Mission: Winter Holidays at WDW
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  1. #1
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    Mission: Winter Holidays at WDW



    WINTER HOLIDAYS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

    There's nothing like the holidays at Disney World! Garlands, wreaths, Christmas trees, and poinsettia plants and topiaries were everywhere. It would be impossible to list everything, so here are just some of the decorations, food and drinks, merchandise, special events, and holiday features at Walt Disney World.

    THE RESORTS

    The Grand Floridian had a magnificent, elegant 45-foot tree and a life-sized real gingerbread house that served as a store where guests could buy gingerbread houses and cookies. Around the outside of the house were winter scenes made of gingerbread plus a Santa display. All this yummy stuff made the lobby smell delicious. There were several smaller trees throughout the lobby area.

    The Contemporary Resort had a massive Hidden Mickey-shaped wreath hanging over the monorail entrance into the building. The wreath was probably more than 50 feet high and lit up at night. There was a 17-foot Christmas tree made of gingerbread and candy on the main floor. Guests could buy gingerbread from a counter in front of the tree. There was a smaller Christmas tree and garlands on the check-in lobby floor, and another larger tree outside.

    The holidays were more subtle at the Polynesian Resort. The Christmas tree was very pretty, but much smaller than the ones at the other resorts. There were a lot of beautiful garlands all around the lobby. The tree and the garlands had tropical-themed ornaments. There was also island holiday music coming from speakers throughout the resort.

    At the Wilderness Lodge, the colossal 50-foot Christmas tree was wilderness-themed, with decorations such as Native American ornaments, canoes, pine cones, bears, and antlers. There were smaller trees, wreaths, and garlands everywhere, and what appeared to be life-sized deer made of little white lights over the main entrance.

    Every year, the RVs at Fort Wilderness are decorated to the nth degree. You've probably never seen so many giant Christmas blow-ups in one place at one time. Amazing!

    A life-sized carousel made of gingerbread, chocolate, cookies, and other sweets took over the lobby of the Beach Club. You couldn't ride it (or eat it), but you could search for its many Hidden Mickeys as the carousel slowly turned.

    The Yacht Club’s Christmas tree was adorned with sailboat and lighthouse ornaments. There was a large, intricately detailed miniature village with a little train that ran through it and around it. Buildings in this tiny village had names of Disney places like Beaches & Cream. It took time to see all the details of this elaborate display.

    A very pretty Christmas tree and garland-wrapped poles were outside of Disney's BoardWalk Inn. Inside the lobby was a large gingerbread and chocolate gazebo featuring Stitch in a chef's costume. A Donald Duck Santa was dangling from the roof of the gazebo. There were many Hidden Mickeys to be found. Next to the gazebo was a huge gingerbread replica of the BoardWalk Bakery, which had been taken over by Stitch and renamed Stitch's Bakery. Guests could buy gingerbread houses at this "bakery." Two very traditional Christmas trees with colorful ornaments sat on either side of the fireplace, with a wreath between them. Wreaths, garlands, and small Christmas trees could be seen around the lobby.

    Animal Kingdom Lodge had an enormous five-story Christmas tree with beautiful African-inspired ornaments, some made of straw and others in the shapes of animals. There were beautiful ribbons made of African fabrics. Garlands and wreaths with animal faces could be found around the lobby. There also was a display of contest-winning gingerbread houses made by Cast Members. Contest categories included funniest, African themed, most original, and several others. Kidani Village had very similar decorations, but on a smaller scale.


    THE PARKS

    MAGIC KINGDOM
    Main Street featured a gigantic 65-foot Christmas tree surrounded by huge wooden soldiers, candy canes, and giant Christmas gifts. The windows of the Emporium were decorated to tell the story of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol featuring Mickey, Donald, and other Disney characters.

    At night, Cinderella Castle was lit up with hundreds of thousands of glittering white lights, making it look like it was covered in ice. Mickey-shaped wreaths hung on lampposts, and garlands crossed overhead from one side of Main Street to the other. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade featured Christmas themed floats, marching toy soldiers, dancing gingerbread men, and Santa Claus himself making an appearance at the end of the parade.

