Visiting Opryland Hotel at Christmas

by Sami

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If you’re planning on visiting Opryland hotel at Christmastime, listen up. My family has a holiday tradition of visiting Gaylord Opryland in Nashville every Christmas and things are different in 2020.

Visiting Opryland Hotel at Christmas

Visiting Opryland Hotel at Christmas

Yes, Opryland Hotel is open. And while you can normally visit Opryland without staying there, especially to look at the famous Opryland Christmas lights, new restrictions limit access on weekends this holiday season.

But don’t worry, I’m sharing my best tips for visiting Opryland hotel. Whether you’re planning a family Christmas vacation or just want to visit for the day, you’ll find everything you need to know below. (And I promise to come back and update it regularly!

My Top Tips for Visiting Opryland Hotel

With over 17 hours of activities (if you dared trying to accomplish everything back to back!), I recommend spending at least one night at Opryland hotel. Even though we live in Nashville, I prefer to spend two nights at Gaylord Opryland to make it feel like a true staycation.

If you’re just looking for tips for visiting Opryland for the day, I can help you there as well.

Keep in mind, you must buy tickets online in advance for all ticketed events this year. This includes the new I Love Christmas Movies, ice skating, tubing, ice bumper cars and more. I actually appreciate this change because not only does it cut down on lines, it will actually give you a specific time to arrive for some experiences.

Keep reading for my suggestions on what to do, wear to park and how to follow local safety guidelines when visiting Opryland…

Gaylord Opryland Resort Access Restrictions

Until this year, there have never been restrictions on who could visit Opryland at Christmas. However, with new COVID protocols in place in Davidson County (Tennessee), Marriott hotels has enforced Opryland Resort access restrictions.

opryland guest restricted access December 17 2020

Here is the official statement about resort access restrictions (as of the writing of this article on December 16, 2020):

“To ensure social distancing, beginning at 4pm CST on Fridays and 1pm CST Saturdays & 3pm CST Sundays, 1) access to enter the hotel will be available only to registered overnight guests and paid indoor event ticketholders; and 2) access to enter the Gaylord Opryland Events Center and Pinetop area will be available only to paid ticketholders for events located in those areas and to registered overnight guests.

We welcome non-overnight guests and non-event ticketholders to visit the hotel and resort property Monday through Thursday. Additional dates/times may be restricted without advance notice as resort capacity is reached.”

While this is certainly a change from past Christmas seasons at Opryland, I appreciate the extra measures they are taking to keep visitors as safe as possible.

Thankfully, they are still allowing guests to visit the Opryland lights and holiday sights without having to stay at the hotel. But as someone who does stay at the resort regularly, it’s nice to know they are prioritizing their guests’ overall experience and ensuring there is not overcrowding.

marriott opryland travel with confidence signage at SoundWaves

You will also see their “Travel with Confidence” signage when walking around the resort and even inside of SoundWaves as well.

Opryland Hotel is Open

As I mentioned above, Opryland Hotel is still open. What you will see is limited capacity in restaurants, attractions and yes, even rooms. Not every restaurant and bar inside of Opryland is open. You will also find limited operating hours at others.

While you may not see as many people at Opryland as when they were doing large group meetings and conventions, you’ll still find everything we’ve come to love about this resort. This includes the beautiful atriums, complete with foliage and Christmas decorations.

If you are just visiting for the day, I recommend either visiting during the week and staying for dinner so you can have your parking validated. If you must visit on the weekends, consider coming earlier in the day. This way you will avoid crowds and stay in compliance with their COVID guidelines.

Parking at Gaylord Opryland Hotel

There are several parking options at Gaylord Opryland Hotel:

  1. Valet Parking at Opryland is extremely limited right now. Overnight valet parking is $40, inclusive of tax. You can get your parking validated if you visit the Relache Spa or one of the sit-down restaurants in the resort.
  2. Self Parking at Opryland costs $32, inclusive of tax. It’s located between the Cascades lobby and the outdoor section of SoundWaves. If you are staying overnight, I prefer using valet because of the proximity to check-in. Plus, I have another option for parking that’s free…
  3. Yes, there is Free Parking at Gaylord Opryland Hotel! Technically, it’s part of the Opry Mills parking lot, which is just adjacent to hotel property. As a point of reference, you can park just outside the walkway to the Gaylord Opryland Events Center, which puts you at the far end of the parking lot across from the Regal movie theater.
  4. The Grand Ole Opry recently added a paid parking lot just between their building and Opryland (adjacent to the above parking lot I described). I could not find the current cost on their website, but if it’s up to me, I prefer the Opry Mills parking for free.

