Although it's known year-round as "The Happiest Place on Earth," there's a special bit of magic surrounding Walt Disney World when the Christmas decorations have been hung. Countless families from around the world plan their yearly vacations around the holidays at Disney World, but you don't have to brave the crowds during Christmas week to enjoy them. In fact, knowledgeable Disney insiders plan their visits much earlier in the year, enjoying the holiday feeling without dealing with unreasonable crowds.
How The Decorations Appear
It may be one of Walt Disney World's most magical tricks -- making the Christmas decorations appear. One day the Magic Kingdom and all the rest of the parks look normal, and the next morning they're covered in holiday finery. Even the character actors are dressed up in their best Christmas outfits, and the stores are filled with decorations you can take home to use to decorate your own tree.
The secret to all this holiday magic is a well-trained cast and crew that works like a precision army brigade. The minute the gates have closed and the last guest has left the park, every employee descends on the streets and begins installing their designated holiday decor. Every star and ornament is planned out months in advance, as are the orders as to who does what.
The Magic Kingdom
The biggest attraction for most families with children is Magic Kingdom, and that's the home of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Magic Kingdom gets into the holiday swing earliest in the entire complex. The night after the last Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, the crews take down the Halloween decorations and begin putting up the Christmas finery. By the time of the first Christmas party of the season, which is usually the first week in November, all the decorations in the park have been installed.
The Other Parks
The other main parks in Walt Disney World -- Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney's Hollywood Studios -- put up their decorations a bit later than the Magic Kingdom. Each park has its own giant Christmas tree covered with park-themed decorations, and the teams in each park put them up later in November. The exact date is different for each year, but every park has all its decorations on display before the day after Thanksgiving.
Walt Disney World Resorts
Not just hotels, the resorts at Walt Disney World are small attractions in themselves. Not only does each resort complex put up its own elaborate and appropriate Christmas decorations, many of them produce and show off extraordinary edible displays, all of which are on view by the day after Thanksgiving. The Grand Floridian always creates a life-sized gingerbread cottage, while the Beach Club Resort has a full-sized gingerbread carousel. The Contemporary Resort boasts a 17-foot gingerbread Christmas tree, and you can watch an electric train set at the Yacht Club race through rock candy mountains and past entire candy villages.