We pick up our coverage of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party with a look at one of the key components of the event with Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, which steps off in Frontierland to the left of Splash Mountain at 8:30pm and 11pm on Party nights through December 21st. Beginning December 22nd and continuing through December 31st, the Christmastime Parade steps off at 12pm and 3:30pm for all Magic Kingdom guests. Click any image for a larger version.
Anyone will tell you that the second Parade is less crowded than the first and that remains true, even if Disney instructs cast members to pass that tip along to as many guests as possible. Main Street is still crowded – the picture above was taken during the second Parade and you can see that there’s six or seven people crammed into each row along the narrow, roped-off viewing area that lines the sidewalks on both sides. Still, front-row spots on Main Street furthest from Cinderella Castle in the Town Square area are typically available about 45 minutes before the second Parade steps off. Any time after that and you’re going to be in the second row or further back. Front row Parade spots closer to the Hub in front of Cinderella Castle fill 90+ minutes before the second Parade steps off and as many as two hours before the first Parade begins. If a front row spot on Main Street is what you’re after, then I recommend seeing the second Parade and probably finding a spot to see it closer to The Confectionery no later than 10:30pm. With Holiday Wishes beginning at 10pm and running until about 10:15pm, there isn’t much time to do anything else between the end of the fireworks and the start of the Parade, anyway. So you might as well stake out those Parade spots.
Here’s a look at Main Street about two minutes after Holiday Wishes ended during the first Christmas Party of 2018. There are spots on the sidewalk still available, but they’re going to fill within the next 15 to 20 minutes.
The sidewalk that lines this part of Main Street/Town Square also fills in much later than the rest of Main Street and is a viable choice if you’d like to wait less, but also enjoy the decorations and snow. If you’re leaving after the Parade, you’ll also benefit from being right next to the exit.
Because this is what the crowd following the Parade to the exit looks like. If you see anything that resembles this, it makes a lot more sense to give it a few minutes to pass.
If you’d like to see the Parade, but don’t want to wait an hour or more until it arrives on Main Street, then Frontierland is a much less crowded area and you can typically scout out front row spots as little as 15 or 20 minutes before the Parade steps off. You’ll also benefit from the fact that the Parade will pass in about 25 minutes and you’ll have time to visit other attractions or points of interest during the last half hour of the Christmas Party, assuming that you’re seeing the 11pm Parade. Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade doesn’t arrive on Main Street until about 20 minutes after it steps off. So if you’re seeing the second Parade on Main Street, the first float won’t pass until 11:25pm and Santa on the last float won’t arrive until 11:40pm. On the downside, Frontierland is far less festive than Main Street and it’s a lot darker, in addition to the fact that it doesn’t “snow.”
Scouting out a spot on Main Street so early is a drag. You’re going to want to find spots for Holiday Wishes on Main Street by 9:45pm or so and that runs until 10:15pm. Then you’re going to want to find Parade spots after a quick stop at the bathroom and/or to grab some goodies. Then you’re going to stand there and defend your position for an hour until Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade arrives at 11:20pm and runs until 11:40pm. Then it’s probably time to head to the stage in front of Cinderella Castle for the 25-minute Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration. In other words, the last 2+ hours of the Party are basically consumed by the fireworks and Parade. But there is really no better way to do it unless you’re willing to see Holiday Wishes from an area away from Main Street and happy to take in the Parade in a less festive area of the Park.
There’s one potential exception to that struggle in the Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party, which includes reserved viewing for the Parade, that I review here.
That’s how I waltzed up to this Parade spot just ten minutes before it stepped off.
- Do everything you can to see the second Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, ideally on Main Street by finding spots at the end of Main Street furthest from the Castle by 10:30pm.
- Frontierland, particularly across from the Shootin’ Arcade, is much less crowded, but it’s also much less festive. Consider it much more highly if you need to see the first Parade.
Another “bonus” of seeing the Parade on Main Street – the Kringle Krew toss their balls up in the air and dance around before the rest of the Christmastime Parade arrives.
They don’t appear in Frontierland.
Here’s a few more photos from the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party of 2018.
People occasionally ask me what camera and lens I use and the answer will be disappointing: It’s a Canon 5D Mark IV (~$2,800) with the Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II lens ($~1,600):
Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade is a lot of fun and a highlight of the Party. Follow the advice above and you’ll minimize the amount of hassle in seeing it.