Category — 6. The Christmas Season at Walt Disney World
MICKEY’S VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS PARTY: A REVIEW
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (“MVMCP”) is a special event that takes place during the Christmas season at Walt Disney World.
It requires its own ticket, which is entirely separate from regular Disney World tickets, and is only shown on certain nights from early November through mid-December.
(For more on MVMCP tickets and show nights, see this.)
Even though it is expensive (tickets for a family of four will cost over $200) it’s been part of this site’s Basic December Itinerary since the site opened, for a couple of reasons:
Going to it lets people save a lot of time.
Disney limits the amount of tickets it sells to each show of MVMCP. As a result, waits for the rides are low–most typically 10 minutes, although you’ll find longer waits at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan, and Jingle Cruise. Going to it and seeing some really popular rides with hardly a wait saves a ton of time that can instead be spent sleeping in or at the pool.
For example, above is the Space Mountain wait at a little after 9p.
Going to it guarantees seeing an evening parade and fireworks.
The regular evening parade at the Magic Kingdom is now gone, and at the time of year the Basic Itinerary covers, the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom may happen just a couple of times a week on non-MVMCP nights. Sending people to MVMCP guarantees your family will have the opportunity to see an evening parade and fireworks.
Moreover, the parade and fireworks are unique. The fireworks are tied with those of the Halloween party as best of the year, and the parade has a fun Christmas theme!
I recommend people go to Walt Disney World in the early part of the Christmas season…so how can I not send them to this show?
It’s silly and fun!
In mid-November 2016 I had a chance to see it again on Tuesday the 15th and Friday the 18th, my ninth and tenth visits to this party. The rest of this entry is the review of that visit. (Note that some of the photos are from my earlier visits, where they turned out better those nights…)
MICKEY’S VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS PARTY
There’s a couple of components to MVMCP.
Noted already are the parade and fireworks, both in special Christmas versions.
The parade, called Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, happens twice each night, at 8.30 and 11p (both later than last year).
I strongly suggest you go on rides from the beginning of the party through the first parade and until about 3o minutes before the fireworks, and watch the second parade–crowds for the second parade will be much lower, and you won’t have to save a spot like the little guy above.
The parade begins with a bunch of characters…
…then Minnie and Mickey.
Frozen comes next with three floats, beginning with Anna and Elsa…
…and then Kristoff.
Next is Wreck-It Ralph…
…then Clarabelle Cow and Christmas cookies–I wonder why no resort is themed to Clarabelle?…
…then Goofy and Christmas candy.
Next up is a sequence of princess-themed floats.
Snow White and Cinderella get their own floats.
A closer shot of Cinderella.
One large float is fronted by the Beast and holds a passel of princesses.
The parade then shifts to a toy theme, including Woody and Jess…
…and toy soldiers.
Santa Claus is on the last float.
The fireworks, called Holiday Wishes, happen between the parades at 10p.
Also noted already are the rides.
- Not all rides are open, but all of the most popular ones are (there’s a list of what’s open on the brochure below).
- Because of the limit on tickets sold, the rides are pretty easy to get on to without major waits. The park will feel very crowded on Main Street and near the Castle, but this is because of all the people lining for the castle shows and the parade route. Away from Main Street and Frontierland the park opens up and ride waits are quite short.
There’s some shows, some unique to this event.
A Frozen Holiday Wish is the same as on regular MK evenings. It’s OK but the 8.15 show will be mobbed and cut into your ride time.
Only shown during the party are the skippable A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas in Tomorrowland…
…a skippable dance party in Cosmic Ray’s in Tomorrowland.
Also available is “Voiceplay,” showing on the same stage as A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas at 8.05, 8.55, 10.15 and 11.35p. This will please you in direct proportion to the joy you take in slightly thuggish boy band a Capella gestures towards Christmas songs.
New for 2016 is the Castle stage show “Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration.” Showing at 7.40, 9.25, and 10.30p, and 12MN, this utterly skippable show includes dancing and character appearances to (mostly) second rate Christmas standards and (mostly) third rate original songs (all powerfully sung, however).
Oddities include a song about texting and keeping your phone charged which also features Daisy’s rarely expressed longing for Donald, and a torch song by Clarabelle that will chill any potential target of her affections. But wait, there’s less, as the Three Amigos also are a focal point.
Some photos from this new show:
There’s some fun other business: free cookies, free hot chocolate or other drinks (locations on the map), and snow!
