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!

Universal Orlando Christmas!

Universal Orlando Christmas! (The Quest for Christmas on Thanksgiving!)

I spent Thanksgiving Day exploring the Universal Orlando Christmas at Islands of Adventure and Universal Orlando. I’d never done a major holiday in any Central Florida theme park, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Check out my video to see what it was like as I explore the Universal Orlando Resort looking for holiday cheer on Thanksgiving day!

Check out my Universal Orlando Christmas Video


So, have you seen Islands of Adventure and Universal decked out for the holidays? What about the Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter?

I also got to see part of the Macy’s Day Parade and the Hogwarts Castle Holiday show. I was surprised at the different types and styles of decorations in the different areas of the parks as well as what areas Universal chose to decorate.

Do I recommend visiting Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure on thanksgiving Day? You’ll have to watch the video to find out…

Have you ever visited Universal Orlando Christmas?

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Christmas at Busch Gardens Tampa 2018

Christmas at Busch Gardens Tampa 2018

Christmas at Busch Gardens Tampa is a bit different from the holiday offerings at the other Central Florida theme and amusement parks. After visiting the Magic Kingdom, Universal, Disney Hollywood Studios, etc., it was obvious to spot the strengths and weaknesses of each of them, especially when looking for holiday cheer. By far, Busch Gardens Tampa offers the most lights throughout the park. But it doesn’t stop there.

Check out my video about visiting Busch Gardens Tampa at Christmas time!

Don’t forget to stop by my YouTube channel to subscribe and leave a comment! I post semi-weekly videos about Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens, SeaWorld Universal, theme park history, roller coasters and Disney books.

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Special thanks to Wes B. for supporting me on Patreon.

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ICE at Gaylord Palms: A Christmas Story

ICE at Gaylord Palms: A Christmas Story

My first visit to ICE at Gaylord Palms in Orlando featured A Christmas Story and I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to this seminal holiday event in the Central Florida area. The A Christmas Story film is as much a holiday tradition as trimming the tree and hanging the lights, so I couldn’t wait to experience the nine degree weather and what the artisans created.

You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!

ICE at Gaylord Palms: My First Visit Video!

What did you think about the A Christmas Story ICE display at Gaylord Palms?

There is quite a lot to do at the Gaylord Pams this year, including an escape room. You can enjoy snow-tubing, an arcade, story-telling, hot chocolate and many other family-friendly activities. Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the Cirque du Soleil Unwrapped Dreams performances, as well.

Don’t forget to bring a toboggan and gloves! It is cold and you do want to spend time checking out the amazing ice sculptures without rushing.

Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for how spectacular the ICE display truly was. The details were astounding and I couldn’t get over how well the scenes captured the magic of the Christmas Story movie. Make sure you’ve got enough time planned to spend at least 45 minutes in the ICE area.

Have You Visited ICE at Gaylord Palms? Is it one of your holiday traditions?

Don’t forget to stop by my YouTube channel to subscribe and leave a comment! I post semi-weekly videos about Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens, SeaWorld Universal, theme park history, roller coasters and Disney books.

Join me on Patreon!

Special thanks to Wes B. for supporting me on Patreon.

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

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas!

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas!

Celebrating the holidays at Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas is just as spectacular as everyone says it is. And to prove it, Dollywood has received industry awards for the Christmas Event and shows. Dollywood won Golden Ticket awards ten times for the Best Christmas Event and the nine wins for Best Shows. With over four million lights on display, it is impressive and heart-warming. It’s also a great way to create lasting holiday memories this season.

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Video

Have you had a chance to experience Christmas time at Dollywood?

In addition to the wonderful shows, you can also enjoy the second season of the Parade of Many Colors.


Dollywood continues to provide guests with classic Christmas entertainment which brings the holidays to life! Based on the timeless holiday story of love and generosity, It’s a Wonderful Life follows small town businessman George Bailey as he discovers the true value of life, family and friends with a little help from his guardian angel, Clarence. One of Dollywood’s greatest entertainment offerings, Christmas in the Smokies, returns to D.P.’s Celebrity Theater and serves as the headline show for the festival. Guests can celebrate the joy of the season while a cast of singers and dancers performs hometown holiday favorites accompanied by a band of live musicians!

And there’s even a special surprise from Rudolph at the end of the evening as you exit the park.

“There is no time of the year that is more special to me than Christmas. Some of the best memories of my life are from my time spent with family and friends celebrating Christmas together. It’s when we all come together to enjoy sweet traditions and the warm love of family and to have those special experiences we’ll always remember.

