One of Annie’s favorite clients spent the holidays at Walt Disney World with her extended family, and returned with this fantastic trip report. Now’s the time to plan ahead for a “Disney Christmas” of your own!
On behalf of my entire extended family, thank you for your assistance in planning our Christmas vacation in Walt Disney World. It was a vacation we won’t ever forget. As you know, we have been to WDW plenty of times but never at Christmas, and they didn’t disappoint.
The Wilderness Lodge, our favorite resort, was stunning – especially the lobby. The enormous Christmas tree, coupled with the roaring fireplace and western décor, was perfect for a warm holiday getaway. On Christmas Eve, we met Santa – the most authentic-looking Santa I’ve ever seen – and had our photos taken with him. Best of all, he smelled like cookies! Yes, the Disney experts even managed to make their Santa better than any old mall Santa. And, the hotel passed out free cookies on Christmas Eve to enhance the experience.
Because we had been to Disney, our priority for this trip was to experience the Christmas treats in the parks and hotels. On the first day, we visited the enormous gingerbread house in the Grand Floridian. It doubled as a bake shop, and we nibbled on shingles (chocolate-coated gingerbread slabs used as “shingles” on the house’s roof). The gingerbread carousel with horses carved from chocolate in the lobby of the Beach Club cannot be described. It had to be seen…and it smelled delicious! The lobby of Yacht Club Resort had a miniature New England-style train racing through a sugary rock mountain surrounded by a candy-coated model village. The Candlelight Processional package was well worth the money and very special. It’s a must-do for anyone visiting during Christmas.
Not only can you meet Santa Claus in America, but you can hear storytellers detail the adventures of Père Noël in France, La Befana in Italy and other legends from around the world. Kwanzaa and Hanukkah observances are also featured. Each storyteller remains behind for photo ops with guests, and my son loved to do this. The Christmas parades, Christmas fireworks, and Illuminations were all magically different than what we have seen in previous trips.
Our favorite attraction was the Osborne Family Lights in Disney Hollywood Studios. Although we’ve seen clips on the Travel Channel and online, it’s mesmerizing in person. Words cannot describe it, and it was definitely the highlight of the trip. The “snowfall” was so realistic to our New-Englander eyes. But, our own photos were terrible so I’m glad we asked Photopass photogs to take some. Their professional photographers capture the best shots, and this was especially true in this difficult-to-shoot venue. Check out how cold we look in the picture! One of the PhotoPass photographers we met was a URI student. Yep, it’s a Small World.
The parks weren’t as crowded as we anticipated. An employee at the Wilderness Lodge told us that the attendance was down 22,000 due to the cold. Busy, yes. But not super crowded. And it was pretty cold! Orlando experienced record-breaking weather during Christmas week—lucky us! We had to wear hats, gloves, etc. As New Englanders, we should have been more inured to it, but how often do we spend 12 hours outside in windy, damp 40-degree weather? Since weather can’t be controlled, we soldiered on and tried to visit attractions that were inside.
The Disney dining plan worked well. The waiter at our first restaurant accidentally charged our Key to the World instead of the dining plan so we had an extra meal at the end of the trip. The hotel front desk reversed it for us, no problem.
Flights were smooth and on time. Check-in, check-out, and airport transportation were all quick and uneventful. Overall, everyone had a terrific time! Thanks so much for your help in making this such a wonderful trip.