Because Christmas is right around the corner, let’s turn the calendar back to 1998 and take a look back at Christmas decorations in the parks at Walt Disney World!
All of these photos were taken in one single day, as I visited three parks that day. Although Animal Kingdom had opened earlier that year, I didn’t go there, wanting to save my first visit for when I had more time to spend there and Laura was with me.
So let’s take a quick trip through the parks from early December 1998!
Welcome to the Magic Kingdom, where the Christmas tree stands tall in Town Square. Because this was a middle-of-the-week day in early December, the crowds were rather light, as you can see. But Christmas was definitely in the air.
Not only was Christmas in the air, it was also strung across the street. When we would watch the live broadcast of the Walt Disney World Christmas parade, I always thought the garlands across Main Street USA were really cool, so I was excited to see them in person. Unfortunately, they stopped putting those up a few years ago because of the height of some of the parade floats. Stupid parade. We want our garland back!
Moving on toward Cinderella Castle, we could find this interesting Christmas wreath on a lamp post, and the wreath has a vaguely familiar shape. I never knew if that was really supposed to look like Mickey Mouse with rabbit ears holding the lanterns, or if it really wasn’t supposed to be Mickey Mouse shaped. Either way, I still liked them.
In Frontierland, a poinsettia tree was out in front of Splash Mountain. I never knew that poinsettias grow on trees. And I still don’t believe they do. But this “tree” added a nice splash of color to Splash Mountain.
It may be a little hard to see here, but even the Haunted Mansion got into the Christmas spirit with a couple of dead-looking wreaths on the entrance gate. This also brings back memories of how things looked a little more simple before FastPasses and such came to town, but that is another story for another time.
Mickey Mouse was also feeling the Christmas spirit by decorating his house in Mickey’s Toontown Fair with some large lights, while cartoon-looking wreaths hang from the light poles. Look at the size of those light bulbs!
Over at Epcot, these futuristic-looking snowflake things were found in Future World in between the Innoventions buildings, which to me still looked like Communicore here. This was before the big Innoventions update as part of the Millennium Celebration which began the next year, so the area still had a nice, open feel.
In World Showcase at Epcot, Mexico had a colorful archway above its entrance to go along with the Christmas season. I did enjoy going through all of the World Showcase countries to see what each had to offer for the holidays, but apparently I didn’t linger too long for photos at any of them. And these were from back in the days of film photography, so every photo counted for something back then.
The star at the top of this tree indicates that it must be from Disney-MGM Studios, home of the Hollywood stars. Of course, this park is now known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios, at least for a little while longer.
I liked the feel of this Christmas tree decoration on a light post near the Chinese Theater at Disney-MGM Studios. The Santa Claus faces at the top gave it a somewhat kitschy feel, which to me fits in well with the Hollywood Boulevard theme. I don’t know if they still use these, but I enjoyed them.
The big draw at Disney-MGM Studios at Christmas time for me has always been the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights, which back in these days were found on Residential Street. As you may know, Residential Street was later removed to make way for Lights, Motors, Action, and the Osborne lights moved entirely to New York Street. I always wanted to decorate our house like this, though.
Here is another Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights photo from another house on Residential Street. This was long before they became “dancing” lights, too. Back then, we were content just to walk through and be amazed by static lights. With all of the changes to Disney’s Hollywood Studios that are on they way, this is the last year for the Osborne Family lights there, and I hate to see them go. Hopefully, they will find another place for them, because it really is an interesting display.
And to close out our busy day of holiday decorations at Walt Disney World, here is an abstract look at the Christmas tree in front of the Chinese Theater at Disney-MGM Studios. And for this photo, “abstract” equals “slightly out of focus”. But I include it here for historical value, because soon after that Christmas season ended, a large sorcerer hat moved in, taking over the space where the Christmas tree used to be and blocking the view of the Chinese Theater. As you may know, the hat has now been removed, so all is right with the world again. I hope.
Thanks for taking a quick Christmas tour around Walt Disney World with us! Merry Christmas!
Be sure to check back later for more Looking Back posts!