Even on the average day, Disney is “the Happiest Place on Earth.” Once Main Street gets the Christmas treatment — twinkle lights, poinsettias, and snowy accents — Disneyland truly becomes the “Merriest Place on Earth.” But how does all that magic happen?
Well, Disneyland Resort Enhancement Manager Dawn Keehne and the 10-person Holiday Services Team have been hard at work this year’s decorations, which went up November 8, since last February. As soon as the Halloween festivities wrapped, decorators a.k.a. “Disney’s holiday elves” began transforming the resort during daily overnights shifts.
Despite holding true to classic decorating ideas — the Main Street Christmas tree, for example — Keehne notes that each year offers a blank slate: “There’s so much to play with when it comes to Christmas, but overall our decorations are meant to be immersive and interactive for the guests.” As someone who has spent Christmas day at Disney, I can confirm it’s 100% true.
“When you first enter the park, you see the main Christmas tree with the twinkling castle peeking through the background. Seconds later, you get a whiff of the food stand and in an instant, the snow starts to fall. That’s what success looks like to us.”
The Main Street Christmas tree stands 60-feet tall and is dressed with 1,500 ornaments and 100 oversized faux candles. After replacing the Christmas tree last year, Keehne and her team decided to “pare it back to show what it would be like during the turn of the century.” As a result, they modeled the 1,500 ornaments after glass ones from the early 1900s. The key to the tree’s Insta-worthy beauty, according to Keehne, is the strategic decorating style. “Not only do we hang them off the bottom, but we wire ornaments to the tops of branches to create clusters deep within the tree as well as on the outside,” she explains. That way each guest can catch its sparkle, no matter the angle.
The tree is just the start: Take a look at Disneyland’s Christmas decorations by the numbers.
- The buildings along Main Street U.S.A. are decorated with 220 garlands that measure more than four miles long, along with approximately 80 wreaths and 120 bows.
- Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle shines bright day and night with more than 126,000 twinkling LED lights and icicles.
- About 10,000 poinsettias and 10,000 cyclamen are installed around the resort.
- There are 300 Christmas trees scattered throughout the resort.
- More than 400,000 twinkling lights give “it’s a small world” the holiday treatment. It takes a team of 36 cast members 35 days to install the twinkling exterior.
And while you may not have a trip to Disneyland on the horizon (yet), Keehne suggests that anyone who needs a dose of holiday magic, should visit the resort to see the spectacle IRL. “Nothing beats walking through a snow-covered Main St. USA in warm California weather,” she laughs. Exactly.
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