It was 7:14 a.m., and friends have been beginning to line-up outdoors the gates to start out their day within the Magic Kingdom. However contained in the park, out of view, the final two vacation wreaths of the evening have been nonetheless being put in slightly below the prepare station. When these excited friends would stroll in simply half-hour later, they would not know what was taking place inside mere moments earlier.
For the friends who left the park nicely after midnight with Halloween decorations nonetheless in place to return the next morning to see the Magic Kingdom completely remodeled for the vacations, it actually feels prefer it will need to have occurred with the wave of a magic wand. And that is not totally false, as it’s magical, even once you see how the magic occurs.
In actuality, turning Magic Kingdom, then a Halloween-themed land, into the “Merriest Place on Earth” in a single day takes months of planning, preparation, onerous work and fairly a couple of sleepless nights.
This yr, TPG had the chance to remain up by way of the wee hours and see Disney’s magical vacation transformation in motion. Here is what it takes to make the Magic Kingdom very merry between the hours of about 1 a.m. and when the park opens at 9 a.m.
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The large evening(s)
The merry makeover started when the ultimate friends filtered out of the Magic Kingdom at 1:17 a.m. Inside simply three minutes, at 1:20 a.m., a rigorously prlanned procession of pickup vehicles and aerial lifts paraded into the Magic Kingdom, able to get right down to enterprise.
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By 1:30 a.m., the primary Halloween garlands got here down. With simply over seven hours to finish the transformation, there is no such thing as a time to waste. The subsequent few hours have been a flurry of exercise, with solid members concurrently taking down each hint of Halloween and changing it with Christmas cheer.
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Within the first hour, aerial lifts eliminated bunting from excessive atop the retailers alongside Fundamental Avenue, U.S.A, solid members on ladders rigorously unclipped fall garlands from their dangle factors and carts loaded with wrapped Christmas decor have been positioned all alongside City Sq., Fundamental Avenue and the hub in entrance of Cinderella Fortress.
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By 2:30 a.m., nearly all of the Halloween decor had been taken down and carted out of the park and was already being changed with embellished inexperienced garlands. On the identical time, Disney’s horticulture workforce was eradicating the autumnal-colored crops and getting ready backyard beds to be planted with purple and inexperienced vegetation.
At 3:00 a.m., the park went quiet as most solid members took a brief break earlier than powering by way of the remainder of their work. In truth, this was the half the place it was a bit of onerous to maintain our eyes open, too.
By 4 a.m., the horticulture workforce was onerous at work including new crops to the backyard beds. The pace and accuracy with which they dug small holes within the dust and stuffed these holes with flowers was astonishing.
It was additionally round this time that the park began to really feel extra holly and jolly because the wreaths have been being unpacked and colourful lights started to light up the decor that had already been hung up.
At 6 a.m., with lower than two hours to go earlier than the primary friends would enter the park, there was not a hint of Halloween left within the Magic Kingdom.
Wreaths and garlands have been being hung and securely fixed, and the symphony of sounds and beeps from the vehicles that had briefly taken over the park have been starting to dissipate.
About an hour later, near 7 a.m., the solar was beginning to seem and the streets have been virtually cleared. Only some solid members have been nonetheless within the park, placing on the ending touches. Shockingly — or perhaps not, given Disney’s meticulous consideration to element — as friends lined up on the entrance gates, solid members have been nonetheless sweeping up the ultimate traces of the night’s occasions.
It might appear like chaos, nevertheless it’s a rigorously choreographed manufacturing the place not one single element is left to probability. “Every evening, our crew meets right here at Vacation Companies to get a map of the place they’re going and what they’re going to be doing. It is all laid out for them,” Disney Vacation Companies lead designer and purchaser Ed Miles advised TPG.
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It does take two full nights to fully set up Magic Kingdom’s Christmas decor. The second evening is reserved for ending touches just like the Fundamental Avenue candle wreaths, the nutcrackers in City Sq. and the park’s show-stopping 65-foot-tall Christmas tree.
Every year, the tree is transported in sections on vehicles and put in piece-by-piece by crane the next evening whereas friends are tucked snugly of their beds (with visions of sugar plums dancing of their heads, maybe). It takes many of the evening to put in every bit of the tree, so this large piece of decor will get its personal devoted set up evening as a result of time and crane work concerned.
