Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade is one of the quintessential parts of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and probably a big part of whether or not it’s worth spending the ~$95+/ticket to attend.
The Parade steps off from Frontierland at 8:30pm and 11pm each night. The second Parade is virtually always less crowded as thousands of people leave immediately after the 10pm Holiday Wishes show, if they even make it that long. If you need to see the first Parade, then consider finding a spot in the highlighted green areas in Frontierland and Liberty Square. For the second Parade, I suggest finding a spot in the highlighted green areas on Main Street and in Town Square.
One recommended spot for the first Parade is the area next to the circled “1” on the map above. As the characters turn in front of Main Street Confectionery, they’ll walk right towards where you’re standing, which may offer a better perspective than being across the way where you’ll mostly see the sides of each float/group. For whatever reason, Town Square fills in much later than the area closer to the Castle.
Another much less crowded spot is the area in front of the Firehouse and Emporium right before the Parade heads backstage. This provides a pretty good view and doesn’t require arriving particularly early. You can see how uncrowded it is as Mickey passes during the second Parade. The Main Street lighting and snow effects also go a long way when it comes to overall Parade atmosphere. Frontierland is going to be awfully dark during the Parade and isn’t decorated for the holidays in any capacity.
This picture was taken from my favorite spot, which is off to the left in front of the tall Christmas tree in the same area as the flagpole. This area is roped off for Dessert Party guests during the first Parade, but is wide open during the second.
For the easiest experience, I suggest arriving for the 10pm Holiday Wishes fireworks around 9:45pm in the Casey’s Corner area. Once PhotoPass clears out around 9:58pm, take up position in the space that’s left in the center of the street.
After the fireworks, move down Main Street and fill in where there’s space immediately after. The typical advice is to battle the crowds into Liberty Square/Frontierland, but Main Street should be more or less wide open the further away from Cinderella Castle you walk. The picture above was taken at 10:16pm, which is about four minutes after Holiday Wishes ends and there’s plenty of curb space down near Uptown Jewelers. I stood here for a few minutes before joining some friends further down on the opposite side and then after being surprised that my favorite spot was still available, moved down there closer to 10:30pm.
With Holiday Wishes ending just before 10:15pm and the Christmastime Parade stepping off at 11pm, there isn’t a tremendous amount of time to do something and then hurry back for a Parade spot. If you wanted to head into Adventureland and up to Frontierland for the Parade, then you could conceivably do one or two priorities on the way. And if you have enough people to save spots, then you could send a couple members of the group into Town Square Theater to meet Mickey or Tinker Bell or to potentially meet Santa. But going all the way into Tomorrowland or Fantasyland for a ride or character and then finding a spot for the Parade is less than advisable. It’s easiest to hunker down and wait until the Parade arrives in the Town Square area, which is typically 11:20pm.
I had neglected to check on my camera batteries prior to leaving that afternoon and arrived at the Christmas Party with enough juice for about 300 shots, which isn’t a whole lot when you consider all of the stage shows, characters, treats, parade, fireworks, etc. By Parade time, I was down to one battery with 6% and one battery with 4%, which meant about 35 pictures. This is what I ended up with:
In some ways, I think the handicap helped as I treated each shot like it was film. With the whole digital thing, there’s less emphasis on getting “the shot” on any particular frame, instead just taking a million pictures with the hope that enough come out looking okay.
With young kids, be realistic about whether they can stay up past 11:30pm to see the second Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade. While Disney is full of magic, that doesn’t typically translate to a child that is used to going to bed at 8pm being magically alert at 11pm. If you need to see the first Parade, be prepared to get into position 45 minutes early. Main Street is only going to be viable in the Town Square area unless you want to wait 90 minutes.
Overall, the Christmastime Parade is a fun, festive experience that may help sway you into pulling out the credit card to buy tickets.