Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks Book Review

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks Book Review

Missing the holidays at the Disney Parks this year? Check out George’s review of Holiday Magic at Disney Parks, the new book by Graham Allen, Rebecca Cline, and Charlie Price. The new Disney book celebrating Christmas and Halloween at the Disney Parks features over 1,900 photos!

Disney Publishing sent a review copy and I couldn’t wait to make a preview video for you.

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks Video Review

If you won’t be able to visit this parks this year, is this book a good substitute?

This large-format coffee table-sized book will enchant you with photos from Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and more. It’s hard to imagine that Disney could capture all of the magical details of their celebrations worldwide. They cover the twelve parks, cruise ships, resorts, and shopping districts. There is something for every fan of the parks, including a rich look at the history of the holidays starting at Disneyland.

The price tag seems hefty at first, until you crack it open and leaf through the pages. You’ll notice that there are four to five pictures per page. And at 384 pages, that’s almost as many photos as I take each visit!


Along with the Disney Monorail book, you have two fantastic reads for this holiday season. Are you going to get both? As a general rule, Disney books have small print runs and go out-of-print fairly quickly. If you wait too long, the price will skyrocket.

Are you going to order the holiday book for yourself or as a gift?

FTC Disclosure: A copy was provided by the company for the purpose of this review. This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Building the Empress Lilly at Walt Disney World

Building the Empress Lilly at Walt Disney World

Do you remember the Empress Lilly? (It used to be where Paddlefish is at Disney Springs.)

In the mid-1970s, Walt Disney World was working to come out of the slumps that paralyzed the travel industry. Various Phase II hotels were scrapped and new ideas were brought to the table. In line with Walt’s vision for EPCOT Center, WDW management developed the Lake Buena Vista Resort Community that consisted of a large hotel/resort area, a shopping village and a business center. The Disney Village (now part of the Disney Springs complex) opened on March 22, 1975. It was an eclectic mix of shops and eateries that placidly raged against the trend of boxy and concrete shopping malls.

In November, 1975, one of the major Phase II developments of Lake Buena Vista was a yet unnamed riverboat-styled restaurant. Construction was to begin in April of 1976 and expected to take 18 months. The general description of the restaurant stayed fairly true to what was built. The following descriptions are from various Eyes & Ears cast publications in the 1970s.

The exterior will be heavily decorated in mahogany and brass. The stem paddle will turn as an additional show factor for guests strolling on the decks and dining in the restaurants.

The Baton Rouge

At the bow of the main deck is a show bar. Decor will be turn-of-the-century, Bourbon Street- style with a mahogany bar, wood planked floors and stained glass.

This concept artwork was captioned as the Empress Room, but would appear to actually be the Baton Rouge Lounge.

At the stem of the main deck will be a steakhouse restaurant. It will carry the same turn-of-the-century decor with a dominance of mahogany, burgundy colors and leaded glass…and offer the guests a view of the paddlewheel and the lagoon.

Next up is a description of what is to become the Empress Room:

The second (or “promenade”) deck will feature a seafood restaurant at the bow and an elegant gourmet restaurant at the stern. Decorated in Louis XV motif, the gourmet restaurant will contain a raised dome ceiling with a large chandelier, etched glass panels between banquettes (booths), silk or damask wall coverings, sculpted wall moldings and details of off-white and gold. There will also be an exclusive entry to this dining room from the dock via a gangplank.

Although captioned as the Baton Rouge Lounge in the article, it must be the Empress Room based on the description.

On the third or “Texas” deck is a dining area suitable for banquets and private parties and a lounge.

Other elements of the boat include two waiting lounges and the ‘quiet lounge’…an intimate cocktail area.

As the year went on, Disney occasionally updated the cast members on the construction of the riverboat. By May, 1976 the riverboat was officially named the Empress Lilly as construction began. The Edward Nezelek Company of Fort Lauderdale was named General Contractor for construction and the opening date was set for April 1977.

Disney reminded cast members that although the Empress Lilly is a building on a concrete base made to look like a boat, down to every last detail, they should still be mindful not to ruin the illusion.

So, if someone asks you about sailing times or cruise destinations, please don’t ruin the illusion by stating that the boat is concrete and cannot move from her foundation. Tell the guest that the Empress Lilly is permanently moored at Lake Buena Vista and that the size and depth of the lagoon, waterways, etc., will not permit the boat to be sailed to the Magic Kingdom, Fort Wilderness, Buena Vista Club, etc.

Disney also released a series of articles in Eyes and Ears that looked at the construction of the Empress Lilly. I am still a little surprised to run across these articles since Disney keeps everything so close to the vest these days.

One thing that I never thought about when I was enjoying the various watercraft while plying the waters of the Lake Buena Vista Lagoon was running into the paddle wheel of the Empress Lilly. Apparently, Disney thought this might be a problem, so they used a dolphin to address the issue of guests getting too close to the wheel while trying to take photos while boating.

I ran across a great image of the Empress Lily under construction at RetroDisneyWorld. Besides being able to see the construction wall with the yellow barrier/floats on top, there are two Bob-A-Round boats in the photo. Score!

The restaurant finally opened on May 1, 1977. Walt Disney’s widow, Lillian Disney was on hand to christen the riverboat, which was, of course, named after her. But this is a story for another post.

Looking for a great resource on Disney history? Jeff Kurtti’s 1996 release Since the World Began is still the only official history of the Vacation Kingdom of the World. Let’s hope they ask Jeff to write the second 25 years, as well.

Did you ever get the chance to dine on the Empress Lilly? Do you have any great memories of the riverboat?

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Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail 2018

Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail 2018

The Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail offers over 25 different Christmas Trees near the Disney’s Days of Christmas Store. The trail is actually in the old Disney Village bus stop, which makes for an interesting layout.

Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail 2018 Video

There are trees that represent characters, films, television shows, franchises and theme park attractions! Make sure to check out my video to see some of the different trees and how they are decorated.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Haunted Mansion Christmas Tree!

As you stroll through the Christmas Tree Trail, check out the special ornament that adorns each tree. If you see what you like, you can purchase the same ornament to take home (or ship home) at Disney’s Days of Christmas, which happens to be at the exit of the Christmas Tree Trail.

Does anyone know why this is the coolest poster on display at the Christmas Tree Trail?

Make sure to keep your eyes open for the posters on the walls and the poles. There are some wonderful tributes to the animated films and theme park attractions. This imagineers are some very clever people!

Have you visited the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail?

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Art of Disney Presents Greg McCullough

Art of Disney Presents Greg McCullough

The Art of Disney Story Presents Greg McCullough is a new exhibit at Disney Springs Marketplace. Artist Greg McCullough is featured through January 1, 2019. His art will be on display in the gallery and for sale. I was at Disney Springs catching Pokemon and happened to notice that the store was open and I checked it out!

Check out my Art of Disney Video:

Are you familiar with Greg McCullough’s art? According to the information at the Art of Disney store, he will be there every Tuesday through Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m until January 1, 2019.
Just a few examples of what is available at the Art of Disney Presents Greg McCullough. There are prints of the characters and iconic images from the Disney theme parks.
The Art of Disney Store is near the Rainforest Cafe, Goofy’s Candy Company and Star Wars Trading Post in the Disney Springs Marketplace area.

Do you own any of Greg McCullough’s art?

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Check out the ImagiNERDing Patreon page to be part of the ImagiNERD community. Get special updates, behind-the-scenes information and more!