It takes a lot of planning and of course a little bit of magic to transform Walt Disney World’s parks and resorts for the holidays. Sometimes, the Disney teams only have a few hours or days to pull it all off!
“One of the most unique things is when we transform from Halloween to Christmas. It appears that we have decorated in just one night but actually it takes us three nights to decorate Magic Kingdom. When we decorate Disney’s cruise ships, we have less than six hours,” Lisa Borotkanics, Disney’s manager of holiday services, told ABC News.
With less than 27 days to decorate Disneyland, Disney’s resorts and cruise lines, Borotkanics and her team have to work as quickly as Santa’s elves. The Walt Disney World Holiday Services team provides decor for 780 locations within 41 different properties.
“Every night when we decorate, there are over 160 people for the effort. We plan a year in advance,” she said.
While only 41 cast members work year-round on the holiday transformations, the project is truly a collaboration between the teams.
“When you come to our parks, there’s one thing you’ve got to know – everyone is decorating together,” Borotkanics said. “From food and beverage to the beautiful pastry displays to merchandise displays and, of course, all the decorations outside.”
Here is what it takes to pull it all off.
16,000 lights and more than 200 custom ornaments.
596 smaller trees – ranging from 2 to 14 feet – decorate other areas across Walt Disney World.
29 custom-created iconic trees, ranging from 15 to 70 feet tall. Trees find their homes at all four theme parks, select resort hotels and Disney Springs. Stars and toppers for the trees are up to 7 feet tall and can weigh more than 200 pounds each.
590 garlands (measuring a total of 5,188 feet) can be found at Magic Kingdom inside Walt Disney World.
25,000 C-7 shaped LED lights and 40,000 mini-LED lights are in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
10,000 pieces of gingerbread. It takes 560 hours to construct the life-size gingerbread house in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
70 feet tall – is the tallest tree - located at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
12 holiday kitchens serving more than 50 bites from around the world.
117 performances of the candlelight processional will happen at Epcot.
2,000 pieces of individual decor, including a 45-foot-tall tree decorate Disney Springs.
The decorations have become a tradition for Disney's parks and resorts, as well as many visitors. Rave Troan, Walt Disney World’s marketing strategist, hopes visitors leave full of memories and cheer.
“It’s traditions, it’s storytelling, it’s spending time together unplugged and really taking it all in and taking it with you for years to come,” she said.
Disney is the parent company of ABC News.
Editor's note: This was originally published on Dec. 20, 2018.