Disney's Wilderness Lodge Christmas tree

Top 10 Best Disney Resorts for Christmas

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Christmas is a magical time to visit Walt Disney World. In fact, it’s our absolute favorite time of the year for a Disney vacation. From the theme parks to Disney Springs, the entire Central Florida resort is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with holiday decorations, festive food and drink offerings, seasonal entertainment and merry music.

However, just as enchanting at Christmastime are the Walt Disney World resort hotels, which undergo a similarly spirited transformation in celebration of the holiday season. And best of all, unlike the Christmas decor at the parks, you don’t need to pay anything to experience them—unless you want to, that is.

So, whether you’re looking for a jolly place to stay during your holiday trip to Walt Disney World or something fun to do that is both festive and free, keep scrolling for our list of the best Disney resorts to visit during Christmas. (Updated October 25, 2023)

Christmas Gingerbread House Disney's Grand Floridian Detail

Why Visit the Walt Disney World Hotels During the Holidays

Believe it or not, many folks heading to The Most Magical Place on Earth never make it to one of the Disney World hotels. Now, while this is a travesty any time of year (The theming! The dining!), you’re especially missing out during the Christmas season. Fortunately, although you certainly can opt to make your vacation uber-festive and stay at a Disney hotel during the holidays, no hotel reservation is required to enjoy the merry mood.

Christmas village and model railway at Disney's Yacht Club Resort

Common Areas Like the Lobby & Entryway Are Decked Out with Themed Decorations

While there isn’t a Christmas tree in every room and a wreath on every door (unless you pay for one), you’ll typically find jolly holiday decorations in many common areas around the hotel, including at the resort’s entrance, in the lobby and some hallways and even in merchandise locations.

Deluxe resorts typically boast the most Christmas decorations, with a few notable exceptions, touting everything from massive themed trees to supersized gingerbread displays to a quaint village and model railway. However, moderate resorts and even the value hotels also get in on the festive fun, though usually to a lesser extent.

Christmas tree at Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Disney Resort Christmas Decorations Are Completely Free to See

Unless you decide to book a room or a dining reservation (which we do highly recommend), seeing holiday decorations at the Disney hotels won’t cost you a thing (unlike that pricey theme park ticket and basically everything else at the Walt Disney World Resort). And no, this isn’t just some Christmas miracle.

Resort hopping around the Disney World hotels is completely free all year round and, not to mention, one of our favorite things to do outside the theme parks. But add in some twinkle lights, gingerbread and a few towering trees to your tour, along with Disney World’s complimentary transportation offerings, and you’ve got a shockingly affordable (did mention free?) yet festive way to soak up some Disney magic.

Mickey gingerbread cookie at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort

Many Restaurants Serve Up Seasonal Dishes, Drinks & Desserts

Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, Halloween or New Year’s Eve, Walt Disney World goes all out for the holidays, and the same goes for Christmas at the Disney Resorts. Disney’s team of culinary cast members cook up all sorts of limited-time items in honor of the holiday season, from festive feasts to sweet treats to spirited sips.

Disney World resorts with gingerbread displays even put up places for guests to buy some of the classic Christmas-cookie-turned-construction material, including gingerbread shingles, ornaments and Mickeys, as well as the ever-popular chocolate peppermint bark. So, whether you’re looking for a full Christmas dinner for your family or something sweet to share with your special someone during a Disney holidate, be sure to check out the Disney World hotel restaurants during your tour.

Entryway Christmas Decorations at Disney's Grand Floridian Close Up

Best Hotels at Disney World for Christmas

Typically, we play it pretty coy when it comes to naming the very ‘best’ of anything at Walt Disney World. “Why?” you might ask. Because no matter if we’re talking about the ‘best’ Disney World park, restaurant or hotel, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all sort of situation. Everyone’s interests, plans, budgets and aesthetics are different.

The same is true during the holidays at Walt Disney World. So, if you only have enough time to visit a few Disney World resorts when resort hopping this Christmas, prefer rustic holiday vibes over more elegant trimmings and trappings, or can only afford to stay at one of the cheaper hotels on Disney property, feel free to tailor your plans accordingly.

