In this series, Know Disney?, blogger Kendall Foreman introduces readers to aspects of the Walt Disney Company, its films, history, and parks that are possibly heretofore unknown to the reader.
When the Western calendar reads January 2nd, most consider the Christmas holiday season over. However, there are some that continue celebrating right through January 6th, which is twelve days after Christmas. For them, that day—known as Epiphany—is set aside for the remembrance of the day when the Magi or Wise Men from the East visited young Jesus and brought him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh so long ago. For millions of Latinos it is referred to as Día de los Reyes Magos or Three Kings Day. For those who celebrate it, that day is considered to be the last of the Christmas season, or the last of the twelve days of Christmas.
In 2011, Disney decided to host its own Three Kings Day celebration, which took place in Disneyland over three days [January 4-6, 2011]. The festivities featured Latin-inspired decorations, food, interactive elements and entertainment that gave park guests a glimpse of Latin American culture. It was so well received that Disney decided to do it all again in Disneyland’s Frontierland in January of 2012. In fact, the popularity of the event ultimately prompted Disney to make the decision to move future Three Kings Day celebrations from Disneyland to Disney California Adventure Park (DCA). Around the same time, it was announced that a broader, annual Latin-inspired celebration called Disney ¡Viva Navidad! would take place primarily in the Paradise Gardens of DCA beginning in November of 2013. The festive event ran through January 6, 2014 with the Disney Three Kings Day celebration rounding out the final four days of Disney ¡Viva Navidad! that year. The success of the coinciding events prompted the extension of the Three Kings Day celebration from four to five days this year [January 2-6, 2015].
During the Disney ¡Viva Navidad! and the Three Kings Day celebrations, guests had the opportunity to observe, experience and enjoy the following performance, dining and activity options this year:
- Special decorations that adorned the Paradise Gardens such as piñatas and large sculptures of the Three Kings. There were also on display countless papel picado that traditionally are elaborately designed and intricately hand-chiseled and or hand-cut paper flags/banners.
- A seasonal parade—the Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party—that celebrated Latino holiday traditions and culture as well as featured the Three Caballeros atop a festive float, authentic samba and mariachi musicians and folklorico dancers, flag-bearers with papel picado flags, larger than life (12-foot-tall) mojiganga puppets including Santa and Mrs. Claus, Mickey and Minnie on street tricycles, and more several times a day.
- Mariachi, Samba, Norteno, Latin Rock, Banda musicians and bands played authentic Latino music, dancers performed authentic dances in unique garb, storytellers captivated listeners and other performers entertained guests daily on at the bandstand.
- Arts, crafts, and face painting in a designated area where children could make a bejeweled King’s crown to wear.
- Photo opportunities with festively dressed Mickey, Minnie and Goofy as well as with the Three Caballeros.
- Purchase special event merchandise.
- Special dining options throughout the Paradise Gardens. Menus featured traditional Latino dishes such as House-made Pozole, Ceviche, Torta al Pastor, Sopes de Barbacoa, Street style Tacos, Chicken Mole, Buñuelos with Cajeta, Chorizo Pizza, Chicken and Corn Salad, and Sweet Tamales. During the Three Kings Day celebration guests could purchase the traditional Rosca de Reyes bread, which is a sweet cake-like bread. In Latin American culture, the celebration of the Rosca de Reyes tradition involves a small ceramic baby Jesus being baked into the bread. Whoever finds the figurine is responsible for hosting a party on February 2, which is known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.
Where would you like to see Disney ¡Viva Navidad! at WDW – Epcot, Downtown Disney or somewhere else? Which activities would you enjoy most?
Kendall began visiting Walt Disney World in 1991 with her family and has continued to visit the resort with her husband. As a child, she and her family filled vacations with challenges such as “How many times can we ride Splash Mountain during SpectroMagic and the fireworks?” (Answer: 7) Now, after marrying a converted Disney skeptic, she and her husband enjoy challenges such as “How many hours can we eat nonstop at the Food & Wine Festival?” (Answer: 4)