22 October 2019

Home for the Holidays

Holidays and celebrations are a big part of Walt Disney World. There are buttons for first visits, anniversaries, weddings, engagements, birthdays, or a celebration of your own making. Festivals and special events highlight the rebirth of spring, our artistic natures, food from around the globe, Christmas, and Halloween. It can be seen all year round, covering all of Walt Disney World or just peppered about in various corners. Most of it, however, comes and goes with the changing of the calendar. Yet, if there is a land that personifies the end of the year spirit all year round more than Liberty Square, I’m certain that I am not aware of it.

Let’s start with the autumnal carnival known as Halloween. Whether you celebrate only in October, start as early as August, or just never let that spooky spirit leave you, Liberty Square has you covered. The land’s marquee attraction is the masterpiece known as The Haunted Mansion. If you don’t know about the labyrinth of ghoulish chambers occupied by spirits and spectres, then I’m not sure what to do for you. The Haunted Mansion may be the most well-known haunt for, well, haunts, but it isn’t the only corner of Liberty Square dedicated to the macabre.

Tucked just inside the entrance to Liberty Square, as you enter through the hub of the Magic Kingdom, is Sleepy Hollow. As the name suggests, it is tied to Washington Irving’s wonderful tale of teacher meets terror, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. This story gains a bit of steam at this time every year as the Headless Horseman makes his way along the parade route ahead of Mickey’s Boo to You Halloween Parade. This year, in particular, Ichabod Crane and his pumpkin-skulled nemesis are enjoying a resurgence as they celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Disney package film, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Back at Sleepy Hollow, you won’t find Ichabod around this waffle emporium, but the Headless Horseman does adorn the sign and the building itself is a replica of Washington Irving’s Sunnyside home. It is worth mentioning that Ichabod can be found across the way, but we’ll get to that more in a moment.

Moving right along the calendar, Christmas may start in the Magic Kingdom in early November, but we still have the day of appreciation known as Thanksgiving to attend to. Over at Liberty Tree Tavern, the traditional spread of Thanksgiving is alive and well, and done with a patriot’s flare. The meal, known as the Patriot’s Platter, is served at lunch alongside a smorgasbord of a la carte entrĂ©es, but is the only thing on the bill of fare for dinner every day of the year.

Now we come to Christmas, the biggest holiday of them all to close out the calendar each year. In Liberty Square, however, the home for the holidays is Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe. Comprised of three distinct homes or businesses; the woodwright’s shop, who is creating toys for good girls and boys, the Kepple family residence and quilt maker’s shop, a nod to Walt Disney’s grandfather, Kepple Disney, and the studio for music lessons presided over by our good friend Ichabod Crane. In this instance, Ichabod has his walls adorned in pages of music for Christmas carols and is keeping his distance from the scary story that he was made famous with. Outside of Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe, the windows are decked with garlands and wreaths covered in clove-lined oranges and other festive fruits and a sled is perched in a courtyard perfect for your family Christmas photo, regardless of when you happen to be visiting the Magic Kingdom.

Liberty Square has often been thought of as the place for patriotism, the home of Independence Day, and there is truth to that line of thinking. Yet, there is a part of me that wonders if Liberty Square is more at home nestled into the back quarter of the year. Regardless, if you find yourself drawn to Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas as your favorite holiday, there is a way to celebrate it every single day when you’re visiting Walt Disney World.