One question I hear a lot is whether or not Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) is worth the price of admission. The party, which takes place several nights a week in the Magic Kingdom from early November until the week before Christmas, is a hard-ticketed event, which means you’ll need a separate ticket to attend. There are slight discounts for annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members. In addition, some parties are discounted a few dollars if you buy them in advance. Full price tickets are $59.95 for adults and $53.95 for children ages 3 to 9; these prices do not include tax. Tickets bought the day of the party cost a few dollars more.
The party is from 7:00 p.m. until midnight, but you can enter the Magic Kingdom as early as 4:00 p.m. You’ll be given a wristband to show that you have a tickets. During the first few hours of the party, you’ll be asked to show your wristband to enter attractions, shops, and restaurants. Guests who are spending the day in the Magic Kingdom can get their tickets scanned and receive their wristbands in the Rose Garden, so they won’t need to leave and re-enter. Just before the party officially begins, you’ll see cast members putting up ropes to encourage non-guests to begin leaving the park. Crowds normally clear out pretty quickly after that.
There’s a special holiday fireworks display, cast members handing out cookies and hot coco*, a Christmas-themed show in front of the castle, Mickey’s Once upon a Christmastime Parade twice a night, and many opportunities for character meet and greets. You won’t see any of this during the day while the party is going on, but after December 19th, the parade takes place in the parks. Most attractions are open for the party, but some quick service dining locations are closed. Keep in mind that if you want to shop, the party closes at midnight and if you’re not in the stores at that time, you won’t be allowed to enter. This differs from a normal night, when you can generally browse for an hour after park closing.
The big draw of the party, to me, is being able to enjoy the holiday atmosphere at night in a less crowded environment. In the many times I’ve gone to MVMCP, I’ve only been to one that I would consider crowded. Once the fireworks end and parents take sleepy kids out of the park, you’ll be able to walk on many rides, even popular ones. The first parade and castle show are the most crowded, so if you want to see those, line up early. After that, you’ll find the that crowds for shows and the parade thin substantially. Generally, weekends and the last week of the party are more crowded, but even then, I think they’re manageable. In fact, while Disney doesn’t release numbers for party attendance, I suspect that MVMCP is usually less crowded than the Halloween party, to give those of you who’ve attended the Halloween party an idea of what to expect at MVMCP.
Another benefit of attending MVMCP is that you extend your park hours. Look at it this way: You’ve traveled all the way to Disney World. If you’re like most people, you want to get as much time in the parks as possible. But one drawback of visiting Disney World during November and December is that the parks close earlier (except, of course, for holiday weeks). This is particularly true for the Magic Kingdom, which will close at 7:00 at least three nights a week for MVMCP. There’s a good chance that you could visit Disney World during early December, for example, and only get one late night in the parks that week. Because that night will be an extra magic hour, it will likely be crowded. Personally, I love the parks at night, particularly during the holidays; I think they’re especially beautiful then. But I really don’t want to fight crowds, which is why I go during this time of year. Attending the party, even though I have to pay extra, allows me to do this.
Clearly, I think MVMCP is worth the money, but even with that in mind, I don’t think the party is worth it if you find yourself having to stretch your budget too much. These are hard times financially for most people. A family of four could easily spend $260 on a night at the party. Frankly, we live in a time when vacations are becoming a luxury and while we still want them, we’re having to pick and choose what we do more carefully. Your vacation is about relaxing, connecting with others, and having fun. It shouldn’t be about worrying that you’ve spent money you don’t have. If attending the party means you’ll miss out on that one great meal at Disney World, don’t do it; you’ll appreciate a memorable meal more than an extra night in the parks. Or if it means you can’t buy park hoppers, really think about how you visit the parks before your decide; parkhoppers are very convenient. There’s plenty of holiday spirit in Disney World that you won’t miss it.
*For those who want an alternative to cookies and cocoa, apple slices and juice are available. There are also sugar-free cookies for those who cannot have sugar.
Special thanks to Mommy from the Midwest for allowing me to borrow these photos from her blog.