Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

What to Expect from 2012′s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

by on October 31, 2012

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.

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Last Week at Disneyland Resort (10/21/2012 – 10/27/2012)

by on October 29, 2012

All photos copyright Disney

Halloween still has a few days left before it’s officially here, but that hasn’t stopped the Disneyland Resort from starting to install Christmas decor earlier than ever. Try not to suffer too much seasonal dissonance while strolling around the resort!

Crowd Calendar

Quietest Day: Monday 10/22 was a 2 out 10 at the resort, with crowds at 1.3 out of 10 at Disneyland, and 1.2 at DCA.

Busiest Day: Saturday 10/27 was an 8 out of 10 at the resort, with a 7.6 out of 10 in Disneyland, and 4.5 at DCA.

Subscribe to the Touring Plans Disneyland Crowd Calendar for full details on predicted attendance for the next 30 days.

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Spending Christmas at Walt Disney World? Things to Think About

by on October 3, 2012

I spent Christmas Day with my family at Walt Disney World in 2010 and will be doing so again in 2012.

The holiday season can be a magical time at Disney (the lights! the trees!) or a challenging time (the crowds! the cost!). There are numerous tips, tricks, and touring plans that can help you navigate the fun and frustration of a Disney December, but there are a few special things you may want to consider when planing a Disney stay which includes Christmas Day itself.

We wore Santa hats all day on Christmas. New tradition!

How will your extended family feel about your decision to be away from them on Christmas?

If spending the holidays with extended family is not part of your usual Christmas practice, then you’re good to go.

But if you come from a clan where several generations gather every Christmas day, and have done so for eons, then you’re going to have your work cut out for you breaking with tradition.

If Great Aunt Sally is sad that you won’t be eating her famous tourtière* and/or lutefisk next to her tree in your Lanz nightgown and bunny slippers, you have a few alternatives:

  • Invite Aunt Sally, and the rest of the gang, to join you at Walt Disney World. Of course, this brings up a host of new problems. Who’s paying for the trip? Can everyone get reservations? Does everyone now think this is the new family tradition? If you’re considering asking the gang to come with you, work out your strategy in advance. Perhaps consider our tips for visiting Walt Disney World with non-nuclear family.
  • Plan an alternative celebration. Due to work or travel schedules, MANY folks celebrate the secular aspects of Christmas on a day other than December 25. You may want to have this alterna-plan worked out in advance of telling any potential nay-sayers about your Disney trip.
  • Use technology to include everyone in the festivities. Now that there’s free WiFi in the Disney resorts, you have no excuse not to use FaceTime or Skype to connect everyone on Christmas morning. You can “be there” while everyone opens their presents and sings “Deck the Halls.” Then you can head out to enjoy your Tonga Toast in peace.
  • Just make a clean break. Sometimes extended family can be a bit much of a muchness. If you’ve just plain had enough of Aunt Sally and her stinky old fish, be firm when you tell the family about your Disney World plans. You’re going; they’re not.

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Last Week at Disneyland Resort (8/12/2012 – 8/18/2012)

by on August 20, 2012

All photos copyright Disney

The tourist hordes are having their last gasp at Disneyland, as the summer season rapidly draws to a close. But wait, there’s more! Like a horror movie villain, huge crowds are expected to crop up again as Disneyland’s low-end annual passes lift their black-out dates, allowing thousands of locals to experience Cars Land for their first time.

Crowd Calendar

Quietest Day: Friday 8/17 was slower than anticipated at a 7 out of 10 at the resort, with DCA crowds at 8.3 and Disneyland Park at only 4.1.

Busiest Day: Sunday 8/12 was a 9 out of 10 at the resort, with DCA crowds at 9.5 and Disneyland Park at 7.6.

Subscribe to the Disneyland Crowd Calendar for details on predicted crowds for the next 30 days.

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Should I Take My Young Child to Mickey’s Not So Scary, Very Merry Party?

by on May 2, 2012

While the season of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is still many months away, the time to purchase tickets for these events is now. (Official dates just released, yay!)

