The decorations are hung across the castle with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there. It’s the most wonderful time of the year in the happiest place on Earth. What a magical combination for visitors of all ages. After years of dreaming to see my favorite place during the holiday season, my wish finally came true this past month.
My first visit with the decorations was to Magic Kingdom the weekend after Halloween. The transformation happened almost over night and I have never seen anything more magnificent. I had seen pictured of past years decorations, but standing next to the 50ft tree on Main Street was a whole new experience. Let’s start with Main Street USA. When you first walk into the park, you are greeted by the Christmas Tree aforementioned, along with wreaths adorning every building down the line. Then you are greeted by the castle. Covered from head to toe in thousands of tiny twinkle lights, called the “Dream Lights” that are made possible by Elsa’s frozen magic. Holiday music plays over the speakers and the 80 degree weather helps to pretend your cuddled up by a fireplace. The whole experience is magical as heck, and the characters are even dressed for the occasion.
Likewise, the other parks and resorts follow suit in their decorating. Hollywood Studios takes the vintage view on Hollywood and covers their streets with tinsel to match the glitz and glam feel. Their tree is full of movie references and joy as it lights up the exterior part of the park with it’s Christmas glow. At night, Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! takes the stage as projections are shown on the Chinese Theater and fireworks dance along to the Christmas music blaring over the speakers. The story line of this nighttime spectacular follows the elves from Disney’s Crash and Landing as they seek to find a missing Santa on Christmas Eve. The night is finished with a thorough coating of “snoap” (a snow substitute made of soap bubbles) on Sunset Blvd as guests exit the park. One of the most magical feelings is experiencing the snow in the warmth of Florida in December.
Epcot and Animal Kingdom both participate in the holidays as well with subtle decorations throughout the parks. In Animal Kingdom, you could meet Santa Goofy and Pluto as well as Baloo and King Louie all dressed up in their winter attire. In Epcot, you can experience the holidays around the world in World Showcase to learn about different traditions each culture participates in. End the night watching the Candlelight Vigil hosted by various celebrities in the Disney community, such as Neal Patrick Harris or Whoopi Goldberg, and melodious voices from the Disney choir.
I was blown away by how the parks celebrated the holidays, but the fun doesn’t end there. My friends and I then decided to take a day trip to Disney Springs and resort hop around property to get the full experience. At Disney Springs, you are immediately greeted but wreathes and garland strung across the pathways between stores as Christmas music plays in the background. They created a Christmas Tree trail that displayed trees featuring decorations from all the Disney classics, such as Mulan and The Little Mermaid. The decorations outdid themselves. There was also wandering entertainment throughout the shopping district. Between a roaming Santa, toy soldiers on stilts, and a DJ spinning a constant loop of holiday tracks, it was hard to avoid the Christmas spirit. The coolest part, in my opinion, was the nighttime drone show that they recently created. Like each of the parks that had a nighttime show, Disney wanted the guests at Disney Springs to also enjoy something special that separated this from just another Florida strip mall. It is the first of it’s king and consisted of over a hundred small drones that lit up and flew above the lake, synchronized to music of course. I had never seen anything like it before, but hope to see more in the future! Unfortunately I was too mesmerized to take a video, but you can see what it looks like here.
The resorts were also completely decked out for the holidays. A handful of them setup large gingerbread displays that bakers at the resort create by hand each year. The Contemporary resort had a tribute to Frozen.
The Beach Club resort had a carousel made completely of gingerbread and chocolate that actually moved. Legend has it that there were 17 golden hidden mickeys painted on it, yet we spent over 45 minutes looking and only found 16.
The Grand Floridian had the most grand display of all. IN the lobby was a life size gingerbread house that doubled as a gift shop that cast members actually stood in and worked out of. The details were incredible.
It’s no secret that Disney goes all out for the holidays and I’m so lucky that I was able to experience some of the magic without paying an extra $100 for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Although, the crowds are definitely so much worse, it was still incredible to take in. It was magical to say the least.
Until next time