A Very Merry Christmas Party Primer

by MousePlanet Staff, contributing writer

Everyone has “The List.” You know; everything they want to do in their lifetime, run a marathon, write the great American novel, and solve a Rubik's cube. One of the items on my list was to experience the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) held in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom theme park during the holiday season.

Although I've already done it, but it still remains on my list because it is a unique experience that I hope to enjoy for years to come. Since the MVMCP event may pop up on your list, we may as well discuss the essentials and look at a touring plan that makes the best use of your time and money.

When, Where, and How Much?

In 2005 Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party will be held on 14 nights at WDW's Magic Kingdom theme park. It is a separate ticketed event and that means your Magic Your Way or Annual Pass does not give you admission to the event. You will need to purchase admission. The price varies based on time of purchase and date of the event. For instance, if you purchase your tickets in advance for any Sunday to Thursday MVMCP the price for adults (age 10 & up) is $41.49 and for children (age 3-9) is $31.90.

However, for a Friday night event, the advance purchase price is $46.81 for adults and $37.23 for children. Note that the Friday night price is the same as the price you pay if you purchase the tickets on the day of the event, regardless of the day of the week. So buy your tickets in advance and avoid Friday night.

If you're an Annual Passholder. it's even smarter to purchase admission for the Passholder nights of November 29, December 1, 4 and 13, when adult admission is $35.10 and children admission is $27.64.

For the rest of this year, party dates are Dec. 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18 and 20.

Preparing for the Party

When you make your first MVMCP trip to Orlando, you may want to visit Magic Kingdom a day or two before the night of the event, and perhaps even spend a night in Magic Kingdom before your MVMCP night because:

• If you have never been to WDW during the holiday season you may want to take in all the beauty of the Magic Kingdom during the day. The park truly takes on a special look at this time of year.

• By visiting Magic Kingdom a day or two before your MVMCP event, you can go on your most favorite attractions and enjoy meals at your favorite restaurants or counter service spots (don't forget a Dole Whip) without the distraction of a special event. It's very important to get your attraction fix in before you go to MVMCP.

• For your first MVMCP you want to really get a sense of how different Magic Kingdom is at night for this event. Thus, you want to spend an evening in the park before your MVMCP night. Enjoy the attractions, watch the parade, and marvel at Wishes!

Make sure you get a good night's sleep the night before the party. You want to be well rested on this day because it this day will be fun, exciting, and long.

On the day of the party, consider going to the Disney-MGM Studios theme park in the morning because that theme park usually doesn't really start “hopping” until around around 10:00. This way, you can sleep in a bit and get in that good night's rest because you will be out late for MCMVP.

Here's an alternative plan. Sleep in, get up and have a good breakfast, then wander over to DisneyQuest in Downtown Disney and spend a good portion of the day there.

In the late afternoon, have a good meal, then go back to your room to freshen up for the party. This way, you can be well-rested for the evening and full of energy.

On MVMCP nights, Magic Kingdom closes at 6 P.M. and reopens at 7 P.M. The park will officially remain open until 12 A.M.

Now you understand the need for a good night's rest beforehand.

As you enter the park you will receive a special wristband. Wear it proudly. That wristband identifies you as a special MVMCP guest for the evening. And speaking of wearing something on your wrist, let me suggest that someone in your touring party wear a watch with a lighted face so it's easy to keep track of the time during MVMCP night.

MVMCP Activities

Here is the usual list of the activities for MVMCP (subject to change of course):

• All MVMCP guests receive “complimentary” hot cocoa, cookies, and holiday photos for the event. There are several locations around the park where you will find these treats and get your photo taken. Be sure and check your MVMCP brochure for these locations.

• The Tomorrowland Galaxy Theater, between Carrousel of Progress and Buzz Lightyear, is the home for 'Twas the Night Before Christmas show. This show is performed several times this evening.

• The Very Merry Christmas Parade is shown twice on MVMCP nights. Look for Santa, Mrs. Claus, and of course many Disney characters.

• MVMCP nights are special fireworks nights. The MVMCP fireworks spectacular, Holiday Wishes is the highlight of the evening.

