (usually from dinner time onward). You can have as many photos as you like taken and added to your Disney Photopass card or packages. Dress up the family and have one taken for a family keepsake, framed holiday gift, or as your next family Christmas card photo.
During the Christmas holiday some deluxe resorts have served free treats such as snickerdoodles, apple cider, and candy canes, in the lobby area. In the past, free treats were available at both the Wilderness Lodge and Polynesian resorts during Christmas week.
Walt Disney World Florist can deliver a Christmas tree, Surprise Stockings and other holiday goodies directly to your resort room with advance notice. Go online or call 407-827-3505 for more information.
You can read more about Christmas at the Epcot resorts on the blog of our travel partner, The Magic For Less Travel.
Holiday Events at the Swan and Dolphin Resorts
Santa has voted the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin his all time favorite resort! Every year beginning at the end of November, Santa and Mrs. Claus take a vacation at the Orlando resort to rest up before “the big night”! Join the Swan and Dolphin for a nightly tree lighting in the lobby, carolers, choir performances, cookie decorating, classic Christmas movies or hang out with Santa and Mrs. Claus at their special Florida tiki hut. At the Swan, check out the life-sized Santa, crafted from 1,200 pounds of chocolate, the chocolate Christmas tree, fireplace, toy train, and 7-foot tall, 400-pound chocolate nutcracker.
TheMouseForLess Swan and Dolphin Tips
The Swan and Dolphin Resort has a nightly light show featuring the palm trees that line the walkway between the two resorts. The tree display features dancing lights in hues of red, green and purple synchronized to holiday music. The show begins at approximately 6 p.m. each evening and continues throughout the night at 10 minute intervals.
You can read more about Christmas at the Swan and Dolphin on the blog of our travel partner, The Magic For Less Travel.