Off to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Let’s go over the evening and see what we can do to minimize frustration and maximize the experience. Unfortunately, because it’s dark out from the beginning of the event, a lot of these pictures are garbage. Nonetheless, they should help further the narrative. Hopefully http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com will get over there to capture some images where we can all see what’s going on and say, “Wow, that is gorgeous!” You’re just going to have to take my word for it on some of these.
As in past years, you can enter Magic Kingdom with your Mickey’s Christmas Party ticket as early as 4pm, even though the event doesn’t officially begin at 7pm. Should you purchase your tickets online and select the “Will Call” option, you can print your paper certificate and take it to any ticket window to pick up the plastic tickets that you’ll use at the turnstile to enter the Magic Kingdom. This includes guest services at any of the theme parks, your Disney resort concierge desk, and the Ticket/Transportation Center. For more information on purchasing and picking up your ticket, see the first three sections of my Mickey’s Halloween Party Review here.
Disney has additional bag check lines nearest the buses to expedite the security check process.
Once you (hopefully) make it through security, you’ll see Guest Services ahead of you on the far right of the turnstiles (before you enter the Magic Kingdom) and a Will Call window behind you. This is important if you still need to exchange your Will Call certificate for the plastic tickets or need to purchase tickets for the event. Otherwise, continue to the turnstiles.
If you are entering Magic Kingdom with your Mickey’s Party Ticket, you’ll be directed to use the turnstiles on the far right side nearest to Guest Services. The turnstiles say “event entrance” above them. Just inside the turnstiles, you’ll see cast members dressed up in festive outfits handing out wristbands. Present your ticket and they will fit you with a wristband. For some reason these people on the left are in a line even though there is no one in either of the two turnstiles to the right. If you previously entered the Magic Kingdom with a different kind of ticket (Magic Your Way, Annual, Complimentary, etc.) you can either head back to the front of the Park to pick up your wristband or head over to the Stitch’s Great Escape FASTPASS machines in Tomorrowland to pick up your wristband.
What to Expect Before the Party Begins
We’re arriving at 6:05pm, which is just in time to see the Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It! Parade return to its home, backstage. Shame. Should you arrive in time to collect FASTPASSes for an attraction, you can use your Mickey’s Party ticket to collect them. Should you have an Annual Pass (or other ticket type you don’t mind using just for FASTPASSes), you could also exit Magic Kingdom and then re-enter using that ticket, which would also enable it for use on the FASTPASS machines. This would allow you to collect “double FASTPASSes” since each ticket would be eligible for FASTPASSes.
I think this pajama set is “new,” isn’t it? Someone had asked about the glasses on Mickey in the shirt underneath. “Nerd” merchandise is “very in,” at least as far as Disney is concerned. Run a search on DisneyStore.com for “nerd” to find merchandise like this:
Don’t look at me.
Taking a quick walk around the Park before Mickey’s Party starts. Note the green and red lighting effects on the trees. Very festive.
Short waits at the attractions here at 6:15pm. Most other attractions had waits of 10 minutes or less.
The Fairy Godmother is lighting the Castle just after 6:20pm (Cinderella’s Holiday Wish begins on the stage in front of the Castle at 6:15pm every night through January 7th).
This year’s holiday “souvenir popcorn bucket.” They’ll be available during regular Park hours shortly, if they aren’t already.
More lighting effects around Frontierland. The Diamond Horseshoe changes from looking slightly red to slightly green. Just like you would if you ate there! I kid, I kid. Sort of.
Setting up the Seven Dwarfs Meet and Greet area. They evidently pose with a crate full of jewels and Christmas trees in the background. I guess I would pose with a crate full of jewels too if I had some.
It’s not even 6:30pm and the line is all the way back to the Laughing Place playground area and Railroad entrance after winding around where the Dwarfs meet. Should you get in line now, you’re probably looking at a 45+ minute wait after the Dwarfs appear in a half hour, or at least a 75 minute wait. That’s assuming you meet them before they take one or more breaks. If you want to meet the Dwarfs and spend as little Party time as possible, you need to arrive at the Dwarfs line by 5:45pm. They are located at the exit to Splash Mountain in the area where Woody and Jessie ordinarily meet (when they aren’t meeting to the left of Splash Mountain on the promenade).
Golden Oak Outpost has changed its menu again. It now serves hot dogs instead of flatbread sandwiches or chicken nuggets. It wasn’t open during the Christmas Party.
Casey’s Corner is swamped at 6:35pm. Try to eat by 5:30pm if you can. You don’t want to waste “precious” Party time trying to find a quick service meal that suits everyone’s tastes. I recommend avoiding Casey’s Corner unless you plan to order by 5pm because of lines and slow order fulfillment. Pinocchio Village Haus in Fantasyland is a good choice. Cosmic Ray’s and Pecos Bill also serve up until Park close (7pm for day guests and then until at least 11pm for the Party). Columbia Harbour House closes at 5pm on Party nights.
People are already claiming positions for the 8:15pm Parade at 6:40pm. Both sides of Main Street are pretty much spoken for. The Parade steps off at 8:15pm, but won’t arrive at this point on Main Street until 8:35pm because it begins in Frontierland and travels slowly, meaning these people are in for a two hour wait. As we’ll cover later, DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO SEE THE 10:30pm PARADE. This is key.
It’s a total mess at 7pm. We have people trying to exit, more people arriving, and remember that the sidewalks along Main Street are already clogged with people trying to stake out spots for the Parade.
