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Disney's 12 ... er ... 10 ... um ... Would you believe 8 Days of Christmas?

Disney's 12 ... er ... 10 ... um ... Would you believe 8 Days of Christmas?

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The "Twelve days of Christmas" are the 12 days that separate Christmas Day, December 25, from Epiphany, which is celebrated on January 6. Depending on the church, January 6 may mark Christ's baptism (the Catholic tradition), or it may mark the day that the wise men visited the baby Jesus with their gifts.

Hi Folks, This is Max Schilling, the webmaster here at JHM. As the Christmas season officially draws to a close, I thought that I would share an interesting -- and somewhat unfortunate -- story of how Disney celebrates the holiday season down here at the Walt Disney World Resort.

A few years ago, "Disney's Days of Christmas" store opened in at Downtown Disney Marketplace. And as part of the theming for this new store, Disney scattered displays around the store for each of the 12 days of Christmas.

This seems like a really fun idea and it gives a lot of charm to the already well-done decorations. But unfortunately, this being the Walt Disney Company of 2007 and all, the upkeep of this original theming has been lackluster at best.

As of this holiday season, only 8 of the 12 Days of Christmas displays are still fully intact. The amusing part is that -- only a few months ago -- with the exception of two missing signs, all the original theming was still present. So it seems that -- in putting up the seasonal Christmas decorations in this store -- WDW's decorating staff actually replaced and/or removed the 12 Days of Christmas décor that the store is named for & themed around.

Now I understand that this may seems like the typical nit-picky, let's-take-pictures-of-peeling-paint, Disney Dweeb nonsense that you find all over the Web. But take a step back and look at the big picture here: The store named “Disney’s Days of Christmas” is now missing 4 of the Days of Christmas.  So its not like they removed an irrelevant prop, or tweaked a display. In removing those 4 days, they have more or less eliminated the cohesiveness of the story they are trying to tell. 

While guests coming into the store, noticing the theming, and searching for all of the 12 days is likely a rather rare occurrence, I am sure it still happens every once in a while (Hell, I did it). 

And while it’s certainly not going to destroy anyone’s vacation ... A cast-member having to tell a little kid who has just spent the past half hour looking for all of the twelve days that, “Oh yeah, I guess we forgot about days 3, 5, 8 and 9” is not exactly the “good show” that Disney purports to strive for.

On the first Day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me:
A Mickey in a yule tree
 

On the first Day of Christmas my true love gave to me: A Mickey in a yule tree
Photo by Max Schilling

The first day of Christmas has Mickey hanging on a swing from a tree in the middle of the store seemingly wound up in Christmas lights.

Mickey in a Yule Tree
Photo by Max Schilling

On the second Day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me:
Two Tweedledees

On the first Day of Christmas my true love gave to me: A Mickey in a yule tree
Photo by Max Schilling

Mickey in a Yule Tree
Photo by Max Schilling

On the third day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me:
Three Lil' Pigs

The third day is a story book with a picture on the cover of the Three Lil' Pigs. However the sign that once told which day of Christmas this was has been removed and now 2 screw ends are all that remain. It has been this way since at least May of 2006 and likely for much longer.

The Lil' Pigs??
Photo by Max Schilling

Mickey in a Yule Tree
Photo by Max Schilling
 
On the fourth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me:
Four chiming bells

The fourth day is a 3D window mural on the back of the store. It features Quasimodo swinging on one of the four bells hanging in the display. Though -- with all that garland hanging in front -- it's kind of tough to tell what it is (and tough to photograph). I have a feeling that some of the lights are out in this display. Because I was there at night to take these pictures. And while the rest of the outdoor windows were brightly lit, this one was quite dark. So I had to be kind of creative to get a good shot of this sign.


Photo by Max Schilling


Photo by Max Schilling

On the fifth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me:
Five Minnie things

This is pure conjecture. But I believe that the front window of the store once contained this display. However, it was removed in an effort to at give one of these windows back -- the front-most one -- to WDW's marketing department.

