No matter how many “Oh, we had some airline vouchers to use up before the end of the year” excuses we try to employ, just know this: we’re crazy (also, I’m writing this with less than four hours of sleep under my belt, so Duffy the Disney Bear with me here). Yes, we did have Southwest Airlines vouchers which were going to expire in the next six months, and yes, we got our hotel room for basically nothing, but when all’s said and done: I really just wanted to see Walt Disney World decked out for the holidays. So we flew down Saturday morning and only returned just a few hours ago.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom, which was the main reason we went down to Orlando; today, we’re going to discuss Christmas decorations.
Christmas, to me, is about going big or going home. If you’re not going to bring your A-game with your gifts, your cookies, or your decorations, then get the eff out. The holidays are not about being subtle or understated, they’re about big blow-up Charlie Brown snow globes in your front yard and department stores gussied up in red like $10 hookers.
My dad makes fun of my mom for “throwing up Christmas” all over their house for a month each year, with light-up village displays and nativity scenes and wreaths and garland everywhere, but I love it: Christmas, to me, is taking the season and wrapping yourself up in it.
Now, I grew up watching the Disney’s Very Merry Christmas Parade on ABC, like religiously (since there’s obviously no other religious symbolism around Christmas. Duh.) The telecast would showcase not only the Magic Kingdom’s parade, but also have random celebrities like Celine Dion pop up in the Grand Floridian to sing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Professor Honeydew from The Muppets. Um…I may be remembering that wrong, but anyway, the point is that this TV special would tease you with all of these lavishly decorated Disney resorts, each with towering trees and miniature Christmas villages (sorry, I didn’t make it to the Yacht Club–maybe next year!).
So it stands to reason that, if you’re gonna go big or go home with decorations, where better to visit than the Walt Disney World resorts?
In our only full day in Orlando, I planned to do a resort crawl before heading to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, which you get into starting at 4:00PM. We began at the Animal Kingdom Lodge (more on our breakfast at Boma: Flavors of Africa as Perceived By White People tomorrow):
This was the first time either of us had been in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, and we were really stunned by just how gorgeous the place was. Sure, that’s common knowledge by now, but when something actually lives up to the hype, that’s saying something.
Next up, we parked at the Magic Kingdom and began our monorail tour of a few of the resorts (plan courtesy of Disney Tourist Blog!), first stop: the Polynesian.
While the Polynesian didn’t have the most ornate decorations, it made up for it with being generally Hawaii-themed and, you know, Hawaii is cool and stuff.
After the Polynesian, we headed over to the Grand Floridian, which Lance and I had never visited. Considering most of my previous exposure to the Grand Floridian came from the two-part Full House episode where the family visits Disney World, I kept on expecting to spot Steve only to realize that it’s not actually him. 😦 😦
The Grand Floridian is home to an enormous Victorian-style gingerbread house, which is 16 feet tall and is celebrating its 14th year. Of course, being Disney, it’s not also a massive achievement, but also a gift shop!!
The Disney pastry chefs give demonstrations throughout the day in front of the shop, building much smaller gingerbread houses in front of an audience of fat, drooling Americans:
Above: me taking a bite out of an $8 gingerbread-and-dark-chocolate “shingle” in the same mold as those used on the house. “Jesus Christ!” I muttered under my breath when I saw the price. And who would’ve thunk that Disney would keep on reminding us about the real reason for the season?
Our tour continued at the Contemporary Resort, which sports this relatively new, giant Mickey wreath on the exterior of the building:
The Contemporary is also home to a gingerbread tree in the style of Mary Blair and it’s a small world.
Lastly, we took the ferry from the Magic Kingdom back to Wilderness Lodge, our favorite resort on property. It’s speaks to Lance’s charming backwoods-iness and my love of the Pacific Northwest. It’s also the resort which felt most “at home” with a Christmas overlay.
And even though I love thrown up chunks of Christmas everywhere, there’s something to be said for the simplicity of a warm fire at Christmastime.