Christmas wreath Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Christmas garlandat Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

For example, if you only have enough time for a jolly resort-hopping jaunt during your day at Epcot, use the International Gateway entrance in World Showcase to take a yuletide detour of the hotels in the Epcot Resort Area, including Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, the Beach Club Resort and the BoardWalk Inn.

Hoping for a short trip back to your pillow after Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party? Stay at one of the monorail-accessible hotels in the Magic Kingdom Resort Area. Into more rustic Christmas decorations? Go off the well-beaten resort monorail loop to scope out the merry scene at Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge or the Fort Wilderness Campground.

African ornaments on Christmas tree at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

When it comes to Christmas decorations, the fairy godmother of them all is Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. (In fact, she’s even been known to hang out here during a character dinner at 1900 Park Fare from time to time.) Here you’ll find elegant holiday decor with Victorian sensibilities, including a giant, elaborately decorated Christmas tree themed after the 12 Days of Christmas and lavish garlands, baubles and bouquets.

Christmas Gingerbread House Disney's Grand Floridian from above

The crown jewel of the Grand Floridian Christmas decorations, however, is the resort’s life-sized gingerbread house, a Victorian stunner styled after the “painted ladies” of the era and featuring EARidescent details in celebration of the Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary. The Grand Floridian is also the ancestral home of Disney World’s holiday gingerbread display tradition, making the resort a must-visit for many.

This is no ordinary gingerbread house. Rather, it’s an architectural marvel of pastry proportions, using 140 pints of egg whites, 700 pounds of chocolate and more. They even sell see gingerbread treats out of the molasses mansion itself.

Christmas Tree at Disney's Grand Floridian

Ideally situated along the Magic Kingdom Resort Monorail, it’s easy to park at the Transportation & Ticket Center and stop by for a quick tour on your way to the theme park. The only downside is that due to its convenient location and overwhelming popularity, the lobby can be incredibly chaotic. So, keep this in mind when planning out the rest of your day.

Location: Magic Kingdom Resort Area

Disney World Resort Type: Deluxe resort

Notable Decorations: Victorian-inspired gingerbread house, elegant Christmas tree themed after the 12 Days of Christmas

Entryway Christmas Decorations at Disney's Grand Floridian

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Another can’t-miss resort at Disney World during Christmas, and our personal favorite Disney destination each holiday season, is Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Though also located in the Magic Kingdom Area, the atmosphere at this rustic Disney resort couldn’t be more opposite from the last hotel on our list. With a 60-foot Christmas tree, a cozy fireplace in the corner and a flurry of other similarly homespun decorations spread throughout the hotel, the Wilderness Lodge is the perfect choice for anyone dreaming of a Northwoods Christmas.

Disney's Wilderness Lodge Christmas tree

The Wilderness Lodge Christmas tree is laden with glowing tee-pees, dugout canoes and antlers (they must take decorating tips from Gaston), echoing the totem poles and tee-pee chandeliers that tower over the lobby. For the best view of the woodsy scene, go up the stairs near the entrance to Whispering Canyon Cafe to claim one of the rocking chairs looking out over the atrium. Or, if you’d rather, stake out a spot in front of the lobby’s crackling fire.

Unfortunately, unlike the Grand Floridian, getting to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge isn’t as quick and easy, as you’ll need to take a bus or hop on one of the water taxis to get there. You can certainly try to drive; however, parking is often restricted to resort guests or those with dining reservations so you may be turned away.

Christmas garlands at Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Having said all that, we think a holiday stop at the Wilderness Lodge is more than worth the effort for the cozy vibes alone. Between the resort’s decorations, the roaring fireplace and the festive background music, you feel as if you’ve been instantly transported to a majestic hunting lodge somewhere in the frozen north. You can almost picture a blanket of freshly fallen snow just outside the window. Plus, the resort’s relatively remote location typically means fewer fellow guests fighting for a place in front of the tree.

Christmas wreath at Disney's Wilderness Lodge

In the past, the Wilderness Lodge has also created their very own molasses masterpiece: an adorable gingerbread cabin. Sadly, this gingerbread display didn’t return in 2022, and there’s no indication that it will be back in 2023 either. However, we are hopeful that it will make a Christmassy comeback in the future.

