Go Behind the Magic of Holiday Merchandise Window Displays with Disney Cast

Michelle Senter

by , Communications Specialist, Walt Disney World Resort

Andrew Kowalski

by , Communications Intern, Walt Disney World

If you’ve had the chance to visit Walt Disney World recently, you’ll notice it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go. But I must admit, one of the prettiest sights I’ve seen so far is the transformation and installation of our holiday window displays at EPCOT.  

Much like Santa’s elves at the North Pole, cast members on the visual merchandising team at Disney have been hard at work for the last six months planning and implementing every jolly detail in the holiday window displays seen throughout our theme parks, resorts and more. Each of these beautiful scenes invites guests into cherished Disney stories, creating new and exciting settings where guests of all ages can make treasured memories with loved ones while enjoying unique holiday sights. 

At EPCOT, the team honors the park’s past, present and future with their designs by building colorful, futuristic layouts for locations like Creations Shop, while including special nods to the park’s legacy, like repurposing an original Figment figure from Journey Into Imagination With Figment in their new displays. 

Merchandise Presentation Area Manager Don Schultz and his team of six talented cast members design these intricately themed window displays year-round, but they most look forward to this very special time of the year when they get to use thousands of decorative items to build new and engaging displays. 

“The holidays are a visual merchandiser’s big game,” said Don. “We all work together to decorate trees and come up with wild creative concepts, and we usually end up with snow and glitter everywhere.”

During the initial development phase in summer months, Christmas in July takes on a whole new meaning as the Visual Design workshop fills with holiday design sketches, fabrics and concept displays. 

“It’s a passion,” said Evan Harkrider, a senior merchandise presentation specialist on the team. “My favorite part about the design process is how it all comes together in the end and how we’re able to take our ideas and bring them to life through these displays.” 

Once the design phase is done, it’s time to install the windows in the parks. It may seem as if they appear by magic, but in reality, the team installs each display with love and care in the wee hours of the night, while the park is closed to guests and not a creature is stirring — not even a mouse. 

“We’ll usually have two weeks of overnight installations, and I just love it,” said Don. “I’ve always loved that part… How in the middle of the night, it all comes alive.”

Creating these window displays is a long and often complicated process, but that’s what makes the job so rewarding. Check out this behind-the-scenes video to see how these cast deck the halls Disney-style and fill the park’s shop window displays with holiday magic:

“When you’ve been working hard as a team to get to this point and you finally get the chance to step back and look at what you’ve created, it’s one of the best feelings,” said Evan. 

Be sure to visit the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays presented by AdventHealth to see these carefully crafted festive holiday window displays — they’re sure to make you feel like you’re walking in a winter wonderland! 

While immersing yourself in the magic and wonder of the holiday season with these very merry holiday window displays, you can also find the perfect gifts for everyone on your list and save time while shopping by using Merchandise Mobile Checkout.   

Keep following along on the Disney Cast Life blog and #DisneyCastLife on social media for more exciting ways our cast members are spreading holiday cheer throughout the holidays at Walt Disney World and beyond.