Welcome back to Sams Disney Diary, and Merry Christmas. This episode marks the first coordinated Blog, Video and Podcast!!! It took a while, but the RSS feed for the podcast is now available and will soon completely up to dateand published in your favorite podcast store. The video is also embedded in this blog post below.
This episode continues the holiday theme. Last time, Episode #21, we went to Hollywood Studios to check out the Osborne Family Lights. In this Episode, we are headed to the Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and for “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party”.On select nights from early November until December 21st the Magic Kingdom is transformed into a winter wonderland. The transition includes special character appearances, character dance parties, a special “Celebrate the Season” castle stage show, “A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show”, and a holiday exclusive “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade” and “Holiday Wishes, Celebrate the Spirit of the Season”.Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a “hard ticketed” event; translation – You need a separate ticket to attend the party. A normal Magic Kingdom park ticket will not work; you’ll be able to tell when the Christmas party is based on the standard times guide. On select nights, the Magic Kingdom will close at 7:00pm.
An announcement at 7:00 will indicate that the Magic Kingdom is closing and direct guests not attending the Christmas Party to purchase tickets at Guest Relations or exit the park. Tickets are limited, and the Christmas Party does sell out so you may not be able to get tickets if you wait until the day of the party. Advanced purchases are recommended, and in some cases, discounted from event day purchases. There is also an Annual Pass Holder, DVC Member and US Military discounts available for select days. The tickets are for a specific party date, so you’ll need to plan accordingly. When you enter the park for the Christmas party, you’ll get a wristband specific for that night. Cast members will look for that wristband to allow you to stay in the park past 7:00 pm and to participate in any of the Christmas party activities. I’ve personally attended the Christmas party in previous years, and it appeared that starting in 2012 there was a large emphasis by cast members to ensure everyone in the park had a wristband.The official hours of the Christmas Party are 7:00pm – Midnight. A few things to point out:
Your Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party ticket will get you into the Magic Kingdom as early as 4:00 pm; you’ll get your wristband as you enter. So, if you’re using a 6 Day Park Hopper, you could leverage the Christmas Party ticket to enter the Magic Kingdom at 4:00 pm (and stay till midnight) without using a day from your Hopper. (Assuming you’re entering only the Magic Kingdom that day… You could spend the morning exploring a resort or the Downtown Disney area.) If you’re spending the day in the Magic Kingdom, you can get your wristband in Tomorrowland (near Stitch’s Great Escape) so you don’t have to leave the park and reenter to get your wristband.
Food and beverage locations are open during the Christmas party, but only counter service locations. The last sit down dining reservations are at 6:00 pm, so if you’re looking for a sit down dinner you could make that reservation for 4:30 or 5:00 pm and enter the park with your Christmas party ticket and finish eating before the party officially starts at 7:00.
You’re in the Magic Kingdom, you have your wristband, you had dinner and the Christmas party is about to start… now what?There are lots of activities: The Christmas parade, “A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show”, the “Celebrate the Season” castle show, character dance parties, lots of character meet and greets, “free” cookies and cocoa locations, and the attractions are open!!! Make a list of the things you want to see/do. First, get an event map as early as possible, even a few days early at Magic Kingdom Guest Relations… My top 3:
#1 “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade” is a must. Some tips: There are two parades, 8:15 & 10:30 pm. Main Street is the most popular viewing location and will be crowded, especially for the first parade. As you move down the parade route toward Frontierland, the parade viewing is a little easier. You should have no problem getting a premium spot in Frontierland for the second parade. The footage for this episode of the video was filmed in Frontierland, with some footage of the second parade from the hub.
#2 Holiday Wishes – Celebrate the Spirit of the Season. There is only one viewing opportunity for Wishes, 9:30pm. My favorite spot is left of Main Street, just outside of Casey’s in front of the baby care station. The fireworks are launched just left of the castle. This gives you a great view of the entire display and the perimeter fireworks around the park. (I recorded Holiday Wishes from that location; that’s Episode #23) Main Street itself is a great spot, but tends to get very crowded. There are also great spots in the new Fantasyland.#3 “Celebrate the Season” Castle Stage Show. There are three performances of the castle stage show at 7:45, 10:05 and 11:20 pm. Christmas is the season to give gifts, and Mickey’s present to Minnie is not to be missed! In the castle stage show, Goofy, Donald and others get into the holiday spirit with their own version of The Nutcracker in this jubilant musical spectacle.