This isn’t even the worst of it. I’m standing on the steps of Town Square Theater here.
Welcome to 7:10pm. This is the “perfect storm” so to speak. We have Disney trying to expel anyone not attending the Party, a ton of people arriving at 7pm for the Christmas Party, and it just started “snowing” on Main Street, which stops a lot of people in their tracks to check it out and take pictures. Pretty Castle, though.
If you’re attending the Christmas Party, I highly recommend being in one of the “Lands” by 6:45pm at the latest. As we’ll see later in the Character section, you will most likely want to be in line for a choice character by then anyway.
If you’re not attending the Christmas Party and have young kids, you may want to exit right after Cinderella’s Christmas Wish at 6:30pm or at least by 6:45pm. Other than the problem with this wall of people, Disney trots the characters out right at 7pm. That means Santa Claus will be sitting at the Flag Pole just inside the entrance and Duffy will be on the left in Tour Guide Gardens. Should you be exiting from Fantasyland, you’re liable to walk by Cinderella and company, Donald, Winnie the Pooh and friends, and a plethora of other characters. Without a Mickey’s Party ticket, you won’t be able to enter any of these character lines. This can lead to upset children (and adults alike).
If you are exiting right at or after 7pm, you’ll want to walk through the stores on Main Street. As you’re probably aware, most of the stores are connected, even if they look like they have their own exteriors. I walked through the stores on the right side (which is preferential to the left side because it’s less crowded) of Main Street and made it through this mob in just about two minutes. It’s hard to say how long it would take walking up Main Street. Too long.
Now that we know a little about what to expect leading up to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, let’s look at the event itself.
Link to this year’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Map: http://www.wdwinfo.com/holidays/photos/MVMCP-map.htm
Key Components of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party:
Parade – Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade runs twice nightly, once at 8:15pm and once at 10:30pm. It features several rare characters, many Disney favorites dressed up for Christmas, holiday-inspired floats, live animals, 30+ real life marching toy soldiers, a very small race car, and Santa Claus.
Characters – Characters, some rarer than others, will be on hand to meet and greet. Characters appear intermittently from 7pm – 11:30pm.
Fireworks – Holiday Wishes is one of Disney’s most thrilling fireworks shows with a holiday theme and plenty of perimeter fireworks around Cinderella Castle. One show nightly at 9:30pm.
The Magic, The Memories, and You! Holiday Edition – Magic, Memories, and You is scheduled at 9:15pm (15 minutes before Holiday Wishes) on Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party nights. It includes a 90 second holiday tag about two thirds of the way through the show. You’ll see the Castle dressed up as a gingerbread house, a candy cane palace, a birthday cake (funny if you remember the 25th anniversary), and more along with the usual show. When Mickey’s Christmas Party isn’t scheduled, this show occurs during regular Park hours – 15 minutes before Wishes.
Stage Shows - The Celebrate the Season castle stage show at 7:45pm, 10:05pm and 11:20pm is the best stage show of the Party and lasts about 20 minutes. It features many classic Disney characters, fun songs, elite performers, and Santa’s reindeer, among others. A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas on the Tomorrowland Stage is scheduled at 7:45pm, 8:45pm, 9:55pm, 10:50pm, and 11:45pm. Here, you’ll find Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski, and Stitch (of course) along with singers and dancers. On the Pirate Tutorial stage across from Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland, a holiday-themed-pirate-band (yes, that’s right) plays Christmas favorites with a twist throughout the evening.
Rides – Most of the Magic Kingdom’s most popular attractions (and many of the less popular attractions) remain open during the Party with short waits.
Dance Parties: There are two Dance Parties. that run all night from 7pm to 12am. At the Diamond Horseshoe in Frontierland, you’ll find Bullseye, Woody, and Jeesie hosting a western style hoedown . In Tomorrowland, Goofy, Pluto, Chip, and Dale join Party goers at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.
Refreshments – Complimentary hot cocoa, holiday cookies, apple juice, and apple slices are served throughout Magic Kingdom. Find treats at Tomorrowland Terrace, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, Crystal palace, Sunshine Tree Terrace, Columbia Harbour House, and Pinocchio’s Village Haus.
Merchandise – There isn’t a ton of event specific merchandise, but you’ll find a few pins and the yearly edition of the t-shirt.
Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade is the most popular event of the evening. It steps off from Frontierland (the opposite direction of the Main Street Electrical Parade or Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade) twice nightly. It’s about a 20 minute Parade from the time you see the first float until the time Santa passes by in his sleigh. If you’re seeing the Parade on Main Street, you can expect the first floats to arrive 20 minutes after the Parade begins (at 8:35pm or 10:50pm). From there, expect the Parade to last until 8:55pm and 11:10pm.
I can’t implore you enough to do whatever you can to see the 10:30pm Parade. It is much less crowded. Although most of Main Street, Liberty Square, and Frontierland will still be occupied, people won’t be lined up six or more deep and you won’t have to defend your position with quite as much vigor. If you’re doing a Party on one of the less crowded nights, you may have no problem marching right up to a spot on Main Street just before the Parade steps off. Still, it’s better to play it safe and arrive early. Plan to take your position by 10:15pm at the latest. If you’re interested in taking pictures, it’s much easier to get good shots along Main Street because of the additional lighting. In Frontierland, it’s virtually impossible unless you have a tripod and really know what you’re doing. You’ll see my favorite spot in the following pictures, which is near the Park entrance just outside of Town Square Theater. It affords a straight on view of the floats as they turn the corner around Town Square.
