The holidays are a magical time to visit Disney World. The parks are filled with holiday music, decorations, and special activities. But there are many Disney World holiday activities that don’t require a park ticket and are cheap or even free.
sleigh rides at disney’s fort wilderness campground
Our favorite holiday activity at Disney World is the 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 cost is $84, but that is for up to four adults or two adults and three small children. As far as Disney World holiday activities go, this is one of the least expensive on Disney property.
stitch’s holiday scavenger hunt
At Disney Springs you can help Stitch search for gifts to give to his ‘Ohana. Pick up a Gift Hunt booklet containing a map, clues, and stickers at a participating location. Visit each hunt on the site, search for Stitch, and then match the sticker to its corresponding location on the map. Once your booklet is full, it may be redeemed for a prize at one of four locations.
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.
walk through the disney springs christmas tree trail
Listen to Christmas music while you walk through the falling snow on the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail. A different Disney theme decorates each of the 25+ trees. The Tree Trail is a great place for one-of-a-kind Disney World holiday photo ops.
drink hot chocolate in front of the wilderness lodge fireplace
The Great American Northwest theme at the Wilderness Lodge is a natural backdrop for the holiday season when 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 relax in the rocking chairs in front of the massive fireplace.
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.
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.
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.
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.