Top 10 Disney World Resorts at Christmas

Visiting the Disney World Resorts at Christmas is one of those things you’ll want to prioritize for a vacation during the holiday months. If you have never seen Disney World during the Christmas season, you are in for a real treat.

All of the resorts are dressed to the nines for the occasion. However, a few resorts stand out a little more than others. These will be the ones you don’t want to miss!

So in this article, we’ll preview the best Disney World Resorts at Christmas. I’ve ranked the top so you decide which resorts are a must-see during your trip.

This article was updated on April 13, 2022.

Best Disney World Resorts at Christmas

It’s important to know that every resort at Disney World will be decorated for Christmas. However, some might have more subtle decor than others.

At the same time, other resorts will have elaborate decorations, requiring more time to see everything in detail.

Usually, decorations begin to go up at the Disney Resorts immediately after Halloween. All the decorations should be entirely in place before Thanksgiving.

After the holidays, you can expect decorations to remain in place until at least New Year’s Day. The following week gingerbread structures are dissembled, florals change, and trees disappear.

Below are our top 10 picks for the best Disney World Resorts at Christmas. We’ll look at each one in more detail.

#10 Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Our first resort that makes the list for best Disney Resort at Christmas is Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. I spent a week at Caribbean Beach last year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The decor at the resort was absolutely charming.

Related: Caribbean Beach Resort Review

All of the colors were vibrant and genuinely reflected the Caribbean theming of the resort. There were even pineapples and conch shells mixed in with the decor. I immediately fell in love with the pleasant holiday vibe.

If you are considering a moderate resort for your Christmas vacation, Caribbean Beach is an excellent choice. In addition, the resort is home to the central Skyliner station.

So if you’re out seeing the Christmas decorations, you can incorporate a ride on one of the gondolas to get here.

Related: Disney Skyliner Resorts Guide

#9 Disney’s Riviera Resort

Disney’s Riviera is probably not as decorated for Christmas as you or I would like. However, I found last year’s decorations stunning nonetheless.

Related: Disney’s Riviera Resort Review

The main tree in the lobby had these beautiful ornaments.

Most everything was silver and gold with a hint of blue mixed in here and there.

While the decorations themselves probably don’t warrant a trip to the Riviera, the dining options do. So plan a little time to ride the Skyliner over, have a meal, and see the hotel while you are out resort-hopping.

Related: Riviera Resort Restaurant List

And don’t miss picking up a treat at Le Petit Cafe. The bakery and coffee bar is located right off the lobby. This last year they had delicious gingerbread cookies for the holidays!

#8 Disney’s Contemporary Resort

For our number eight choice, I went with Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Part of me wanted to rank this one higher, but overall, there will be more to see at some other resorts during Christmas.

The Contemporary has an outstanding tree that sits in front of the resort. It is prettiest at night when it is all aglow.

I enjoy taking the time to walk out and see it up close. Additionally, you can see it reasonably well from the monorail to Magic Kingdom.

Related: Disney World Monorail Guide

As far as decorations go inside the Contemporary, there are several wreaths, trees, and fresh flowers.

There is usually a gingerbread display featuring Cinderella Castle and a few classic characters on the Grand Canyon Course floor. These pictures are from a few years back because this particular display wasn’t available last year.

Most resorts will have a recipe posted sharing how many ingredients went into their creation.

On this visit, Cinderella’s glass slipper was available for viewing. Hopefully, we’ll see a Christmas display return to the Contemporary for the 2022 holiday season.

While at the Contemporary, you might enjoy planning a meal at one of their many restaurants. One of our favorites is the California Grill, and you’ll need to have advanced reservations. However, you might find a spot at the bar or lounge area if not.

Related: California Grill 50th Anniversary Dinner Review

You could easily have an early dinner at California Grill, tour all of the Magic Kingdom Resorts to see their Christmas decorations, and then head back up to the restaurant for the nightly fireworks viewing.

Related: Disney’s Contemporary Resort Dining Guide

#7 Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resort

Next, we find ourselves in the Epcot Resorts area for our number seven choice, Disney’s Swan and Dolphin.

The Swan and Dolphin typically have elaborate Christmas decorations and festivities available.