In an effort to keep the story that this Downtown Disney store was originally trying to tell intact, a display case was placed right next to the front window containing "5 Minnie things." And -- back in May -- there were only 5 Minnie items in this case.

However, in the months since then, it appears that WDW's decorators decided that this corner of the "12 Days of Disney" store looked too sparse. So they added an additional Minnie doll to the top of the case, thereby bringing the total of "Minnie things" in this area of the shop to six.

But as for the sign that used to be displayed in this section of the "12 Days of Disney" store, that must have been lost somewhere along the way.


Photo by Max Schilling
 

Photo by Max Schilling

On the sixth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me:
Six Ducks a-playing

The sixth day is a mural behind one of the counters. As you can tell from the picture below, the sixth day has been, uh, personalized, by the big sign hanging down in front of the mural. It doesn't really take away from the painting and I guess I am being slightly over critical. But it seems to me the sign could be a tad higher so it didn't interfere as much with the sight-lines for the mural.

On the first Day of Christmas my true love gave to me: A Mickey in a yule tree
Photo by Max Schilling
 

Photo by Max Schilling

On the seventh day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me:
Seven Dwarfs a-mining

The seventh day is another indoor mural behind one of the counters. The seventh day seems to be holding up quite well. Though -- in my pictures from May -- I was unable to find Sleepy. As they had hidden him behind a stack of bags and boxes waiting for package pickup. (The picture below is from December and only the bottom of the mine car is hidden away)

On the first Day of Christmas my true love gave to me: A Mickey in a yule tree
Photo by Max Schilling
 
 
Photo by Max Schilling

On the eighth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me:
Eight toys a-spinning

The eighth day is one of the displays that has recently been hijacked at the "Disney's Days of Christmas" store. Originally, there was a display with minimal animation featuring 8 different toys spinning. However -- for the 2006 holiday season -- the sign was ripped off the wall (and not patched, I might add).


Photo by Max Schilling

And the spinning toys were replaced with a big-ass Christmas tree dropped smack-dab in the middle of this display space.


Photo by Max Schilling

The patch job (or lack thereof) where the sign once hung ...

 On the first Day of Christmas my true love gave to me: A Mickey in a yule tree
Photo by Max Schilling

On the ninth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me:
Nine Genies flying

This day features a nicely painted mural of the genie in nine different costumes.

On the first Day of Christmas my true love gave to me: A Mickey in a yule tree
Photo by Max Schilling


Photo by Max Schilling

On the tenth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me:
Ten lions leaping

This is another day that was ripped apart. But -- for some reason -- only the sign was removed (Again for the 2006 holiday season. It was there back in May). The mural of the ten leaping lions is still in place.

On the first Day of Christmas my true love gave to me: A Mickey in a yule tree
Photo by Max Schilling
 
On the first Day of Christmas my true love gave to me: A Mickey in a yule tree
Photo by Max Schilling
 
In the shot below you can clearly see the screwholes from the missing sign (and Simba's rump).
 
On the first Day of Christmas my true love gave to me: A Mickey in a yule tree
Photo by Max Schilling

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me:
Eleven puppies panting

This display is just inside the front door and is one of the nicer "Days" on display in this WDW store. It features a nice stone fireplace and some chairs in front for tired shoppers.

On the first Day of Christmas my true love gave to me: A Mickey in a yule tree
Photo by Max Schilling
 

Photo by Max Schilling

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me:
Twelve fairies flitting

The Twelfth day pays homage to the wrapping & personalization section at the end of the store that has murals of fairies flitting about.

On the first Day of Christmas my true love gave to me: A Mickey in a yule tree
Photo by Max Schilling

In the interests of fairness, I would also argue that the way the Walt Disney Company went about designing the décor of this location was not the smartest of approaches. They filled, not one or two windows, but ALL of the store windows with the 12 days of Christmas theming and left virtually no room for any marketing displays.  

