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Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Archives

December 20, 2016

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party: Late December versus early November dates

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For about a decade now, I have covered Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party for AllEars.Net (and before that the Orlando Sentinel), which meant that my family and I attended one of the earliest parties in November so I could get the word out about what other guests could expect. This year, however, my husband and I decided to surprise the kids with tickets to a party a week before Christmas as part of our Advent box of family activities – and that experience was a little more different than I anticipated.

First, let me say that I expected the crowds to be heavier. The night we attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party was sold out, after all. We arrived at the Magic Kingdom about 5:30 p.m., and crowds were thick at the front of the park especially with day guests who still had time to enjoy the park and party guests who were arriving as early as 4 p.m. to enjoy their full eight hours in the park. We decided to avoid the worst of the bumping elbows on Main Street, U.S.A., by walking along the bypass area, which normally is considered “back stage.”

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Disney cast members have done a fantastic job making the bypass area, which starts near Tony’s Town Square, appealing to incoming guests in order to reduce congestion on Main Street. Besides more room to move, guests were offered several cute party-exclusive photo ops that were staffed by Disney’s PhotoPass. Plus, we each were handed stacks of large pre-wrapped snowmen sugar cookies. My family and I promptly tucked those away in backpacks to take home because we had all the new cookies to sample during the party.

Despite the sold-out status of the party, once it started at 7 p.m., the crowds really did thin out and I can’t say we noticed much of a difference between early November and late December parties. The first Christmas parade still was the busiest, and Main Street was filled with people enjoying Holiday Wishes fireworks. But the attractions had pretty short lines, and we didn’t even encounter long lines at the cookie stations. Plus, the party-exclusive merchandise and Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards were readily available.

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Eggnog and Gingersnap Molasses Cookies
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Hot Chocolate and Peppermint Bark Cookies
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Snow Cones and Snowman Sugar Cookies

Speaking of cookies, in between the evening’s holiday entertainment, we enjoyed tasting all the new drinks and cookies that were being offered for the first time. Among them were Eggnog and Gingersnap Molasses Cookies, Snow Cones and Snowman Sugar Cookies, Spiced Apple Cider and Snowman Sugar Cookies, Hot Chocolate and Peppermint Bark Cookies, and the previously offered Hot Chocolate and Snickerdoodle Cookies. Plus, the Magic Kingdom continues to offer allergy-friendly and healthy snack alternatives with apple slices and apple juice available upon request. Adding the new choices really added another fun element to our evening. My husband raved about the Eggnog and Gingersnap Molasses Cookies, while I loved the Hot Chocolate and Peppermint Bark Cookies.

One thing that never changes, at least for my family, is that we never have time to see and do everything we want to at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party – even when we were leaving the park at 12:30 a.m. But having too many fun things to do is a good problem to have!



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November 17, 2016

Best bets for 2016 Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

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My family and I have attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Walt Disney World for more than a decade, witnessing the changes through the years. Here, I offer our best tips for making the most of your party night. (In my last blog post, I explained what is new this year for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and offered tips for those attractions and purchases.)

The Christmas party only lasts for five hours – from 7 p.m. to midnight – so you’ll need a strategy in order to do most everything that’s important to your group. It’s unlikely that one family can do everything during that time. Our family focuses on the entertainment that is unique to the party because we can choose to experience other things at Magic Kingdom another day.

Know that your party ticket allows you to enter the Magic Kingdom at 4 p.m., even though most party activities do not start until 7 p.m. You can use those three hours to experience other holiday entertainment, ride attractions, eat dinner and get in line for rare characters.

Before the party starts, you might want to check out:

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** A Frozen Holiday Wish. This short stage show takes place in front of Cinderella Castle during which the folks from Arendelle light up the 200,000 "icicles" adorning the castle. It takes place at 6:30 and 8:15 p.m. daily, which means day guests can see the first show. In our experience at the 2014 and 2015 parties, both shows are super crowded in the hub because that’s where you need to be if you want to see the “Frozen” characters on stage. However, you can see the castle being lit up from anywhere on Main Street. Next time I view this show, I think I would prefer a little more breathing room.

