8 Tips For Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Disney World
We’ve all been there: tired kids, tired parents, and an improperly nourished family that is on the brink of visiting a family counselor because not a single person can get along…all while trying to embark on what is supposed to be an incredibly fun family experience.
I have lost count how many times I have overheard hangry (hungry + angry = hangry) parents arguing and subsequently screaming at their kids in the most desperate of tones with the common sentiment of, “Can you please, just please, pretend that you love one another and try to get along? We are at Disney World for God’s sake!” I overheard those exact words come from the lips of an exhausted and disappointed mom mere days ago while at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2016, and it breaks my heart each and every time I hear parents at the end of their rope while trying to give their families an exciting experience of a lifetime.
On our first trip to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, we were those parents on the verge of visiting a marriage and family therapist because our experience was at times not merry and certainly not “Very Merry,” so trust me, I can fully empathize with every parent I walk past who is on the verge of tears. Luckily, our family learned from our rookie mistakes and we have had nothing but the best experiences at all of Mickey’s special parties ever since.
Here are my tips for keeping the “Merry” in Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2016 for you, your friends, and your family!
8 Tips for a “Merry” Christmas at Disney World in Orlando, FL
1. ONLY COME FOR THE PARTY
Our first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party was a 16+ hour day for our family. As neophytes, we didn’t realize that our Disney World Christmas Party tickets allowed us entrance to the park at 4 pm, so we were at the Magic Kingdom from the moment the gates opened that morning to many minutes past midnight. That may have quite possibly been the Longest. Day. Ever. Not to mention, we felt like we wasted a day of our Disney World tickets by going to the park that morning, especially since we could have spent an entire day at the park on another day instead of using them for only 6 hours.
Every time we go to one of Mickey’s special parties, we see families who made the same mistake we did that first party we attended and you can tell they are thinking, “I wish someone would have told us.” So, on the day you have tickets for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, only come for the party and get in at 4 pm.
Use your regular Disney World/Magic Kingdom tickets for another day when you can enjoy the entire day there without the addition of a special party. I promise, doing it this way will be the number one way to keep the “Merry” in Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!
2. TAKE NAPS (OR AT LEAST TRY!)
An exciting and fun late night Christmas party + tired, irritable kids = a terrible combination. Do yourself a huge favor and try to get everyone to nap or at least rest before coming to the party. Nothing strips the “Merry” from Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party faster than tired kids and exhausted parents. With an entrance time of 4 pm, it may seem tough to get an excited family to lay low and rest, but you will be glad you did.
3. WATCH THE DISNEY WORLD CHRISTMAS PARADE EARLY
If you have younger kids like we do, do them a favor and catch Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade early at 8:30 pm. While it is so tempting to hedge your bets that ride lines will be shorter during the first parade so that you can ride as many as you can, trying to keep kids awake until 11 pm for the second parade can be quite miserable.
We like to watch the parade at 8:30 pm in Frontierland by the Bear Country Jamboree, as it is much less crowded than on Main Street or by Cindrella’s Castle. As soon as the end of the parade passes us by, we head straight through Adventureland over to ride the Jingle Cruise (see Tip 5 below).
From there we stroll over to the gardens in front of the Crystal Palace restaurant. Since Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is still going on when we get there, the garden area is mostly empty. Everyone is still over by Main Street to watch the parade, which allows us to get situated into a fantastic and roomy spot with an optimal view where our kids can dance, jump, sprawl, and play for the next 15 minutes while we wait for Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration to start.
This garden area is our favorite spot for watching Cinderella’s Castle and the Castle Stage transform into a canvas of holiday magic featuring over 15 of Disney’s classic characters during this year’s newest show, Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration. Filled with a wonderful medley of holiday music and visits from other Disney friends like Woody and Peter Pan, this new show is fantastic (see Tip 5 below). It starts at 9:25 pm and then the subsequent Holiday Wishes fireworks spectacular commences at 10 pm.
By catching the early parade, we can almost guarantee that all three of our kids get to see all three exciting and memorable celebrations and from locations that afford them outstanding views. If we waited until the 11 pm parade, we would most likely have one of the three asleep and be a dozen people deep somewhere along the parade route.
