TikTok Reveals The Fascinating Fate Of Disney World's Massive Gingerbread Houses

If you've been to certain Disney World Resorts around the holidays, you've undoubtedly marveled at the elaborate gingerbread houses and other gingerbread displays that add an extra touch of magic to the "Happiest Place on Earth" at Christmastime. The 2021 holiday season was a particularly important one to Disney, as the company celebrated the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World in Orlando (via Disney Parks' official blog). That year also stands out because there were no gingerbread displays in 2020, as the parks and resorts pared back their operations during the height of the covid pandemic (via the Orlando Sentinel).

According to Disney Parks' official blog and the Disney Information Station, the fantastic gingerbread displays at Disney properties included a life-sized gingerbread house with "cinnamon clouds" billowing from the chimney, a spinning, life-sized Little Mermaid-themed carousel, and replicas of the Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorials as well as a reproduction of Epcot Center's recognizable American Adventure building and rotunda.

Guests get to see festive and remarkably detailed displays, which range from the tiny to the huge, but what do you do with all that gingerbread and the other confections, like the candies and icing that go into creating these stunning displays, once the holiday is over? Disney came up with a terrific solution, which was shared on TikTok. The responsible and environmentally helpful answer to the question is, in part, bees

Give bees a chance

Yes, bees, the buzzing creatures the world's crops depend on, help Disney dispose of gingerbread displays. As explained by the Disney Parks Blog, Disney World has tried to do its part to solve the crisis of dwindling bee colonies with pollinator-friendly gardens. And a decade ago, crews saw that the bees were buzzing around the sugary displays. It wasn't the gingerbread they were after, but the royal icing that works as a glue to adhere the gingerbread pieces to the wooden supports that make up the framework of the displays. While the gingerbread itself gets composted, the bees' attraction to the icing-coated supports gave employees the idea to transport them to Disney's tree farm, spread them out, and "give the bees a chance to collect the sugar," Barry Stockwell, Planned Work Specialist with Event Decorating Support, told the blog. 

The solution is a win-win, reducing food waste while providing the all-important bee population with an additional food source. Disney thinks of it as "a sweet gift" for the insects during the holidays, especially in the winter months when food sources are less plentiful, says the blog. Thousands of bees take advantage of the offering. "Honey bees can typically travel up to about two miles to search for nectar and pollen, and in this case, sugar," commented Zak Gezon, Conservation Manager for Disney's Animals, Science, and Environment. And the process gets even better: Disney says it recycles the wooden structures for the following year's displays.