There is always something magical about visiting the Walt Disney Studios. Walking where Walt Disney once walked and created so many classics that are beloved by millions is something very special. Getting to do this during a holiday party adds an extra level of magic to the experience. This is what attendees at D23’s Light up the Season event experienced on December 11, 2022. A couple of the Daps Magic team members were invited by D23 to experience this lovely and crisp evening at the Walt Disney Studios.
In the middle of the afternoon, attendees began arriving at the Walt Disney Studios for this very special night. After parking in the Zorro parking lot, they crossed the street to check in and wait in another parking lot to enter the event. When checking in, each attendee received an ornament for the night that also celebrated the 30th anniversary of The Muppet Christmas Carol. Once checked in, the ornament received, and a wristband on, guests were given the option to choose which line they entered. One line led to the studio store and the other was a general entrance to the event.
The event began at 4:00 with the vice president of D23, Special Events, and Disney Corporate Creative Resources, Michael Vargo welcoming everyone to the event. Then as the music played, guests were invited into the main area of the Walt Disney Studios to enjoy the evening. The event lasted from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM. It included activities, foods, entertainment, characters, giveaways, and more.
A popular destination for guests was to visit Santa Goofy. A festive path led to where he was meeting with guests. Other characters were also meeting around the studio lot. This included Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse by the Christmas tree and Donald Duck and Daisy Duck as well. While Goofy was dressed in his Santa Claus outfit, the rest were wearing their winter outfits that debuted at the Disneyland Resort last year.
There was plenty of food, snacks, and drinks to enjoy during the event as well. This included the opportunity for guests to eat including Walt’s Chilli at the commissary, food trucks, complimentary hot cocoa with cookies, complimentary popcorn, or the Hearthstone Tavern for some adult seasonal beverages.
A highlight of the event had to be the different entertainment offerings found around the studio lot. This included the Mostly Kosher, Holiday Harmony, and Disney Studios cast choir MeloD23. Mostly Kosher performed the set that is seen at Sonoma Terrace at Disney California Adventure. This is one of the most fun performances to be found during the holidays at Disneyland and its addition to this event was great! Holiday Harmony, also known as WestBeat, brought a modern acapella sound to the studios with their fun arrangements of holiday and Disney songs. A highlight of their sets was getting to hear their Animazement medley. The Walt Disney Studios cast choir MeloD23 was perhaps the unexpected highlight of the night. This group of 12 sang and played handbells throughout the night at different locations around the studios. They sang so many holiday classics in traditional ways that brought to life the classic caroling choirs of days gone by. Looking back, if I could have planned my evening more effectively, I would have watched every performance of MeloD23.
The night also included DJ Clark bringing his positive and fun energy to the Main Stage, snow moments, and the lighting of the Christmas Tree! All of this added to the festive feel of the evening. Over in the theater, different holiday programs were screened throughout the event. This included The Muppet Christmas Carol.
There were also plenty of other offerings to enjoy throughout the night around the studio. A train gave guests rides near The Michael D. Eisner Building. Booths around the studio had activities and sold many different potential holiday gifts. There were also photo opportunities all around as well. Perhaps the most popular were the Disney Employee Store and the Disney Studio Store. Both stores were open and had lines throughout the night. The Disney Studio Store’s lined remained open after the event officially closed to those who were already in line.
One of the best parts of D23’s Light up the Season was the support of the Toys for Tots program. There were some Marines and a Sailor on hand to accept donations and chat with those who were donating. Guests were encouraged to bring new unopened toys to the event to donate. Donations can still be given on shopDisney as part of The Ultimate Toy Drive through December 24, 2022.
On top of all of the different things being offered by D23 to experience, it was also absolutely wonderful to be together on the Walt Disney Studios Lot during the holiday season and see friends new and old. The location, the people, and the conversations all came together to add so much warmth to a rather cool Southern California evening.
The D23 Light up the Season event was an absolutely wonderful way to celebrate the season with so many great friends that all share a mutual love of Disney. Perhaps what made this evening so special was the way D23 created so many opportunities for moments to happen. There is power in magic moments. From these, memories are made. This year’s Light up the Season definitely made some magical moments. This is definitely a D23 event that should be added to the top of the priority list to attend next year!