I have so many people ask me about the various Character Dining options in Walt Disney World. I have compiled a list with descriptions for each to make deciding easier for you! I have previously written about my favorites if you want to take a look. This is a basic list that tells you the facts, not my opinions of each (which I have many).
This is the first in a series of posts about spending your holiday season at Walt Disney World. I have been during November/December Holiday season 5 times in the last 7 years and it is obviously my favorite time of the year to visit. Last year was the first time I had ever been there during Christmas and I was pleasantly surprised by the experience.
Today’s focus is on holiday decor both in the parks and at the hotels.You can spend days just wandering around Walt Disney World looking at all the wonderful decorations. It is amazing to see the scale of the decorations and how much effort is put into each detail. I previously posted a video of the Magic Kingdom decor change from Halloween to Christmas. It is amazing what they do overnight while the guests are snug in their beds. If you decide to travel any time from November 1-January 1, you will be in full Disney Christmas World. It is a wonderful time to visit and it makes a completely different experience compared to traveling in the summer months.
Disney does an amazing job decorating the resorts. My favorite decorating feat I have ever witnessed was at The Boardwalk a few years ago. We were taking family pictures out and around The Boardwalk and they started to put in the poinsettia plants. One guy used this power drill auger to dig the perfect hole while another was right behind him plopping in the plants. A third man followed behind and backfilled the dirt. They did this with hundreds of poinsettia in just an hour or two. It was amazing, my dad was particularly enthralled with the process.
Every resort is decorated for the season with the theme of the hotel. Boardwalk is old school Atlantic City and the entire structure is trimmed with lights. Yacht and Beach Clubs are nautical with ornament of little sail boats and anchors. Polynesian is a pacific theme with hibiscus flowers adorning the garlands, while Grand Floridian is over the to with gold and rich textures. All the Deluxe resorts have a gingerbread structure in the lobby. Usually, they sell cookies, hot chocolate or small gingerbread houses for your hotel room. These gingerbread structures are worth a trip to see even if you are not staying in them. They are usually built sometime right before Thanksgiving.
Magic Kingdom is by far my favorite when it comes to Holiday decorations. I love the garlands and wreaths hanging over Main St. USA. It makes the perfect backdrop for pictures with the castle glimmering in the background. The Cinderella Castle itself is a wonder with millions of lights to make it look like it is covered in icicles. Every night around 6 they have a castle lighting with Fairy Godmother and Cinderella. There are details everywhere you look, including The Emporium windows with scenes from Mickey’s Christmas Carol.
Epcot has Holidays around the world with decor to match the spirit of every nation in The World Showcase. Along with storytelling about the country’s holiday traditions, you also can learn how people in each of the represented countries.There are large, lit decorated trees and other muted decor throughout Future World.
Hollywood Studios has a massive Christmas tree at the entrance of Hollywood and my favorite is when it is decorated with giant popcorn and retro plastic Santa faces. The best part about Hollywood is the Osbourne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (not Ozzy but a family from Arkansas) on The Streets of New York.
Animal Kingdom: Animal Kingdom is also themed with the area (Africa, Asia, etc.). Compared to Epcot, the holiday theme isn’t as in your face. The Jingle Jungle parade has the characters in holiday gear, but it is not as Christmasy as the Magic Kingdom parade.
So, are you ready to go to WDW during the Holidays? It is not for the faint of heart and it is not for First Timers. But…it was more wonderful and magical than I could have ever dreamed it to be!
This is a time lapse video of how Walt Disney World decorates the Magic Kingdom from Halloween to Christmas overnight. It really is amazing! When we were there over Labor Day this past year, we went to Magic Kingdom one evening and nothing was decorated. The next morning at opening, there were Mickey pumpkins and Halloween garlands everywhere. It really threw me off for a while, I felt like I was crazy. I was asking myself, was this here last night?
November a few years ago at Boardwalk, we watched as the team used a giant drill to dig a hole and drop poinsettia all over the property. It took just a few hours to turn the entire resort into Holiday mode. They also were working on the gingerbread carousel as well while we were there. Every time we came into the lobby over 48 hours, there were more and more details to the structure and the smell was to die for!
If you haven’t been to Disney during the Holiday season, you should make a point of going. It is the most magical time at Disney and there are so many things to see and do. Any time in late November through December, the hotels are all decked out and the more expensive the hotel, the more elaborate the decorations. There are so many different things to see and do both inside the parks and out. You can spend an entire evening just riding the monorail to Polynesian, Contemporary, & Grand Floridian and stopping at each to see the decorations and special characters and events they have at each.
More to come on specifics of Christmas at Walt Disney World…
The Walt Disney World College Program recruits students from all over the world to come work in the parks and earn up to nine college credits. Housing (for a fee), bus transportation to and from work, and social events are provided for the college students. Students can also received credit at their home colleges for taking college level courses offered by WDW. After completing the college program, students can apply for a professional internship with Disney. What a great opportunity!
The newest discount that Walt Disney World is offering is the Play, Stay, Dine and Save. There are actually 2 different offers with this deal. In reality it is a room only discount. If you add the Magic Your Way package with Dining, it is still a room discount with full price on the tickets & dining plan.
Today in the mail I get a very large colorful envelope that stands out among all the white bills. What could it be? Mickey’s on the front, but I am not expecting anything from WDW. Inside is a very vivid and fun thank you note. Here is what it says:
From all of your Disney pals, we hope you created magical memories during your visit to Walt Disney World Resort in 2012.
It is also signed by Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto & Tinker Bell. My kids both think that these characters sent us a card to say hi.
This is one of the reasons I think The Walt Disney Company is genius! Exactly a month after we have come home from our trip, I am reminded of the wonderful times we had. They have now put into my head these thoughts: “I wonder when we can go back?” “What time of year will we go next time?” “Will we go with friends or just us again?”. See, geniuses! I wasn’t thinking about a trip at all and now I am starting to plan again. What is wrong with me?!
We got in line at 8:30 in the morning on an extra magic hour day. Why would we waste precious ride time at Magic Kingdom to stand in line?! 8-9 on EMH is the best time to ride everything in Fantasyland!!! It was worth it to see our newest favorite princess (and her mischievous brothers), Merida from Brave. We were in the first group to be allowed into the interactive meet and greet. Unlike the other characters, they only allow a finite number of people to enter the pavilion and then close the curtains. A giant table in the middle of the area for the kids to color a Brave themed picture. Continue reading →
Free Dining Plan with the purchase of a Magic Your Way room and ticket package at select resort hotels will be finished on September 29th! Dining Plan can be a huge cost savings. If you are planning on travelling on any of the following dates and havn’t booked yet, now’s the time! New Fantasyland opens December 6, so that would be a perfect time visit the magic!
The rider swap (also known as baby swap) is a feature offered by Walt Disney World to allow both parents enjoy a ride that is not appropriate for young children. This can be because a child doesn’t meet the height requirements or they are too young for the ride. The parents receive a rider swap pass that will allow the other parent to ride without waiting in line again. Continue reading →