I know for many of you, it's too early to start thinking about Christmas. But Disney doesn't agree. Last night (November 10th), the first “Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party” of 2008 was held. Deb Wills and I were on hand for the festivities.
The party starts at 7pm and runs till midnight. However, guests may enter the Magic Kingdom anytime after 4pm with their event ticket. Cast Members were directing regular day guests to enter the left half of the turnstiles and those attending the party to enter the right side.
All party goers are given a wristband after passing through the turnstiles to differentiate them from daytime guests. Come seven o'clock, only guests with wristbands are allowed onto rides and attractions. Everyone else is asked to leave the park.
On the left side, just before City Hall, were 2 Toy Soldiers and a countdown of "45" days until Christmas. Behind the sign was a photo opportunity backdrop that included a holiday wreath.
Deb and I arrived early and had dinner at Pecos Bill Café. After our meal we headed over to the Castle Forecourt to watch the “Castle Lighting Ceremony” that takes place each evening at 6:30. Be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes early as this is a very popular show attended by both day guests and party goers.
As the festivities begin, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald are trying to get into the holiday spirit, but something seems to be missing. Each has a different idea as to how to decorate the castle, but no consensus can be reached. Finally, they decide to ask Cinderella for her thoughts. After all, she's the one who lives in the castle. In the end, her fairy godmother appears on the balcony and transforms the castle into a wonderful work of art with thousands of tiny lights.
The show is simple, but it works. As the castle turrets light up, section by section, the crowd gasps in amazement. I had goose bumps, and I've seen the show before. For the rest of the evening, Deb kept repeating, “The castle is stunning.” And she's right, it is magnificent.
The castle lighting show is 15 minutes long.
At its conclusion at 6:45 we hightailed it to the Galaxy Palace Theater in Tomorrowland. We wanted to see the first presentation of “Mickey's Twas the Night Before Christmas” show which begins at 7pm. When we arrived, we found that the theater was almost full and we were some of the last guests to be admitted. This show is also presented at 8:00, 9:00, 10:15, and 11:15. If you plan on seeing the “Castle Lighting Ceremony,” I might suggest seeing one of these later performances so you can get a better seat.
In this show, Mickey reads passages from “Twas the Night Before Christmas” as different characters act out portions of the story. A live orchestra provides the music. The highlight of the program is when Minnie sings “Santa Baby” to Goofy dressed in a Santa suit. It's hilarious. The show is about 30 minutes long and is a lot of fun. I would definitely recommend seeing it.
After the show, Deb went to investigate “Cosmic Ray's Jingle Dance and Play Party” at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Café.
I headed back to the Castle Forecourt to see the “Celebrate the Season” show.
When I arrived at Main Street, I was amazed at how many people were lining the street waiting for the 8:15 parade. The Hub was also packed with people. This didn't seem right to me. These special event parties usually aren't this busy. I started looking for wristbands and found that many of these people did not have one. I suspect that a lot of these guests stake out a spot on the parade route at 7pm, rather than leave the park as they are supposed to. Once someone is sitting on the curb, I imagine it would be difficult for Disney to evict these guests. I struggled through the crowd and found a place in front of the castle for the show.
The “Celebrate the Season” show is different, but similar in feel to the “Twas the Night Before Christmas” show. In this performance, Mickey and Minnie are joined by a number of “Nutcracker Suite” characters (among others) who bring merriment to the festivities. This show is shown at 7:45, 10:05, and 11:20.
Since the overall experience of these two shows are so alike, I don't really think it's necessary to see both of them. And if you choose to see only one, I'd pick the “Twas the Night Before Christmas” for a couple of reasons. First, the show is longer. Also, the theater has benches (with backs) that you can sit on. Shows in the Castle Forecourt require guests to stand during the performance. Also, many parents place their children on their shoulders when the show begins, blocking the views of those behind them.
After the “Celebrate the Season” show I met up with Deb in Frontierland to see the “Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade” which started at 8:15. Once I entered Liberty Square, the crowds thinned out dramatically. Frontierland was also sparsely occupied. This convinced me that many “day” guests had stayed past 7pm to see the parade.
Next, Part 2 of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!
The previous post in this blog was Trail’s End Lunch Menu -- Revised.
The next post in this blog is Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party 2008 Part 2.