Walt Disney World Christmas Report – Part 2
From there, we headed to Suzannah and Scott’s wedding. We had a great time at the wedding, celebrating with them their love for one another. The wedding was beautiful and intimate, and the happiness of their special day with one another, family and friends–some of those relationships forged through a common interest in Disney–reminded me of that role that the fan community has played in my own life.
As with all online communities, the Disney fan community certainly has its good and bad, but overall, it has been a net positive in a huge way for us, and I’ve often advocated engaging and interacting with people in online communities and forming friendships. The vast majority of my close friends I met through the Disney fan community.
For me, these friendships have been real, and have extended far beyond Disney. I have been employed by those friends, traveled to different continents with others, and grown as a photographer with others still. Suffice to say, it’s not just a matter of tweeting back and forth or sharing rumors about theme parks (although in some cases, that’s exactly what it is). I can’t imagine how different our lives would be had we never decided to revisit Walt Disney World as adults on a whim in 2006, but I’m guessing dramatically so.
This wedding underscored that: not only were we friends with the bride and groom thanks to Disney fandom, but also many other guests. We had known Suzannah and Scott, individually, for a long time. I want to say the first time we met Suzannah was at a meet-up for Walt Disney World’s 40th Anniversary (but I could be wrong), and I’m not going to speculate as to the first time we met Scott, because I’m really bad with names and faces, but I think it might’ve been 2011. In any case, we’ve known them for several years, and have watched them grow together as a couple.
I almost glossed over the wedding entirely as it skews more towards “personal” and I don’t view its events as particularly germane to a trip report, but I wanted to share that as an example of the positive powers of this fan community.
If you’ve been hesitant to participate in the online community, I would implore you to do so. This is 2015: we are living in an era with robot vacuums and bathroom mirrors with built-in televisions. Online friendships are no longer creepy and weird. You won’t form close friendships overnight, but you will never form friendships at all if you are too scared/reluctant/dismissive to give it a try.
After the wedding, we headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios where we were doing a private ticketed dessert party for the Osborne Lights.
I have a lot to say on the topic of the Osborne Lights, and the controversy that arose when Disney announced that this would be their last year, but I feel like I’ve already “lectured” you too much in this installment, so I’ll save those remarks for a future installment.
I will just say that this night photo of the Streets of America pre-lighting is probably about as compelling as a case as can be made for getting rid of this portion of the park. It’s like seeing a tabloid photo of a celebrity without make-up on.
I’ll let the beauty and grandeur of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights mostly speak for itself with the photos that follow…
While I did get a few good photos, this visit was mostly about soaking up the ambiance with minimal crowds. I am really going to miss these lights.
I’ve recently cut back on using the fisheye to shoot buildings and other architecture, but I’ll make an exception for the Osborne Lights. The distortion works in the whimsical context of this display, I think.
The sheer number of visual gags, hidden references, and areas to explore is really something else. This is going to be a tough hole to fill in the Christmas line-up next year.
I’ve tried tons of zoom exposure photos of the Osborne Lights throughout the years, and almost all of them have sucked. It’s a subject that should lend itself to this type of shot, but I’ve never been able to pull it off. This is about the best I’ve done, and I’m still not all that pleased.
I’m guessing this switch does not actually control the lights. I was tempted to see, but I would’ve been mortified on the .001% chance I was wrong.
Even though it was already midnight as we were leaving the Studios, I somehow convinced everyone else that we should walk over to Disney’s BoardWalk Inn to grab an Uber from there (buses were no longer running after the party), and also check out the Christmas decorations. Score one for time zones, I guess.
BoardWalk has a nice tree outside that is taller than a normal tree you’d find inside, but is still significantly shorter than one of the icon trees found around Walt Disney World. It’s a cute tree, but nothing spectacular. I’m also not a huge fan of the cool blues of these (and other) LED lights around Walt Disney World. If they are going to use LED lights (and I understand the rationale behind doing so), they should go for lights with warmer colors. LED blues are just too overpowering, I think.
For the last couple of years (at least) the BoardWalk Inn (or BoardWalk Resort, per the display) gingerbread display has been pretty weak, if you ask me. It used to be an elaborate gazebo with characters inside and a lot of little details, but now it’s just a very block-ish shop called “Ginger’s Bread and Cookie Shop” with a little postcard display adjacent to it.
It looks like they took the most boring, bland Food & Wine Festival they could find (or the infrastructure for one), grabbed some extra gingerbread shingles from the Grand Floridian, pasted them on, and called it a day. This is really sad as compared to what the gingerbread display used to be, but honestly, I’d rather see something totally unique here. I think the “lifesize edible gingerbread” displays are a bit played out and overdone.
Fortunately, the trees and garland inside by the fireplace are still beautiful and very tastefully done. A bit of a lackluster “Happy Holidays” photo spot when you compare it to the grandiose icon trees in other Deluxe Resort lobbies, but pretty nonetheless.
