12 secrets behind Walt Disney World’s magical holiday decorations

Each year, Walt Disney World gets a special holiday makeover.

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Each year, Walt Disney World gets a special holiday makeover.
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Gerardo Mora / Contributor/Getty

The holiday season begins early at Walt Disney World, with the official kick-off date this year being Friday, November 8.

And as the park gets festive, guests may not notice all of the work that goes on behind the scenes.

Here are some interesting things you might not have known about how Walt Disney World decorates for the holidays.


One special team does all of the decorating for the park.

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There are entire jobs dedicated to decorating for the holidays.
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Megan duBois

The holiday-services team provides decor for almost 800 locations across Walt Disney World, the Disney Cruise Line, and Disney Vacation Club Resorts.

This team consists of about 41 cast members who work year-round and an additional 90 people who seasonally help with all of the decorations.


You’re not imagining it — Magic Kingdom really does get decorated overnight.

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For Disney parks, there’s no major break between Halloween and Christmas.
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Megan duBois

Thanks to a dedicated decorating crew, the park transforms into a festive wonderland overnight.

After the final Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party of the year, the park swaps out its Mickey-shaped pumpkins for Mickey-shaped wreaths.


During the holidays, a Toy Story Land ride gets special sound effects.

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Slinky Dog Dash plays a jingle-bell sound during the holidays.
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Disney Parks

Toy Story Land embraces the holidays with a 10-foot-tall Hamm sugar cookie and it also has some fun with sound.

While riding the Slinky Dog Dash during the holiday season, guests can hear jingle bells as each car goes by.


There are 29 different custom trees across Walt Disney World and every ornament on them is custom-made.

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Each item was custom-designed for the trees.
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Gerardo Mora / Contributor/Getty

Across Walt Disney World there are 29 custom-created Christmas trees that range from 15-feet to 70-feet tall.

Disney’s Contemporary Resort is home to the tallest tree that, at 70 feet, has more than 15,000 lights and over 200 custom-made ornaments.


Disney Springs is the largest decorated area at Disney World, and it contains over 2,000 different decorations.

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The place gets transformed for the holidays.
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Megan duBois

Disney Springs is 120 acres of shopping, dining, and entertainment – and it’s also the largest space that Disney decorates for the holidays.

To spruce the place up for the season, the team uses over 2,000 individual decorations and a 45-foot decorated tree.


Each holiday season, Cinderella Castle gets covered in over 200,000 lights.

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The lighting of the castle is a big deal.
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Megan duBois

One of the best parts of the holidays at Walt Disney World is the nightly lighting of Cinderella Castle.

Throughout the season, the castle twinkles and shines with over 200,000 lights.

The lights are made into custom nets that lay over certain parts of the castle, and each individual light on the strand is tested every year to ensure it hasn’t gone out.


Magic Kingdom is filled with hundreds of garlands.

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The style of the garland changes depending on which park you’re in.
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Megan duBois

For the holiday season, Magic Kingdom gets decked out with about 590 garlands and nearly 150 wreaths.

And, as you may notice, these decorations change to fit the vibe of the area you’re in. Main Street USA features classic decor whereas Tomorrowland’s festive embellishments are silvery and ultra-modern.


During the holidays, Hollywood Studios’ iconic dinosaur gets a hat that’s big enough to fit four people inside of it.

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The hat is pretty massive.
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Megan duBois

Located near Echo Lake in Hollywood Studios, Dinosaur Gertie towers over the park year-round. But during the holidays she wears a Santa hat that can fit four people inside of it.


Some of the seasonal statues at Hollywood Studios are inspired by vintage ornaments.

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These deer look just like ornaments from the 1950s.
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Megan duBois

Up until recently, Disney’s Hollywood Studios was the park with the most minimal holiday decorations.

But over the past few years, the area got seasonal decorations around Echo Lake and they’re all designed to be retro, with pale colors and custom designs. For example, the deer statues are inspired by vintage ornaments from the 1950s.


One Disney resort annually has a full-sized gingerbread house that takes hundreds of hours to make.

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The house is taller than the guests.
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Megan duBois

There’s a reason Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa smells like gingerbread during the holiday season – the resort annually has a massive gingerbread house in the middle of its lobby.

In past years, it’s been 14-feet tall and has taken 560 hours to complete, from baking to construction.


Disney’s Contemporary Resort gingerbread display contains thousands of cookie shingles.

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The display, of course, has hidden Mickeys.
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Megan duBois

This year, the Cinderella Castle gingerbread display is celebrating 10 years at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Interestingly, it is crafted in the same style as the Mary Blair mosaic that can be found in the resort’s atrium.

The impressive house has over 5,000 decorative gingerbread shingles – and a number of hidden Mickeys.


During the holiday season, the American Adventure at Epcot gets a special display that is made out of over 50 pounds of gingerbread.

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It contains 20 pounds of icing, too.
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Megan duBois

Inside the American Adventure at Epcot, visitors can find a seasonal gingerbread display of the US Capitol Building, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Memorial.

This display, which has hidden Mickeys throughout, is built using over 50 pounds of gingerbread and 20 pounds of icing.

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