Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Magical Moments - A Disney Christmas for a Future Imagineer

For so many reasons, Christmas is unlike any other season. As I pause for a moment to reflect upon the season, I begin to realize that many of the traditions surrounding Christmas share commonalities with Disney. OK, before you gasp, laugh or balk at that comment, let me assure you that I am not comparing Mickey Mouse to the baby Jesus. Nor am I suggesting that a trip to Orlando is like a pilgrimage to the Holy land. Instead, I am referring to the little nuances of the season itself, along with many of the traditions that we encounter during this time.

The noastalgia that so many Disney fanatics - like us at DLuminations - feel when remembering first visits, favorite trips or long-gone attractions is not unlike the feelings people get when watching reruns of It's a Wonderful Life, or A Christmas Story, while putting up favorite decorations, thinking about the Coca-Cola Santa Claus or rembering past Christmas memories. Even the first visit to see Santa at the local mall is similar to the first photo with Mickey Mouse.

Taking this theme further, I could draw correlations between the overwhelmingly firendly sense of giving that overtakes people during trips to WDW and that experienced around this time of year.

I'm sure, if I tried, I could draw innumerous comparisons between Christmas and a vacation to Walt Disney World, but instead, I will end by asking you to take a journey into your imagination for a moment. Remember back to your childhood. Do you remember how hard it was to sleep on Christmas Eve? The mere thought that Santa would be standing in your home, delivering something special for you was overwhelming. Then, as dawn peeked over the horizon, your feet hit the floor and you sprinted to see what surprise might await you. And, as your eyes gazed upon that one special item, you felt an immeasurable sense of joy, pleasure, grattitude and, well, magic! This, perhaps, is the real comparison to Christmas in Disney. Exciting, memorable and magical. It is a place where your dreams coexist with reality and fantasy. Pure elation.

In honor of this magical feeling of Christmas, we offer to you a very Merry Christmas, and best wishes as we enter into the new year. May that sense of Disney Magic go with you throughout the coming months and may you hold on to that childlike innocence and joy that rests at the heart of Christmas. And, to celebrate that feeling, we share with you a memory that combines Chrsitmas, Disney, dreams, joy and magic - so enjoy this glimpse into a Disney Christmas for a Future Imagineer, and remember to dreams do come true!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Magical Moments - Merry Mickey Christmas

Any time of the year is a magical time for Disney, however, as with the rest of the world that exists outside of that amazing 47 square mile area, the Christmas season seems to bring a little extra magic to the parks.

Before you ask, yes, Christmas is a very busy time for the parks. That, inevitably, translates into crowds. But, before you write off the possibility of visiting WDW during this special season, please allow me to provide a few reasons why you may want to reconsider before passing on this opportunity.

Crowds: As noted above, the crowds are historically heavy during this time of year. However, in my experience, the bulk of the crowds attend between December 19th (the week prior to Christmas) through December 28th. The crowds are the worst on Christmas Day, but start to thin more each subsequent day and usually level out on December 28th. So, When we visit during this season, we usually arrive on Christmas Day and stay until January 2nd. All the Christmas decorations, parades and other related items remain up through this time and the crowds are more than manageable.

Cinderella Castle: I remember the first time I saw the castle in the 1970s. This experience was only surpassed by the first time each of my children saw the castle during their first visits. That is, until we all saw the castle fully coated with Christmas lights. Haven't seen this breathtaking sight? Imagine Cinderella Castle with the glowing frost of ice highlighted by the moon. It's like Santa Claus himself has placed a little bit of the North Pole right in the center of the Magic Kingdom. Still can't imagine what this may look like? OK, in the interest of Disney-like customer service, click this link and enjoy!

Resorts: I love the parks! I know, that goes without saying, but I really do love them. In fact, my enthusiasm for the parks actually takes away from my ability to fully enjoy the resorts at times. Not so at Christmastime! The resorts offer so many unique visual experiences, traveling to each for a quick tour is actually worth scheduling a full day for. Though traditional Christmas decorations adorn several locations, the really unique experiences are the custom designed gingerbread houses. These massive structures feature all the detail customary of Disney creations.

One other neat experience is found in the Grand Floridian. There is something extra special about gazing at the gingerbread house in the lobby while being serenaded with live Christmas music.

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights: Normally a name like this would say everything you would need to know. But, I'm not sure that even a word like "spectacle" really captures or expresses this attraction. Thousands of lights blanketing the Streets of America come to life and dance with the musical accompaniment. This amazing display of Christmas illumination - started by Little Rock., Arkansas native Jennings Osbourne (1944-2011) - is definitely worth your time.

Snow on Main Street: Enough said! OK, maybe I can elaborate a little more. Thanks to Imagineering magic, it snows every night on Main Street. Little flakes of Disney snow float to the ground, adding to the beauty of the Christmas decorations that line the street and buildings.

Christmas Parade: This may be my favorite Disney parade. The cast of normal characters celebrate the season in a way which will arouse your mind both audibly and visually. The neatest part of the parade, in my humble opinion, are the marching toy soldiers whose boots click-clack down the street, as they prepare the way for Santa.

Holiday Wishes: As with Cinderella Castle, this fireworks spectacular has a little extra magic during the season. Sleigh bells hearken in the fireworks as the castle lights go dim. Suddenly, the sky erupts with wonderful shapes and colors. Look for the packages exploding around your head. truly amazing! Huh? You want to see a preview? Well, in the spirit of Christmas, allow me to quote Jiminy Cricket, "Can you hear it? Can you feel it? I say there's something magical in the air...It's the spirit of Christmas."

The Secret of Christmas Vacation at WDW: OK, to be honest, I couldn't resist the opportunity to pay homage to my favorite Christmas time movie starring Chevy Chase. But, as you can probably tell from reading above, there is a secret to navigating WDW during this season. First, enjoy the resorts. Your time will be well spent doing so. Second, the crowds are the heaviest during the week before Christmas and through the 28th of December. As noted above, the crowds are the worst on Christmas Day, but start to thin more each subsequent day and usually level out on December 28th. Catch a seat on Main Street for the Christmas parade, or while watching the lighting of Cinderella Castle, or for Holiday Wishes, then, "let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"

So, good luck hitting that "Holiday Road" to your Christmas Vacation at Disney. Have a Mickey Christmas!