It’s the holiday season at Magic Kingdom, so we’ll take some time to consider Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This post will introduce what you can expect to see and do, and then I’ll follow it up with a more detailed look at the individual pieces in separate posts. There’s only so much you can do in 4,000 words.
A Hard Ticket Event
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is one of several “hard ticket” events hosted at Magic Kingdom over the course of the year, which means no other ticket is necessary to attend the evening’s festivities. But it also means that no other ticket outside of a Christmas Party ticket will get you in.
Here’s a look at the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party map, to give you an idea about what we’ll be covering:
Those entering Magic Kingdom with their Christmas Party tickets may do so as early as 3:45pm – 4pm using the Event Entrance tapstiles that are on the right. Lines will begin to form around 3pm, but there is not much use in waiting around outside the entrance if you can help it. The one exception may be for those heading straight to get in line for the Jack and Sally Meet and Greet inside Town Square Theater. Those characters begin meeting at 4:30pm, and their line builds quickly early in the day. Once Disney begins admitting Party guests, the process is typically fast. New for 2018, and continuing this year, Disney Vacation Club members may enter the Park with their Christmas Party tickets as early as 2pm.
Once you enter, a cast member will place a wristband around your right wrist and event maps are available a short distance away before you head underneath the Train Station.
If you’re already in the Park, you can head to the front to scan your tickets/MagicBands over here to the side, so you don’t have to exit and reenter. The Chamber of Commerce, the first building that you see on your left as you enter the Park, is also a wristband distribution area.
There’s also a wristband distribution area outside Tortuga Tavern running up to the start of the Party, which may be a more convenient stop.
To the right of the entrance to Mickey’s PhilharMagic is another wristband pick-up location, as is the Ticket Center inside Heritage House in Liberty Square.
Another spot is typically located in Tomorrowland across from what was Stitch’s Great Escape. These locations typically begin distributing wristbands right at 4pm. If for some reason one of these distribution locations isn’t available, head to another or visit the front of the Park.
Wristbands are required to purchase the Party-exclusive merchandise, which is available beginning at 4pm in the Emporium on Main Street and at Big Top Souvenirs in Storybook Circus, among other locations. Magic Kingdom also closes to day guests at 6pm, and a wristband is required to do most things after that time, so you’ll want to visit a distribution area before then. Note that the rides that operate during the Party continue running from 6pm to 7pm, even if the Park is technically “closed.” The Party-exclusive experiences at Tomorrowland Speedway, Space Mountain, Mad Tea Party, and Monsters Inc. won’t begin until 7pm, though. The hour before the Party may be a good time to ride Jingle Cruise in Adventureland, which will continue its holiday theme that begins during the day into the night. Otherwise, grabbing a significant bite to eat before the Christmas Party officially gets underway is smart.
Whether you enter from the front of the Park or not, you’ll probably want to walk up the pathway to the left of Tony’s Town Square Restaurant.
On the pathway, you’ll be welcomed to the Party.
There are a few photo ops.
And you’ll receive your first pre-packaged cookie of the day.
Which Party to Attend
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is offered on 23 dates between November 8th and December 22nd. There are three more Parties scheduled in November with the first event on November 8th already in the past. November 24th, the Sunday of Thanksgiving Week, has already sold out at the higher price point. The other November dates should see lower crowds than most of the December dates. We don’t see the Christmas Party scheduled on other days during Thanksgiving because the crowds would be too heavy during the day with the short regular operating hours.
You’ll find 13 Christmas Parties offered in December, with the December 22nd Party already sold out. Most December dates will either sell out or get close to selling out, which means most people should pick the Party they attend based on their overall itinerary and where it makes the most sense to fit in a late night. Of the December Parties that sold out last year, three of the four were on Sundays, so it may make sense to avoid those if you can. Typically, the lower pricing on Sundays and weekdays pushes some number of people towards those dates, making them just as crowded, or more crowded, than the more expensive dates.
Whether a particular date is sold out or not, the events exclusive to the Christmas Party, like the parade, fireworks, and unique characters, are busy and crowded. Above is a picture of Main Street 15 minutes after the Party officially ended on the second event night of 2019, November 11th. This is as many people as you’ll ever see in this part of the Park during a regular day.
