by carlyeckerle | Dec 22, 2017 | Holidays, Magic Kingdom, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, Special Ticketed Events
This post is inspired by the 2015 photo that popped up in my Facebook memories this morning. Originally shared on FB; posted here by request.
Meeting Santa Stitch was one of my favorite Christmas presents of ALL time. We had just moved here a few months prior, I was still looking for a job, and disposable income was not a thing we had. This was a moment I got to experience thanks to the kindness and effort of a few people, and I will remember it always. ❤️
And this year? So much has changed, but the spirit of people willing to be generous with their time and enthusiasm has not. I not only got to experience amazing hugs from Santa Stitch again, but Buzz Lightyear, Haley Comet, and all of the amazingly talented dancers from A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas came along as well. It was probably a normal day for them, but for me, it was overwhelmingly magical.
Friends who have been spending 7 days a week making snow, perfecting lighting and music, making the sky sparkle, doing your best to keep guests safe and spirits high during this hectic time, making sure everyone’s holiday attire is gorgeously festive, dancing your heart out, and running around in a hot fur suit: thank you. You are adding magic to people’s lives. You don’t hear it enough, but what you do truly matters.
by carlyeckerle | Dec 19, 2017 | Holidays, Magic Kingdom, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, Special Ticketed Events
There are only a few Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas parties left this season, so here’s my plan for making the most of your experience!
If you don’t live locally or visit the Disney parks often, I suggest scheduling a 2nd full day in the Magic Kingdom. There is so much to see and do during the parties, and there is no way to fit every single party activity – let alone actually experiencing rides and exploring the Magic Kingdom – into such a short window. This plan contains only party-related activities and it differs just a little from my Not-so-Scary Halloween Party plan.
The goal: experience as many party activities as possible.
Step 1: Getting There
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party officially starts at 7:00, but the Kingdom usually starts letting party guests in around 4:00. Be sure to use the special event entrances – they’ll be marked at the tapstiles, and a cast member is usually around to direct traffic. You’ll get your wristband upon entering. The park closes to day guests at 6:00 PM, so anyone without a wristband is kindly escorted out.
On your way in, be sure to grab a times guide.
Step 2: Dinner
A few weeks out, make an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) for 4:30 PM. We usually go to Tony’s, but we picked the Skipper Canteen this year and it exceeded expectations. You could do a quickservice meal, too, if you want, but I like to enjoy a few minutes of relaxation at a table service restaurant before we hit the ground running. Not all of the restaurants in Magic Kingdom are open during the parties, so it’s a good opportunity for everyone to have a substantial meal before consuming ALL the Christmas cookies.
Step 3: In-demand Character Meet & Greets: Sandy Claws
Have a particular character you’d like to meet? Lines for Sandy Claws, Moana, and the 7 Dwarfs are typically the longest. Sandy Claws arrives at 6:00 PM in order to accommodate the demand. Since you’ll be finishing dinner between 5:30 and 5:45, hop in line to meet Sandy. We got in line at approximately 5:45 and met Sandy at about 6:50.
Step 4: Party-exclusive Merch
Your times guide will indicate which party-exclusive items are available in which shop. Not all shops carry the same things, believe it or not! Sometimes exclusive merch sells out immediately; however, I’ve had great luck getting my hands on whatever I wanted this year, so hopefully Disney has increased supply a bit.
We always pick up a party-exclusive pin or two, and I’m a sucker for magic bands with pretty art and special lights and sounds (not to mention seasonal scents!). I find the Emporium to be too hectic, so after we said hi to Sandy Claws, we made our way back to Big Top Souvenirs in Storybook Circus. Special apparel is usually out on the shop floor, but you’ll need to ask for pins and magic bands at the counter.
This year, we made it in and out of Big Top Souvenirs just before 7:00 PM. Party merch is generally not available until 7:00 PM; however, if you have a party wristband, the store is ready, and you’re there at 6:55, I doubt you’ll have any issues.
Step 4.5: Treats!
During Christmas parties, multiple quick service locations convert to complimentary treat stations! When you pass one, be sure to pop in for cookies, hot chocolate, and various other treats.
- Tortuga Tavern: Snowman Soft Pretzel & Sno-cone
- Liberty Square Ticket Office: Ginger Molasses Cookie & Eggnog
- The Friar’s Nook: Dove Chocolate & Sparkling Cider
- Pete’s Silly Sideshow: Peppermint Crunch Cookie & Nestle Nesquik
- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe: Snickerdoodle Cookie & Hot Chocolate
- Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies: Santa Claus Cookie and Sno-cone
Important note: my favorite cookies are the Peppermint Crunch. Ginger Molasses comes in a very close second!