The Boo to You Parade might begin with the headless horseman riding down Main Street with a pumpkin for a head, but Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade starts with this………snowflake float.
Next up are some crowd favorites:
A “diverse” group, for lack of a better word. Fun to see so many characters together having a good time though.
Sort of looks like a wardrobe on wheels. Maybe if you want to change into your new Mickey shirt you could barge in, as long as there aren’t already people changing in there of course.
Winnie the Pooh characters, some penguins, and Mary Poppins/Bert in the background. Like the Halloween Party, Christopher Robin appears in the Parade, but is not available for Meet and Greets during the Party.
Duffy (swoon) with Mickey and Minnie. He looks smaller than in his Meet and Greets! Maybe because the tree is so big…
Other than Duffy of course, the best part about this float is the working model train that circles the Tree.
An “ice skating” interlude.
Scrooge. Check out his snowman.
Gotta stay warm.
And who do we have here?
This skiing interlude was the only difference I noticed between this year’s Parade and last year’s, but even then, I think we’ve seen them in the past.
I don’t think anyone has more fun than Chip and Dale:
Sort of like the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot is under perpetual twilight, Chip and Dale are in perpetual snowball fight.
As close as most of us will get to the Dwarfs.
Snow White and her current boytoy in a gazebo:
No room on the Castle float.
While technically not “forced perspective,” I think I know what Disney is trying to do here. Get us ready for Beast’s six-foot-tall “castle!”
Beautiful animals. They’re pulling Cinderella and Prince Charming, both of whom get enough attention to be pictured here.
A very proper dance.
It wouldn’t be a Disney parade without this behemoth.
Ariel and Prince Eric, neither of which are appearing for Meet and Greets. Princess Aurora and Prince Philip are behind them on the other side.
Prince Ali (Fabulous he! Ali Ababwaaaaaaaa) and Princess Jasmine.
Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen.
Fairy Godmother performing spells. Disney trying to get in on that Harry Potter revenue no doubt. Wand fitting, anyone?
And Beast…just chillin’ bro. Belle is on the other side at the moment on the far left.
More proof no one respects Goofy:
They make him peddle his own float!
I think it’s time to find a new character. Not that I don’t like Horace Horsecollar. I’m just saying. Why is he riding in front of this gingerbread house? Better not to think about such things.
I don’t know about these guys. I almost feel like they belong in the Boo to You Parade.
Clarabelle Cow. Horace’s girlfriend. Never struck me as your typical housewife, but I guess someone has to do the baking since Minnie is doing Meet and Greets all night.
Whoever is left. A convertible barreling towards us. Little Bo Peep in a creepy mask. An elf riding a wooden horse. A kid on a scooter. Some elves playing ball. Just a day at the office.
Hopefully she will at least look up to see who she’s going to run into.
Surprised they had time to pop over from their four minute parade at Hollywood Studios.
The coolest part of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party:
How cool would it be to show up….anywhere…with these guys as your entourage? And yes, they’re really playing. Some of them, anyway. I’m surprised they can even walk in those boots, let alone dance!
Mom, I want one!! Santa’s reindeer.
Other than Duffy, this is probably the biggest star of the show:
It’s a great Parade. Way better than any of Disney’s others, save for the Boo to You Parade during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
See the Full Parade at WDWMAGIC.com below:
We’ll head around Magic Kingdom to check out the characters and their expected wait times. For better pictures, visit The Unofficial Disney Character Hunting Guide here.
The star of Main Street (other than Duffy) is Santa Claus, who visits in this prime spot in the middle of Town Square at the base of Main Street. You’ve got the Christmas Trees, Toy Soldiers, sack of presents, and of course…Cinderella Castle in the background. Doubt you can find a better picture with Santa Claus than this. Expect waits of 30 – 45 minutes throughout the evening.
Duffy the Christmas Bear
He’s just too cute. Expect to see Duffy in the same outfit in Epcot beginning around November 25th (not confirmed). At the Christmas Party, he’s in “Tour Guide Gardens” which is to the left of City Hall on Main Street. He has the shortest lines of any character. Expect to wait 10 – 15 minutes.
When Duffy isn’t appearing, you can get your picture taken with the holiday background. Amusingly, the line is usually longer when Duffy isn’t there.
Town Square Princesses
This is your opportunity to meet the Princesses with their Princes. During normal hours, the Princesses appear alone. For the Christmas Party, you’ll find Snow White/Prince, Princess Aurora/Prince Philip, and Rapunzel/Flynn Ryder. The good news is that there’s only one line to meet all three. The bad news is that line is usually 40 – 60 minutes long and can get even higher. The longest posted wait during this Christmas Party was 120 minutes. Also, the characters are not dressed for the holidays – it’s their usual garb. Finally (and this may change), this is the one character line that people without a Christmas Party ticket have been able to enter before 7pm and then meet the Princesses with their Princes once they begin appearing at 7pm. In other words, people without Mickey’s Party tickets have been able to enter the line at 6:30pm and then when they finally make it to the characters at 7:15pm, they get to meet the Party characters with their Princes. It just means even longer waits for Party ticket holders during a time they are supposed to be granted “exclusive access.” Because of this, I recommend getting in line around 8:10pm (just before the first Parade starts) or immediately after the second Parade concludes if you’re watching it close to Town Square Theater. Few people will get in line for the Princesses during the Parade because it restricts traffic through Main Street. If you make it to the Princess line before the people that are following the Parade from Frontierland, you’ll be in excellent shape. However, you do run the risk of the line being “closed” if you try to enter after 11pm.
