Like most other things Walt Disney World, Frozen has taken over the Cinderella Castle lighting at Magic Kingdom, resulting in heavier crowds and a much more trying experience for those attempting to take in the show. On Party nights, it’s scheduled at 6:15pm for everybody and then again at 8pm for Party goers. On non-Party nights, it’s scheduled at 6:15pm and again at 7:30pm. Shortly after the 6:15pm show, the Dream Lights are turned off in preparation for the second lighting.
This is what the area in front of Cinderella Castle looked like last year just five minutes before the Cinderella version started.
This is 45 minutes before the Frozen version. The Dream Along with Mickey show that starts at 5:35pm on Party nights and 5:35pm and 6:45pm on non-Party nights is going on in the distance with people surrounding the Hub.
Dream with Mickey helps and hurts the Frozen Holiday Wish experience. It helps because it’s sort of entertaining should you show up 45+ minutes before Frozen is scheduled to start. But it also pulls people to the area even earlier, and as they stick around for Frozen, the area becomes even more congested.
Frozen Holiday Wish features Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf from the film.
It’s a fun storyline with impressive, if not a bit too lengthy, projection mapping on the Castle.
The Dream Lights almost seem like an afterthought compared to the bright flashes and animation that precede it.
Seeing the show is kind of a nightmare, particularly on non-Party nights. No matter what show you see, there’s a high likelihood that a kid is going up on the shoulders’ of the guy in front of you, almost entirely blocking your view. It’s otherwise impossible for kids to see much of the show at all from the ground level. Frozen brings a huge number of people to the Hub in front of the Castle, to the point where they’re backed up in the streets past the main Hub area, back toward Casey’s Corner.
You want to see the 6:15pm show if you’re not attending the Christmas Party. It will still be crowded, but fewer people will be sticking around the Hub area because the Electrical Parade isn’t scheduled until 8pm with Wishes following at 9pm. With the 7:30pm show and an 8pm Electrical Parade, the great majority of the people in the Hub area are sticking around for the parade, making it very difficult to move after. About a third of the people are trying to clear out, while two-thirds try to stay put. Even after the 6:15pm show, a lot of people will be holding their spot for the Mickey show, the second Frozen show, and then the Electrical Parade.
My advice is to skip the Lighting. It’s a neat show and it’s fun to see the Castle lit up for the first time, but the space is extremely packed and it’s highly likely that your view will be compromised, no matter how early you arrive or how clear your view looks prior to the show. I was really lucky to have a relatively clear shot of the stage, but even with short people in front of me and no kids-on-shoulders in my immediate vicinity, I was still holding the camera up in the air with arms stretched to get these shots. It was a very frustrating experience for the majority of the people trying to see the show. The only ones with good views were the assorted kids up high.
If you want to see the show and don’t mind standing further back, my advice is to see the show in the street around the Adventureland Bridge area. The pavement is a little higher and crowds are lower, resulting in a clearer, though further away, view. The audio is still clear and the Castle is in full view. Once the show is over, you can clear out into Adventureland. The 6:15pm show is easier to see with fewer people standing their ground after. You’d have to arrive around 5pm to secure a prime spot for the Electrical Parade and the following shows. And then you’d be locked into that space once the Frozen show starts, unable to move once the kids go up.
Otherwise you can try to brave it. Even without kids and knowing where we wanted to go, it was difficult for us to get out of there.
The Lights are otherwise pretty. The Castle is certainly worth checking out at some point in the night. Just hopefully long after Olaf goes home.
As you’ve probably heard, the wreaths that used to hang over Main Street are gone due to the Festival of Fantasy floats being too tall to fit underneath.
Past years have looked like this.
The new decorations.
A few more shots:
The joyous season.
Jingle Cruise returns for the holidays.
Some queue pictures:
Jingle Cruise runs all day, every day during the holiday season, including during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
This shows posted waits since Jingle Cruise took over on the 7th. Christmas Party days are in green. Waits are about the same as they would be otherwise this year with much less hype than last year. Still, you want to ride in the first hour, in the last two hours, or with FastPass+.
This is a video of my afternoon ride on November 14th. If it doesn’t show above, this is a direct link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iugl8UmCQ10&. Hit at least 720p under the quality setting (the circular gear icon underneath the video on the right).
While it’s unfortunate that Frozen Holiday Wish is such a hassle to see, the rest of the holiday festivities are a lot of fun.
Over at the Contemporary, a Frozen-inspired it’s a small world gingerbread display replaces the usual dolls.
This is how it’s looked in previous years.
It’s accompanied by a ton of treats on the 4th floor concourse just outside Chef Mickey’s and Contempo Cafe:
While just about everyone that professes themselves a Walt Disney World fan online swears up and down that they’re sick and tired of Frozen, the franchise continues to print money. The middle-aged man in front of me, alone while his family napped back in the room, unabashedly purchased a $7 gelato. When I asked how it was, he raved, citing it was, “so good it should be criminal.” So there you go. I bought two pins signed by Jeff Barnes, the pastry chef in charge of the display, which otherwise consists of:
- 311 lbs. honey
- 514 lbs flour
- 212 eggs
- 67 lbs spices
- 35 lbs sugar syrup
- 222 lbs icing
- 423 lbs chocolate
- More than 1500 gingerbread shingles
- 14 hidden Olafs
The Grand Floridian’s display officially opens on the 21st. Other resorts should be decorated in full around that time.