Happy Halloween, everyone! Did you know that the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a week from today. And that it’s sold out? Enjoy your 6 days of downtime between the 2 month holiday of the Food & Hallowine Festival and the next 2 month holiday of Christmas and New Year’s.
Christmas will be here before you know it, and you might be asking yourself, “Hey, self, should I make my holiday season even more magical by going to Disney World?” I’m glad you asked. Disney World during the holidays is one of my favorite times of year to visit. It’s a time when there are several unique elements from decorations to food present that transform the parks into something special. That’s not to say that it’s the perfect time of year to go. Like any season, there are positives and negatives. While I believe that every Disney enthusiast should aim to visit at least once during the holidays, here are some of my personal pros and cons that should help you decide if it’s worth it.
PRO: The Decorations
Walking down a fully decorated Main Street, U.S.A., is almost worth the trip alone for me. I already enjoy spending time just wandering around the Magic Kingdom staple but when the decorations are up, the ambiance gets even better. The decorations don’t stop there. Obviously the rest of the areas in the parks have decorations, but the hotels do, as well. I enjoy hotel hopping just to see how each one is decorated. The level of detail will vary, but some of the hotels go all out: for example, there’s a huge gingerbread house at the BoardWalk!
CON: The Crowds
Like any popular time of year at Disney, you’re going to feel cramped at some points. If all you want out of a Disney trip is short wait times and you don’t care about Christmas, maybe plan a trip for some other time. I could be perfectly happy just walking around the parks and taking everything in, but I understand how some people might not enjoy this and need plenty of attractions. If this is you, whatever you do, do not go during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s the busiest time of year by far. Check out our crowd calendar for more information, but generally it’s less crowded the earlier you go in the season (besides the week of Thanksgiving, of course).
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The Walk Disney series will provide a description and review of activities that can be done while walking the grounds at Walt Disney World resorts.
Do you know why the ESPN Club on Disney’s BoardWalk is shaped like an octagon? Do you know where the hidden Tinkerbell is near the elevators of Disney’s BoardWalk Villas? By taking the free BoardWalk Ballyhoo Guided Tour, you will learn these and many more interesting details about Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas resort area.
Before describing the experience that my wife and I had on the tour, here are the tour basics:
What does the tour entail? The tour covers many of the design choices that the Imagineers made when constructing Disney’s BoardWalk Resort area. The walking, informational tour begins at the Bellevue Lounge, continues through the main floor of Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, and eventually ends up on the boardwalk outside of the Boardwalk Bakery.
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So far I’ve explored the wonderful resorts of Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans, and Pop Century. You may notice that none of those are in the deluxe category. The reason is that some of the deluxe resorts just don’t lend themselves to exploring. Sure, they are beautiful, luxurious, and wonderful to spend time at, but they don’t always have the meandering pathways or hidden spots that the more spread out resorts have.
I debated with myself for a while on how to overcome this problem (and yes, I often argue with myself…and win). I had a breakthrough when I thought about walking through a favorite resort of mine; Beach Club. You see, when I spend time at that particular resort, I don’t just walk around the Beach Club but instead I wander through all of the bordering Epcot area resorts.
So that’s how I’m treating this, as a walk through the Epcot resorts; Beach Club, Yacht Club, Dolphin, Swan, and the Boardwalk Inn. Please remember that combining them is an artistic choice and not laziness (an important, if indiscernible, designation).
Beach and Yacht Clubs
I am further combining these two because they share so much in common (still not laziness). Both are designed with a seaside feel, although the Yacht Club has a more stately and formal feel to it. These are both beautiful resorts with many decorative nautical items, but with very little in the way of “hidden” areas.
I am in no way saying that there aren’t lovely spots to sit, stand, or walk (I’ll take sit if you please), but most of these areas are along the well-trafficked pathway that abuts Crescent Lake. Yes it is beautiful, photogenic, and peaceful, but it is also very often full of people, which makes it feel less “private” and more “ugh…people are loud.”
C'mon, who doesn't love this view?
If you are an early riser like I am you can still stake out your spot, and there are a few very lovely spots. The pool is a free-flowing, meandering behemoth with rockwork, waterfalls, and plenty of trees. There is also a fantastic pier that juts out into the lake complete with a wonderful lighthouse. The primo spot however, is a seat on the beach (a beach? At the Beach Club? Ludicrous!).
From your vantage point on the sand you look out across the lake with vistas of the lighthouse and the exceptionally cool wreckage of a pirate ship (says the 13 year old boy that I mentally am). I suggest, rather than exploring per se, parking your rump on the beach and enjoying the relative peace of the spot.
Dolphin and Swan
As you meander further away from Epcot (This is a special case. Normally I don’t recommend walking away from World Showcase) the next resorts you come to are the Dolphin and Swan. I have combined these two again due to the shared amenities (okay, maybe now I’m getting lazy). Comparing what I described above, I’m not sure you can find resorts that are more different than the Swan/Dolphin and Beach/Yacht. The Swan and Dolphin are…uh…well, just different.
Rather than quaint and relaxing, the Swan and Dolphin are modern and angular. They are still beautiful, at least in spots, but I would consider neither of them relaxing. Luckily, the exterior areas are just as well done as you would expect at Disney deluxe resorts.
This picture breaks my personal record of "most non-living swans in one shot."
Walking the circuitous route between the two hotel buildings brings you upon the pool, beach, and several small, tree-lined spots that definitely qualify as relaxing (and many qualify as smoking areas…thanks for that Disney). Enjoying the views looking out onto the water of the beach and palm trees is always time well spent, even if there are strangely shaped modernist hotels in the way.
The final resort that you come upon on the path is the Boardwalk Inn. Aesthetically speaking, the hotel itself is not my favorite. It is a very pleasant resort in a great location and has that mix of seaside charm and high-class elegance that we all associate with the New Jersey shore (cough…moving on). Mostly what I don’t like is that super creepy clown face slide that makes it look like a spaced-out clown is spitting children into the pool.
Wow, what a nice pool and...AHH, what in Walt's name is that thing!
The main exterior area of the Boardwalk Inn is the boardwalk itself which is a great place for a stroll at any time. When it’s empty it is serene and peaceful and has a lot of benches for looking out over Crescent Lake.
When it’s busy there is so much hustle there (and even a bit of bustle) that it’s one of the best spots to people watch. With face painters, entertainers, and surrey bikes galore I could spend all day just wandering the boardwalk and making fun of people (Oops I mean…uh…yeah, making fun of. I can’t sugarcoat it).
That completes my wandering around the Epcot resorts, now I’m going to jump aboard the Friendship Boat and head to World Showcase for a beverage. How do you like the Epcot resorts and do you ever take time to wander around during your stay? I’d love to hear about all the nooks and crannies that I missed.
Thanks for reading!