Here’s the crowd after the second Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade heading for the exit.
This is the crowd on Main Street for the 10pm Fireworks just before they began on a night with below average crowds.
The point is that Mickey’s Halloween and Christmas Parties are “crowded” events, particularly when it comes to Main Street. We’ll discuss attraction wait times and how to best position yourself at the various shows and other areas of interest as we move through the offerings.
The Integral Parts
Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade
So why might you decide to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, given the fact that it’s apparently so expensive and so crowded?
There are a lot of reasons, actually, the first of which is the Once Upon A Christmastime Parade.
Scheduled at 8:30pm and 11pm nightly, the Christmastime Parade is a heartwarming collection of characters.
Once Upon A Christmastime at Christmas…
For a ton of tips on viewing the Parade with the least amount of stress possible, along with the option of scrolling through 100+ pictures of the performance, see this post. Above shows off the least crowded area on Main Street to watch the Parade.
Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show
The show is all-new this year, replacing Holiday Wishes with one performance at 10pm.
Like Happily Ever After, which replaced Wishes a couple of years ago, the show relies more on projections to tell the story than its predecessor.
Truly having a wonderful Christmas time pic.twitter.com/OtLdcYzoxV
— josh (@easywdw) November 12, 2019
There are also more perimeter bursts, which are better seen closer to Cinderella Castle. Farther back on Main Street, the buildings tend to obscure most of them.
Because of that, I recommend seeing the show a little closer to the Castle than where Casey’s Corner sits at the end of Main Street.
Unlike Happily Ever After and the Halloween Fireworks, the projections don’t really push the show’s narrative forward.
Instead, the projections add color and help frame the fireworks. Because of that, being close to the Castle is less important.
Here’s Disney’s live stream of the show, which should give you a better idea about you can expect.
No matter where you elect to see the show, the fireworks are an integral part of the Christmas Party experience. It’s also typically easy to find a good viewing spot, so don’t let an uncomfortable experience trying to see Happily Ever After deter you. For the easiest time, hang back farther away from the Castle, where the view is still quite good.
Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration
“Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration” is the name of the 25-minute stage show that takes place four times nightly during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Shows begin on the stage in front of Cinderella Castle at 7:40pm, 9:25pm, 10:30pm, and 11:55pm.
Most people will want to see the 11:55pm show to close down the night. Anyone is welcome to stay and watch, and because it’s about 25 minutes long, you’ll be able to extend your evening further. You can also spend the 25 minutes that you would be watching the show earlier in the evening doing something else.
I’ve got a lot more tips on seeing the show in this post, including my recommendation to stand farther back from the stage, where the ground is elevated, and you can see over the tops of most people’s heads.
Check out part or all of the show here.
A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas
A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas is probably the strangest and easiest to see major show at either the Halloween or Christmas Party.
You’ll find it tucked away in the back of Tomorrowland, across from the entrance to Astro Orbiter and in between Space Mountain and Carousel of Progress.
Shows begin at 7:45pm, 8:35pm, 9:25pm, 10:45pm, and 11:35pm. In the interim, an a capella group called ‘The Edge Effect” performs beginning at 8:10pm, 9pm, 10:20pm, and 11:10pm. That’s 25 minutes before most of the Tomorrowland Christmas shows.
You can arrive a minute or two before the show begins and find great spots either sitting in front or standing in back. At 18 minutes long, it’s potentially worth seeing, particularly if you’d like to stop for a minute and eat one of the many complimentary cookies available.
A Frozen Holiday Wish
This short, 7-minute stage show performed on the Castle Forecourt Stage precedes the lighting of Cinderella Castle twice nightly. Anna, Elsa, Olaf, and Kristoff all make appearances. The first show, at 6:15pm, is available to all guests. The second show, at 8:15pm, is exclusive to Christmas Party goers.
Both shows are popular, but I’d probably grin and bear the 6:15pm show, so as to not have to waste precious Christmas Party time trying to get to and from Main Street a little over an hour after the Party gets underway. If you’re planning on seeing the first Christmas Parade or otherwise have business on Main Street earlier in the evening, then the 8:15pm show is viable. But 6:15pm makes more sense if you can swing it. You might also try to catch the 6:15pm show on another day during your trip.
