Are you ready for the best family holiday ever? Walt Disney World is a magical place to visit during the holidays. Decorations cover the resort, Disney characters dress in their holiday finest, and lots of extra magical experiences are available for your family’s enjoyment. Find out 10 free or cheap holiday activities at Walt Disney World that your family will love and will still leave money in your pocket for souvenirs.
Holiday Activities at Walt Disney World
Free or cheap at Walt Disney World? Yes, please. Thanks to Road Trip TravelingMom Karyn Locke for her list of 14 Must Do Winter Holiday Experiences at Walt Disney World. But, as you may expect, many of those special activities come with a hefty price tag. Yet some of our favorite holiday activities are free or cheap — read on for my top 10!
Free Walt Disney World Holiday Activities
1. Visit the Grand Floridian Gingerbread House
The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa hosts the “grandest” of the Walt Disney World resort holiday decorations. Every year bakers assemble a 16-foot tall Victorian gingerbread house in the lobby. It is even big enough to hold a small shop selling delicious gingerbread “roof tiles” and miniature gingerbread houses to bring home. We like to take a break from the parks and spend the evening searching for Mickey and other characters hidden in the details.
2. Go See the Beach Club Resort Gingerbread Carousel
During the holidays, the lobby of the Beach Club is home to a gingerbread carousel. A real, working gingerbread merry-go-round with almost life-size horses. Each pony has a name and theme, and the details are amazing. It is worth making a trip to the resort just to see this amazing creation.
3. Search for the 12 Days of Christmas at Disney Springs
I can’t count how many times we shopped at the Disney’s Days of Christmas shop before we realized that hidden in the store are the Twelve Days of Christmas represented by Disney characters. Our entire family has a blast searching throughout the shop to find all twelve days. Some of them are hard to find! Don’t forget to look up and look outside during your search.
4. Drink Hot Chocolate in Front of the Fireplace at The Wilderness Lodge
The Great American Northwest theme at the Wilderness Lodge is a natural backdrop for the holiday season. During this tie, the tallest Christmas tree imaginable takes center stage in the lobby. We like to grab a hot chocolate and snack from the Roaring Fork quick service restaurant and sit in the rocking chairs in front of the massive fireplace.
5. Watch Live Holiday Entertainment at Disney Springs
Every evening from mid-November through early January, Disney Springs hosts live holiday entertainment. Each night is something new from acapella groups to stilt walkers. I recommend sitting down to watch a performance as a break from the shopping crowds. It is also a great way to keep your family entertained while you shop without them.
6. Take your Holiday Photo at Disney Springs
Scattered throughout Disney Springs are oversized toy sculptures that are the perfect backdrop for your holiday photos. If you prefer a traditional picture with a Christmas tree, there is a trail loop near the Marketplace bus stop with Disney-themed trees.
Cheap Walt Disney World Holiday Activities
7. Visit Santa at Disney Springs
My daughter was over the moon when she met Santa Claus at Disney Springs. I can’t imagine a combination more perfect than meeting the most magical man on earth at the most magical place on earth. The process couldn’t be easier. You pick up a pager and then continue to enjoy Disney Springs until Santa is ready for your visit. There is a small fee for your Santa picture, but it is FREE if you have purchased Disney’s Memory Maker Package.
8. Buy a Disney Christmas Ornament
Our family tradition is to let our kids each choose an ornament to commemorate our Disney vacation. The Disney’s Days of Christmas store at Disney Springs has the best selection of ornaments, especially if you are looking for a specific character.
9. Play a Round at Winter Summerland Mini Golf
One of our family’s favorite non-park activity is mini golf at Winter Summerland. The course is located adjacent to the Blizzard Beach water park and shares the same Disney bus. (If Blizzard Beach is closed for the season, ask the concierge about transportation options.) Choose from two courses. One is summer-themed, and the other is winter, but both feature Santa Claus and his elves. We usually play both courses because we enjoy both and don’t want to choose just one.
10. Go on a Sleigh Ride at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground
A super fun holiday activity is to go on a horse-drawn “sleigh” ride through Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. The carriage takes you through the campsites where the festive campers go all out with their decorations. Many have more lights and blow-up characters than a house in a suburban neighborhood.
The next time you visit Walt Disney World during the holidays, take a break from the parks and try some of these free and cheap Walt Disney World holiday activities.
If you want to learn more about planning a holiday vacation, Candid TravelingMom Patty Holliday has the scoop on How to Christmas at Disney.