Just around the corner from Sonoma State University, a regular house is transformed into a large Christmas castle–covered in lights and cartoon characters, mostly from Disney cartoons. This castle is home to the handmade “101 Dalmatians,” “Lion King” characters, “Cinderella,” “Mickey and Minnie Mouse,” “Aladdin,” “Dumbo” “Frozen” characters, “South Park” characters, “Beavis and Butt Head” and so much more.
The house has around 250 characters, and if counting the neighbors who participate in the fun, the neighborhood has around 300 handcrafted characters total. The Weaver family even hides a “Where’s Waldo” character in the mix every year for viewers to find. A sled is also placed in front of the house for taking photos, and is always open to the public. The house has over 43,000 lights on it.
The Weaver family beat out three other families in the first episode of “The Great Christmas Light Fight” on ABC and won $50,000. Judging the competition was celebrity designer Sabrina Soto. When Scott Weaver revealed his home to Soto, she was rendered speechless, in tears and in complete awe. She loved the interactively, the handmade Disney characters and the memorials to past family members.
“It’s unbelievable, all of it is amazing,” said Len Betolini, a spectator of the house. “We come every year. It seems to get better every year.”
Weaver’s Winter Wonderland is just a four-minute drive from the Sonoma State campus, and is located at 1190 Cielo Circle in Rohnert Park. This house is owned and transformed by the Weaver family themselves. Tyler Weaver, a senior, told the STAR his family has been transforming their home into a Christmas wonderland for the past 20 years.
This year the family had an unexpected surprise -- their house was shown off on the ABC show “The Great Christmas Light Fight.”
They normally don’t start building up the house until Oct. 15 to finish around the first week of December, but with the TV show they had to start in September to finish by Oct. 15.
“Never grow up. To see the magic in the kid’s eyes is why I do it,” said Scott Weaver, Tyler’s father and the owner and designer of the house.
The house takes around two months to set up, so a crew of family and friends all pitch in to help out. The Weaver’s neighbor Jeff Milani has helped the family the past few years, and has started creating his own wonderland at his home.
“I’ve been working with and helping Scott, and Scott’s been helping me for the past four to five years now,” said Milani, a friend of the Weaver's who also has an extremely lit up house of his own. “I made a sleigh [for my house] and it was all red, I asked Scott the help me break up the red and that’s how we started working together.”
Despite the intense outward glamour and shine, there is more put into the house than meets the eye. There is quite a lot of sentimental value put into the house for the Weaver family and the community.
One of the things to see at the house is a large dog right up front. Tyler Weaver said most people do not understand why there is an ordinary looking dog put in the mix, but this dog is meant to represent the Weaver’s family dog.
When their family dog passed away, Scott Weaver built this dog to represent their pet Chloe. The wooden Chloe doesn’t have an ordinary texture to her, but is very rough to the touch. Scott Weaver mixed some of Chloe’s ashes into the paint before he painted her.
Another special touch is the small fake white Christmas tree, near a handful of wooden snow-covered trees. Scott Weaver has decorated this tree with ornaments he made from sobriety chips. These chips are given to him from close friends and family members, for his sobriety of 16 years.
The wooden snow-covered trees were made by Scott Weaver when he lived with his mother and was taking care of her as she went through chemotherapy. He calls these trees Mom’s Trees.
An angel can be spotted on the roof, which represents Scott’s mother and Tyler’s grandmother, who passed away 10 years ago this Christmas Eve. Her last wish was to see the lit-up house with her family one last time on Christmas. Behind the angel there are a few large candy canes, made out of her walking canes.
On the roof near the angel is a Mufasa lion, with a sobriety triangle integrated in to represent Scott’s father who passed away after 28 years sober.
“The Lion King” family can be found looking up toward the roof at Mufasa. The small lion on the larger lions back is meant to represent Tyler and his father’s close relationship, and also has the sobriety triangles integrated.
The Weaver’s have seen many unexpected things over the years -- including marriage proposals and crowds of over a 1,000 a night.
“The meaningful stories are why we keep doing this. It’s for the community and the kids,” said Tyler Weaver.
To see the house visit 1190 Cielo Circle in Rohnert Park. The lights come on around 5:30 p.m. when it is dark, and stay on until around 9 p.m.
To find photos and more information, please visit their Facebook page that is titled "Weaver’s Winter Wonderland." The Weaver's ask to stay safe, not drive without headlights and to not block the neighbor’s driveways.
To see Milani’s lit-up house, or take a photo in his oversized sleigh, stop by 7333 Cielo Circle Drive in Rohnert Park. Milani will be dressing as Santa every Saturday, weather permitting.