Disney World Cast Members Bring their Culture to the Holiday Decorations

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Disney World Cast Members

Disney World Cast Members Bring their Culture to the Holiday Decorations

The holidays are almost in full swing at Walt Disney World! Disney World Cast Members are hard at work getting all of the decorations made and installed at the parks and resorts. Over 40,000 individual pieces of holiday décor have been created!

Though the team decorates across the resort, the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll presented by AdventHealth holds an extra special place in the hearts of two Holiday Services cast members – Kaawaloa and Gerardo “Jerry” – who had the unique opportunity to combine their passion for Disney and their respective Hawaiian and Mexican cultural traditions into the making of the “Moana” and “Coco” themed trees.

Related – Guide to the Holiday Food and Drinks at Disney Springs


Bringing a Touch of Home to the Disney Holidays

Kaawoloa, who has been with the team for eight years, is most proud of her work on the tree inspired by Disney’s “Moana,” drawing inspiration from her Native Hawaiian upbringing.

“It feels like home,” Kaawaloa said. “I love to get together with my family and make ornaments because I have memories of learning traditional techniques growing up, and I get to continue the tradition now with my work!”

Kaawaloa helped select the specific types of flowers, shells and colors that would best represent the Island of Motunui. She used authentic Hawaiian lei crafting and fabric techniques that mimic the ocean water, and even took a basic boat the team had in storage and turned it into one of the canoes from Motunui!

“The complexities and scale of our projects make for great learning experiences,” Kaawaloa said. “We work with so many extremely talented Disney cast members; someone is always there to lend a hand to bring décor to life.”


Walt Disney World Cast Bring “Moana” and “Coco” Inspired Décor to Life

Jerry, who has been with the team for six years, brought his Mexican heritage, family traditions and unique decorating techniques that he learned growing up to the Disney and Pixar’s “Coco” tree.

“Decorating the ‘Coco’-themed tree brought me back to when I was little,” he said. “My grandma and great-grandma took care of me, and they owned a flower shop, so I grew up surrounded by art and decoration. When I found out I could do that for a living, I felt like it was a natural move.”

Using his memories of celebrating both Christmas and Día De Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, with his family, Jerry’s goal for the tree was to make it look like “a party in the afterlife.” He turned the tree into an authentic, colorful ofrenda, complete with hand-painted alebrijes and calaveras, offerings like fruit and shoes, and photos of the Rivera Family in intricate frames.


“When we get close to finishing a project, I always think about standing near the trees and hearing the guests’ comments,” Jerry added, “I feel really good inside knowing that millions of people from all over the globe visit Disney World just to see our décor!”

These trees and more can be found on the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll presented by AdventHealth beginning Nov. 10! Don’t forget to grab a complimentary map at participating locations so you can seek out all the fun trees located throughout Disney Springs. And keep a lookout for new trees this year, including a tree inspired by Disney Animation’s upcoming feature, “Wish” – in theaters Nov. 22!

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Sara is a travel agent with Destinations to Travel, a Disney Earmarked agency. She lives in Alaska with her husband and 3 kids. Due to her extreme dislike of winter, she travels often to warmer destinations during the colder months. She visits the Disney parks and resorts frequently with her family and loves helping other families plan magical vacations. Contact her here for help with your vacation!
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