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The Magic Kingdom: From Scary to Merry in Just 5 Nights

The Magic Kingdom: From Scary to Merry in Just 5 Nights

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It always looks so easy in those Disney films. Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother just waves her magic wand and a pumpkin immediately becomes this beautiful coach.

But when it comes to removing the hundreds of jack-o-lanterns that are used to decorate the Magic Kingdom for “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party” and then replacing them with candy canes and colored lights, it takes people. There are no pixies involved in this process! Cast members work long after midnight in order to change this theme park from scary to merry.

Two castmembers start the change out from scary to merry at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Photo by Denise Preskitt 

This year, work got underway as Halloween was coming to the close. On November 1st, as the very last guests were driving out of the Magic Kingdom after the closing night of the 2009 edition of “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party,” they probably passed WDW’s Decorating Support Team as it swarmed over the Toll Plaza, removing all of the fall bunting and Halloween signage that was located there.

Walt Disney World entrance decorated for Halloween
Photo by Denise Preskitt 

As this was going on, another Holiday Services team was removing all of the fall and Halloween décor that was located around the Transportation & Ticket Center and in front of the Magic Kingdom’s Main Entrance. When the very first guests arrived to visit the theme park the next morning, all signage associated with “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party” was already packed away carefully so that it could then be used again in 2010.

Toy soldiers flank the statue of Minnie Mouse and Roy Disney at Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida
Photo by Denise Preskitt 

Then on November 2nd, WDW’s Decorating Support and Holiday Services teams began working inside of the Magic Kingdom itself. These cast members then pulled down the Town Square Scarecrow and removed half of the lamp post banners which read “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.”

Town Square always looks merry with WDW christmas decorations
Photo by Denise Preskitt

On November 3rd, the rest of the “Not-So-Scary” lamp post banners were removed from this theme park. Any fall decorations that were still up in the Magic Kingdom at this point were pulled down. And as for that Halloween-themed Mickey floral in front of the Train Station, all of those pumpkins were hauled away under cover of darkness so that Horticulture would then have room to plant a brand new Christmas-themed floral.

The Mickey themed floral in front of the train station at the Magic Kingdom
Photo by Denise Preskitt

Over November 4th & 5th, Holiday Services put all of the final finishing touches into place. The seasonal garlands were strung across Main Street U.S.A. and Tour Guide Gardens next to Town Hall received its exterior décor. Meanwhile, over in Fantasyland, Donald’s Tree Lot was set up.

TChristmas garlands were hung throughout the stores on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom
Photo by Denise Preskitt

And that’s how – in just five short nights – the Magic Kingdom went from being scary to merry. Thanks to the efforts of dozens of dedicated cast members who worked under cover of darkness, the guests never got a sense of all the sweat and strain that it took to make this annual change at the resort--all they saw was the magic.

The Polar Express poster
Copyright 2009 Busch Entertainment Corporation. All Rights Reserved

If it’s any consolation, WDW Cast Members aren’t the only ones who’ve spent the past week or so making the holidays happen in the pre-dawn hours. Over at SeaWorld Orlando, a similar team of employees have been laboring behind-the-scenes to transform that theme park’s “Wild Arctic” exhibit into Santa’s Workshop, which SeaWorld visitors can soon reach by climbing aboard a simulator … er … magical steam train and then journeying to the North Pole via “The Polar Express Experience.”

The Polar Express in 3D plays at Sea World
Copyright 2009 Busch Entertainment Corporation. All Rights Reserved

FYI: This seasonal attraction – which will be celebrating its second year at SeaWorld Orlando -- officially opens for business tomorrow morning. As for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, the very first party of the 2009 season was held this past Tuesday night at the Magic Kingdom. But don’t worry. If you’d like to experience this WDW holiday tradition, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will be presented 18 more times between now and December. And if you’re looking for tickets, well, I think I know a company that can help you out.

Christmas garlands are strung across Main Street from beginning to end
Photo by Denise Preskitt

Orlando Fun Tickets is located less than 2 miles from the Walt Disney World Resort, 2 lights west of I-4 at 8472 Palm Parkway. Their office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. EST Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. For further information, please call 866-225-4712 and/or check out the official Orlando Fun Tickets website.

Special thanks to Denise Preskitt of Mousesteps.com for providing most of the photographs that were used to illustrate today's OFT article.

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  • Meanwhile, at EPCOT, they can't be bothered to even take out their signature bit of Christmas decoration -- the Lights of Winter.

    Sounds like this is the year to make other plans.

    I was visited by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, and the future of Christmas at EPCOT is bleak unless Team Scrooge Orlando has a sudden epiphany.

  • Five nights is impressive? Have we forgotten how Disney used to do it in ONE night?

  • Wow, these people did a great job with the Magic Kingdom, didn't they? The Kingdom wasn't presentable, at all, and now the rush essay people are raving about how presentable the whole Kingdom is now.

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