Christmas

Festive Fun Facts About Walt Disney World

No place does Christmas quite like Walt Disney World, and this year the resort has plenty of festive fun in store for resort guests. I am eagerly counting the days until my visits in anticipation of all of the seasonal experiences and decorations. Here’s a brief run down of some festive fun facts to get you in the holiday spirit, courtesy of Disney:

Magical holiday experiences and beloved traditions await Walt Disney World Resort guests during the most wonderful time of the year. Starting today, theme parks, resort hotels and Disney Springs come to life with holiday charm and excitement as dazzling décor and a flurry of fun immerse guests in a festive fantasy.

Check out these holiday fun facts and discover how Walt Disney World Resort becomes a winter wonderland!

Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration TV SpecialWalt Disney World Resort

  • The Walt Disney World Holiday Services team provides décor for 780 locations within 41 different properties, including Disney theme parks, resorts, Disney Springs and recreation and shopping areas. The team also decorates Disney Cruise Line ships and Disney Vacation Club resorts in Florida and South Carolina.
  • 41 cast members work year-round to make the holiday transformation a reality, with an additional 119 cast members added during the installation period.
  • Décor installation begins Halloween night and is finished by Thanksgiving.

Magic Kingdom Park           

  • During the holidays, Magic Kingdom is home to 40 trees, 147 wreaths and 590 garlands that measure a total of 5,188 feet.
  • Guests can celebrate the season at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on 23 select nights from November 8 to December 22. This year’s celebration welcomes the dazzling new nighttime spectacular, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks.”
  • Tomorrowland Speedway joins in the merriment of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party for the first time this year with a new holiday overlay that glimmers with thousands of lights and stylized décor. It’s one of Magic Kingdom attractions to feature holiday overlays.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom will celebrate the holidays in full for the first time in its history, with enchanting entertainment and décor in new locations.
  • 148 animal-inspired luminaries will cast a warm and festive glow throughout Discovery Island as a merry menagerie of 10 artisan-sculpted puppets resembling winter animals roam and interact with guests throughout the land.
  • 2,600 light bulbs will adorn the DinoLand U.S.A. water tower, giving the land a festive new look for the holidays.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • The Christmas tree on Echo Lake is 65 feet tall, with a 25-foot-wide base.
  • Sunset Seasons Greetings at Disney’s Hollywood Studios includes 12 high-definition projectors used to visually transform the façade of the Hollywood Tower Hotel with holiday scenes.
  • 21 palm trees along Sunset Boulevard illuminate with programmable, color-changing LED fixtures.
  • Dinosaur Gertie is dressed in her finest holiday attire. Her hat is so big, four people could stand inside it!

Epcot

  • Epcot International Festival of the Holidays takes place November 29 through December 30 and celebrates holiday traditions from around the world through storytelling and music presented throughout World Showcase.
  • Holiday treats are also part of the festival, which includes 13 Holiday Kitchens serving more than 50 bites from around the world and 60-plus specialty
  • The Candlelight Processional will be performed 96 times at Epcot this holiday season with a 50-piece orchestra, mass choir and 12 different celebrity narrators.
  • The Candlelight Processional stage at America Gardens Theatre features Christmas trees that are each 18 feet tall.

Resorts

  • Guests will find a life-size holiday gingerbread house in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. This elaborate 10-foot-wide,15-foot-long and 14-foot-tall structure is covered with more than 10,000 pieces of gingerbread and is the perfect place to pick up holiday sweets and treats.
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its iconic gingerbread Cinderella Castle. This 18-foot-tall display is crafted from more than 5,000 gingerbread shingles, 47 pounds of rolled fondant, 38 pounds of modeling chocolate and much more!
  • This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Holiday Carousel gingerbread display at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. This life-size spinning carousel features 20 “Hidden Mickeys,” Peter Pan-themed horses and handcrafted gingerbread shingles.
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort is home to the tallest Christmas tree at Walt Disney World. This 70-foot-tall tree is adorned with 16,000 lights and more than 200 custom ornaments.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is home to a 45-foot-tall tree featuring authentic African décor and reproductions of traditional African masks.

