Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Not A Creature Was Stirring...Not Even A Mouse

Christmas is officially less than 2 months away. Let me repeat that, Christmas is only 2 months away. While this is an alarming statement for parents and a glorious statement for kids, it is also a glorious statement when it comes to visiting Walt Disney World. That is because there is no better time to visit The Mouse than during the holiday season.

There is just a tremendous amount to do and see at WDW this time of year. In future episodes of Around The Mouse, we'll focus in on the holiday happenings of a specific park, resort or event, but for now, we'll give you an overview of Christmastime at The Mouse and suggestions as to what NOT to miss. And there is a LOT that is not to be missed, for sure.

Magic Kingdom
Can't Miss: Main Street, USA
There is nothing better than Christmastime at the Magic Kingdom. The atmosphere at this park when it's dressed up in its Christmas garb is beyond description, and Main Street, USA is a big part of that. The Christmas music and the smell of Christmas cookies and gingerbread fills the air. "Snow" gently and intermittently descend from the rooftops. Characters dress up in festive outfits for pictures. If you want to get into the Christmas spirit, slowly strolling down Main Street is the best way. Simply put, what Magic Kingdom does this time of year is special.

Can't Miss: Holiday Wishes
Much like its Halloween cousin, Hallowwishes, this version of Magic Kingdom's nighttime fireworks spectacular is awesome. Magic Kingdom usually runs this show during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (which we'll talk about in a future episode), but will also run it on some non-Party nights as well. According to this link from the Examiner, in 2009 you can see Holiday Wishes from December 19th - December 31. Before then, you can only see it during the Christmas Party. Get a spot on Main Street that will enable you to get a clear view of the front of Cinderella's Castle, as they project holiday imagery onto the surface of the castle to go along with the music and fireworks. Images are also projected onto the building fronts up and down Main Street.

Can't Miss: Holidays Around The World
This is a perfect example of how Epcot's World Showcase shines as something extremely unique. During the holiday season, each pavilion will present shows all day long telling the story of holiday tradition in their country and culture. Each are extremely informative and entertaining, and some very funny. My favorites include the stories from Canada, France, Germany and England. These countries in particular enlighten the crowd as to how their centuries-long traditions are still very evident during Christmastime to this day.

Can't Miss: Candlelight Processional
If you appreciate gorgeous orchestral music, magnificent choir vocals and the story of Christmas, this show is a can't miss. Be forewarned: the religious overtones may not be everyone's cup of tea, but the stunning beauty of the presentation and the impact of the music is undeniable (and besides, it is the story of Christmas, after all). It's so beautiful that it's almost hard to believe something this well done is included with the price of admission. Get in line early though - 45 minutes to an hour early, if you want a seat. The popularity of this show is through the roof, and for good reason.

Hollywood Studios
Can't Miss: Osborne Family Spectacle Of Dancing Lights
Simply stated, the Dancing Lights is jaw-dropping. Hollywood Studios line the buildings of Streets Of America with literally millions of Christmas lights, all programmed to turn on and off in time with the Christmas music that fills the air. You find yourself constantly moving and turning around, trying to see everything that's going on. But there's just so much, it's impossible. And that is part of the excitement of the event: there is so much to see, so much to hear, so much to take in, that your senses are on overload. And much like Main Street, USA, snow falls on your head as you enjoy the sights while sipping your hot chocolate (if it's cold enough out).

Walt Disney World Resorts/Hotels
Can't Miss: Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
The great thing about the Walt Disney World resorts during Christmastime is that they are free to visit. If you have a half a day at the beginning or end of a trip that you don't want to use a park pass on, this is the perfect way to spend those half days. The Grand Floridan goes above and beyond as they line their lobby with some of the most gorgeous Christmas decorations you'll see anywhere. A massive Christmas tree stands in the middle of the lobby providing a great picture spot. The 2nd floor band plays live Christmas music for your enjoyment. Small decorations and ornaments, appropriate to the time and decor of the Grand Floridian, line every walkway and stairway. But the main attraction is the life-size gingerbread house. It's amazing to see and you can even buy a small version of the house, or a gingerbread "shingle" to snack on. Or, as we mentioned in a previous episode, you can get a free sample (Tip Of The Tail, Oct. 2nd) to taste.

Can't Miss: Yacht & Beach Club Resort
This is another opportunity to see extraordinary Christmas decorations in the style of the resorts that house them. The Yacht and Beach Clubs both decorate their grounds (and in particular their lobbies) in some jaw-dropping ways as well. For example, the massive gingerbread carousel at the Beach Club. While you're there, try to spot the hidden Mickeys all throughout.

Can't Miss: Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground
This is a hidden treasure. In fact, the whole Campground is a huge hidden treasure most people don't experience (but that will be for another article). The Campground is like its own neighborhood - a neighborhood of RVs that LOVE to decorate for Christmas (and Halloween). And not only do they simply decorate for Christmas, but it's very Disney-infused Christmas decorations. So if you love Christmas decorations, and you love Disney (which is why you're reading this), go check it out. These people definitely go overboard - so it won't disappoint.

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