So, realistically, I can understand the marketing department taking down the 12-days displays as soon as they need product-display room. Coming from a company that is renowned for shoving ‘product placement’ down your throat, I’m sure the marketing department is none too pleased by not being able to get in and play with the windows because Imagineering has commandeered them for store theming.

So it really seems to boil down to a case of the left hand not knowing (or even more frightening, caring) what the right hand is doing. Disney's marketing department is focused on selling stuff, and to hell with the theming. And apparently the Imagineering skeleton crew that makes up the Florida office isn’t powerful enough to stop them.

I personally can't find too much fault with these store windows being used to display merchandise. I mean, they ARE store windows. But the part about this whole thing that bothers me is that -- at the end of the day -- Disney has left us with half (Okay, 2/3rds. But work with me here, people) a theme. 

And when you theme a location like this, where all of the design elements are essential for completing a storyline, reinforcing that theme ... You can’t just remove one or two pieces and then hope no one notices. That is just bad show. Disney should either relocate / reinstate the missing days or else take down all of these "12 Days of Christmas" -themed displays down & be done with it.

What do you folks think? Am I being a grouch (or a grinch) for complaining like this about the changes that have been made to "Disney's Days of Christmas" store? Or given the decorative gimmick of this WDW shop, should all of these displays have been left intact?

Your thoughts?


Photo by Max Schilling
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  • I'm glad you mentioned this, and the photos are certainly illustrative of the severe problem.  I remember this being a wonderful shop when it first opened, and am sad to see it in partial disaray.  I agree totally - leave all of the elements or take them all away.  This is just half-assed.

  • Agree as well - leave them all in or remove them all but not show only half. Someone in Marketing (or wherever) clearly doesn't care about show enough to try and reach a compromise between theming and marketing.

  • I love this shop, and I never noticed that it had a special theme...I thought it was just a Christmas shop!  That is sad how they took away some of the days of Christmas...I've seen most of those murals/statues before, but never knew that they were a part of a story.  And, I don't remember seeing Quasimodo there at all...so, thanks for the photos!  I wonder if, over time, more of the plaques will be removed and if more of the "days" will be removed...I've always enjoyed the murals/statues, even without knowing about the story.  But, it's inexcusable that there are some spots that need patching up.  I'm one of those that asks what Walt would have done...he wouldn't have allowed the story to go down the drain or have holes in his parks.  

  • Just one more example of a once unique Disney experience that's been flushed down the drain in favor of rampant commercialism.

    I'm not one of those Disney dweebs that obsesses over every instance of peeling paint, but this kind of stuff does upset me. Disney is slowly but surely doing away with everything that used to distinguish themselves from everyone else.

    A once proud industry leader is gradually being reduced to also-ran status.

  • You've got to be kidding me??  "Disney Dweeb nonsense..." is right.

  • <<But unfortunately, this being the Walt Disney Company of 2007 and all, the upkeep of this original theming has been lackluster at best.>>

    This is how you can tell how something goes from valid comment to Disney Dweeb Nonsense. It's the over-exageration that hurts your point. I love how people are willing to point out something relatively small that is wrong and say something like "Disney doesn't pay attention to quality anymore."

    Of course, that person will never stop to point out the uber-expensive mountain they just built in Animal Kingdom or the immaculate theming that surrounds it. In fact, I'd challenge anyone to step into the newly-built village surrounding Expedition Everest (or anywhere in AK0 and try and tell me Disney doesn't pay attention to quality theming. Heck, even their theming of a roadside carnival is done perfectly.

    Or lets stick with holiday theming but talk about the Dancing Osborne lights. I'm sure those people would never mention those (or the hundreds of other holiday decorations Disney puts up).

  • I sure would hope that in-park theming takes priority over a Downtown Disney store's theming.