These two pictures are from this year’s Mickey’s Halloween Party, but it will give you an idea about what to expect.
Mickey and Minnie Mouse
Mickey and Minnie appear continuously throughout the evening. This is the second shortest line you’ll find, behind Duffy. The posted wait time will likely be 5 minutes, but expect to spend about 15 minutes assuming there are about 15 people ahead of you in the main waiting room. The problem is that you first wait in the main waiting room and will then be taken to a second room where you’ll need to wait for an additional two to four groups to finish up. Ask the attendant at the front of the queue how long the “real wait is” and you should get a more realistic answer. In a similar vein, you may want to ask about the Princesses as well as their wait is often longer or shorter than advertised. Mickey is dressed in his finest green and red suit and Minnie is in a red dress with matching bow and shoes. They also remove some of the “magician props” so the theme makes a little more sense.
Phineas and Ferb
Phineas and Ferb meet in Tomorrowland in Buzz Lightyear’s usual spot near the exit to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and next to the entrance to Carousel of Progress.
At least for this Party, Phineas and Ferb were in their usual attire, which was disappointing. They do have a “Welcome Santa” backdrop, but nothing else to differentiate this Meet and Greet from the one they do in Hollywood Studios near Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano every day. I don’t know much (anything) about these guys, but it seems like you could get them in Christmas sweaters and scarfs pretty easily. Anyway, lines are relatively short – 15 to 30 minutes for most of the night. Unless they change their attire, you may want to save them for Hollywood Studios unless you really want a picture with that background. Perry does not appear.
Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore
While the Winnie the Pooh characters are common throughout the Disney Parks (Winnie the Pooh in particular), it’s rare that you can get them all together in one picture. They may be out together or you may see them in pairs.
You’ll find them in scarfs directly across from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in Fantasyland. No special backdrop. Waits should be in the 20 – 30 minute range for most of the night depending on when you get in line and whether or not they take a break.
Donald is in a plaid shirt and hat and meets near the Winnie the Pooh characters. He’s just a little further down, closer to Dumbo and across from Storybook Treats. His waits are nominal – 10 to 20 minutes for most of the night.
Peter Pan and Wendy
Wendy is very rare, while Peter Pan is relatively easy to find in Magic Kingdom provided you know where to look. He usually hangs out in front of the Adventureland sign on the Hub side with short waits, since his presence isn’t well advertised. For the Christmas Party, these two appear together to the left of the entrance to Mickey’s PhilharMagic. This is also across from Snow White’s Scary Adventures and Prince Regal Carousel.
Waits were short tonight, but may get longer once people are aware that they’re here. It’s not one of the more obvious meets as they appear underneath the PhilharMagic roof in an area that is either closed off or not often traveled during the Party. Expect waits of 10 – 15 minutes for now – potentially longer in the future. I’ll update if things change.
Belle and Beast
Belle and Beast meet in Fairytale Garden, where Rapunzel usually meets during the day. Belle is one of few characters completely made over for the Party – you’ll find her in a beautiful red dress and Beast in his usual “don’t mess with me bro” outfit. It’s very difficult to find the two of these characters together at one time and you won’t see Belle in this outfit outside of the Party.
If you’re not interested in the Dwarfs or don’t want to deal with their excessive waits, I would head here prior to the start of the Party if you have interest. They take a ton of breaks and you’ll find this line “closed” more often than any other. Arrive at 6:30pm and you should be golden – guaranteed to meet both characters together and a short overall wait. Earlier is always better. Otherwise, expect to wait 40 – 60 minutes after 7:30pm unless you can time it so you can actually enter the Garden without having to wait for them to take one of their breaks. Even if the line appears “short” inside the Garden, it’s likely that the cast members aren’t allowing anyone else to enter the line.
Cinderella, Prince Charming, Step Sisters, Lady Tremaine
These characters appear together in front of the old Skyway Station. Basically, if you’re looking at the entrance to it’s a small world, look to your left and you’ll be looking right at the area. You would also run right into it if you were walking toward Peter Pan’s Flight and it’s a small world and continued walking toward Haunted Mansion. It’s there on your right.
They are a lot of fun, but don’t sign autographs due to time constraints. They would really like for you to just march up, take a photo, and be on your way. One of the most common questions I get is, “Do you work for Disney?” I always laugh hysterically for ten minutes straight because really, do you think the Walt Disney Company would let me run this website if I was on the payroll? No. Heavens no. Anyway, the answer is no because the only job I want is to be the step sister in the blue and green dress and they will never let me have it. Waits here can get long, especially if you have one (or two, or three, or four, etc.) groups that want pictures in every conceivable configuration. Grandma and granddaughter…mom and daughter…grandma and mom…you get the idea. If you’re not headed here first, try to get here by 7:15pm or between 8pm and 8:20pm.
Prince Naveen and Princess Tiana
I always forget them because they’re in the oddest spot (which is their usual spot). As far as I know, they appear in their regular outfits, which are on the opulent side in the first place. Unless they are wearing something different or have a different background/set, I would plan to visit them during regular Park hours. The lines will be just as long during the Party – 30+ minutes due to long breaks.
