Reviews of Yuletide Fantasy - Parks and Hotels
Guided tours to theme parks and resort hotels, learning stories about the themes of the Yuletide decorations and how Disney elves transform the parks and hotels into an annual winter wonderland.
Reviewed by pepperandchips Review Date: 01/03/2017
Rating: (3) Not Recommended
As a Disney Parks and Disney history enthusiast, this tour was the one experience I was most looking forward to during our recent December visit to WDW. As an educator and a history buff who regularly watch Jeopardy, listen to Disney history podcasts, and enjoy travel guides and other tours, I expected to greatly enjoy this "behind the scenes" look at the resort's holiday flair. Unfortunately, the Yuletide Fantasy tour turned out to be the most disappointing part of our trip. As a bit of a disclaimer, I believe that a better guide may have delivered a better experience.
In Epcot, we visited the Germany and America pavilions where we heard the tale of how "Silent Night" was written and looked at a piece of an aluminum Christmas tree and a Shiny Brite ornament. Our guide spent time discussing personal holiday traditions with the guests on the tour, but we felt like he may have missed "the point" of our visit to World Showcase as we mainly spent time looking at props from his shopping bag and these were not tied into the holiday traditions at the pavilions we visited. In addition, the guide's microphone did not work for the majority of the time we were visiting World Showcase, which resulted in a frustratingly long amount of time trying to get the microphone to work. In a group as big as ours, the microphone was essential, and I felt like our group may have suffered due to the technical difficulties. Unfortunately my take away from the Epcot portion was that the stories were too disjointed and overall I was bored.
The highlight of this tour was the time we spent visiting the holiday services warehouse, where we were able to watch cast members refreshing the autumn decorations. In addition, we walked through some of the warehouse area where we saw vast quantities of Christmas ornaments, glitter, the Epcot Flower and Garden artificial blooms, and other holiday decor. It was truly amazing seeing how much work goes into the decorations there and gave us a new sense of wonder when later visiting other parts of the resort.
Our other "parks" destination was a short stop in Magic Kingdom, where we looked at the garland outside of the hat shop for a few moments before spending the remainder of our time there on Center Street looking at a paperback copy of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (which our guide did not tie into the Disney parks at all, so I am not sure what we were missing there). We spent a very short amount of time in the Magic Kingdom and I am not sure why we even stopped there at all.
On the bus, our guide passed around a variety of "props" from his shopping bag, including photos of Santa over the years (which never made it back to us since we were seated in the back of the bus) and some Japanese dolls.
Our final stop was at the Wilderness Lodge, where we quickly walked past all of the gorgeous decorations in the lobby and were seated in the hotel's bar. For the following 30 minutes, our guide told us about a variety of pine cones and passed around pine cone specimens while the group was served small portions of hot cider. I would like to find something positive to say about this part of the tour but I have never been more disappointed or bored at Walt Disney World than I was for this part of the tour. I felt like I had stepped into a preschool class on pine cone day.
I would not take this tour again, and I would not recommend it for anyone else based on my experience. I have read other positive reviews from guests who experienced the tour in past years when the Grand Floridian was included on the tour (it was not a part of our tour, nor was the Japan pavilion, and the Italy pavilion was a brief pause outside of the wine bar). Our experience may have been shaped by our guide but it was a low part of our vacation. 3/10 for the guides' enthusiasm alone.