We’ll start page 2 with the reason all of you are reading this in the first place. That’s right, for the dramatic finale to my showdown with the Fake Coke Bear. Now, some of you might think it’s petty or even weird for me to be feuding with a meet & greet character, but that bear wronged me and now I shall enact my vengeance. If there aren’t consequences for actions, we have no society–just unbridled bear anarchy. No one wants that, so in a way I’m performing a public service. You’re welcome.
You might recall that last time, I entered a fairly empty Cosmic Ray’s to get photos of the dumb bear, who went out of his way to ignore me. Despite being stubborn and persistent in my awkward efforts to get the phony bear’s photo, I had little success.
This time, Sarah was at my side for moral support, which also gave me a ‘strength in numbers’ sense of empowerment. While a single adult male trying to take photos of a polar bear during a children’s dance party–even an almost empty one–gives off a creepy vibe, a married couple doing the same is just…I dunno, a little weird? Certainly not quite as weird.
In any event, there I was, ready to go. Cosmic Ray’s was much more crowded this night as guests sought respite from the cold, but I still figured I could grab a couple of good shots of the lame bear, especially if Sarah went up to dance with said bear.
Unfortunately, as soon as we approached the dance floor, the bogus bear bounced. Fled the scene.
Cast Members informed us that the bear was “briefly hibernating” and that the bear would be “back from the north pole in just a few minutes” but I know what was really up. That counterfeit bear saw I had backup, and fled the scene.
An act of cowardice.
Anyway, some reindeer came out while the fraudulent bear was gone, and they were 10000% cooler. This reindeer really hammed it up, and I managed several good photos of the reindeer making eye contact (what a novel concept!) with the camera. Reindeer, you da real MVP.
On the topic of random meet & greets, we spent a lot of time in Frontierland, mingling with the Country Bears. As I’ve said before, this is the best character experience at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
I’ll reiterate that and take it a step further: spending time with the free-roaming Country Bears are the best character encounters you will have in all of Walt Disney World.
You probably think we’re biased towards the Country Bears (as I’ve said countless times, we’re merely ‘biased’ towards excellence), but that’s not it.
The Country Bears have almost zero demand, so they can pay more attention to each guest who engages with them (literally all you have to do to capture their attention is know their names).
They also have a ton of latitude in the type of interactions they’re allowed to have.
Characters like Mickey Mouse and the rest of the Fab Five have established personalities, and cannot go ‘off-brand.’
As irreverent woodland critters, the ‘brand’ of the Country Bears is to do pretty much whatever they want. They’re like Chip ‘n’ Dale, except goofier.
If all you want out of a meet & greet is characters-as-props for a photo, the Country Bears are not for you. Wait in line 2 hours for the Seven Dwarfs for that. If you’re looking for a prolonged interaction of fun and ridiculousness with no wait, we implore you to head to Frontierland to hang with the Country Bears.
Let’s continue now with Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade…
In our last Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Report, I pretty much just glossed over thoughts on entertainment, largely because it hasn’t changed for the last few years, so there wasn’t much new to say. Well, now I have something new to say.
Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade is the best Disney Christmas parade in the world. It’s also long overdue for a comprehensive update, and has a ton of unrealized potential.
Let’s start with the first half of that. There’s not exactly fierce competition. Disneyland’s parade is over two decades old, drags on, and is mostly performed during the day.
Its infinitely better at night with some charming performers–namely the toy soldiers and rotund snowman dancers–being the main highlight.
Tokyo Disneyland, the stalwart of superior Disney entertainment, has an underwhelming Christmas parade for very different reasons.
Their parade is one of three that runs in a normal day (all included with regular park admission), and feels more like a supplemental, change of pace parade.
Japan’s offering features only 6 floats and a show-stop to prolong the action, so it’s a very different type of parade.
What that parade does have going for it is ear-worm quality music, passionate performers, ornate costuming, and more elaborate floats.
Walt Disney World’s parade is the most well-rounded of the bunch. It has a lengthy (but not overly long) duration, iconic performers, memorable music, and a handful of solid floats.
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is buoyed by the iconic performances of the toy soldiers, candy shop unit, reindeer leading Santa’s sleigh, and other fan favorites.
I love so much of this parade, and have a tremendous amount of nostalgia for it. On the other hand, it’s easy to see where improvements could be made.
Several floats are boxy and basic, Frozen and Wreck-It-Ralph characters have taken over floats originally (and better) occupied by Duck family characters and Chip ‘n’ Dale, and the costumes worn by human performers are forgettable.
Personally, I’d love to see something that marries the iconic elements of Walt Disney World’s parade with Tokyo’s more ornate floats and elaborate costuming (that parade will likely be retired after this year, anyway).
Throw in the snowman performers from Disneyland, and Magic Kingdom would have a familiar but vastly improved Christmas parade.
Oh, and replace all the Frozen characters with Country Bears for a real home run. Can you imagine replacing Kristoff with a few Country Bears having a snowball fight?! It’d be glorious.
Finally, the fireworks. We had a great spot for Holiday Wishes, which we somehow managed to snag at the last minute when people who had been watching Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration left following the end of that show…like 10 minutes before Holiday Wishes. Here are a few shots:
I don’t really have much to say about Holiday Wishes that I haven’t already said. We absolutely adore the soundtrack, and it’s in our regular rotation at home. However, the show looks woefully outdated when compared to Happily Ever After. Its only saving grace at this point is the perimeter bursts, and it’s a good thing those occur at the end, because that wow-factor finale is the last impression in the mind of guests.
Disneyland updated ‘Remember… Dreams Come True’ to include projections and other effects so that incredible fireworks show didn’t appear antiquated as compared to newer offerings. We’d love to see the same occur with Holiday Wishes. Keep the good parts, and just add some lasers, spotlights, and projections.
Overall, we had an exceptional time at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. It’s too crowded for a hard ticket event and needs some updates, and there’s no excuse for either of those things given ticket prices. Nevertheless, this has become a Walt Disney World holiday tradition for us, and it’s not one I see giving up anytime soon. That’s not to say MVMCP is “worth it” for everyone; I’m acutely aware that nostalgia plays a big part in the appeal for us.
Finally, a few plugs. First, the 2018 edition of our freeVacation Kingdom at Christmas eBook is now available for download! This free eBook is 90 pages, with 100+ photos, and tons of great tips & info for the holiday season at Walt Disney World. For more details on how to get this totally-free ebook, click here. Did we mention that it’s free?! 😉
Have you attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Walt Disney World this year? In previous years? Any thoughts of your own to add? What was your experience with crowds? Agree or disagree with my assessment of the event? Hearing from you is half the fun, so if you have questions or comments, please share below!