If you love decorating for the Christmas holiday season, you’re in good company. Christmas decorations are a huge part of the holiday season for millions of Americans.
In the United States alone, approximately 100 million households decorate a Christmas tree (or multiple trees) in celebration of the season, and according to a survey by Treetopia, many of those Americans love the holiday decoration so much, that they often decorate one in their homes long before December 25 arrives. On average, Californians decorate their holiday evergreens 6 weeks before Christmas, while Delaware residents decorate their trees 3.3 weeks before Christmas Day.
Texans decorate their massive trees 5.3 weeks before Christmas, but Americans living in Rhode Island and South Carolina love their Christmas trees the most, as according to the survey, they decorate their iconic symbols nearly 7 weeks before Christmas!
But the parks and resorts at the Walt Disney World Resort, as well as Disney Springs, have even Rhode Islanders and South Carolinians beat, as decorating for the Christmas holiday season begins as soon as each Disney Park closes on Halloween night, nearly two full months before Old St. Nick makes his annual toy delivery across the globe, which isn’t surprising when you consider the number of bows, ribbons, boughs of holly, ornaments, and festive evergreens Disney World displays every year.
And perhaps one of the most iconic staples of holiday season decorations at the Walt Disney World Resort is the gingerbread house at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Disney fans have loved it since 1999–the first year the Grand Floridian ever had a giant gingerbread house in its main lobby. For many, seeing the house is a holiday tradition. Seeing the huge gingerbread display is a truly magical experience! It wasn’t on display last year because of COVID, so when it arrived for the 2021 holiday season, it was a welcome sight!
The 2021 gingerbread house featured a new look in celebration of Disney World’s 50th anniversary!
But earlier today, a member of the Disney World Junkies group on Facebook posted a photo she took that didn’t feel magical at all. In her post, Lauren Janelle captions the photo by saying, “It’s a sad day at Grand Floridian, but it sure does smell good while they’re dismantling it!!!”
It’s sad to think about the adorable 14-foot-tall gingerbread house being taken apart. After all, it’s has been a Guest favorite since 1999, and its construction is no small feat.
But the story of the Grand Floridian gingerbread house doesn’t end when the holidays are over. In fact, it doesn’t end until winter is over!
Every year, after New Year’s Day, every piece of gingerbread is removed from the house structure. But the sugar used in baking and decorating is left behind; it covers the whole structure! Because of this, Disney’s Cast Members power wash the structure at the Disney Tree Farm.
After that, bees at the Tree Farm eat the remaining sugar as a food source throughout the winter. Think of it as a “You scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours” scenario, as the bees have full bellies because of the house, and the structure gets completely cleaned off by the bees, thus helping the Grand Floridian staff.
The recipe for the giant gingerbread house calls for 1,050 pounds of honey, 800 pounds of flour, 600 pounds of chocolate, 600 pounds of powdered sugar, 140 pints of egg whites, 35 pounds of various spices, and of course, some Disney magic and pixie dust!
Baking the 5,000 gingerbread shingles takes more than 400 hours, and 160 hours are spent putting together the giant house and decorating it.
Each year, the gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian features a Hidden Mickey. Can’t find it from where you’re standing? You’re always invited to move around the perimeter of the house and search for it.
The bake shop housed inside the gingerbread structure always has sweet treats available for purchase. You can even buy gingerbread shingles to take home and enjoy!