One note, while the free parking option puts you VERY close to Pinetop and the outdoor Christmas activities, you will have to walk almost a mile to enter the resort through the Cascades lobby (if you’re not an overnight guest). If you are staying overnight, you can enter the hotel through the Delta Atrium portico.

Free Things to do at Opryland Hotel this Christmas

Now that I’ve told you about all the procedures and protocols, I hope that doesn’t discourage you from visiting Opryland. There are still so many free things to do at Opryland Hotel, especially during the holidays:

  • Delta Fountain show
  • Outdoor Nativity
  • Outdoor Christmas lights (over 4 million!)
  • 2 Poinsettia Trees
    • Gaylord Opryland’s Christmas on Ice Skating Show
    • Stage performances nightly
    • Reindeer encounters
    • Firepits
  • Christmas movies
  • Letters to Santa
  • Strolling entertainment throughout the hotel
    • Dickens’ carolers
    • Christmas Characters
Opryland Pinetop map Christmas 2020
Welcome to PINETOP at Gaylord Opryland!

Opryland Christmas Lights & Outdoor Nativity (Magnolia Lobby)

The iconic Opryland Christmas lights you’ve likely seen in commercials are the ones outside the Magnolia Lobby. They can actually be seen from the highway as well, but are no match for driving through Opryland itself.

Watch my 20-second drive-by video of the beautiful white lights and outdoor nativity:

Delta Riverboat Ride

The Delta Riverboat ride is still happening at Opryland and is even more magical during Christmas.

Opryland Waters Edge Stax with Christmas Trees from Delta Flatboat ride.

Located on the ground floor of the Delta Atrium, the guided flatboat ride takes about 15-20 minutes. Not only will you learn interesting facts about the property, guests get a view you can’t experience from any other vantage point.

As you travel on the Delta flatboat, you will sail by Water’s Edge, which houses two especially fun holiday offerings at Opryland: Build-A-Bear Workshop and the Gingerbread Bakery.

Gingerbread Bakery at Water’s Edge

You will find unique holiday treats at the Gingerbread Bakery you won’t find anywhere else in Opryland during Christmastime, including:

  • Peppermint bark bags
  • Decorated gingerbread men
  • Mini frosted gingerbread men bags
  • Snickerdoodle cookie sandwiches
  • Snowflake decorated cookies
  • Decorated Christmas hat cookie
  • Eggnog whoopie pie
  • Christmas Funfetti cupcake

Gaylord Opryland Christmas 2020

Christmas at Gaylord Opryland Resort in 2020 certainly looks different, but we enjoyed our trip just as much as (if not more than) previous Christmas vacations to Opryland.

Truly the only noticeable difference is that guests over the age of two are required to wear face coverings anytime they are outside their hotel room. But other than our photos reflecting that rule, we still experienced all the same holiday merriment we’ve come to expect at Opryland.

If you have any questions about visiting Opryland hotel at Christmas, please leave it in the comments below. If I don’t have a good answer, I can point you to an Opryland team member who will!

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Cathy Radzinski December 17, 2020 - 4:47 am

Thank you for this article! So, if we are doing outdoor activities (tubing) we will not be able to enter the hotel? Are there picnic/seating areas outside?

Sami December 17, 2020 - 12:16 pm

You are so welcome! As far as I understand, yes, that is correct; only overnight guests can have access to the hotel after the times I mentioned Fri-Sun. If you look at the photo of the map of PINETOP, you will find some benches situated in a socially-distanced manner. There are some around firepits, some outside of the ice skating rink and more by the outdoor stage, so there are definitely places to sit and gather with your group. Let me know if I can help with any other questions!

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