Be PreparedWhen we say, "be prepared," we're talking more along the lines of mental preparation rather than remembering to bring bottled water and hand sanitizer. There are two things which, if you aren't expecting them, can turn the sugar plums dancing in your head sour: crowds and weather. Crowds: If you are imagining having the streets of the Magic Kingdom all to yourself and a few select others due to the limited number of tickets for this event, think again. While the entirety of the park may not be packed, any places where entertainment will be happening within the next hour, namely Main Street U.S.A., could be very congested. While you may not be attending a sold-out event night yourself, brace yourself for some packed areas. If it fits your schedule, getting tickets for weekday nights that don't fall on a holiday may help diminish this to a certain degree. Remember, this event is extremely popular and there will be a lot of people there. Weather: Florida weather is rather interesting and quite unpredictable, no matter the time of year. A 20 percent chance of rain could mean a 10-minute torrential downpour that could leave you looking like you just stepped out of the shower. Florida weather might seem unseasonably hot to most visitors, but even on nights that are "cool," the humidity here is ever-present. You may luck out and have a cool, dry night later in the year — just don't bet on it. When you combine these two things, you get a substantial amount of impatient, sweaty, and frustrated guests who spent a decent chunk of money to be there. This is standard for any theme park experience, but it can put a damper on what should be a fun holiday event. Most folks will be soaking in the magic, and you can as well — if you don't let a little uncomfortable weather or the crowds bring you down.
Where to find them: Main Street, U.S.A. is not only the first thing you'll see upon walking under the train station, but it is also your entrance into the Disney Christmas season. Main Street, U.S.A. is where most of the magic happens, although more festivities have been added throughout the park – more on that in a bit. The shops along Main Street are trimmed with gorgeous garlands and holiday lights, the Magic Kingdom Christmas tree is on full display complete with larger-than-life wrapped gifts underneath, and Cinderella Castle sparkles in the distance. When you should see them: There isn't much strategy involved with this as the Magic Kingdom has its full holiday décor present throughout the day. If you watch the evening parade from Main Street, you can enjoy the decorations while being sprinkled with simulated snow – "snoap" as many call it. As a side note, we don't advise trying to catch these "snowflakes" on your tongues as they don't taste good! If you're looking to capture holiday memories with some great holiday decorations, you'll find PhotoPass photographers at various locations throughout the event. Waiting until the park closes once most guests have left is likely your best bet when looking for low-crowd shots. Main Street is typically the most crowded area throughout the evening.
Where/When to find them: All throughout the park; most are open during the entire event. When you should ride them: A large draw of any hard-ticket or after-hours event is the notable lack of wait times for regular park attractions. While Magic Kingdom doesn't do anything along the lines of seasonal overlays for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, most of the rides you already know and love will be open. (For the full list head HERE) Some folks purchase tickets to this event particularly for the limited ride waits; they may still seem long, but they're typically much shorter than they would be outside of the event. A large part of your planning might include making a choice on whether you want to wait in line for a special character meet and greet or find a good show/parade spot rather than experiencing as many attractions as you can. You can plan your night around attractions, occasionally watching bits and pieces of live entertainment as you pass by. You could also do the opposite and plan your evening around the special shows and parades with riding an attraction or two as you see low wait times. Is there anything new this year? Guests can go for a drive at the Tomorrowland Speedway through a “festive freeway” of lights and decorations. Space Mountain will be filled with new lighting and holiday songs. Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor also has a brand new holiday show. In Fantasyland, Mad Tea Party will become a Christmas tea party, with four holiday combinations of lights and music.
A Frozen Holiday WishWhat it is: This charming story explains how Cinderella Castle gets its oh-so-brilliant glimmer throughout the holiday season. The castle lighting (castle freezing?) ceremony invites the leads of one of Disney's most popular intellectual properties gathered to kick off the night. A short story involving Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf sets along with a series of amazing projections transform Walt Disney World's iconic landmark into a glowing winter palace.
Where/When it is: 6:15 prior to the start of the party and again at 8:15 p.m. on party nights at the Castle Forecourt Stage Should you see it? If you've never seen this display before, you'll probably want to catch it. The great news is that unless you desperately want to see the Frozen cast up close, the ceremony is still entertaining from a good distance away. The projections are the star of the show, so as long as you've got a good view of the front of Cinderella Castle, it isn't necessary to strategically stake out a prime viewing spot. If you've got die-hard Frozen fans in your party, you'll need to arrive early and be patient. This is one of the many places where crowds gather tight from the get-go. Is there anything new this year? No, if you've already seen it and don't feel compelled to watch it again, skip it and ride something fun. If you arrive at the Magic Kingdom early enough, we recommend that you watch the 6:15 p.m. showing so you don't miss valuable time watching it during the party.
Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime ParadeWhat it is: Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade is a lively holiday parade that kicks off with Mickey and Minnie Mouse in their own festive float and also includes many favorite Disney characters from Frozen, Wreck-It Ralph, and many others all dressed up for the holidays. This parade is bursting with everything Disney fans love about Christmastime. Where/When to find it: 8:30 and 11:00 p.m. - The scene is a bit more magical when seen on Main Street, U.S.A. with the “snow” falling all around you, but the parade can be viewed from anywhere on the parade route – check the party map for the exact route. When you should see it: You’ll oftentimes see recommendations from folks suggesting that you wait until the second showing of the parade, but oftentimes, the later presentation is just as crowded. If you really want a good viewing spot, you’re going to have to make an investment in time because many party-goers secure their spots early in the evening. There is a very special “snowfall” that takes place along Main Street, U.S.A. during the parade creating an atmosphere unlike any other; especially when you consider that temperatures can still be in the high 80’s. In the parade, many Princesses can be seen beside their Princes, fun holiday props like gigantic wooden rocking horses, Gingerbread Men Cookies, and wrapped Christmas presents. The parade finale has all eight of Santa’s reindeer followed by the big guy himself in his giant sleigh full of wrapped gifts. This parade is not-to-be-missed, unless you’ve seen it before, in which case, we still recommend that you watch it again or you can use that time to ride a few attractions or meet up with special characters. Is there anything new this year? While nothing was different with this year’s parade in comparison to last year’s, the parade is always a great way to experience the magic.
Minnie's Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks ShowWhat it is: Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks show is brand new for 2019 and is hosted by the one-and-only Minnie Mouse! This all-new nighttime spectacular celebrates the magic of Christmas with compositions of cherished holiday songs, from Joy to the World and Deck the Halls to Up on the House Top and We Wish You A Merry Christmas. Where/When to find it: 10:00 p.m. - fireworks can be seen from anywhere in the park, but you'll need to be standing in front of Cinderella Castle in order to see the projections as they're only on the front. When you should see it: These fireworks are only presented once during the event, so it’s important that you plan your evening around it if you don't want to miss it. The presentation is different from any other nighttime spectacular you’ll find anywhere at Walt Disney World and they're brand new for 2019. If you should happen to lose track of time due to being in a sugar coma, don't worry as the fireworks can be seen from behind Cinderella Castle in Fantasyland, just about anywhere in Tomorrowland, Liberty Square, Frontierland, and even Adventureland. Is there anything new this year? The entire fireworks show is brand new so you don't want to miss it!
Mickey’s Most Merriest CelebrationWhat it is: Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration is a stage show that takes place on the Castle Forecourt Stage in front of the beautiful backdrop of Cinderella Castle. The show features a variety of Disney characters including Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald and Daisy Duck, Goofy, Woody and Jessie from Toy Story along with Clarabelle Cow and many others. Mickey and his Disney pals are joined by backup singers and dancers, belting out a number of holiday tunes both original and classic. Where/When to find it: Castle Forecourt Stage — 7:40, 9:25, 10:30, 11:55 p.m. When you should see it: As one of the main events of the evening with the largest number of performances, this show can require some of the most planning depending on what's important to you and your traveling party. There are a few different strategies to take here. The area in front of the castle is typically shoulder-to-shoulder all night long, with folks camping out for one show after another. If you want a good spot and don't have a problem staying in one place for long, try planning this around other shows such as the one just before A Frozen Holiday Wish, or before/after the fireworks presentation. The largest spaces between showings are the two parade processions, which would give you the best window to get a decent spot for the next show. If you are planning on staying until the very end of the event, you could skip out on watching one of the parades and instead, make a beeline to the Castle Forecourt Stage for the 11:55 p.m. showing while most of the crowds are lined up along the parade route. If getting an up-close view for this show isn't at the top of your list of priorities, the fact that the show is presented four times throughout the evening means that you can catch a song here and there while you're walking between treat stops and attractions. Is there anything new this year? Nope, if you've seen it and can live without it, use those shows as opportunities to get more special holiday snacks or ride attractions.
Special Character AppearancesWhere/When to find them: Multiple locations throughout the park, all evening long. It’s no secret that the standard meet-and-greets that you typically find during a regular day at Magic Kingdom are kicked up a notch for their hard-ticketed parties. The Characters that you can meet at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are quite noteworthy, as they are not the same characters that you’ll meet during your average day at the theme park. You will find that characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet are all dressed up in their holiday best. You’ll also find that your favorite Disney princesses are all decked out for the occasion as well. Additionally, special characters such as Jack Skellington (dressed as Sandy Claws) and Sally, all Seven Dwarfs, and Santa Claus will be on-hand for some great interaction and photo-taking opportunities. When you should see them: It’s important to note that meeting these special characters requires a serious time commitment. If you have your heart set on seeing them all, it's completely possible that you might not accomplish anything else that night. We’re not convinced that it’s even possible to catch them all due to time constraints of the event, considering that the wait time in line for the Seven Dwarfs can typically range from an hour-and-a-half to two hours. The wait for Sandy Claws and Sally can run a little shorter, but not by much. Christmas Character meet-and-greets may require more sacrifice than securing a spot for the parade or fireworks. We think it's wise to prioritize and carefully consider which ones are worth the wait for your traveling party.
