And at this joyful time of year we want you to be with us.
So get around a lovely tree where all the lights are shining.
We'll be as happy as can be while all the bells are shining."
As a bonus entry into this If I Were Disney CEO series, a festive holiday treat focusing on holiday offerings for the stateside Disney parks. I'm of the opinion that few can celebrate the season like Disney and would love to ramp up and diversify the offerings that the parks have. I'm focusing on the stateside parks, because while the international parks do celebrate, the offerings are nowhere close to the extent that the stateside parks undertake. Were I to elaborate on the international parks, I would want to focus on the celebrations and customs within the particular country.
With that in mind, my goals for this exercise are to give each stateside park a unique feeling for the Christmas season, focusing on a particular component of the holidays and playing into the parks strengths. One thing I will discuss specifically for each park to highlight the unique attributes is the tree lighting ceremony. Each park should have one, and they should each be unique and reflect that specific park.
Today, the Disneyland Resort.
Disneyland Park plays heavily into nostalgia and the holiday offerings should do the same. I want to expand from the current offerings to build out a full celebration of the season that also celebrates the magic of Disneyland itself. Accordingly, here is my holiday wishlist for Disneyland:
- Haunted Mansion Holiday - why break what is working. A holiday overlay of the Haunted Mansion with Nightmare Before Christmas characters that completely transforms the experience into a new ride. Now in its 17th year, the ride keeps getting better and better.
- it's a small world holiday - a holiday overlay now in its 21st year, the ride gains thousands of Christmas lights as well as a medley of Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls, and it's a small world. This is my favorite version of the ride.
- Forgo the Jingle Cruise - While the Jingle Cruise was a fun overlay, I think it works better in the Magic Kingdom. I would focus on a different Adventureland attraction for the seasonal offering.
- The Tropical Holiday Tiki Room overlay - I would propose an overlay for the Enchanted Tiki Room complete with Mele Kalikimaka, Santa's Hula, The Twelve Days of Christmas or maybe Numbah One Day of Christmas (all the birds). You can even have a Very Merry Holly Jolly Tiki Room. And this can spill over into the new Tropical Hideaway area.
- The minor overlay in the Storybook Land Canal Boats - I love how all of the little miniatures in the Canal Boats get Christmas decorations. This should absolutely be continued and if we could carve out a space for it at Christmas time, I would love to add one for Santa's workshop.
- A Christmas Show in the Golden Horseshoe - There should always be a show in the Golden Horseshoe and there should be a Christmas one. Perhaps this holiday version could combine a version of The Gift of the Magi with various Christmas carols and music, all through a western interpretation.
- Decorations in Tomorrowland - I would love to see how a 1950s Jetson-future Christmas would look. All the lands get decorations except Tomorrowland. Even Fantasyland has been getting in on the fun of late with appropriate garland. Surely a fun retro future, aluminum tree with color wheel version could be created.
- Life Day acknowledgement in Galaxy's Edge - I know the Star Wars Holiday special is not supposed to exist and I would not want very overt ties to that ill-conceived television special. I would like to see a small acknowledgement of the celebration of Life Day within Galaxy's Edge, perhaps even as small as Life Day merchandise offerings by the vendors within the market. An acknowledgement of the holiday of the Star Wars universe.
- Star on the Matterhorn - I want the star brought back to top the Matterhorn. From the early 1960s through 1973-1974, Disneyland put a shining star up on top of the Matterhorn and would bathe the mountain in green lights at night to make it look like a giant Christmas tree. Particularly in light of what can be done with projection mapping on the mountain, the star should be brought back to help sell the giant Christmas tree.
- Christmas Trees in the Moat - I may be weird, but if they are not going to add fountains to the moat, I would love them to bring back Christmas trees in the moat. I would not want the solid white trees of the image below or the burnt sienna from the past, but a green tree with white flocking and lights could be a great addition to flank each side of the castle.
- Bring Back The Silly Reindeer - I want the silly reindeer back in the parades and as walk-around characters. Disneyland Christmas needs the Toy Soldiers from Babes in Toyland and the Silly Reindeer. The Magic Kingdom can keep the new look, Disneyland should have the classic cartoony look.
- Christmas Fantasy Parade - A classic. The floats can be updated and well maintained, but the music is perfect and the parade is pure magic.
- New Christmas in Disneyland fireworks show - Believe ... in Holiday Magic on the other hand could stand to be replaced. I'd love to see a fireworks show closer in spirit to Remember Dreams Come True, celebrating the magic of Christmas in Disneyland. Using that theme song and the Jack Wagner introduction, music from various Christmas celebrations in Disneyland from the past, with the amazing new projections and additions Disney has created could make a very powerful new show.