Disney Springs

  • Disney Springs is the epicenter of holiday shopping at Walt Disney World. It’s also the largest of all of the decorated Disney locations, with more than 2,000 pieces of individual décor, including a 45-foot-tall tree.
  • Each piece of décor was custom designed to fit the classic Florida town theme that carries throughout the entirety of Disney Springs.
  • Disney Springs is also home to the Christmas Tree Trail, a walk through wonderland featuring 23 unique Disney-themed trees.

Merry Christmas, and I hope to see you there!

501 WaysHeading to Disney World this holiday season?

If you are planning a vacation to Disney World, be sure to check out these valuable resources to help you save time and money:

Will you be visiting Walt Disney World this holiday season?
Please leave a comment; we would love to hear from you!

Introducing The New Disney Skyliner

Very soon another big Walt Disney World construction project will be complete and available for guests to enjoy – the Disney Skyliner. This may be “just transportation” to some visitors, but I am so excited for the Disney Skyliner to open and to be able to take my first ride next month. It reminds me of the Skyway in Magic Kingdom that I loved so much as a child and of home here in our Colorado ski resorts.  It’s truly the best of both worlds for me. If you are still having your doubts about what the Disney Skyliner is all about, be sure to check out my earlier post Fact vs. Fiction: Disney Skyliner At Walt Disney World to help answer some of your questions, plus here’s all the latest information about the opening of the new Disney Skyliner courtesy of Disney:

There will soon be magic gliding above the treetops of Walt Disney World Resort when the new Disney Skyliner takes flight September 29, 2019. As much a magic carpet as a complimentary transportation system, Disney Skyliner will soar above waterways and wooded areas alike on its way to theme parks and Disney resort hotels, while wide-eyed guests will be treated to views never before seen.

This “most magical flight on Earth” connects Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and the new Disney’s Riviera Resort, a Disney Vacation Club resort that will open December 16, 2019. With approximately 300 vacation homes, including various accommodation types, Disney’s Riviera Resort will be available for traditional hotel reservations as well as membership sales.

Nearly half of the approximately 300 Disney Skyliner cabins will be wrapped in whimsical Disney scenes – with beloved characters, fan-favorite movies, attractions and more – giving the appearance that Disney pals are riding along with guests. The cabins will be easy to spot overhead, because each gondola will shimmer in one of eight vibrant colors and feature sleek curved lines.

Disney Skyliner guests will discover bird’s-eye views of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, including the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Approaches to Epcot are equally eye-catching, as the countries around World Showcase Lagoon come into view with iconic Spaceship Earth in the distance.

In addition to convenient theme park access, guests staying at Disney resort hotels accessible by Disney Skyliner will have quick-and-easy transportation to a world of other dining and entertainment options. These include all the fun of Disney’s BoardWalk entertainment district, access to Epcot through the International Gateway station, and restaurants and recreation found at the resort hotels serviced by Disney Skyliner.

Disney Skyliner Stations Are Artful Connection Points

The artful stations along the Disney Skyliner route will feature uniquely Disney designs that reflect their surroundings:

  • The Epcot International Gateway station is inspired by the nearby European pavilions in the park. Covered metal and glass canopies, hand-painted murals themed to flight and ornate metal detailing are all in the Art Nouveau style.
  • The Disney’s Riviera Resort station incorporates influences from the Mediterranean coast to produce an elegant portal for guests.
  • The station at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort connects all three routes and extends the architectural details and bright island colors associated with the Caribbean.
  • The Disney’s Hollywood Studios station reflects the Art Decostyle of the park’s main entrance area. Guests arriving on Disney Skyliner will be awestruck as a panoramic view of the park unfolds.
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort share a Disney Skyliner station at Hourglass Lake. Colorful structural forms create a space that feels whimsical and contextual with both resorts. Departing the station, guests will glide above Hourglass Lake and ascend to thrilling views of both resort hotels.

Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Co.®, the official specialty coffee of Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and Disney Vacation Club, will welcome guests with a quick-service location adjacent to the station at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. The menu of coffees, pastries and specialty items will include the new “Toffee Flight Latte” found initially only at the station. The latte blends sea salt caramel toffee and dark chocolate, topped with toffee and chocolate crumbles and a cloud of whipped cream.