The details on the trees are worth pausing for a closer look, as the ornaments are on-theme and charming. This is one thing about the smaller trees as opposed to the tall, icon trees that I’ve noticed. While the icon trees will stop you in your tracks as you approach, the oversized ornaments usually are as cool upon closer inspection. By contrast, smaller trees typically have a lot of detail in their ornaments.
We didn’t have long to explore the lobby, as our Uber pick-up arrived within about 7 minutes of us getting to Disney’s BoardWalk Inn…
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I thought you might want to know….your “new Kawaii: Japan’s Cute Culture Gallery” links to youtube music from Mexico. (?)
We are taking several adult relatives for their first visit ever to WDW this spring, so both sound like great spots for them. I wouldn’t have gone back to Rio without this update, so thanks!
Thanks for the trip report Tom! I don’t usually reply, but I love reading your posts — I live vicariously thru your trips while I don’t know when my next Disney trip will be. I really like your humor and perspectives on all things Disney.
Those Christmas light strands are hot commodities outside of Disney. We had our kids in a pair for a tree lighting in upstate NY and we got asked 20x where we got then or if we made them ourselves. I guess they don’t get out much :p
Ha, that’s pretty funny. As with all things, you can get them on Amazon. That’s where I got mine…only $8! http://amzn.to/1RKG94p
I absolutely love reading and gaining your perspective on the parks/food/attractions/fans. While you are opinionated I believe it is education purposes and I am very grateful to read your insights.
And as always, to me, your photos are ANAZING! I have contacted you once before about purchasing them. I am not quite sure why Disney hasn’t snatched you up to be an official parks photographer!
Haha, ‘educational purposes’ I like that positive spin on my rants! 😉
We love the Grand Fiesta Tour, and I totally agree with you about the addition of the AA. I actually like the Nemo ride. I think it is cute and it a way for the pavilion to draw more people into what I consider a fabulous educational experience once the ride is finished.
The test will be to see what the educational experience is in Norway once the ride is completed.
We did the Agent P’s Adventure for the first time a couple weeks ago. It was a great way to get our 6 year old looking at the countries differently and more in depth. Have you ever tried?
With Norway, I think what you’re going to see is an expansion of “other stuff” to offset an attraction that has absolutely nothing to do with Norway. I know great attention is going into the architecture and other little areas in the expansion on the Mexico side of the pavilion (where the meet & greet will be), so I’d expect to see new areas of “real” Norway represented.
I really don’t think there’s any good way to add ‘Frozen’ to World Showcase, but it seems the Imagineers are again trying to make lemonade out of lemons.
So much to like in this installment. Just got back from DL and my first meet with an online community member in the Disney Parks fan community. Loved your sappy/preachy interlude about the benefits of online communities. Thanks!
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!
Great report as always and I couldn’t agree more on LED christmas lights. For the most part, they just don’t have the warm glow that traditional lights have.
I bought a set that are red, green, and ‘warm white’ and they are about as close as you can get. There are certainly strands where the white looks close to as warm as it does in traditional lights, but I have yet to see a single strand that gets blue “right.” I’d love multi-colored blue-less strands, but they don’t seem to exist. If I were making LED Christmas lights, I’d just drop blue altogether.
I’m loving the trip report! I have a question that may seem silly. You discussed forming friendships in the Disney fan community. I want to make friends with a lot of awesome Disney fans too! As an introvert, striking up conversations with strangers in the parks is daunting for me. What specific communities are you referring to, and what suggestions do you have for those of us who may not know exactly how to form real friendships with others online? My husband and I are a childless couple as well, and we are moving to the Orlando area in March, so I would love to be able to hang out with fun, interesting people who love Disney as much as I do. It seems ridiculous to ask how to make friends–I feel like this should be obvious, but I would love to have any tips you could give the introverts among us, as well as specific communities to join. Thanks!
I’m not exactly the most social person, so take my tips with a grain of salt, but I wouldn’t try striking up conversations with random people in the parks in the hope of making friends. The chances of success are likely low, as the vast majority are tourists who don’t really care.
Instead, try the various Disney forums, Twitter, Facebook–that sort of thing. I formed most of my friendships via Twitter, with forums a close second. I’m not a huge fan of Facebook, personally.
Your trip reports are always a fun read. I’ve got a question though for you. Do you ever get Disney’ed out? I’m personally there right now. Maybe I will change my mind when the new things get added to WDW or Star Wars Land is official at DL but I’m ready for a break.
Yes and no. When I started to feel that way, I made an effort to diversify my travel to venture to new places–and different types of places. In terms of Disney itself, we try to experience new things as much as possible, too.
There’s also the element of having a blog that makes me approach the parks differently. Sometimes I’ll see something relatively insignificant or random in the parks, and it will spark an idea for a blog post, and I’ll actually get excited for that as the wheels spin.