Walt Disney World Gingerbread House Hunt For The Holidays
Garlands, ornaments and Christmas trees aren’t the only things you’ll see around Disney during the holidays. Walt Disney World Resort also takes part in another beloved holiday tradition that started almost 25 years ago: Gingerbread! From massive, sweet-and-spicy structures to cozy Christmas treats, you’ll find enough of the sugary stuff to keep feeling merry and bright all vacation long, with ginormous gingerbread houses, animals and more at select Disney World hotels and even one of the Disney Parks.
So, if you’re celebrating the holidays at the Walt Disney World Resort this year, read on for our holly jolly guide to this pixie-dusted Disney Christmas tradition and all the incredible gingerbread displays you can see. (Updated November 6, 2023)
Festive Gingerbread Displays, a Walt Disney World Christmas Tradition
No matter if it’s Halloween, Easter, New Year’s Eve or the 4th of July, Disney and its talented culinary teams go all out during the holidays. However, nothing compares to Christmastime, when the Disney Parks and resort hotels are transformed into whimsical winter wonderlands, courtesy of festive decorations and, for some, giant gingerbread confections. In the weeks leading up to the holidays, Disney’s pastry chefs kick their cooking into overdrive, baking up a storm like Mickey Mouse’s personal squad of Keebler Elf-like cast members. Then, once early November rolls around, they bring each sugary structure to life.
The Original Disney World Gingerbread House
The fairy godmother of them all, an almost-life-size storybook gingerbread house in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, has been the crown jewel of Walt Disney World’s holiday decorations for more than 24 years. Originally created from a classic Austrian recipe by Erich Herbitschek, the since-retired master pastry chef of Victoria & Albert’s, Disney World’s most acclaimed signature restaurant, back in 1998, the molasses mansion has gone on to become a Grand Floridian holiday staple, drawing huge, Christmas-crazy crowds to the hotel annually.
Hours of Elbow Grease and a Sleighful of Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice
Standing proud at 14 feet tall and a spacious 100 square feet, constructing an edible abode of this merry magnitude is quite the undertaking. Hours of hard work, a generous helping of creativity and an astronomical amount of ingredients go into crafting this oven-fresh work of art, as well as others like it around Walt Disney World. The Grand Floridian’s candied cottage alone is made with 140 pints of egg whites (from around 2,500 large eggs), 600 pounds of confectioner’s sugar, 700 pounds of chocolate, 800 pounds of flour and 1,050 pounds of honey. Talk about a sugar rush! Add in over 400 hours in the oven and 160 more to decorate, and it’s a tasty time commitment that’s more than worth all that effort.
Once it’s time to sample—yes, you get to eat the gingerbread, too—don’t expect each seasonal treat to taste the same. Although Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort started this annual yuletide tradition, resort pastry chefs are free to use their own recipes to make their merry culinary masterpieces, meaning each cookie creation tastes unique. (Oh darn, I guess we’ll have to try them all.)
What Does Disney Do with the Gingerbread Houses After Christmas?
So, what happens to all that gingerbread once the holiday season is over? Don’t worry, Disney doesn’t let the sweet stuff go to waste. Instead, they give it to the bees as a pollinator-friendly gift—just in time for the cooler winter months when food is scarcer. Once the gingerbread displays are disassembled and the dessert-like building materials removed, all that remains is a wooden structure slathered with royal icing, a sugary makeshift mortar the pastry chefs use to hold the gingerbread shingles and bricks together. And the bees go crazy for it!
From there, each piece is taken to the Walt Disney World Resort’s tree farm (yes, that’s a thing) to feed the local bee population and, as a result, power pollination in Central Florida. Then, after the bees have finished feasting, they power wash everything off and store the frames until it’s time for the pastry elves to work their culinary magic once again next year. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us.
What Resorts at Disney World Have Gingerbread Houses?