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** The Jungle Cruise. This classic attraction has been transformed into the Jingle Cruise for the fourth year. The "world-famous" holiday overlay can be experienced during regular park hours, too, but if you have some time to kill, it's a fun way to get in the Christmas spirit before the party. Plus, you’ll see all the little holiday touches better in the daylight.

** Attractions. If you think you might want to go on some rides before the party starts, be sure to book FastPasses. Although FastPass+ is not available during party hours, it is included with your ticket for rides scheduled between 4 and 7 p.m. If you forget to do this, you can stop by the kiosks in the Magic Kingdom, but know that many attractions may not have availability at the last minute.

** Dinner. My family and I usually choose to have a quick-service dinner before the party starts so as not to use a lot of the time we could be spending on the holiday activities. This is a matter of personal preference, though, because a table-service meal might be more important to other guests.

** Rare characters. Finally, if you are interested in meeting any of the characters with long lines, it makes sense to do your waiting before the Christmas party starts so you’ll have more time to enjoy the entertainment that only takes place after 7 p.m. Plus, some of the characters have come out early for guests with party wristbands.

New this year are Zootopia’s Judy Hoppes and Nick Wilde, who are meeting in Tomorrowland.

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For the third year, guests can meet Jack Skellington dressed as Sandy Claws and Sally Stitches in the gazebo in Liberty Square.

Look for Scrooge McDuck, Santa Goofy, and Daisy Duck, Donald Duck and Minnie Mouse in their holiday finest in Storybook Circus in Fantasyland.

Cinderella with Prince Charming and Rapunzel with Flynn Rider greet guests during the party at Princess Fairytale Hall. Prince Philip joins Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) and Snow White and her prince in the castle courtyard. These are rare appearances by the princes.

All Seven Dwarfs pose for photos across from the circus tent and the splash pad in Storybook Circus in Fantasyland.

Santa Claus hears children’s wishes in the garden adjacent to City Hall on Main Street, U.S.A.

Talking Mickey Mouse is dressed in his Christmas clothes in his usual spot inside Town Square Theater.

Aladdin and Abu alternate with Jasmine and Genie at the set across from the Magic Carpet ride.

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Once the party starts, you won’t want to miss Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, which includes beloved Disney characters, everyone's favorite toy soldiers and a certain Jolly Old Elf. The parade is presented twice -- at 8:30 and 11 p.m. -- bookending the Holiday Wishes fireworks. The first parade is always much busier than the second, so if you can wait, I'd recommend it. If the second parade is past little ones' bedtimes, plan on securing a spot along the parade route an hour in advance. Know that it’s almost always less crowded in Frontierland, which is where the parade starts, so you usually can grab a decent seat with much less waiting.

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Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season starts at 10 p.m. and also is another must-see. For this display, however, you can step onto Main Street U.S.A. or around the perimeter a few minutes before the start time. When the fireworks end 20 minutes later, we usually grab a spot on the curb for the second parade. You’ll notice that is “snows” on Main Street during each parade. It also “snows” at the end of the evening, so if you stay until the last half hour of the party, you can step right into the “snow” and take some fun photos.

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During the party hours, there also are two stage shows -- A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas and the new Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration -- that are presented multiple times throughout the night. Both are fun and festive shows if you have time to catch them.

In between, be sure to sample all-you-care-to-eat cookies and hot chocolate and other drinks throughout the park. This year, guests have choices of four sweets and four beverages. See the list and where to find them in my previous blog.

No matter how many times my family and I have seen Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, they still amaze us! It’s not the Christmas season until we’ve seen the fireworks over Cinderella Castle and toy soldiers march in precision formations down Main Street, U.S.A.

Tickets still are available for select dates in November and December. See pricing information and discounts on the AllEars.Net resource page.



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November 15, 2016

What’s new for 2016 at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party has returned to the Magic Kingdom for select nights in November and December, bringing Christmas cheer to visitors and locals alike. Deb Wills and Linda Eckwerth attended one of the parties last week, and my family and I will be going in December. I will have several reports about what you can expect. First, here’s what’s new this year at the Christmas party:

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I met Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde at a media event earlier this year, but now all Christmas partygoers can meet the Zootopia pair.

