by Derek Burgan
on December 25, 2015
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We LOVE Christmas at the Orlando Theme Parks. It’s hard to beat Halloween in Orlando. Universal has its world class Halloween Horror Nights while Disney has their Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, both of which are among the highlights of the theme park year. It is just an amazing time, but can there actually be a time that’s better? Yes there is, and it’s called Christmas season. Not only are the hotels decorated (in fact a day could be spent resort hopping at WDW just to see the Christmas decorations such as the giant tree at Wilderness Lodge or the huge gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian) but the parks have a whole bunch of new stuff. Plus IT’S CHRISTMAS! To paraphrase Frank Cross in Scrooged, it’s the time of the year when we all act a little nicer, we give a little more, and we actually are the people that we always hoped we would be. So today we are going to look at some of our favorite reasons that Christmas in the Orlando Theme Parks is our favorite time of the year….
# 6 -Macy’s Holiday Parade
For our family, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV every year is the official start of the Christmas season. Universal has it’s own version of that parade starting in December with the Macy’s Holiday Parade in Universal Studios Florida. Not only are there the large balloons (several from the actual parade in New York), but guests can sign up to be balloon handlers! There are also many floats and of course your favorite characters.
Balloons making their way in Macy’s Holiday Parade. (photo by Mike Sperduto)
Straight from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York comes the Happy Hippo balloon. (photo by Mike Sperduto)
MINIONS!!!! (photo by Brandon Glover)
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by Derek Burgan
on November 23, 2013
This candy cane is a treat location icon, new for 2013
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)
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by Erin Foster
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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by Erin Foster
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.