The Holidays are back at Walt Disney World! There are Christmas decorations as far as the eye can see! Last year, many guests were upset to learn that the annual Mickey’s Very Merriest Christmas Party was cancelled due to the pandemic. This year, we all received the new that Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party would not be returning this year, but instead an after-hours event called Mickey’s Very Merriest After-Hours Party. Does it measure up to the original?
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party debuted over the holiday season in 1983 and has been warming our hearts ever since! The event ran from November to December on select nights and lasted from 7pm-Midnight. Guests with a ticket to the party were able to enter the park as early as 4pm. It was a ticketed event that had to be purchased separate from park admission. Perhaps one of the most exciting things to see at the party was Cinderella Castle completely decorated in Christmas lights. It was announced on September 8, 2020 that Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party was cancelled for the foreseeable future due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Mickey’s Very Merriest After-Hours Party
Mickey’s Very Merriest After-Hours Party is the replacement of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The event premiered on November 8, 2021 and will run until December 21, 2021. It is unclear if this will be a permanent replacement to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This event runs from 9pm-1am but guests with a ticket can enter the park as early as 7pm. This is also a ticketed event that is separate from regular park admission.
Comparing & Contrasting
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party featured Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. It made its way from Main Street USA and featured the picturesque backdrop of Cinderella Castle decorated with Christmas lights. You would see Mickey, Minnie and the rest of the Fab 5 along with many other Disney characters and even characters you would only see at Christmas-such as marching toy soldiers, dancing reindeers and yes, you guessed it…SANTA!
Mickey’s Very Merriest After Hours Party also featured the Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. What made it extra special was it was the first parade at Walt Disney World since the parks shut down for the pandemic in March 2020. The only difference was that this parade began in Frontierland and ended on Main Street USA. It was just as magical as I remembered.
At both parties, we were delighted with a magical fireworks display called “Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show”. It happens once per night and lights up the sky to some of your favorite Disney Christmas songs. To look around and see the joy on everyone’s faces during the fireworks was just amazing. I was glad to see that they brought these fireworks back for the after-hours event. Some of the fun Christmas songs included “Wonderful Christmastime” (originally by Paul McCartney but this is the Disney version) and “When We’re Together” from Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.
Both parties also featured stage shows in front of Cinderella Castle that took place several times per night. The only difference was that the stage show at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party was called Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration Stage Show and it starred many of your favorite characters including Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Snow White, Clarabelle Cow and more! They danced around on stage and performed classic Christmas songs.
Mickey’s Very Merriest After Hours also featured a stage show but it was called Mickey and Minnie’s Very Merry Memories. This stage show also featured your favorite characters like Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Clarabelle Cow and more singing and dancing to your favorite Christmas songs.
Character Meet & Greets
One of the biggest differences of the two parties was the character meet & greets (or lack thereof). At Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, you were able to meet characters that you normally don’t get to see in the parks such as the Seven Dwarfs, Mary Poppins, the Genie from Aladdin and even Santa Claus! You were able to hug them, get an autograph, take some pictures and move on. It was wonderful and magical.
At Mickey’s Very Merriest After Hours, you were still able to meet some rare characters, but it was socially distanced. You were able to go near the characters but were unable to get autographs or hugs due to Covid-19 restrictions that are still in place. I was able to see some rare characters at the after-hours event like Captain Hook, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and Santa Clause- which was still great but not the same.
Both parties also had a good number of free treats that were handed out throughout the night. At Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, guests could go to any location that featured an inflated candy cane outside of it for their complimentary snacks. These included free snowman shaped pretzels, popcorn, ice-cream novelty treats, sno-cones, many different types of cookies, hot cocoa, egg nog, and other beverages. It was exciting to try to collect all of the different types of free cookies throughout the night.
At Mickey’s Very Merriest After-Hours, there were still a lot of complimentary snacks to satisfy your Christmas cravings. There weren’t nearly as many choices as there was at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but they still offered Snickerdoodle cookies and hot cocoa at locations with a giant inflated candy cane outside. They also offered free popcorn, ice cream novelty snacks and free bottled water and soda at select snack carts. There were also allergen-friendly options available upon request.
Holiday Overlays on Rides
One of the most fun things to see around the holiday season at Disney World, is the holiday ride overlays. At Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, we saw ride overlays for Space Mountain, Jingle Cruise, Mad Tea Party and Tomorrowland Speedway. It was really exciting to ride Space Mountain and hear all of your favorite Christmas songs during the ride. It was also fun to see the decorations while riding on the Jingle Cruise, Mad Tea Party and Tomorrowland Speedway. Noticeably missing from the Merriest After-Hours, were the holiday ride overlays. The only ride that had a holiday overlay was the Jingle Cruise.
One of the most beautifully decorated places in all of Walt Disney World for the holidays, is Cinderella Castle. During Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, the Castle was covered in beautiful, shimmering lights. There was an exciting stage show called A Frozen Holiday Wish which featured Anna, Kristoff and Sven helping Elsa to make the holidays extra merry and bright. In the show, Elsa uses her powers to light up Cinderella Castle and it is even more beautiful than usual once all the lights are on. Pictures can never do it justice-you must come see it in person. Unfortunately, for the after-hours event this year, there were no lights on Cinderella Castle and A Frozen Holiday Wish also did not return this year. I really hope that they bring it back next year because it was truly a sight to behold.
The price of Mickey’s Very Merriest Christmas Party ranged from $99-139 (pre-tax) per adult and $94-134. (pre-tax) per child. You were also able to enter the park at 4pm and stay until the party ended at midnight. The price of Mickey’s Very Merriest After-Hours Party ranged from $169-249 (pre-tax) for adults and children. You were able to enter the park at 7pm and stay until the party ended at 1am.
Low Wait Times
Since they are both special ticketed events, there is only a certain number of people allowed into the parks. As you may have already guessed, lower park attendance equals lower wait times for the rides. At both Christmas parties, I was able to walk on many of the rides with no wait and I waited 10 minutes or less for the very popular rides like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, Peter Pans Flight and Jungle (Jingle) Cruise.
Which party is better?
I had a wonderful time at both parties, but Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party gave you more for your money. Not only was the price much cheaper, but theirs also more time allowed in the parks. You were also able to meet rare characters, have short wait times, and a much larger selection of complimentary snacks. A lot of people around the parks talked about really missing the castle being lit up too. Mickey’s Very Merriest After Hours was wonderful for a scaled-back event but it still felt like a few things were missing after having experienced the original Christmas party. It is also very expensive. For a family of four to go in December, you will end up paying $1000 (pre-tax) for just a couple of extra hours in the park. I really hope that next year Disney can bring back Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party but for now, Mickey’s Very Merriest After Hours does the trick to bring on the holiday cheer!
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