Step 5: More Characters! And Shows! And Treats!
Santa Goofy meets in Storybook Circus, as do Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck (in winter gear, no less!), Minnie and Daisy, and The Seven Dwarfs. The line for Goofy is usually average (in my experience), but the line for Scrooge and Donald can get a little long.
After our stop in Big Top Souvenirs, we went over to meet Goofy, then scurried up to the Town Square Theatre to meet Mickey. Note: when on Main Street or Town Square, be sure to take a moment to enjoy the faux snow. By then, it was time to pop to the castle hub for the 8:15 showing of A Frozen Holiday Wish.
I highly encourage taking the time to watch A Frozen Holiday Wish. It’s just under 8 minutes, and it’s pretty dang magical. Opt for the 8:15 PM showing, though. There’s also one at 6:15, but it tends to be very crowded since non-party guests are still in the park at that time.
Just after A Frozen Holiday Wish ended, we headed over to the Rocket Tower stage to catch A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas. This is also a show worth watching; it’s upbeat and very cute. Expect to see Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski, Stitch, and lots of super-talented dancers.
After ATTC, we dashed back to Storybook Circus to say hi to Uncle Scrooge and Donald. Then it was time to head back to the castle hub for Holiday Wishes fireworks at 10:00 PM. I like to stand one walkway up from Casey’s corner for the best view. While there are some castle projections, they aren’t as essential as the ones during Happily Ever After, so you can really watch from anywhere if you’d like.
Step 6: Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration
I absolutely adore this show, and if you watch Holiday Wishes from the castle hub, you’ll be in a perfect position to watch Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration.
Definitely make MMMC a priority. It’s the highlight of the party: fun, upbeat, ridiculously cute, and heartwarming.
Step 7: Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
Hang on to your spot in the castle hub and you’ll be in the perfect position for The Once Upon a Christmastime parade. It steps off in Frontierland at 11:00 PM and should reach the castle hub at about 11:10 and Main Street at about 11:15. The castle hub is great for viewing, but due to lighting, it isn’t the best for photos.
Note: there’s also an 8:30 PM parade, but I far prefer the 11:00 parade for the tamer crowds.
Main Street is obviously a great place to catch the parade, buuuut people start staking out spots around 6:30 PM, and I just cannot justify paying $100 for an event only to sit in one spot and do nothing for 3 hours.
Step 8: The end
The party is officially over at midnight, but heaps of people leave after the parade finishes (around 11:45). But you’ve still got 15 minutes of party left, so make the most of it! Plus, if you leave now, you’re going to get stuck in the throngs of people waiting for the ferry and monorail.
So what now? If there was something you meant to buy, go grab it. Was there a ride you wanted to try? Go hop in line! Want to snap some more photos of the spectacular Cinderella Castle? Go right ahead! Was there a cookie you liked? Treat locations are open ’til 12, so go back for more! Sometimes, just before midnight, the cookie givers are rather generous. 😉
Then, on your way out, have a browse through the Emporium on Main Street. This should have you exiting the park at 12:10 or just after, and lines for the monorail and ferry will still exist but will have calmed quite a bit.
And there you have it. I hope these tips will help you in getting the maximum enjoyment out of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! Any questions? Please leave ’em below!
Related: check out my MVMCP post from 2016 that discusses what I’d do differently!
by | Dec 28, 2016 | Holidays, Magic Kingdom, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, Special Ticketed Events
You guys, I went to the Magic Kingdom on Christmas Eve. And I lived to tell about it. More on that in a moment, but first:
As promised in my previous post, I have an update on the holiday-related shows, parades and festivities:
Please note: showtimes vary based on the day of the week and are subject to change. Please refer to your printed times guide (available near the park entrance), the My Disney Experience app, or this handy online calendar for exact and up-do-date showtimes. Based on the current schedule, all Christmas shows end on Saturday, December 31.
- Showings of Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire still occur throughout the day (usually starting around 10:00 AM and ending shortly before A Frozen Holiday Wish)
- Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration starts after dark and has several showings each evening
- Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade runs twice per day (12:00 PM and 3:30 PM)
- A Frozen Holiday Wish happens once per evening. Time varies depending on the day of the week, but it’s usually in the 6:15 range – shortly after the last Move it, Shake it parade.
- Wishes has been earlier than usual – 9:00 PM. Once Upon a Time happens at 9:30 PM.
- A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas generally has several showings from late afternoon to evening (last show is generally around 9:30 PM)
- You can see snow during the stage shows, but there’s no snow on Main Street this year.
