Ho, ho, ho! Tis the season for parties at Walt Disney World. Here’s your guide to making the most of your 2012 experience at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
First the basics: Where and when is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
The party (MVMCP) takes place at Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park. During 2012, the party will be held on November 9, 12, 15, 16, 25, 27, 29, and 30, as well as December 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, and 21.
What time is the party?
Officially, MVMCP runs from 7:00 p.m. until midnight. Disney’s standard practice in recent years has been to allow guests holding Party tickets entrance into the park as early as 4:00 p.m. This is subject to change at any time.
What type of ticket do I need to get into the Party?
Admission to MVMCP requires a special party ticket. This is a “hard ticket” event, meaning that no version of the regular Magic Your Way park passes is valid for admission. You must have a MVMCP ticket to enter.
How much do the Party tickets cost?
Ticket prices vary from a low of about $54, for a weekday child ticket purchased in advance, to about $70 for an adult December weekend ticket purchased on the day of the event. There may be discounts available for Disney Vacation Club members, Annual Passholders, military personnel, or others. ALWAYS ask about discounts when purchasing Disney tickets.
Tickets can be obtained through Disney online, over the phone at 407-W-DISNEY, or at any WDW ticket window, concierge desk, or guest relations office.
Do I need a regular park admission ticket in addition to the MVMCP ticket?
No. The party ticket is all you need to get in.
MVMCP admission is totally separate from regular park admission media. You do NOT need a Park Hopper ticket to visit one of Disney’s other theme parks (Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios) during the day and MVMCP in the evening.
I’m not sure about going to the party. Other than the pre-purchase discount, is there any reason to buy my tickets in advance?
There are a limited number of tickets sold for each evening. Some parties do sell out. In fact, the first one on Friday, November 9, is already sold out!
The weekday parties held earliest in the season will often have same-day tickets available. As Christmas approaches, the parties are more likely to sell out. If you’d like to go to MVMCP on a weekend in December, you may want to get your tickets in advance.
What will happen at the entrance to the party?
Depending on what time you arrive at the Magic Kingdom, some or all of the entrance turnstiles will be dedicated to MVMCP ticket holders. If you arrive prior to 7:00 p.m., look for signage that indicates where you should enter. Cast members will be stationed at each turnstile to place plastic wristbands around the arm of each ticket holder. Parents should help direct the cast members placing the wristbands on their children. You know best how tight it should be on your child.
Also be sure to grab the special MVMCP map/schedule on the way into the park.
I’m not going to MVMCP, but I will be at the Magic Kingdom during a day when the party will be held. Will they kick me out of the party at 7:00?
Sort of. Beginning at around 7:00, cast members will set up moving checkpoints for wristbands. If you’re not wearing a wristband, then you’ll be directed to the exit. Periodic wristband checks will also occur at the attractions.
I’m visiting the Magic Kingdom in the early afternoon and will be attending MVMCP. Do I have to leave the park at some point?
No. Beginning in the late afternoon, several stations will be set up inside the park for wristband distribution to guests who are already inside. Stop at one of the stations, and they’ll scan your ticket and give you a wristband. Easy peasy.
Is there a costume element to the Christmas party?
Not really. While costumes are a big part of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, they do not play much of a role at the Christmas Party. A few guests may wear Santa hats or festive scarves, but that’s about it. You’ll be in good company if you wear your regular park touring clothes to the party.
What’s the crowd situation like for the party?
There are a limited number of tickets sold for each party event, so you won’t face oppressive crowds as you stroll through the park. That being said, there will be extensive lines for some of the party events, particularly some of the character greetings.
What is there to do at the party?
MVMCP has loads of fun, including:
- Rides and other regular attractions
- Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade
- Holiday Wishes – Celebrate the Spirit of the Season fireworks
- “A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show”
- “Celebrate the Season” Show
- Character dance parties
- Character greetings
Are all the rides open during the party?
Not all the rides, but close to it. The following attractions should be available to guests this year:
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- Swiss Family Treehouse
- Splash Mountain
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Haunted Mansion
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Mad Tea Party
- it’s a small world
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Stitch’s Great Escape
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Space Mountain
- Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
- Astro Orbiter
What about the rides/attractions that are part of the new Fantasyland expansion?
The Barnstormer has been open for the 2012 Mickey’s No So Scary Halloween Parties, so presumably this will also be open for MVMCP. I’m also guessing that much of the new Fantasyland will also be open during the parties taking place after the official Fantasyland opening on December 6, but this is only a guess. Stay tuned for more details.
Should I go on rides during the party?
This depends on your priorities. The ride wait times during the party are often minimal. If your goal is to get in some quality Space Mountain time, then by all means ride on. If your goal is to get photos with some rare characters, then you may want to save your riding for regular park hours.
What are my food options during the party?
