See How Disney Creators Make More Than 1,000 Handmade Wreaths For The Holidays

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The year-round crafting includes 1,700 wreaths and even more bows. And no two are alike.

<p>Walt Disney World Resort</p>

Walt Disney World Resort

It smells like the craft store, it’s as big as a Costco, and it’s all organized like The Home Edit. This isn’t heaven. It’s the Disney Holiday Services warehouse, a real-life Santa’s workshop at Walt Disney World where a team of 50 decorators and electricians work year-round creating all the festive decor for the Florida theme parks, Disney Springs, Disney Cruise Line, and select Disney vacation resorts.

No one decks the halls like Disney World. And while the resort is known for its larger-than-life trees in each theme park, what’s most impressive is the number of wreaths: 1,700 to be exact.

You can’t go anywhere on property without seeing a wreath, swag, or spray during the holiday season. They’re on security kiosks, ferry boat docks, and even the walls outside restrooms. And they’re all handmade. Even down to the bows.

Here’s a peek into the magic behind Disney’s Christmas wreaths, from our favorite designs this year to tips from the Disney bow pros to help you recreate the magic at home and level up your own wreaths.

<p>Deanne Revel</p>

Deanne Revel

Year-Round Christmas

It’s not even Christmas, and the Holiday Services team is already working on next year’s decorations. The scale is grand, with more than 40,000 pieces of decor, and it’s massive, with the largest wreath at 300 pounds and a seven-foot diameter.

Nearly 800 different locations around Florida are decorated including more than 30 hotels. And each location has bespoke decor just for that theme.

At Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, you’ll find nautical jute rope in the wreaths, but at Wilderness Lodge, you’ll see hemp rope, just like the cowboys would have used. Over at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort on the French Quarter side, you'll find strands of Baroque-style jewels that I wish I could fashion as a belt for Mardis Gras.

The bows at Disney’s Grand Floridian have little scalloped lace edges around the bow center, a nod to the Queen Anne lace motifs that dominated the Victorian era. And the wreath at the funnel cake stand in the American pavilion at EPCOT? It’s flocked to mimic the powdered sugar. It all tells a story.

<p>Courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort</p>

Courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort

And there are so many bows. There are dozens of styles on display, from a classic bowtie to the adorable bunny tail bow. And sizes range from one loop to a whopping 20 loops.

But beyond the crafting, there’s design planning and even trend forecasting. The team actually attends designer shows and buys fabrics and other decor materials years in advance. It’s very much like a fashion buyer keeping up with aesthetics, colors and silhouettes.

The Best Bows

Ever noticed how perfect Disney’s Christmas decor is? Take a stroll down Mainstreet U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom and every single strand of garland is pristine like a Hallmark movie. Even after a colossal Central Florida thunderstorm, it’s all flawless.

That magic comes from very clever creatives such as Ed Miles. He’s been with The Walt Disney Co. and in Disney’s decorating department for 45 years. For the last seven years, he’s been the planner, purchaser, and designer for Disney Holiday Services.

When asked how many spools of ribbon they have, he said, “thousands” with an excited grin. It’s a twinkle-in-the-eye, merry-making attitude that's infectious, and with so many tricks up their sleeve, it really does feel like Santa magic.

<p>Deanne Revel</p>

Deanne Revel

So how do Disney’s wreaths stay perfect and plush from Halloween to New Years? Chicken wire.

“It keeps them from flopping when it gets wet,” Miles said. “Because when you make a big bow and you put it outside and it rains, they start to droop.”

The team creates frames out of chicken wire that are then reused for years. It’s like bow upholstery. “We don’t strip them,” he said. “The new fabric goes right over the old frame and fabric. We get two to three years out of them and then when they start going bad, we cover them in different fabrics. We get like seven years out of them when we do that.”

Yep, even the mouse house packs up and stores their holiday decorations like the rest of us. But if you’ve ever pulled a wrinkled, crumbled bow out of your basement storage, Disney has a hack for that. Every loop of every bow on every wreath is stuffed with a piece of bubble wrap to fill the loop completely and protect the bow from losing its shape. Genius.

Another trick: You never see a knot. No matter the design or size, Disney bows always have a center short loop that conceals any ties or bunching. Sometimes called a button, the extra step makes each bow look so much more elevated and, as many Southern grandmothers would say, “It looks sharp.”

<p>Deanne Revel</p>

Deanne Revel

Merry Making

Designing a wreath is a lot like creating a floral arrangement. (Though Disney uses faux foliage to foolproof wreaths against heat, humidity, and storms.) The wreath itself is the filler. The thriller, or focal point, is the bow. And the accents are more ribbon, sprays and ornaments.

“When you’re doing an arrangement,” Miles said, “you get your bow, you get some props out, and then you try to coordinate them all together. Then you walk around and find foliage to go around it that compliments it, and then you go just go all around the wreath.”

Like snowflakes, no two wreaths at Disney are alike. Even in the same themed vignette or location. Similar, but not identical. Because each wreath is artisan crafted by decorators who gravitate to certain aesthetics.

<p>Deanne Revel</p>

Deanne Revel

Those who love bling get to work on the glitzy Art Deco decor at Hollywood Studios. Those with an affinity for preppy plaids, work on the tartan designs in EPCOT’s U.K. pavilion.

While so much Disney magic comes from the big nighttime spectaculars or over-the-top parades, there’s magic in the teeny, tiny details of these wreaths and the real people–not mice or princesses–that bring all the cheer to life. “It’s actually something you’re creating so there’s pride in it,” Miles said. “You made it. It’s your own.”

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