Book Review: “Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks: Celebrations Around the World from Fall to Winter”

Hi everyone –

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks: Celebrations Around the World from Fall to Winter” releases on October 20th, 2020 and we received an advance copy. This is a really large book, almost 7 pounds and definitely one for the coffee table. The book is by Graham Allen, Rebecca Cline (Director of the Walt Disney Archives) and Charlie Price. With 1900 photos spanning not only current times but some fantastic historical pictures as well, it is a must-own for anyone who loves the holiday season at the Disney parks (Halloween AND Christmas).

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks

It is a little sad that this beautiful book that is a promotion of the holidays at the Disney parks comes during a year where celebrations are very different. And it is interesting to see so many photos that are similar to mine (I have over 100k photos of the two holidays). But it is also lovely to reminisce and also see photos of the Asia Disney park locations I’ve not been – plus historic photos through the years.

The two negatives of the book for me come when the book is barely cracked open. The book jacket is fun and festive, with familiar photos like the iconic Disney’s Grand Floridian Gingerbread House (which will not be up this year). But once the book jacket is off, the photo of the Dream Lights on Cinderella Castle is pretty lackluster on the book itself. Cinderella Castle bathed in lights is one of the most beautiful parts of the holiday season (except this year), and the cover is a bit dull. The back cover of the Maleficent brambles next to Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant at Disneyland Paris is fine, a little dark but it is nice for a back book cover.

The second negative is the binding. I wish it was stronger for the size of the book. It is a big book and care is needed.

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks: Celebrations Around the World from Fall to Winter is very photo heavy, Becky Cline had mentioned that previously (it is also noted in the Introduction). The 1900 photos are nicely spread out among the various parks and resorts and the Disney Cruise Line. Photos range from very small to a full page, with the book dimensions of 10.55 x 1.55 x 13.3 inches.

The first pages are on the history of Halloween at Disneyland. There is a full page photo of “Parade of the Pumpkins” with Mickey and Minnie and it talks about how Halloween in Anaheim in conjunction with Walt Disney began in 1953, before it was known that Disneyland would make the city home. Disneyland itself did not host Parade of Pumpkins until 1959. And Disneyland didn’t host Halloween again for almost another decade.

There are pages of Halloween pumpkins, including the former Big Thunder Ranch in Disneyland. There are a couple of photos from Disney California Adventure before the transformation and more from now. Cars Land Haul-O-Ween is one of my favorite Halloween locations and there are pages on it and then Halloween on the High Seas. The Disneyland Paris Halloween Festival, which this year may be as close to normal decorations as any of the open parks, is included. This would have been our fifth year there if not for the current situation. There are photos of the festive Halloween garland, pumpkins, ghosts and more. There is a full page photo of the “Fearful Tower” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And even Disney’s Fort Wilderness Halloween Golf Cart Parade gets a mention (we have been covering that for many years).

There is a great section on Haunted Mansion Holiday – over 30 pages – which bridges the Halloween and Christmas sections of the book.

Just like with the Halloween section, Christmas is talked about first from the beginnings of Disneyland. There are some wonderful photos, including one of the Tomorrowland Space Man in a sleigh with Dickens carolers. It is a full size photo with the caption, “What the Dickens?”

There are photos of garland, Christmas trees, the various castles, and holidays at Disney resort hotels and on the Disney Cruise Line. A variety of gingerbread displays through the years is on a number of pages. There are Christmas parade photos through the years. The photos are grouped nicely together, for example one page of the reindeer through the years (including a reindeer carrying a child for some reason). The Candlelight Processional gets 15 pages. And there are 5 pages on the Country Bear Christmas Christmas. Then plenty of It’s a Small World Holiday, Osborne Lights and so much more.

Every photo includes the location and date. Sometimes a little more information. There are a variety of food items shown as well.

I mentioned that Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks is photo heavy, but when there is text, it’s quite a bit. One full page of text is a lot to read and I can hear it in Becky Cline’s voice.

I plan to really sit down and devour the book for days, there is a lot to look at. I’ve skimmed each page twice and have read a fair bit of the text and highly recommend Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks to anyone who loves the holidays at Disney – whether Halloween, Christmas or especially both.

We are now celebrating Halloween at Walt Disney World in new ways and it will be the same with Christmas. I hope we can get back to more normal next year and that reading the book in 2021 will be a look at current celebrations – whether it be the Disney parks, resorts or Disney Cruise Line.

The official description of the book from Disney:

This deluxe jacketed hardcover is visual storytelling at its best. Almost 1,900 photographs (two-thirds of them taken just for this book) showcase Disney’s key locations filled with special holiday menu offerings, the biggest parade and stage productions and nighttime spectacles, the tiniest decorating details from amazing artists and designers, and, of course, the most significant historical holiday events.
A harmonic trio of researchers, writers, and photographers logged more than 180,000 miles visiting every Disney park and resort across the globe, personally documenting the holiday installations through eighty thousand photographs and, wherever possible, meeting the talented and endlessly passionate artisans behind it all.
With twelve theme parks and dozens of resort hotels, plus numerous cruise ships, dining and shopping districts, and more than six decades of holiday experiences, there are a lot of pumpkin treatments and ornate trees to reflect upon. (The smallest holiday tree at a Disney property is just four inches high, while the very tallest reaches up to seventy feet.) Every parade or show requires dozens (sometimes hundreds) of creative magicians both onstage and off. And each decoration is chosen carefully to fit within a story and is expertly placed on its tree or garland by craftspeople backstage. The decor is installed onstage, maintained, and, ultimately, disassembled by technicians before it is once again cleaned, prepared, and stored in vast warehouses . . . till next year’s event. The stories and contributions from so many unsung Cast Members (often hard at work at hours of the night when others are asleep) fill these pages, along with the joys of Halloween, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year celebrations. Time to join the party!
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