The Seven Dwarfs
This is it. Should you want a picture with the Dwarfs without wasting much Party time, you need to arrive by 5:45pm. No, I’m not kidding. Even earlier would be better. By 6:30pm, the line wound around their Meet and Greet area and was back at the entrance to the Frontierland Train Station. That’s a solid hour or more already. Get in line at any other time throughout the evening and you’re looking at 60+ minute waits. They’re incredibly popular, you’ll (likely) never have another opportunity outside of a Mickey’s Party to get a picture with all seven of them at once, they have cute outfits and a nice background, and people tend to take a lot of time getting pictures with them, even if they don’t sign autographs. After all, if you’re going to wait an hour and a half for a picture then you’re going to get your money’s worth, right! Everyone else does too and thus…the wait is an hour and a half. If you don’t arrive by 5:45m (and thus want an hour and fifteen minutes to meet them in the first place), you’ll be waiting that same amount of time during the Party. Because Party time is generally more precious (and more expensive on an hourly basis), your best bet is lining up prior to the Party. There’s no other way.
Country Bears (Big Al, Liverlips, Wendel, and Shaker)
The Country Bears are supposed to be roaming around Frontierland posing for pictures. I didn’t see them, but it doesn’t mean they weren’t there. Will update when I see something definitive.
Captain Jack Sparrow
Captain Jack appears in Adventureland to the left of Pirates of the Caribbean as you’re looking at the attraction entrance. He appears with the wall as his background and people line up to the left toward Jungle Cruise.
This is Jack in his “winter gear,” which is similar to his “every day outfit,” since he always seems to be dressed for an expedition to the arctic anyway. Wait times vary, but should be consistently longer once word gets out that he will be appearing again. If you have one or more boys (or girls) and don’t care about the other major Meet and Greets (Cinderella, Dwarfs, Belle/Beast), then I recommend lining up for Captain Jack by 6:45pm. As always, earlier is better, but Captain Jack isn’t as obvious as some of the other Meet and Greets and isn’t well publicized for the Christmas Party. Otherwise, expect waits of 20-40 minutes for most of the night. He’s also a good character to get in line for between 8pm and 8:30pm, during the first Parade.
Prince Ali (Fabulous He! Ali Ababwaaaaaaaaaa), Jasmine, Abu, Genie
These characters appear in the usual Aladdin Meet and Greet area, which is the Agrabah Market behind Aladdin’s Magical Carpets and right underneath Sunset Tree Terrace. Because Sunshine Tree Terrace serves complimentary refreshments, this area is busier than it is during the Halloween Party. Nonetheless, because the characters take turns coming out, there’s almost always characters available and thus, shorter lines.
Genie, Prince Ali, and Abu are all rare Meet and Greet characters. Aladdin and Jasmine are much more common, but you don’t usually see Prince Ali and Abu no longer appears regularly either. Expect moderate waits of 20 – 30 minutes. Because the characters switch off, you may need to get in line two or three times to get pictures with all four.
Tinker Bell, Vidia, Rosetta, Terrance
Tinker Bell and friends meet in their regular Meet and Greet location inside Adventureland Veranda, which is on the right side just after you enter Adventureland from the Hub area. Tinker Bell will always be available and she will be accompanied by a second and possibly third character. Tinker Bell should be dressed in a more “holiday-y” outfit with a leaf sash and boots. Terrance is rarer to see, just like he is during regular Park hours. This is one Meet and Greet that you can safely take care of during a normal day, but you can also visit during the Party to meet them again or catch Tink in a different outfit. Wait times are usually 20 – 30 minutes, but can be much longer depending on the time of night. Try to get here towards the end of the evening (after 11pm), before 7:15pm, or during the first Parade.
Expected Average Wait Times
Short – 5 to 20 minutes
- Country Bears – Roaming Frontierland
- Duffy the Christmas Bear – Tour Guide Gardens to the left of City Hall
- Mickey and Minnie – Town Square Theater
- Wendy and Peter Pan – to the left of Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- Donald Duck – in Fantasyland across from Storybook Treats and Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (closer to Dumbo than Winnie the Pooh characters)
Moderate – 20 to 35 minutes
- Prince Ali, Abu, Jasmine, Genie – Agrabah Market behind Aladdin’s Magical Carpets
- Phineas and Ferb – Tomorrowland in Buzz Lightyear’s spot near the exit to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore – Fantasyland across from Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Tinker Bell and Friends – Adventureland Veranda
- Captain Jack Sparrow – Adventureland, to the left of the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean and across from the Pirate Tutorial Stage
Long – 35 to 50 minutes
- Prince Naveen and Princess Tiana – Liberty Square Gazebo where they normally meet
- Cinderella, Prince Charming, Step Sisters, Lady Tremaine – In front of old Skyway Station on the way to Liberty Square/Haunted Mansion from Fantasyland
- Snow White/Prince, Princess Aurora/Prince Philip, Rapunzel/Flynn Ryder – in Town Square Theater on Main Street
- Santa Claus – In Town Square at Flag Pole
- Belle and Beast – in Fairytale Garden where Rapunzel normally meets
Absurd – 60+ minutes
- Seven Dwarfs – In Frontierland near the exit to Splash Mountain
Holiday Wishes Fireworks Show
While Magic Kingdom may seem “crazy busy” at certain points during the Christmas Party, it’s usually easy to find a suitable spot to view Holiday Wishes. Because the show features a lot of “perimeter fireworks,” the view is actually better from around the Casey’s Corner/Plaza Restaurant area. You may even want to make your way a little further back toward the Crystal Store and Main Street Bakery. Because Magic, Memories, and You begins at 9:15pm, find your viewing location along Main Street for both shows by 9:10pm. There’s no reason to see these shows from anywhere other than Main Street.