The show is the same as it has been for the last several years.
The Reindeer Wranglers
You’ll find this band roaming around Frontierland at 7:15pm, 8:05pm, 9:30pm, 10:30pm, and 11:45 p.m.
More than 40 characters conduct meet and greets during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, including about 15 who can’t typically be found outside of the event. The following is what you’ll find, with some approximate meet and greet times that are liable to change throughout the event.
Main Street, U.S.A.
- Mickey Mouse – Town Square Theater – 7pm to 12am
- Jack as Sandy Claws and Sally – Town Square Theater – 4:30pm to 12am. While the Party doesn’t officially begin until 7pm, the characters are so popular that they meet exclusively for Party guests beginning much earlier. You will need your Party wristbands in order to be admitted into the line. Note that the characters are not guaranteed to meet this early and may appear later due to scheduling difficulties or technical problems. Whenever a character meets before 7pm, the same “rules” apply – you need a wristband and they may not appear until later in the afternoon or evening.
- Santa Claus – In between City Hall Guest Relations and Chamber of Commerce Package Pickup on Main Street – 7pm to 8:45pm, 9:15pm to 11pm
- Aladdin and Abu – To the right of Aloha Isle behind The Magic Carpets of Aladdin – 7pm to 7:30pm, 8pm to 8:30pm, 9pm to 9:30pm, 10pm to 10:30pm, and 11pm to 11:15pm
- Jasmine and Genie – To the right of Aloha Isle behind The Magic Carpets of Aladdin – 7:30pm to 8pm, 8:30pm to 9pm, 9:30pm to 10pm, 10:30pm to 11pm
- Moana – Across from The Magic Carpets of Aladdin – 6:30pm to 12am, intermittently
- Jack Sparrow – Across from Pirates of the Caribbean on the stage – 7pm to 7:40pm, 8pm to 8:30pm, 8:45pm to 9:15pm, 9:30pm – 10pm, 10:30pm to 11pm
- Mary Poppins and Bert – Liberty Square Gazebo – 7pm to 7:30pm, 7:45pm to 8:30pm, 8:45pm to 9:15pm, 9:30pm to 10pm, 10:30pm to 11pm, and 11:15pm to 11:45pm
- Country Bears – Roaming, typically across from Diamond Horseshoe – 7pm to 11:30pm, intermittently
- Cinderella and Prince Charming – Princess Fairytale Hall – 7pm to 12am
- Elena – Princess Fairytale Hall – 7pm to 12am
- Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder – Princess Fairytale Hall – 7pm to 12am
- Belle – to the right of Bonjour Gifts – 7pm to 7:30pm, 7:45pm to 8:30pm, 8:45pm to 9:15pm, 10:30pm to 11:15pm, 11:30pm to 12am
- Ariel and Eric – Across from Ariel’s Grotto – 7pm to 7:35pm, 7:55pm to 8:30pm, 8:50pm to 9:30pm, 9:45pm to 10:15pm, 10:40pm to 11:15pm, 11:30pm – 12am
- Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet – To the left of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – 6:30pm – 11:30pm
- Minnie Mouse with Daisy –In the very back of Storybook Circus, to the right of Pete’s Silly Sideshow and the Tent – 7pm to 11:30pm
- Tiana and Naveen – Princess Fairytale Hall – 7pm to 12am
- Seven Dwarfs – Inside Pete’s Silly Sideshow in Storybook Circus – 6:15pm to 12am
- Peter Pan – Roaming, typically around his attraction – 7pm to 7:30pm, 7:45pm to 8:30pm, 9:45pm to 10:30pm, 11pm to 11:30pm
- Aurora and Philip – to the right of Pinocchio Village Haus – 7pm to 7:45pm, 8pm to 8:45pm, 9:15pm to 10pm, 10:30pm to 11pm, 11:15pm -to 12am
- Snow White and Prince – to the right of Pinocchio Village Haus – 7pm to 7:45pm, 8pm to 8:45pm, 9:15pm to 10pm, 10:30pm to 11pm, 11:15pm -to 12am
- Santa Goofy – In between The Barnstormer and Dumbo – 7pm to 11:30pm
- Donald and Scrooge McDuck – Casey Jr. – 7pm to 11:30pm
- Tweedledee and Tweedledum – In front of Mad Tea Party – 7pm to 11:30pm
- Nick and Judy – To the left of Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin in Buzz’s usual spot – 6:15pm to 11:45pm
Most guests attending a Christmas Party will want to key in on meeting two or three unique characters, if that. Most lines are at least 45 minutes long, and can easily hit 60+ minutes. Last year, Erin and I met the Seven Dwarfs, Moana, and Donald and Scrooge, and it took about two and a half hours. They’re great pictures and fun memories, but the opportunity cost of those two-plus hours is substantial. You might begin the evening by getting in line for a character that appears before the Party officially gets underway by getting in line for Jack/Sally, the Seven Dwarfs, Moana, Nick/Judy, or the Winnie the Pooh characters about 45 minutes before they’re first scheduled to appear.
