The Grand Floridian
As always, the Grand Floridian certainly lives up to its name and creates a grand experience for guests each and every holiday season. Of course, the atmosphere isn’t always one that is a favorite of all guests due to it’s quite over the top feel that a select few can find “stuffy.” However, around the holiday season, the Grand Floridian transforms into a wonderful winter wonderland. From the piano playing in the lobby, to the band that plays throughout the day, the Christmas music that rings out coupled with some of the most beautiful decorations on property sets the mood for an incredible experience. Beyond the somewhat subtle decor scattered throughout the resort, an enormous Christmas tree is found in the heart of the lobby itself coupled with one of the largest gingerbread houses you’ve likely ever seen.
As an added bonus, head over to the gingerbread house and you’ll find a little store inside of the massive display serving up treats for guests of all ages. All in all, the resort creates one of the most elaborate Christmas displays you’ve ever seen and will likely act as a step back in time to a simpler Christmas experience of years past when the hustle and bustle of the holidays wasn’t quite as overwhelming as it has become today. It’s a place that you can sit back and relax while enjoying the simple pleasures of the experience and just enjoy a few minutes of pure holiday tradition.
Moving a short ways up the road (less that half a mile), the Wilderness Lodge unveils a spectacle of holiday cheer that has been a favorite of mine for many years. As you enter the lobby, one of the largest and most elaborate Christmas trees captures your glance from the very first moment. The tree, towering in the center of the mutli-floored atrium, is one of the very largest on property, but beyond the tree the atmosphere lends itself to being warm and welcoming. The lobby features a classic fireplace decorated for the season, a gift wrap station, and an impressive display of holiday gifts. More that anything, the Wilderness Lodge has a way of taking you “home” to the fireside retreat many of us dream about. It’s the perfect setting for the holiday and one that encompasses and creates lasting memories for guests of all ages. This resort simply captures a vision of mine of children and parents waking up on Christmas morning at the ideal place and the most picturesque setting imaginable. It truly is something you have to experience to believe, but there’s just a warm, welcoming, and wonderful feel to the place that encompasses the spirit of Christmas.
Over at the Boardwalk, head to the lobby of the resort for a Christmas wonderland encompassed in a quaint atmosphere that captures an entirely different holiday experience. The scale of the Christmas trees is brought back down to a somewhat “ordinary” size but there’s certainly nothing ordinary about the picturesque setting. The somewhat smaller and simpler lobby sets the stage for a casual area, with a very low crowd level, that you can walk through and glance at the ornaments adorning the many trees. In writing it sounds so simple, but as you stand there taking it all in, it’s a simple aspect of Christmas that welcomes the festivities in a way that captures the heart of guests time and time again. Oh, and before I forget, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for the potential of a special visit from some of the most iconic Disney characters, even possibly the one that started it all!
As one of the most iconic resorts on Disney property and one that has been there from nearly the beginning, The Contemporary displays subtle touches of holiday joy that aren’t quite as elaborate as some, but still well worth visiting. This years main display features a large castle complete with Cinderella. The display takes on subtle hints of the iconic styling of Mary Blair and rivals the look of her elaborate work put into the It’s A Small World attraction. The overall display is incredibly well done and one that also features a small area to pick up treats to carry with you or enjoy as you wander through the resort. Take a quick step outside, if you’re visiting at night, and catch a unique view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks in the distance. Nothing quite rivals seeing the pyrotechnic displays from the Magic Kingdom, but this unique viewing opportunity is something that is certainly memorable to try at least once!
Last, but certainly not least, Fort Wilderness offers an ever changing display of Christmas decorations that changes as often as the guests come and go on their holiday vacations. The campground unveils an incredibly diverse variety of Christmas decor and you never quite know what to expect. Grab a meal at one of the amazing dining offerings on the property, and then walk (or even rent a golf cart to ride around in) around the property and take in the holiday decor set up and maintained by the guests themselves.
If you’re looking to check out the campground or grab a meal at Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue, Trail’s End, or even Mickey’s Backyard Barbecue, the simplest way to get there (other that staying there) is to catch a boat from the Magic Kingdom. The ride over is quite impressive all on it’s own, but the simple journey across the water to take in the holiday festivities has grown to become a holiday tradition for many and one that I hope to experience first hand in the future. You see, even I haven’t seen and done everything on Disney property, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s always something new and different to explore, but what I can appreciate more that just about anything is the classic nature of the Christmas season at Walt Disney World.