Location: Magic Kingdom Resort Area

Disney World Resort Type: Deluxe resort

Notable Decorations: Rustic Christmas tree and, in the past, a gingerbread cabin

Ornaments on Christmas tree at Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

For a truly unique holiday ambiance, jingle all the way over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge for Christmas decorations with African flair. Bedecked with hand-carved masks of African animals, tiny drums and ribbons made from wax print, a traditional African fabric, the massive Animal Kingdom Lodge Christmas tree puts a global twist on a holiday tradition and is a fitting counterpart to the handmade decorations in Africa at nearby Animal Kingdom Theme Park.

Gingerbread baby giraffe and baby zebra at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

However, the most charming element is the resort’s newest addition: a tasty display of a life-sized gingerbread baby giraffe and baby zebra. For a bird’s-eye view of the tree and the wild gingerbread display, take the elevator just off the Animal Kingdom Lodge lobby to the 5th floor to access the bridge overlooking the savanna outside.

Similar to Disney World’s other lodge, getting to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is no easy task. You’ll need to hop on a bus from Disney Springs, Animal Kingdom Theme Park or one of the other Disney Parks. However, for your hard work, you’ll be rewarded with relatively few crowds. Sure, the Christmas decorations at Animal Kingdom Lodge don’t feel like a natural extension of the resort like they do at the Wilderness Lodge, but we think it’s worth it for the uniqueness of the decor and gingerbread display alone.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Christmas tree

Location: Animal Kingdom Resort Area

Disney World Resort Type: Deluxe resort

Notable Decorations: African-inspired Christmas tree and a life-sized gingerbread baby giraffe and baby zebra

Ornaments on Christmas tree at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney’s Beach Club Resort

One-half of the dynamic duo that is the Yacht & Beach Club, Disney’s Beach Club Resort draws crowds each year with its whimsical gingerbread display. No, it isn’t a larger-than-life gingerbread sandcastle, although that would be super neat and thematically appropriate. Instead, it’s a life-sized gingerbread carousel that actually rotates.

Jasmine gingerbread carousel horse at Disney's Beach Club Resort

For 2022, the Beach Club’s display was themed after some of the most iconic Disney Princesses, including Snow White, Belle, Jasmine, Tiana and Elsa. There was even a tiny tribute to Cinderella Castle at the top. While there are also a couple of beach-chic Christmas trees here, as well as strings of garland studded with buoys and other coastal trinkets, the star(fish) of the show at the Beach Club Resort during the holidays is definitely the gingerbread carousel.

Thankfully, conveniently located just a short walk from the International Gateway entrance to Epcot in World Showcase, the Beach Club is blissfully easy to get to and a welcome escape from the craziness of the International Festival of the Holidays. While you’re in the area, hop next door to Disney’s Yacht Club Resort to extend your yuletide tour.

Christmas tree at Disney's Beach Club Resort

Location: Epcot Resort Area

Disney World Resort Type: Deluxe resort

Notable Decorations: Gingerbread carousel

Christmas decorations outside Disney's Beach Club Resort

Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

As the more dignified of the pair, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort brings a more buttoned-up approach to the hotel’s Christmas decorations. Unique to this Disney resort is its quaint (but by no means small) Christmas village in the lobby. Chockful of Disney-inspired details like Hidden Mickeys and other Easter eggs with a model train running through it (Walt Disney would surely approve), be sure to spend some time taking it all in.

Christmas village at Disney's Yacht Club Resort

But that isn’t the only reason to stay at or visit Disney’s Yacht Club at Christmas. In 2023, this nautically inspired deluxe resort will play host to its very own gingerbread display. What festive form do you think the sweet treat will take? We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a gingerbread boat.

Like its sister resort, the Yacht Club also has a tree, though it is on the small side. Still, dapper touches like sailboat models and ships’ helms are a clever nod to the theme. Before you head back to Epcot or travel onward to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, hop across to the other side of Crescent Lake for a festive tour of Disney’s BoardWalk.