“Now when we were growing up, we never could have imagined millions of Christmas lights or even a life-size Rudolph. But I know the families who come to visit my Dollywood this Christmas will leave with wonderful memories they’ll treasure forever—just like me and my family.” —Dolly Parton

Are you going to visit Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas? Do you have a favorite Dollywood Christmas tradition?

Dollywood Insiders Ticket Offer!

Occasionally, there are special Dollywood Insiders offers and the latest one is for $5.00 off tickets purchased online at Use the code DWINSIDERS12 when you buy your ticket. Don’t forget that you have to print the ticket and take it with you. You can also upgrade this ticket to a season pass (and Christmas time is the cheapest time to buy a season pass).

Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures Christmas Dinner and Show

Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures Christmas Dinner and Show

As a Dollywood Insider, I was invited to experience the new Smoky Mountain Adventures Christmas Dinner & Show and I posted a video review about the new show, here. With this article, I wanted to focus on the overall experience, especially if you’ve never visited a dinner show before (I highly recommend this one). The entertainment is top-notch and the food is outstanding!

The Smoky Mountains Adventure Theater is located at 2713 Parkway in Pigeon Forge, TN. It’s about a ten-minute drive from Dollywood and within walking distance of many hotels on the parkway. You’ll want purchase your tickets ahead of time to get the best deal and get the best seats. The doors open about an hour before showtime and you can hang out in the Bass Mercantile while enjoying special holiday drinks and games.

According to my son, the Candy Cane Cocoa is the best drink ever! I ordered Applejack’s Spiced Cider and loved it (but I agree that the cocoa was astounding).

There are games like Tic-Tac-Toe, checkers and corn hole that you can play while you’re waiting.

The theater opens about 15 minutes before show time and you’re directed to your assigned row, which seats about 10-15 people per row. Your server will come around and explain the dinner while she takes your drink order (Pepsi products, sweet tea and coffee). Even before everyone is seated, the pre-show begins!

Notice the Mischievous Elf carrying the presents?
The pre-show with the Mischievous Elf and other musical performers lasts during most of the meal.

Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures Christmas Dinner and Show: the Meal

Served over several courses, the meal is simply fantastic. The holiday dinner includes: a special holiday soup recipe, homemade buttery biscuits, spiral ham, pan fried chicken, old fashioned Southern dressing, a sweet potato treat, buttery corn on the cob, and Southern Peach Pie for dessert. Even my picky fourteen year-old loved the chicken, corn on the cob and biscuits. He felt like there was a great choice of foods for everyone.

The creamy soup was very reminiscent of the soup from Dixie Stampede. I love that you can use a spoon, your biscuit or drink straight from the mug!

There was plenty of time to enjoy the food without feeling rushed during the pre-show. The portions were large and will satisfy the heartiest eaters.

Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures Christmas Dinner and Show: the Show

The show lasts about an hour and a half and it’s a high-energy spectacle full of dancing, jokes, songs, ice-skating (yes!), gymnastics and a death-defying feat! (But no spoilers.)

The digital projections were charming and helped tell the inspiring story.
It was hard to believe that the performers could sing, dance, act and perform complicated acrobatic scenes. They were all wonderful.
Adding the ice skating was charming and unexpected.
The show balanced high energy scenes (like this one) with more sedate scenes to keep the entire show engaging.
There were even several audience participation moments for children and adults during the Smoky Mountain Adventures Christmas Dinner & Show.
There’s a modern, Smoky Mountain spin on many standard and classic holiday favorites!

Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures Christmas Dinner and Show

My family loved the Smoky Mountain Adventures Christmas Dinner & Show. The food was lip-smacking great and the entertainment kept us engaged the entire show. And let me tell you: these entertainers know how to sing, dance, act, skate and perform acrobatics.

The show his a great way to spend an evening in the Pigeon Forge area. You will create fun, family memories that will stay with you for years. Plus, the whole experience is captivating enough to keep the kids away from their screens!

Are you going to check out the Smoky Mountain Adventures Christmas Dinner & Show?

Happy Holidays from Walt Disney World!

Happy Holidays from Walt Disney World!

Going back though Disney magazines and newsletters, you run into a lot of different things. How Disney handles the holiday season throughout the years through the covers of it’s publications can offer some insight.

Disney News was the official magazine for the Magic Kingdom Club.

This first image is from the Winter 1972/1973 Winter Edition of the Disney News. It’s a very interesting perspective.

Walt Disney World ‘s “Christmas Holiday Parade” is literally fantasy in motion – a moving world of brilliant colors, beautiful music, and famous Disney characters.

