This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at the Top Six Reasons We Loved the 2013 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP). Recently, Kristina Murphy wrote a blog answering the question “Is MVMCP worth it?” Personally, I think the Disney hard ticket parties are the best way to experience the Magic Kingdom, especially if you take advantage of the fact that they will let you into the park as early as 4PM on party nights (the party official runs from 7PM-midnight). I think the parades are better, the fireworks are better, the characters you can meet are rarer, the lines for the attractions are generally much lower, and the overall atmosphere just feels special.
Regardless of whether you think the parties are worth the cost or not, there is no debate that they bring something unique to the table compared to an average day at the park. Today we’re going to look at what we enjoyed from this year’s MVMCP…
(Remember, you can click on any picture to see a full size version)
# 6 – Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
While many guests are looking forward to a much needed revamp of the normal Magic Kingdom parades, the holiday versions seem to be loved by everyone who sees them. We raved about the Boo to You! parade in our Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) and came away similarly impressed by Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. Taking place at 8:15PM and 10:30PM each night, this is one parade worth going out of your way to see. Disney characters, toy soldiers, and Santa’s reindeer were the highlights (we’ll get to the big man himself later), but this is one parade that should put a smile on your face from beginning to end.
# 5 – The Cookies and Hot Cocoa
Ok, I get it. Just like the free candy during the MNSSHP, if you only came to the party for the cookies and cocoa, you’d actually be spending a lot of money in terms of what you’d pay outside the park. Mike Scopa of the WDW Today podcast has jokingly referred to MVMCP as “the $50 cookie” in the past. However, I look at the cookies and cocoa as the the proverbial cherry on top of the sundae that you are getting with your party experience. The hot cocoa can warm you up on a chilly night, and the cookies – thick and chewy, just how we like ‘em – were fantastic.
Look for the big Candy Cane treat icons located around the park, as they identify where you can pick up your complimentary cookies and cocoa. Here are your options (and the hours they are available):
- Columbia Harbour House (7PM-11PM)
- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe (8PM-Midnight)
- Crystal Palace (9PM-11PM)
- Pinocchio Village Haus (7PM-10:30PM)
- Sunshine Tree Terrace (7PM-Midnight)
- Tomorrowland Terrace (7PM-12:30AM)
- Tortuga Tavern (7PM-Midnight)
# 4 – The Exclusive Merchandise
As a big fan of theme park merchandise, I’m happy to report there is a good variety of MVMCP merch this year – mostly in the form of shirts and pins – with the designs are very well done. I really liked the main t-shirt design (pictured) along with the limited edition “snow globe” style pins, one of which had Mickey and Minnie as snowmen. There was a special MVMCP ornament, which is a natural tie in for the party. The stores for merch include the Emporium, Heritage House, Mickey’s Star Traders, Big Top Souvenirs, and the Frontier Trading Post. The Emporium is of course loaded with other Christmas related items including a great Pluto-as-a-reindeer plush that reminded me of how The Grinch dressed up his dog Max in How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
# 3 – The Characters
Character meet and greets are getting more and more popular by the day, and just as the MNSSHP had characters you don’t see out in the parks often, so did this year’s MVMCP. New for this year’s party were Mary Poppins, Bert, and some penguins from the Mary Poppins film meeting guests in New Fantasyland. The Seven Dwarfs are back, and they are decked out in holiday gear. Scrooge McDuck can be seen with Donald and Daisy Duck. Several princesses can be seen with their princes, and many of your favorite characters will be wearing outfits you can only see at the party. Here is an article by Len Testa with some tips for meeting characters during MVMCP.
Speaking of Scrooge McDuck, did you know that Mickey’s Christmas Carol is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year? Seeing that movie was the first time I encountered the character Scrooge McDuck, who later would become possibly my favorite Disney character, thanks to the incredible comic books by Carl Barks (and Don Rosa) and the DuckTales TV show that was part of the Disney Afternoon.
# 2 – The Exclusive Treats
I was impressed with the overall quality of treats available during the party, especially the chocolate peppermint cupcake that you can get in Gaston’s Tavern. There was also a Gingerbread Waffle with soft serve ice cream in Sleepy Hollow Refreshments, a Demitasse Minnie or Mickey Milk Chocolate Cocoa with Cookies at Tony’s Town Square and Christmas themed treats at the Main Street Bakery. For theme park special event food this year, the snacks at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights are the winner, but I’m placing MVMCP in second place in that category.
# 2 (Tie) Holiday Wishes
Disney’s nighttime spectaculars are the best in the business, and the hard ticket parties take the usual five star Disney fireworks display up to a new level. When the Magic Kingdom uses perimeter fireworks and seems to fill the entire sky with light, it is an experience like no other and almost impossible to describe the wonder displayed in front of you. I’m not sure which one to pick as my favorite, as the soundtrack for the Happy HalloWishes is better than the one for Holiday Wishes, but since I like Christmas more than Halloween as a holiday, I have to admit I was more drawn in by the red and green bursts in Holiday Wishes.
This was also the first time I had ever watched any version of Wishes from behind the castle in New Fantasyland. I actually liked this a lot, as I’m usually on Stress Level Midnight any time I have to deal with a crowd waiting for fireworks in front of the castle. The only negative to this experience was seeing the castle – which looks jaw droopingly good from the front – not be completely decorated with lights in the back. What’s up with that? Do we need to start a Kickstarter to get more lights?
# 1 – One word: SANTA.
When you take one of the world’s most iconic characters in Santa Claus and put him in the Magic Kingdom, one of the world’ most iconic places, you get magic. If you don’t get goosebumps seeing Santa on his sleigh, you may want to check your pulse or maybe have an intervention with Buddy the Elf.
Not only is the big man himself the centerpiece of the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, but you can also get your picture taken with Santa at the front of the park by City Hall.
Overall, a lot of fun was had at the party. The Jingle Cruise is running throughout the night, “snow” falls on Main Street, U.S.A., there are dance parties at Cosmic Ray’s and the Diamond Horseshoe, and there’s another exclusive Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card that you can pick up at the Firehouse on Main Street or Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square. It’s America’s greatest holiday (sorry, Groundhog Day!) combined with the world’s most popular theme park, and that’s one combination that can’t be beat.
See you next weekend for the latest edition of the Saturday Six! If you had fun, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories and Merch! articles, this Universal Character Breakfast review, or the Pardon the Pixie Dust podcast.