Gingerbread Christmas with Kimberly Karalius

Winter is my favorite season in Florida. The wait is finally over – cold weather! Well, coldish weather. Maybe some frost on the ground, very early in the morning before the sun comes up and melts it away. But winter never truly feels like winter here. The seasons don’t change. Leaves don’t turn colors. Hot chocolate is sold every December, but no one wants to drink it because you’d only start sweating and peeling off your coat (the coat you only wore because it was getting dusty in your closet – not because you needed it).

One of the few places I go to really feel like it’s Christmas is Disney World. Without a doubt, the magic works no matter how hot or cold the weather is. The minute I step into one of the parks and spy a gigantic Christmas tree, the spirit of the holiday floods me. Lush green wreathes drape Main Street USA and parents and their children pose in front of gift boxes bigger than their heads.

As great as the parks are, my favorite tradition takes place in the Disney World hotels. Every year, the hotels put out their best holiday displays – and I’m talking displays made out of gingerbread and chocolate. 

The classic display is, of course, the gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian Resort. 

My parents, brother, and I ooh and ahh the minute we step off the monorail and look over the railing at the house. Each shingle is perfect. The icing always frosty white. The house is much larger once you make your way down to the lobby. It almost looks too impressive to eat! But such a sight usually inspires me to purchase a delicious-looking gingerbread shingle. If it’s not a shingle, it’s a cookie or a brownie – anything dusted with sugar-snow and blustery artwork. 

If you follow me on social media, you know how much I love the Boardwalk. That extends to seeing the displays at two of the hotels there: the Beach Club and the Yacht Club. The Beach Club has a gingerbread carousel that actually moves! My family always gathers round to watch the chocolate horses as they rotate on by – each one different than the other, different from last year’s horses, with names and personalities carefully crafted with confections. We always pick our favorite horses each year. It’s a must.  

The Yacht Club has my favorite display of all: the miniature town and train set. While not made out of anything edible, it’s a huge display that you can spend hours examining. Favorite Disney characters celebrate in this tiny winter wonderland, along with model train people scattered around – faceless and beautifully anonymous. 

Last stop is the Swan and Dolphin, my favorite hotels at Disney. Despite not having a giant chocolate/gingerbread sculpture, the sister hotels boast sugar art and a giant tree made of white flowers. My parents have never made a big deal out of taking family Christmas photos, so this is about as official it gets:

We posed in front of the Dolphin’s Christmas tree – my brother, me, and my mom. All wearing our fandom shirts (my dad graciously took the photo). That winter, it was totally still hot enough to wear shorts and t-shirts. But we still felt part of the holidays, just like every year before. 

It helps that we’re not the only ones ignoring the weather. Especially on the Boardwalk, where many guests are spending their timeshares, hotel room windows and balconies are covered in Christmas decorations that guests brought with them in their suitcases. It’s an amazing sight. 

Disney World during the holidays continues to offer a home to celebrate in. My parents had to make new traditions for us when we moved from New York to Florida when I was in junior high. Without a family gathering to go to each year, we decided to go to a much bigger one, in a way. 

It’s hard to miss the Christmas cheer when I’m surrounded by the effort and magic made by Disney cast members and guests alike. No matter how my Christmas traditions may change in the future, I will always make time to enjoy this special time of the year at Disney. 


Kate's Note:

Gingerbread is a quintessential part of Christmas. Cookies, houses, you name it. And I think Kim captured the magic of gingerbread on Christmas beautifully. That's what she does. If you've read any of her books you'll see that she's a master of capturing the magic. I also envy her life. If you visit her Instagram and Twitter feed you'll understand what I mean. She's definitely on my people to meet in person list as well.

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