Out with Halloween and in with Christmas!! When it comes to celebrating the holidays, Disney likes to get the party started early – and while I understand that many people think that celebrating Christmas in early November (or Halloween in mid-August, for that matter) is too much too soon, I also love the fact that guests that don't have the option of visiting closer to the actual holiday can still get the full experience of it during their trip. There is truly no more beautiful time of year here than during the winter (term used loosely since it's almost 90 degrees out) holidays and it makes my heart so happy that guests can see it from early November to early January.
All that said, it's not surprising that, with the end of Halloween, Disney has swept through the parks overnight and replaced pumpkins with wreaths and candy canes in time for the very first Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party of the year last night – November 8th. And you'd better believe I was there to get the scoop for you guys….
First things first: Here's the current party map. Needless to say it's subject to change – but this should pretty much be the setup for the 2018 MVMCP season.
Looking at this, you probably aren't surprised when I say I don't even know where to start with telling you about this party. But let's just dig in together and do our best in covering everything. If I miss anything that you want to know about, please let me know!!
I'm going in head first with this topic because the entertainment at MVMCP last night blew my mind. And I'm not just talking about the fireworks and parades, which everyone knows are huge draws.
Mickey's Most Merriest Celebration
This show happens on the castle stage 4 times during the evening (see the above information sheet for specifics) and it quite honestly knocked my socks off. I'm usually not pressed to see the castle shows so we didn't run over there over the course of the evening, but we happened upon the final run at the end of the night and I was so, so glad I didn't miss it. The show is a mash up of a ton of great Christmas themed music with a character packed stage, great choreography, and an impressive laser display on the castle. And if Text Me Merry Christmas sung by Daisy to Donald and a blazing rendition of All I Want for Christmas Is You by Clarabelle Cow don't get you in the holiday spirit then we probably shouldn't be friends.
(Kidding. Sort of.)
A Frozen Holiday Wish
We all know it. We all love it. Shenanigans by the cast of Frozen ending in a gorgeous lighting of Cinderella Castle in all of her holiday glory. If you're new to Christmas in the Magic Kingdom, don't miss it – especially if you have kids in tow. It is the definition of Disney Magic.
Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade
There's perhaps nothing more iconic Disney Christmas than the MVMCP parade in Magic Kingdom. I don't care if it's 90 degrees in central Florida – when those toy soldiers come marching down the street at the end of Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, it's the holiday season. The parade happens twice a night during the parties – first at 8:30 p.m. and again at 11 p.m. The first parade, as you might guess, tends to be much more crowded – so be sure to grab spots for that one somewhere along the parade route, which runs from Frontierland to Main Street (see the above map for the full route), well in advance. Or, better yet, if you won't be too tired wait until the 11 p.m. show. You can get a great spot much more easily *and* can benefit from an otherwise pretty quiet Magic Kingdom while everyone else at the party crowds around the 8:30 p.m. show.
And spoiler alert: Here's a video of the whole darned thing:
With the advent of Happily Ever After and all of its laser, musical, and pyrotechnic glory, the party firework shows can almost be disappointing. They are shorter, the laser work is simpler…and all in all if you're looking for a Happily Ever After-style show here or at the Halloween party you are probably going to be disappointed. So I'll gently suggest going into this firework show with a sense of nostalgia and the desire to enjoy the sounds and sights of the holidays. It is a beautiful show. Simpler than Happily Ever After. More touching than the Halloween party fireworks. And with a touch of the old Wishes music for those of us that still miss it.
Plus the peripheral fireworks that surround you in the hub (which is still the best place to watch them) are pretty incredible. And really, low key fireworks at Disney are still bigger and better than fireworks anywhere else.
And to that end, if you're interested in seeing them in advance, here's the whole show:
A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas
There is so much else to see and do throughout Magic Kingdom during MVMCP this year. Absolutely get out there and explore. The A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas show on the Tomorrowland stage is so much more than I was expecting since there's usually just a dance party in that area. Instead there were some incredible performers singing and dancing in acts that were at least as good as what was happening on the main stage in front of the castle. Absolutely do not miss it.
You'll also find The Edge Effect, a wonderful a cappella group, singing at set times throughout the evening on the Rockettower Plaza Stage, and a Club Tinsel dance party at Cosmic Ray's where you can get your groove on with some reindeer. It's hilarious. Absolutely check it out when you stop in to get your cookies.
Here's a blurry picture of me being extra with a dancing reindeer at Club Tinsel.
Last but not least, they're again hosting a dance party at Storybook Circus geared to younger guests. The Disney Junior Jingle Jam is hosted by Timon and Vampirina (subject to change I'm sure) and is so much fun. It also tends to be less crowded, which makes it all the more suitable for your little ones.
If there's any other huge reason to be at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party this year besides the entertainment (and decor and music and magic and…), it's the PhotoPass and Magic Shot opportunities. There are so, so many and we made it our mission to check out as many as we could on the first night of the party.
The first stop is in front of the train station after you tap in with your party ticket or Magic Band at the entrance.
Reindeer and gingerbread man Magic Shot at the train station.
Then, regardless of when you come to the party, make it a point to walk through the side entrance along/behind Main Street. You'll find the opening to it on the right after you pass Tony's Town Square Restaurant. Along that path you'll have four(ish) PhotoPass opportunities, including some possible Magic Shots, and then you'll get a big Mickey sugar cookie on your way out.
Toy Soldier PhotoPass
Santa Tink Magic Shot at Toy Soldier
Gift Frame PhotoPass
Giant Ornament PhotoPass
Then you can loop back down Main Street and check out the entertainment and photo ops there before popping into the bakery (Starbucks) for one of the party treats. (More on that below.)
Traditonal Tink Magic Shot on Main Street
Toy Soldier Magic Shot on Main Street
The AMAZING Mistletoe MagicShot on Main Street!!