Christmas tree at Disney's Yacht Club Resort

Location: Epcot Resort Area

Disney World Resort Type: Deluxe resort

Notable Decorations: Miniature Christmas village and model train, as well as a brand-new gingerbread display

Christmas decorations at Disney's Yacht Club Resort

Disney’s BoardWalk Inn

Make your way to the Showplace of the Shore for merry Christmas decorations styled after a turn-of-the-century carnival. Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is the next resort on our list with a gingerbread house and an especially sweet stop along your tour. Although it tends to change from year to year, the baked building is typically a sugary rendition of Disney’s BoardWalk, with 2022 featuring a dessert version of the new BoardWalk Deli.

Gingerbread house at Disney's Boardwalk Inn

Like the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts nearby, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn also decorates its lobby for the holiday season with the requisite Christmas trees. Though on the smallish side, the whimsical ornaments themed after classic carousel creatures nod to the impressive chandelier just off the lobby while adding to the playful yet nostalgic ambiance.

Once you’ve finished your festive tour of the Epcot hotels, head back to World Showcase, take a stroll over to Hollywood Studios or, to really take your resort hopping to the next level, hop on a Disney Skyliner gondola bound for the Riviera, Art of Animation and Pop Century resorts.

Christmas trees at Disney's Boardwalk Inn

Location: Epcot Resort Area

Disney World Resort Type: Deluxe resort

Notable Decorations: Gingerbread house themed after Disney’s BoardWalk

Christmas decorations at Disney's Boardwalk Inn

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

Believe it or not, Disney’s team of elves (AKA Holiday Services cast members) don’t put up too many Christmas decorations at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. “Well then,” you’re probably wondering, “why is it even on this list?” It’s all thanks to the happy campers who make the Walt Disney World campground their temporary home.

Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground sign with Christmas decorations

That’s right, unlike the other resort hotels on property, the yuletide vibes at Fort Wilderness are powered almost entirely by guests. Like the Griswold family’s Christmas display on a whole new scale, this jolly battle of one-upmanship creates a merry mix of everything from festive inflatables to wannabe versions of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

Just a boat or bus ride away from Magic Kingdom and the Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness isn’t exactly what we’d call easy to get to. However, its natural and secluded setting and charming, guest-made Christmas decor make this Disney resort one you won’t want to miss. To see it for yourself, hop on one of the buses that roam the campground or set out on foot for a leisurely self-guided tour.

Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground Christmas decorations

Location: Magic Kingdom Resort Area

Disney World Resort Type: Value/moderate resort

Notable Decorations: Guest-made Christmas displays at the campsites

Christmas decorations at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort Campground

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort & the Gran Destino Tower

Stopping by Animal Kingdom Lodge during your holiday hotel tour? Consider adding on a Christmassy pitstop at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and the Gran Destino Tower. While not a deluxe Disney resort, this moderate resort is no slouch when it comes to Christmas decorations, with festive trimmings and trappings found in the lobby, entryway, convention center and more.

Festively lit lanterns at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort

As you walk in, red-and-green lighting reminiscent of Moroccan-style lanterns (Spain’s neighbor to the south) set the yuletide mood, while pine boughs laden with richly colored ornaments direct your attention to Coronado Springs’ lobby centerpiece: a luxe Christmas tree bedecked with white poinsettias and jewel-toned baubles. White poinsettias, meanwhile, nod to the resort’s Spanish inspirations.

Christmas tree at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort

Location: Animal Kingdom Resort Area

Disney World Resort Type: Moderate resort

Notable Decorations: Festive lighting and an elaborately decorated Christmas tree

Christmas garlands at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort

Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Heading back to the Transportation & Ticket Center after a fun-filled day at Magic Kingdom? Hop on the Resort Monorail for a holly-jolly tour of one of the most iconic Disney World resorts: Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Sadly, despite this distinction, there aren’t too many Christmas decorations decking the halls of this distinctive A-frame resort.

Gingerbread castle at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Rather, the Contemporary Resort relies largely on its Mary Blair-inspired gingerbread castle and a gigantic, retro-chic Christmas tree outside to make things feel merry, as well as a few stylish yet rather underwhelming wreaths. As far as Disney gingerbread displays go, this pastry palace themed after Disney World’s 50th anniversary is pretty yet one-dimensional.

And while the Contemporary Resort Christmas tree is the largest at Walt Disney World, it’s not centrally located in the lobby and lacks the more varied ornaments of the trees at other resorts. On the bright side, this Disney resort is incredibly easy to get to, making for an easy way to squeeze a little Christmas into your visit. During your visit, be sure to stop for a cocktail from Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, our pick for the best bar at Disney World.

