If you’re planning on visiting Walt Disney World during the upcoming holiday season, you might be thinking about a behind the scenes tour. There are two seasonal tours offered, and on July 20 I had a chance to get a sneak peek at both of them. We only took a small part of the Holiday D-Lights Tour, but we did experience most of what Yuletide Fantasy is all about. Here are some of the highlights.
Our group met at Epcot, and we climbed onto a bus. We were given earpieces and listening devices for the tour, which made it easy to know what was going on at all times. On the televisions on the bus a yule log with the occasional Disney flair played. Joey, who is with Adventures by Disney, was our guide, and he was fantastic. He shared tons of interesting information with us on our journey. Jennessa (please forgive me if I spelled your name wrong) was also there, offering help, answering questions, and doing pretty much anything else that we needed to have done. There was water for everyone on the bus.
We started with a small part of the Holiday D-Lights Tour. No one is allowed to take pictures in backstage areas, if you sign up for any tour keep that in mind. We went into the building that is designated for Event Decorating Support. This is where they store most of the Christmas decorations that are used at Walt Disney World, as well as decorations for other Disney properties. We saw row after row of decorations, and were given a brief explanation of how they are sorted. We also walked through a room where they’re working on various projects, including the trees for the Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs. That will be up to 25 trees this year.
After touring the building we went back to the front, where we learned some general information. There was plenty of interesting trivia, things such as at the Candlelight Processional the choir members in gold robes are school aged kids who auditioned, while the green robes are Cast Members who also auditioned. We learned a lot about the lights on Cinderella Castle. There are about 350,000 lights on the castle each holiday season, and maintenance on them starts in May. The amount of electricity used to light all those lights each night is equivalent to three loads of laundry; they’re that energy efficient. The nights are installed and then again removed by a team of 16. The lights stay on Cinderella Castle through the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, to make things more magical for the runners. We were also given some information on fireworks at Epcot.
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The full Holiday D-Lights Tour lasts six hours, and includes a meal at Whispering Canyon Cafe. All guests must be at least 12 in order to participate. The cost is $279 per person. If you’d like more information, or to make a reservation for one of the 16 dates, call 407-WDW-TOUR (407-939-8687). The tours begin on November 26.
After we were done with our abbreviated Holiday D-Lights Tour, we moved on to Yuletide Fantasy. A good part of this tour takes place in the Disney Event Group building, which is the home of Disney Floral & Gifts. Again, no backstage pictures are allowed. We got to see several Cast Members as they worked to create memories. We learned a lot about this special group. They do everything from delivering birthday cakes to select restaurants, to creating in room memories, to making centerpieces for corporate events. We could just feel the creativity in the building as we walked through. Since we were surrounded by thousands of flowers, it also smelled fantastic.
Our next stop was Disney Springs, where we headed to Amorette’s Patisserie. We first learned a bit about the location and the types of things that they create. We also were told that they have big plans for the 2018 holiday season. We saw pieces of the gingerbread Disney Springs that they created last year. Next was the best part. We got to decorate a macaron and turn it into a unicorn. On the actual tour it will be a gingerbread treat that is decorated, but since that doesn’t begin until November we made unicorns as a substitute. I am not at all creative when it comes to food, but this was a blast. My finished product could have looked worse (see photos below!).
The Yuletide Fantasy Tour ends at Disney Springs, but there is a bus to take people back to Epcot if they want. The cost is $139 per person, and all guests must be at least 12 years old. It runs on select dates from November 19 through December 29. For more information or to make your reservation, call 407-WDW-TOUR (407-939-8687). If what we experienced is any indication of what it will be like this holiday season, I highly recommend either tour.