Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a special hard ticket event held in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. For 2016, the party will be held early November 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 18, 27 and 29 and December 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18 and 22. This post covers our Christmas Party tips based upon our experiences attending the party for the last six years, including last year.
For starters, tickets are now on sale for the 2016 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and prices have increased fairly significantly: by $12-20 per ticket (depending upon the night) over last year. We’ll cover whether we think the party is still worth the money later in the post, but suffice to say, we have some initial sticker shock at seeing prices that range from $86 to $99 per adult ticket. It wasn’t too long ago that tickets were under $50 per night.
Ticket prices vary based upon whether you purchase in advance or on the day of, are a child or adult, and whether you have an Annual Pass, Disney Vacation Club membership, or some other affiliation that entitles you to a discount. You can visit Disney’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party page to purchase tickets. If they prices are too high or this just isn’t your cup of tea, there’s still plenty to do at Walt Disney World around Christmastime. For more info and tips about what happens during the holiday season, read our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Walt Disney World.
The following info covers what’s been announced for the 2016 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (updated: May 5, 2016), along with tips for this year’s party based on our years of experience attending them. This year, the big addition is a new Cinderella Castle forecourt stage show called “Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration,” which replaces “Celebrate the Season.” We have more details about the new show later in the post. This year, now that he is appearing at Walt Disney World, we’d also expect Olaf to meet at the party.
Last year, there were some minor changes to the Parade, and the characters at the dance parties in Frontierland and Tomorrowland changed, as did a couple of meet and greets, but nothing all that noteworthy. Oh, and there was VoicePlay, an a capella group performing in Tomorrowland. Jack Skellington returned as Sandy Claws, but no Olaf (we expect both to appear for the 2016 parties).
For more on our experience at the party last year, read our Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Recap & Report. Suffice to say, we had a blast last year…now let’s cover what to expect from the parties this year. First, let’s provide an overview & tips, followed by a review that covers whether Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is worth the money…
Overview & Tips
Here are the things that the Christmas Party includes, that are unique to the parties:
- Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade (view our parade photos)
- A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show
- Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration
- Character Dance Parties (usually in the Golden Horseshoe and Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe)
- Holiday Wishes Fireworks
- Disney character Meet and Greets with characters dressed in their holiday attire
- Complimentary cookies and hot cocoa
- Snow on Main Street
It’s worth noting that after December 22, 2016, for the remainder of the holiday season, the standard daytime parade in the Magic Kingdom becomes Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, and the Holiday Wishes fireworks are shown nightly. This entertainment is arguably 75% of the draw for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but in exchange for not having to pay extra to see these things, you will face some of the worst crowds of the year after December 22. If you want the best of both worlds, there are some other tricks you can use to avoid crowds during Christmas and New Year’s Eve weeks. So obviously there’s a trade-off!
Now that we’ve set forth what entertainment you can expect at the parties, let’s give you some more details, tips, and our review of whether Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (or MVMCP as many Disney fans know it) is worth the money…
MVMCP doesn’t offer as much entertainment or as many unique character meet & greets as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, so utilizing some sort of advance plan to maximize your time isn’t really necessary. You should be able to tour at a much more leisurely pace, and still experience everything.
Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade – Given the excellent lighting, ambiance, oh, and SNOW on Main Street, USA, it’s one of the best places from which to view the parade (which steps off in Frontierland). We typically get a spot at the end of Main Street so the Castle is directly in front of us as we watch the parade. Most of the photos on this page were taken from that location, or near that location. You really must view this parade from Main Street. Nowhere else even begins to compare.
This is an absolutely awesome parade. Most people I know prefer the Boo to You parade over it, but I think I’m in the minority who prefers Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade. It has marching toy soldiers, dancing reindeer and gingerbread men, and ever the big man himself, Ole Saint Nick! The floats are cool, Chip & Dale are mischievous, and Mickey & Minnie are dressed in their holiday finery. I will admit that I have a soft spot for anything related to Christmas, but c’mon, how could you not love this parade?!
This year, Ralph and Vanellope from “Wreck-It Ralph” will once again be in the parade, as will the procession of visitors from Arendelle with Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf from “Frozen” will again be appearing in Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.
As far as touring goes, the second parade is usually less crowded, but we always like to watch both showings of the parade, as it’s really that good. If you watch the second showing and really enjoy it, you can’t go back in time and watch the first, so you may want to consider watching the first if you think you might want to see it twice.
A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show – A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas is cute, and Stitch is not super annoying in it (actually, he’s cute and endearing), but it is no Twas. Not even close. Without regard to the ‘Twas’ show that no one can see now anyway, A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas is pretty fun. I had some of the songs stuck in my head afterwards, and the performers were fun. Make sure you at least give it a chance. We now make a point of watching A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas at least once per year.
