Christmas in July - Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Well, July has managed to fly by!  I guess I had better sneak in one more Christmas in July post while I have the chance.  Mickey's Very Merry Christmas party is a separate ticketed event held in the Magic Kingdom in November and December.  Tickets for this event are not part of your base or Park Hopper ticket, are purchased for a specific day and are not inexpensive, so if you are going to make a trip to Disney World for the holidays, you will want to plan ahead for the party.

The most common question  I get about the party is "Is it worth it?"  While I can say my whole family did enjoy the party, it is not something that we would necessarily do every year.  The party officially starts at 7:00 and ends at midnight, but you will be allowed entry to the Magic Kingdom beginning at 4:00.  This essentially gives you a park hop into the Magic Kingdom for the day.  We used this as such and decided to go to the party in lieu purchasing a park hopper ticket.  Even though you can get into the park beginning at 4:00, the day crowds will not be asked to leave until 7:00 and there is nothing special going on until that time.  As a result, if you have young kids who turn into pumpkins at 8:30, this might not be the event for you...wait a few more years until you can get the biggest bang for your buck.  Of course, that being said, we did the party on the last night of our vacation and allowed the 4 year old to stay up until the bitter end.  Shockingly, she was game and we drug her out of the park at midnight with a smile on her face!

So what makes Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party special than a regular night in the Magic Kingdom?
  • Low Crowds - Attendance at the party is capped at a reasonable number.  Parties early in the season and on week nights have notoriously sparse crowds.  This means that most attractions are "walk-ons" for most of the night.
  • Special Characters - You will find lots of favorite friends in the parks.  Last year the princesses were accompanied by their princes and we used the rare sighting of all Seven Dwarfs as our Christmas Card Photo.  You will also see many characters in spiffy holiday attire, so it is worth stopping by for another visit.
  • Snow on Main Street - Ok, so the "snow" vaguely resembles Palmolive, but it is still a fun and festive touch.  Who cares if your kids belch bubbles for a few days?!?  (Kidding!)
  • Cookies and Cocoa - There are several refreshment stations through out the park serving an assortment of snacks.  We splurged with Christmas Cookies and Hot Chocolate, but there were some healthier options as well.
  • The Christmas Parade - The evening parade is different for the party than what you may have seen on the previous evening.  The parades are all perfectly holiday themed as are the characters riding them.  The Toy Soldiers and the Gingerbread Cookies "hot off the pan" are big hits as well.  And like any good Christmas Parade St Nick himself makes a special appearance.  Hint:  The parade runs twice a night and the second parade is always less crowded!
  • Holiday Wishes - The fireworks are absolutely spectacular.  A must see.  Even if you opt not to attend the Christmas party, I recommend finding a spot outside of the Magic Kingdom. 
  • Special Stage Shows
While the party is a lot of fun, there are a few things to consider:
  • Cost - Tickets start at $56.95 for adults and $51.95 for children 3-9 for off peak dates if you purchase your tickets in advance.  Expect to pay a $6 premium for peak nights.  For a family of 4 that can quickly add up! 
  • It is a late night.  - While I am a night owl and hanging out in the Magic Kingdom to midnight and beyond sounds fantastic to me, it is certainly not for everyone!  Make sure that you will at least be able to stay long enough to enjoy the parade and fireworks.
  • Controlled Chaos from 6:45-7:45 - During the early evening hours, all daytime guest are politely but firmly asked to leave.  All Party guests are asked to obtain a wristband to indicate that you are a party guest.  I felt like I should have just walked around with my wrist in the air for the hour or so that it took to make sure everyone was where they belonged.  Also, be aware that if you choose to arrive right at 7:00, you will be like a salmon swimming up stream! 
If you would like to purchase tickets to MVMCP click here for more information.  If you have already booked your vacation with me or if you would like to, I will be happy to handle this for you.

Here are some pictures from our night of holiday fun last year...Enjoy!

Our Seven Miner Friends

My oldest getting down to some Black Eyed Peas with her favorite chipmunk! 
(Lots of missing teeth between the two of them!)

