This past weekend, I had the glorious opportunity to visit Disney World and see all of their Christmas beauty. Today, I caught myself watching the lighting of Cinderella’s castle at Disney World. And yes – I did see it live less than a week ago. Indulge me a little, and let me share with you why I felt the need to see it again.
Disney might refer to this event as a magical moment. It truly was! While we were at Disney World, we were able to take the ‘Holiday D-Lights Tour’. The tour takes 6 hours, and while it seems like a long time, it in no way shape or form felt like 6 hours! We kicked things off with a wonderful dinner and then we were off to go backstage at two of the theme parks.
First stop – the Magic Kingdom. We were greeted by the fella who leads the team that manages and builds all of the logistics that go into the lighting of the castle. One of the things that struck me was all of the intense planning that is required. They start with a document that is very similar to a blueprint. However, this blueprint not only has the design for the theme (the theme this year is Frozen) – it also accounts for the location of each strand of lights, so in the event a light goes out, they know exactly where it is and can easily replace it. This year there are 350,000 lights that adorn the castle. They are placed on the castle over several nights. To make this happen, the team waits each night until after the parks closes, and then they go to work.
During our tour, we were able to see a strand or two for ourselves even hold them in our hands. After that, we were able to ask lots of questions – some things we were curious about before and some came up for folks after our chat. The presentation was really a conversation with all of us huddled in close in the warehouse where all of the lighting is stored, along with many of the other props they use throughout the year. This was closed access except to the tour group, and we were not able to take any pictures. However, our guides took some photos of us there, and we were able to download them the next day. So we were able to get our picture taken in front of the model for this year’s lighting!
Next we were off to Main Street to experience the lighting for ourselves. While it is always very beautiful, there was something extra special after learning about all of the planning and details that go into this remarkable moment. I’m including the video we took, and while it’s a little rough, I like the idea of sharing ours as opposed to one of the many professional videos available out there. I think it’s a great representation of this magnificent event.
Things didn’t stop there! We boarded our sleigh and were off to Epcot to learn all about the logistics, planning and management of the magic there each night. The choirs are carefully chosen and brought in from all kinds of places. There is also a section that is only for Disney employees. We saw all of the robes that are required and how they are organized, so it’s easy for each person to choose that robe that best fits their height instead of having to search and search. Along with the robes, there are also some requirements that Disney insists on from each singer. They have to wear black shoes, and while most folks insist that their shoes will never been seen, it doesn’t matter – everyone must be in black shoes. One of the other requirements I found interesting is no one is allowed to have any of the different kinds of colors that folks like to wear in their hair these days, so no purple, yellow etc., or you won’t be joining. It’s all about the moment they want to create and for the focus to be on that moment, with no distractions. It’s just what it takes to make event ‘Disney’ ready (their term, not mine – but after all we’d learned, I think it’s a great way to describe things).
I found it interesting that the team that manages the Candlelight Procession also manages the logistics and all that goes into the Illuminations fireworks spectacular that happens right after the Candlelight ceremony ends. The guy in charge of this team is referred to as Laser Dave as he and his team are also responsible for this incredible Illuminations fireworks display.
We really got an inside look here. For instance, not only did we learn about each of the incendiaries that are fired and how they manage the cleanup. We learned that Disney has actually coordinated with the FAA to insure that no planes fly through the area during this time. If they are, then Disney won’t start the event until they have cleared this space. It just so happened there was a plane in the area on this night and we were able to see for ourselves the inside conversation that goes on between Laser Dave and his team. And once the plane had cleared the space, we heard him actually give the go ahead to his team. Here’s a video we took from our viewpoint. Let me say, this is not just the average fireworks display. Again, after getting all of the data and even holding some of the fireworks in our own hands, it made things even more special.
As you can see this was quite a remarkable 6 hours – to be honest, when it ended, I was amazed how the time had just flown by. I might add – it was time very well spent. This was one magical evening for me, and something that I will remember for a long time!