Today, in addition to the original Walt Disney World gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian Resort, you can also enjoy gingerbread displays at several Disney World hotels, including the Contemporary Resort, Beach Club Resort, Yacht Club Resort, BoadWalk Inn, Animal Kingdom Lodge, with past sugary structures also appearing at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and the Four Seasons Resort Orlando. There’s also a singular gingerbread display at the Disney Parks in Epcot at The American Adventure Pavilion in World Showcase.
Walt Disney World Gingerbread Displays for Christmas 2023
A Disney castle, a ‘grand’ Victorian home, a princess-inspired carousel and a… life-sized baby zebra and baby giraffe? You’ll find all that and more crafted out of classic gingerbread this holiday season at the Walt Disney World Resort. If that doesn’t sound like a merry Christmas, we don’t know what does! With at least six (hopefully seven or eight) gingerbread displays at the Walt Disney World Resort during Christmastime, you can turn this annual holiday tradition into an entire pastry-centric pastime. Disney World resort hopping with a festive twist. A gingerbread crawl, if you will.
Best of all, with the exception of one patriotic gingerbread display in Epcot’s World Showcase, the rest are found in several of Disney’s deluxe resorts, so seeing them all is completely free. If you think this sounds like a fun and festive Disney date night idea, we couldn’t agree more. Now, without any further ado, here are all the festive gingerbread houses and other sweet-yet-spicy architecture (and animals!) you can see during the holiday season at Disney World this year.
Magic Kingdom Resort Area
Located in the Magic Kingdom Resort Area, the first two gingerbread displays on your to-do list are located along the Resort Monorail Loop to check out. Along the way, extend your merry Monorail adventure with a stop at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. While this classic Magic Kingdom hotel doesn’t have a gingerbread display, its island-inspired Christmas tree is well worth a look.
Victorian Gingerbread House at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Available from November 8, 2023, through January 1, 2024
Located at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, this is the Disney World gingerbread house that started it all. Designed to look like a ‘grand’ Victorian home, this huge gingerbread house, with cinnamon clouds puffing from the chimney, is as dreamy as it is delicious. Beautifully decorated with white chocolate, candy canes, edible snowflakes and sugar poinsettias, you almost feel like Hansel or Gretel happening upon a quaint Christmas candy cottage. (Minus the evil witch, of course.)
During your visit to this merry mansion, check out the details on the chocolatey nutcrackers, snowmen, toy soldiers and an 85-pound Santa Claus tucked in its porches. Each has been hand-painted by the Grand Floridian’s talented pastry team. And be sure to keep an eye out for some crafty Hidden Mickeys—25 in all. There’s even a small sweet shop inside where you can buy some seasonal treats. Try one of the many freshly baked, house-made treats or go for a longer-lasting souvenir.
Season Sweets on Offer at the Grand Floridian Gingerbread House
Freshly baked, homemade items, such as Gingerbread Mickeys and Shingles, Stollen Bread, Brownie Christmas Tree, and Gingersnap Cookies
House-made Gingerbread Ornaments and Gingerbread Houses
Grand Floridian Combo Box featuring assorted fan favorite treats, including the cookies n’ cream Christmas Tree, exclusive to this box
Plant-based, no sugar added, and gluten-friendly options
Mary Blair-Inspired Cinderella Gingerbread Castle at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Available from November 10, 2023, through January 6, 2024
Another mainstay of the holiday season is the gingerbread display at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Nestled in the atrium of the iconic A-frame hotel, this Walt Disney World gingerbread house is a culinary ode to Mary Blair, a Disney Legend revered for her distinctive animation work on such classic films as Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella, the inspiration for this whimsical castle.
2023 marks the pastry palace’s 12th year at the Contemporary Resort. So, be sure to stop by and admire this sweet yuletide tradition. While you’re admiring the delicious work, keep an eye out for hidden five-legged goats, a nod to an unnatural animal that appears in the resort’s Mary Blair mural. Then, before you leave, don’t forget to grab some of the house-made gingerbread. To sample the season, don’t miss the Family Tradition Cookie Box, which features fe3stive treats from the Contemporary Resort’s bakery chefs.
