There is no doubt that the holiday season is one of the very best times of the year to visit the Walt Disney World Resort. There is much to see and do during the last couple of months of the year; the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival takes place well into November. If you time your trip dates just right, you can catch the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party as well. If you’re visiting in 2023, Disney Jollywood Nights is the newest hard-ticketed event kicking off in Disney’s Hollywood Studios!
The weather in Florida can be unpredictable, no matter which season you visit. Many folks say that the weather is much cooler in Central Florida during the last few months of the year, but I’ll be honest, while it does feel cooler than it does during the summer months, it can still be hot, as in the upper 80’s, so you’ll want to be prepared. Most of my suggestions will be resorts where you can get to EPCOT and Magic Kingdom reasonably quickly without spending much travel time outside.
Friends and family regularly ask me which Disney Resorts I recommend and which one they should choose for their stay, whether it’s their first or 10th time visiting. While I certainly have my favorites, the recommendations I tend to suggest don’t vary much year after year, especially when discussing the most festive time of the year!
5.) Disney’s Beach Club Resort
In my number 5 spot is Disney’s Beach Club Resort, not only because it’s gorgeous but also because it’s a short walk or boat ride from the International Gateway entrance of EPCOT. If attending the Festivals at EPCOT is on your must-do list, staying at Beach Club is incredibly fabulous as most of the Holiday Kitchens are located in the World Showcase. When we enter the park through the International Gateway, we like to start our journey in France and work around the world sampling goodies and listening to the Holiday Storytellers in each pavilion. Typically, we’ll watch EPCOT’s nighttime fireworks from the bridge leading to the park’s exit and walk right back to Beach Club in minutes. The holiday decorations at this resort are stunning, and the pastry chefs put together a gorgeous Holiday Gingerbread display as well. Starting your day off with a hearty character breakfast at Cape May Café is a win-win, too!
4.) Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
In my 4th spot is Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort, and for many of the same reasons, I recommended the Beach Club. Its proximity to EPCOT is perfect, and the festive decorations include garlands and oversized Christmas trees that feature vintage ornaments that are creatively themed. They even have a real gingerbread display in their lobby, which typically changes its theme from year to year.
The dining options at the Boardwalk are plentiful; from quick-service dining at the Boardwalk Deli, a table-service meal at Trattoria al Forno, or a fancier dinner at Flying Fish, you are very close to many delicious options. I find it fun to stroll along while checking out the nearby shops and even grabbing an ice cream cone or stopping in for a drink at AbracadaBAR.
3.) Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Third on my list of recommendations is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. While I know some folks say this resort is a bit out of the way, it is so well worth making the trip for, especially during the holiday season. The lobby of this Resort is just breathtaking, and when an oversized Christmas tree is added to it, it’s just magnificent. The giant ornaments that fill the tree have an African flair and color scheme, which brilliantly adds to the ambiance. The garlands swooping from the railings overhead tie everything together, and while it’s not over-the-top, it’s perfectly gorgeous and worth a holiday stay for sure.
2.) Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Coming in close to my top choice is Disney’s Wilderness Lodge in the 2nd spot. This gorgeous and rustic resort is inspired by lodges you would see in the Pacific Northwest, which is where I’m from, so it comes as no surprise that it’s one of my very favorites. From the moment you enter this resort during the holiday season, you can’t help but feel festive, and it feels as though you’ve left the hot and steamy state of Florida and entered a – well, I won’t go as far as saying a Christmas wonderland, but you get my point. No matter how toasty it is outside, the roaring fireplace inside the lobby calls to me. Nothing is better during the holiday season, in my opinion than sitting down with a hot cup of coffee or hot cocoa in an oversized rocking chair in front of that stone hearth fireplace while taking in all of the gorgeous decorations all over the lobby. Guests can also enjoy Christmas carolers who sing while riding a wagon around the resort’s grounds.
1.) Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
You may have guessed by now, but my absolute favorite Disney resort hotel to stay in during the holidays is Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. A little background, if you’ll indulge me for a moment. My husband and I honeymooned in a small Victorian town in the Pacific Northwest, and we stayed in a giant Victorian bed and breakfast. When I walked into the Grand Floridian for the very first time, I was instantly brought back to that fabulous time in our younger lives, and it was pretty magical, I must say. We spent our 20th wedding anniversary here, and I can’t recommend it enough during any time of the year, especially during the holidays.
There are so many festive additions to this resort during the holiday season, making it my favorite place to stay. Our family spent the week of Christmas here a number of years ago, and it remains one of my absolute favorite Walt Disney World vacations ever. Our kids got to experience roasting chestnuts (over an open fire, even!). Christmas carolers were singing in the lobby right in front of the oversized Christmas tree, and the smells of the real gingerbread house filled the air. For those who aren’t aware, the gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian is actually a shop that sells delicious holiday treats – some are gingerbread, and some are not – throughout the season. Guests wishing to add a bit of festivity to their rooms can purchase a miniature version of the Grand Floridian Gingerbread House!
If you’ve got a favorite Disney resort to stay in during the holidays, please share it in the comments below, along with why you love it.
It’s not too late to schedule a visit to the Walt Disney World Resort for the holidays this year. If you’d like to receive a no-obligation quote, visit us at Dreams Unlimited Travel, the official sponsor of the DIS.
Senior Editor for the DIS and DCL Fan | Disney Vacation Club Member | Thrilled to have been a '13/'14 Disney Parks Moms Panelist (now planDisney) | Lover of all things Disney; the Magic of Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Disney Cruise Line | ºoº