  • I think considering some of the issues that have come up in the parks, this seems like more of a minor snafu than anything.  Yes, it was nice to have all twelve days of Christmas represented in and around the store.  Yes, it is collosally stupid to take out some of the signage and displays and leave others up.  But really, the theming of a store in Downtown Disney is a pretty small deal.  I can see the argument when a particularly well themed store in one of the parks proper loses some of its specific elements.  But honestly, I've never gone into a Downtown Disney store and said "Wow!  The themeing and storytelling in here is so great that I'm gonna buy a cartload of stuff!"  I noticed some of the Days displays on my visits to the store, but it didn't really move me to rampant fits of purchasing, which is even more of the point in Downtown Disney, as opposed to a store in the parks which also has to echo the theming of the larger area.  If the Days elements are not all going to be there, all the signage should be removed and the screw holes should be patched.  It's not like people are going to be totally confused by the displays and murals if they aren't tied in to the Twelve Days concept.  It's silly for them to leave it half there and half done, but the loss of this bit of theming is not a grand scale tragedy.

  • <<but the loss of this bit of theming is not a grand scale tragedy.>>

    Yeah, but once you start adding up all of these little losses of theming around WDW it becomes a problem. It is these little touches that always made Disney stand out from the rest of the pack. But when we continue to see sloppy show like this it is very disappointing. I love going to WDW. I am there almost every other week. They do many things right but these little things like this and the Q of Buzz Lightyear that has been in crappy condition for months.

  • We all know that Walt Disney used to take his two daughters to amusement parks.  It's also fairly common knowledge that some of Walt's inspiration for Disneyland came from watching the carousel horses at these parks.  As the story goes, he would watch the carousel spin from afar and be impressed; but as he approached the slowing and stopping ride he noticed that only the outermost horses jumped and that they were in disrepair, dirty and old.  Any Disney novice can tell you that Walt was dead set on improving that image; and he did. At Disneyland not only are all the horses beautiful white steeds they all jump!

    Seeing a Disney property in disrepair, seeing the tarnished brass rails around the dumbo ride, seeing peeling paint and unpatched holes all goes against what Walt was trying to create. Disney isn't supposed to meet the standard, Disney is supposed to set the standards; and while Disney does set standards over and over in many areas... something like this not only shows laziness but a lack of respect of the park's roots.

    Call me a Disney Dweeb, I don't care.  I'm not going to pretend to know what Walt would do today... but I can remind you of where the park/company came from.

  • I'm not really as impressed by the initial Imagineering concept as some people here seem to be. Coming up with 12 new things to swap into the 12 days of Christmas is not exactly challenging. In fact, it's been done to death. I'm not sure I mourn the loss. In fact, I would rather they had found clever Disney ways of displaying the original 12 days than just picking a Disney movie to go with each day.

    That said, the sloppy job of removing and replacing the displays, Andy's room in particular, is inexcusable, but not of Bob Iger. It's really just on the store manager. If this microcosmic issue really illustrates anything that's wrong with the Disney Company, it's that the people at the customer level of the company don't take the Disney magic as seriously as they once did. I believe there's a new gleam of appreciating that back in the parks and corporate offices, but the hope of the ground level employees that they make a difference, that they can really work magic and be and create something special needs to be revitalized.

  • <<askmike1 said:

    <<But unfortunately, this being the Walt Disney Company of 2007 and all, the upkeep of this original theming has been lackluster at best.>>

    This is how you can tell how something goes from valid comment to Disney Dweeb Nonsense. It's the over-exageration that hurts your point. I love how people are willing to point out something relatively small that is wrong and say something like "Disney doesn't pay attention to quality anymore."

    Of course, that person will never stop to point out the uber-expensive mountain they just built in Animal Kingdom or the immaculate theming that surrounds it. In fact, I'd challenge anyone to step into the newly-built village surrounding Expedition Everest (or anywhere in AK0 and try and tell me Disney doesn't pay attention to quality theming. Heck, even their theming of a roadside carnival is done perfectly.

