A Disney Resort Holiday Tour Part 1

One piece of advice I’ve heard over and over again from seasoned travelers is this. Find out what the locals do. This is just as true when it comes to Walt Disney World as it is for any other destination. After all, while most guests only have a few days out of the year in WDW, the local folks have year-round access. So they know a thing or two that others may miss.

After gathering some expert advice from friends and family from the area, I give you one of the best tips I’ve ever been given: take a day to explore the Disney Resorts. In fact, there is so much to see that we split the tour into two!

You Don’t Have To Stay To Play

Many guests don’t know this, but you don’t have to stay at one of the Disney Resorts to explore the decorations and experience the events offered on property. You can be staying with Grandma, or staying in one of our exquisite vacation homes, and still have access to everything the resorts have to offer. All you need to pay for is parking (which even WDW in property guests have to shell out for nowadays) and of course the yummy treats and gifts you may pick up along the way!

Start at the TTC

Disney Transportation is your friend. Once you pay for parking at the TTC, you can spend the rest of the day scurrying around the ‘World’ on you Grand Resort Tour’. One other tip, you’ll want to start early, if not right in the morning, at least before Noon, you’ve got a lot to see and not much time to see it!

Work your Way East

You’ll want to start at the furthest point out, which is the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The centerpiece for each of the resorts is, of course, the tree. And the one at AKL is massive, towering all the way to the top of the vaulted ceilings. But everywhere you look you’ll see garlands, wreaths and smaller trees covered in lights, bows made from traditional cloth, handmade ornaments and plenty of animal prints and even butterflies!

If you’re there early enough you can have a breakfast at Boma, or appetizers at Saana. Boma’s more family oriented, and has massive picture windows with views out on to the Savanah animal habitat! And why not leave this resort for later? One of the most majestic aspects of this resort are the animals, if you wait until later to head here you won’t be able to see as many! When you’re finished, hop on the Bluzard Beach bus to head to the Coronado Springs Resort!

Feliz Navidad at the Coronado Springs Resort

Next up is the Coronado Springs Resort, with its beautiful walking paths and the spirit of Navidad floating through the air. The decorations at the Coronado focus on Poinsettias, a flower native to Mexico and an integral part of the American Holiday tradition for nearly 200 years! This hotel is laid out a little differently from most.  The main entrance hall is actually a hub that leads off to the reception area and the conference area. The main tree here is actually at the end of the hall in reception, while you can find wreaths, garlands, and other holiday arrangements all up and down the hallways.  

The Resort Loop

After touring the outlying resorts you’ll want to head back to the Magic Kingdom area for a tour of the Monorail loop hotels. The Gingerbread house in the Floridian is a can’t miss, as is the Gingerbread tree on the Concourse level of the Contemporary, and the Polynesian Village resort is resplendent with trees, wreaths, and flowers everywhere you look. Mele Kalikimaka everyone! And the best part is the free monorail ride between all three.

You’ll be dropped off at the Magic Kingdom after the bus from Coronado. So the monorail’s first stop is the Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower. The gingerbread tree is just down the stairs (or off the umbrella) from the monorail station. There you’ll be able to pick up gingerbread pieces. And enjoy the Mary Blair inspired gingerbread cookies shaped like Anna, Elsa and the characters from Frozen. Take a few minutes to walk around as you munch. You’ll find sleek oversized ornaments and modern looking Christmas trees around every corner. 

Your next stop is the Polynesian Village Resort. This resort features tons of Christmas flowers among the trees. ANd if you take a minute or two to get refreshments in trader sams, you’ll even see a snowy island paradise out the ‘windows’. The Floridian is next with one of the largest trees in Walt Disney World. This massive tree fills up the lobby from ground level all the way to the top floor. In the lobby, you may even be able to catch live music from the Grand Floridian band!

Next Up: Epcot!

When you get off at the Magic Kingdom again, you can head off to the Wilderness Lodge. Or you can catch a bus to one of the Epcot Area resorts. I’d suggest heading towards Epcot now because the Wilderness Lodge has so much to do that you’ll probably want to stay a while! There are 5 hotels in the Epcot area; The Yacht and Beach Club, The Swan, The Dolphin, and the Boardwalk.  Each area is decorated in their own unique ways, but a few have cant miss spectacles. 

The Beach Club Resort boasts a massive, moving, gingerbread carousel that must be seen! With horses and a structure made out of edible delights its a sight to behold! The rest of the resort is decorated in a nautical theme with plenty of blues and greens and ornaments shaped like sea creatures! The Yacht club, right next door, has a massive Christmas train set for you to enjoy. 

The Swan and Dolphin offer a fun and contemporary take on Christmas decorations. With massive crystal light chandeliers, glittering trees, and larger than life displays, there is plenty to see! 

The Boardwalk

The Boardwalk is an often forgotten area of Walt Disney World. With a full hotel standing overtop a working boardwalk with shopping and dining, this is an area that you can spend plenty of time in! The whole area is decked with Christmas trees and displays, from shop windows and miniatures and more! If you are going to split your trip into two, or you got off to a late start, then This is the place to stop for the day. You can have dinner at the boardwalk before heading to Disney Springs for the evening. Or you can stay and watch the fireworks from both Epcot and Hollywood Studios from Yacht Club side of the water!

Fireworks over the Boardwalk

Photo by Matt Popovich on Unsplash

Stay Tuned for Part Two of written Disney Resort Tour, where we’ll cover the Disney Springs Resorts, the Pop Resorts and then finally head back to the Wilderness Resort and Lodge

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