A few surprise video Magic Shots might show up in your PhotoPass from Main Street too!!
Throughout the park you'll find a number of other picture spots. Best among them? The Tinkerbell lantern that you'll find by the arches across from Storybook Treats in Fantasyland. It's a spin on the popular Tangled lantern picture and gives the same beautiful glowing effect that makes absolutely anyone look good.
We also stumbled on PhotoPass with magic just outside of Storybook Circus and overlooking Journey of the Little Mermaid, as well as PhotoPass overlooking Beast's castle in Fantasyland.
Cookie Magic Shot at Storybook Circus
Santa Tink Magic Shot at Storybook Circus
Cookie Magic Shot at Little Mermaid
Beast's Castle PhotoPass
There is also apparently a candy cane Magic Shot where you put both hands above your head and they put a huge candy cane in your hands. It's said to be available in front of Cinderella Castle and on the bridges into Liberty Square, Tomorrowland, and Fantasyland. If I get it later I will add it here.
All in all I just counted and we have 108(!) total pictures on PhotoPass from last night. There were PhotoPass cast members everywhere throughout the park and they had so many great Magic Shots and other great photo ops – so absolutely keep your eye out when you're walking around the park and always ask the cast member if they have magic.
Also, take your pictures early if you can. Every night is of course different – but we were very glad we'd done Main Street early in the evening because at the end of the party the lines were incredibly long. They did, however, offer a PhotoPass picture facing the other way on Main Street at the end of the night – so you had a chance to get a picture with the tree in the background. So if that's something that you'd want, you might be able to get it at the close of the party.
On to food – and I'll say that this was the one portion of the evening where there wasn't an overwhelming amount of stuff going on.
The usual cookie stops are out in force. You'll find the list of offerings on the above event guide under “Holiday Treats”. I don't know if this will remain the case, but if you don't want to location hop for the various cookies, all four kinds – ginger molasses (my fave), peppermint crunch (my second fave), chocolate chip, and snickerdoodle – can all be gotten at Pinocchio Village Haus in Fantasyland. I also loved that Tortuga Tavern offered a snowman soft pretzel, as I desperately needed a break from the sweets at that point in the evening.
As for specialty items available for purchase, there are only three listed items that are particular to the party:
- Sugar Rush Jumbo Cupcake at the Main Street Bakery
Red velvet cupcake with buttercream icing and iced rice crispy treat “fists”. Not gonna lie, I didn't eat it. It just looked like a red velvet cupcake with an obscene amount of frosting. After the amazing Halloween poison apple cupcake, this was a bit disappointing. Oh well. At least it's cute.
- Mickey Ornament Gingerbread Cookie at the Main Street Bakery
Frosted gingerbread cookie. I'm sure it's fine since, you know, it's a gingerbread cookie with frosting – but I didn't need to buy one to know that.
- Vanellope Éclair at Gaston's Tavern
So we did eat this one and…um…wow. It's…sweet. Which is I guess what you'd expect when you sprinkle an eclair with soggy fruity pebbles and then put a slab of white chocolate on top. It was…not my favorite thing. Blech.
There's an assortment of other holiday themed items throughout Magic Kingdom that don't look to be specific to MVMCP, including a Holiday Mickey cinnamon roll, chocolate yule log, ugly sweater brownie, holiday themed nachos, and more. You'll find the list under “Dining” on the event guide above.
Ugly Sweater Brownie at Casey's
We admittedly did not prioritize characters last night – in part because there weren't any particularly rare ones out and in part because I'm just not a character junkie and never want to sink too much of my (pricey) party ticket into waiting in line for a character picture. That said, throughout the evening you'd find Belle, Ariel and Prince Eric (along with other princesses and their princes), the Seven Dwarfs, Jack Skellington as Santy Claus with Sally, Mary Poppins and Burt, Moana, Jack Sparrow, Genie and Abu, and others.
Note that Mary Poppins and Burt do not have PhotoPass photographers with them, so you'll need to use your own camera for any pictures.
Like many ticketed holiday parties, there were a lot of people in the park last night but most of them were prioritizing the entertainment and food, so lines for the rides were generally fairly short. Short of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Space Mountain, which seemed to run between 30-60 minutes, most rides only had waits of 5-10 minutes. So while you're probably unlikely to want to spend much of your party ticket time waiting for or riding attractions that you can ride at any time, if you're planning a vacation during the holiday it is definitely nice to know that you'll probably be able to fit some attractions in with little to no wait if you have a party ticket.
That said, the only attraction in the park that's actually themed for the holiday is the Jingle Cruise version of Jungle Cruise. This is largely because people visiting Disney World don't generally get to come very often and oftentimes prefer to see classic, unthemed versions of the attractions while they're here. (Compared to, say, Disneyland – where most guests are locals eager for new things and thus more open to themed attraction overlays.)
Enjoy my one dark and blurry Jingle Cruise picture.
But as usual we do get our Jingle Cruise with its holiday-inspired sights and jokes. The line looked quite long while we were there (it actually extended well out of the queue area) but moved very very quickly. We were on in less than 15 minutes and enjoyed it thoroughly as usual. Definitely try not to miss it if you're here during the winter holiday season.
Omg the tarantula is wearing a little Santa hat….
You'll find the MVMCP-specific merchandise in the Emporium, both behind the registers and in the room closest to the castle as you walk down Main Street. Lots of fun stuff there including shirts, a pin, this incredibly cute ceramic lidded mug, and more.
So that's a wrap for now!! Needless to say this is all information taken from the very first party. I'm sure that they'll tweak things along the way, so please keep in mind that everything here is subject to change and always go in to have your own experience!!
Are you planning to attend MVMCP this season? What are you most looking forward to seeing or doing there??