This report includes our photos and thoughts from the 2016 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, which we attended last night (November 15, 2016). It’s our 10th consecutive year doing the Christmas Party, so we’ve been around the block a few times with the event.
In this post, we’re mostly going to cover the changes to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party as compared to last year. Yes, that’s right, we’re talking about all the new flavors of Christmas cookies. In a valiant crusade to provide you, dear reader, with the most comprehensive and useful advice, we spent the entire party sampling every cookie from every treat spot every hour. In so doing, we’re now able to provide you with the optimal time and place to order each cookie. But absolutely nothing else about the party. You’re welcome, America. 😉
Okay, we didn’t really do that, but I did eat my weight in cookies (and that’s probably not much of an exaggeration), so we do have some recommendations on that front. We also cover reviews and photos of new and returning entertainment, the new “Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration” show in particular. While we won’t spoil the plot of the show, there will be photo spoilers, so proceed with caution.
This won’t be comprehensive tips & tricks for maximizing your time and money at MVMCP. It’s just my random thoughts and photos from this year’s party. In other words, if you have never been, start with our Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Tips & Review post, which is updated a couple of times per year. We try to do a better job being objective about that common “is it worth it?” question in that, and provide tips that are refined over years of experience; it’s not just an anecdotal report of one night.
As for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party itself, we donned our holiday finery–matching plaid shirts straight out of a circa 1973 Christmas card–and left Bay Lake Tower for the Magic Kingdom, arriving shortly before 4 p.m.
Once in the park, we rushed over to Liberty Square to see The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History. I had avoided spoilers of this, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. To say my expectations were exceeded would be an understatement.
This was my favorite new thing in Magic Kingdom in the last decade, and keep in mind that all of New Fantasyland opened in that time frame. The show was pitch perfect, and the most true to character use of the Muppets in ages (better than both movies and the tv series). That it also gently poked fun at the British was icing on the cake.
After watching the last two shows, it was on to dinner at Pecos Bill. From there, we headed towards the front of the park to check out the scene for Frozen Holiday Wish. Despite this being a “cute little show” it still draws hordes of guests. This has been the case for the last few years; seeing that after the first year, Disney really should’ve done something to plus this to make it more satisfying for the guests who wait over an hour for it.
I will say that if I could be any character performer, I’d want to be the Elsa in this show who darts around, waving her arms about, “causing” the ice to appear on Cinderella Castle. It’s as if they saw me performing air kung fu moves at home and emulated my style.
With not much else to do to kill time, we headed to Storybook Circus way too early to get in line for characters. We met Scrooge and Donald at about 7:05 p.m., meaning we waited 45 minutes. The line behind us was about 45-60 minutes at that point.
If you’re going to the party for the first time, don’t follow our strategy here. You’ll want to get in line for Nick & Judy, Seven Dwarfs, or Sandy Claws, and do so more like 5 p.m. (as all of those sets start meeting prior to the party starting–if you have a wristband). We opted for Scrooge and Donald because we haven’t met them in a while, and have covered all of the other popular sets in the past or elsewhere.
From there it was on to the Castle Forecourt for Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration, the new stage show. We didn’t get a spot anywhere remotely close to the stage, and that coupled with pop-up shoulder kids and a sea of phones held over heads recording the entire show (pro tip: YouTube exists) made it difficult to see and take photos.
Speaking of social media existing, the first song was..uhh…interesting. Called “Text Me Merry Christmas” this song does not belong in a Disney show. Attempts at making the classic Disney characters feel about as authentic as your dad bleaching his hair and getting an earring at age 45.
Yeah, those are the things hip young people do, but doing the things hip young people do does not one a hip young person. Not to mention that the explicit references to current social networks will feel super hip in about a decade when this show is still running in the same form. Just like the Carousel of Progress reference to laserdiscs (LASERDISCS!). Oh wait.
Mickey, Minnie, and friends are “classic” and “timeless” characters. Those are better words than “hip” and “trendy” and these feeble attempts to force them to be today’s version of cool should be abandoned. It may work for a few cheap laughs for the sharp juxtaposition, but it’s bad for character integrity.
Fortunately, the entirety of Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration after that was incredible. The production value is great, with a fresh set of castle projections and other lighting effects to go along with great costuming, a good mix of characters, great song selection, and some clever one liners.
These one liners include a couple of pop culture references, but those actually work, because they are not prolonged or forced, and if you don’t “get” the allusion, it doesn’t matter. They’re funny lines independent of the reference, and the show moves right along after.
The number with Clarabelle Cow was a riot, and the Three Caballeros elicited a similar response. Guests, us included, love both of these songs. As a Muppet Christmas Carol fan, the second-to-last song was my absolute favorite of the show. Really, though, every song after the first was top-notch. Once the show got past that, it was flawless.
It was nice to see Disney going for a few “deep cuts” in terms of character and song selection. My guess is that they wanted to replicate the lightning in a bottle captured with Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. Even though this show does not rise to that incredibly high bar (having passed on my idea of Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas-tacular, and without a similarly beloved cult classic to build the Christmas show around, that’d be nearly impossible), it comes close.
Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration exceeded my expectations, and is a great addition to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
After that, it was time to stake out spots for Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. My normal go-to spot was taken, so we went in search of an alternative. We found one in Town Square, and while Sarah laid claim to that location, I kept scouring the curb for an alternative. As I was passing Cinderella Castle, a family got up, and I quickly nabbed their spot.
I was ecstatic, as this was the same spot where I photographed the first Halloween parade, and I was really pleased with the results there. I was far less pleased here. (Warning: photo-geek talk ahead…) Although I manually select my focus point, my camera really struggled with focusing on the performers instead of that bright castle in the background. I got some keepers, but far too many shots like this…
I purchased the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art lens (read my review of the lens) a few days before leaving, and this was a big part of my motivation for the purchase. It’s also been useful for dark rides, and I think there are many other creative applications for it.
I didn’t notice much different about this year’s version of the parade, save for the addition of a small band and a couple of character changes. This parade has been running for a while in (more or less) the same form. With escalating ticket prices (and fewer sellouts) it seems like only a matter of time before the parade is changed so they can advertise a new draw. (It certainly worked for Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland!)
After wandering around a bit, it was time for Holiday Wishes! Admittedly, we camped out way too early for the fireworks. This is one of the “dangers” of being so obsessed with photography. We could’ve rolled up 5 minutes before the show and gotten an excellent view, allowing us to actually meet a character or something before the show…but we didn’t.
The upside is that it allowed us to listen to the Main Street USA Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party background loop more. I’m not kidding–I think one of the most underrated things about the event is the exceptional background music loops all around the park. (Tomorrowland is another standout.)
We have plenty more ground to cover from Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. On Page 2, we see Holiday Wishes, eat all of the cookies, watch the greatest Christmas show ever, and more! Click here to continue reading.