A variety of drinks and cookies replace the trick-or-treating that you’ll find during the Christmas Party:
About ten outlets around Magic Kingdom distribute a variety of “free” goodies.
Disney started packaging the cookies individually a couple of years ago, probably for sanitary reasons.
This is the Ginger-Molasses Cookie, available at The Lunching Pad in Tomorrowland or Jingle Cruise in Adventureland.
You’ll be able to identify the various treat locations by these bright light-up peppermint sticks. This one is luring us towards Pinocchio Village Haus.
There, we’ll get hooked up with about two ounces of warm grape Fanta.
And apparently what Disney is calling a Snickerdoodle.
Here we have a peppermint cookie, hot cocoa, and apple juice.
Bay 1 is the distribution area for Cosmic Ray’s.
Lines for some of the treats can be long, particularly earlier in the Party.
We waited five minutes for one of these Snowman Soft Pretzels in the back of Storybook Circus. They’re actually pretty good this year.
You can ask for more than one cookie, so you might have each person in your party request two or three so that you don’t have to get in line after line after line throughout the evening.
The fact that they come pre-packaged makes them much easier to carry around.
Of the treat lines, we typically find shorter waits at Jingle Cruise, Lunching Pad, Golden Oak Outpost, Friar’s Nook, Diamond Horseshoe, and Miner’s Cove. The longest lines are typically at Cosmic Ray’s, Pinocchio Village Haus, and Storybook Circus Pretzels.
None of the cookies or drinks are necessarily worth seeking out.
Of course, even more treats and drinks are available for purchase:
Only a couple of them are probably worth your time.
I review over 15 Magic Kingdom holiday exclusive snacks, including the Orange Bird Christmas advertised on the guide map, in this post.
The Exclusive Attraction Overlays
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is home to four attraction overlays this year.
The Tomorrowland Speedway overlay, with its fun neon-lighted elements, is actually a lot of fun. It’s sort of like driving around the neighborhood a few days before Christmas and looking at all of the decorations that the neighbors have put up.
We get a sort of psychedelic Christmas at Mad Tea Party, where they would probably use reds and greens instead of pinks and blues if they could.
I think it works a little better for Halloween, but the Christmas music is fun.
At Space Mountain, Christmas music plays during the ride with greens and reds lighting up the track on-ride.
I preferred this to the blackout during the Halloween Party with the distant cackles of villains. The Christmas lights and music bring a ton of unexpected energy, but the whole experience will take 25 to 40 minutes most of the night.
Finally, Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor adds a proper Christmas show for this year’s Party. For Halloween, you might remember that it was a walk-through, where you could stop for a minute and watch, but most people just blazed through on their way to a Tootsie Roll for their trick-or-treat bag. I’d hit this one up if you’re looking to get off your feet for 20 minutes, or if you really like Monsters, Inc., but it’s going to take up a lot of time otherwise.
The Regular Rides
Here’s a chart showing the wait times that you can expect to find throughout the evening on a standard Christmas Party event night:
Attraction priorities during the Christmas Party are about the same as they are during the day, with certain attractions continuing to see 20+ minute waits over the course of the evening. Most attractions see waits of 15 minutes or less, with waits that typically decline as 12am nears.