So yes, back to my Christmas Eve adventure at the Magic Kingdom. I was nervous. I’ve heard horror stories. When I got there around 3:00 PM, though, I was pleasantly surprised! Crowds weren’t bad. My monorail car was near empty. The Villians lots weren’t even filled past Zurg. I spent about half the normal amount of time in line at Starbucks, and then I sat peacefully at a table on the Tomorrowland Terrace and people-watched for a bit. It was nice.
Once the sun set, though, oh dear lawd. People were everywhere. It became difficult to get around. It wasn’t exactly shoulder-to-shoulder, crammed in like sardines, but it was close. Getting from one side of the hub to the other was a stressful endeavor. And sadly, people didn’t seem to be filled with the Christmas spirit. There was lots of rudeness and carelessness – people cramming their way in front of other people for shows, leaving heaps of garbage everywhere, etc. Physically, emotionally, and intellectually draining. Not my favorite environment at all. It was a huge relief to finally get home. Three days later, I still feel tension in my neck and shoulders. Yikes!
In my previous post, I said I wasn’t sure if it was really worth it to attend a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party since you can see most of the shows as part of regular park operations once the parties end for the season. I changed my mind after my Christmas Eve experience. Now, I think if you can, you should absolutely attend a party. Crowds are much more intense once the parties end for the season, and the less-crowded party environment alone is worth the price to me. Plus you get the special music, pretty lighting, enchanting snowfall, and heaps of free cookies.
by | Dec 21, 2016 | Holidays, Magic Kingdom, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, Special Ticketed Events
We finally made it to a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, woohoo! (We = my husband and me.)
Ordinarily, I take the day off so we can get there early (for Halloween parties, anyway – this was my first Christmas party). I wasn’t able to do that this year, though, and some last-minute work stuff kept me in the office longer than planned. Plus… Friday night traffic on I-4.
We finally made it into the park just as A Frozen Holiday Wish was beginning (8:15 PM). I LOVE this little show, but I was starving and had a ferocious headache. You can experience AFHW on non-party nights and I’ve seen it several times this season, so food was the priority. Now, though, I’m actually really sad we missed it. It’s such a perfect kickoff to a magical holiday evening!
We decided to grab dinner at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, which converted to Club Tinsel for the night. You can’t go wrong with a burger, fries, upbeat music, and dancing polar bears, right? Well, Cosmic Ray’s was packed. We waited for about 20 minutes and none of the lines budged. My husband wanted to try Friar’s Nook for Pot Roast Mac and Cheese (mmmm!), but it was closed. We ended up at Pinocchio’s Village Haus (because hanger), which was busy but still much calmer than Cosmic Ray’s.
That night’s party sold out. The park was busy but not intolerable. Cosmic Ray’s and the treat stations were the most crowded bits of the evening.
After dinner, we planned to snag some free hot chocolate and cookies from The Lunching Pad to enjoy while watching A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas. There are multiple free treat stations, and they each have something different! By the time we got to Tomorrowland, treat lines at The Lunching Pad were looooong and we didn’t have enough time to wait before the show started.
A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas was delightful. I saw it last year and loved it; this year was just as charming. Stitch’s little face is just so cute! If you like Mike Wazowski and Buzz Lightyear, they make appearances in this show.
After ATTC, it was time for Holiday Wishes – Celebrate the Spirit of the Season! My favorite viewing spot is the area in front of Casey’s Corner. I don’t remember being especially thrilled with Holiday Wishes last year, but I really enjoyed it this year! The Christmas music and festive colors really helped me get into the spirit.
Next up: pin shopping! We headed to Big Top Souvenirs in Storybook Circus for party pins. I picked Elsa and Stitch. The passholder pin was still in stock, but I wasn’t thrilled with the design – gingerbread people – so I didn’t buy that one.
We were hoping to do the Santa Goofy and Donald Duck & Scrooge McDuck meet and greets. Donald and Scrooge were delightful, but Santa Goofy was on his break and then a looooong line developed. We had to rush to Town Square to catch the parade, which meant skipping Santa Goofy. 🙁
Next, we headed to Town Square to catch Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. I’m always in awe of the performers. I would have to be carried off 100 yards into the parade route, but they dance enthusiastically all the way from Frontierland to Town Square. The floats are intricate and SCENTED (Mr. EC loved the Clarabelle Cow gingerbread, while I favored the sweet piney scent from Kristoff’s float). There are even real horses! But my favorite part? Seeing the reactions of the little girl (3 or so?) sitting next to us. So. Cute. I love seeing people experience the magic of Disney!
Heaps upon heaps of people leave after the last parade (steps off in Frontierland at 11:00 PM). Just keep that in mind if you’re on Main Street or in Town Square!
