Gingerbread houses and displays are almost all up at Walt Disney World for Christmas 2023, with over a half-dozen larger-than-life displays in the resort hotels. For this year’s holiday season, there’s one newcomer: a luminous lighthouse at Yacht Club that’s brilliant and bold.
If you’ve never seen the various ‘edible creations’ and other displays during the holiday season at Walt Disney World, we would strongly encourage you to make time for them. Our Self-Guided Yuletide Tour of Walt Disney World is a great place to start, and makes for a fun Christmas experience on your day outside the parks. It’s also great for getting a taste of the higher end resorts if you’re staying at one of the Value or Moderate Resorts.
That itinerary is a popular (and recommended) thing to do in the morning before attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party so you don’t waste a park day of your normal tickets. This year, I actually switched things up and did the monorail loop prior to MVMCP and the Crescent Lake resorts prior to Disney Jollywood Nights. The approach worked really well, and I’ll start with a quick play-by-play for anyone who wants to replicate what I did…
Primo Piatto (Pumpkin-Hazelnut-Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake)
Walk to Caribbean Beach
Banana Cabana (Banana Cabana Burger)
Walk to CBR Skyliner Station
Arrive at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
If you wondered why I didn’t focus on food during Disney Jollywood Nights…the above is your answer! All of that was excellent, especially the Pumpkin Napoleon at Le Petit Cafe. I always balk at the prices there since they’re a few dollars more expensive than average Walt Disney World counter service desserts, but the difference is evident in the quality. But I digress.
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort received a new gingerbread addition for Christmas 2023, a quarter-scale replica of its iconic lighthouse. This is the first time the resort has had its own gingerbread display, and it’s in addition to the miniature Christmas model railroad village, which is an annual tradition.
Between this new lighthouse and the return of the gingerbread giraffe and zebra, this year marks a high-water mark for gingerbread displays at Walt Disney World. At least, to the best of my recollection. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort used to do one in the aughts and Wilderness Lodge had an awesome log cabin in 2019, but those were not simultaneous.
With these additions, Christmas 2023 should have the most gingerbread displays ever at Walt Disney World. Just thought that was worth noting, as we’re so used to Disney taking things away for the holiday season rather than making additions. As a whole, there’s still a lot less than a decade ago, but at least the gingerbread display count is up!
As for the new luminous lighthouse gingerbread display, it has a working light inside that rotates. (Hence us calling it “luminous” and “brilliant.” Get it?!?)
The lighthouse is adorned with small Christmas wreaths covered in red berries and bows. The whole display sits in a bed of flowers and greenery, and looks quite nice.
Admittedly, if I had to rank all of the gingerbread displays in isolation, the lighthouse would be fairly low on the list. Especially after having just been in Beach Club–the carousel there is the best I’ve seen in several years. (I don’t care for the DuckTales decals, but the horses and dimensional characters are excellent!)
If I could choose between this lighthouse or getting back the log cabin at Wilderness Lodge, I’d choose the latter without hesitation. And that’s not just my Wilderness Lodge bias talking! That display was more elaborate and visually engaging, and enhanced the already-amazing lobby of Wilderness Lodge.
With that said, this gingerbread lighthouse should not be viewed in isolation. It sits right beside the fan-favorite Christmas village, and almost feels like a punctuation mark on that. It’s like a wienie, in Walt’s words, that beckons guests over to the model railroad display.
As odd as this may sound, it really reminds me of Storybook Land Canal Boats at Disneyland. Specifically, the reveal of the village of Arendelle with the Matterhorn towering in the background. Obviously, a very different setup, but a (somewhat?) similar idea.
All of this is to say that even though the gingerbread lighthouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is somewhat simple as compared to the displays at the other Deluxe Resorts, it really does add a lot to the overall slate of Christmas decorations. Here are more photos:
This new gingerbread lighthouse further cements our opinion that Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is an underrated resort at Christmas.
As for the why of that, it’s largely due to the difference in the hotel’s vibe during the holidays versus the rest of the year. One common complaint about Yacht Club is that it’s too stuffy, with more of an ‘adult’ atmosphere versus the playful, family-friendly sensibility at other Walt Disney World resorts. Some people say it isn’t “Disney” enough, and while I’d definitely disagree with that (thematically, it’s incredibly strong, it just has a different aura than what fans are used to elsewhere), I get what people mean by that.
As discussed in our Beach Club vs. Yacht Club comparison, this is even more pronounced when going between the two resorts. Although the sister hotels basically function as a single entity with similar “aquatic” and “club” themes, they are worlds apart in terms of ambiance and vibe.
Enter the Christmas season. The lights, trees, wreaths, and other decor around the lobby ‘soften’ the mood, and make the environment much more warm and welcoming. There’s a palpable sense of holiday spirit in the air at Christmas, and Yacht Club feels ‘dressed down’ as compared to the rest of the year.
In fact, it’s downright comfy and cozy, while still feeling upscale and luxurious. Truly the time of year when Yacht Club strikes the best balance!
The family friendly atmosphere is owing entirely to Yacht Club’s Christmas railway diorama.
While it wasn’t possible on this particular day, one of my favorite things to do is heading to Yacht Club after a late night at EPCOT, having this Christmas railroad diorama all to myself, and poring over its details. It receives refreshes most years, with the main changes for Christmas 2023 being a bunch of little Disney100 details.
One of the coolest things about this diorama is that it’s one part elaborate, handmade railway modeling…and one-part product placement.
Over the years, Sarah and I have had some serious conversations about investing in this Christmas Village. Not so much for our own sake, but for our great-grandchildren who will undoubtedly cherish such a valuable family heirloom. Like LEGOs, many people say that Disney Christmas Villages can outperform the stock market over time (citation needed).
Unfortunately, we’re “going to go in a different direction” with our portfolio for now. But I’d like to think that in the future, we’ll diversify and increase our railroad holdings. (I’ve still got my eye on Mickey’s Ear Factory and Mickey’s Balloon Shop. These are 33% and 37% off for Black Friday, so we can’t afford not to buy these fine collectibles, right?!)
Beyond the Christmas village and lighthouse, the other holiday decor at Yacht Club is thematically pitch-perfect. I’m also going to go out on a limb and say these are among the most expensive Christmas decorations at Walt Disney World, as fancy model yachts and boats adorn the trees and wreaths. Those can’t be cheap!
Yacht Club has an easy path to the “underrated” throne since it’s almost never mentioned in the same breath as the Walt Disney World Christmas heavyweights. Grand Floridian and Wilderness Lodge are definitely better during the holidays, but everyone knows it. They’re highly rated and the comparative crowds I encountered at those resorts reflect that. By contrast, Yacht Club generally flies under the radar…but maybe that’ll start to change this Christmas now that it has the gingerbread lighthouse!
What do you think of the new luminous lighthouse gingerbread display at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort for Christmas 2023? Do you think this is a nice edible addition that enhances the Christmas village train diorama, or would you prefer gingerbread display added elsewhere? Agree or disagree with our take on Yacht Club at Christmas? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!