There’s also character encounters, some very rare. My first reaction to the bear was “that scarf must be warm.” Yes, my first reactions are often stupid.
You can spend a lot of time waiting in lines for characters–go for it if that’s your thing, but for most there’s much better ways to spend your time given the cost of this party…
New for 2016 are Judy and Nick:
…and the Seven Dwarfs have moved into Storybook Circus:
Both sides of the 2016 MVMCP brochure are below–as always, click them to enlarge them.
Even though the party starts at 7p, Disney traditionally lets people holding tickets for it through the turnstiles beginning at 4p or 3.45p. Show up early, see some of the lower wait rides, and have dinner. If you show up around party time, Main Street will be mobbed. If the train is still running–the last run will be 6.45p or so–take the train to Frontierland or Fantasyland to avoid the crowds on Main Street and in front of the Castle.
FastPass+ is not available during the party–but it’s also not needed, as only Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan and the Jingle Cruise see major waits. If you want to see these at the party, do them as late as you can stay up.
WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE NOT FOLLOWING THE BASIC ITINERARY?
As noted, this show is expensive, but worth considering if one or more of the following apply to you:
- You otherwise won’t see the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom
- Your plans otherwise leave you short on Magic Kingdom time, and/or
- You are really a fan of Christmas
With kids old enough to be focused on rides, the right plan for MVMCP is to
- Show up early, and eat before the party
- Do rides until around 9.30p, and then
- Position yourselves near the Castle for Holiday Wishes, and the second showing of the evening parade.
- After the parade, do more rides or see the shows!
November 19, 2016 No Comments
DISNEY WORLD CROWDS FROM LATER DECEMBER 2016 TO EARLY JANUARY 2017
This is for a pretty basic reason: kids are out of school then.
However, not every school district has the same break schedule.
In 2016, as always, there’s more kids out the week between Christmas and New Year’s week than before or after, but there’s still plenty enough on break before Christmas week to wildly crowd the parks. The week after New Years in 2017 has many more kids on break than usual, so I expect it to be crowded too, especially the first part of the week.
SCHOOL BREAKS AND DISNEY WORLD CROWDS
Most years, there two typical sorts of breaks:
- Long breakers–districts that take at least 2 full weeks (and three weekends) off
- Short breakers–districts that take off as close to only December 24 to January 1 as they can
As a result, the period Christmas-New Years is always mobbed at Disney World, as everyone is out of school then, but the periods before and after vary from year to year depending on what day of the week Christmas falls.
In 2016, a Sunday Christmas put long-break districts in the position having to pick when to schedule their second week–before Christmas weekend, or after New Years. Enough put it before Christmas that I expect to see heavy crowds that week, even with a lot of kids shifted to the first week of January
But their’s still a ton of kids in districts that picked the first week of January for the second week of their break. As a result, in my 2017 Disney World crowd calendar I am shifting my former forecast of that week from “moderate” crowds to “high” crowds–particularly high early in the week, and better later in the week.
ACTUAL 2016-2017 CHRISTMAS SEASON SCHOOL BREAKS
The chart above illuminates this.
It’s based on data from a weighted sample including almost 280 of the largest relevant US public school districts with almost a third of total US school kids included.
(For how the database is built, see this.)
The weekends are in black and weekdays in blue. Click the image enlarge it.
You can see that many breaks begin Saturday the 17th, with hardly any kids on break before then. More kids go on break beginning the 21st, and by the 24th everyone is on break.
June 30, 2016 6 Comments
OVERVIEW: DECEMBER 2016 AT DISNEY WORLD
Early December, with lower crowds, lower prices, and wonderful Christmas decorations and events, has the best weeks of the year to visit.
Later December with Christmas and New Year’s weeks has the highest crowds and prices of the year.
December also has a special party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, a special evening event–with its own ticket–that has become a family tradition for many.
DECEMBER 2016 CROWDS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
Early December is one of the less crowded periods at Walt Disney World. However, because of the Christmas Party you can face higher much waits if you go to the parks on the wrong days. See this for how to avoid these crowds.
Later December–beginning the 17th in 2016–is the most crowded time of the year at Disney World
On a crowd scale of 1-11, the week beginning 11/26 has a crowd rating of 3/ low, the week beginning 12/3 4/low-plus, the week beginning 12/10 3/low, the week beginning 12/17 10/higher, and the week beginning 12/24 11/highest.
DECEMBER 2016 PRICES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
Prices begin the month at the values and moderates 10% higher than the lowest of the year. At the deluxes, prices begin the month 6% higher than the lowest of the year.
