Free at Disney World: Visit the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail

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Disney Springs is decorated for the Christmas holidays during parts of November through January. One of their holiday offerings that has grown in the past several is the Christmas Tree trail, a “trail” walking opportunity in the Marketplace section of the Springs that is suitable for visitors of all ages and handicap accessible. We’ve got all the details you need to know, plus we discuss the good vs. the bad about this festive holiday experience.

Going at a super slow pace, the Christmas Tree Trail is simply a walk through a lovely winter wonderland area of highly decorated Christmas trees complete with an occasional gentle Florida snow fall. You may spot decorations like toy soldiers, hear live holiday singers, or hear Christmas classics played through speakers. 

Here’s your Florida “Snow,” which is definitely a favorite with the younger crowd. One bonus is that it doesn’t have to actually be freezing to be snowing.

Once you arrive at Disney Springs, you’ll start your walk-through experience near the play fountain outside the Once Upon a Toy store in the Marketplace. The trail offers 23 Christmas trees (as of 2019) and other odds and ends to see and potentially purchase.

There are plain lighted trees.

There are trees for nearly every Disney movie you can recall. Take a look up close, because each tree is filled with character related ornaments and decorations.

It should come as no surprise, and some of you will be delighted to know, that you can purchase many of these specific character-themed ornaments in gift shops. Disney’s Days of Christmas shop is filled with all sorts of merchandise, and it’s a short walk from the trail. It also stays open all year ’round. 

1. No reservations are required and there is no entry fee. We love free!

2. Parking at Disney Springs is free. See #1 for our thoughts on free. 

3. There are plenty of opportunities for photos with the trees as background, and these pictures make great Christmas card pictures. 

4. While there are occasional cold spells, especially felt at night, you will probably be wearing shorts while you walk the trail. Between the  falling “snow,”  and the Christmas music and lights, you may feel like you’re in Florida, but it will look like you are up North, just without four feet of snow on the ground. 

5. Kids love the decorated trees, and you can easily spend an hour walking around here, which is a bonus if you are here for free entertainment or taking a break from the parks. 

 

While the tree decorations can change from year to year, here’s a list of pretty standard trees inspired by some of your Disney favorites:

  • Aladdin
  • Beauty & the Beast
  • Cinderella
  • Disney Villains
  • Dumbo
  • Frozen
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Lion King
  • Little Mermaid
  • Mary Poppins
  • Mickey & Minnie Mouse
  • Mulan
  • Peter Pan
  • Pinocchio
  • Princess & The Frog
  • Snow White
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Star Wars
  • Tangled
  • Toy Story
  • Walt Disney World Theme Parks

The struggle can be very real to find parking during the holidays; Disney Springs has become a very popular place for dining and entertainment. 

You may have to walk in a pretty far distance if the above ground parking lots are full and you park way, WAY out near the Minnie Vans parking area, which is on the opposite side of Disney Springs than the Christmas Tree Trail. I’d estimate that distance to be about a mile walk one way, so be prepared mentally and physically.

During the peak holiday season of Thanksgiving week and after Christmas, plus some weekends, there can be hundreds of people crammed in that trail like live stock, and they are all stopping to take pictures every few feet. This can feel similar to the crowded theme parks you were trying to escape in the first place.

While Santa is at Disney Springs in a really nice little building for pictures, the trees are displayed during the most visited time of the year, so it will be busy and no appointments for photos may be available. One mom told us there were no Santa appointments left within the last five hours until closing on the night she visited, and that disappointment was preceded by an hour drive just to get there.

Be mentally prepared for crowds, because it’s a fact – the Springs will be busy during the holidays. 

If the above ground parking lots are full, don’t give up yet. Try the surface level parking lot. During the holiday season, snagging a parking space can be anxiety inducing but not impossible to achieve. Wear your walking shoes just in case. 

Disney Springs is similar to the Disney parks in that when kids are out for the holidays, more people will be visiting and crowd levels will obviously be higher. If you can, visit on a week night, which has the potential to less crowded than weekends. 

This is a free activity, so unless you want to spend money, come with the mindset of just looking around and window shopping. There are plenty of temptations that may cause you to spend more than you planned. 

You can visit Santa at Disney Springs.

You can you spend money on the trail on snacks and merchandise, but you certainly don’t have to.

Before you leave Disney Springs, be sure to go by Starbucks and have a drink out by the lake. I tell friends that this is the most beautiful Starbucks location around.

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you standing in front of a Christmas tree…

Amanda, Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

 

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Mike Ellis

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