Traveling to Walt Disney World’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party with your family? Here’s your Best Tips for a Very Merry Family Vacation.
Best Tips for a Very Merry Family Vacation
“It’s the hap, happiest season of all!” Christmas is certainly my most favorite time of the year. And being an Orlando local, there are definitely some perks to having the Happiest Place on Earth just right around the corner. One of our family’s favorite Christmas traditions is making sure to stop and visit at Walt Disney World for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. And in case you’re planning on heading to my hometown for the holidays, I wanted to share my Best Tips for a Very Merry Family Vacation from a local who’s been there. (Check out 7 not to miss experiences at Very Merry!)
Buy Tickets in Advance
Save the hassle of waiting in extra lines buy purchasing your Very Merry Christmas Party tickets in advance. 1) You’ll save a few dollars per ticket (every bit helps!). 2) The day may sell out. 3) Commitment. I always feel more committed to going if I have pre-bought tickets for my family. TIP: The least crowded day of the week is Tuesday. If you can swing a Tuesday trip, this may be ideal for those with little ones and strollers.
While the official kick off of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is 7 pm (that’s when regular park attendees will be escorted out), Party goers can enter into the park as early as 4 pm. That’s an extra 3 hours to enjoy the magic of Disney, with a little bit of daylight to enjoy the decor (a grand total of 8 hours for the entire party). TIP: If you have your party ticket ahead of time (another good reason to buy in advance!), I definitely recommend pre-scheduling your FastPass+ selections between 4-7 pm. Once the party starts at 7 pm, FastPass+ is done for the day and everyone is on a first-come first-served basis.
Bring the Essentials
Have the family in tow? Here’s what I personally recommend families bring to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party:
- Stroller – If they can still physically FIT in a stroller (yes, older kids too), bring it! Midnight crashes means parents are carrying sleeping kids from the park to the cars.
- Jackets – The temperature tends to drop at night. Layer if you can!
- Snacks – I recommend salty to offset the sweets offered inside
- Hydration – Enough said.
- Christmas light/glow-in-the-dark necklaces – the extra $ saved is worth it so you can focus on other holiday goodies!
- Plastic Baggies – perfect for storing your cookies and treats for later!
TIP: Pick up a few treats on the way (especially when lines are short) and store in baggies for later. Eat in lines or when the kids are bored/hungry through the night.
Eat Festive Disney Treats
One of the perks of the holiday season is the free cookies and cocoa! Be sure to plan to make at least one stop at one of the many treat stations throughout the park to enjoy a festive Disney treat! Just look for the inflated candy cane signs. TIP: Allergy-friendly and healthy treats are available too (such as the apple slices and apple juice) so be sure to ask a cast member first if you have little ones with allergies or special needs.
Ride the Merriest Rides
While certainly many folks come to the Christmas Party for the party-only entertainment, there is definitely magic in being able to ride some of the most popular Magic Kingdom rides. Here are the rides that will be open during the party (NO FastPasses):
- Adventureland – Pirates of the Caribbean, The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Swiss Family Treehouse, and Jingle Cruise
- Frontierland – Splash Mountain
- Liberty Square – The Haunted Mansion
- Fantasyland – Princess Fairytale Hall, Peter Pan’s Flight, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mickey’s Philharmagic, it’s a small world, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Barnstormer, Mad Tea Party, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
- Tomorrowland – Astro Orbiter, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Tomorrowland Speedway, and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
TIP: If you’re planning on hopping on a ride with the kids, try to keep the wait times short (like 20 minutes or less) so you can maximize your merriment. I recommend getting FastPasses between 4-7 pm to guarantee your child’s favorite rides before the party starts (less stress). Jingle Cruise is a highly favored “must ride” during this season!
Meet Very Merry Disney Characters
If your kids love meeting Disney characters, be sure to get one of a kind pictures with special friends in their holiday gear – some only available during this time of year! Here are some of the most popular:
- Jack Skellington as Sandy Claws – Storybook Circus
- The Seven Dwarfs – Outside of Mine Train
- Elena of Avalor – Fantasyland
- Nick Wilde & Judy Hopps – Tomorrowland
- Santa Claus (yes, the real one) – Town Square
TIP: These characters are guaranteed long lines. Get to the character greeting spots as soon as the party starts to avoid long waits.
Catch A Frozen Holiday Wish
Got an Anna & Elsa fan in the house? You won’t want to miss this show. Watch the castle transform into what I believe to be the prettiest castle display of the year. A HUGE crowd is expected every night for these two princesses, be sure to get there at least 30 minutes early. TIP: There’s actually two shows during the day, 6:15 pm and 8 pm. Late party goers are definitely expected for the 8 pm, so try to beat the crowd and see the earlier show if you can.
See the Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade & SNOW
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is one of the rarest and most popular Disney parades, occurring at 8:30 pm and 11 pm every night. There are beautiful floats, catchy tunes, your favorite Disney characters dressed in their holiday finest, and SNOW! TIP: I highly recommend watching the parade from Main Street, so you can get the full “snowing” effect. Our family’s favorite spot is at the end of Main Street (by the entrance) looking straight on to the castle – available at 11 pm for everyone or 8:30 pm for dessert party guests only.
Watch the New Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration Castle Show
Introduced in 2016, this newest castle stage show features some of your family’s most beloved Disney characters (and Pixar too) in song, dance, and merriment! There are multiple shows throughout the night, so plan accordingly. TIP: Best vantage point is close to the stage as possible to see all of the characters. Come early to grab your best spot.
Gaze Up at the Holiday Wishes Fireworks Show
It’s not the holidays without fireworks over the Cinderella castle. The Holiday Wishes Fireworks show brings the holidays to the skies with beautiful displays of color, songs, and lights. TIP: I recommend stepping back from the castle (like in front of the Walt and Mickey statue) to get a great vantage point of the entire castle. Bring earplugs if you have little ones that are afraid of loud noises.
Stay Close By
While Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is full of activities and excitement, that also means nights can run as late as midnight. A Very Merry Family Vacation always includes a stay at a family-friendly hotel nearby so we don’t have to drive home so late (yes, even as a local). Holiday Inn at Orange Lake Resort is just a few miles from Disney and one of our family’s favorite resorts, all with the comforts of home.
This hotel offers so many room options to fit our family’s needs. We love the villas with multiple rooms and a kitchenette so we can stretch out after a long night at the theme parks.
There are also multiple restaurants on property so you can grab a delicious breakfast (even late!) on mornings after a Very Merry party. My kids always eat well after a night at Disney, so the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet is a welcoming “Good Morning!”
And can we talk about pool time? Not only does this hotel have multiple pools but a huge lazy river to relax in as well. Yay for Florida winters!
Ready to plan your Very Merry family vacation? Hopefully these tips will help your family have the best Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party memories ever!