Before beginning my review, in the interest of full disclosure I confess that in these challenging economic times I only permit myself the luxury of two magazine subscriptions each year. Celebrations: Discovering the Magic of Walt Disney World is one of them – so right off you can guess that I am a fan of this publication!
Edited by author and illustrator Tim Foster (Guide to the Magic) and Disney expert, author and podcaster Lou Mongello (Walt Disney World Trivia / WDW Radio), Celebrations is a bimonthly magazine that promises to bring readers “the wonder and magic of Walt Disney World throughout the year” – and my friends, it certainly delivers! Through feature articles, exclusive interviews and more, both regular and guest contributors spotlight the hidden (and not-so-hidden) treasures contained within those famous forty-seven square miles.
You might be tempted to say, “Sounds great, Kathy, but Disney fans can find plenty of articles like that online!” I felt the same way until I happened upon one of the issues and discovered that in addition to exceptional written material, Celebrations offered page after page of gorgeous photography on high-quality, heavyweight paper. I was sold.
Last year’s November/December issue, A Winter Wonderland, was a pictorial delight. I recall gasping aloud when I first beheld the glossy ‘centerfold’ photo of Cinderella’s Castle bathed in blue light and dripping in icicle lights. When I learned that Celebrations Press was creating a hardcover deluxe holiday issue this year, I placed my order right away. (I believe that was in July or August.) I had a long wait ahead of me!
Surprisingly, when the package arrived last week I did not rip it open right away. Instead, I stashed it away until I could eke out some time to enjoy it fully. That time came last night after a long, hard day of housecleaning in preparation for decking the halls! The husband was at work and the kids were in bed, so after a deliciously long shower I slipped into my coziest pajamas, poured myself a cup of decaf tea and plumped up the bed pillows.
Is there anything more delightful to the avid reader than the sound and smell of a book at the first crack of the binding? Feeling quite self-indulgent I settled into my pillows and began turning the 120 pages of Christmas Memories.
The first four features – Magic Kingdom Merriment, Epcot Enchantment, The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, and Decking Out the Resorts – are purely pictorial and 100% magical. In addition to spectacular shots taken by ‘regular’ Celebrations photographers extraordinaire, Tim Devine, Tom Bricker and Barrie Brewer, I was tickled to see a number of stunning photos taken by my fellow WDW Fan Zone columnist Marc Lorenzo! My only disappointment was the noticeable lack of attention given to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which is always creatively and uniquely decorated for the holidays. I would have enjoyed seeing all four parks represented in the pictorials.
A short piece titled Celebrating Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Disney Style explores two films: Mickey’s Christmas Carol, released in 1983 and the 2009 3D adaptation of A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey. I particularly enjoyed several close-up shots of scenes from Mickey’s Christmas Carol depicted in the windows of the Emporium on Main Street, USA.
The history and splendor of Epcot’s Candlelight Processional is featured in a longer piece by Lori Elias that includes fascinating insights and personal recollections from musical arranger and longtime conductor Derric Johnson. I got chills when he recounted narrator James Earl Jones reading One Solitary Life: “Just imagine that voice,” Johnson said. “People just leapt to their feet…it was astounding.”
The Holiday Backstage Tour has long been on my Disney Bucket List but I feel as though I’ve experienced it virtually after reading Lou Mongello’s article, Making the Magic Come True. Lou introduces readers to the Disney event team responsible for planning and executing all the displays at Walt Disney World and gives a thoroughly enjoyable account of how its members transform the resort into a magical winter wonderland – seemingly overnight. (How I wish I could borrow them for just a few hours to help me with my own decorating!)
Like the perfect dessert, this special edition of Celebrations concludes with Holiday Memories: A Short Anecdotal History of Christmas at Walt Disney World by Disney Historian, Jim Korkis. Mr. Korkis serves up twenty-five delicious tidbits of Disney Holiday History – the perfect number, don’t you think? He wisely observes, “Just as Walt Disney intended, Christmastime at Disneyland and Walt Disney World is a universal experience for everyone, with a message of hope, joy, respect, and love for the entire world to share.”
Likewise, the Celebrations Collector’s Edition: Christmas Memories is a universal delight for all those who believe in and celebrate Walt’s vision and gift to the world.
Wishing you all the best during this magical holiday season,
@KathyKellyRN on Twitter
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For more information on Celebrations visit celebrationspress.com