When planning a vacation to Walt Disney World, people always ask me which Disney Resort is my favorite and which one they should choose, whether it’s their first or 20th time visiting. While I definitely have my favorites, the recommendations I tend to suggest are dependent upon the time of year folks are visiting. Today, we’re going to talk about my top 5 Resorts to stay at during the Holiday time of year.
There is a lot to see and do at Walt Disney World in the last couple of months of the year, in fact, 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.
I find that some folks say it’s cooler in Central Florida during the last few months of the year, but I’m going to be real with you right now – it might be a degree or two cooler than it is during the summer months, but it can still be as hot as fire so you’ll want to be prepared. Weather in Florida can be very unpredictable despite how it’s been in the past. Therefore, most of my suggestions are going to be Resorts where you can get to EPCOT and Magic Kingdom quickly without having to spend much, if any, time outside.
In my number 5 spot is Disney’s Beach Club Resort, not only because it’s absolutely beautiful 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 especially fabulous as the majority 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 our way around the world sampling goodies and taking time to listen 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 over to Beach Club in a matter of 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!
In my 4th spot is Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort for many of the same reasons that 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 quite creative; they have a real gingerbread display in their lobby, too, which can change its theme from year to year; the image below is from my 2012 visit.
The dining options at the Boardwalk are plentiful, from a quick-service breakfast at the Boardwalk Deli or a character breakfast at Trattoria al Forno, to lunch at Big River Grille, and a fancier dinner at Flying Fish. I find it fun to just stroll along while checking out the shops and even grabbing an ice cream cone or stopping in for a drink at AbracadaBAR.
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.
Coming just about neck and neck with 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 cocoa or hot cider 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.
You may have guessed by now, but my absolute favorite Disney Resort hotel 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 back home 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 quite magical, I must say. We spent our 20th wedding anniversary here, and I can’t recommend it enough during any time of the year, but especially during the holidays.
There are so many festive additions to this Resort during the holiday season, making it my most favorite place to stay. Our family spent the week of Christmas at this Resort back in 2014, 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!), there were Christmas carolers 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 even purchase a small version of the actual Grand Floridian Gingerbread House!
If you’ve got a favorite Disney Resort 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