    Or lets stick with holiday theming but talk about the Dancing Osborne lights. I'm sure those people would never mention those (or the hundreds of other holiday decorations Disney puts up).>>

    So, you’re saying it’s acceptable to let quality slip as long as something new has been added? The fact that Disney USED to add new attractions and other enhancements without letting their parks deteriorate is no longer valid?

    Quality themeing is not just a one-time effort. And “relatively small” items can evolve into a large portion if allowed to continue.

    If you are willing to allow Disney so slip into mediocrity as they let their quality slowly dwindle, that’s you’re privilege. But it seems a bit ridiculous to take people to task for trying to urge that quality remain a primary goal for the company that prided itself on it in it’s creation. If everyone took on a “what difference will it make if the quality slips” attitude, Disney’s parks would soon be no better than the average amusement park, and certainly not worth the price they charge for admission.

  • Yes, Disney used to be able to add new attractions AND maintain all these little details at the same time. Then again, my cable company used to be able to give me the same channels for about $40 less a month. And Trader Joes used to be able to give me more free samples when I went into the store. My local oil change place used to give me a full-service car wash with an oil change. A lot of companies aren't hauling in the cash like they used to. Most are cutting back in some way.

    The problem Disney has is that the die-hard fans (as well as the "dweebs") are going to point out any place in which they make cutbacks. If they spent the money on upkeep, everyone would say, "why haven't we seen any cool new attractions lately?"

    To be honest, if I were the Disney company, I'd probably spend money on something which would bring people into the parks (paying $60 a ticket) rather than into a store (where they'd buy a $5 Christmas ornament).

    That's just my opinion...

  • <<So, you’re saying it’s acceptable to let quality slip as long as something new has been added?>>

    No, I'm saying that in order to make a point that a relatively small thing is broken/missing/whatever, they exagerate and say that all of Disney is declining in quality, when anyone who has visited the parks knows that to be total bs.

    <<And “relatively small” items can evolve into a large portion if allowed to continue.>>

    We are talking about missing signs in Disney's Days of Christmas. And to clear another mistake up in the article....

    <<In removing those 4 days, they have more or less eliminated the cohesiveness of the story they are trying to tell.>>

    Uhhhhhh...... no.  Disney's Days of Christmas has absolutely nothing to do with The 12 Days of Christmas. A simple look at the front of the store (http://www.guide2beyondtheparks.com/images/daysofchristmas.jpg) will show that the Store is focused on 365 days of Christmas (ie, Christmas all year round). The 12 days exhibit is just that, an exhibit. It is not the basis of the store.

    <<If you are willing to allow Disney so slip into mediocrity as they let their quality slowly dwindle, that’s you’re privilege.>>

    Again, that's not what I am saying. If you or anyone else wants to point out that there is a little bit of dust on one of the Pillars in The Land (:cough:GeneralGrizz:cough:), go right ahead. That specific thing (depending on what it is) could be a problem. But don't go on a dramatic monologue about how quality has been declining and with the 2007 WDC, quality doesn't matter anymore, because again, that is BS.

  • Hey AskMike, just a comment...

    There's more than a little bit of dust on a pillar in the Land over in WDW.

    I was just there a month ago, and I was pretty bummed out about the lack of general upkeep on most of the attractions in the parks.

    Exteriors seemed fine but the interiors? Whew.

    The Haunted Mansion was one of the worst offenders- scrims hanging down, spit on the stairs and attic, crappy sound, I mean, come on. While I agree that the 12 days thing is not that important, you can see in the WDW management where they have chosen to spend their money. And, I also agree that these things aren't indicative of a general decline throughout the Disney empire, but WDW is the worst park in terms of maintenence and it doesn't have to be that way. Disneyland is still awesome, and Tokyo has beautiful parks. Paris is gorgeous and Hong Kong, while lame in it's limited offerings has a lot of potential. Magic Kingdom, Epcot, MGM Studios and Animal Kingdom ALL suffer from bad upkeep.

    It's like a friend of mine said about it; "It's like when the park closes, everyone just turns off the lights and goes home."

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