As soon as the unforgettable fireworks are over, we head straight to the rides and ride until our hearts are content. We have never met a line over 20 minutes. In fact, on our latest trip, the 7 Dwarfs Mine Train was only a 20-minute wait. It was amazing and dare I say, exceptionally merry!
4. EAT REAL FOOD
While some of the most exciting perks of the Disney World Christmas Party are the special holiday treats available and scattered around the Magic Kingdom, remember that they shouldn’t replace dinner or REAL food for your family.
Desserts like the snickerdoodles and sugar cookies, warm hot cocoa, snow cones, and gluten-free/allergy-friendly cookies are all fun treats, but they are just that, treats. Make time to eat something nutritious and filling. Although the treats will seemingly fill your family’s bellies, the fulfillment is deceptive and won’t last long; your blood sugar will come crashing down faster than the Astro Orbiter and your entire family will become hangry.
Our routine is to grab a meal at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café and eat it while squatting on our favorite viewing real estate for Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade. As I mentioned earlier, the parade starts at 8:30 pm in Frontierland, and Pecos Bill’s is right there. The restaurant allows you to take your food with you, and our family eats while we anxiously wait for the parade to start. Pecos Bill’s dinner menu leans more towards the Tex-Mex side, so we happily enjoy our spicy beef rice bowls, fajitas, burritos, southwest salads, and chips and salsa, along with the plethora of condiment bar goodies (think guacamole, pico, cheese, etc).
Yes, we consume our fill of cookies, cocoa, cider, and snow cones, but we keep them in moderation. At midnight, it is always obvious which parents didn’t follow this common sense rule of thumb, as their kids are the ones doubled-over sick from eating nothing but cookies and sugar all night.
5. DRESS UP AND ENJOY ONCE-A-YEAR ATTRACTIONS
Pull out that ugly Christmas sweater, the kids’ Christmas jammies, your matching Disney t-shirts, or your favorite Christmas wear and don them with pride. And if you only do the bare minimum or forget your one of your 37 pieces of Christmas flair, Disney, as always, has you covered. We purchased our Christmas light bulb necklaces four years ago and they are still glowing bright and strong. Just remember to bring a jacket or light coat, as it does get a bit chilly once the sun goes down.
As for the special once-a-year holiday attractions, our favorite is the Jungle Cruise. During the Christmas season, The Jungle Cruise is replaced by the Jingle Cruise, and the fresh and Christmas-inspired puns will keep you smiling the entire time. The waiting area, boats, and jungle displays have all been decorated with ornaments and the story line changes to include Christmas themes and dry-humored jokes.
Another Christmas specific attraction that you can’t miss is Magic Kingdom’s new castle stage show for 2016 called Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration. This festive show features popular holiday songs, plenty of dancing, and over 15 different classic Disney characters including some surprise guests. The entire show takes place on the stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle, which is decorated with ever-changing holiday illuminations that pair perfectly with the music.
Lastly, for a classic photo with some added Disney style, you can meet Santa Claus at the Tour Guide Gardens near City Hall through Christmas Eve. Make sure to catch him now, as it’s said he rests until next November after putting together millions of toys with billions of tiny pieces.
6. GET YOUR DOLE WHIP AND MICKEY BARS BEFORE 7 PM
Our family LOVES Dole Whips and frozen Mickey Bars. I think my kids look forward to them when we come to Disney World more than they do meeting Elsa and Anna. However, the sole place to get a Dole Whip inside Magic Kingdom, Aloha Isle, closes a little before 7 pm to transform into a “Holiday Treat” location for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The frozen treat kiosk carts where you can buy the Mickey Bars make their way to the Magic Kingdom back lots around the same time. The sad sighs of disappointment can be heard all across Adventureland, as families discover that they can’t get Dole Whips or Mikey Bars during the party. So, if Dole Whips or Mickey Bars are on your mind, like they are always on ours, make sure to get them between when you can enter the park at 4 pm and around 6:30 pm.