First Parade Float

The Gingerbread Men from the front...

And the back!

The adorable Toy Soldiers


Christmas in July - The Candlelight Processional

The Candlelight Processional is a beautiful Christmas performance showing at Epcot that is not to be missed!  The Candlelight Processional is a beautiful, reverent reading of the Christmas Story by a celebrity narrator.  In addition to the narrator, a mass choir carrying candles (hence the name!), 50 piece live orchestra, and the Voices of Liberty round out this fantastically talented group.

The show is held three times each night (5:00, 6:45, and 8:15) from late November through December at the American Gardens Theater in the American Adventure in Epcot.  This show is free with regular admission to Epcot.  However, because seating is very limited for this popular show, the only way to be guaranteed a seat is through the purchase of the Candlelight Processional Dining Package.  The Dining Package includes lunch or dinner at one of Epcot's fantastic table service restaurants, seats for the show, and preferred viewing for the Illuminations Fireworks show.

My family got to enjoy Susan Lucci's reading of the Christmas story last year on my husband's birthday...definitely his most original gift from me!  Here is a  quick video clip from our show:

One other note...the American Gardens theater is an outdoor venue. We ended up with shockingly cold weather during our stay. But even on pleasant December days, it can be a bit cool once the sun sets. It is wise to come armed with cooler weather gear - at least a pair of gloves. You may not find yourself chilly at all while you are "out and about" cruising around the parks, but sitting on a metal bench in an outdoor theater, perched over water is a whole other story! You will want to hear the performance, not your teeth chattering, I promise!

This years celebrity narrators include:
•11/25 - 11/27: Mira Sorvino
•11/28 - 12/01: Michael W. Smith
•12/02 - 12/03: Whoopi Goldberg
•12/04 - 12/06: TBA
•12/07 - 12/09: Isabela Rossellini
•12/10 - 12/12: Neil Patrick Harris
•12/13- 12/14: TBA
•12/16 - 12/18: TBA
•12/19 - 12/21: Trace Adkins
•12/22 - 12/24: Susan Lucci
•12/25 - 12/27: Blair Underwood
•12/28 - 12/30: Marlee Matlin (interpreter: Jack Jason)

Disney will begin taking dining reservations for the Candlelight Processional Dining Package on July 26.  The reservation will require a credit card guarantee.  You can use the dining plan (credit card guarantee still applies) to book your reservation.  This reservation will use 2 of your table service credits, but will also include an appetizer, which is not usually part of the dining plan. 

Each show will have an allotted dining window prior to the performance.  Guest viewing the 5:00 show will have a lunch reservation.  Guests at the 6:45 show, have a rather awkward late afternoon dinner.  Guests at the 8:15 show will have a more reasonable "early dinner" time, but may not have time after the show to find a good spot for Illuminations in the preferred viewing area. 

Participating restaurants include:

(Prices do not include tax or gratuity)

Biergarten Restaurant
Lunch $ 32.99 adult / $ 17.99 child
Dinner $ 50.99 / $ 25.99

Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room
Lunch $ 38.99 / $ 12.99
Dinner $ 49.99 / $ 15.99