Related: Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Review

They even have a website called Santa’s Favorite Resort, dedicated to their Christmas activities.

Additionally, Santa and Mrs. Claus are usually available at the Swan and Dolphin on select dates during the holiday season to greet guests and take photos.

Image Courtesy Santa’s Favorite Resort

The story goes along the lines that they’ve worked hard all year and are taking a little pre-Christmas vacation. So expect to find both of them in festive resort wear!

As the holidays approach, we’ll try to add extra coverage of the different items available at the Swan and Dolphin.

Additionally, the Swan and Dolphin have a lengthy list of restaurants. If you enjoy fine dining, there are several to choose from, including Shula’s Steakhouse.

Related: Restaurants at Swan and Dolphin

#6 Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

A Hawaiian Christmas sounds kind of dreamy, doesn’t it? That’s precisely the kind of Christmas decorations you’ll find at Disney’s Polynesian. Dreamy…and Hawaiian.

The resort recently underwent a significant refurbishment. Thankfully, all of the updates are now completed.

Related: Disney’s Polynesian Resort Review

While you are visiting the Polynesian Resort, make sure to plan a meal or make time to pick up a Dole Whip. Often as Christmas Day grows near, you’ll find fun festive characters in the lobby or carolers singing the merriest of tunes.

Typically, signage is available in the lobby that indicates what you might run into during your visit. Check out our dining guide for a list of restaurants to enjoy during your visit.

Related: Disney’s Polynesian Restaurant Guide

#5 Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

We stop in at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge at our halfway point for a brief preview of Christmas. The lobby of Jambo house will be completely decked out with the most beautiful tree on display.

It is well worth the trip to see the tree and all of the decorations.

Additionally, this resort is another much-recommended place to enjoy a meal. The resort’s counter service, The Mara, is listed as one of our top resort quick-service restaurants at Disney.

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#4 Disney’s Boardwalk Inn

Disney’s Boardwalk always wins me over with their decorations at Christmas. The resort embodies the American spirit and pulls off the look perfectly at Christmas.

There’s an eclectic mix from florals to candy canes that somehow all works well together.

Outside on the main lawn sits the traditional tree that lights up at night.

And typically, there’s a gingerbread display inside the main lobby. This picture is from a few years back but gives you an idea of the display.

Mickey Mouse and Friends are sitting in the window of the Boardwalk Bakery.

Speaking of characters, most resorts will have special Christmas characters greeting guests in the lobbies in the evenings. Christmas character meets at the resorts usually begin a few days before Christmas Day.

And from my experience, a PhotoPass photographer is usually present to take photos.

Here is Mickey Mouse in his Christmas pajamas.

You do not have to be a resort guest to have your picture made. Just get in line and wait for your turn.

Related: Christmas at Boardwalk Inn

#3 Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Most of you will want to visit Disney’s Wilderness Lodge for their Christmas decorations. Sure, the resort is stunning on a regular day. But at Christmas, it’s like, “there’s something there that wasn’t there before.”

Related: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Review

And the tree is absolutely gorgeous. So make sure to walk up close and take a good look at it while you are visiting.

Additionally, you might like to take the stairs or elevator (the one in the lobby) up a few floors to find a nice sitting spot. Each floor has balconies with fireplaces, rocking chairs, leather sofas, and more.

These little spots at the Lodge are one of my favorite secret hiding spots when I need to get away for a bit. In addition, there are plenty of fantastic dining options to enjoy a meal here while you are out touring. Hint: Geyser Point Bar and Grill

Related: Restaurants at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

#2 Disney’s Beach Club Resort (and Yacht Club)

I’ll be the first to admit that I went back and forth between our number one and two options for the best resorts at Disney during Christmas. However, for the sake of this review and the fact that they are connected, Disney’s Beach and Yacht Club are both coming in second place.

Over at the Yacht Club, you’ll find an attractive tree adorned with sailboats and yachts.

Everything is so well done here.

Usually, a train station with a Christmas village is set up in the lobby. Thankfully, we saw it return last year.

The village is intricate with a multitude of scenes. You could spend a good hour observing it and still not notice every little detail.