Several of the park counter service restaurants will be open during the party. We expect the following venues to be open:
- Casey’s Corner
- Main Street Bakery
- Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
- Westward Ho
- Frontierland Turkey Leg Cart
- Frontierland Churro Wagon
- Sleepy Hollow
- Storybook Treats
- Pinocchio Village Haus
- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
- The Lunching Pad
What about table service restaurants? Are they open during the party?
The table service restaurants do not typically seat new guests once the party starts. However, if you’re dining at a table service restaurant before the start of the party, then you’ll be able to finish your meal at a normal pace. You won’t be rushed out.
Anything else to know about the food situation at the party?
The big news is that there are FREE snacks available at stations throughout the park. Exact locations are noted on the park map. In 2011, the free snacks included hot cocoa, apple juice, apple slices, and snickerdoodles (like sugar cookies with a dusting of cinnamon). Additionally, there were other options available for guests with food allergies. For example, the food distribution centers had Enjoy Life brand soft baked chocolate chip cookies on hand, which are nut free and gluten free. These are not kept out in the open, but they are readily distributed to anyone who asks.
Also, there may be places where cast member elves distribute candy canes or other small quantities of candy. In 2011, guests who visited with Santa were given a mini candy cane. If your child is diabetic or has other food issues, be sure to keep an eye on this.
While cast members may hand out cookies/apples one at a time, there’s really no limit on how many you can have. You’re welcome to visit all the snack stations or get back in line as often as you like.
What is the parade like?
The parade runs twice during the party, at 8:15 and 10:30. The starting point is in Frontierland, ending near the Fire Station at the base of Main Street.
The bulk of the parade consists of Disney characters wearing there usual costumes, plus Santa hats or colorful scarves. Most of the cast member dancers are dressed in elfish costumes, some riding scooters, and some
ice roller skating. The showcase number is done by a squadron of marching toy soldiers. It’s an impressive display, in my opinion. The parade ends with Santa riding on a sleigh, waving to the crowd. Along with Santa, the big finish to each parade is a faux snow flurry on Main Street. In 2011, the “snow” was quite lovely and dense. It was actually accumulating in my hair.
Crowds will begin lining up along the route about 45 minutes before the start of the parade. However, if you don’t need to be right up front, then it’s possible to see almost everything in the parade if you’re stationed in Frontierland about 10 minutes before the parade start. The second parade is ALWAYS less crowded than the first.
Another good vantage point is upstairs on the second floor overlook at the Train Station, just before the park exit.
What are the fireworks like?
Holiday Wishes begins at 9:30 p.m. and runs for approximately 12 minutes. Holiday Wishes has much in common with regular Wishes. Fireworks are choreographed to Disney and holiday themed music, Tinker Bell flies, Jiminy Cricket supplies heartwarming narration, and seasonally appropriate images are projected onto the castle (snowflakes!). The show ends with the castle aglow in its holiday ice lights. If you enjoy fireworks, then this will not disappoint. If you have a skittish child or if fireworks are not your thing, then by all means feel free to skip this.
While the Train Station spot mentioned above is usually a great spot for fireworks viewing, I’d move somewhere else to watch the Christmas fireworks. The giant Christmas tree blocks the sightlines, necessitating an off center or partial view of the Castle.
What is a dance party?
Two character dance parties take place during MVMCP: Club Tinsel at Cosmic Ray’s and Woody’s Hootin’ Holiday Open House at the Diamond Horseshoe. During the parties, DJs spin dance tunes, and characters are available to boogie with guests. There are a few cast member dance facilitators who may do a bit of crowd control, or they may not. If you’re not shy, it’s possible to get in some time dancing with the characters. Beware that the noise volume can be quite intense. Keep an eye on your kiddos; the rooms are dark with lots of people moving about, trying to get into position to strut their stuff next to Woody.
What happens during the Celebrate the Season Show?
This is an 18-minute-long stage show, performed at 7:45, 10:05, and 11:20. Good viewing spots can be found anywhere in the castle forecourt or hub area. The show is almost entirely cast member dancers and classic characters moving to Christmas tunes. The middle section, my favorite features music and dance from the Nutcracker. The end is a sing-along section with “Deck the Halls,” “Frosty the Snowman,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
What happens during the Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show?
This is also an 18-minute-long show, performed at the Tomorrowland stage near Space Mountain. The show starts at 7:45, 8:45, 9:55, 10:50, and 11:45. If the Celebrate the Season Show is akin to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, then the Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show is your kids’ big production for parents’ day at camp. And I mean that in the best possible way. It’s a little weird (a one-eyed alien trying to do the Pony to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”), over-the-top energetic (that narrator girl is HAPPY), there’s some bad acting (what kind of accent is Stitch doing anyway?), but it has lots of love in its heart.
Can I meet Santa?
You sure can. During the party, Santa is stationed next to the big Christmas tree near the park entrance. Expect lines of at least 45 minutes, possibly much more, during the party. Also remember that Santa will not greet guests during the parades, because he’s in the parades.
