Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas at the Disney World Resorts

I’m a huge fan of Christmas decorations – especially Christmas trees. So this weekend, Ron and I drove to Orlando for a tour of the Christmas decorations at the Disney World resorts. Our first stop was the Grand Floridian, Disney’s flagship hotel modeled after Florida’s grand 19th century resorts. In keeping with the hotel’s Victorian décor, the 3-story high tree was decorated with flowers, bird cages and swans. Stunning! There was even a life-sized gingerbread house with an actual candy shop inside.

The Grand Floridian
The Grand Floridian

Grand Floridian Christmas tree

tree ornament

Grand Floridian

Grand Floridian gingerbread house
Gingerbread House
Next it was on to the Wilderness Lodge, with a 7-story lobby and a spring that flows from inside the hotel out to the pool. My sister Jenny stayed here back in 1996, and the stonework and beautiful wooden beams were part of the inspiration for her own house. The Wilderness Lodge’s Christmas tree was decorated with lighted teepees and Native American style crafts. Ron and I enjoyed wandering around the outside of the hotel as much as the inside, checking out the woods and waterfalls.

Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge

Wilderness Lodge Christmas tree

Wilderness Lodge lobby

Wilderness Lodge tree ornament

Wilderness Lodge exterior

It was almost 2 o’clock by the time we finished exploring the Wilderness Lodge, so we headed to Downtown Disney for lunch. Instead of driving, we decided to take the bus that runs between the resorts and parks. It did save us the trouble of finding parking but also took more time than I would have liked. There was still so much to see! At Downtown Disney, we had lunch at Cap’n Jack’s restaurant, shopped for Christmas ornaments at the Days of Christmas store and treated ourselves to a cup of hot chocolate at Ghirardelli’s chocolate shop. Mmmmm

Ghirardelli chocolate shop in Downtown Disney

Refreshed, we were ready to hit some more hotels. Our final stops were Epcot’s Yacht Club, Beach Club and Boardwalk Inn. Each hotel had its own Christmas theme. The Yacht Club’s tree was covered with lighthouses and sailboats. At the Beach Club, there was a full-sized working carousel made out of gingerbread, which smelled as good as it looked. The Coney Island-themed Boardwalk Inn was festooned with candy-striped ribbons and featured a gazebo made out of the chocolate.

Disney's Yacht Club
Yacht Club

Gingerbread Carousel at the Beach Club

chocolate castle

chocolate castle detail
chocolate gazebo at Boardwalk Inn
Chocolate Gazebo at the Boardwalk Inn

Yacht Club lobby
Yacht Club Lobby
Yacht Club tree ornament
I’d never visited the Epcot resorts before and I was completely enamored. The hotels were situated around a small lake and close enough so that we could walk from one to another. I loved just walking around, watching the sun set over the lake and seeing the little boats carrying people back to their hotels after their day at Epcot. It was a perfect Florida December day, just right for strolling. At the pool area of the Boardwalk Inn, some “cast members” were roasting marshmallows. I think the marshmallows were meant for children but one of the cast members noticed my longing look and asked if I wanted to join in. Yes! Where else but at Disney does an adult get to be a kid again?

Travel Tips: Parking at Disney World is free and you are welcome to view the resorts’ Christmas decorations even if you are not a resort guest. You just need to present a photo ID at the security gate. There is also complimentary transportation between the resorts and parks. But be sure to plan out your resort-touring strategy because you may need to transfer from one bus or boat to another to get where you want to go. (Disney transportation information) Also, don’t forget to take travel time into account because whether you are driving your own car or taking the bus, it does eat up a lot of the day. I wish we had started earlier because it got dark before we made it to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Oh well, there’s always next year!

1 comment:

  1. What a fun and festive day! I keep going back and looking at the pictures, all the little details!