Cast Costuming Takes Flight

Disney Skyliner cast members will sport stylish costumes that reflect the sleek, contemporary lines of the transportation system. Costume designers created a mid-century design that recalls 1960s airline travel marking a new era of flight. Clean, streamlined designs of the gondolas are incorporated into the costumes as style elements.

The Newest Way for Guests to Travel Around Walt Disney World Resort

Disney Skyliner joins the network of complimentary Walt Disney World transportation benefits for resort hotel guests allowing them to travel effortlessly around Walt Disney World with a touch of Disney magic. The gondolas join other favorite options such as the world-famous Walt Disney World monorail system along with ferry boats and water taxis, and one-of-a-kind motor coaches.

Fun Facts: Disney Skyliner

  • Project Announced: July 2017
  • Launch Date: September 29, 2019
  • Miles of Cable: 6
  • Number of Lines: 3
  • Loading Stations: 5
  • Number of Gondolas: Nearly 300
  • Maximum Seating Capacity per Gondola: 10
  • Resort Hotels Connected: 4
  • Theme Parks Connected: 2

501 WaysHeading to Disney World soon?

If you are planning a vacation to Disney World, be sure to check out these valuable resources to help you save time and money:

Are you excited to ride the Disney Skyliner?
Please leave a comment; we would love to hear from you!

The New Gran Destino Tower At Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

I just returned from a stay at the new Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Walt Disney World. If you have been following along, you have probably heard mixed reviews from fellow Disney bloggers, vloggers, and fans that either love it or hate it. Personally, I loved it! Gran Destino has the deluxe Walt Disney World resort hotel feel for a moderate resort hotel price. The most common complaints that I have heard is that the Gran Destino Tower isn’t “Disney” enough. Yes, it’s true, Gran Destino isn’t overly “Disney” in fact, it isn’t overly themed at all. It reminds me a bit like staying at Bay Lake Tower, the Disney Dream cruise ship, the Bellagio in Vegas, or a high end Marriott anywhere in the world. So while Gran Destino Tower might not have the detail and theming that guests come to expect at Walt Disney World from resorts like Art of Animation, it definitely has its place in the line up of hotels. The Gran Destino is a great fit for solo travelers and couples looking for quiet elegance, subtle theming, luxurious rooms, and upscale dining. If you’re considering a stay at the Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resorts, check out these details courtesy of Disney:

Celebrating the rich cultures and vibrant landscapes of Spain, Mexico and the American Southwest through contemporary design and Old World traditions, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort shines with renewed luster. Recently, the resort completed a multiyear re-imagining focused on today’s travelers, marking the official debut of a new tower, new restaurants and a new arrival experience.

The new Gran Destino Tower rises dramatically on the southeastern shores of Lago Dorado (“Golden Lake”), the resort’s 22-acre lake. The tower offers 545 modern guest rooms (including 50 suites and club-level services), a grand two-story lobby, new meeting venues, and a rooftop restaurant and lounge with spectacular views. The distinctive tower becomes the stylish new gateway to the 2,385-room resort.

Gran Destino Tower takes its name from the classic Disney film “Destino.” Drawing inspiration from the surrealist animated short, the tower is a whimsical, magnificent visual feast, diverse in its design and execution. The tower’s outdoor Destino Plaza are also ideal for weddings, business receptions or other special events.

Past its grand entrance and signature ribbon-patterned design that climbs up the side of Gran Destino Tower, guests step into a stunning lobby – an homage to the Catalan Modernism style. On their way to check in, new arrivals pass intricate wooden screens with rows of beautiful Moorish hanging lanterns, while decorative bronze screens inspired by Spanish tile patterns accent the rear wall of the lobby.

The warm colors and patterns of Barcelona inspire the sun-filled Barcelona Lounge on the lobby’s lower level, offering plenty of casual seating and lake views. Beneath a magnificent chandelier framed by sculpted plaster columns, guests can enjoy coffee in the morning and cocktails as the day progresses.

