Christmas Tree Trail Debuts at Disney Springs
What could be better than the newly redesigned Disney Springs? The new Disney Springs at Christmas, of course! As a long-time Florida resident, I look forward to seeing the dazzling decorations at the Disney theme parks and upscale hotels every year. It’s a holiday highlight for me. I’m especially excited when they change something or add a new element to an already fabulous festive celebration. Everything the ‘Mouse’ does is mammoth, so I fully expected the new Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs to be another over-the-top dramatic display of awesomeness!
But, brilliant it wasn’t. It’s a rare occasion that I’m disappointed by anything Disney does, but these Disney-designed displays were anything but remarkable. Nothing extraordinary here; in fact, the Christmas Tree Trail was quite ordinary! Perhaps I’m just spoiled by the likes of the 45-foot-tall holiday tree in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel, or the myriad of other awe-inspiring trees spread throughout Disney properties. Or maybe the memory of the breathtaking presentation of the Festival of Trees at the Orlando Museum of Art was too fresh in my mind. Maybe. But given the spectacular transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, whereby the metamorphosis was no less miraculous than watching a beautiful butterfly evolve from a caterpillar, I envisioned an unforgettable inauguration performance by the trees on the trail. Not an unreasonable expectation from the Disney decorating-Divas, right?
15 Different Disney-themed Trees
The holiday enhancement to the newly redesigned Disney Springs Marketplace area is a free (I know, the words Disney and free usually don’t jive!) walk-through experience that consists of fifteen trees, each one inspired by a different Disney character or story. Here’s a list of the ones that received a starring role in the Christmas Tree Trail premiere:
- Mickey and Minnie Mouse
- Beauty and the Beast
- The Princess and the Frog
- The Little Mermaid
- Mary Poppins
- The Jungle Book
- 101 Dalmatians
- Alice in Wonderland
- The Muppets
- And… one with no name! Perhaps Moana??? I don’t know; take a look and tell us what you think it is!
Christmas Tree Trail Photo Tour
Christmas Tree Trail: Perfect Backdrop for Holiday Photo Cards
It’s not that my time spent touring the Christmas Tree Trail was bad, it just wasn’t grand. The trees were done on a much smaller scale than I expected. Most of them were about the size of my own Christmas tree; 7 – 7 1/2 feet. I thought the themes were great, and the decorations were nice, but most of them looked like typical Disney ornaments that can be purchased in almost any Disney gift shop. (Hmmm, suddenly I might see a connection here! A monumental marketing ploy if that’s true.) Usually Disney holiday trees are quite elaborate — one-of-a-kind masterpieces that you wouldn’t expect to see anywhere else. And very difficult to duplicate. But with a brief visit to the Days of Christmas shop or the popular World of Disney store you can replicate any tree that you’ve seen here, without a degree in interior design.
Another surprising element of the Christmas Tree Trail was the accessibility of the trees. There was nothing around the perimeter of the trees to keep people (and curious kids) from touching them or handling the decorations. I noticed that smaller children really seemed to enjoy the trees. And since there were no boundaries protecting them, families were able to capture group photos while holding the trees on their lap (well, almost!). Perhaps the trees were meant to be interacted with. I didn’t see any “Do not touch” signs or “You break it, you bought it” threats.
*TIP… The trees make a beautiful backdrop for a family photo, perfect for those holiday photo cards. Plan a family photo session in front of each one, then pick your favorite! (Unlike the theme parks, I didn’t see the presence of official Disney photographers, but someone is always willing to snap a picture of you and your family if you ask them.)
During our stroll through the Christmas Tree Trail we were able to enjoy a light ‘snowfall,’ Florida style! The artificial snow is a nice attempt to make the experience a little more ‘magical.’ Far from a blizzard or white-out, it did succeed at causing our hair, glasses, and nose to become snow covered (or should I say “soap covered?”) The day we attended was quite chilly, by Florida standards. The high temperature on that Sunday afternoon in mid-November was only in the 60’s, with a sustained wind that made it feel much colder. (I know, we’re so spoiled here in the Sunshine State!) So, for a brief moment, I envisioned I was back home for the holidays. The faux snow gently falling, along with Christmas music playing in the background (another [pleasant] surprise, as that’s not always politically correct anymore) created a wonderful feel-good wintry moment for my senses. I can’t help myself!
Christmas Tree Trail Photography Tip
Disney advertises live toy soldiers, singers, and a full slate of other additions to the Christmas Tree Trail experience but I didn’t see any of that. I chose to view the trees during the day, as most nighttime photos I’ve seen make it difficult to see the decorations. (I don’t use professional nighttime camera lenses.) And, Disney uses an over-abundance of ‘blue’ spotlights which turns every tree into an icy blue color.
*TIP… For the best photos, I would recommend viewing the trees during daylight hours. Then, if time allows, do another walk-through after dark, to experience the nighttime effects and maybe shoot a short video or two. I doubt you’ll see girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, but you may capture snowflakes that stay on your nose and eyelashes!
A fun way to put a cherry on top of your Christmas Tree Trail tour is a visit to Aristocrepes. Here, you can purchase a Gingerbread Pumpkin Crepe and gourmet hot chocolate. (A kiosk with warm roasted chestnuts and hot mulled cider would have caused me to linger a little longer!) These are special foodie items that are only available during the holiday season, which lasts until January 8, 2017 at Disney Springs.
I’m not sure I would recommend a special trip to Disney Springs for the sole purpose of seeing the Christmas Tree Trail, but if you’re already there, then by all means take a minute to view the trees. They’re a little out-of-the-way, at the far end of the complex, so they are easily missed. The trees are located in the Marketplace section, where the old Downtown Disney bus stop used to be. On the way, plan a stop at World of Disney which is all decked out for the holidays. With over 50,000 items, it’s the world’s largest assortment of Disney merchandise! Splurge on a holiday hat or deck your neck with those infamous Christmas bulb light-up necklaces. With a little forced effort, you’ll be in the yule mood sporting a holly jolly Christmas at the “Happiest Place on Earth!”
UPDATE: Christmas Tree Trail 2017
I’m happy to report that the 2017 Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs will be bigger and better than the 2016 premier, according to an official Disney announcement. Yay… as it was in dire need of improvement!
This year, the Christmas Tree Trail will expand to twenty-five trees. Many of the evergreens will be larger than last year’s trees. There will be ten new trees inspired by Disney classics including Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, Snow White, and Dumbo.
Definitely worth a revisit for me!
Sound Off… It’s Your Turn…
What was your favorite tree on the Christmas Tree Trail? What does the “no name” tree represent? While visiting Disney during the holidays, would you take the time to see these trees? Share in the comments below, I’d love to know!