VoicePlay – Taking the same stage as A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas, VoicePlay is a 5-part a capella group that appears 3 times nightly singing Christmas music. They previously appeared on one of the 6,482 singing competition television shows on NBC, so you know they’re legit. Kidding aside, they are a pretty talented act and a nice addition to the Christmas Party.
Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration Stage Show – This is new for 2016, replacing the Celebrate the Season show, which was fun, but past its prime. The premise of the new show is that it’s days before Christmas, and Mickey throws a Christmas party at his house, inviting all of his friends, who sing Christmas Carols before the show is “is Christmas-wrapped up in one sensational, snowy, show-stopping finale.” (Disney’s wording on that makes us wonder if they’ll use projection mapping to turn Cinderella Castle into a Christmas present for the finale.) Sounds promising, but it would’ve been 1000x better if they just re-created A Muppet Family Christmas in stage show form. 😉
Character Dance Parties – There are typically two of these, the better of which (by far) is in the Golden Horseshoe building, and is called Holiday Hootenanny. The other party is Club Tinsel in Tomorrowland’s Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. If it’s a cold night, this is a great place to go inside and warm up for a bit, plus the lines for hot cocoa and cookies are usually fairly short here. The Golden Horseshoe looks great decked out for Christmas.
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom – There is usually an exclusive Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card that guests can pick up for free during the party. Last year, it was an “Olaf’s Snowgies” card. No word on what it’ll be for the 2016 parties.
Holiday Wishes! – One of the highlights of the night is the fireworks show, Holiday Wishes. Holiday Wishes is amazing in its ability to thematically incorporate fireworks so they fit not only the name of the show, but more importantly, with the accompanying song lyrics. For those who have seen Holiday Wishes, who among you, when you first heard and saw the “O Christmas Tree” portion of the show didn’t melt a little inside? While the fireworks play an important role, the lyrics truly deserve more than just a passing mention.
I’ve long thought that the standard Wishes! fireworks spectacular was a little on the soft side lyrically, but perhaps I have formed this opinion after hearing how well Holiday Wishes’ soundtrack was assembled. I am not exactly musically-inclined, but I would like to think I know something well-done when I hear it. From its opening, with “Spirit of the Season” to the conclusion, the soundtrack is perfect. Its transitions are wonderfully done, as it often goes from drastically different songs without seeming forced.
If you like Christmas music, you owe it to yourself to pick up the Walt Disney World Holiday Wishes CD, which has the soundtrack from the Christmas fireworks! It’s definitely one thing you must see if you’re going to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and a highlight of the evening for many guests!
Character Meet & Greets – If you want to meet all of the characters at the Party, this is one area where you might want to employ a bit of strategy. Jack Skellington in his “Sandy Claws” attire will be doing meet and greets at the party in Storybook Circus (New Fantasyland), and he is insanely popular. If you want to meet Sandy Claws, you should do it at the beginning or end of the night. My recommended would be to get in line early (no later than 6:15 pm) for Sandy Claws.
I used to recommend doing this for the Seven Dwarfs, so if you’d rather meet them, line up for them early. This year, the Seven Dwarfs will be appearing near the entrance into New Fantasyland. You’ll know you’ve found it when you encounter the huge line.
As long as you visit the Dwarfs early before a line accumulates, you should be fine. The stars of the party, the Country Bears, rarely attract crowds (more like, “who are you?” questions) as they wander the parks, and they are an incredible amount of fun if you stick around to ‘play’ with the bears. If you happen to find them, you can really have some fun with them as there isn’t a ton of guest demand for them (half of the guests who see these famed stars of Country Bear Christmas don’t know who they are! HERESY!).
Anna and Elsa from Frozen will meet during MVMCP, and you can expect that their line will taper off later in the evening. If you want to meet them without the usual chaos and long lines of a regular day at the Magic Kingdom, we recommend checking the wait time for them near the end of the party.
Mickey & Minnie are most accessible near the very end of the party, however, there can be small “rushes” on them as guests decide to visit them on their way out of the park. Keep this in mind when contemplating when you should visit them and Santa Claus.
Aside from this, we don’t really have many character meet & greet tips for the Christmas Party. Unlike the Halloween Party, MVMCP is not all about meet & greets (at least not for us), and although there are more meet & greets than normal during the party, outside of the uber-popular meet & greets, they aren’t as big of a draw during this party.
Complimentary Cookies & Hot Cocoa – There are stations to get these all over the park. Although reasonable mind can differ on this, I think these free refreshments are delicious. Just thinking about them as I write this makes me hungry, and transports me back to memories of many a cold night sipping on hot cocoa to keep warm (it doesn’t work, but hey, why not try?!). Lines for refreshments can get bad near the front of the park (Crystal Palace especially) near the parade-time, but most of the time, you won’t encounter too bad of crowds.
Snow on Main Street – From what I understand, this isn’t “real” snow. Although there are persistent rumors that Disney imports real snow from the Swiss Alps, this is actually imitation snow, but it sure does look real. Children and adults alike watch in amazement as snow falls on dry pavement in Florida. This is really a special sight, and between this, the wonderful music, and the decorations, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party really does have that Christmas feeling!
