It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Of course, at Walt Disney World, that also means that Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is about to begin. This signature ticketed-event is held on select nights throughout November and December at the Magic Kingdom and is a definite must-do for all fans of Disney and Christmas – and who isn’t?
No one does this magical season better than Disney, and there simply isn’t a more wonderful place to be immersed in the Christmas atmosphere (yes, even in early November).
If you happen to find yourself in Walt Disney World in November or December, you’ll definitely want to take a look at our Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Guide, for all of our party tips!
When to Attend
As appealing as Christmas time is at Disney, we prefer to attend the festivities in November. There’s an excellent window of time after the Wine & Dine marathon in early November and before American Thanksgiving. We try to avoid travelling during the holidays, both American and Canadian, because the crowds are usually quite heavy.
The one downside to visiting before American Thanksgiving is that the full Christmas decorations and celebrations at the other parks and around the resorts may not be in full swing just yet. You’ll miss out on the resort Christmas trees, and the Festival of the Holidays at Epcot, so you’ll definitely have to weigh the pros and cons.
There is, however, a second window in early December, when all of the decorations will be up and you’re still far enough away from Christmas to avoid the heavier crowd levels. Party tickets also get more expensive as Christmas approaches and since it’s the exact same party no matter when you attend, we figure why pay more?
Arrive at 4pm
When we have party tickets, we don’t usually visit another park that day. It’s like paying twice, but not getting the full value of that regular park ticket. Your MVMCP ticket will give you access to Magic Kingdom starting at 4pm, even though the party doesn’t officially start until 7pm. For the price of the party tickets, we want to get as much Magic Kingdom party-time in as we can, so we tend to arrive shortly before 4pm to be among the first to get in line and receive our special party bracelets.
We use this time to ride attractions and take in the atmosphere as the party is starting to take form. It’s also a great time to get some party Photopass pictures taken with the decorations. Once the party starts there’s actually quite a lot to do in a relatively short amount of time, so while the attraction ride lines tend to be shorter during the party, we don’t really ride many once the party starts.
Before 4pm, we spend time at our resort, have breakfast or lunch at a resort restaurant or visit Disney Springs. There’s no shortage of things to do around Disney before attending the party.
During the party, there are select attractions open. While the attraction stand-by times have the potential to be shorter during the party, we’ve found that it can still take a huge chunk out of your party time. In the past we’ve used the pre-party time (4pm-7pm) to ride attractions, because once the party starts there’s actually quite a bit to do in a relatively short amount of time. So even though there’s the temptation to get on favourite attractions, we don’t generally ride a many of the attractions once the party starts.
Dress for the Occasion
Part of the fun of MVMCP is dressing in your holiday best. You can put in a good amount of effort, or very little effort and still feel like you’ve done something special for the party. We’ve worn matching red plaid shirts, which we felt was in the holiday spirit, comfortable and also reflected our Canadian spirit (because we’re all descended from lumberjacks and love plaid).
Some guests wear Christmas PJs, “ugly” Christmas sweaters, Christmas themed ears, and some guests will really go all out in borderline formal wear. Whatever says Christmas to you, we say wear it! It will also make those PhotoPass photos that much more festive.
Another thing to consider is bringing a sweater. November and December evenings can get quite cool, even for us Canadians. Check the weather ahead of time and plan accordingly. You wouldn’t want to be chilly watching the fireworks or waiting for the parade.
Check out the Party-Exclusive Merchandise
(and get the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Card)
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party has a ton of party-exclusive merchandise, from pins (our favourite) to shirts and many more collectables. We tend to look through the merchandise before the party officially starts (between 4-7pm), because some shops will start to set out the merchandise and give access if you already have your party bracelet on.
You’ll also want to visit the Firehouse at the top of Main Street and pick up another party exclusive – the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Card, which changes each year. This is the only time you can get this particular card and they are highly collectable. Even if you don’t play, it’s still fun to pick up this memento of the party. It’s these party exclusive cards that got us into playing the game in the first place. And so rarely does Disney give something away for free, so why not take advantage of this generosity?
Character Meet and Greets and Photos
There are more than 15 characters to meet at MVMCP and the lines to meet these characters can grow quite long. You could easily spend the entire party waiting in line to meet characters. If meeting a particular character (like Santa Jack Skellington) or two will make your evening, get in line early, before the party actually begins if possible. Check again towards the end of the night, after Holiday Wishes of course, but don’t wait too long as some characters tend to leave before the official end of the party. We recommend prioritizing which character(s) you must meet, and put a cap on the time you’ll wait in line.
We prefer the PhotoPass opportunities at the parties as well as the party exclusive magic shots, and they have shorter lines than the characters. Oh, and a photo at the Christmas tree at the bottom of Main Street is an absolute must.