** Rare and new character meet-and-greets are a hallmark of Walt Disney World’s Christmas and Halloween parties, and the 2016 hard-ticket events are no exception. Zootopia’s Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde will meet guests for the first time at Walt Disney World during the parties. (They can be seen daily in the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Parade, but they do not get down off their float.) Look for the line to meet them near the Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland.

Tip: Get in line before the party officially starts at 7 p.m. Reports from the first week of the parties say the pair began greeting guests early as long as you have your party wristband. At the very least, you’ll save party time by getting what are sure to be long lines out of the way before most holiday entertainment starts.

** A new stage show, Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration, takes the place of the long-running Celebrate the Season on the Castle Forecourt stage. The show features classic and contemporary carols and characters from all over Walt Disney World. It is presented four times each party: 7:40, 9:25, 10:30 p.m. and midnight.

Tip: If you’re going to stay until the end of the party anyway, make this the last thing you do. It will be less crowded, you’ll spend less time waiting and all the other entertainment ends at midnight.

** One of the treats of the five-hour Christmas party has been unlimited hot chocolate and snickernoodle cookies. This year, for the first time, the party will offer four different kinds of cookies and drinks. Here’s where you can find the complimentary treats:

Hot Chocolate and Snickerdoodle cookie -- Tortuga Tavern, Adventureland

Eggnog and Gingersnap Molasses Cookie -- Heritage House in Liberty Square

Snow Cone and Snowman Sugar Cookie -- Friar’s Nook in Fantasyland

Spiced Apple Cider and Snowman Sugar Cookie -- Pete’s Silly Sideshow Storybook Circus in Fantasyland

Hot Chocolate and Peppermint Bark Cookie -- The Lunching Pad in Tomorrowland

Tip: The Magic Kingdom continues to offer allergy-friendly and healthy snack alternatives to those who prefer to skip the cookies. In the past, individual packets of apple slices and apple juice were available at each station upon request.

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** As has been the tradition since the interactive Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game debuted in 2012, a new holiday card will be given to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party guests. It’s free, like other Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards, and available at the Fire House on Main Street, U.S.A., and behind the Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square. This year’s design is called Goofy’s Festive Fiasco and is only available at the party.

Tip: Guests can collect their cards beginning at 4 p.m. if they have their party wristbands. Get this done early so you don’t forget and then save it for another day at the Magic Kingdom when you’re not trying to get to all the party entertainment.

** Club Tinsel, a dance party that is led by a DJ inside Cosmic Rays Starlight Café in Tomorrowland, is not new, but its characters are. Look for North Pole inhabitants (reindeer, polar bears and elves) to join guests on the dance floor. (In the past, party-goers could dance with Phineas and Ferb._

Tip: Club Tinsel typically does not get very crowded, so it’s the perfect place to take a break from crowds or from waiting for other entertainment. You could even pick up hot chocolate and peppermint bark cookies at the nearby Lunching Pad and sit at one of the many tables in the restaurant.

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** Of course, there is new exclusive merchandise for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, including trading pins, a graphic MagicBand, an ornament, a cell-phone case and T-shirts. There also is a passholder-only T-shirt and trading pin.

Here’s where to do your shopping:

Main Street, U.S.A. – Emporium (apparel, retail MagicBand, pins, ornament)

Storybook Circus – Big Top Souvenirs (apparel, retail MagicBand, pins)

Liberty Square – Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe (apparel, logo pin, ornament)

Tomorrowland – Mickey’s Star Traders (apparel and logo pin) and Tomorrowland
Light & Power Co. (D-Tech on Demand case)

Tip: All merchandise can be purchased beginning at 4 p.m. if you have your party wristband. I really like that event organizers have made the merchandise available before the party starts at 7 p.m. Not only does this disperse the crowds a bit, but it also allows families like mine to take care of purchases without sacrificing precious party time.

Check back for tips and tricks for maximzing your time at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party so you can make it to all your must-do experiences. What are you most looking forward to at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party? Tell us in the comments!



