There are many different cultures living in and around Baltimore, but it can be difficult to experience the holiday traditions those groups practice. So, if you are interested in the cultural aspect of the holiday season head to Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort.
During the holidays, Epcot is transformed into an international celebration of holiday cheer known as Holidays Around the World. Holidays Around the World is when each of the eleven countries throughout the World Showcase displays a special holiday theme to highlight an aspect of its culture. Each country has a special holiday storyteller. These storytellers tell tales of their heritage and how the holidays are celebrated in their respective countries. Some of the storytellers include Julenissen, the Norwegian Santa, who prefers porridge over milk and cookies or La Befana, the goodhearted Italian witch known for filling children’s shoes with toys and candy. The American Pavilion showcases the popular traditions celebrated in the United States including Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanza.
Epcot also hosts two holiday stage shows during this time. The first is Joyful, a choral performance that blends gospel with the sounds of R&B, jazz and urban music. However, the main show of the holidays at Epcot is the Candlelight Processional. Nightly at the American Gardens Theater, the Candlelight Processional is a moving telling of the story of Christmas. Celebrity narrators tell the tale while being accompanied by a mass choir consisting of local school groups and Disney cast members as well as a 50 piece orchestra totaling 400 performers. Guest narrators over the years have consisted of actors, vocalists, news commentators, and sports celebrities. The 2010 narrators include Brad Garrett, Trace Adkins, and Whoopi Goldberg. Over the years the show has become so popular, Disney offers a variety of dining packages guaranteeing a good seat for the show.
As with every Disney park, Epcot is full of Christmas decorations and trees. The main tree stands tall with decorations from around the world. There is even a Christmas tree made entirely out of 1,200 stuffed Duffy bears that is 20 feet high and 10 feet wide. The stuffed animals from this tree are going to be donated to Toys for Tots. Christmas caroling can be heard daily from the Voices of Liberty. The Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps even does a patriotic drum and flute show to Christmas tunes. A giant life size gingerbread house can be found in the American Adventure, allowing guests to buy cookies and hot chocolate. Throughout Epcot, guests can see topiaries of classic Disney characters dressed up for the holidays. Like any other day, Epcot ends its day with the award winning firework, laser, water, and pyrotechnics nighttime show, IllumiNations:Reflections of Earth, except with a twist. After the regular show, an additional segment is added on. During this addition, messages of peace on Earth and good will towards men are shown on the giant globe while Christmas music plays during an uninterrupted firework display.
Stay tuned for part 5 of Christmas at Walt Disney World.