Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is held in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World from mid-November through December 21. This guide to the holiday special event offers tips, strategy, and our review of the event based upon our firsthand experiences attending the party annually for over the last decade. (Last updated November 16, 2018.)
In terms of basics, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) features exclusive fireworks, a parade complete with snowfall on Main Street, an excellent stage show, and other holiday-themed entertainment (plus unlimited cookies and hot chocolate!). For some people, shorter lines at attractions is also a big draw of MVMCP. For 2018, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will occur on November 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 25, 27, 29, 30 and December 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21.
This post has been updated after attending this year’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on November 15, 2018. Our 2018 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Photo Report offers tons of new photos, thoughts, and anecdotes if you’re looking for a ‘trip report’ style post about the event. We’ve also updated our strategy and review here to cover the changes and crowd trends for 2018, as well as everything you can expect to experience at this year’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party…
One thing you can expect is more expensive tickets! Prices for 2018 start at $95, with most dates over $100 per person. We’ll cover whether we think the Christmas party is worth the money later in the post, but suffice to say, we have some initial sticker shock. It wasn’t too long ago that tickets were under $50 per night.
Before we dig into more info about Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, here’s a plug for some of our other resources for the holiday season at Walt Disney World. First, our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Walt Disney World, which offers comprehensive advice on the holiday season at all four theme parks, the resort hotels, and Disney Springs.
For those readers wanting that same info in the form of a beautiful eBook, our free Walt Disney World ChristmaseBook covers everything. It is 75+ pages, with 100+ photos, and tons of great tips & info! You can get this totally-free ebook via instant download by clicking here.
Unfortunately, no significant additions were made to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party this year (or last, for that matter). There were some new costumes in Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade and slight changes to entertainment, but that’s about it.
The last big addition was a new Cinderella Castle forecourt stage show called “Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration,” which replaced “Celebrate the Season” a few years ago. Despite Disney replacing Wishes with ‘Happily Ever After’ which features new projection mapping, there was no replacement (or added effects) to Holiday Wishes. Here’s hoping that happens in 2019, as Holiday Wishes is starting to feel a bit tired.
As noted above, we attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on November 15, 2018 and have updated this guide based upon our experience then. We’ll be attending another party after Thanksgiving, and should have further updates then. As always, we choose our dates based upon our Best & Worst Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Partypost. We’d likewise recommend you start there if you’re thinking of attending and want to avoid crowds to the greatest extent possible…
Overview & Tips
Here are the main Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party offerings:
Meet and Greets with (some) characters dressed in holiday attire
Complimentary cookies and hot cocoa
Snow on Main Street
Fireworks Holiday Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace (extra charge)
Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party (extra charge)
It’s worth noting that after December 22, the standard daytime parade in the Magic Kingdom becomes Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. This parade is a big part of the draw for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but it’s just one of the pieces of entertainment at MVMCP, with others being totally exclusive to the event.
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.
Now let’s elaborate on each of the unique offerings, getting the upcharges-within-the-upcharge out of the way first…
Fireworks Holiday Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace – We’ll start with one thing we think you should not do during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and that’s the dessert party. The cost is $84 per adult or $50 for children ages 3-9.
The dessert party includes a fireworks viewing area and dessert and non-alcoholic drink buffet. It does not include admission to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, which is to be purchased separately. (This means you’re paying twice–once for the party, once for the dessert party.) The dessert party also does not include parade viewing.
Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party – Speaking of things we don’t recommend, another is the new-for-2018 Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party, which is the exact same idea as the fireworks dessert party, but with a spread at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, followed by reserved parade viewing for the 11 p.m. parade.
This costs $99 per person on top of the cost of your party ticket, and includes savory appetizers and desserts, plus complementary beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages. It also extends beyond the normal end-time of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, running until 12:30 a.m.
Party-Exclusive Special Food & “Free” Refreshments – Magic Kingdom has a large lineup of Christmas snacks and desserts, which are available for purchase during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Additionally, some items are availably only during the event. These include the Yule Log, Red Velvet Zero Waffles, and Holiday Burger (pictured above).
Next, the big one: the “free”cookies, hot cocoa, and other holiday refreshments. There are stations to get these all over the park, and different cookies are served at each of them. Although reasonable minds 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 near the parade-time and during the first half-hour of the event.
The best place to go for the free refreshments is Pinocchio Village Haus, which serves hot chocolate, Fanta, and a variety of holiday cookies. Other locations typically only serve one cookie each. My favorite of the cookies is the Peppermint Crunch–anyone who doesn’t like that cookie is just plain wrong.
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.
Note: this location is now the reserved viewing area for the Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party during the 11 p.m. parade. Occasionally, it is also reserved for other purposes during the earlier parade, as well.
Really, any location on Main Street will do in terms of getting this holiday card-perfect view of the parade. A great alternative is, ironically enough, almost directly in front of Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. (See above.)
This spot will give you a view of the floats as they round the corner coming down Main Street with the Christmas tree in the background, it has good lighting, and you’ll still be in the vicinity of snowfall. It’s also the last part of Main Street that fills up with people, making it easier to get a good view here.
Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade is absolutely awesome. Most people I know prefer the Boo to You parade over it, but I think I’m in the minority who prefers the Christmas 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?!
Ralph and Vanellope from “Wreck-It Ralph” are in the parade, as is a 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 a bizarre little stage show in Tomorrowland focusing on Stitch’s efforts to track and capture Santa Claus, with appearances by Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski, and human singers and dancers.
