The life-sized gingerbread displays are a treasured favorite each holiday season here at the Walt Disney World Resort. Many guests visit year after year to experience and marvel at the beauty of these magnificent culinary creations.
But have you ever wondered what happens to the gingerbread displays once the holiday season is over?
I know you’re buzzing with anticipation. The answer is bees!
“Ten years ago, when performing our annual gingerbread display cleaning, we noticed bees were very attracted to the sugar on the displays after deconstruction,” Barry Stockwell, Planned Work Specialist with Event Decorating Support said. “We decided to bring the display pieces to our Disney tree farm and lay them out in our field to give the bees a chance to collect the sugar on the wooden structures.”
It’s only natural we would look to nature to help us at Walt Disney World, since as a company, Disney is committed to conservation and caring for the environment. With the bee populations declining around the world, Disney has made it a mission to provide pollinators with even more habitat and resources through pollinator-friendly gardens located across property.
And for the last decade we’ve surprised local bees with this sweet gift around the holidays. Now, thousands of local bees visit the displays each year to enjoy this sugary treat, which helps the declining bee population by keeping them well-fed during the winter months when food sources are harder to find.
The recycling process begins after the holiday season has ended when the Walt Disney World Event Decorating Support team and Pastry Chefs begin removing gingerbread from the wooden structures used to build the gingerbread displays.
Once the gingerbread is removed, it’s recycled to use for compositing, leaving a wooden structure covered in royal icing made of sugar. The team then breaks down the structure piece by piece and transports it to the Walt Disney World Resort tree farm. Then, it’s all up to the bees to find the sugar-coated wooden pieces and collect the sugar.
After the bees have left, the wooden pieces are power washed with hot water and the display is stored until the next holiday season.
Check out the process bee-gining to end on the Disney Parks TikTok.
“Honey bees can typically travel up to about two miles to search for nectar and pollen, and in this case sugar.” Zak Gezon, Conservation Manager for Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment said.
Keeping the bees well fed helps local farmers produce honey to harvest and sell to markets or even contribute to honey blends that are sold wholesale to large companies to use in delicious culinary creations, including, you guessed it, gingerbread.
Keep a lookout for these bees flying across property collecting nectar, sugar and pollinating the flowers around our parks and resorts. They might just “bee” responsible for some of the delicious ingredients found in your favorite Disney dishes and desserts!
Learn more about the importance of pollinators in our environment by clicking HERE.
Blog by Amanda Watson, Communications Specialist, Walt Disney World Resort