A Totally Tomorrowland ChristmasWhat it is: This Christmas stage show features holiday song and dance numbers tweaked to highlight popular Disney and Pixar characters with a Tomorrowland presence. The cast member lead interacts with the audience in between attempts to explain who Santa Claus is to Stitch. Guests will see routines by Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski, and Santa Stitch, all accompanied by cast member backup dancers. Where/When it is: Tomorrowland Rockettower Plaza Stage — 7:45, 8:35, 9:25, 10:45, and 11:35 p.m. When you should see it: This stage performance is much smaller and more intimate than the main castle show, so you won't be waiting for an hour searching for viewing space. A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas is perfect for those that need a break from walking around, yet still want to pack in some entertainment. These three characters are highly entertaining to children, and most adults have a soft spot for them as well. It's a fun break in your evening that doesn't require you to stake out a spot like Main Street does. If these characters aren't your favorites, or you have other priorities for the event, you won't feel bad skipping this one as it doesn't have the spectacle of other entertainment offerings available during event nights. Is there anything new this year? If you are a Christmas party veteran and have caught this performance before, you won't see anything new. If you enjoyed it, watch it again.
The Edge EffectWhat it is: This holiday concert features classic holiday harmonies performed in a cappella and is a great way to relax a little bit and enjoy some awesome vocals. Where/When it is: Tomorrowland Rockettower Plaza Stage — 8:10, 9:00, 10:20, and 11:10 p.m. When you should see it: The Edge Effect’s performance is all a capella, so if you’re not a fan of that type of music, feel free to skip it. On the other hand, if a cappella music is your jam, you might find this show enjoyable as the classic Christmas carols leave you feeling festive. The crowd size doesn't typically change at any of the performance times as this show is not usually very busy, so hit it up whenever you need a break or stop in for a song or two as you're passing by. Is there anything new this year? 2019 is the second year in a row for The Edge Effect. Once again, if you happen to be a fan of a cappella music, this will be a draw.
Disney Junior Jingle JamWhat it is: This lively dance party features favorite Disney Junior characters dancing the night away. Where/When it is: Storybook Circus — 7:00 p.m. until midnight When you should see it: One of the best things about this dance party is that it is continuous throughout the entire evening. This is a great way for young guests to get their wiggles out while dancing with characters from some of their favorite shows on Disney Junior. Parents with overly energetic kids looking to tire them out may want to bring them by for a while, but those without children will probably want to steer clear. If characters don't matter and you're just looking to tucker the kids out, bring them to Club Tinsel instead, as that has better seating options for adults. Is there anything new this year? This offering is the same as last year, so if you've got some little Very Merry veterans that are looking to dance till their heart's content, bring them by Storybook Circus.
Club TinselWhat it is: This is another dance party featuring out-of-the-ordinary Disney holiday friends dancing the night away indoors with a live DJ. Where/When it is: Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe — 7:00 p.m. until midnight When you should see it: Similar to the Disney Junior Jingle Jam, this dance party runs continuously throughout the entire evening making it a great spot to let the kids dance until their heart’s content while parents and grandparents take a load off and watch as the shenanigans unfold. Fit this in-between the other more significant entertainment offerings that are only presented at specific times throughout the evening. While it doesn't boast any prime children's entertainment characters like Jingle Jam, just dancing polar bears and reindeer, it does have plenty of seating right on the dance floor. You can keep close by the young ones and take a load off while the kids party with Christmas-themed animals. Is there anything new this year? Nope, this is your standard nondescript dance party.
Treat StationsWhat they are: Scattered throughout the park are complimentary snack offerings where guests can indulge in some holiday treats. Where/When to find them? These are offered at numerous locations all evening long. (For a list of what to find where, head HERE.) When you should go: These complimentary snacks are nothing to write home about, just free and kind of pleasant if you need a quick bite. The lines aren't typically long for the majority of the party, but if you do happen to see a long line, just stop back by later. Some party-goers may feel tempted to try and get every free snack in existence but it's really important to keep things in perspective — the price you paid to get into the party makes your time far more valuable than a Dixie Cup of Fanta and a snickerdoodle. If you find yourself near one of the snack stops, pick something up, just don't spend too much time hunting around for the freebies when you could be riding attractions, meeting holiday-outfitted characters, or watching shows. Is there anything new this year? While there are only slight differences from last year, the most notable is the addition of theming to the plastic bags on the individual cookies.
In closing, don't spend a lot of time worrying about how to have a good time at the party and simply have one. Oftentimes when you spend too much time trying to plan everything out perfectly, you'll be more bummed out if or when anything changes at the last minute. It takes just a bit of balance to make to prioritize what you want to see and the magic will fall into place.