• The other MVMCP show is known as Celebrate the Season and it takes place in front of the castle. It is quite a show and should not be missed.In addition, every year there are some additional minor events that take place like a holiday dance party in Fantasyland and Belle's enchanted Storytelling at the Fairytale Garden.

All of these change from year to year, so be sure and check your MVMCP brochure.

Those are the principle activities for MVMCP. The question is how to properly see them all.

The MVMCP Touring Plan

As with any touring plan, the objective is to make the best use of your time and to ensure that you get to do everything you want to do in the time allotted.

Rule #1 is to get there early. For MVMSP that means plan on being in the park no later than 7 p.m. You will receive your wristbands as you enter the turnstiles. Arriving just before or at 7 is a great start to making the most of your MVMCP evening.

Early Photos

Many guests tend to immediately head for the attractions on MVMCP night to try and “get them in” before the special party events begin.

My recommendation is to get those holiday photos taken care of immediately. The lines get longer as the evening progresses, so plan on getting your photo within the first hour of the party.

For special events such as Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, photos are taken in Liberty Square at the Hall of Presidents, in Adventureland to the left of Aloha Isle, and in Tomorrowland at the Timekeeper foyer. These locations may vary so check your brochure for the exact locations.

Cookies and Cocoa

The complimentary hot cocoa and cookies are usually found at or near the Noodle Station, Aloha Isle, and Columbia Harbor House. Again, check your brochure. It's best to get them when you happen to be on your way to something and are passing one of the locations for these treats. Of course a short line is also a bonus, so the earlier in the evening you do this the better. Some people have told me they pick up their cocoa and cookies and enjoy them while waiting for the Very Merry Christmas Parade.

First Show: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas

The absolute first event you should have on your agenda is in Tomorrowland at the Galaxy Theater. This theater is located between Buzz Lightyear and Carrousel of Progress and is the home for the most popular show of the evening; 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. Its popularity stems from the quality of the performance as well as that it takes place in a sit-down theater. I can tell you that every single performance during the evening will see standing room only so the best thing to do is to head for that show and take in the early performance.

About the Attractions

If you really need to visit some attractions, the only time I would suggest doing so would be about a 30-45 minute period in which the first of the two Christmas parade performances take place. With everyone packed along the parade route, this is a perfect time to get in quite a few attractions.You may be limited one of the following three locations; Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Splash/Big Thunder Mountain. My suggestion is to concentrate on Fantasyland, since you can do most of the Fantasyland attractions during the parade.

Holiday Wishes! Fireworks

Everyone in the park will focus on the Holiday Wishes! Fireworks spectacular. This is a must-see and you should do whatever you can to be sure you are facing the castle to view the display.

Over the last several years the folks who have been in charge of the fireworks have really outdone themselves, and they are constantly trying out new ways of entertaining the guests.

It's very easy to lose track of time on this evening, so be sure you know when this spectacular is scheduled to happen and keep your eye on the time. Expect the unexpected.

Parade Viewing

I remember studying parade crowds back in the early 1990s and I always remember those nights when the second parade showing almost always had fewer guests in the park and made it easier to find a viewing spot.

The same holds true for the Very Merry Christmas Parade. Families with young children will always opt for the earlier parade. They want to see the parade, do the fireworks and then head for home.

This is why the Fantasyland attraction option is so tempting during the parade. There are fewer children in Fantasyland during that early parade time than at any other time that evening. Don't bother with the first parade. Plan to see the second parade; you will have a better viewing spot.

As far as viewing spots that's up to you, although I do like Frontierland for this parade. It seems that most guests prefer Main Street USA because they leave right afterwards.Celebrate the SeasonThis show is performed several times during the evening. It takes place at the castle stage. It's on a par with 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and is usually is scheduled for its final performance of the evening close to the end of the night. That's when I like to watch. For this final performance, the crowd level is at its lowest,The performers are topnotch. It's a great way to top off the evening.

Tired and Content

The MVMCP is an unforgettable event and should be enjoyed to the point where you are not rushed and are able to do all the events. This primer hopefully will help you this year or any year you plan to attend. I hope this primer will help you…

…Remember the Magic!