It is time for a holiday edition of the Looking Back series, and today we look back at Walt Disney World in 1999. Laura and I were there the week before Christmas, so here is a look at some of the different Christmas decorations and happenings at all four parks.
First up is Animal Kingdom. Although it had opened in 1998, this was our first visit to the newest park. No, the Tree of Life isn’t decorated for Christmas here, but I thought I would include it anyway.
I don’t remember all that many Christmas decorations at Animal Kingdom that year besides the Christmas tree out front. If there were many, I don’t have photos of most of them. But I did enjoy that the fossil over the Oldengate Bridge in Dinoland was wearing a Santa Claus hat - a pretty neat touch, I thought.
Moving right along, we go next to Epcot. As you can tell from the large sign over Spaceship Earth, the Millennium Celebration was underway at Epcot, and Y2K was strong on everyone’s minds. But there were some Christmas decorations to be found here, too, such as the snowflake things near the Fountain of Nations.
While we were at Epcot, we came across a Christmas-themed character greeting. Here, Pooh and Geppetto greet their fans. What’s that? A character greeting without a dedicated line and Fastpass? That is almost unheard of these days. And look, there are the long-lost Lights of Winter in the background, too.
Also part of the above character greeting was Piglet, who hadn’t made many appearances before that time. I was so impressed to see him out that I took his photo. But it was warm enough that day that he probably didn’t need that cap and scarf.
I always like seeing the different Christmas and holiday traditions at all of the World Showcase countries, but the main photo I have from all of that is of the tree at the American Adventure. And it isn’t even that good of a photo. I don’t know which has progressed more since that time, the camera or this photographer.
Here is one more view of Spaceship Earth and the 2000 sign, seen from across World Showcase Lagoon. And the main Epcot Christmas tree is visible there, too. That’s a mighty big tree.
Next up is the Disney-MGM Studios, as Disney’s Hollywood Studios was known at the time. Remember when they would put a big Santa Claus hat on the Earfful Tower? Unfortunately, this is the best photo I have of it. I still wish you could see the tower better from places in the park besides just the Backlot Tour.
One of the displays at the Studios was of Kermit and Robin from Muppet Christmas Carol. Hard to believe that even way back then, that movie was already seven years old. I’m starting to feel old now.
I have always loved the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights (back then they weren’t Dancing Lights), and I had actually seen them the year before for the first time. Just amazing to see all of those lights everywhere back then, and even now. I probably spend way too much time looking around at those each time we are there.
Back in those days, the Osborne Family Lights were on all the houses of Residential Street. Of course, that was back when there was a Residential Street, long before it was removed to make way for the Lights, Motors, Action show. Wouldn’t it be cool to decorate our house like that?
Here is a not-that-great photo of the Christmas Tree at Disney-MGM Studios. Back before the Sorcerer Hat was blocking the view of the Chinese Theater, they would put the Christmas Tree up to block the view of the Chinese Theater. But it was still a pretty good view.
Lastly, we move to the Magic Kingdom. And here comes the Walt Disney World Band marching its way down Main Street playing Christmas songs. This wasn’t part of the Christmas parade, either - they were just out for a march. Always cool to see that.
Back in those days, the Sharing the Magic statue of Roy O. Disney and Minnie Mouse stayed right where it was, which put it right in front of the Christmas Tree in Town Square. And a bear was apparently trying to get in on the statue love, too. Now, the statue is moved over to the side of Town Square for just about anything.
Up next are a few photos of the Christmas Parade. I always love the Toy Soldiers, which were modeled after the soldiers in the Disney version of Babes in Toyland. Always cool to see them here.
Donald and Daisy Duck were in the parade as always. And I included this photo for historical value, mainly because I never liked those versions of their costumes. They looked pretty creepy compared to the previous costumes, which they thankfully brought back a few years later.
And speaking of creepy, here are Buzz Lightyear and Jessie from Toy Story 2, which was that year’s holiday movie release. I have always thought that the Toy Story costumes just aren’t right. Buzz has a strange expression on his face, and Woody and Jessie have extra-large heads with strange expressions, too. It’s almost like they took the toy characters and tried to make them more human. Strange.
And to wrap up this holiday edition of Looking Back, here is a nighttime shot of Main Street USA. I love the night atmosphere on Main Street anyway, but it is even better at Christmas with the lighted garland strung across the street.
That’s it for Looking Back this time. Watch for another post sometime in the future. Merry Christmas!