It’s possible to knock out the top 3 in one location…. If you start at the main hub at the beginning of the Christmas party, you could catch the 7:45 castle show and stay in the same spot for the 8:15 parade and the 9:30 fireworks. (1-2-3 done!) But there is so much more!!
The two character dance parties, Woody’s Hootin’ Holiday Open House at the Diamond Horseshoe and Club Tinsel at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café, are a great opportunity to interact with Disney characters.“A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show” is the second stage show at the Tomorrowland Stage. With 5 performances, it could easily fit into your schedule.
Looking for some characters? Not only will you find the traditional characters, but you’ll find some characters that typically aren’t available… Ever seen all Seven Dwarfs at a single meet and greet? At the Christmas party, you’ll find them near Splash Mountain, and Scrooge McDuck is new for 2012. Some other characters you’ll find:
- Aladdin (Prince Ali), Jasmine, Abu and Genie at Agrabah Bazaar
- Aurora and Prince Phillip at Town Square
- Big Al and Liverlips – near Country Bear
- Captain Jack Sparrow – near Pirates of the Caribbean
- Cinderella and Prince Charming – by the Fantasyland Wall
- Peter Pan and Wendy – near the carousel
- Phineas & Ferb in Tomorrowland
- Snow White and her Prince near Town Square
- Tiana and Naveen – at Liberty Square
- Tinker Bell and Periwinkle at Tinker Bells Nook
And that’s the highlights…. With the exception of the Dance Parties and the Dwarfs, you can get lots of autographs. The only noticeable line is for the Seven Dwarfs; otherwise, it’s a great opportunity to meet not only a princess but the prince as well. (Tinkerbell was one of the highlights of our trip. We waited 10 minutes.)
Did I mention the cookies and cocoa locations? The cookies and cocoa are included with your admission, so I hesitate to say it’s free. Some of the locations get very crowded with the first location typically being the most crowded. Those a little farther into the park are less crowded. The Crystal Palace and Sunshine Tree Terrace are always crowded early in the party also. The Columbia Harbor House, Pinocchio Village Haus, Cosmic Ray’s and Tomorrowland Terrace are typically less crowded.
On top of all of those activities, the most popular attractions are open. Wait times are very reasonable, especially during the parades. While part of your group enjoys the Tomorrowland Christmas show, the wait for Space Mountain should be about 10 minutes which is perfect for those looking to get a marquee attraction. Even the classic Fantasyland attractions will be reasonable… When’s the last time you saw Peter Pan at 20 minutes? Haunted Mansion and Small World will be walk on, and Pirates too. Remember, there were a limited number of tickets sold for the event, and most of those attending will be enjoying the Christmas activities.
And, of course, Disney is a merchandising machine. Limited edition event merchandise is only available during the Christmas party (and you can’t buy it without a wristband). You’ll find pins, T-shirts… you name it, all over the park.The Very Merry Christmas Party runs from early November to December 21, right? So why does the Christmas party end before Christmas? As you may already know, crowd levels the week of Christmas are the highest of any week. In fact, Christmas Day is the most crowded of any day at the Magic Kingdom. In order to accommodate as many people as possible, the Magic Kingdom celebrates Christmas with the “Once Upon a Christmastime Parade” and “Holiday Wishes” as nightly entertainment. No additional ticket required, but you don’t get the other extras that are included with a Very Merry Christmas Party admission.
I have lots of video from the event and will be splitting the top 3 over the next two videos. This episode focused on the parade and Episode #23 looks at Wishes and the Castle Stage Show.
(Sams Disney Diary Video Episode #22 below – Click the Photo to Play, the Blog continues after the video, so keep reading)
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