Seasonal Sweets, Sips & Spirits on Offer at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Gingerbread Castle Brick
Paint Your Own Cookie Box
Hot Chocolate Caramel Fudge
Chocolate Peppermint Cookie
Pistachio Linzer Cookie
5-Legged Goat Cookie
Gluten/Wheat Friendly Gingerbread Cookie
Gingerbread Latte Cupcake
Christmas Tree Butter Cookie
Frozen Hot Chocolate (Also available with Peppermint Schnapps)
Frozen Apple Cider (Also available with Fireball Cinnamon Whisky floater)
Epcot Resort Area
Next, hop on the Monorail and leave the Magic Kingdom behind to see the gingerbread displays in the Epcot Resort Area. While you’re over in this corner of Walt Disney World, make sure to stop by Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays. With Holiday Kitchens cranking out festive bites and beverages, seasonal decorations and yuletide entertainment like cultural storytellers and the perennially popular Candlelight Processional, it’s a welcome addition to your vacation whether you’re drinking around the world or visiting with kids.
Life-Sized Gingerbread Carousel at Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Available starting early November 2023
Though not a gingerbread house, this wintry display, which made its debut 22 years ago in 2000, is sure to have you feeling jolly. Located in the lobby of Disney’s Beach Club Resort, the hotel’s life-sized gingerbread carousel is a delight. Last year, the playful gingerbread display took a royal turn, with each of the hand-painted horses taking its style cues from one of the Disney Princesses. Its crowning glory? An EARidescent Cinderella Castle. As you admire the holiday handiwork—the carousel spins so you can see it from every angle—be on the lookout for an array of decadent details.
Seasonal Sweets on Offer at Disney’s Beach Club
Signature Stollen Bread
Mickey Snowman Pop
Crispy Rice Treat
Hot Chocolate Flight
(New!) Gingerbread Display at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Available November 2023
New for 2023, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort will be getting a gingerbread display of its very own: a gingerbread lighthouse based on the actual blueprints for the one that rests along the shore of Crescent Lake. Previously, the jewel of the Yacht Club Christmas decorations was an adorable holiday village and model railway. So, we’re excited to see what this all-new yuletide treasure brings to the deluxe resort’s lobby.
Seasonal Sweets & Spirits on Offer at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Gingerbread Version of the Disney BoardWalk at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
Available from November 17 through December 27, 2023
Stroll around Crescent Lake to Disney’s BoardWalk Inn for a gingerbread display you’re shore to love. Located just a short walk away from the Yacht & Beach Club resorts, the charming gingerbread display at the BoardWalk Inn features miniature replicas of buildings at Disney’s BoardWalk. Last year, for example, it wasn’t so much a gingerbread house as it was a dessert deli—the BoardWalk Deli, to be specific.
Seasonal Sweets & Spirits on Offer at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
Mickey and Minnie Sugar Cookies
Mickey Caramel Corn Cookie
Christmas Tree Pop
Gluten/Wheat-Friendly and Plant-based Gingerbread Shingles
American Monuments & Epcot Institutions in Gingerbread at The American Adventure
Available starting late November 2023
Next, say “goodbye” to Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and make your way to Epcot. Located in the World Showcase at The American Adventure Pavilion, this gingerbread display is the only one at a Walt Disney World theme park and an ideal stop during a day spent drinking around the world or while exploring the park doing Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition scavenger hunt.
Along with the necessary yuletide touches, this merry park display in the American Adventure rotunda is also appropriately patriotic, featuring mini-molasses monuments and other American and Epcot institutions, such as the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, The American Adventure building (including the pavilion’s Regal Eagle Smokehouse, which serves America’s regional styles of BBQ), and a festival food kiosk, another park favorite.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort Area
After Epcot, jingle all the way over to the Animal Kingdom Resort Area, the last section of Walt Disney World on our list. Sadly, only one hotel near Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Animal Kingdom Lodge, touts a gingerbread display at Christmastime. That said, although it doesn’t have a gingerbread house, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is a worthwhile stop when resort hopping during the holiday season, thanks to festive lights, food and, of course, a tree.
