BAY LAKE, Fla. – A popular tradition at Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is now delighting guests once again during the holiday season.
A team of culinary experts have once again taken on the monumental task of creating a life-size gingerbread house in the resort’s grand atrium. The house, which is one of five constructed throughout Walt Disney World, has been a staple for more than two decades.
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Designing the gingerbread house is no easy feat. In fact, it takes several months to bake the more than 10,000 pieces needed to construct and design the house.
Leading the bake design is Kristine Farmer, Legacy Award cast member and pastry chef at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
“For the last 23 years I have been involved in the build and now it’s my baby,” Farmer said. “We started in June making our honey doughs, which is hot honey, and flour - and those have to age. Once those have gone through that process, they will use that dough to make our face dough for the gingerbread.”
Once the gingerbread is ready to go, Disney’s engineering teams get to work putting together a wooden frame structure.
“On the day of the build, we bring out about 15 to 20 Cast Members to help,” Farmer explained. “We come out with our gingerbread that has chocolate on the backside of it, and we’re using royal icing to apply it to the structure.”
It takes the culinary teams just three days to make sure the house is in tip-top shape before teams carefully dust the entire house with powdered sugar, adding a perfect magical touch.
On the outside of the house, guests will see hand-painted Pastillage Disney Princess art pieces that are painted with cocoa butter, large holiday statues made of white chocolate and 23 hidden Mickey Mouse symbols scattered around.
“Our guests love to go around and look for those hidden Mickeys on the house and if they have a little trouble, and they just have to know where that last one is - our cast members in the Gingerbread House have a list of the locations of those,” Farmer said.
The Gingerbread House is not just a tradition that many guests love to see year after year, but it’s also stirring up some incredible inspiration for local culinary students.
Recently, as part of Disney’s initiative to give back to the community, leaders invited culinary students from Wekiva High School out for a special tour through the kitchens at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. During their time at the resort, students got to hear from culinary professionals and get a sneak peek of the gingerbread display before it officially debuted to guests.
The trip was topped off with a commemorative 50th anniversary cookbook and some delicious gingerbread treats.
Following the holiday season, the culinary team will deconstruct the gingerbread so it can then be used to help the honey bee population.
“Well, a lot of guests asked us at the end of this project, ‘What do we do with it? Where is it going? Does it get stored away?’ And the answer is, the same team that built it is scraping off all the gingerbread and the engineering team just takes it out to the Disney tree area so it can be pressure washed out there. Thousands of bees come to drink the sugar water,” concluded Farmer. “So we feel like because we’re using their honey - we’re feeding the bees at the end of the season.”
The Gingerbread House at Grand Floridian Resort & Spa will be up through the holidays selling delicious treats to guests including Gingerbread Cookie Men, Mickey Face Lollipops, Gingerbread Latte Whoopie Pies and so much more. Hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Click here for more information about Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
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