Sunday, March 17, 2013

Christmas in Disney

As lucky as I am to visit Disney for our anniversary each fall, I've been missing out on some other seasonal magic. So, I sneaked away for my first solo trip to see what Christmas in Disney was all about. (Spoiler alert: there is DOUBLE the magic during the holiday season!!)

Hotel & Park Decorations
I could have spent a whole day just visiting hotels enjoying all the beautiful trees and creative designs! Each deluxe hotel and park has an ENORMOUS and awe-inspiring Christmas tree. And each tree is decorated with custom ornaments to fit each locations theme. As always, Disney's attention to detail is so impressive and it's really these little touches that keep me coming back. 

Besides the trees, the Grand Floridian had an amazing gingerbread house big enough to walk in. And the Contemporary had a gingerbread tree. There were hidden Mickey's scattered throughout. Next time I'll be sure to see the large gingerbread carousel at the Beach Club.

Candlelight Procession
One of the first holiday events I attended was the Candlelight Procession. To ensure I got a seat at this coveted show, I booked a dinner package in Epcot. Since I was a solo traveler  I picked dinner at Biergarten where I was seated at a large table with several other families for company. (As a side note, I really loved this restaurant--the ambiance is like no other! Between the scenery, the live entertainment and buffet of all the German food you care to eat, it was simply an unforgettable experience.) After dinner, the server gave me a sticker with my show time. This sticker allowed me to get in a special queue to ensure I would not have to stand for the show in case it filled up. Saving the time in line and ensuring I had a seat made this package well worth the price.

The show is hosted by a celebrity who reads the Christmas Story while songs from a live orchestra and choir are sprinkled throughout the performance. The whole event is very poignant and moving, although probably moreso for those who are religiously inclined. In any case, it was a beautiful story and I'm glad I got to experience this (from the 3rd row, no less!).

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
Jaw-dropping. Breathtaking. Thrilling and impressive. I cannot recommend this experience enough and my heart gets stuck in my throat just thinking about it months later. It was truly one of the most magical experiences of my life. It's an absolute must-do that will have me planning many more December trips to the World.

You can read about the history here. Each night, a family is chosen to help Goofy turn on the giant light switch. Then, what appears to be a regular backlot in Disney's Hollywood Studios turns into 5 million sparkling lights, coordinated to holiday music. I literally spent hours just wandering those few blocks in utter amazement and delight. Words and pictures can't do it justice. I really felt the excitement of a child at Christmastime as I soaked in all the wonder and awe. (Hint: The gingerbread hot chocolate really tops off the ambiance.) I was half in tears the whole time just taking it all in. 

I apologize for the movement in the videos. It was hard not to get caught up in the wonder and excitement of beautiful dancing lights at every turn. Literally being completely surrounded by this magic, I felt more like a child than a videographer.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Similar to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, the Magic Kingdom holds a private party to celebrate Christmas. Be sure to get your tickets early as this event, which runs on select nights throughout November and December, sold out often.

There is an extra magical quality in the air with the holiday music piped in along Main Street, the garlands above and the "snow" falling and staying on your hair. Hot chocolate and cookies are available throughout the park as part of the party. There are low crowds, so I spent most of the time just wandering and taking it all in. The parade was really neat; I loved the toy soldiers and seeing Santa among the characters. I even stumbled across Scrooge McDuck (a rare character meet that is ONLY available at this party).

The holiday fireworks were great, as well. The icicles on the castle made it extra magical and just a special night altogether.

All in all, just when I thought Disney couldn't be any more special, the most magical place on earth topped itself. 

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