- The Candlelight Processional - EPCOT may have more performances, but the original Candlelight Processional at Disneyland is spectacular. A 60 year tradition culminating in a mass choir and orchestra performance with a celebrity reading of the traditional Christmas story. A truly magical weekend and a tradition worth upholding.
- Tree Lighting Ceremony - The Tree Lighting ceremony for Disneyland should place into the nostalgia of time and place, focusing particularly on small time turn of the century Main Street. The primary song for the tree lighting would be We Wish You A Merry Christmas as played by a small brass band.
Disney California Adventure:
Holidays in Disney California Adventure should focus on the celebrations and culture surrounding the holiday in California. There are a lot of classic California Christmas touches I'd like to add to this park to enhance the Christmas offerings that they have already added. Accordingly, here's my holiday wishlist for Disney California Adventure:Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is truly a magical experience. There's so much packed into that condensed area that you cannot help but get into the holiday spirit.
- Mater's Jingle Jamboree - The overlays added to the flat rides in Cars Land are amazing, as are all of the decorations. Mater's is simply fun.
- Luigi's Joy to the Whirl - Like Mater's, Luigi's is just a fun addition. Carols from Carsoli and festive dancing.
- Christmas Movies at the Cars Drive In - It would be so much fun to show Christmas B-Movies like Santa Car versus the Martians in the Cars Drive In theater. A simple overlay that would be a lot of fun.
- Country Bear Christmas Special - The benefit of adding Country Bears to DCA is getting the Country Bear Christmas Special. This is a fun overlay and completely fitting for the Grizzly Peak area.
- Pixar Pier Decorations - The Pixar Pier area is currently devoid of Christmas decorations. I know it's new, but it is time to add appropriate garland, toys, and decorations to the area.
- Christmas Midway Mania - the attraction is primarily screens, so it is perfect to create new animation for it. Christmas games to be played with the toys. The perfect Christmas version of a ride.
- Christmas in the Holiday Canteen - I would create a Christmas show in the Hollywood Canteen. Someone doing Judy singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. The Andrews Sisters Jingle Bells, etc.
- Bell Ringers on Buena Vista Street - The Buena Vista Christmas Carolers should be brought back. In addition, I would like kettle bells on Buena Vista street to collect for a worthy cause. Disney can pick the cause or could create their own specific charity for the season.
- Candy Cane Wrap on the Red Car Trolleys - The trolleys in Los Angeles used to get a candy cane paint job at Christmas. I would love to see a wrap that helped bring that back in DCA.
- Rustic Santa in the Redwood Challenge area - While the original location of Santa in the department store was a good idea (and one I'll borrow for tomorrow), the setup in the Redwood Challenge trails is excellent. The snowfall they've added in the woods, and the reindeer games in the other trails make this a very fun location to meet Santa Claus.
- Festival of the Holidays - Festival of the Holidays has been a great addition to the park, both in terms of the food and the entertainment groups offered. A taste of the cultures of California Christmas in all its varieties.
- Viva Navidad! - This likewise has been a wonderfully fun addition and a great use of the Three Caballeros to celebrate the Latin American heritage in California and its celebration of Christmas.
- The Hollywood Christmas Parade - One great offering would be to create a version of the Hollywood Christmas Parade that could run in conjunction with the Festival of the Holiday booths. I know that has been an issue in the past and would look for ways for both to be offered. It would be great to pay homage to the parade that has been a staple since 1928.
- Add the World of Color Christmas intro to World of Color Season of Light - World of Color Season of Light is one of the best versions of World of Color, if not the best. The only thing it is missing is the version of the old World of Color television intro paired with White Christmas, Jingle Bells, and Joy to the World. That was the perfect intro for a holiday version of the show and should be restored.
- Give DCA its own Candlelight Processional - DCA should have a special offering on a single weekend to encapsulate the history of the season in Los Angeles. For this, I would create a program based on a Las Posadas procession, ending at a Pastorela with Paradise Bay as a backdrop, or perhaps a celebrity reading of a Pastorela story. The combination would pay homage to the oldest Christmas celebrations in Los Angeles and would DCA a great new tradition to keep up for 60 years itself. Further it would tie greatly into the Festival of the Holidays and Viva Navidad offerings. If they wanted to go in a different direction I could also envision a purely tinsel Charles Phoenix Retro Holiday show, celebrating the best of mid-century modern.
- Tree Lighting Ceremony - For the tree lighting ceremony, I would look to play tribute to California's warmer weather and entertainment roots. The song choice would be Silver Bells, which could tie well into the Buena Vista Christmas Carolers and the donation kettle bells. This moves the time period up a bit, but still does not quite get to a completely Hollywood Christmas.
This post was originally going to cover both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but the size has necessitated it be split into two parts. So tomorrow, I'll add my thoughts on the holiday offerings for Walt Disney World.
Thanks, as always, for reading!