This 1976/1977 cover shows off the Toy Soldiers in front of Cinderella Castle.

The holiday season gets an measure of color and gaiety when the Toy Soldiers march in Walt Disney World’s annual Christmas Parade.

So, what was the Magic Kingdom Club?

Well, it was sort of like a loyalty or reward program that was created in 1957. The Magic Kingdom Club offered discounts to large employers, the military and industries in Souther California. It went nationwide with the opening of Walt Disney World in 1971 and would soon become the largest leisure employee benefit program in the country. It was replaced with the very short-lived Disney Club in 2000.

Eyes and Ears is the official cast member publication of Walt Disney World. It’s an amazing research tool. Once you hit the very late 1970s, the production value of the newsletter increased drastically and the covers started having full-color art.

Pinocchio, Figaro and Jiminy Cricket wish us Happy Holidays and grace the December 22, 1978 cover.

What could Mickey’s present be?

Mickey is waiting on opening a present on the cover of the December 21, 1979 issue. The tag says do not open until Winter 1980. Not to ruin the surprise but this has to be an engine for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Happy Holidays!

The December 25, 1981 issue has Goofy and Pluto delivering holiday presents. No, I won’t say anything about the discussion about Goofy and Pluto both being dogs.

Happy Holidays!

Celebrate the Magic Castle Show

I’m usually not a fan of the Castle shows that Disney has been doing over the past few years at the Magic Kingdom. I’ll glance at it as I make my way to Space Mountain or Big Thunder, but I’ve never stopped to watch it. I heard that there was a holiday tag added to the current version of Celebrate the Magic.

I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the show. There were moments where the castle seemed to shimmy and rock. The choices for the scenes were pretty spectacular and I did get goosebumps during the Tangled scene. Plus, Wreck-It-Ralph was really cool!

Of course, Cinderella Castle always looks beautiful lit up for the holidays.

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Christmas at Walt Disney World, a Book Review

Christmas at Walt Disney World: An Unofficial Pictorial of the Christmas Season Through the Years at the Parks and Resorts by Denise Preskitt. 2011. 96 pp.

Readers of the Geek-End Updates should be familar with Denise Preskitt, but under a different name. She has appeared frequently for her posts at MouseSteps. Denise offers fantastic, multi-page posts that focus on a resort or area of a theme park. Basically, she walks around and takes hundreds of pictures. Then she posts them. Sounds simple, right? Well, she has been doing it since 2007 and it is an amazing look at Walt Disney World. Denise sent me a review copy of her new book about how the resort celebrates the holidays.

My first impression was that the book was going to be a fairly quick read since it was just shy of 100 pages. Denise worked closely with Jeff Lange and Kevin Yee to select the appropriate photos from her archive of more than 500,000 pictures. There are over 200 photos featured and with 3-5 pictures per page, there is plenty to look at.

My only two complaints about the book are that I want more photos and I want them to be bigger! I questioned Denise about this and she assured me that the next set of books would be a larger format and have more photos. Christmas at Walt Disney World is more like a fond look back at holiday experiences and what to expect if you are going to Walt Disney World in the 2011 holiday season.

Denise looks at each theme park and the major resorts. There are some real hidden gems in the book–not only does Denise look at current Christmas displays, but she takes us back to earlier years. Remember the Lights of Winter? What about the model train at the Disney-MGM Studios that referenced the Glendale Studios? There is something for everyone in this book, whether you are a relatively infrequent visitor or a hardcore Disney enthusiast. I learned a few things from Denise’s book.

This is a perfect title for anyone that loves the holidays at Walt Disney World. It is also a great book to give to people who are getting ready to travel during the holiday season–sort of like a primer. When I was reading the book, I imagined the joy a young child would get from pawing through the book on a regular basis; daydreaming about the last trip to Walt Disney World and planning the next trip.

Overall, this is a fantastic first book, especially one that features so many photographs. I was concerned with the quality of the printing at first, but it quickly becomes less of an issue as you go through the book. As I mentioned earlier, I wanted much larger photos and that is an issue of which the author is aware. Denise has captured and presented so many details that it is hard to imagine what she left out.

With a retail price of $22.95, you might be wondering why you should purchase this book. Well, Denise has been a big part of the Disney community for more than a decade and this is a great way to support a new author. You can find plenty of holiday photos online, but this is the chance to own a hard copy of the book and peruse it any time you want to!

Who doesn’t want lots of photos of the Lights of Winter, anyway?

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