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Very Merry Memories — Erin

Christmas is a magical time of year filled with beautiful decorations, precious family traditions, and delicious food. I’ve been fortunate to celebrate the Christmas holidays at Walt Disney World, and to say the parks are stunning would be an immense understatement. The most magical place on Earth becomes even more magical during the winter holidays!

Unique Christmas displays can be found everywhere on Disney property. Special foods, performers, and decorations celebrate the traditions of Epcot’s World Showcase countries while Mickey Mouse and the gang sprinkle the Magical Kingdom with red and green pixie dust. With the incredible amount of holiday-related activities and decorations, it can be difficult to pick a favorite. However, there is a holiday display that holds a special place in my heart.

The Grand Floridian’s Gingerbread House is a culinary masterpiece that combines Disney magic with baking ingredients to create a one-of-a-kind confectionary wonder. Established in 1999, the 17-foot-tall Victorian Gingerbread House takes a team of bakers more than two months (840 hours), 1,050 pounds of honey, 800 pounds of flour, 600 pounds of chocolate, 600 pounds of powdered sugar, 140 pints of egg whites, and 35 pounds of spices to create the nearly 5,000 chocolate dipped shingles that decorate the house. But a gingerbread house isn’t complete without candy decorations and the Grand Floridian’s Gingerbread House is no different. Bakers and pastry artists use chocolate, edible “paints,” and molding chocolate to create extravagant window tableaus filled with familiar Disney friends, delicate lifelike edible poinsettias, and a variety of Christmas characters. There are also a ton of Hidden Mickeys!

My absolute favorite thing about the Grand Floridian’s Gingerbread House is that Santa’s elves sell a variety of goodies and commemorative items from inside the house! For me, nothing beats the Gingerbread Shingle with Chocolate. This shingle is made from the same Austrian “Gingerbread” Lebkuchen recipe as the house and is exactly the same sized shingle found on the roof.

Lebkuchen is a traditional German cookie baked for the Christmas holiday. Lebkuchen is a soft gingerbread full of honey and warm spices such as ginger, cardamom, allspice, and anise. Each region in Germany has its own type of Lebkuchen, but the most well known is Numberger Lebkuchen. So, what are some of the differences between Austrian Lebkuchen and Numberger Lebkuchen? The Austrian recipe uses rye flour, mace, and pimento seeds while the Numberger recipe does not. In addition, the Numberger recipe uses rum-soaked raisins, all-purpose flour, and shredded coconut. The main difference between Lebkuchen and Gingerbread is that Gingerbread uses molasses while Lebkuchen uses honey. 

No matter the recipe, I always stock up on these special treats so I can celebrate the magic of Walt Disney World’s Christmas celebrations anytime of the year.