Le Cellier Steakhouse
Lunch $ 53.99 / $ 14.99

Garden Grill Restaurant
Dinner $ 52.99 / $ 26.99

Coral Reef
Lunch $ 51.99 / $ 13.99
Dinner $ 64.99 / $ 17.99

Nine Dragons
Lunch $ 38.99 adult / $ 12.99 child
Dinner $ 49.99 / $ 15.99

Restaurant Marrakesh
Lunch $ 38.99 / $ 12.99
Dinner $ 49.99 / $ 15.99

San Angel Inn
Lunch $ 38.99 / $ 12.99
Dinner $ 49.99 / $ 15.99

Via Napoli
Lunch $ 38.99 / $ 12.99
Dinner $ 49.99 / $ 15.99

Les Chefs de France
Lunch $ 51.99 / $ 13.99
Dinner $ 64.99 / $ 17.99

Tokyo Dining
Lunch $ 51.99 / $ 13.99
Dinner $ 64.99 / $ 17.99

Teppan Edo
Lunch $ 51.99 / $ 13.99
Dinner $ 64.99 / $ 17.99

Tutto Italia
Lunch $ 51.99 / $ 13.99
Dinner $ 64.99 / $ 17.99

Hacienda de San Angel
Dinner $ 64.99 / $ 17.99

I highly recommend this beautiful show if you are headed to the World after Thanksgiving and before the New Year.  Please let me know if I can help you plan and book your trip.  I will be happy to make your Candlelight Processional Dining Reservation for you as well!

Christmas in July - Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

And a spectacle it is! No Holiday trip to Disney's Hollywood Studios

would be complete without an evening stroll down the Streets of America to enjoy this enormous display of lights.

As you wander down the street you may be surprised to know that the majority of the lights in the display were once part of a private "collection" owned by Jennings Osborne. A resident of Arkansas, Mr.. Osborne set out to fulfill his daughters Christmas wish of covering their home in lights for the holidays. Like my husband who will do anything to please his daughters a mere 1000 lights the first year was not enough. Each year, their display grew and grew. They even purchased adjacent properties to extend their Christmas passion. Over a million lights and many a traffic jam later, the neighbors (understandably!) had had enough. When the Osborne family refused to take down the lights, the local residents petitioned the courts for help. Fortunately, it was Disney to the rescue. An offer was made to move the lights to a permanent new home at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Since 1995 visitors, including the Osborne family, come from all over the world each year to wander through the streets, sip hot cocoa, enjoy the Florida "snow", and admire the spectacular display of dancing lights while Christmas music plays all around. While most of the displays are original, the teams of decorators (that begin this huge undertaking in late summer!) have started switching over to more energy efficient LED lights.

This is a magical event that must not be missed if you are headed to the World in late November or December. A few tips...learn from my photography mistakes!  Photographing this event can be a bit tricky.  If you are going to take pictures look for special nighttime settings on your camera and bring a long a tripod, or steady your camera on something stationary. Also, be sure to WATCH WHERE YOU ARE GOING...especially if you are pushing a stroller. This is an especially bad spot for folks to be looking up and randomly stopping...Not that I ran over my husband with the stroller or anything...;)

And I did not notice it at the time, but isn't this picture odd?  There are lights everywhere, but on the tree...which is where most people put them in the first place!  Go Figure!


Christmas in July - Holiday Wishes Fireworks

Who says fireworks are just for the 4th of July?!?!  Certainly not the folks at Disney World!

I am such a kid when it comes to fireworks.  Perhaps it is because my birthday is right around Independence Day and we are always at the always seemed to make my birthday extra special.

It should be no surprise that I aways try to catch at least one fireworks show each night I possibly can.  Last December, I not only managed to see Wishes inside and outside the park, but Holiday Wishes as well. (And if you are a huge fireworks fan, may I humbly suggest staying at the Polynesian!)

While I enjoyed the show each time I saw them - and Holiday Wishes is different, and even more specatular than it's not holiday cousin, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed not watching it from inside the Magic Kingdom.  Of course, we are a Disney loving family, but only one night at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party was in the budget.  So I made plans to head out to the beach at the Polynesian at the approprite time and check out the fireworks from there, where they pipe the music in so you can get the full experience.

It is a very differente perspective from being right on Main Street, but I liked it just as well for Wishes, and perhaps even more for Holiday Wishes.  You see, for Holiday wishes they did not just shoot the fireworks from behind Cinderella Castle.  During 2 different parts of the show, the launched amazing rockets from several satelliete locations.  The entire skyline was lit up with 180 degrees of sparkly goodness!  My mouth literally dropped as the beach lit up like dayight.  I got a video of the entire show, but my camera work does not even come close to doing in justice.  You can check it out in the link below, but due to the whole tripod system breaking down when I hit record, the first minute or so is super annoying to watch, so you may want to skip ahead!