Disney World is magical on a regular day, so it’s only to be expected that a Disney World Christmas would be absolutely overflowing with magical moments.

All the parks offer special seasonal attractions and details that make Christmas extra magical for guests, but the biggest celebration of all takes place, as one might expect, in the Magic Kingdom.

The event in question? Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

What happens at the Christmas party?

There’s plenty to see and do at the Christmas party, and the Magic Kingdom stays open until midnight to give you the opportunity to take it all in. Highlights of the evening include:

Holiday drinks and cookies. If you’ve been to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, you’ve seen the trick-or-treating that goes on. Drinks and cookies, which are included with the price of your ticket (on one trip, I ate 11 free sugar cookies in one night—holy stomachache, Batman!). Big candy cane striped poles mark treat locations (they’re also on your park map) and guests can visit each stop and pick up a unique cookie and seasonal beverage. Around the park you’ll find things like eggnog, apple cider, hot cocoa, snickerdoodles, molasses cookies, and peppermint bark. I enjoy this a lot more than the Halloween party’s trick-or-treating, because the snacks are freshly prepared.

Club Tinsel. Boogie on over to Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland. The popular counter service restaurant will be open and serving its usual full menu, but the real attraction is an all-night dance party for all ages. Kids and adults can take to the floor and bust a move with Santa’s reindeer, who in between their parade appearances will join and dance with guests. Other popular characters, such as Santa Goofy, have also been known to make an appearance. Characters do not sign autographs at Club Tinsel, but it’s a great opportunity for an informal meet-and-greet and a photo op!

More traditional character meet-and-greets are also set up throughout the park. The headliners are Sandy Claws—Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas in full Santa apparel—and Snow White’s Seven Dwarves, all together, a rarity in the Magic Kingdom. Lines for these characters are bound to be long, so if you want the opportunity to meet them, make sure you arrive early and line up first thing. The best strategy, I’ve found is to do your most popular meet-and-greet first thing. You can line up a couple hours before the party starts so the time you spend in line won’t cut into your party experience. Other rare characters, such as the Aladdin crew, will be out and about. You’ll see the Disney princesses together with their princes, which is highly uncommon, and classic Disney characters like Mickey and Donald will be dressed up in festive outfits for Christmas! 

Entertainment. The Christmas party is packed to the gills with exclusive entertainment options, and I recommend trying to see everything. Most shows run at least twice during the night, so check the schedule and plan accordingly. Highlights include:

A Frozen Holiday Wish, featuring Anna, Elsa, and other characters from the movie Frozen. They get together on the stage in front of Cinderella’s castle for a quick show before Elsa uses her ice powers to decorate the castle for Christmas. This happens twice a night during the party and is not to be missed; watching the castle light up gives me goosebumps every time.

Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade takes the route from Adventureland and down Main Street. Your favorite Disney characters escort Santa through the Magic Kingdom. The best place to watch is definitely Main Street, because simulated snow falls over the crowd and enhances the atmosphere.

Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration is a stage show that features an astonishing array of Disney characters, from the classics like Mickey and Donald to such obscurities as Clarabel Cow and the birds from the Three Caballeros.

Holiday Wishes fireworks are not to be missed!

RIDES ARE OPEN. I love rides and hate lines—novel concept, I know. Tons of your favorite attractions across the park are running during the party, and while you can’t book Fastpasses, you aren’t going to need them. Between the reduced crowd at the park and the fact that everyone’s doing things like standing in line to meet characters, if rides are your thing, you’re going to pack them in during this party.

Is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Worth It?

Definitely. I attended, and I’m definitely very glad I did. To help you make up your mind, let’s explore a few details of the party.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a holiday celebration aimed to delight guests of all ages. The party takes place on scheduled nights from early November to late December, so choose the night that works best for your family. Personally, I prefer to attend in November rather than December, because the crowds are a little lower—remember that schools will be on holiday break towards the end of the year, and many families will take advantage of the vacation to visit Disney World.

Just like summer, it’s a very busy season in the park. However, if you’re of the mindset that the Christmas season starts too early every year and you prefer to wait until after Thanksgiving to do anything holly or jolly, the last week of November or the first week of December might be your perfect window.