Skip the Dining Reservations (but get the snacks)
We like to do quick service dining on party nights, because we want to maximize our party time with party events, the things that we’re paying extra for. If we made dining reservations, we would feel like we were missing out on special MVMCP happenings and doing something we can experience on any other day at Magic Kingdom.
If you do decide to have a quick service meal at the party, the earlier the better. The quick service lines tend to get long in and around your typical dinner time and in between parades and fireworks.
Throughout the evening, there are also some complimentary sweet treats and seasonal beverages (hot chocolate and gingerbread, anyone?). The holiday treat locations are scattered throughout the park and really help to add to the Christmas spirit at the party. It’s completely acceptable to fill up on these treats, because that’s also part of the holiday spirit.
Watch the Parade, Twice
We love, love, love Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade and we always try to watch the parade twice, because it really is that good – it’s the merriest parade around. We like to watch the parade from two different vantage points. Our first preferred location will always be somewhere on Main Street or close to the Cinderella Castle hub so you always have the castle as a backdrop for the parade. We also really enjoyed watching the parade from the second level balcony of the Main Street train station.
In addition to a host of classic Disney characters, this parade really is the only chance you’ll get to see the marching toy soldiers, dancing gingerbread men and prancing reindeer all together – not to mention a visit from Jolly Old St. Nick himself to close off the parade. Plus, the air smells of gingerbread and it just doesn’t get any better than that.
Catch the Castle Shows
I’ll admit it…Ryan and I weren’t the biggest Frozen fans in the beginning. Over time, however, I have to say it has absolutely grown on us. That’s all due to the way Disney has incorporated Frozen into the parks. We love Frozen Ever After in Epcot, and I was surprised how much we really enjoyed For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration in Hollywood Studios.
In Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, A Frozen Holiday Wish brings that same enchantment to Cinderella Castle. It’s a short show in front of the castle involving Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Kristoff. The highlight of the show (of course) is Elsa exclaiming ‘Let it go!’, then watching the castle comes to life with beautiful and festive lights and projections, all with a Frozen musical score playing underneath. While the lead in line is a little cheesy, it’s easy to get swept up in how spectacular the celebration is. A Frozen Holiday Wish isn’t a party exclusive, but it’s something you should make a point of seeing at the party, since it is incredibly festive and adds to the Christmas magic.
Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration is the castle show that only plays during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. It’s a fun, energetic show filled with Mickey, his friends and some characters are don’t often get to see. It’s full of music and dancing, and extremely well done. We always recommend making a point of seeing it at least once. If you plan to stay for the entire party (as you should), we recommend watching the last show at midnight. This gives you more time to enjoy the party and cap it off with the both the show and a slow walk down Main Street to take in each last possible moment of the party.
Watch Holiday Wishes
For us, the fireworks are what our days at Disney are all about. If we could somehow end every day with fireworks, we would, and we often try to when at Disney. Holiday Wishes has incredible fireworks. The show doesn’t feature the same amount of Castle projections that Disney has added to Happily Ever After, but with each passing year, the rumours swirl that they may be replacing Holiday Wishes to include more projections and potentially change the soundtrack.
Until that happens, Holiday Wishes will continue to dazzle guests with nostalgia and the sheer number of fireworks overhead. Seriously, the fireworks will fill your peripheral vision at some points and it is incredible. Holiday Wishes still has Jiminy Cricket hosting the spectacular and Tinker Bell does fly overhead (weather permitting).
The soundtrack for Holiday Wishes is a beautiful orchestration of holiday favourites and it just adds to the overall Christmas magic of evening as the air fills with fireworks around you.
Spend Some Time on Main Street USA
There’s no denying that Main Street is the most atmospheric place to be during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and that largely has to do with the fact that snow falls on Main Street. I’ll let that sink in for a minute…it snows…on Main Street…in Florida. Of course, it’s not actual snow, but that doesn’t matter in the slightest. Something about seeing little white fluffy flakes fall down the street makes the evening magical.
Wandering down the whimsical Main Street of the Magic Kingdom also creates a feeling of Christmas nostalgia I never knew I had. It is the idealistic Christmas setting of a different place and time, and it really is a feeling that can’t be put into words. Main Street will be the busiest spot during the party, but it’s so worth fighting the crowds for, because the Christmas spirit is everywhere on Main Street during the party and there’s nothing quite like being there while a soft snow is falling all around you.
This party is easily one of our favourite things we’ve done at Walt Disney World, and we think it’s always worth the additional cost. If you can plan a trip in November or December, we definitely recommend working the party into your vacation budget, as it’s guaranteed to be a memorable holiday experience.
Are you planning on attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party? Let us know what you’re looking forward to the most in the comments below!