Available from November 22 through December 31, 2023
Travel around the world—Disney World, that is—for the holiday season in Africa by way of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. In 2021, the Animal Kingdom Lodge unveiled a fitting gingerbread display for Disney’s answer to Giraffe Manor in Kenya (if you’ve never heard of it before, do yourself a favor and look it up—your wander list will never be the same): a life-sized baby gingerbread giraffe.
Dubbed a gingeraffe, the adorable, edible animal named Ginger will return to graze in the lobby once more, along with a sweet, striped friend, a baby gingerbread zebra called Debra. While you’re on your seasonal safari, be sure to check out the actual wildlife in Animal Kingdom Lodge’s various savannas, including real-life giraffes and zebras.
Seasonal Sweets on Offer at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Hot Cocoa Flight
Currently Unconfirmed for 2023
Although these next Disney gingerbread displays in the Magic Kingdom Resort Area aren’t yet confirmed for 2023’s holiday season, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that they’ll be making a comeback this year. After all, we’re pretty sure we’re on Santa’s nice list!
Gingerbread Log Cabin at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Making its debut in 2019, the gingerbread house at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, a Gingerbread “Log” Cabin, was an instant success. And for good reason—between the humble, handmade home of gingerbread, a charming appearance by Humphrey the Bear stringing festive lights across the cabin’s front door, and a downright cozy atmosphere courtesy of a crackling fireplace, rustic decorations and a towering tree, there’s a lot to love.
So, if this display does make a return in 2023, do yourself a favor and dash over for a visit. Sure, it’s a little out of the way, but you’ll be rewarded handsomely with enough festive vibes to keep you fueled on holiday cheer through the rest of the year. While you’re there, try your hand at the resort’s Hidden Mickey scavenger hunt (there is also a handful on the display itself). Just ask a Front Desk cast member to get started.
Gingerbread House at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort
Though not a Disney-operated hotel, Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, located just down the road from the Wilderness Lodge in the luxurious Golden Oak community, has also been known to get in on the festive fun with its very own gingerbread house. That said, there is no word yet about whether the display will be returning for 2023.
Crafted in previous years by the resort’s pastry chef, 2019 James Beard semifinalist Rabii Saber, the elaborate, edible abode fills the hotel lobby and is covered with seasonal sweets like peppermints, lollipops, gingerbread men and more.
Keep in mind that, unlike the gingerbread displays at official Disney World hotels, which are open to everyone even if you’re not staying there, access to the Four Seasons Resort Orlando is exclusive to resort guests, Golden Oak residents and restaurant diners. So, you’ll need to have a room or dining reservation to enjoy the display.
Other Gingerbread-Inspired Items on Offer
But wait, there’s more! In addition to these delicious dwellings and the many Christmas treats on sale, you’ll also find a few other gingerbread-inspired goodies, such as a boozy beverage you can at dinner and some sweet souvenirs.
For all the adults out there, bartenders at select Disney World hotel restaurants and lounges are shaking up a new Gingerbread Martini with Absolut Elyx Vodka, Rumchata Cream Liqueur and gingerbread spice, complete with a rim of freshly baked gingerbread crumbs from the resort’s bakery. This decadent drink is available at:
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Grand Floridian Café
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Boma – Flavors of Africa
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Cape May Café
Exclusive, limited-edition merchandise is available, including some deliciously adorable holiday ornaments, mugs and pins. For the ultimate memento of this merry occasion, you can even get it signed by one of the rockstar pastry chefs. Refer to each specific resort for dates and times.
Well, sweet tooths, that concludes our guide to the many gingerbread displays at Disney World. Which of these spirited displays is your favorite? Let us know in the comments! Then, learn how you can save on your next vacation with our discount Disney World tickets.