It Feels Like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party…All Over Again!

The title of this Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party report is a nod to two of our favorite holiday songs, fitting for our (or at least my) second one of the holiday season. In this MVMCP report, we share some thoughts about crowds, entertainment, and other random stuff, plus ~50 new holiday photos.

In case you missed it, our 2018 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Photo Report covers my first MVMCP experience this year in Magic Kingdom. If you’re looking for step-by-step strategy, consult our Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Tips post instead. This is basically just a MVMCP trip report.

Let’s start with crowds, as that seems to be a topic of significant interest to potential party attendees. The party we attended was really busy and not sold out. Parade spots were claimed early and several rows deep along Main Street for both parades; Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration and Holiday Wishes both had fairly dense crowds, too.

It was an abnormally chilly night in Magic Kingdom, but the park didn’t really clear out until after the second parade, after which it was relatively quiet. On a positive note, character meet & greets did not seem nearly as busy as the last party I attended. Several ‘normal’ characters had short or nonexistent lines later in the night. Overall, the crowd level was higher than I’d expect for a hard ticket event.

In our previous Christmas Party report, we discussed how Walt Disney World could conceivably increase the attendance cap of these special events (as has undoubtedly occurred) by trying to redistribute attendance within Magic Kingdom during them.

To the point, getting more people on rides early in the night, and encouraging guests to see the later parade or entertainment would allow Walt Disney World to increase the attendance cap without guests being negatively impacted or even noticing a difference.

It’s a savvy strategy…when and if it works. Unfortunately, we don’t think it’s working.

Halloween and Christmas Parties ticket prices and attendance have both increased this year. Meanwhile, Cast Member discounts have become more abundant. Now, we have zero issue with hard-working Cast Members receiving perks. Offering Cast Member discounts for every single party wouldn’t be a problem–it’s the higher attendance cap and the fact that parties are rarely selling out, even when really busy. That’s the problem.

To us, there’s something a bit ‘off’ about this. Reports from the first few weeks of these parties come in, and have a consistent chorus of the parties being crowded…and Disney ‘responds’ by extending Cast Member discounts to pretty much every remaining night in December in an attempt to sell even more tickets.

The goal is to sell as many tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party as possible, and that’s hardly noteworthy.

What is fascinating is the means of doing this–and it’s something we’ve observed elsewhere with Walt Disney World the last couple of years: price segmentation.

Basically, the idea here is charging different prices to different people for the same or similar product or service based on the maximum amount that demographic is willing to pay. It’s not a new concept, and Walt Disney World has been doing it for ages with Florida Resident, AP, DVC, and Cast Member discounts.

More recently, we’ve seen deeper dining discounts, significant hotel deals, and what amounts to multiple tiers of pricing for these parties. (Even our recent Tips for Priceline Express Deals at Walt Disney World is an example of this in action.)

Personally, I think this trend is going to continue. Walt Disney World has a seemingly never-ending pool of once in a lifetime guests who will spare no expense to ensure that their trip lives up to the hype. Fear of missing out is a powerful motivator, as is the pressure of presenting ‘perfection’ on social media.

However, that highly lucrative single-visit demographic is not enough to sustain a theme park operation, even with strong consumer confidence. Walt Disney World also needs various types of repeat visitors, who tend to be more savvy and aware of past precedent.

Tickets for one of these parties may not seem expensive to the first-timer, especially if they are told it’s an incredible, unequivocal must-do by a social media influencer or they see it compared to the cost of an NFL game. That ‘argument’ will be far less persuasive with someone who attended the same party in 2007 but paid half the price and enjoyed half the crowds.

I think this is a really fascinating topic that will influence guest spending, pricing, offerings, and operations at Walt Disney World for at least the next 5 years to come. However, it’s also veering pretty far off topic at this point, so let’s switch gears…

By total luck, we attended the coldest Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party of the year thus far. When I say luck, to be clear: I mean good luck.

I know a lot of people visit Florida to escape cold weather, and that’s fine. We totally understand why they’d be disappointed by temperatures in the 40s.

I’m the polar opposite of that. If I could only choose 40-degree weather or 90-degree weather (with humidity), I’d take the former every day of the week.