Christmas tree at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Location: Magic Kingdom Resort Area

Disney World Resort Type: Deluxe resort

Notable Decorations: Gingerbread castle and a large Christmas tree outside

Christmas garlands at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Like the Contemporary Resort just a few monorail stops away, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort isn’t what we’d call a can’t-miss destination for your Christmas tour. Though trimmed with tropical-themed bits and baubles like seashells, pineapples, lei-like garlands and fish ornaments made out of coconut shells, the Christmas tree is disappointingly small, especially considering the size of the lobby.

Christmas tree at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

A similar, South Pacific-inspired aesthetic continues throughout the rest of the Polynesian resort, with even some of the longhouses receiving the yuletide treatment. It’s truly lush, vibrant and beautiful. Our only complaint is that we wish there were more of it. After all, when it comes to the holidays, you can never have too many decorations, especially at a deluxe Disney resort.

Thankfully, getting to and from Disney’s Polynesian resort is a cinch. So, even though the hotel’s special holiday decor is a little lackluster, it makes for a simple yet spirited addition to your day in the park.

Entryway Christmas decorations at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

Location: Magic Kingdom Resort Area

Disney World Resort Type: Deluxe resort

Notable Decorations: Island-inspired Christmas tree

Tiki Christmas decorations at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

Make Your Disney Resort Visit Extra Merry with These Helpful Tips

Ready to embark on your holly-jolly holiday tour of the Disney World resorts? Here are some tips and tricks to help you make the most of this merry time of the year.

Staying at the Resort? Have the Elves at Disney Floral Decorate Your Room

Feeling inspired by all those trimmings and trappings and looking to add some holiday cheer to your hotel room? Spruce up your room both literally and figuratively with a festive tree or other seasonal swag provided by Disney Floral & Gifts. No room in the budget? DIY it with some elf-made ornaments instead or a cozy Christmas blanket instead.

Christmas decorations at Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Start Your Day Early If You Want to See Everything

If you want to visit all the resorts at Disney World with worthwhile Christmas decor, you’ll either need to get a head start or split up your tour stops between several days of your trip. This is especially true if you plan to save some cash by parking at Disney Springs or using Disney’s free transportation offerings which, though convenient, can take a great deal of time waiting and getting from Point A to Point B.

Take Advantage of Complimentary Parking at Disney Springs

Unless you’re an annual passholder and parking at the theme parks is free, park your car at Disney Springs rather than theme-park parking. Sure, it’s farther away from many of the hotels on our list. However, it’s conveniently connected to each of the resorts by the Disney World bus system and, bonus, you can even extend your free festive fun with the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll.

White poinsettias at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort

Use Free Disney Transportation to Get Around or Be Prepared to Have a Reservation

Although you could take your chances and try to drive everywhere on your tour, if you don’t have a reservation of some kind, you run the risk of being turned away by security once it’s time to park. Not only does using Disney’s complimentary transportation options like the Monorail, bus system, water taxis and the Disney Skyliner keep your costs low, but you don’t need to have a dining or Disney resort reservation to take advantage of them.

Keep the Party Going at These Other Christmassy Disney Resort Hotels

Not ready for the holiday hullabaloo to end? You’re in luck! You’ll find Christmas decorations at the other Disney Resorts, too. Some of our favorites can be found at Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century and Riviera resorts near Hollywood Studios and Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter near Disney Springs. Best of all, if you’re looking for somewhere to stay, these moderate and value resorts make for more affordable yet equally festive alternatives to the deluxe resorts above.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn gingerbread house

Time Your Visit Appropriately So You Don’t Miss the Celebration

Last but not least, although holiday decorations go up around Disney World as early as the first week of November, that generally isn’t the case for Disney resorts. Instead, things are typically pretty staggered, with gingerbread creations going up first and the rest of the decor following soon after. Your best bet is to wait until the middle to late November for the preparations to be completed.

Well, folks, that brings our yuletide tour of the Disney World resorts to a close. What is your top Disney Resort to visit during the holidays? Let us know in the comments! Then, learn how you can save on your next vacation with our discount Disney tickets.