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November 14, 2015

Tips for maximizing your time at 2015 Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

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Even in Orlando, guests and residents alike can dream of a white Christmas. But the closest we may come to that impossible feat in the Sunshine State is at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Walt Disney World, where it “snows” on Main Street, U.S.A., and guests enjoy hot cocoa on select dates in November and December. My family and I have attended the party for more than a decade, witnessing the changes through the years. Here, I offer our best tips for making the most of your party night.

First, know that your party ticket allows you to enter the Magic Kingdom at 4 p.m., even though most party activities do not start until 7 p.m. Early admission used to be a non-publicized perk and a tool to disburse the arriving crowds. Now, however, Walt Disney World touts the entrance time. You could, of course, use the extra time to experience attractions, but I think that three-hour window is best used to prepare for the party so you don't waste precious party time.

Our strategy for this time is similar to what we do at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Upon entering the Magic Kingdom, we take a family picture at the photo spot in Town Square. (As I mentioned in my blog post about what is new at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party for 2015, many annual passholders now receive free digital downloads of Disney PhotoPass photos, so put that benefit to good use!)

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Next, we pop into the adjacent Fire House to collect our “Olaf’s Snowgies” cards for the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game. They are complimentary and only given to party guests, although they can be used in the interactive card game at any time going forward. Then, we go next door to the Emporium if anyone in our family is planning to spend their money on exclusive party merchandise, such as pins, MagicBands and T-shirts. Both the collectible game card and the party merchandise are available to party guests who have their wristbands beginning at 4 p.m.

After those ‘tasks” have been accomplished, we either choose to have a quick-service dinner or to get in line for some of the popular characters, many of whom are only seen at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

** For the second year, guests can meet Jack Skellington dressed as Sandy Claws in Storybook Circus. Because of long lines, Sandy Claws’ sets are beginning before the party officially starts. Only guests with party wristbands will be allowed in the queue. Also in Storybook Circus are Scrooge McDuck, Santa Goofy, and Daisy Duck, Donald Duck and Minnie Mouse in their holiday finest.

** Cinderella with Prince Charming and Rapunzel with Flynn Rider greet guests during the party at Princess Fairytale Hall. Prince Philip joins Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) and Snow White and her prince in the castle courtyard. These are rare appearances by the princes.

** All Seven Dwarfs pose for photos by the other nearby Fantasyland gate.

** Santa Claus hears children’s wishes in the garden adjacent to City Hall on Main Street, U.S.A.

** Talking Mickey Mouse is dressed in his Christmas clothes in his usual spot inside Town Square Theater.

** Aladdin and Abu alternate with Jasmine and Genie at the set across from the Magic Carpet ride.

For characters with long lines, it makes sense to do your waiting before the Christmas party starts so you’ll have more time to enjoy the entertainment that only takes place after 7 p.m.

If you haven't been able to secure a reservation for dinner at the oh-so-popular Be Our Guest restaurant, you might have a shot during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. A fellow blogger told me that the cast members will take a limited number of walk-up reservations, usually beginning between 6 and 6:30 p.m. If you are able to get on the list, understand that this likely means sacrificing a couple of hours of party time. You have to decide if that trade-off is worth it to your party.

Remember: the party only lasts for five hours – from 7 p.m. to midnight – so you’ll need a strategy in order to do most everything that’s important to your group. It’s unlikely that one family can do everything during that time. Our family focuses on the entertainment that is unique to the party because we can choose to experience other things at Magic Kingdom another day.

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At both the Halloween and Christmas parties at the Magic Kingdom, the Wishes fireworks show and the holiday parade are always on our “must-do” list. No matter how many times we’ve seen Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, they still amaze us! It’s not the Christmas season until we’ve seen the toy soldiers march in precision formations down Main Street, U.S.A.

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Because of crowds at the first parade, we usually try to wait to view the parade until the second presentation. We typically arrive on Main Street about 9:10 for the beginning of Celebrate the Magic at 9:15 and the fireworks at 9:30. When they end 20 minutes later, we grab a spot on the curb for the second parade. You’ll notice that is “snows” on Main Street during each parade. It also “snows” at the end of the evening, so if you stay until the last half hour of the party, you can step right into the “snow” and take some fun photos.

