*DIS Contributors review meals, resort stays, and entertainment that they have paid for during their own vacations. They only utilize discounts and offers if they are available to the general public, such as annual passholder discounts, Tables in Wonderland, or DVC membership discounts. They receive no additional compensation for dining experiences or events, so that they may give their honest opinions about price and value.
Over the last 18 months or so, it’s been no secret that Disney has removed certain events, started charging more for less, and has made changes to the park experience. One of those changes was getting rid of the holiday parties. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party did not appear this year, but the alternative version of the events did. Disney decided to turn these parties into After Hour Events to limit crowds, so we are told. These After Hours events are on the pricier side and don’t offer anything different or more than what the parties did.
On November 18th, my wife and I went to experience the Very Merriest After Hours Event, and we had a blast. Before I get into the entire experience, I want to break down the price and explain why it was worth it because everyone has a different checklist as to why something may or may not be worth it.
We bought the tickets the day they dropped, and each ticket was $159; I told my wife that this was my birthday gift to myself because I wanted to experience a true Disney Christmas. I had never done an After Hours event, but all I ever heard about these events is that the crowd levels are extremely low. We barely go to Magic Kingdom due to the crowds and the stress of leaving the park. For us, buying these tickets was more about enjoying the park with fewer crowds and seeing a parade. All I wanted was to see a parade again. I used to be a theme park performer, and parades hold a special place in my heart, along with stage shows.
While on our way to the event, it was raining. The whole drive, we monitored the weather and hoped the rain would stop by the time we parked at the Ticket and Transportation Center. As we parked, the rain slowed down to a point where we could walk and not get drenched. Due to the constant drizzle, we knew that there would be modifications to the entertainment, and that’s not Disney’s fault, just Florida’s fault for quite literally raining on my parade. The stage show, Mickey & Minnie’s Very Merry Memories, was canceled, but the cast still came out and did a medley of the show on the stage. Before the show, the crew was working hard to dry the stage, but it seems they couldn’t get it dry enough for a full-on show to happen. I was happy that the characters, singers, and dancers still all came out and did a SparkNotes version of the show.
After watching the stage show, we grabbed some Mickey premium bars and found a spot for Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. The parade route floor was still very wet and slippery, which had me worried that the parade would not happen. Thankfully after a 5-minute delay, the parade kicked off. My face lit up as the floats passed by, featuring all of my favorite characters. The best part, in my opinion, was when the princesses came by. It felt that each of them took the time to acknowledge me, and of course, by this point, I had tears running down my face, and my cheeks hurt so bad from smiling so hard. That alone made the ticket worth it for me. I have always been such a sucker for character interactions. After fangirling over the Christmas parade, we went to find the closest hot cocoa and cookie location. The snickerdoodle cookie was nice and soft and paired well with the hot cocoa. The hot cocoa wasn’t anything fancy, but I could tell they tried everything to make this powder and water mix as thick as possible.
Once I collected my emotions, my wife asked me, “can we just walk around and take it all in” and we did just that. On a typical park day, we can’t do that because we are always running to the next open area to get away from a crowd to try to develop a game plan. Her only wish was to go to Club Tinsel, so after walking onto Space Mountain and grabbing popcorn, we made our way to the dance floor. As we left the dance floor, it was time for Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Firework Show, which wasn’t on our must-do list. As guests gathered in front of the castle, we went to the Crystal Palace to find Winnie the Pooh and friends. This was another request of my wife. Anytime we go to a holiday party, she always requests that we stop to see her favorite character.
Pooh and Tigger walked out as we approached Crystal Palace, and my wife’s face lit up with so much happiness. Seeing her smile that big was worth the price of the event tickets and worth walking in puddles all night. We made our way out of the park as the fireworks started because the rain was getting harder, and we wanted to avoid the end-of-night rush to the monorail. It may seem like we didn’t do a lot or take advantage of all the offerings, but to us, this was a perfect night filled with smiling, singing Christmas songs, and hot cocoa. It was nice to walk around Magic Kingdom freely without the anxiety that the crowd would swallow you.
To me, this event was worth it. It was worth every penny to see my wife enjoy the Magic Kingdom and see her favorite character up close for the first time in a long time. It was worth every dollar to feel the happiness I felt watching the parade. It made the world feel normal for just a few hours; that’s all I could ask for after going through this pandemic.
Let us know in the comments below which After Hours event is your favorite! If you haven’t been to one, let us know which one you’d like to experience.