On 12/11, prices increase at the values to 45% higher than the lowest of the year, at the moderates to 25% higher, and at the deluxes to 30% higher.
On 12/12, prices increase at the values to 65% higher than the lowest of the year, at the moderates to 50% higher, and at the deluxes to 55% higher, and stay at this level through the end of the month
See this for more on 2016 resort hotel prices at Walt Disney World.
DECEMBER 2016 DEALS AND DISCOUNTS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
Deals are available for December 2016. Details are here.
DECEMBER 2016 WEATHER AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
Average temperatures trend down over December, and weather becomes quite variable. Days can be perfect, or quite cool.
Click the image, or go to Weather and When to Go to Disney World, for more on temperatures.
DECEMBER 2016 SPECIAL EVENTS
December brings delightful Christmas festivities to Disney World:
- At the Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party—a special event that requires its own ticket—runs on many nights through December 22. After that date, its signature events—a special Christmas parade, and special Christmas fireworks—are available to all guests.
- At Epcot, the evening fireworks show Illuminations has special Christmas additions. In addition, most nights Christmas carols are sung by massed choirs in the Candlelight Processional. Many of the countries in Epcot’s World Showcase have special Christmas events as part of Epcot’s Holidays Around the World program. Epcot’s special events usually begin the Friday after Thanksgiving
The New Years Eve schedule: Magic Kingdom and Epcot will have special fireworks and celebrations on 12/31/2016, and the same celebrations will also happen at Magic Kingdom on 12/30.
DECEMBER 2016 OPERATING HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
Park operating hours vary by the day, and sometimes change without notice. It is rare for hours to be shorter than Disney has publicized, but Disney may lengthen them in response to unanticipated crowds.
The best way to keep up with operating hours is to check Disney’s official calendars, usually available six months in advance.
These calendars can be found by clicking the following links:
WEEK BY WEEK COMMENTS FOR DECEMBER 2016 AT WALT DISNEY WORLD BY ARRIVAL DATE
The week rankings that follow below are from 2016 weeks to visit, ranked in order, and are designed for first-time visitors who do not know whether or not they will return.
Click the image for a calendar view of 2016 weeks (when open, keep clicking to enlarge.)
11/26/2016. Low prices at values, moderate-minus prices at moderates, low prices at deluxes. Low crowds. Crowd ranking=3. Week ranking=1. Recommended Week. Use the Basic 2016 FastPass+ December Itinerary
12/3/2016. Pop Warner Week. Low prices at values, moderate-minus prices at moderates, low prices at deluxes. Low-plus crowds. Crowd ranking=4. Week ranking=2. Recommended Week. Use the Basic 2016 FastPass+ December Itinerary
12/24/2016. Highest prices at values, moderates, deluxes. Highest crowds. Crowd ranking=11. Week ranking=47. Use the 2016 FastPass+ Higher Crowd Itinerary, but watch for added morning EMH and 8a opens
June 4, 2016 15 Comments
2016 NEW YEAR’S EVE AT DISNEY WORLD
New Years Eve 2016 is on a Saturday. This makes me suspect we will see a slightly different set of Disney World New Year’s Eve celebrations in 2016 than we’ve seen for New Year’s Eve at Disney World in recent years.
What’s known so far is that New Year’s Eve festivities and fireworks will happen on December 31, 2016 at Disney World’s Epcot and Magic Kingdom theme parks, and also at the Magic Kingdom on December 30.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios will show its Star Wars fireworks the 31st at midnight.
Until 2015 the Animal Kingdom park had no special New Year’s Eve show, but in 2015–for the first time–it offered a “New Year’s Eve Street Party” in Africa’s Harambe Market from 3:30p to 8:30p. I expect to see this happen again in 2016.
The schedule looks like this:
- Epcot will be open until 1a on New Year’s Eve; Disney’s Hollywood Studios until midnight, the Magic Kingdom until 1a, and the Animal Kingdom until 8.30p
- The Magic Kingdom will have Wishes at 7.30p and special New Year’s Eve fireworks at 11.50p
- Epcot likely will have its Illuminations fireworks show at 6p and 11.40p, plus DJs in various pavilions
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios will have fireworks at midnight
- There may be a special New Years Eve show at 8.30p at the Animal Kingdom
- Note that alcohol is not available at the Magic Kingdom, but is available at the other three parks
The Magic Kingdom will have the same fireworks at the same times on 12/30/16. This date will likely be a little less crowded than 12/31.