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And what goes great with “snow” and wintry fun? Hot cocoa and cookies, of course! Even better, they are included in the price of your party ticket. Check the map for eight serving locations that are marked with one of these lighted candy canes. For those who prefer less sugar, apple juice and apple slices also are offered. Guests may have any combination of the four items, and there is no limit to the number of times you can go through each, or any, line.

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Low on our list of party activities are the two stage shows -- A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas and Celebrate the Season -- that are presented multiple times throughout the night and the dance party, Club Tinsel, at Cosmic Ray's. All are well-done, but we just can’t make it to everything!

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If you arrive early for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, you may also want to spend that time at two holiday-themed attractions, but know that they are available to non-party guests, too, so you may want to save them for other days at the Magic Kingdom if you are returning to the theme park on another day.

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** A Frozen Holiday Wish," which debuted last year, is the short stage show in front of Cinderella Castle during which the folks from Arendelle light up the 200,000 "icicles" adorning the castle. It takes place at 6:15 and 8 p.m. daily, which means day guests can see the first show. In our experience at the 2014 and 2015 parties, both shows are super crowded in the hub because that’s where you need to be if you want to see the “Frozen” characters on stage. However, you can see the castle being lit up from anywhere on Main Street. Next time I view this show, I think I would prefer a little more breathing room.

** The Jungle Cruise has been transformed into the Jingle Cruise for the third year. This "world-famous" holiday overlay can be experienced during regular park hours, too, but if you have some time to kill, it's a fun way to get in the Christmas spirit before the party.

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of Walt Disney World at a media preview of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. This did not affect my story, and my opinions are my own.



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November 12, 2015

What’s new for 2015 at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party has returned to the Magic Kingdom for select nights in November and December, bringing Christmas cheer to visitors and locals alike. My children and I attended the first party of the 2015 season and I will have several reports about what you can expect. First, here’s what’s new this year at the Christmas Party.

Holiday entertainment

Most of the entertainment this year is the same as last year, and that’s not bad news! Expect to see your favorite features of the party -- characters, stage shows, fireworks, the parade and the dance party. I can’t imagine not seeing Holiday Wishes – Celebrate the Spirit of the Season! It’s my favorite version of Wishes fireworks, hands down.

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There is one new addition to the evening’s entertainment, however, and you won’t want to miss it because it’s a unique show. VoicePlay performs its a cappella holiday concert four times each night (8:10, 9:05, 10:10 and 11:05 p.m.) on the Rockettower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland. The five-part harmonies are produced by Earl Elkins, Jr., Geoff Castellucci, Layne Stein, Eliezer Jacobson and Tony Wakim. The group was started 15 years ago, and now tours the country with its production. In fact, after the last performance at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, VoicePlay heads out on tour again!

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card
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As has been the tradition since the interactive Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game debuted in 2012, a new holiday card will be given to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party guests. It’s free, like other Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards, and available at the Fire House on Main Street, U.S.A., and behind the Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square beginning at 4 p.m. if you have your party wristband. This year’s design features Olaf and his Snowgies from the “Frozen Fever” short and is only available at the party.

Exclusive Christmas party merchandise
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Of course, there is new exclusive merchandise for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, including trading pins, a graphic MagicBand and T-shirts. There also is a passholder-only T-shirt and trading pin. The pins are only available at the Frontier Trading Post, which made for some long lines that my family and I experienced when both of my young pin collectors insisted on spending their money. MagicBands are only available at the Emporium. T-shirts can be purchased at the Emporium, Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe and Mickey’s Star Traders.

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All merchandise can be purchased beginning at 4 p.m. if you have your party wristband. I really like that event organizers have made the merchandise available before the party starts at 7 p.m. Not only does this disperse the crowds a bit, but it also allows families like mine to take care of purchases without sacrificing precious party time.

Complimentary professional photos

This is the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party for which most annual passholders can get free professional photos. When Walt Disney World changed its annual pass structure in October, it added free digital downloads of professional PhotoPass photos to most of the passes. (Only the Florida resident Silver, Disney Weekday Select and Epcot After 4 passes do not have the free photo download feature.) With this in mind, I would encourage you to stop and take a few professional photos. (Even if you are not an annual passholder, having your photo taken doesn’t cost anything and you can decide later if you want to purchase the photos.)

