Some time in November, after Magic Kingdom Park has undergone its miraculous Christmas transformation, the resorts around Walt Disney World begin their own seasonal decorating. Each one comes to life with has its own theme, its own color scheme and its own special touches that keep Guests coming back year after year to stare in holiday wonder. This year, I had the wonderful opportunity to do just that – STARE IN HOLIDAY WONDER!
On the last day of a business trip my husband had to take to the Orlando area, we decided to spend the afternoon doing what many Disney geeks refer to as “resort hopping.” The term simply means that we go from one resort hotel to another around the property just to see how they have decked their halls for the season. It’s been a dream of mine to do this, to bask in the beauty each resort hotel dons at Christmastime; however, I knew that time only allowed for a few resort visits, so I chose to stay pretty much within the Magic Kingdom loop this time around.
We started our hop with Disney’s Polynesian Resort. On the outside, there was not much to signify the holidays and what there was simply blends in with the dark colors of the buildings, in my honest opinion. Immediately upon entering the foyer of the resort, the stone centerpiece that greets you was almost unadorned for the holidays; however, there is colorful garland around the perimeter of the lobby and the main Christmas tree stands to the front left, decorated with ornaments of tropical flare, adorned with fish, flowers of the South Pacific and musical instruments. Throughout the main building, there are a few other Christmas trees scattered, strategically placed in sitting areas and entrances. On the top level, Kona Café, a table service restaurant very popular for its breakfast options, was decked out for the holidays with beautiful greenery hanging from the ceiling and around the partially open kitchen where Guests often watch pastry chefs work their culinary magic.
After our little “jaunt to the islands,” we hopped onto the monorail and headed toward Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. This is a favorite of many and on nearly every Guest’s must-see list for several reasons. The Grand Floridian is a very popular place to visit for its Victorian beauty year-round, but the holidays bring the Guests in by droves. Not only are the elegant bows and greenery strikingly gorgeous, but the enormous tree standing in the center of the lobby is the subject of many selfies. When we arrived, there was live piano music and Guests hustling and bustling all around the tree, snapping photos galore. Aside from the spectacular tree, Grand Floridian also boasts one of the best “decorations” on the Resort. In one corner of the lobby, near the hall that leads to the Grand Floridian Café, stands a life-size gingerbread house! The construction of the house starts around the first full week of November and, when complete, boasts hundreds of homemade gingerbread shingles and dozens of chocolate figurines. It all looks so delicious!! To add to the amazement, the life-size structure also houses a snack shop where Guests can purchase various sweets and goodies, including some gluten-free products. (NOTE: Not the best place to purchase treats for those with food allergies to egg, peanut or tree nuts. It does carry Erin McKenna products, but I’m a bit skeptical for our family as our little guy has an issue with products containing disclaimers).
Just before we left, we had a unique opportunity to watch the Princess Promenade in the lobby with Cinderella, Prince Charming, “Rose” and a host of adorable little princes and princesses escorted down the main staircase by the royal duo. I had never seen this before and thought it was a fun way for Cast Members to interact with the younger Guests.
Our next stop was the Contemporary Resort. This resort has its iconic holiday tree outside the hotel itself. It stands taller than the one in the Grand Floridian’s lobby and is decorated with ginormous colorful bulbs as the main attraction. Inside the resort, we had a hard time finding a lot of decorating, but we did find a few strands of garland and some smaller trees scattered throughout. The primary attraction here this time of year is a gingerbread creation that sits in the Grand Canyon concourse, the same floor that is home to the table service restaurant, Chef Mickey’s. This Frozen-inspired gingerbread display has an It’s a Small World quality to it and hides several “hidden golden Olafs.” At the time we were there, there was a small crowd looking for these little gems. Next to the display is a small little stand where Guests can purchase various gingerbread treats.
Surprisingly, we had time for one more stop before heading to dinner at Disney Springs, so we took the boat from the Contemporary over to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Lodge. We had just stayed here a few weeks prior for our family’s annual vacation / our 20th wedding anniversary celebration, at which time Cast Members were just starting to work on the window displays at the Mercantile. We docked and headed straight for the lobby. The comfortable rustic theme is gorgeous here and the Christmas tree at this resort stands in the center, taller than life. There is a beautiful wreath hanging above the hearth and illuminated reindeer and Christmas trees placed above the resort entrance way. Whispering Canyon, the resort’s table-service restaurant found just off the lobby, was beautifully decked out with thick Christmas decor (ketchup anyone?).
Sadly, I didn’t have the chance to visit ALL of the resorts on Walt Disney World property. I hear the Beach Club boasts a gingerbread carousal that actually spins and the main tree is decorated with seaside ornaments. I’ll have to make it a point to see that one on a future trip, but I at least had the opportunity to share with you just a taste of the amazing spirit Disney puts forth during the Christmas holiday season.
Have you been to Walt Disney World during the Christmas season? Have you had the chance to “resort hop” to observe the decorations? I’d love to hear which ones were your favorites and what, in particular, you loved about it! Share your experiences with “resort hopping” below!
Until the next set of footprints are taken ~ T
Read more about Disney Christmas holiday events by clicking below:
Disclaimer: all photos in this blog post were taken by T.M. Brown and are the property of T.M. Brown.