When deciding whether to attend the party, it’s important to consider that the event is specifically themed to Christmas (as opposed to general winter holidays), and that might dissuade some guests from participating. However, there’s nothing overtly religious about the party—the theming comes in the form of Christmas trees, lights, Santa Claus, and your favorite Disney characters decked out in festive red and green.

How Can I Attend the Christmas Party?

You need to buy a ticket. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a separate ticketed event, meaning your regular Magic Kingdom admission won’t be enough. On party nights, the park closes for regular admission guests at 7 PM and only those with party admission are allowed to stay.

Ticket prices vary by night. There are also, predictably, different rates for adults and children. Expect to pay $70-85 per adult, with outlying prices for extremely popular party days (like actual Halloween night). Children pay $5 less than the adult price on any given day.

Pick your party day, and be mindful of what your family is doing the rest of the day. If you have young children or prefer a more leisurely adventure, I don’t recommend trying to do the party on a day you’re already planning to be in the parks.

Take the morning and sleep in, relax at your resort, watch Frozen or other Christmas favorites with your kids, and then head over to the Magic Kingdom at about 4 PM. Although the party doesn’t begin until 7, guests can begin checking in at 4 and can obtain party wristbands that will signal to cast members that you’ve paid to attend the party. When you check in, you’ll be given a snowman cookie. Bring a bag—you’re liable to end up with more than one of these sweet treats by the end of the night, and they’re plastic-wrapped so you can bring them home and enjoy them later.

By arriving at 4 instead of waiting until the party proper kicks off at 7, you take advantage of a couple of things:

You can get in line early for character meet-and-greets. Some of these characters are so popular that if you wait until 7 to line up, you’ll miss the bulk of the Christmas party. By showing up early, you can position yourself near the front of the line and be done with your photo op early in the night.

Fastpasses are available until 7. My advice is to use these hours to book three of them and get on some rides. Even if you’re not all about the rides the way I am, it makes sense to get some riding done before the main party starts. Then you’ll be able to attend the shows and fireworks without worrying about missing out on Space Mountain. A pointer: Use one of your FastPasses on the Jungle Cruise (or as it’s known on party days, the Jingle Cruise). The ride gets a special holiday makeover!

Go look for the specialty foods. They should be available early in the day, and you can grab a snack while you wait for things to get going.

Is the Party Too Expensive?

The great thing is that, on most days, it actually costs less than a day pass to the Magic Kingdom! So if you want to see the party but are concerned about fitting it into your Disney budget, simply choose one of the less pricey days. Then replace one of the park days you were planning on for your vacation with the Christmas party. You’re getting 8 hours in the park – from 4 PM until midnight – and an experience you just can’t get any other time, so it’s definitely a fair swap.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Tips

Consider the following when planning your Christmas party experience:

Take pictures. There are tons of additional photospots during the party, all highlighted on the park map you can get at the entrance. Stop by and record your memories!

If you’re a high-octane park guest like me, go ahead and book your Christmas party on a day you’re going to be in the parks anyway. My preference is to make this a park hopper day – start out with a mellow morning in Hollywood Studios, shopping and taking in the Christmas decorations there, then head over to the Magic Kingdom around 2 or 3.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Remember that every food service location in Disney World will give you a cup of water at no charge. The last thing cast members want is a bunch of dehydrated guests, so don’t be shy about requesting a drink. Remember that this is Disney World, and everybody wants you to feel great and have a good time.

Go to Tomorrowland after dark. I love Tomorrowland at night, and the Christmas party is a great opportunity to see it all lit up. Swing by the dance party stage for the Totally Tomorrowland Dance Party—the latest one is at 11:45—and see Stitch and all his friends trying to track down Santa and celebrate the season together. Then get in line (or, more likely, no line!) for Space Mountain or the Astro Orbiter. As the night winds down, early birds will start to leave the park, and lots of the crowd will gravitate toward the stage shows and fireworks, so the lines are apt to be minimal.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is an absolute gem of an experience, not to be missed by fans of Disney magic, Mickey Mouse, Christmas, or having a good time generally. I award this experience five out of five stars. I’m so glad I made the decision to attend, and I hope your holiday season is as magical as mine was!

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