Yuletide Fantasy Tour 2012 – Our Review

We had lovely weather last Monday for the very first Holiday Tour of the 2012 Christmas/Holiday Season at Walt Disney World.

Although we weren’t terribly keen on repeating this tour after our excursion in 2010 (here), we decided to give it another try.

We were tickled when we saw Monica (she was one of our tour guides for the Holiday D-Lites Tour in 2010)

The short description at the official “Tours and Experiences at Walt Disney World Resort” reads…

Find out how the Walt Disney World Resort is transformed into a winter wonderland each year and go “backstage” for an exclusive look at the artistry and planning required to decorate all our Theme Parks and Resort Hotels.

This isn’t really what we experienced in 2010, nor was it what we did this year…

The detailed description hasn’t changed…

Take a delightful journey behind the scenes to see how Walt Disney World Resort is transformed into an international holiday wonderland. Get an in-depth look into the diverse holiday traditions and the stunningly beautiful array of decorations that add a special touch everywhere you turn.

Every winter, Walt Disney World Resort is adorned with one of the most impressive collections of holiday trimmings on earth. Be taken backstage, to places seldom seen by Guests. Visit Holiday Services, a veritable winter wonderland, and meet the Cast Members who create thousands of decorations used to dress up Disney Theme Parks and Resorts.

Explore Epcot theme park, where the profusion of holiday celebrations spans the globe from pavilion to pavilion. Go from Christmasfest in Germany, to Italy for the legend of La Befana. Take in Hanukkah and Kwanzaa at The American Adventure and the New Year festival, O-Shogatsu, in Japan.

On Main Street, U.S.A. in Magic Kingdom theme park, get an up-close look at the boughs and bells of the traditional Christmas decorations. And before you leave the tour, visit a Disney Resort hotel, cleverly dressed up in holiday finery.

Rather than repeating things from 2010, here are new bits for 2012…

Warning – Spoiler Alert

Our guides this year were Monica (who you’ve already met if you followed our links) and Holly (isn’t that a great name for a Holiday Tour Guide?); our magical sleigh driver a.k.a. bus driver was Maria. Again, the focus was on the traditions of Christmas, more specifically how those traditions are presented at Walt Disney World during the winter holidays with some discussion amongst tour participants about any of our personal holiday traditions (this part didn’t play really well, it wasn’t a very outgoing group of 30+, maybe it would have been with a smaller group?)

The Tour…

First stop was Germany at Epcot, this year in addition to hearing about Christmas Trees, Glass Ornaments, Silent Night, and the Pickle Ornament (although this year it wasn’t presented as a myth), we learned about the Bridal Set of Ornaments – this was entirely new to us. This is a traditional gift set (although we’re not sure how old the tradition is <smile>) containing 12 ornaments, each representing a different wish or hope for the newlywed couple:

  • bird = joy
  • angel = God’s guidance
  • basket of flowers = good wishes
  • fruit basket = generosity
  • fish = Christ’s blessing
  • heart = true love
  • house = shelter and protection
  • pinecone = fertility
  • rabbit = hope
  • teapot = hospitality
  • Santa = goodwill
  • rose = love and affection

We continued on to Italy where Monica pointed out that the colors were more subdued than those seen in Germany, the decor in Italy is representative of the Renaissance Period. We heard about the creche (Nativity Scene), Saturnalia, La Befana, and that the Epiphany is more important than December 25th in terms of gift giving (Christmas Day being a religious day rather than a gift orgy).

We also visited America and Japan, the stories were the same as two years ago.

Then we left Epcot through a gate next to Morocco (nick noticed quite a few of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival booths parked along the side of the road backstage). While we were on the bus heading to the Grand Floridian, Monica told us stories about the Yule Log and about mistletoe (specifically about Baldur and Frigga (a.k.a. Freya – nod to Asta & Mrs Asta).

The visit to the Grand Floridian was pretty standard, no roasted chesnuts this year though. We were given a copy of the gingerbread recipe and instructions on how to make our own gingerbread house at home – it’s actually a two stage dough (you make a honey dough and then that rests/ages for a while, then you make the spice dough and combine the two).

When we left the Grand Floridian, we went over to the Magic Kingdom – this part of the tour wasn’t that pleasant, we arrived just as the Move It Shake It Celebrate It parade was coming down the street and it was LOUD… We eventually made it to the little “alleyway” on the right hand side of Main Street, we looked at the window displays and were told about the genesis of candy canes.

Our last stop was Holiday Services backstage. Other than a continuing desire to dig through all the bins and boxes, there wasn’t really anything new during this part of the tour either.

This year we received a snack and a pin…

A Christmas Mickey Head Rice Crispie Treat – the part with the red chocolate is the best!

Yuletide Fantasy pin for this year (it doesn’t have the date on it)

So… we were right in 2010, this tour wasn’t really what the brief description promises; also, because of our familiarity with Walt Disney World, it wasn’t anything new for us. Disregarding that… it did kick-start us into the spirit of the Holidays and that’s good 🙂

Later this week, we’ll be taking the Holiday D-Lights Tour – it seems that it has undergone some changes since we did it in 2010.

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