For many of you reading this, you’ve either considered booking or have already booked a date for a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party experience. There’s no escaping the reality that the party is very expensive at $89 – $109 per person, but I will say it is worth the money in many cases. However, there’s a few things I recommend you do to get the most out of the experience and limit the costs associated with the party itself in more that one way.
Of course, I will preface this article with one main constraint that should not be overlooked, and that is that we have not been to this year’s iteration of the party. We went last year and have been in many years past, but the party itself does very slightly from year to year in regards to attendance numbers, exclusive dining offerings, and showtimes. With all of that being taken into consideration, here’s 5 of our top tips to get the most out of your Very Merry Christmas Party Experience.
Get There As Early As Possible
One of the greatest “hidden gems” of the Christmas Party event is that guests can enter the party earlier that the posted 7:00pm official start time. While there has been some rumors of the time being pushed back this year for party guests, I do not believe it has been a widespread issue. Either way, despite the posted start time, party guests can typically enter up to three hours before the event actually begins (usually near 4:00pm for entrance with a 7:00pm event start time).
Personally, I’ve found it highly beneficial to schedule your party day on a day that you either arrive at Walt Disney World, from a potentially mid-day flight arrival, or spend the morning and early afternoon exploring Disney Springs or enjoying your resort before the party begins. By doing so, you not only get to try something a little bit different, but also save yourself around $100 per person on ticket costs (unless you buy discounted tickets through one of the avenues mentioned in our 2017 Discount Disney World Ticket Buying Tips – What is the Best Option For Your Situation? and catch a better option). Interestingly, the party itself does not require admission in addition to the party costs. When you take that into consideration, you may even save money when compared to a one-day park ticket at typical pricing. Obviously, you’ll lose quite a few hours of park time, but as I like to say, you may discover something by doing so that make the experience entirely worth it in the end.
Exploring the resorts can really add something to any Disney vacation. You can try new food, discover little hidden details or experiences like the Carolwood Room, or even simply relax and enjoy the ambience of a theme you may have never really noticed or fully explored in the past. In this particular case (and really in the case of any WDW vacation), I highly recommend getting at least one dining reservation at a resort hotel. Some of the best options, in my opinion, are Whispering Canyon at Wilderness Lodge, Ohana at the Polynesian, and Chef Mickey at the Contemporary.
Utilize the Attraction Wait Times
While this tip will seem a bit counter productive and slightly obvious, I still highly recommend that once the party begins, take serious advantage of the roughly a hour to hour and a half window between 6:00 and 7:30 to ride attractions with shorter wait times. As the crowds of the day slowly get “booted” out for party guests, the attractions will typically (its not guaranteed) have a slight lull in wait times. Throughout the night, you’ll likely find other randomly short attraction queues, but in my experience that early window of opportunity or staying late is the best way to take advantage of attractions.
Additionally, use that previously mentioned time of early entry, before the party officially begins, to ride as much as you can. Once the party begins, you’ll want to grab free desserts and see the special shows and fireworks, so you’ll want to get as much done as you can before those events begin in regards to attractions. One more thing not to forget is that character meet and greet offerings will be widespread and outstandingly unique in many cases. The most popular character interaction I witnessed was a meet and greet with all Seven Dwarfs in Christmas costumes. The wait time for it was exponentially long, but also something you’ll want to consider when laying out your night in the parks.
Make Sure To Try All The Different Food Offerings
As mentioned above, the Very Merry Christmas Parties do include desserts and snacks throughout the night which are included with admission. For years, the dessert offerings were fairly limited to mostly sugar cookies and hot cocoa, but now those offerings have grown exponentially. Today, and last year, Disney began offering different treats at different distribution locations throughout the park ranging from sugar cookies (as before) to new cookie varieties and even snow cones! It’s great to see the variety, but it also adds a bit more fun to the dining portion of the event. Don’t expect a meal, but in a few hours most guests can put away quite a few cookies and simple snacks in addition to hot cocoa and cider. Personally, we had a lot of fun jumping from distribution location to distribution location trying every option available for the night.
Additionally, be sure to look out for special limited time paid food offerings that may guests will simply overlook. Also, as a bit of a side note, I would not recommend a table service dining reservation for any time during the event. Magic Kingdom table service dining is excellent, but it typically isn’t the best use of your time during a party event. Of course, you may want to use some of the “early entry” time to eat a table service meal before the special events debut at 7:00pm.
Dont Miss The Fireworks or the Shows
Two of the true highlights of the experience overall is the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade and Holiday Wishes. The parade has become iconic over the years in a way that very few have accomplished. Of course we’ve witnessed the Main Street Electrical Parade and even Spectromagic over the years, but there’s just something iconic about this parade experience. From the toy soldiers marching down the streets to the flurries that fill the sky, it’s near impossible not to fall in love with the character and heart of Once Upon a Christmastime.
Due to that iconic nature, be prepared to face large crowds when the parade files down Main Street and throughout the parade route. Personally, I don’t see the crowds as a huge factor in viewing the experience, but if you want that prime viewing spot you’ll want to lay out some time to stake out a spot and prepare for the showcase of dancing colors Disney debuts as a wonderful parade. If you’re not looking for that prime viewing area, a little bit of an “insider tip” is to head to entrance are of the Emporium, near the fire station and exit gate for the floats, and you’ll typically find a small area with very light crowds up until about 10 minutes before showtime. It’s not the perfect and iconic castle view backdrop for photos, but is unique in that you’ll get see the floats twice as they make the loop around the square.
Moving on to fireworks, this is the one aspect of Disney that I would highly recommend staking out a spot for well in advance. The fireworks associated with this event hold a special place in my Disney memories for so many reasons, but first and foremost because they are really one of the closest renditions of current fireworks that align with the previous ‘Wishes’ fireworks spectacular. I have and always will love the heart of the ‘Wishes’ fireworks spectacular and this performance and iteration of that fantastic display is just unique and different enough to bring back feelings while still offering up a holiday twist.
Reserve A Little Bit of Time For Main Street
Last, but certainly not least, be sure to spend a little bit of time simply exploring Main Street. Many of you have likely heard me mention that same element time after time, but there really is a certain level of joy in the basic nature of exploring the shops and decor of Main Street around the holidays. The decor has a way of taking you back to childhood memories and taking you “home” in a classic elegance that each and every one of us can relate to in one way or another. Beyond that feeling and nature of the experience as a whole, be sure to stop by some of the stores for limited edition merchandise that can only be bought during the party.