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Disney's Wilderness Lodge Christmas tree

Top 10 Best Disney Resorts for Christmas

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.

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 has yet to return for 2022. 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 is themed after some of the most iconic Disney Princesses, including Snow White, Belle, Jasmine, Tiana and Elsa. You can even see 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

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

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