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Viewing Holiday Decorations at Walt Disney World

Friday, December 10, 2010

Like a well-oiled machine the Walt Disney World resort has magically transformed into a Christmas mecca.  It doesn't take long for all of the parks and resorts to transition from the leaves, pumpkins, and scare crows of the fall and Halloween season to garland, wreaths and the chocolate and gingerbread we've come to expect year after year.  Within 3 days the resort pulls out all the stops by working overnight when the parks are closed and guests are sound asleep back at their resort hotels.  Disney's Christmas Services department has the resort decorating process down to a science.  Their process for decorating the entire Walt Disney World resort is so concise some guests don't even notice it until a few days have passed. 

What was once considered a very slow time of year the first 2 weeks of December have become very popular among Disney's loyal guests and Disney Vacation Club members who visit on a regular basis.  As many of those guests will tell you visiting Walt Disney World during the holiday season is a totally different experience than visiting in the spring, summer, or fall months.  The parks and resorts exude a totally different atmosphere and feel.  There are Christmas holiday only experiences like the Candlelight Processional and the Holidays Around the World in EPCOT or The Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Hollywood Studios that you can't experience any other time of year except during the holiday season. 

A trip to Disney World during the holiday season will thrust you into the Christmas spirit.  Not only can you experience holiday specific activities, but the parks and resorts are decorated very well with miles of garland, several Christmas trees, and hundreds of pounds of chocolate and gingerbread Christmas shaped decor.  One of the activities I truly look forward to whenever our family visits Disney World during the holidays is visiting the various deluxe resort hotels and admiring their holiday Christmas displays.  Even though there have been some modifications and reductions of decorations in the resorts over the past 5 to 10 years there is still a lot of beauty and Christmas detail to view.     

With so many Christmas displays to see at Walt Disney World it might be difficult to figure out what displays are your favorites.  Certain displays evoke different emotions and meaning for different people.  In other words, the top 5 displays I'm about to reveal may not be your top 5, or if you've never visited Walt Disney World during the holidays you may discover other Christmas decorations you feel deserve more recognition.  Here are my top 5 holiday decoration displays that you shouldn't miss during the holiday season. 

Number 5 - The Downtown Disney Marketplace

The holidays and shopping go together like cookies and milk.  The Downtown Disney Marketplace comes alive each holiday season with shoppers, holiday music, and Christmas decorations all around you.  Santa Claus is usually onsite waiting to speak with eager children who have a list of requests longer than an IRS tax form.  What's even better is you can enjoy a sweet treat at the various sweet shops located around the Marketplace like Goofy's Candy Co, or Ghirardelli’s soda shop. 

Number 4 - The lobbies of Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas Jambo House & Disney's Wilderness Lodge

With their deep earth tones, warm atmosphere, and many hard-carved wood figures these lobbies help bring the Christmas spirit alive.  Each holiday decoration is amplified by the sheer theme and architecture of the lobby.  You can't help but get into the holiday spirit while sitting next to the huge Wilderness Lodge fireplace or the Animal Kingdom Villas fire pit with a cup of hot chocolate, tea, or flavored coffee while admiring the Christmas decorations. 

Number 3 - Main St. USA

As you would expect in grand Disney fashion the most visited theme park in the world is decked-out with holiday decorations.  Main St. USA is at the center of it all with garland and wreaths everywhere.  However, what makes this spot so special is the architecture, music and add a themed Christmas parade and it's sure to put you in the Christmas spirit.  Grab a cookie and hot chocolate from the Main St. Bakery just before the Christmas parade begins and you'll be transformed into a holiday scene so special it will make visiting the North Pole a second thought. 

Number 2 - Disney's Grand Floridian Resort lobby

The sweet smells of gingerbread come alive when you enter the lobby of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort.  Not only is the lobby decked out with some of the best holiday decorations on property, but one of the best Christmas attractions anywhere can be found here.  The famed gingerbread house is displayed in the lobby.  Each year Disney chefs work on creating the giant house with several gingerbread shingles, flour, cocoa, and icing.  It's pure eye candy for guests who visit the lobby.  On the backside of the house is a shop where you can purchase gingerbread cookies and shingles similar to the ones displayed on the gingerbread house. 

Number 1 - The Osborne Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios

I've experienced several holiday activities in the U.S. but nothing beats standing in the center of the Streets of America to watch and view the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Hollywood Studios.  It truly is a spectacle.  With over 5 million LED lights that dance to synchronized Christmas music it's indescribable the feeling you get when you watch them flicker around you.  As with most Disney attractions there is a ton of detail and several stories throughout this light display.  Be sure to walk through the Streets of America to see some interesting and peculiar details embedded into the light displays.  Who knows, you may run across an outdoor grill or a black cat with Christmas lights on them.  Get additional details of the Osborne Lights here

Well, there you have.  Those are my top 5 not to miss Christmas displays at Walt Disney World.  There are others that I did not mention like the many light displays over at the Ft. Wilderness Resort & Campground hung by guests who spend the entire month of December at Walt Disney World.  Do you have a favorite I did not mention?  Please feel free to add your favorites in the discussion section below.  We'd love to hear yours. 

If you've ever visited Walt Disney World during the spring, summer or fall seasons you know what a great destination it can be.  However, a trip during the holiday season provides you the opportunity to do and see a lot more.  Activities and displays you've never experienced before are all around you.  Be sure to plan extra time to visit these displays during your holiday vacation to Walt Disney World.  The Cast Members at Disney World have spent countless days and weeks all year long preparing the resort for the holidays and their effort and enthusiasm show with each holiday detail surrounding you.  Happy Holidays! 

Next Up:  Show off your creative side at Disney's Hollywood Studios with a pencil and a piece of paper. 

Note - I'm currently at Walt Disney World.  Be sure to friend me on Facebook or visit the trip reports forum right here at Studioscentral.com for up to the minute photos and live reports at Walt Disney World. 

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About this column

Aaron DelPrince looks at the various activities you and your family can experience at Walt Disney World


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