The entire show is available from WDWMAGIC.com below:
The Magic, The Memories, and You! Holiday Edition
The Magic, The Memories, and You! features a 90 second holiday interlude about two thirds of the way through the show. You’ll see the Castle made up to look like a gingerbread house, candy cane palace, gift-wrapped present, birthday cake, and more along with the regular show. Because Holiday Wishes is best viewed from further back on Main Street, I recommend seeing the Magic, Memories, and You! show from further back as well. While you may not be able to make out who’s in most of the pictures, you’ll still be able to enjoy the show. Try to see it from up close on a non-Party night if possible (and if you have interest). Like Holiday Wishes, this is a key component of the Party and should not be missed unless you’ll be seeing it on another night. Because Holiday Wishes begins about five minutes after the Magic, Memories show, there’s really no reason to miss it unless you’ll be in a character line.
A couple holiday shots – they’re difficult to capture.
The entire show is available from WDWMAGIC.com below:
Celebrate the Season
This is the best of the Christmas shows, hands down. It features many of your favorite characters, some fun songs, excellent choreography, and numerous special guests that you won’t see anywhere else at any other time. I recommend seeing the 7:45pm show. Most people will be intent on seeing the first Christmas Parade that steps off at 8:15pm. This leaves ample room up front near the stage for kids to sit and a lot of room on the street around the Hub for adults and taller children. For prime spots up front, arrive by 7:30pm. Otherwise, you should be able to saunter up around 7:45pm and find a suitable viewing location.
A bad photo, but it will give you an idea about the scope of the show and the number of performers that are featured (over 25 performers just on stage right now, Mickey, Pluto, Santa Goofy, etc.). Because it’s about 20 minutes long, it’s only performed three times nightly, unlike the short Halloween stage show that is performed five times nightly. You’ll want to see the 7:45pm or 11:20pm shows (and ideally the 7:45pm show).
The entire show is available from WDWMAGIC.com below:
A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas
If you’ve ever said to yourself, “I wish there was a show where Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski, and Stitch ‘got down’ in a choreographed dance-off,” then this is the show for you. At about 20 minutes long, it’s heavy on non-Disney character singing and dancing, but does feature several funny scenes with Buzz Lightyear, Mike, and Stitch dancing along and telling jokes. I recommend the 8:45pm, 9:50pm, or 11:45pm shows because they’re the most convenient. It’s also a good way to end the evening (with the 11:45pm show) if you’ve accomplished most of what you want to do elsewhere. It’s one of the easiest shows to see and is on an elevated stage, so you should have no trouble walking up to any show just as it is scheduled to begin. Little ones can sit up front and center.
It’s much smaller in scope than the Celebrate A Season show, but certainly worth seeing if you have interest in the characters or enjoy funny, well choreographed shows. I like to end my night with it because so many of the characters have lines that have been cut off and there isn’t much else scheduled at 11:45pm other than the dance parties or a late night ride.
Rusty Cutlass and the Pirate Holiday Carolers
On the Pirate Tutorial Stage in Adventureland across from Pirates of the Caribbean, you’ll find this holiday themed pirate band. They play very funny spoofs of Christmas favorites, like “Captain Jack is Coming to Town” and “We Wish You A Pirate Christmas.” They’re also surprisingly good at playing the bells. I think this is probably the most underrated performance of the night. They’re a ton of fun and definitely worth checking out as you make your way through Adventureland. They’re also a welcome sight during a long wait for Captain Jack Sparrow.
Waits to most of the attractions will be short for the duration of the Party. Expect lines of ten minutes or less for the majority of the attractions, including Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Winnie the Pooh, Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and other key rides. The waits for Peter Pan’s Flight and Dumbo in particular can be longer – but still 15 to 20 minutes rather than the 30 to 60 minutes you’ll see during regular Park hours. Generally speaking, I don’t recommend using Party time to visit most of the attractions because they can be visited easily during a regular day. Most people will want to focus on the Party-exclusive events. However, the Party is an excellent time to visit the attractions should you wish to do so – particularly the short attractions that can have substantial daytime waits, like Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Winnie the Pooh, and Peter Pan’s Flight. You don’t want to spend the time to see Country Bear Jamboree, Stitch’s Great Escape, Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor, or Mickey’s PhilharMagic. Try to focus on rides with longer daytime waits that are short in duration.
The following rides will not be operating during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Ride them during regular Park hours if they are of interest:
Adventureland – Jungle Cruise, Enchanted Tiki Room
Frontierland – Tom Sawyer Island
Liberty Square – Hall of Presidents, Liberty Square Riverboat
Fantasyland – All attractions operating
Tomorrowland – Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor (last show at 10pm – operating before then)
Just some examples of wait times:
Generally very short. The posted wait time is usually longer than the actual wait as well. For most attractions other than Peter Pan and Dumbo, the “wait” is just a minute or two longer than it takes to actually make it to the attraction entrance.
There are two Dance Parties during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The Dance Parties are a fun way for kids to interact with the characters in new ways. Sometimes the character interactions can fall a bit “flat,” but the interactive dance parties are guaranteed to give your child a unique experience. However, if your child is generally shy, they might not be too enthused to participate in the Dance Parties in the first place. Your mileage may vary as far as convincing them to get in there and join in on the hokey pokey. One Party takes place in Diamond Horseshoe in Frontierland/Liberty Square and features Woody, Jessie, and Bullseye from the Toy Story series. Bullseye is a rare character and unfortunately…he’s only out about half the time.