Santa is also available for meet and greets during the day at the Magic Kingdom throughout the holiday season. If your goal is just to meet Santa, then there’s no need to spring for party tickets.
What about other characters?
There are many character greeting opportunities during MVMCP. Most of them will be wearing some Christmassy garb, such as a festive hat or colorful scarf. In 2011, the characters included:
- All seven dwarfs – near the exit to Splash Mountain
- Duffy (in a cute Santa suit) – next to City Hall
- Snow White and her prince, Sleeping Beauty and her prince, Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, Mickey and Minnie – inside the Town Square Theater
- Phineas and Ferb – next to the Buzz Lightyear attraction
- Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore – near the Pooh attraction
- Donald Duck – near the Pooh attraction
- Peter and Wendy – near Mickey’s Philharmagic
- Belle and the Beast – Fairytale Garden
- Cinderella, Charming, Lady Tremaine, and the stepsisters – at the old Skyway station near it’s a small world
- Tiana and Naveen – Liberty Square
- Captain Jack Sparrow – near the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction
- Aladdin, Jasmine, Abu, and the Genie – near Aladdin’s Magic Carpets
- Tinker Bell and fairy friends – inside the Adventureland veranda
The character appearances may be different for 2012, we’ll update as we get more information.
If I want to meet the characters, what are the wait times like?
This varies depending on who you want to meet. Most character lines are in the 20-40 minute range. The seven dwarfs will have a wait time of at least 60 minutes, even before the party starts. In 2011, I walked past the dwarf meet and greet line half a dozen times throughout the night and never saw the line shorter than 75 minutes. If you want to meet the dwarfs, get there no later than 5:45 and bring a book. The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World is an excellent choice
Again, many of the characters do not greet guests during the parades, so time your greeting activity accordingly. Also, character greeting may stop before the official end of the party. If meeting characters is a priority for you, try to accomplish this before 11:00.
Should I bring my young child to MVMCP?
Check out an in depth discussion of this topic on the Touring Plans blog.
Wait, you forgot to tell me about the decorations during the party.
The Magic Kingdom always looks lovely during the holidays. You’ll encounter a giant Christmas tree as you enter the park. Main Street is overhung with wreaths and evergreen bunting. The lampposts are festooned with ribbons and greenery. That being said, you will see these same decorations if you visit the Magic Kingdom at times other than the party.
Also, Cinderella Castle will be covered with zillions of tiny twinkle lights. It’s absolutely gorgeous. And you can see it at non-party times in additional to during MVMCP.
Is there Christmas Party merchandise?
Of course there is. Disney sells holiday ornaments at several locations throughout the year. More intense levels of holiday merchandise appear in almost every WDW merchandise location beginning in mid-autumn.
There will also be several pieces of party-exclusive merchandise including a few styles of tee shirts, trading pins, and a Vinylmation. Most of the party-exclusive merchandise does indeed appear only during the party. You can usually find it at or near the registers. Try the Emporium for best selection. In 2011, the “party exclusive” MVMCP Vinylmation figure was sold online through DisneyStore.com. Keep an eye out to see if this is repeated.
How might the weather impact my party experience?
Tickets are non-refundable and the party goes on rain or shine. MVMCP is not usually subject to tropical storm level rain, as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party might be, but regular rain is always a possibility. In adverse weather conditions, some of the party activities may be postponed, curtailed, or cancelled, but the party itself will go on.
Evenings can be chilly at WDW in December. It’s a good excuse to wear your festive holiday sweater. You know, the one with Rudolph applique and the real light-up nose.
Are their touring plans for the party?
Yes indeedy. We have three versions of touring for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party:
- Christmas Party Touring Plan for Parents (Focus on Party Activities)
- Christmas Party Touring Plan for Parents (Focus on Attractions)
- Christmas Party Touring Plan for Adults
Note: these are premium touring plans.
If I choose not to go to MVMCP, are there other events that will help get me in the holiday mood?
While the celebrations at Halloween are centered on the Magic Kingdom, and specifically the Halloween party, there are Christmas happenings throughout Walt Disney World. Some of these include:
- Epcot’s Candlelight Processional. Traditional holiday music, celebrity guest narrators, candles.
- The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Lights EVERYWHERE and snow just like at the Magic Kingdom.
- Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. A standard parade with a holiday twist.
- Every resort will be decorated. The trees at the Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge are particularly impressive.
- Giant gingerbread structures take up residence at several resorts, most notably there is a life-size gingerbread house in the Grand Floridian lobby.
- Holiday storytellers at each of Epcot’s World Showcase countries.
In my opinion, it’s quite possible get a full dose of holiday cheer, even if you decide to skip Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
The guys over at WDWNewsToday.com published pictures of the Christmas Party Map for 2012. Click to enlarge:
So merry makers, do you feel like MVMCP is a must do? Have you been in the past? If so, do you have any advice for fellow travelers? Are you going this year? What do wish you knew to help you plan your visit. Let us know in the comments below.