Like I said above, we’re huge Christmas fans. We’ve been to the party around a dozen times since 2007 (yes, that means several times per year some years–we like it that much), and plan on going back for the 2016 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party even in light of the significant price increases. Anyway, it should be clear that we absolutely love the Christmas Party. The Magic Kingdom gets decked out for the party, with cool decorations, snow, an excellent lighting package, and even different background music. It’s these little details that keep us going back every year.
With that said, the party is undeniably expensive. We used to recommend that those who could afford to do so splurge on the party once because it was that good. With prices starting at $86/adult, we can no longer make that type of unequivocal recommendation. Yes, it’s a lot of fun. Is it $90+ per person fun? That really depends. Tickets are now almost as expensive as 1-day tickets, and that’s on top of the multi-day tickets you’ve (probably) already purchased. That’s a lot of money, especially for families with kids.
Even if you aren’t on a tight budget, you might not want to spend that much money for the party. We can totally relate to that, and at this price point it’s hard to say the Christmas Party offers “good” value for money. (Unless you compare it to equally overpriced entertainment like NFL games or the opera to justify it to yourself.) What it really comes down to is whether you really want to do it. That is the key. There’s no logical way to break this down in terms of value–it comes down to desire.
For us, the “desire” is still there. We really love Christmas (have we told you that yet?!). We love the ambiance of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, love the parade, love the fireworks. For us, there’s a certain energy to the party that puts smiles on our faces–from the snow on Main Street to families dressed in matching ugly Christmas sweaters, we can’t resist it. For us, it’s an almost “magical” experience. Maybe that makes us suckers, but that’s my honest take on why we keep going back. I can’t justify it in terms of any sort of cost-benefit analysis. You might feel similarly about the Christmas Party, or you might not. It’s truly a personal thing.
If you are thinking about going, and wanting a little help justifying the big expense, here’s one way…
Purchase your Walt Disney World tickets for one fewer day than you otherwise would, and do our FREE self-guided resort hotel tour the morning of MVMCP (so you don’t use a normal park ticket day). Then, head to the Magic Kingdom at 4pm, which is the time you can enter the park for the Christmas Party. You’ll want to visit the resort hotels to see their decorations, anyway, so in effect you save yourself from having to purchase one day on your tickets by doing this (in other words, if you normally would buy a 5-day ticket for your trip, buy a 4-day ticket and follow this plan instead).
Granted, that additional day to your ticket that you otherwise would have purchased would have only added on $10-30 in cost to your total package, but every little bit helps. To save even more money on multi-day Walt Disney World tickets, we recommend reading our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post, in which we discuss which add-ons you should and should not get, how many days you might want, etc.. Between the day less on your tickets and the amount you’ll save by purchasing through an authorized ticket vendor, the cost of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a bit more palatable.
While some contend that you’re better off saving the money and seeing the fireworks and parade for free after December 22, 2016, this is really just part of what the parties offer. The ambiance and other little details are what make these parties great. If you’re on a limited budget and your trip includes dates before and after the Christmas Party ends, you should consider skipping the party, but it’s definitely not the same experience.
It’s also worth noting that these hard ticket parties used to be “known” for low crowds and, as a result, short waits. This is still true on certain nights, but it’s no longer the rule. (It may be true once again for 2016 if more guests balk at the dramatically increased prices.) Many party nights are just as crowded as a normal night in the Magic Kingdom. Crowds are still lighter at the parties than the insane Christmas-week crowds, but by no means “light.” So, if you haven’t been to a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in a few years, this is something that might have changed since your last Party.
In addition to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, there are a lot of great free offerings at Walt Disney World during the Christmas season, from Candlelight Processional to Holidays Around the World at Epcot and beyond, but we still feel the Christmas Party is worth the money to do once if your budget allows. If the special offerings listed here don’t appeal to you, I would strongly advise you not to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
With all of that said, if Christmas entertainment and ambiance does appeal to you, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a solid event at Walt Disney World. If you’ve never been to the party, love Christmas, and aren’t fond of Christmas-week crowds, it is definitely for you, and an event we’d still recommend if your budget allows and you can get past the sticker-shock.
We will soon be updating our popular, free Vacation Kingdom at Christmas eBook for the 2016 Christmas season. Once it’s available, we will notify our newsletter subscribers, so sign up for our free newsletter if you haven’t already. You’ll receive a free download of our Money-Saving Tips for Walt Disney World eBook in the meantime as a thank you.
For comprehensive tips for planning your Christmas-time trip to Walt Disney World, check out our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Walt Disney World. For Walt Disney World trip planning tips and comprehensive advice, make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide and related articles.
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What do you think of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party? Which aspect of the Christmas Party is your favorite? Are you going in 2016? Please share your thoughts in the comments!