    The awesome pre-Wishes projection light show, Magic, Memories & You, had a special Christmas section, in which the castle was turned into a gingerbread house and a candy cane. The Wishes fireworks show was the same as it is all year, but several times a week during the holidays the park hosts Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party featuring a spectacular holiday-themed fireworks show. Fireworks shaped like stars, presents, and happy faces filled the sky and a few times fireworks went off around the perimeter of the park. For guests who didn’t want to pay the $50-60 to get into the party, the holiday fireworks could be viewed from the beaches of the Polynesian Resort and the Grand Floridian, and the California Grill at the Contemporary. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party ran from 7 p.m. to midnight on select nights. It featured "snow" falling on Main Street, complimentary hot chocolate and cookies, special merchandise, Christmas shows and dance parties, and extra Christmas decor around the park.


    EPCOT
    Mickey and Minnie Christmas topiaries made of poinsettia flowers and greenery greeted guests as they entered Epcot.

    The 65-foot main Christmas tree sat at World Showcase Plaza. On it were flags from countries around the world, banners with holiday wishes in different languages, and gigantic ornaments. An angel sat on the top of the tree.

    Smaller trees could be found around the park. American Adventure had a big tree with red garland at Santa's Village.

    Unfortunately, they stopped putting up the Lights of Winter several years ago. This was a dazzling canopy of lights all along the walkway leading up to the main Christmas tree. I wish they'd bring this back.

    The World Showcase featured Holidays Around the World, in which storytellers in each of the countries explained their holiday customs, traditions, and history. Here are a few examples:

    In Italy, the good Christmas witch spoke about the first Christmas. A Canadian lumberjack told a story about Santa. In Norway, guests could hear about a mischievous Christmas gnome. The German storyteller talked about the first Christmas tree.

    In American Adventure guests could visit Santa’s outdoor village, learn the history of Hanukkah, and listen to Mwalimu talk about Kwanzaa. There was a life-size gingerbread house inside the Liberty Inn restaurant.

    Nearby, the immensely popular Candlelight Processional featured a full orchestra with a choir singing carols and celebrity narrators telling the story of Christmas.

    Each night of the year, Epcot ends the day with their fabulous fireworks show, IllumiNations, but during the holidays an extra mind-blowing finale is added to the music of “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” The grand finale is absolutely huge! It surprises me by its intensity every time I see it.


    ANIMAL KINGDOM
    The gigantic Christmas tree at the entrance to Animal Kingdom was decorated with big stars and fantastic animal ornaments. Around the base of the tree were big colorful gift boxes and characters from Winnie the Pooh, The Lion King, and other Disney favorites.

    The big dinosaur skeleton that greets people at the entrance to Dinoland USA was wearing a Santa hat! There was a big white tree in Dinoland USA shaped like a snowman. There were many other trees scattered around the park including adorable character trees, each one featuring a different Disney character, such as Winnie the Pooh, Finding Nemo, Stitch, Goofy, Pluto, and more.

    Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade was the holiday version of their regular parade, with the characters dressed up in festive clothes.


    DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
    A massive Christmas tree sat outside the gates. It was strung with silver garland and decorated with colorful ornaments. A huge roll of movie film wrapped around the base of the tree.

    There was a special menu of holiday cocktails available only at Hollywood Studios, such as the Merry Margarita, Sleigh Ride, and Snowball, plus Bailey's Coffee and Captain's Hot Cider.

    And finally, my personal favorite thing about the holidays at Disney World: The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (No, it’s not not Ozzy and Sharon!)

    The Osborne family is from Little Rock, Arkansas. Jennings Osborne, a businessman and philanthropist, covered their home with thousands of lights as a gift for his six-year-old daughter. Over the years, the number of lights grew to hundreds of thousands of lights. Neighbors got upset about the heavy traffic from people coming through their neighborhood every night to see the display. Eventually the Osbornes were taken to court, where they lost and had to take them down. Mr. Osborne donated the lights to Disney, who added even more. They now number in the millions!

