Living in Southern California tends to mean that any dreams of a white Christmas will pretty much stay that way unless you head out of town. There is one magical area though where tourists and locals alike can gather to enjoy the snow while still feeling comfortable in their shorts. Every year, Disneyland transforms into a holiday wonderland, complete with snow, reindeer, carols, and festivities.
In many ways though, the creation of this holiday magic is even more amazing than the actual displays. Here’s the details that go into transforming a park from a Halloween harvest theme to a Christmas wonderland. Image via Armidillo444 [Flickr]
The Christmas Tree:
Every year since its opening, Disneyland features a sixty foot tall Christmas tree that towers over Main Street. Up until 2008, live trees were driven in all the way from Mount Shasta, but since then the park has opted to go green and use an artificial pine that was specially designed by Disney’s Imagineering team. The tree is 65 feet tall, as 5 feet of it sits underground for support. It has over 1,200 branches with a total of 280,000 pine needles which are decorated with 2000 ornaments and 75,000 lights. The electrical cable needed to light all of the lights weighs an astonishing 5,000 pounds.
During the majority of the year, the tree is kept in a warehouse away from the park, but in October, they transport all six pieces of it to the park in the middle of the night. The tree is then put together in the back area of the park, the lights are applied and technicians test the light show. Once they are sure it’s ready to go, they take it apart into two sections. In early November, the 12 ton tree is then moved into place in Main Street using 15 cast members and two cranes. The tree isn’t the only decorative touch in Main Street though. Throughout Disneyland, the park uses more than 1.5 miles of garland and over 2,000 feet of this is used on Main Street alone. Main Street also features 812 bows, which require 1.4 miles worth of ribbon to create. Image via Andy Castro [Flickr]
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle:
The iconic castle is redone for wintertime, with a fresh layer of artificial snow and 50,000 lights, including hanging icicles that light up during the nighttime shows. The castle is the central part of a three-part show that takes place every night. The first part of the show occurs at twilight when the sound of wind blowing enters the air followed by a child wishing for snow. A motherly voice is heard to respond, “in order for your wishes to come true, you must believe.” Just then, snow machines blast out icy flurries and the castle lights up with its snow glistening. Later on, the fireworks show starts and the child is again heard wishing for snow. Then the lights on the castle get even brighter as the snow begins falling again. The fireworks then kick off and just as they approach the grand finale and White Christmas starts to play, the icicles light up and then snow falls in Main Street, New Orlean’s Square and the Small World mall. Image via Andy Castro [Flickr]
It’s A Small World:
We’ve already talked about how The Haunted Mansion is changed to a Nightmare Before Christmas theme throughout Halloween, but that’s not the only ride to be altered during Christmas time. It’s A Small World is also redone to reflect the holiday spirit. Instead of singing the classic song that provides the ride with its namesake, the children throughout the world sing ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Deck the Halls.’ The exterior of the ride is covered in 300,000 Christmas lights and the large clock in the center is decked out with a Santa hat. After dark the façade features a multi-media presentation projection every fifteen minutes. Big Thunder Ranch is also modified for the holidays, as it provides Santa and his reindeer a relaxing place to stay just before he rushes around the world to deliver toys. Image via Wikipedia user Lyght
Every year, the park also features “A Christmas Fantasy parade.” While certain aspects of the parade change every year, it always starts with a music box float featuring a ballerina, which is followed by toy soldiers playing snare drums and trumpets. The Winter Wonderland part of the parade features Tigger, Eeyore and Winnie the Pooh riding and pulling sleighs while Mickey and Minnie skate on an ice rink float. Clarabelle Cow, Goofy and Max all work together to bake gingerbread cookies. Cinderella and the other princesses and their respective princes dance together on a ballroom float. Next, toys of all kinds walk and roll by, led by Chip and Dale, members of Toy Story and Pinocchio. At the very end of the parade, Santa rides by in his sled, wishing Merry Christmas to all the good girls and boys. Image via Armadillo444 [Flickr]
Are you planning to visit any theme parks during the holiday season? If so, which one(s)? Do any of our Orlando-favoring readers fill us in on the details of the Magic Kingdom’s Christmas celebrations?
Sources: Wikipedia #1, #2, About.com, WDW Info, West Ways Magazine
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