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Many people use this opportunity to take photos for their Christmas cards. A word of warning: If you are counting on a photo for this exact reason, allow for the possibility of needing a retake. Take your photo early in the evening and check it on My Disney Experience to make sure it is what you expected. It doesn’t take long for the professional photos to show up in your online account. Also, you might want to plan outfits (or props) accordingly.

This is the first year for the extra Cinderella Castle turrets to be covered in holiday lights, which makes a beautiful backdrop. There's also a new photo op in Adventureland that features a Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party ornament plus an elf and a reindeer from the Christmas parade.

Jungle Cruise festivities

The Jungle Cruise has been transformed into the Jingle Cruise for the third year with a "world-famous" holiday overlay. The back story, according to Jennifer Fickley-Baker on the Disney Parks Blog: “The Skippers are homesick for the holidays and to add cheer, they decorated the attraction queue and boathouse with homemade decorations, gifts and items from back home. Boats have temporarily been renamed with holiday monikers and the Skippers are armed with seasonal jokes. (Listen carefully in the queue, too – you may hear a holiday-themed radio broadcast playing in the background).”

But that’s not what is new. Jen recently reminded readers that the new Jungle Skipper Canteen, a restaurant under construction in Adventureland, still is scheduled to open this year. So, perhaps some lucky partygoers will be among the first to try out the new restaurant.

“Guests will be able to experience “World Famous Jungle Cuisine” in one of several unique dining rooms, including a crew mess hall and a once-hidden secret meeting room of the famed Society of Explorers and Adventurers,” Jen wrote.

In my next blog post, I’ll be giving tips for families attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.



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November 13, 2014

Make the most of your time at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

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Do you hear what I hear? Why, yes, it is Mickey and his friends singing Christmas carols at the Magic Kingdom holiday party that happens every year about this time. And if you're planning on going and want to have yourself a very merry Christmas at the event, consider a little preparation before you go.

Whether you are a relaxed, go-with-the-flow kind of traveler or one who thrives on lists and reservations, it's important to have at least discussed the priorities of your group before arriving at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. There are so many things to do and everyone wants to feel as if they have gotten their money's worth because party tickets are not inexpensive. In my opinion, however, they are worth it if you use your time wisely.

For the most part, I am a Type A traveler, and like moms everywhere, I am the one who packs for the kids, plans the group photos, makes the dinner reservations -- and then collapses into bed satisfied at the end of a successful day. Here are things I consider before attending Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. I hope they will help you, too, make the most of your experience.

Before you go:

** Outfits. There are many great backdrops for family photos that could be used on Christmas cards and other photo gifts, so I usually plan what we will wear. You don't have to embarrass your husband with matching sweaters, but maybe he could be persuaded to upgrade his old T-shirt for the night. Pack accordingly, and don't forget festive hats or other holiday props to get in the spirit.

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** Disney's MemoryMaker. If you are staying at Walt Disney World on vacation and not attending the party as a day guest, purchasing MemoryMaker may be worth the expense. MemoryMaker will give you all the professional photos taken during your trip. If you order it at least three days before you arrive, you will save $50.

** Plan a relaxing morning at the hotel or another low-key event, so you will be energized when you arrive at the Magic Kingdom. Although most party events do not start until 7 p.m., your ticket does allow you to enter the park at 4 p.m. and there is plenty to do to take advantage of those three hours.

What to do before the party starts:

** Stop by the Fire House in Town Square to collect your special edition Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card. This year's card is Elsa's Icy Shield. More details here.

** If you haven't been able to secure a reservation for dinner at the oh-so-popular Be Our Guest restaurant, you might have a shot during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. A fellow blogger told me that the cast members will take a limited number of walk-up reservations, usually beginning between 6 and 6:30 p.m. If you are able to get on the list, understand that this likely means sacrificing a couple of hours of party time. You have to decide if that trade-off is worth it to your party.