The Catalan theme extends to the tower’s stylish new guest rooms and suites. A wall covering in each room is inspired by Spanish tile medallions, adding an Old World touch to a contemporary design. The new tower also offers club-access rooms for guests who want to enjoy the benefits of the Chronos Club. The club boasts commanding views of Walt Disney World Resort and cast members who can assist with vacation planning. Light refreshments are available throughout the day.

Each tower guest room also offers a new interactive television system that provides a more customized and Disney differentiated in-room experience. This new television system will enhance the guest experience with Disney-quality services, content and personalization. For example, guests can view their Disney PhotoPass images on the large screen and stream their entertainment services from their personal devices to the in-room television.

Gran Destino Tower is crowned by dramatic rooftop dining locations, Tolédo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood and Dahlia Lounge, offering breathtaking views of Walt Disney World from the tower’s 16th floor. Named for the storied Spanish city home to avant-garde writers and artists of the 1920s and ’30s, Tolédo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood is a table-service dining experience. The Spanish-inspired menu features entrees like chuletón, a 32-ounce, Spanish-style ribeye for two, as well as sustainable seafood and classic Spanish sides. It’s all served in a setting that features live olive trees, vibrant colors and an intricate vaulted ceiling with stained-glass accents. There’s also an onstage tapas kitchen inspired by the flavors of Spain, specializing in small plates, charcuteríá and cheeses.

The adjacent Dahlia Lounge takes its mesmerizing shapes and swirling patterns from Spanish Modernism, inviting guests into an intimate, artful space where they can enjoy signature cocktails and panoramic views.

As part of the broader re-imagining of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, three new pedestrian bridges now extend across Lago Dorado, allowing for quick and convenient passage to and from all parts of the resort. In the middle of the lake at the nexus of these new pathways is Villa del Lago (“Lake Villa”), home to a new outdoor restaurant, Three Bridges Bar & Grill. The open-air, waterfront dining location offers delicious entrees and shareables, along with refreshing cocktails and signature sangria pitchers. Three Bridges Bar & Grill features a rustic, Old World charm anchored by a large stone hearth behind the central bar.

These new experiences complement the wide array of amenities and experiences at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, including floating gardens, scenic nature trails and palm-shaped courtyards. Throughout the resort, guests can enjoy a diverse collection of dining options, including:

  • Maya Grill – A grand Mexican dining room featuring ancient-modern styling and Nuevo Latino cuisines.
  • Rix Sports Bar & Grill – A stylish establishment with a unique spin on classic bar food.
  • El Mercado de Coronado – A food court filled with kitchens serving made-to-order breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a wide array of options so there’s something for everyone.
  • Café Rix – A charming grab-and-go location offering pastries, coffee and tasty snacks.
  • Laguna Bar – A breezy lakeside lounge boasting signature cocktails.
  • Siestas Cantina – A poolside hideaway to unwind with refreshing beverages and snacks.

Shoppers can delight in an updated Panchito’s merchandise location. Named after one of the main characters from the Disney film “The Three Caballeros,” Panchito’s resembles an open-air Mexican market.

The Dig Site – a sprawling pool complex with a Mayan-ruins theme – is fed by water cascading dramatically down a Mayan pyramid and features a water slide that evokes the spirit animal of a jaguar. The Dig Site can be accessed via the new bridges over Lago Dorado.

All existing guest rooms at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort were updated with new fixtures, furnishings and lighting. Guest feedback helped shape the room remodel that introduced an expansive desk space, hard-surface floors, platform beds and more. In addition, a fresh, sophisticated new color palette ties together the entire resort experience.

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is now a celebration of Spanish, Mexican and American Southwest cultures, infused with a profound respect for the natural world – most notably water. These design motifs span centuries to form a common thread that connects the new with the newly re-imagined.

For more information or to book a room at the Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, please call 407-W-DISNEY or click here.

501 WaysHeading to Disney World soon?

If you are planning a vacation to Disney World, be sure to check out these valuable resources to help you save time and money:

Are you excited to stay at the Gran Destino Tower?
Please leave a comment; we would love to hear from you!