DISNEY WORLD PARK CLOSURES ON NEW YEAR’S EVE
Disney closes parks due to crowding often on New Year’s Eve. “Closes” means closed to additional guests–those in the parks do not have to leave.
See this for more on how Disney World park closings work.
The Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are the most likely parks to close, and Animal Kingdom the least likely.
June 3, 2016 3 Comments
The Christmas season at Walt Disney World includes both the best and the worst times to visit, with both prices and crowds at both lower and very high levels over the period.
Decorations, special Christmas shows, programs, and events, and Christmas trees are everywhere, making Disney World as special a place to celebrate the holidays as you can find.
THE CHRISTMAS SEASON AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
December crowds at Walt Disney World begin at lower levels. They will begin to build on 12/17, and by 12/25 will hit their highest levels of the year, where they will stay until about January 6, 2017.
Walt Disney World resort hotel December prices at the beginning of the month are at one of the lower levels of the year.
On 12/11 they go up a lot to 25-45% higher than the lowest of the year, and on December 22, 2016, they increase to 50-65% higher than the lowest levels of the year.
December weather is cooler and variable. While the average daily high is 73, this masks tremendous variability.
CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
Each of the parks has wonderful Christmas decorations, and the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot have special Christmas events, which begin in early November at Magic Kingdom, mid-November at the Studios, and right after Thanksgiving at Epcot.
- At the Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party—a special event that requires its own ticket—runs on many nights from November 7th through December 22nd. Later in December, its signature events—a special Christmas parade, and special Christmas fireworks—are available to all guests. Christmas decor is in place by the night of the first party–in 2016, November 7
- At the Studios, the new Christmas projection show Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! kicked off on November 14.
- At Epcot, the evening fireworks show Illuminations has special Christmas additions. In addition, most nights Christmas carols are sung by massed choirs in the Candlelight Processional. Many of the countries in Epcot’s World Showcase have special Christmas events as part of Epcot’s Holidays Around the World program. Epcot’s special events are fully in place the Friday after Thanksgiving–November 25 in 2016
NEW YEAR’S EVE 2016/2017 AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
New Year’s Eve festivities will occur December 31, 2016 at Disney World’s Epcot, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios theme parks, and also at the Magic Kingdom on December 30. The Animal Kingdom in the past has had no special New Years events, but may well in 2016.
The complete schedule is not out yet, but based on what is out and on the past, the schedule will look like this:
- Epcot will be open until 1a on New Year’s Eve; Disney’s Hollywood Studios until at least midnight, and the Magic Kingdom until 1a or later
- The Magic Kingdom likely will have Wishes at 7.30p and special New Year’s Eve fireworks at 11.48p
- Epcot likely will have its Illuminations fireworks show at 6p and 11.40p, plus DJs in various pavilions.
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios likely may have fireworks at midnight
- There may be a New Years Eve show at the Animal Kingdom–the first ever
- Note that alcohol is not available at the Magic Kingdom, but is available at the other three parks
The Magic Kingdom likely will have the same fireworks at the same times on 12/30/16. This date will likely be a little less crowded than 12/31. Hollywood Studios may also have fireworks on 12/30–either in addition to, or instead of, 12/31 fireworks.
June 3, 2016 No Comments
This Walt Disney World itinerary is designed for the three weeks following Thanksgiving 2016.
(For a PDF version, click here.)
If you aren’t going one of those weeks, see Other Itineraries for alternatives the rest of the year, which are published about six months ahead.
You can enlarge the basic itinerary by clicking it.
A detailed To-Do List covers all the planning steps you need to undertake.
And detailed daily guidance is in the links:
ITINERARY DESIGN GOALS
The basic December itinerary was designed to meet several goals: to ensure that you
- See the best that Walt Disney World has to offer, including all of its special Christmas season offerings
- See the parks in the order that works best for kids (essentially Epcot first, as it is potentially the most disappointing, and the Magic Kingdom last, as it is likely to be the best loved)
- Avoid unnecessary waiting, by using FastPass+ and other tactics…
- Have as much time off, and as few early mornings, as practical
- Avoid unnecessary spending–for example, the basic itinerary does not require you to buy the “Park Hopper” option, saving you more than $200
If you can’t do the dates required for the Basic Itinerary, see Other Itineraries for alternatives for both the December week and the rest of the year.
June 2, 2016 2 Comments