Noel and I took a slightly different approach to the Christmas holiday this year. Instead of buying each other more gifts that we don’t really need and DEFINITELY don’t have space for, we decided to have an experience. A Magical Experience at the Happiest Place on Earth.
Enter Magic and Merriment, D23′s behind the scenes look at the Holidays at Walt Disney World. We actually tried to go to last year’s M&M, but tickets sold out in seconds and we never got through. But this year they expanded the capacity and we decided to go for tickets again AND we were lucky enough to get them! We were so excited!! M&M promised a bunch of both items–including presentations on creating the holidays at WDW, reserved seating for Epcot’s famous Candlelight Processional, a tour of the Castle Dream Suite, a tour of the backstage area at Magic Kingdom and an after-close dinner at Animal Kingdom.
Our consensus after actually going to the event? It was amazing, and everything we hoped for (and probably a little bit more). I learned a lot and saw a lot that I had never seen before. We definitely made some great holiday memories, which was what we were going for this year. So without further ado, here are some of our highlights and favorites from the event
1: The Castle Suite Tour
Um, it’s every WDW addict’s dream to get inside the Castle Suite. And we got to go inside! And it really is as amazing as everyone says it is. The suite is beautiful and everything is over the top. And as a bonus, I think I actually enjoyed my short time in the suite even more because D23 gave us a presentation the day before on what went into planning the suite. So I knew that the suite was designed in a Louis XIV style and that it feature some real French anitques. For my nerdy, information loving side, this helped to create a more complete, richer experience.
2: The Reception at Flame Tree Barbeque and Dinner at Camp Minnie Mickey.
Animal Kingdom is basically a really nice zoo dressed up as a theme park, and how many zoos do you know that stay open at night? The point being, Animal Kingdom is usually closed after dark, and being there, after dark, with just a group of about 200 other people, was fantastic. Magical, even. And then there was the food. The food from D23 had been uneven (at best) all weekend, but the food here was wonderful. Great passed apps and adult beverages at Flame Tree, and then an amazing buffet (salmon, chicken AND a steak bar?!) at dinner. The entertainment at the meal also put it over the top, with a roving troubadour and a Disney legend.
3: Candlelight Processional with Neil Patrick Harris
As we were sitting down in our reserved seating for Candlelight the clouds started to look menacing. And then it started to drizzle…turning quickly into a steady rain. Yuck. But sitting there for almost an hour huddled under a ponco was worth it, to see Neil Patrick Harris, who did a wonderful job as the narrator, and the massed choir. There is something about 500 voices singing traditional Christmas hymns that takes me back to my childhood and the Christmas Eve candlelight service. Okay, I’m getting teary eyed just thinking about it. And props to NPH for shouting out to us in the rain.
4: The morning of lectures
Most people probably hear lectures and think boring, but for me it was really fascinating to hear the background and history of the things we were going to see for the rest of the weekend. It really enhanced my experience, and I enjoyed them!
There were many other awesome things about this weekend, including a trip backstage at the Magic Kingdom, a visit to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party (my favorite hard ticket event!), and a walk down the Streets of America and the Osborne Family Lights. All in all, a very holly jolly holiday for us!