Woody and Jessie having fun with kids in the Diamond Horseshoe.
The other Dance Party takes place in Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe on the lower level near the Sonny Eclipse stage. Here, you’ll find Pluto, Goofy, Chip, and Dale dancing with the kids – usually in pairs of two (Goofy/Pluto or Chip/Dale).
Because both Dance Parties are scheduled right up until 12am, they are usually a good way to end the night. Most kids and their parents will be on their way out long before 11:30pm, leaving the Dance Parties much less crowded and giving the kids more opportunity to interact with the characters and get fun pictures. Plus, the fact that they’re guaranteed to go until 12am means that you won’t have to deal with characters leaving abruptly at 11:30pm or becoming disappointed with so many “closed lines.” Otherwise, pop in whenever you have some time. If you’re trying to choose one or the other, I’d suggest visiting whichever one has more appealing characters. Personally, I like Santa Goofy, but you can also find him at Animal Kingdom in his Wonderland.
Disney offers “complimentary” hot cocoa, apple juice, sugar cookies, and apple slices at various quick service locations throughout the Magic Kingdom. In order from best location to worst location (based on crowds and waits), you’ll find refreshments at Tomorrowland Terrace, Columbia Harbour House, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, Pinnochio Village Haus, Sunshine Tree Terrace, and Crystal Palace.
A sign with your options.
Cookies and Hot Cocoa. The cookies are “okay.” They’re actually soft and chewy rather than hard and crumbly like they look. Not amazing by any stretch of the imagination, but “just fine.” The Hot Cocoa tastes like the Nestle packets you can buy in the store (since that’s what they are). Cocoa and apple juice come in these cups – one size only (small). They’ll give you as many as you want (of anything) though.
The apple slices and gluten free cookie. If you have a “special dietary concern,” just tell the person handing out cookies/beverages what you need. They will summon a manager type person who will come out and then you’ll tell them the same thing. The manager will then head to the back and pick out an item that fits your needs. I asked for a gluten free cookie and this is what I received. It’s a honker – 363 calories and 64% of your saturated fat for the day. Three ounces is a pretty big cookie. It also tasted better than the mass produced cookies they were serving everyone else. They also have no-sugar-added hot cocoa readily available. The refreshments are fine, but probably not a big part of why you would purchase tickets to the event.
As far as where you’ll want to pick up your treats, I highly recommend Tomorrowland Terrace. Considering there are only four items to serve, lines were ridiculously long at several of the refreshment locations.
Tomorrowland Terrace is accessible from two main locations. As you walk down Main Street towards the Castle, take a right at the end of Main Street once you arrive at Plaza Ice Cream Parlour. Continue walking and you’ll see Tomorrowland Terrace directly in front of you. From Tomorrowland, walk back toward the Hub, passing Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin FASTPASS machines on your left and Stitch’s Great Escape on your right. Look for the pathway on the left before you arrive at the bridge that takes you from Tomorrowland to the Hub. This path will also take you to Tomorrowland Terrace. Because there’s virtually nothing else over here and there are plenty of windows, lines are short most of the night.
Sunshine Tree Terrace is currently under refurbishment, reducing the number of cast members that are able to staff it. Not recommended.
This is the line coming out of Crystal Palace right before the Magic, Memories, and You show was set to begin. It was out the door most of the night.
Pinocchio Village Haus closed early. A cast member told me they were slammed and ran out of refreshments, but I’m not sure what happened. Anyway, they weren’t serving at 11pm.
Columbia Harbour House across from the entrance to Haunted Mansion is also recommended and Cosmic Ray’s isn’t a terrible choice either. I’m not sure how lines can get this long when everyone just wants a cookie and a cup of hot cocoa (both of which are pre-made sitting on trays).
You’ll want to eat a good meal before the Party starts – ideally by 5:30pm. Few major quick service locations are open during the Party – Casey’s Corner on Main Street, Pecos Bill, and Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe are the three major locations open. Storybook Treats is a good choice for ice cream if you’re in the mood. Sleepy Hollow Refreshments is a good choice for snacks throughout the Party. The Frontierland Pretzel/Churro Cart, Turkey Leg Cart, and Westward Ho also continue to serve and are a good choice for a quick snack. The Lunching Pad in Tomorrowland is also open (until 9pm) as are the popcorn stands in Liberty Square and Adventureland. Again, there’s no reason to spend precious Party time trying to find a place open that’s still serving food to everyone’s tastes. Of course, a quick snack is fine.
There are several Christmas-Party-specific items:
Pretty generic red adult t-shirt.
As far as I could tell, this sweatshirt was only available in youth sizes.
Long sleeve adult t-shirt.
A cuter print in white.
There is also a red tie-dye shirt. Overall, not as cool as the Halloween Party shirt, which was also dated for 2011. On the plus side, you could wear these shirts every year and still “fit in.” Nothing wrong with a classic shirt from 1997 though! These don’t smell like anything (the Halloween shirts smelled like candy corn) nor do they glow in the dark.