Depending upon your perspective, A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas is cheesy and lame or kitschy and oddly endearing. We are unapologetic fans of A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas and love it in unironically. Seriously. It’s not actually the greatest thing ever (there’s nary a dinosaur in sight, after all), but it is pretty awesome.
There are probably only a handful of people in the world over the age of 8 who will admit to enjoying A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas, and we are both among that handful. When it initially debuted several years ago, replacing Mickey’s Twas the Night Before Christmas, we were both annoyed. Since then, it has slowly won us over, and has attained must-do status at the Christmas Party for us.
We think A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas is fun, crazy, and downright silly, but overall, enjoyable. We also recognize that it’s an acquired taste, and not everyone will enjoy it. We’d encourage you to give it a chance before writing it off–you may love it like we do.
The Edge Effect – Taking the same stage as A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas, the Edge Effect is an a capella group that appears 4 times nightly singing Christmas music.
Previously, this same role was occupied by VoicePlay. Both groups are excellent, and we’d strongly recommend watching one of Edge Effect’s performances almost immediately before A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas.
Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration Stage Show – This new-ish show replaced the Celebrate the Season show a couple of years ago, which was fun, but past its prime. The premise of the Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration 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.”
If you read our report on the party from the year Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration debuted, you know that we really enjoy this show…for the most part. We don’t want to spoil it for you, but there’s one “odd” song that should really be cut; removing it would improve the show significantly. That has yet to happen (probably because it appeals to kids even if ‘ole curmudgeons like us dislike it), but setting that aside, this is an upgrade from “Celebrate the Season,” and we think most people will love it!
This show is incredibly popular, and the viewing area can be frustrating if you’re shorter. We’d recommend watching one of the earlier shows from a distance and then returning for the 11:55 p.m. showing of Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration. Not only will you have the lowest crowds for that show, but you’ll also effectively “extend” the party beyond its midnight end time!
Character Dance Parties – There are typically two of these, one in Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe and one elsewhere. This year, that “other” party is Storybook Circus Junior Jingle Jam, which features some sort of childlike vampire character (I’m clearly out of touch with what the kids enjoy these days).
The other party is Club Tinsel in Tomorrowland’s Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. This one features elves and knock-off Coca Cola Polar Bears–it’s pretty solid. 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.
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. For 2018, the special card is “the Tiki Room’s four cawing birds.”
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.
In terms of viewing these fireworks, you’ll want to pick a location with an unobstructed 180-degree view of Cinderella Castle. This means anywhere in the middle of Main Street is out, as the buildings to each side of you will obstruct your view. For Holiday Wishes, we’d highly recommend the green areas in our Best Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Locations. Additionally, the yellow areas that are closer to Cinderella Castle also work, but are slightly less desirable.
I am not exactly musically-inclined, but I absolutely love the music in this fireworks show–it does a great job of tugging on the heartstrings. 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 a lot of the characters at the Party, this is one area where you might want to employ a bit of strategy. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party features a mix of party-exclusive characters, party-exclusive costumes on regular characters, and regular characters.
Wait times for these meet & greets vary significantly, and depend upon the level of exclusivity. For a ‘regular’ character you might wait 10 minutes, whereas the wait could be 150 minutes for characters who don’t appear outside of MVMCP. Generally speaking, these waits have spiked in recent years as ‘character hunting’ has grown in popularity. Lines also tend to move slowly–even if there are “only” a couple dozen people in front of you, the wait could exceed an hour.
Of these meets, Jack Skellington in his “Sandy Claws” attire and Sally are the most popular. Their meet and greet is located in Town Square Theater, and if you want to do it, you should do it, you should get in line early–well before the party even starts.
Jack and Sally typically start meeting shortly after the unofficial start of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (typically between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m.), and only guests who already have their wristbands may line up to meet them. During the middle of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, you can expect to wait 2+ hours for Sandy Claws and Sally.
The other big meet & greet of the event is the Seven Dwarfs. With Sandy Claws and the Seven Dwarfs, it’s really an either/or thing. If you want to meet both, you’re going to spend about half of your Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party waiting in those two character lines. The Seven Dwarfs will be appearing in Storybook Circus at Pete’s Silly Side Show.
Other characters who are not exclusive to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party but that can be found wearing their holiday finery meet outside in Storybook Circus. We typically do one or two of these meet & greets per party (lining up around 6:30 p.m. before the party officially starts or waiting until after 11 p.m.), skipping Sandy Claws and the Seven Dwarfs due to their absurd lines.
There are several other character meet & greets and character dance parties that are not nearly as possible, so it’s not all long waits if you want to meet characters. The stars of the party, the Country Bears, rarely attract crowds (more like, “who are you?” questions) as they wander Frontierland, 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. Most people who see these famed stars of Country Bear Christmas don’t know who they are, which is really unfortunate, as Country Bear Jamboree is one of the best attractions in Magic Kingdom and basically a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Additionally, you’ll also find the Reindeer Wranglers in Frontierland. This is a country music string group performing variations of classic Christmas songs. They usually only draw a small crowd (or entertain guests along the parade route), but they’re worth seeking out. Sometimes, the Country Bears will join their act for a bit of fun, too!
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.
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 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party well over a dozen times since 2007 (yes, that means several times per year some years–we like it that much), 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 $95/adult and crowds increasing every year, we can no longer make that unequivocal recommendation.
Yes, it’s a lot of fun. Is it ~$100 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.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is an almost “magical” experience–at least we think so. 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. 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 parade for free after December 22, 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. 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 Epcot International Festival of the Holidays 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.
What do you think of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party? Which aspect of the Christmas Party is your favorite? Are you going, or have you already attended, in 2018? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!