Saturday, December 24, 2016

Deck the Streets with Strings of Garland

I am most nostalgic during the Christmas season.

Out of the sixteen or so times I've visited Walt Disney World, at least three of those trips has been during the times when the parks and resorts have been decked out with holiday decorations.

Unfortunately, the parks are incredibly busy during the holiday seasons, and because I have a tough time with crowds (and because I'm a teacher), it is difficult for me to vacation to Walt Disney World during November through early January. However, I do frequent DisTwitter (@HistTourWDW) and various forums, featuring photographs of the resort. All this does is trigger fond memories of our holiday trips and their wonderful Christmas decorations from around the parks and resorts.

One of my favorite decorations from the Magic Kingdom was the Christmas garlands that stretched above Main Street USA. The garland was littered with spherical ornaments and Christmas lights, red ribbons, and gold bells. My favorite part of these garlands, however, was a large wreath in the middle holding a large white candle. I loved these wreaths so much that I was convinced one year to try to make one myself. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out a way to mount a candle in the center of the wreath bought from Hobby Lobby.

I loved these wreaths so much that I was (slightly) devastated to learn that during the Christmas season in 2014, the wreath garlands would be replaced by large white arms that would hang off the facades of the buildings on Main Street, holding the candle wreaths. While Disney eliminated the garlands hanging over the street to make way for the floats of the Festival of Fantasy parade, I was very pleased to learn that, at least the candle wreaths would remain. On a similar note, I always loved the large wreath-garland thingys that are wrapped around the light posts down Main Street; I always thought they looked slightly like Mickey Mouse's head.

Credit: Patricia Baughan Mickus
Another of the most beautiful Christmas decorations at Walt Disney World is the Cinderella Castle Dream Lights, which debuted in 2008. For those who have not seen them, Cinderella Castle is covered in thousands of lights to create the illusion that it is covered with Elsa's ice crystals.

Similar to many others, I was in love with the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights over at Disney's Hollywood Studios. I was able to see the lights three times over the years. The first time I saw the lights, we were able to experience them on Residential Street on the Backlot Tour, the lights covering the facades of the various buildings, such as the Golden Girls house. The second time I went, my dad and I were on property for the 2007 Disney Marathon Weekend and were able to enjoy the lights on the Streets of America. The last time I saw the lights was my wife's first experience, over Thanksgiving weekend, 2013 (the same trip I got soaked from the jumping fountains outside the Imagination pavilion at Epcot). The lights were so popular and DHS so busy, that cast members required guests to enter the Streets of America in one place and exit on the opposite end. Like other Disney fans, I was pretty disappointed when it was announced that the Osborne Family lights would disappear along with the Streets of America (although I am stoked about the upcoming Star Wars and Toy Story lands). 

There are numerous other holiday decorations that bring back fond memories of my times at Walt Disney World growing up. From the freaky Minnie Mouse ornament mannequins doing the can-can dance in the storefront window on Hollywood Boulevard at Disney's Hollywood Studios to the Mickey's Christmas Carol holiday window displays at the Emporium on Main Street USA to Epcot's now defunct Lights of Winter and the Santa Claus hat that once perched atop the Earful Tower, Christmas nostalgia at Walt Disney World runs rampant through my mind this time of year like visions of sugar plums dancing.

Merry Christmas, my friends, from the Kiste family.

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