BACKSTORY: Every year, Disneyland and California Adventure decorate in the spirit of the holiday season. The first Christmas event at Disneyland took place under the big top with the Mickey Mouse Club Circus. Santa Claus even showed up in his sleigh for this festive celebration with the Mouseketeers. Guest Choirs performed in the Bandstand, which was called “The Christmas Bowl.” Eventually, this morphed into what is now known as Candlelight.
In Westways magazine (November 2010 issue), David Caranci (manager of Disneyland resort enhancement), gave some details about the installation of the Disneyland Christmas tree. The first live Christmas tree went up in year one, 1955. The live trees were grown on Mount Shasta until 2008 when it was decided to go green and use an artificial one. Designed by Disney engineers, the steel structure was built in the United States, the 1,200 skeletal and pine branches built in Mexico, and the 280,000 molded pine tips were made in China. Stored in a warehouse 3 miles away, the tree is transported to the park in pieces and assembled backstage where the lights are tested. With the assistance of approximately 15 cast members and 2 cranes, the tree is assembled in Town Square in approximately 8 hours during the first week of November. With a 3 foot star on top, the tree also has about 70,000 LED white lights, 4,800 C-9 LED light, and 2,000 ornaments, making the tree weigh about 12 tons.
From the official Disneyland website:
The Happiest Place on Earth Just Got Merrier, so gather your loved ones for the most festive time of the year. Share the joy, warmth and wonder of the holidays as the Disneyland Resort sparkles with even more magic:
• Behold the snow-capped turrets of Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle, draped with shimmering icicles and twinkling lights — the centerpiece of our Holiday transformation.
• Rejoice with "it's a small world" Holiday, featuring festivities from around the globe, a holiday soundtrack and thousands of festive lights.
• Revel with reindeer, gingerbread men and more at A Christmas Fantasy Parade, where many favorite Disney Characters and Santa spread Christmas cheer.
See dazzling pyrotechnics burst high above Sleeping Beauty Castle in the "Believe... In Holiday Magic" fireworks spectacular, complete with a snow flurry finale.
• Make merry and macabre at Haunted Mansion Holiday, where Jack Skellington and the residents of Halloween Town, from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, celebrate the season in uniquely sinister style.
• Snap pictures with Santa, Mrs. Claus and some down-home Disney Characters at the Jingle Jangle Jamboree, also featuring holiday crafts, games and festive live music.
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The 24' Matterhorn Christmas Star made its 1st appearance atop Matterhorn mountain in 1961. A crane had to be used each year to place it on top of the Fantasyland attraction. It was retired as part of Disneyland's energy conservation efforts most likely during the early 1970's.
It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas
WHEN DISNEYLAND GUESTS arrived on the scene Wednesday, November 30, our Magic Kingdom seemed to have been mysteriously transformed into a December wonderland.
Well, it really wasn't so mysterious--while we were at home decking our own halls, members of our Decorating Department were trimming our streets for the holidays.
BACKSTORY: In 1984, Disneyland released a presskit with photos and information about the upcoming Christmas celebration. Here is what it said:
TRADITION BLENDS WITH SOMETHING NEW DURING HOLIDAY SEASON AT DISNEYLAND
Tradition will blend with something new during the Christmas season at Disneyland this year, as the Park’s ever-popular holiday pageant Fantasy on Parade will be highlighted, along with a newly creatd “Audio-Animatronics” show, the “Country Bear Christmas Special.”
During the Dec. 22—Jan. 6 holiday season Disneyland will be transformed into a winter wonderland, with seasonal decorations and musical entertainment adding to the festivities. Fantasy on Parade will be showcased daily, featuring marching toy soldiers, prancing reindeer, snowmen and snowwomen, and classic scenes from favorite Disney motion pictures. The lively procession will also bring together two of the world’s most beloved characters—Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse.
A brand new addition to the Park’s holiday lineup is the “Country Bear Christmas Special,” which features the “Audio-Anmatronics” stars of the popular “Country Bear Jamboree”attraction in a special holiday show. Marking a first in Disneyland technology, the bears have been re-programmed and specially dressed to create a fun-filled musical salute to the holidays.
During the Christmas season the Magic Kingdom will also display its dazzling holiday centerpiece—a 60-foot-tall tree in Town Square embellished with 3,000 sparking lights and 2,800 ornaments. A turn-of-the-century Christmas will be re-created along Main Street, U.S.A., with strands of garland arched over the street and with lampposts, doors and windows trimmed with della robbia wreaths. Enhancing the atmosphere will be the harmonious melodies of strolling Dickens carolers.
A variety of talented entertainers is also scheduled to perform during the Christmas season. Orrin Tucker and his Orchestra will appear at Plaza Gardens Dec. 22 and 23, and Jack Morgan and the Russ Morgan Orchestra will perform at the same location Dec. 25–30. Rock ‘n’ roll entertainment will be provided by Krash at the Tomorrowland Terrace and Papa Doo Run Run on the Space Stage on Dec. 22–23 and 25–30. The Magic of Christmas, a musical variety show performed on the Space Stage, will also be featured. A Christmas version of the Fantasy Follies, which stars many of the Disney characters, will be performed at Main Street’s Plaza Gardens.
All this holiday entertainment will be presented at no additional cost for Disneyland visitors who may also enjoy the Park’s 55 major attractions.
Finally, Disneyland’s annual New Year’s Eve Party will behled on Dec. 31 from 8:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. Helping to ring-out-the-old and ring-in-the-new will be special entertainment, complimentary hats and noisemakers distributed to partygoers and a spectacular fireworks extravaganza presented at the stroke of midnight. As this is a perenially popular event, tickets should be purchased as soon as possible. New Year’s Eve Party tickets will be available at all Southern California Ticketron and TicketMaster outlets for $20 per person.
Disneyland’s hours and Fantasy on Parade times for the Christmas season are Dec. 22 and 23, 9 a.m. to midnight (2 and 9 p.m. parades); Dec. 31, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (4 p.m. parade); Jan. 1—5, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (4 p.m. parade); Jan. 6, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (4 p.m. parade).