While there is always something to celebrate at Walt Disney World, the resort takes on a special magic during the winter holidays. Events such as Epcot’s Candlelight Processional and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom are well-known as some of the best holiday spectacles anywhere around the globe. Outside the parks, however, are some entirely free or very inexpensive holiday celebrations. These lesser-known events are not as famous as their in-park cousins, but are definitely worth your time.
1. Visit the resort gingerbread houses
Every year, several of the official Walt Disney World hotels construct elaborate gingerbread structures in their lobbies or other public areas. At the Contemporary Resort, the 17-foot tall gingerbread tree features more than 2,000 individual gingerbread pieces. The Beach Club’s design is a moving gingerbread carousel with five fully decorated chocolate ponies. At the Grand Floridian, a 16-foot tall, fully-realized gingerbread house is the star of the show. Crafted from 10,000 gingerbread shingles, the house takes more than 400 hours to construct each year. It is so big that Disney cast members actually sell gingerbread shingles and other holiday treats across a counter—from inside the house!
Each gingerbread creation features numerous Hidden Mickeys, so plan to spend some time finding them all. A plaque beside each gingerbread house lists how many Mickeys are hidden, and cast members are happy to help if you get stuck. Another plaque lists the ingredients that went into making that gingerbread house, and the quantities are mind-blowing.
2. Listen to choral concerts
Throughout the season, various high school and college choirs, bands, and choruses perform around the Walt Disney World resort at hotels and Downtown Disney. For the latest information, call Guest Relations shortly before your visit to find out what is happening during your stay. These concerts are generally free to attend, last around 30 minutes, and are set up in areas where it is easy to come and go. Whether you have time to stay for the entire show or just to catch a song or two, be sure to pause for a few minutes. The groups are invariably highly talented and full of heart.