You can always put on more clothing…there’s only so much you can take off. (Oh, and we say coldest party “thus far” because the low tomorrow is 39 degrees. So consult our Winter Packing Guide for Walt Disney World and plan accordingly if you’re visiting this week.

Since I had already attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and got most of the entertainment and ambiance photos I wanted then, our main goal for the evening was getting some good photos of us.

Because of the cooler weather, we opted to wear matching Christmas sweaters: Sarah in her adorable one featuring the sweet Duffy, Shellie May, etc., and me in a menacing one featuring the devious Gremlins. Well, at least we managed complementary Christmas colors.

We started with Mickey in his vaguely Christmas ensemble at Town Square Theater shortly before the official start time of the party. We ended up getting a number of other PhotoPass shots throughout the night, with very mixed results…which is why the photo above is one of Mickey by himself that I took, rather than us with him.

At least we only waited 5 minutes for this meet & greet. Around this same time, Jack as Sandy Claws and Sally had around a 90 minute wait–which also isn’t too bad as compared to their norm.

Our next stop was Santa Goofy back in Storybook Circus. We debated going for the other Fab Five characters back here, but the lines were significantly longer (all of those are unique, whereas Santa Goofy meets at Disney’s Hollywood Studios) and we have photos with them from the last few years.

The wait was minimal, which I’m grateful for in hindsight because the photo is sorta meh. I really wish they’d do themed backdrops for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The cost would be minimal, it’d be an ‘exclusive’ offering, and would significantly improve the look of photos as to random backgrounds of everyday aspects of Storybook Circus.

Another priority for the evening was trying some of the party-exclusive desserts. I had planned on doing a comprehensive post of Christmas foods at Magic Kingdom, but it now seems like I won’t get around to that while it’s still relevant.

Suffice to say, the only thing I’d recommend is the Yule Log, which was fantastic. The biggest disappointment ended up being the Red Velvet Zero Waffles. We love the this at the Halloween Party, but the Christmas version was atrocious. Hopefully ours was a one-off poor experience.

Not focusing as much effort on camping out for parade spots this party, we had more time to see Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration. All told, I saw portions of that show 5 times this year. I said it before, but I’ll say it again: I love this show.

It has incredible production value, great performances, excellent costuming, and Walt Disney World goofiness. Let me explain that last one, because that may be perceived as a backhanded compliment, when it’s really not.

Throughout its history, Walt Disney World has leaned into the quirky and sometimes downright weird. (Anyone who has seen the infamous ‘Movin’ On’ Grad Nite video from the 1970s knows what I mean.)

Over the years, this approach has given personality to Walt Disney World offerings, and given rise to a slew of enduring, quotable lines, memorable gags, and more.

In short, this is total fodder for nostalgia. I’m not sure this was an intentional thing in the early years of Walt Disney World, but it has become one of the ‘secret sauces’ for Disney that isn’t really talked about.

For the most part, it’s not something that’s common with new offerings, either. Walt Disney World aims for a more polished approach that focuses on wow-factor rather than wacky. (And when they do try for wacky, it often misses the mark–see the Flight of Passage pre-show.)

That’s what’s so great about entertainment like Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration and A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas.

These shows are both quintessential Walt Disney World quirkiness, and take an unconventional approach. You could argue that A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas goes a bit too far in the campy direction–I totally disagree.

By any reasonable measure, Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration strikes the perfect balance.

The show is exceptional, and its moments of personality elevates it from a montage show of Christmas tunes to something that will endure and be remembered long after its run ends.

Honestly, even that “Text Me a Merry Christmas” song, which I dislike and think is off-brand for Disney adds to the show’s idiosyncrasies. The more I see that number and, more importantly, see the audience reaction to it, the more I’m cool with it.

For a curmudgeon like me, it’s a bit too…modern. The college age group seems to love that song, and they have a hoot while it’s being performed. It’s often said that Walt Disney World needs to continue evolving and appealing to the younger generations to stay relevant, and you know what–that includes in quirky ways. Either way, Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration is an absolute gem and one of the best additions to Walt Disney World in the last decade.


30 Responses to “It Feels Like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party…All Over Again!”
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