I LOVE me some Christmas decorations, and I have waited all year to see the Disney resorts completely decked out in full Yuletide splendor. Finally, the time is here! We’ve spent the last couple weeks visiting hotels in the evenings after LH gets home from work and it’s kept us so busy that I honestly haven’t even had time to put up my own tree at home. After a while, I thought, why bother? I have all of these gorgeous works of art right at my fingertips, why do I need to spend hours digging out, putting together and decorating a tree here at home for just me? Loving Husband is working double shifts most nights as this is the busiest time of year for them. I’m content, this year, to make the Disney trees my own and even though I could never do the beauty of these displays justice, I’ll try my best to at least give you an idea of what it’s like to actually be there. Looking at pictures causes you to end up missing out on all of the smells and sounds, though, making it hard to imagine the full experience. When you walk into the lobbies, there is a bustle about everything as you hear the oooohhhh and ahhhhhhs of the other visitors. No matter how jaded A person is, I can’t imagine that anyone can resist looking on in awe at the enormous trees and garland swags heavy with shiny ornaments. At a handful of the resorts, the air itself is spiced with the scent of cinnamon coming from the annual gingerbread displays, which are a must-see in-and-of themselves!
One of the most opulently decorated resorts is, of course, the Grand Floridian! Above, you can see some of the main lobby displays. You might think that because of the incredible work they do on their gingerbread house every year that they might hold back in other areas, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. They’ve pulled out all of the stops with large Christmas themed fresh floral arrangements, multiple trees throughout the public areas, lit and ornamented garlands hung from the interior lobby balconies and the 3 story tree covered with swans, birdcages, huge bows and flowers as the centerpiece of it all. Even the shops and display windows at this hotel are each uniquely arranged according to individual themes (see gallery). On the other end of the spectrum from the Grand Floridian is the Contemporary Resort with its modern minimalist decor. Other than a couple of wreaths and lightly decorated trees spaced out around the lobbies, and, of course, their Frozen Mary Blair gingerbread castle, this hotel isn’t as robustly adorned as some of the others. The Contemporary makes up for any areas where it might be lacking with an enormous 70ft tall, fully decorated Christmas tree outside the front entrance of the property (below).
Many of the other resorts are decorated with variations of a nautical theme. These willow pelicans above, sit by the road in front of the guard house at the Old Key West Resort with gullets full of ornaments and strings of lights. Here you’ll find decorations featuring sea creatures and water birds in bright jewel tones while at the Beach Club Resort, the ocean and it’s inhabitants also play a prominent part in the trees and garlands on exhibit. Although, the color scheme is less bright at the Beach Club (dull gold, sage green, teal, copper & tan), the ornaments (below) are no less beautiful. I know it is tempting just to stay in the main lobby, watching the life-size gingerbread carousel go round-and-round, but trust me, if you explore a little you will be rewarded. The hallways and shops here are also done up with nautical touches, like the shop windows with trees covered in shells, sailboats, and sea glass bottles, below.
Take a short jaunt down the waterside path and you’ll find yourself at the Yacht Club Resort. While most people visit this hotel to see the elaborate miniature holiday village installation, complete with working train (below & gallery), the other holiday decor is not to be missed. Large sailboats, glittering ornaments and velvet ribbons in blue and gold cover trees (above) and wreaths throughout the resort.
Another quick stroll away is where you’ll find another gorgeous decorating job at the BoardWalk Inn. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite resort, as so much time and effort has gone into making every one of them exquisite, but the BoardWalk is definitely a strong contender! The pop of primary colors paired with basic designs like stripes and dots (above), remind me so much of vintage Christmas decorations. Even how thickly the ornaments are applied to the trees and boughs is reminiscent of how they decorated for the holidays in the 1940’s and 50’s. The 2 most frightening items on Disney property are also on display at the BW this holiday season; the horrible carved wooden demon toddler chairs you see in front of the fireplace, above. These things are absolutely horrifying and have no right to be darkening the door of a holly, jolly Christmas! To calm your nerves after seeing these monstrosities, be sure to try some of the gingerbread gelato from Ginger’s Bread & Cookies pop-up shop, it’s delicious and will make everything right again!!
One of my other favorite themed decors is at the Polynesian Villiage Resort. Bright, rich, tropical florals are everywhere, on every tree, every wreath and every garland (above). Orchids, hibiscus, and ginger flow out of the lit greenery in every direction. While the Polynesian’s lobby tree isn’t as large as the trees at some of the other resorts, it’s just as beautiful. The front entrance of this hotel is also decorated with a Hawaiian theme, but with more of a “natural” slant than the pinks and purples inside. Yellow and orange flowers mixed with burlap bows, straw and shell stars, mini gourds, and wooden paddles immediately bring to mind far away isles, as does the poinsettia tree right outside the front doors (gallery).
The decorations at the Wilderness Lodge Resort also contain elements of nature like horns, antlers, pine cones, etc. The three-story tree at this resort is only one of the focal points as there is also a gorgeously decorated area over by the spring and bridge, located at the back of the lobby. In this area, you’ll find a photo spot created with a rustic bench and a family of life-size willow bears (gallery)! As at the Grand Floridian, there are many trees, garlands and large wreaths located around the hotel. These pieces are all full of red and black buffalo check bows, Antlers, figures of woodland creatures and Native American themed ornaments. The large central tree also features many of these same ornaments, but with the addition of lit miniature teepees and drums. Of all of the trees at Disney hotels, I have to say, I think this is the most creative. If you live locally or will be on vacation in Orlando through the beginning of January, you must take a day, or, at least, a few hours to tour the resorts and soak up as much holiday cheer as one person can handle!