Leaving the Party
Crowds begin to diminish greatly after the Holiday Wishes Fireworks show ends at 9:45pm. Crowds will only get lower as it gets closer to 12am. To maximize the cost of the ticket, your best bet is to plan to stay until 12am. There will be virtually no lines for any attraction after 11pm, character lines at the end of the night are short (though you run the risk of the lines “closing” to new guests around 11pm if it doesn’t look like there will be enough time before the characters disappear at 11:30pm). The Dance Parties and Very Tomorrowland Christmas show will also see lower crowds than at any point earlier in the night. However, keep in mind that the third major exodus (behind the 9:45pm Wishes exodus and 11:10pm second Parade is over exodus) is at 12am. That means just about everyone that’s still in the Magic Kingdom after 11:20pm will be leaving right around 12am. Unlike a regular close at a Disney Park, Disney will be looking to close any stores that remain open right around 12am with “last call” coming around 12:15am. On a normal day, the stores on the main boulevard will stay open for 30 to 60 minutes after official Park close.
This is the sizable crowd leaving right at 12am.
Just before 12am, Disney will begin shutting the exterior doors to the Emporium and other stores all along Main Street, leaving only the entrance at the end of Main Street open. This makes it difficult for any new customers to enter the stores after 12am and gets people that are shopping to the front of Main Street where it will be clear that it’s time to exit.
Transportation After the Party
Disney offers bus transportation to all the usual Disney resorts until at least 1am. The Express Monorail that services the Magic Kingdom and Ticket/Transportation Center shuts down at 8pm, but the Resort Monorail, which services the Contemporary Resort, Ticket/Transportation Center, Polynesian Resort, and Grand Floridian Resort runs until 12:30am. They should transport anyone that’s in line for the Monorail at 12:30am. Boat transportation to the usual resorts is also available until at least 1am and the ferry boat to the Ticket/Transportation Center runs until at least 1am or until everyone gets back to the parking lot.
Disney will also be running buses to the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and Contemporary Resorts at the end of the night to ease congestion on the Resort Monorail.
The line for the Resort Monorail at 12:10am.
The line for the ferry boat from Magic Kingdom to the Ticket/Transportation Center (which is the parking lot for Magic Kingdom).
It’s not nearly as bad as it was for Mickey’s Halloween Party, but you’re still looking at a solid 20 – 30 minute wait for the ferry boat or monorail – possibly longer depending on capacity. If you’re in the mood to walk for another ten minutes and need to get back to the Ticket/Transportation Center, you might consider taking the bus to the Polynesian Resort and then walking to the Ticket/Transportation Center. See this post for pictures of the walk. It’s very easy.
The Ideal Plan (The easyPlan)
This is what I would do:
5pm – Eat a big quick service dinner at Magic Kingdom. Don’t mess with a table service restaurant in the Magic Kingdom or elsewhere after 4pm unless you don’t care about getting in line for any of the major characters. Meals can run long because of slow service, you can be seated late, etc. Meals also tend to be less enjoyable if you’re constantly looking at your watch wondering when you’ll be out of there. You’re paying for the Christmas Party, you might as well experience it.
5:45pm – Get in line for Seven Dwarfs at the Splash Mountain exit if you want to meet them.
6:40pm – If you didn’t get in line for the Dwarfs, get in line for another character with a “Long Wait” as listed above in the character list. Belle/Beast at Fairytale Garden or Cinderella in front of the old Skyway Station is ideal.
7:15pm – Seek out a character with a “Moderate Wait” and check on the line for any character with a “Long Wait” on your way over. If the wait is 25 minutes or less (ask the attendant), get in line.
7:45pm – See the Celebrate the Season show at the Castle Forecourt Stage. Remember, the stage is elevated and you can back up a bit to get a good view. There will be a lot of people around the Hub waiting for the 8:15pm Christmastime Parade, but they won’t be in the street around the Hub or closer to the Stage because they don’t want to give up their spot.
8:05pm – Get in line for the Princesses in Town Square Theater if they are of interest. Otherwise, head to another character away from Frontierland and Liberty Square (in order to avoid the Parade). Jack Sparrow in Adventureland may have short waits and you should find shorter waits elsewhere as a lot of people are waiting for the 8:15pm Parade. You may want to do Phineas and Ferb/Cosmic Ray’s Dance Party/Space Mountain/Buzz Lightyear. You might want to visit the Fantasyland rides and characters. It’s up to you. Visit any characters you wish with short/moderate waits, ride any rides, grab refreshments, etc. Santa and Duffy will not be meeting guests during the Parade.
9:05pm – Head toward Main Street to get in position for the Magic, Memories, and You show and Holiday Wishes. If you pass Tomorrowland Terrace (or another refreshment location with a short wait) on the way, grab refreshments.
9:15pm – Enjoy The Magic, The Memories, and You! Castle projection show. I recommend a spot around Main Street Bakery and Casey’s Corner at the end of Main Street.
9:30pm – Stay in your spot of choice for Holiday Wishes.
9:45pm – Get in line for Mickey Mouse and/or Duffy in Town Square.
10:15pm – Find a viewing location for Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade. I recommend a spot along Main Street. If it’s already busy, head down to Town Square Theater and the Main Street Railroad Station. These locations usually fill up last and offer a view that is just as/almost as good as Main Street. Otherwise, you can also head up to Frontierland and Liberty Square. Just keep in mind these areas are darker and it’s more difficult to get pictures.
11:10pm – Book it to another character if you have interest. Phineas and Ferb should continue to meet until 12am and you may be able to sneak in another character with short waits elsewhere. It’s a great time to visit some attractions or visit the Dance Parties.
11:45pm – See A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas in Tomorrowland at the stage in the back of Tomorrowland, to the right of Space Mountain and left of Carousel of Progress.
12:05am – Exit Magic Kingdom.