** If you are not trying for Be Our Guest reservations, have a quick bite to eat. We prefer a counter-service restaurant on party nights so we have time to get to all the entertainment. This year, however, we jumped right into a queue and never ate a meal, or much else, that night. If you think you might choose this last option, be sure to pack a few snacks if you have youngsters in your party.

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** This year's hottest character meet-and-greet is Jack Skellington dressed as Sandy Claws. On the first party night, we got in line about 5:30 p.m. and waited two hours. (This was the same queue time last year when Jack made his first appearance at Mickey's Not-So_Scary Halloween Party.) Because of the high demand, MouseSteps.com is reporting that Sandy Claws now is greeting guests beginning at 6:15 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. Only guests with party wristbands will be allowed in the queue. Either way, I recommend heading over to the line in Storybook Circus early so you can do your waiting before the party starts and other entertainment will be competing for your time. And though the line might be long, one good aspect of this meet-and-greet site is that it features a couple of charging stations for your electronics, so you can be productive in that sense as you wait in line.

** Also at 6:15 is the new "A Frozen Holiday Wish," the short stage show in front of Cinderella Castle during which the folks from Arendelle light up the 200,000 "icicles" adorning the castle. If you opt to wait for Sandy Claws early, this show repeats at 8 p.m.

** Check out the Jungle Cruise, which has been transformed into the Jingle Cruise for the second year. This "world-famous" holiday overlay can be experienced during regular park hours, too, but if you have some time to kill, it's a fun way to get in the Christmas spirit before the party.

Touring plan for party hours:

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** You won't want to miss Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, which includes the Frozen characters for the first time this year, other beloved Disney characters, everyone's favorite toy soldiers and a certain Jolly Old Elf ho-ho-ho-ing. The parade is presented twice at 8:15 and 10:30 p.m., bookending the Holiday Wishes fireworks and Celebrate the Magic castle projection show. The first parade is always much busier than the second, so if you can wait, I'd recommend it. If the second parade is past little ones' bedtimes, plan on securing a spot along the parade route an hour in advance.

** Holiday Wishes at 9:30 p.m. is also another must-see. For this display, however, you can step onto Main Street U.S.A. or around the perimeter a few minutes before the start time. Our family's plan was to arrive on Main Street about 9:10 for the beginning of Celebrate the Magic at 9:15 and the fireworks at 9:30. When they ended 20 minutes later, we grabbed a spot on the curb for the second parade. The party we were attending was sold out, so even seats along the curb were scarce for the second parade. It's usually less crowded in Frontierland and Liberty Square, however.

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** During the party hours, there also are two stage shows -- A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas and Celebrate the Season -- that are presented multiple times throughout the night. Both are fun shows if you have time to catch them. We tend to make these a lower priority because there is only so long you can ask a child to sit still.

** Character dance parties occur continuously at The Diamond Horseshoe and Cosmic Ray's. We popped into Club Tinsel at Cosmic Ray's after picking up a complimentary serving of hot cocoa, cookies, apple juice and apple slices. The high-energy dance songs were popular with the kids in attendance and even the staffers in the restaurant, judging by all the dancing we saw.

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** The Disney characters are out in full force -- favorites such as the Fab 5 and more rarely seen characters such as Scrooge McDuck, Santa Goofy, the Seven Dwarfs and the princes. This year, Minnie Mouse debuted a new party costume.

** If you are in the market for souvenirs, be sure to check out the exclusive party merchandise. In addition to the usual assortment of T-shirts, ornaments and pins, there is a Limited Edition Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party MagicBand and a Limited Edition Olaf Christmas MagicBand.

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** Remember those outfits you so carefully planned? Don't forget to have at least one professional photo taken of your group once darkness falls. One of my favorite spots is the photo opportunity set up in Town Square with Main Street and the castle in the background. The other is on the bridge from the hub to Tomorrowland, where you will have a nice view of Cinderella Castle lit up with the icicles.

** Finally, if you're feeling like a scrooge and just want to escape the crowds, don't forget about all the attractions that are open. My family tends to focus on all the Christmas activities, but the rides actually have short lines -- no FastPasses needed -- if that's where your interest lies.

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of Walt Disney World at a media preview of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. This did not affect my story, and my opinions are my own.