And finally: Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration. I was not excited for this show. I’m sad to say I almost skipped it!
While we were waiting for the show, my husband dashed over to the Lunching Pad for hot chocolate and peppermint bark cookies. Bless him. Those cookies were delicious and I’m still thinking about them. Imagine chewy chocolate chip cookies with bits of peppermint bark baked in. Sweet, a tiny bit salty, chocolaty, and pepperminty. Oooh yeahhh. They even had that nice cooling quality, but not in a toothpastey way. I could’ve eaten dozens.
Anyway, back to Mickey’s Most Merriest! Thankfully I caved in my steadfast curmudgeon-ness, because it ended up being my top favorite part of the entire evening. The production was aces; it was like watching a mini broadway show on the castle stage. MMM was adorable, funny, heartwarming, and it featured some of THE BEST Christmas songs. My eyes might even have leaked a little. Pluto barks when the doorbell rings, all of the costumes are stunning, and the integration of pop culture elements was a lot of fun. My favorite part of the night, for sure.️
The last showing was at midnight, so as soon as it was over, it was time to go home!
Oftentimes, the shops along Main Street will stay open past closing time. For the Halloween and Christmas parties this year, they were rolling up the sidewalks at midnight! This is so odd to me, as there are still plenty of people around!
I stopped into Starbucks/Main Street Bakery on the way out – yay, still open! – to pick up a Frozen Holiday Wish cupcake, but they were all gone 🙁 The barista informed me that they are delicious and popular, so they sell quickly. I THINK this cupcake is similar to Anna’s Birthday Cupcake from Epcot, so let me know if you get to try it!
In all, I really enjoyed the party. The shows were my favorite part. We didn’t take advantage of the treat stations nearly enough due to our tight schedule. We also didn’t partake in any rides, but that’s something I can do anytime as a local and a pass holder. I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get a chance to do Jingle Cruise, but there’s still time in the season.
So, is it really worth $100 per person to experience a Christmas party? Honestly, I’m undecided. I think it depends on what’s most important to you. Will I go next year? Almost certainly. The shows and parade become part of daily operations after the last party, so if you’re local and don’t mind braving the crowds, you can see them that way. If you’re visiting before then and you can make it work with your budget, go for the party! Personally, I feel like the parties have a festive holiday vibe you don’t really find during standard operations.
Here’s what I would do differently:
- Take the day off. Get there at 4:00. Eat. Avoid stress and being hangry.
- Decide on character meet & greets and integrate the ones I want to experience into my plan.
- Try to visit every treat station. Visit the peppermint bark cookie station twice. 😉
- Spend more time on Main Street enjoying the music, lighting sequences, and snow
- Get a Frozen cupcake early in the evening
- Catch A Frozen Holiday Wish
And here’s what worked really well for us:
- The show schedule we followed (A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas at 9:20 PM, Holiday Wishes at 10:00 PM, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade at 11:00 PM, Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration at 12:00 AM)
- Catching the later Once Upon a Christmastime Parade (11:00 PM) and last Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration (12:00 AM)
Annnnd here’s what I recommend for you!
- Arrive early. Like, 4:00 early. The party and festivities officially start at 7; however, you can get in as early as 4:00. Do it. Get in, eat dinner, grab a times guide, and get your plans in order.
- Pick up a party guide on your way in. This will tell you where the treat stations are, which restaurants are open, which shops feature exclusive merchandise, show descriptions, and show times.
- Not all rides, shops, and dining outlets will be open. Refer to your party guide.
- Party-exclusive merchandise is not available in all shops. Again, refer to your party guide.
- The shows and parade are very much worth watching. Don’t miss them! I tend to favor the later parades and castle show, mainly because the crowds are thinner.
- There’s no Once Upon a Time on party nights.
- Treat stations have different varieties of cookies and beverages.
- If there’s a particular party-exclusive treat you want, get it early in the evening. Sometimes they sell out. 🙁
- If there’s exclusive merchandise you want, aim to attend a party earlier in the season.
- If you have PhotoPass, there are several fun enhanced photo opportunities throughout the park!
If you make it out to a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party this season (there’s one more left!) I hope you have a wonderful time!
If you’re reading this after the parties have ended, the Christmas parade will usually replace the Festival of Fantasy parade during the day. A Frozen Holiday Wish and A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas will usually have a few have showings nightly. I’m not quite sure how Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire and Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration will be scheduled, but I’ll keep you posted!
Annnd if you’re reading this after the holiday season has ended, this info will still be handy to have for next year’s Halloween and Christmas parties!
Please feel free to leave any questions below and I’ll do my best to answer.