The parties are hoot, but they may not be for everyone. Guests with younger children, say ages 7 and under, may want to spend some extra time considering whether an evening Magic Kingdom party makes sense for their families at this time.

I’ve often heard new Disney guests ask whether the parties are appropriate for their young child. They’ll ask something like, “I’ll be at Walt Disney World in October, should I take my four-year-old son to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party?”

If your child loves Roo, a party may be the best place for a glimpse.

As with many Disney questions the answer is a resounding, “It depends.” It depends on your temperament and your child’s. It depends on your financial resources. It depends on where you’re visiting from. And it depends on what else you’ll be doing during your vacation.

Let’s walk through some of the decision factors to see if bringing a youngster to a Magic Kingdom evening party makes sense for you.

    • What is your child’s usual bedtime? The Magic Kingdom parties begin at 7:00 p.m. and end at midnight. Most young kids go to bed at the early end of this range. Do you intend to keep to your child’s sleep schedule during your vacation? Why or why not?
    • How does your child react to disruptions in his sleep schedule? Some kids are able to quickly bounce back from a late night out. Others are a cranky mess for days afterward. Which is more like your child?
    • What do you have planned the next day? Can you let your child sleep as long as she likes? Or do you have to get up early for a coveted breakfast with Cinderella?
    • How far away is your hotel? If you’re at the Contemporary, the travel time “home” is negligible. If you’re using Disney transportation to get back to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, you could be adding as much as an hour to your evening. Factor this into your sleep plan.
    • Can you physically manage your child when he’s asleep? For example, if you’re a single parent with a 50-pound preschooler, could you physically carry him asleep, and your gear, and fold your stoller, and get everything on a bus?

Is a dance party something your young child would enjoy?

    • Are you coming from a different time zone? This may impact everyone’s stamina.
    • During what day of your vacation does the Party fall? Personally, I’m more comfortable with completely wearing my kids out on the last day of my vacation than the first. I’m OK if my child is cranky and sleeps on the plane home. I’m not so OK if my kid is cranky during our one and only day at Epcot.
    • Is the party a financial imposition for your family? Let’s face it, the evening parties are not cheap. Will you feel disappointed if you’ve spent $50 for your child to attend the party and he falls asleep in the stroller an hour into it?
    • Why are you going to party? And can those factors be experienced at another venue at a different hour or for less money? For example, if you want to see the snow on Main Street, would you be satisfied with the similar snow at the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights? Or if you want to see the special party fireworks, would you be satisfied watching them from distance, such as on the beach at the Polynesian?
    • Does your child have fears that may be exacerbated by party elements? For example, if your child is afraid of the dark, an evening party is not a good option. If your child fears costumes or costumed characters, then the Halloween party does not make sense for you.
    • Are there elements of the party that are not part of your home culture that you’d like your child to experience? For example, if you’re coming from a country that does not trick-or-treat, then that element of the Halloween party may override other concerns.
    • Is your child’s favorite character EVER only available to greet guests during a party? Sometimes enduring a late night is worth it to make your child’s dream of meeting Dopey come true.
    • Is your visit to Walt Disney World very brief? If you only have a day or two in the area, attending an evening party may be your only opportunity to experience some of the rides. This may trump other concerns.

Will your young child find elements of the party to be frightening?

  • Are you planning to come back to WDW during this season again in the foreseeable future? If you know you’ll be back for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party next year, the decision to forgo it this year may be easier.

I took my own children to their first evening party at the Magic Kingdom, the dearly departed Pirate & Princess Party, when my twins were six years old. We only lasted until 9:30 p.m. I’m glad we went to see what all all hubbub was about, but from a financial perspective, the decision to go might not have been our soundest.

What have your experiences been with young kids at the evening parties? Did they have a good time? Did you? Are there factors to consider that I haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments below.