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November 11, 2014

New 'Frozen' holiday celebrations debut at Walt Disney World

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Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is back, and there are quite a few new things for the 2014 season that likely will affect how you plan your party night -- especially if anyone in your group likes the animated hit movie "Frozen." My family and I attended the first party on Friday, and I have some tips to offer so you can see everything -- and everyone -- from Arendelle. Here is what you need to know about Ana, Elsa, Olaf and Kristoff and the order they appear at the party:

1. Elsa and Ana continue their regular meeting of guests in Princess Fairytale Hall during the day hours and during the official Christmas Party time from 7 p.m. to midnight. This is the same meet-and-greet as guests experience during the day with the pair in the same room but posing for separate photos. However, this could be your opportunity to avoid hours-long waits and the hassle of hard-to-get FastPasses. The queue tends to die down during Holiday Wishes fireworks, which begin at 9:30 p.m.

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2. This year's special Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card is Elsa's Icy Shield. You don't have to play the game during the Christmas party, but you can only collect this special themed card at the party, so stop by the Fire House in Town Square or the outpost behind Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square. You must have your admission ticket (card or MagicBand) and a party wristband to claim your Sorcerers card, and distribution begins at 4 p.m.

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3. "Cinderella's Holiday Wish" -- the short show that preceded the lighting of 200,000 "icicles" on the castle -- has been replaced with the brand-new "A Frozen Holiday Wish" on the Castle Forecourt Stage. This is the first time Olaf has been seen as a character in the Disney Parks! The show takes place every night at 6:15 p.m. through Dec. 31, which means that non-party guests also have the opportunity to see "A Frozen Holiday Wish." If you are attending the party and choose not to take advantage of early entry -- your party ticket allows you to enter the Magic Kingdom at 4 p.m. even though party events do not begin until 7 p.m. -- there is a second showing at 8 p.m. "A Frozen Holiday Wish" lasts less than 10 minutes.


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4. Exclusive merchandise for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is brought out at 7 p.m., and guests with party wristbands can purchase T-shirts, ornaments, Limited Edition MagicBands and trading pins. Although these do not feature the "Frozen" characters, a Limited Edition dated Christmas party pin for passholders only shows Olaf's smiling face in front of Cinderella Castle. It costs $15.95 plus tax.


Anna and Elsa in Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Olaf in Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Kristoff in Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

5. Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade showcases the four "Frozen" characters near the start of the parade. You will see a carriage transporting Ana and Elsa, a cottage with Olaf the character (not just a statue), ice harvesters and Kristoff. With the exception of Olaf's new appearance, this is the same segment we saw in the Royal Welcome processional during the Frozen Summer Fun LIVE! at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Even so, it's fun to see the characters join the Christmas parade, which steps off in Frontierland at 8:15 and 10:30 p.m.

Speaking of Hollywood Studios, if you are in the mood for more festive "Frozen" celebrations, that theme park is offering a Frozen Holiday Premium Package, similar to the one my family and I experienced over the summer. This collection includes reserved seating in the Premiere Theater for the "For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration"; a "Frozen"-themed dessert party (with alcohol) at the end of Streets of America with viewing of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights; a special holiday lithograph; and a "Frozen" pin. The cost is $89 for adults and $59 for children ages 3 to 9; this does not include admission to the park. Prices have gone up significantly since the summer package, which was $59 for adults and $34 for children. I truly enjoyed that experience and thought it was a good value for the money, but I'm not sure I would feel the same way about the holiday package, which includes one less event and a higher price tag.

If you are interested in booking the Frozen Holiday Premium Package, the bundle is offered from now to November 19, 2014; November 21 to December 9, 2014; and December 11, 2014 to January 4, 2015.

As usual, the "Frozen" sing-along show is open to guests without the premium package. In addition, visitors can make a snowman or purchase Frozen merchandise at Wandering Oaken's.

It might be Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, but it's clear that the "Frozen" characters aren't being left out in the cold, so to speak. With a little planning, neither will you, if you want to experience the fun of "frozen" all over again for the holidays at Walt Disney World.



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About Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party is the previous category.

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.