7. USE THE BABY CARE CENTER
Tucked between Casey’s Corner and The Crystal Palace on the Southwest side of Cinderella’s Castle sits the Baby Care Center. This is one of the best kept secrets of the park, although it’s not really a secret.
If you have younger children, the Baby Care Center is a fantastic place of air-conditioned respite, and the only place inside the park where you can find anything child-related that you forgot, want, or need. With everything from diapers, wipes and formula to filtered water, baby food and over-the-counter medicines, the Baby Care Center is a lifesaver.
I have bought diapers because I forgot them in our hotel room, changed diapers, nursed babies, re-filled water bottles, used their microwave, bought ibuprofen, and seen lost children cared for and re-united with their families. Yes, the Baby Care Center is where cast members bring children who have been separated from their parents to be cared for until they are re-united with their families.
The Baby Care Center is complimentary for guests to use, and it is both Mom- and Dad-friendly. Plus, it is conveniently located adjacent to our favorite garden spot for watching the special shows at Cinderella’s Castle (see Tip 3). I always quickly visit the Baby Care Center to fill up water bottles, hit the bathroom, and grab anything we may need while we all wait for the Celebrate the Magic show to begin.
And if your kids are older and you don’t need infant/toddler related services, don’t forget that the Baby Care Center is like a small convenience store. They still have items you may find yourself needing: sunscreen, ponchos, over-the-counter medicines, water, etc. Not to mention, it is the place where you can go claim your child if you happen to get separated inside the park.
8. SIT BACK AND SMELL
One of the most magical parts of the Disney World Christmas Party is the attention to detail that every cast member puts into the party. From the cozy ambiance complete with fluttering “snow” along Main Street and festive Christmas décor throughout the park to the spirited cast members and characters, the Magic Kingdom is completely transformed into the best Christmas party in the world.
Our family’s favorite part of the party is the ingenious way that the park is infused with not only the sights of Christmas but also the smells of winter and the holidays. The floats emit familiar smells of gingerbread, pine, cookies, and cinnamon, just to name a few, and you don’t want to let them pass you by! So, sit back and remember to take in the delightful smells of the holidays and allow them to fill your evening with everything merry.
Bonus Tip: Where to Find Special Disney World Christmas Treats
The following complimentary treats can be found at the treat locations scattered across Magic Kingdom. While the special Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party brochure guide that you receive when receiving your special party wristband lists the multiple treat locations, it does not explain what each location offers. And for those who have gluten and/or allergy considerations, one of this year’s yummy treats is an individually-wrapped chocolate chip cookie made by Enjoy Life, which can be found at every treat location around the park. For the planner in me, I like to know these little details in advance so that we know our options and can maximize our time during the party!
- The Friar’s Nook – Snow Cones and Sugar Cookies
- The Lunching Pad – Hot Chocolate and Peppermint Bark Cookies
- Heritage House – Eggnog and Gingersnap Cookies
- Pete’s Silly Sideshow – Spiced Apple Cider and Sugar Cookies
- Aloha Isle Refreshments – Hot Cocoa and Snickerdoodle Cookies
Our Favorite Hotel Near Disney World
As Tip 2 mentions, rest. We always find endless fun and the perfect place for our kids to rest at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. After a delicious breakfast at Harvest Bistro (2 kids, 12 and under, eat free per paying adult for breakfast and dinner), our kids hit the pool to splash around, ride on the water slide, and float along the lazy river for a few hours. Then it’s back to the room to clean up, pack up the stroller, and rest for an hour or so before heading over to the Magic Kingdom for our 8 hours of Very Merry fun.
This is our tried-and-true routine and it has served us well every single Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party since our catastrophic first party when the “Merry” in the party was nowhere to be found that night.
You may also enjoy:
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- Hidden Gems: Discover the Secrets of Disney World
- Celebrating the Holidays at The Disneyland Resort
Hilton Mom Voyage writers receive free night certificates to use at Hilton Hotels & Resorts worldwide. To learn more, visit our About Us page.
Amy grew up in Southern California but has lived all over the globe. Her latest move brought her to Panama City, Florida, where she lives with her…