A Surprise Trip & Christmas Decorations Around the “World”

By:  Laura

Wow – What a week! Tuesday I bought my MNSSHP tickets for our October trip, Wednesday was my free Disney Dining drama (don’t ask), and Saturday I made a rather large payment towards my trip, bringing me much closer to the paying it off!  It sure had been a whirlwind!

So, now that everything has calmed down I find myself looking forward to 7 days/6 nights of Disney fun in less than 80 days! I have not been to the MNSSHP (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party) in about 5 years and am really excited. You can be sure I will have tons to share upon my return.  Now while I am looking forward to Halloween, I am sure there are many looking more towards Christmas at WDW. It can be an exciting and magical time at Disney – especially with that free dining promo! So, if you have been wondering or considering Disney at Christmas, I am here to help. When I started thinking about writing on this topic, I quickly realized that this was going to have to be done in several parts to fully share a Disney Holiday experience with you all.

To begin with, the holiday celebrations at WDW start in early November. Decorating 4 parks, 20 some resorts, DTD (Downtown Disney), and other surrounding areas can take a little time. Several years back while there during the first week of November for the now defunct Super Soap Weekend, the resorts had begun their decorating. We were staying at POP that year and they already had their trees up. Basically, Halloween comes down & Christmas begins.

Last year my husband & I made the decision to not only spend the holidays at WDW for the first time, but also to make it a complete surprise for the kids. Since we typically visit every year, keeping it from my older one was quite challenging. Around July I began hearing “Mom, when are we going to Disney this year?” I somehow managed to convince her we were going for Spring Break.  To briefly touch on tips to surprise your kids, I was so blessed that my daughter’s teacher was just like me – a Disney fanatic. Our school system frowns on taking kids out for any reason and makes you feel like a bad parent if you even think of taking a vacation during the school year. But the way I looked at it was with my husband’s work schedule is in the summer, it’s virtually impossible to go anywhere in the summer and there are ways to make Disney educational. Sure, I could have waited 2 weeks and gone during the winter break time, but that would have not only been a much more crowded time, but also about $1000 more in price! No brainer for me. Plus, like I said, I had the blessing of her teacher who made sure all her missed work wasn’t “unexcused”.

Yes, we had many “close calls” in blowing the surprise. I tend to talk about Disney a lot prior to each trip. We even went so far as to not tell the grandparents because it would surely have been blown. On the day of the trip, I dropped my daughter off at school as if it was any other day. When we picked her up, we told her that both her & her brother had gotten a letter in the mail & she needed to read it. (It was a letter from Mickey inviting them to spend the next week at WDW to celebrate my son’s birthday & the holidays). Needless to say, they were a little socked & surprised.

Surprise Trip to Disney World

We literally dropped the dog off at the vet, put the suitcases in the car, and headed to the airport. I really don’t think it sunk in until the Magical Express bus pulled into the POP Century Resort.

For this segment, I thought I would focus on the resorts. Though I tried, I was unable to visit every resort, but I did hit the main ones the ones with the gingerbread displays.  Our first stop was the Grand Floridian. I have always loved this resort and dreamed of staying there. Now, I think I only want to stay at Christmas! As you exit the monorail, in the center of the lobby is the most beautiful tree I have seen. You are also welcomed by the scrumptious aroma of Gingerbread and it’s no wonder since there is a life sized gingerbread house situated in the corner of the lobby.

Christmas at Walt Disney World

For the past 13 years, the WDW chefs have been creating the almost entirely edible masterpiece that rivals something out of Hansel & Gretel! It is a working bakeshop with cast members selling many treats including cookies, gingerbread ornaments, chocolate characters, and even mini versions of the house itself.  The house takes more than 2 months to construct and about 84 hours of labor to produce. There are approximately 5089 shingles on the house alone. Typically, the gingerbread house opens in mid-November. In 2010, it was 11/15. (At time of writing, I was unable to find an opening date for this year.)

Our next stop was the Polynesian which gave off a wonderful tropical holiday vibe. While I did not find a gingerbread creation there, we did find one of their beautiful trees near ‘Ohana.

Walt Disney World Christmas

FYI, a majority of the trees have seating near them for photos and some even have photopass photographers. So be on the lookout for that.

Our next stop was The Contemporary where there was another wonderful Gingerbread display. This time, a tree, which I was told was designed by the same artist responsible for It’s a Small World.

 Walt Disney World Christmas Contemporary Resort

Other must see décor at the Contemporary is the gigantic Mickey wreath on the side of the building that the monorail travels through and the little details, like the wreaths on the wall outside Chef Mickeys.

Christmas at Walt Disney World

The Boardwalk also had some amazing decorations. In the center court outside was a beautiful tree, along with a lovely gingerbread and chocolate creation in the lobby.

Walt Disney World Christmas Decorations

Disney’s Beach Club Resort has what I feel is the 2nd best gingerbread creation on property. It’s a life size edible carousel made of gingerbread, chocolate, and sugar paste.

Beach Club Resort Christmas Decorations

Although no gingerbread creation, the Yacht Club Resort had quite an impressive train display in their lobby, along with several beautiful trees.

Disney's Yacht Club Christmas Decorations

Animal Kingdom Lodge had a gorgeous lobby tree and fun activities for the kids to do.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Christmas Decorations

Unfortunately, we never made it to The Wilderness Lodge, but they do offer sleigh rides in the evening and I hear their tree is quite impressive!

Wandering the resorts was one of my favorite things to do during this trip. I love how each tree is themed to its respective resort. Right down to the smallest details. It really is amazing!

Because it got so bone chilling cold – only I could choose the one time Orlando suffers such a cold snap that it breaks 20 year old records – we were unable to reach all the other resorts. The last resort I have pictures of for you is POP Century, where we stayed this trip.

Disney World Christmas Tree

As you can see, there is so much to see. It’s amazing to know that just in the resorts alone, there is so much Holiday Spirit. Next week, I will share all the wonderment of the Magic Kingdom at Christmas with you, including the Wonder Lights on Cinderella’s Castle, the decorations, the parade, MVMCP (Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party), and yes, the snow! I really hope you have enjoyed this pictorial view of some of the WDW resorts.

Sending pixie dust wishes & magical dreams your way – until next time…


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