Still, those 30+ minute waits at Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Princess Fairytale Hall are real. The Christmas Parties are by no means “low crowd events,” and certain areas may “feel” more crowded than a regular day.
The Various Popcorn Buckets and Sippers
This year, none of the popcorn buckets or sippers should be exclusive to the Christmas Party. This Christmas Tree Popcorn Bucket, which lights up in two different ways, is available all over.
The Sven Sipper is also heavily advertised during the Party, but you can find it in a variety of locations, including all around Disney Springs.
The Party-Exclusive Merchandise
The most popular place to shop is The Emporium on Main Street, where the merchandise is located in a crowded corner where only about eight guests at a time are allowed to browse. For pins, go to Frontier Trading Post in Frontierland. Decor is best at Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square. For an easier look at the other items, try Big Top Souvenirs in Storybook Circus. Last year, most of the merchandise was out during regular hours in late December in an attempt to move it.
The Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Card
This Party-exclusive card is included with your admission and is available at the Firehouse on the left side of Main Street in between City Hall Guest Relations and The Emporium. They’ll mark your wristband with a squiggle and hand you the card at your convenience at any time during the Party.
The Dance Parties
Two major dance parties grace the Christmas Party, the first of which you’ll find on the lower level seating section of Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.
Polar bears and elves host the party, which you might visit while you’re grabbing some cookies at Cosmic Ray’s, which is also a treat stop.
The Storybook Circus Disney Junior Jingle Jam is located inside the tent in the back of Storybook Circus, featuring Timon, Fancy Nancy, and Vampirina. This dance party in particular is unpopular due to its distant location, making it a great stop for parents with young children to stop and let the kids expel some energy, in addition to getting some pictures with a couple characters that would see 15- to 20-minute waits elsewhere. Both Dance Parties run from 7pm through 12am.
Is It Worth It?
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a fun, festive, expensive time. One potential deterrent is the fact that a lot of the exclusive elements, including the Christmastime Parade and Christmastime Fireworks, are offered daily to all guests from December 23rd through December 31st. For many who are visiting much earlier in the season, this is somewhat irrelevant, but the Halloween Party Parade and Fireworks are completely exclusive to the fall event. The fact that hundreds of thousands of guests will be able to see the shows “for free” to end the year may or may not reduce the value for those who won’t have an opportunity to visit during the busiest time of year now, or in the future. Most of the rare characters, dance parties, complimentary treats, and other aspects of the Christmas Party remain exclusive to the event.
Those able to stay through the end of the Party will extract the most value, and those who can use their ticket to enter the Park at 4pm in lieu of another ticket or upgrade are the best off. There’s less value for those planning on leaving much earlier in the evening or arriving late.
The Parties are expensive and they are crowded. You’ll want to avoid Main Street as much as possible, though the fireworks experience is much less stressful than a normal night with Happily Ever After. Try to pick just a couple of priority characters because that’s where you can really get bogged down. Also be aware that come 9:45pm, the next two-and-a-half hours will probably be filled with the fireworks, parade, and castle show. The fireworks run from 10pm to 10:15pm, and then the second parade starts at 11pm. You might be able to fit in one or two things between the end of the fireworks and the start of the Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, but if you’re planning on watching both from Main Street, you’ll probably need to find a parade spot immediately after the fireworks end. The Once Upon A Christmastime Parade arrives on Main Street around 11:25pm and runs until 11:45pm. At that point, it’s time to head up to Cinderella Castle for Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration, which runs from 11:55pm to 12:25am. That’s almost three hours based around three performances, all of which are best or only seen from Main Street and the Hub.
If you can swing the high cost, the Christmas Parties are a lot of fun, but it does “feel” like there are fewer exclusive elements than the Halloween Party. The overall atmosphere during the Christmas Party also doesn’t differentiate itself from the rest of a normal day spent at the Magic Kingdom as much as the Halloween Party. If you do elect to go, then sprinkling in a few of these tips should also make for a much less stressful experience.
We’ll see what holiday-related happenings are going on at the other Parks.