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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party: Observations from 2011

by on December 22, 2011

The Walt Disney World parties are wrapped up for this year, but in the spirit of “always planning for the next trip,” here are some observations from my 2011 visit to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party that may be helpful when 2012 trip planning time rolls around.

  • It’s all about the dwarves. I showed up at the meet and greet area for the seven dwarves at 6:58 p.m. The cast member attending the queue told me that my wait at that time would be, “Well over an hour, probably an hour and a half.” As much as I’ve been wanting that me-with-the-dwarves photo for years, I decided to skip it. I just couldn’t rationalize spending more than 20% of my party time waiting in a line. Next time, I’ll show up at the queue at 5:30 or 6:00 and plan to eat dinner and clean out my email in-box while on line. Santa also had a sizable line, but most other characters could be seen in half an hour or less. Plus, there was no-lines-no-waiting character access at the dance party locations.
  • Snow fall in Florida.

  • The snow makers have upped their game. I’ve been to MVMCP during each of the past five winters. In my previous experience, the “snow” that fell on Main Street was more like a suggestion of snow – a few odd flakes to remind you that there’s a winter wonderland somewhere out there in the universe. This year, the winter wonderland had really and truly taken residence in the Magic Kingdom. Fluffy white stuff was actually accumulating on the sidewalk. I was wondering when they were going to break out the shovels. Well done, magic makers.
  • Disney is making a solid effort to include everyone with their holiday snack options. In addition to the endless supply of snickerdoodles, apples, cocoa and cider, there are gluten-free, sugar-free, and nut-free cookies available, as well as sugar-free cocoa. Just ask at any of the food stations for these alternative items. They’re included with the cost of your ticket.
  • Snickerdoodles and cocoa are yum, but there are plenty of alternatives for those who need them.

  • They’re still making one misstep in the food area. While it’s lovely that guests get a free candy cane after visiting Santa, cast members are offering those candy canes directly to children, without first asking the parents. There are enough kids out there with food issues that I’m sure this poses an occasional problem.
  • Christmas fireworks viewing is no good from the train station. One of my favorite evening spots at the Magic Kingdom is at the raised train station loading area just above the entrance to the park. From here you get a bird’s eye view of the Castle and the entire length of the parade coming down Main Street. This is perfect on a summer evening, or for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, but in November and December the view of the castle is almost entirely blocked by the very beautiful, but nonetheless completely annoying in this context, Christmas tree.
  • Disney is experimenting with their special event merchandising. In the past, hard-ticket party merchandise had only been available at the party. You had to go there to get it – that was part of the allure. This year the special limited edition collectible Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party vinylmation figure was sold via I’m curious to see whether this is a trend that will continue
  • A personal touch in Tomorrowland.

  • Keep an eye out for personal touches. During my party tour, I encountered several cast member initiated activities that made the Magic Kingdom feel like a small home town, in the very best sense. Of these, my favorite was at Mickey’s Star Traders. Cast members we walking around with narrow strips of paper, asking children what they wished for the holidays. The wish paper is made into a chain encircling the backstage area of Tomorrowland to help cast members in that area personalize their guest interaction. Very sweet.
  • Gingerbread castle!

  • Technology is working its way into the guest party experience. Park maps and signage throughout the parks invited guests to receive party tips via text message on their mobile phones. The messages were mostly generic reminders along the lines of, “Don’t miss the fireworks show starting in 15 minutes.” I’m looking forward to seeing how this concept evolves in future years.
  • The holiday version of “The Magic, the Memories, and You” is all kinds of awesome. I must admit that when this fireworks preshow was announced, I was one of the naysayers. Pictures on MY castle? Never! But when you see the castle dressed up as the world’s most perfect gingerbread house, all that bah-humbug nonsense just melts away. I can’t wait to see it again.

Alrighty peeps, what’s was your take on the 2011 MVMCP offerings? Anything you particularly liked, or anything that you wish they’d bring back from previous years? Let us know in the comments below.

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