As you can see, it’s pretty significant and takes up an entire corner of the lobby.

Over at the Beach Club, there are plenty of shell-inspired ornaments with colors of seafoam and corals in the mix.

But the absolute beauty is the gingerbread carousel horse that typically sits in the lobby’s center. This elaborate piece of art is made by Disney chefs and features character-inspired horses each year.

For instance, the white one below has a mane and tail feathers representing Donald Duck.

Holiday treats are usually available at the Beach Club Marketplace.

The gingerbread carousel returned this last season, featuring characters from The Little Mermaid.

Related: 2021 Gingerbread Carousel featuring The Little Mermaid

Sometimes a smaller gingerbread carousel might be available for purchase.

One of the most memorable was the year they had this Lilo and Stitch-themed gingerbread carousel.

Every little detail represents something from the movie. Even the saddle here is designed to look like a surfboard.

And our best pal Stitch, scissors in hand, appeared to be ready for a little pre-holiday mischief.

Hopefully, you can see why I had a hard time ranking this as our number two choice between the train station and the gingerbread carousel. But there’s something about our number one choice that screams Christmas.

Related Articles:

#1 Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

It probably comes as no surprise to you that the Grand Floridian is our best Disney World Resort at Christmas. The Grand Floridian tends to be many things, including the most expensive resort at Disney.

Maybe it’s the Victorian decor woven into the boughs that adorn the entrance?

Related: Grand Floridian Resort Review

Or the bright pops of Poinsettias you’ll find all over the Grand Floridian at Christmas?

Perhaps, it’s that breathtaking feeling you get when you enter the hotel and see the lobby in all her Christmas glory.

It’s tough to pinpoint, but there’s something extra special about this resort at Christmas.

Additionally, the Grand Floridian has a massive gingerbread house that sits in the lobby at Christmas.

Not only that, but guests can buy gingerbread shingles and other treats from a shop set up on the backside of the house!

If you had to choose only one resort at Christmas to get a full dose of the holiday spirit, the Grand Floridian would definitely be it.

Make sure to plan a meal during your visit!

Related: Restaurants at the Grand Floridian

Final Thoughts on Christmas at the Disney World Resorts

During the Christmas season, the Disney resorts truly come to life in a new way. There is so much extra to see and do, from themed Christmas trees to noteworthy displays.

And we haven’t even gotten into all the different special events that will be available in the parks and at Disney Springs.

For those of you wanting to tour the resorts at Christmas, I have two suggestions:

The first is to make plans to see the hotels around dining reservations. For example, you might plan a late morning brunch at Grand Floridian Cafe and then tour the resort before or after your meal. Afterward, hop on the monorail and take the time to see the other resorts in the area.

Related: Disney’s Grand Floridian Cafe Review

You can do the same with the Epcot Resorts Area and Animal Kingdom Lodge. Usually, a good time to plan a meal at Animal Kingdom Lodge is later in the evening after your Animal Kingdom park day.

My other suggestion is to plan a full day of Christmas resort-hopping. You might start with a lovely breakfast at Ale and Compass. Next, tour all of the nearby Epcot Resorts. Then take a bus to the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

After that, you’ll want to make your way over to the Wilderness Lodge, which will make a great place to have lunch.

Moving on, you’ll head back to the Contemporary and make your way through the monorail resorts. I’d try to end this with dinner at one of the nicer restaurants and include a fireworks viewing.

Related: Disney World Signature Dining

A good day of your trip to plan this would be one evening when Magic Kingdom closes early for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (assuming it will be a thing in 2022).

Anyway, these are just a few suggestions. You can write down your must-dos and map them out whichever way works best for your group.

If you haven’t finalized those Christmas vacation plans yet, make sure to check with our friends at Firefly Travels.

Don’t wait for a discount to come out before reserving. Instead, make your plans now, and they’ll help you secure special rates when and if they are released.

Additionally, you might enjoy these other articles for planning your next vacation. Here are a few of our most popular ones:

Now that we’ve ranked our top Disney World Resorts at Christmas, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Is this your first time visiting at Christmas? If so, what are you looking most forward to seeing?

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