Seeing Disney magic remodel in particular person was a sight to behold, however this was solely made attainable in only a few hours due to the 364 different nights every year that Disney spends in anticipation of the large evening.
Setting the stage
So, how precisely does Disney put together 12 months a yr for one thing that occurs on this one evening? Nicely, they’ve a full workforce and loads of area for starters.
Just a few days earlier than the large decor switchover, TPG toured one of many Vacation Companies warehouses situated simply behind the Magic Kingdom with Miles whereas preparations for the decor flip have been in full swing.
With simply days to go earlier than the ‘large day,’ it was surprisingly quiet within the warehouse throughout our go to. In the event you visited Vacation Companies another time of yr, it could be all aflutter that point of day. Within the week main as much as the vacation changeover, nevertheless, most Vacation Companies solid members and assist workers swap to the evening shift, each to prepared their our bodies and the park for the large evening.
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“We ensure every little thing is prepared forward of time so when the evening comes, they’ll simply dangle and fluff,” Miles stated.
There may be really quite a bit that may be completed contained in the park beforehand, whereas friends stay none the wiser. “We examine all of the dangle factors [for the wreaths and garland] and all the electrical wiring for the lights to make sure every little thing is safe,” Miles stated.
Again on the warehouse, the Vacation Companies workforce is loading semis, field vehicles and flatbeds with decor. “The logistics is admittedly unbelievable as a result of we’ve got to know precisely what gear goes to every location and the place we will park it,” Miles stated. He additionally defined that due to the time constraints, each truck have to be loaded in line with how it is going to be unloaded.
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Vacation is a 365-day occasion
Simply as Santa and his elves toil all yr to organize for Christmas, Disney has a devoted Vacation Companies workforce that spends 12 months a yr getting ready to brighten the parks, accommodations, cruise ships and seashore resorts in Vero Seaside and Hilton Head.
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The Vacation Companies workforce employs about 60 full-time solid members and even has its personal model of Santa’s workshops within the type of three warehouses with a complete of 175,000 sq. toes of cupboard space for greater than 45,000 items of vacation decor.
When the workforce aren’t scurrying in regards to the Magic Kingdom as we witnessed, they’re inspecting, refurbishing and changing each piece of decor to make sure it’s show-ready. On any given day, you will discover solid members making bows (they use hen wire to assist them maintain their form), testing strings of lights, portray ornaments, including foliage to wreaths and finessing an all method of tree-trimmings.
They’re additionally working with groups from throughout the resort to create themed bushes and decor for Disney’s numerous parks, accommodations and the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll to create a down-to-the-minute grasp plan for the in a single day transformations.
In anticipation of the large evening, all the decor is rigorously wrapped on numbered, color-coded carts and bushes as excessive as 70 toes tall specified by sections on flatbed vehicles, all able to be transported and put in at their designated places.
Every cart has a map that particulars precisely the place and the way its contents must be put in, and each department on each tree is lit and embellished so it is able to be put in.
When it is go time, everybody is aware of precisely the place to go and what to do to completely remodel Disney right into a winter wonderland.
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One in every of Mile’s favourite issues to do the day after Magic Kingdom’s vacation transformation is full is to face on the Walt Disney World Railroad Fundamental Avenue, U.S.A. prepare platform because the park opens for the day.
“I really like watching what folks gravitate towards and listening to them say, ‘Wow! This wasn’t right here yesterday. It grew to become Christmas in a single day,'” Miles stated. “The mother and father are amazed simply as a lot as the youngsters are,” he added.
We could not consider a greater option to finish our lengthy evening than by following in Miles’ footsteps, so after an evening within the parks, we headed to the Magic Kingdom because the solar rose and climbed the steps to the highest of the Fundamental Avenue prepare platform to look at the merriment.
The amazement on the friends’ faces was no completely different than our personal, though we had seen all of it occur proper earlier than our eyes. After experiencing it firsthand, we realized that the true magic of Disney is not Tinkerbell’s pixie mud or the beloved fairytales we grew up with; it is the individuals who put each ounce of their pleasure, ardour and onerous work into making fantasy a actuality.