    The Osborne lights are traditionally on the Streets of America and cover almost every square inch of the buildings. In addition to the strung lights there were flying angels, spinning globes, sparkling dreidels, and a lot more, all made of lights. The lights were synchronized to “dance” to holiday music every 10 minutes while “snow” fell from the sky. Music included holiday songs by Elvis Presley, José Feliciano, Barbra Streisand, Nat King Cole, the Beach Boys, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and many more.

    Hidden among the lights were more than 30 Hidden Mickeys. Another secret of the Osborne light show is the elusive purple cat. When the Osborne lights were shipped to Disney World, a purple cat from the family's Halloween display was accidentally sent, too. The Osbornes let Disney keep it, and every year the purple cat is hidden somewhere different on the Streets of America. I won't tell you what the cat is made of or how big it is, because that’s part of the fun of hunting for it. If you're interested in finding it for the first time, I recommend not looking at any photos of it so it takes you by surprise when you finally spot it.


    MISCELLANEOUS


    There were holiday decorations everywhere you looked in Downtown Disney. Live bands played holiday music and Santa Claus was there to meet his fans.

    Holiday merchandise could be found all over Disney World. In addition to Christmas-clad plush characters (including Mickey, Minnie, and Duffy) there were gorgeous ornaments, plates, gingerbread cookies, Christmas stockings, Santa hats with Mickey and Minnie ears, glassware, mugs, clothing, pins, and many more holiday-themed collectibles. The Hanukkah items included plates, mugs, banners, and pins.

    There were special treats all over Disney World that were made just for the holidays, including holiday-themed sweets of all types including, of course, gingerbread. The Earl of Sandwich even had a special holiday turkey sandwich.

    The winter holiday season is arguably the best time to enjoy WDW in all its creative glory. Everywhere you turn are dazzling lights, beautiful decor, and decadent treats that make an already festive time even more fun. It's as if Walt himself sent out a memo demanding that the parks and resorts be "plussed" for the holidays.



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    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Mission: Winter Holidays at WDW-grand_floridian.jpg   Mission: Winter Holidays at WDW-contemporary.jpg   Mission: Winter Holidays at WDW-mk_parade.jpg   Mission: Winter Holidays at WDW-mk_lamppost.jpg   Mission: Winter Holidays at WDW-osborne_lights.jpg  

    Mission: Winter Holidays at WDW-ak_tree_detail.jpg   Mission: Winter Holidays at WDW-akl_tree.jpg   Mission: Winter Holidays at WDW-beach_club.jpg   Mission: Winter Holidays at WDW-stitch_boardwalk_inn.jpg   Mission: Winter Holidays at WDW-yacht_club.jpg  

    Last edited by Curious Alice; 01-06-2012 at 05:32 PM.
      
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  3. #2
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    Re: Mission: Winter Holidays at WDW

    Great report CA, and I loved the pictures!!!

    I guess you really covered a lot during your last trip. I love going to the resorts during this time of year myself. It makes the Disney Magic even more powerful.

    Thanks again.


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  4. #3
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    lovetd is offline Cast Member
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    I loved the pics. I was just there a few weeks ago and seeing your pics brought back great memories. Thank you for sharing. (must finish my trip report).


    Have a Great Day

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  5. #4
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    Thank you for the awesome report, brings back great memories of our last trip. And now looking forward to our next trip Dec2012.


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  6. #5
    Curious Alice's Avatar
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    Re: Mission: Winter Holidays at WDW

    Thank you for the compliments!


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  7. #6
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    Re: Mission: Winter Holidays at WDW

    Great report Alice - and I loved the pics!

    I've never done WDW at Christmas so really enjoyed finding out what goes on at that time of the year.

    Thanks for posting!!


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  8. #7
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    Re: Mission: Winter Holidays at WDW

    Great Report I can't wait till we can go to WDW during this time of the year with 5 xmas's between familys and having small kids still we would like to wait as bringing santa with us is not an option but it sounds so wonderful! This year we are doing the MNSSH. along with the food and wine festival so excited I get one holiday soon!


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    O wow it looks awesome! It's our first trip to Disney & the US this Dec & we will be in Disney over Christmas! Im so excited eeeeek! We are going to be all over the place but I'm mainly excited about WDW!



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