Magic Kingdom

What’s Disney’s Best Thanksgiving Spot? Liberty Square

Thanksgiving – the American holiday celebrating the 1621 autumn harvest feast between the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Native Americans. Although certainly not the first time Europeans and indigenous people of the Americas gathered together in peace, this tale of Thanksgiving seems to pop up the most as the holiday’s origin story. It is perhaps the version of Thanksgiving we most want the holiday to be.

The Magic Kingdom’s Native American village can be seen most vividly from the deck of the Liberty Belle Riverboat.

For centuries in America, days of thanksgiving were declared throughout the year by leaders in the colonies and states, especially during times of war. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln officially made the holiday a national, once-a-year event by proclaiming the final Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. In 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt (who was criticized for moving the holiday to a date earlier in November in order to create a longer Christmas shopping season for retailers) shifted Thanksgiving Day to the fourth Thursday in November, where it has remained.

The town of Liberty Square is quite detailed and includes structures that remind visitors of the early Dutch buildings along the Hudson River, meeting places in Philadelphia and Boston, and shops inside Colonial Williamsburg.

Since American schools often break for Thanksgiving and the days surrounding it, you can understand why Disney is a popular place to celebrate Turkey Day! Of course, there are a ton of great places to get a Thanksgiving Day meal at Walt Disney World, but for me, Liberty Square is by far the best place on earth to spend Thanksgiving. The land is perfect for those who wish to be immersed in a little American history, a lot of holiday food, and a spirit of “giving thanks”.

First, let’s get into the history. Liberty Square packs four types of architecture into one small land. The waterfront is styled to look like New England in the late 1700s. The assembly house features Philadelphia’s Federal-style (1780-1830). Shops and the inn take on a more Georgian style (1700-1800), and Liberty Square’s one residential home (The Haunted Mansion) is in the style of Gothic Revival (1830-1860).

Architectural styles from 1770-1860 can be found in Liberty Square. (Ignore Rapunzel’s tower in the background center. The landscaping team is probably hoping the trees grow tall enough someday to camouflage its intrusion.)

A large oak tree stands in the center of Liberty Square and is about 140 years old. It’s called the Liberty Tree and is named after Boston’s original Liberty Tree where the Sons of Liberty gathered to protest the Stamp Act. Thirteen lanterns hang in the tree representing each of the original colonies.

The Liberty Tree in Boston is an elm. At Disney, it is a native oak tree that Imagineers had to move six miles to place it inside of Liberty Square.

A small nod to the legend of Paul Revere appears in Liberty Square. One of the upstairs windows has ready two lanterns, one to be lit if the British are coming by land and two to be lit if they are coming by sea.

Liberty Square also is home to a copy of the Liberty Bell – cast from the same mold as the original. Around the bell, fly the flags of each colony. 

The Liberty Bell is as impressive as its cousin in Philadelphia, yet most visitors prefer to check out the stockade instead.

The great colonial hall is home to the Hall of Presidents and was built to look like the meeting houses where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were created.

What’s the significance of 1787? The Constitution was ratified on Sept. 17, 1787.

Inside is a museum of genuine art and historical artifacts, including the Great Seal of the United States. The museum acts as a waiting room for showings of the Hall of Presidents, an attraction that combines a historical documentary film about our nation’s founding with a performance by 44 Audio-Animatronic figures portraying every U.S. President.

Why are there 44 presidents on stage and not 45? Grover Cleveland did not serve his terms consecutively, so he is our 22nd and 24th President.

Now, let’s talk about food! Liberty Square has it well covered. 

The Liberty Tree Tavern is an 18th-century colonial inn with antique furniture, plank floors, and pewterware. Each room is named for an important person in American history.

It’s Thanksgiving every day at the Liberty Tree Tavern.

The meals are served in generous portions, just like Thanksgiving at grandma’s house. The menu includes roasted turkey breast, roasted pork, pot roast, mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, herb stuffing, and macaroni and cheese. Also, ask for some cranberry sauce, the Inn’s recipe is unique, tart, and quite popular. 

Don’t forget to pop into the Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe.

The great part is that Thanksgiving dinner is served at the Liberty Tree Inn every day of the year. If you want to celebrate Thanksgiving in July, you can! 

The last reason why Liberty Square is such a great place to visit on Thanksgiving has to do with shopping. Next door to the Inn is a little gem of a store called the Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe. The little shop made partly of red brick and partly of gray stone is the perfect place to transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The inside twinkles with hundreds of decorations—signaling the end of another Happy Thanksgiving.

Yes, I am truly thankful for Liberty Square!

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