Party Talkby Mike Scopa, contributing writer
Let me start off by saying that not all parties are created equal, especially when it comes to the parties offered by Walt Disney World (WDW). In this session we'll be looking at these three parties, namely Mickey's Not-So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP), Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP), and, the relatively new kid on the block, the Pirate and Princess Party (P&P).
With the onset of fall, two of these parties will be ramping up for their respective season. They are MNSSHP and MVMCP. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but it's good to remind everyone of the following points when planning to attend these parties.
Buy your tickets in advance. You may be able to save a few dollars than if you purchased them at the gate.
Look for some discounts, especially if you are an annual passholder.
If possible, attend a weeknight rather than a weekend party; again it may be less expensive.
A day or two before, go into City Hall and get yourself a party brochure to plan your party touring well before arriving at the park on party night. Why spend your time planning what you're going to do at the party while at the party?
Sleep in on the day of the party. It will be a late night.
Eat an early dinner. You do not want to be sitting down and eating in the park during party hours.
Get to the park at least 30 minutes before the party begins. At these prices you want your money's worth so get every minute in.
Focus on the party events. This means shows, parades, fireworks, and other special events you would not see any other time. Attraction touring should not be your first priority.
If possible, wear a watch with a lighted dial. That way it's easier to know what time it is and not miss any events you plan on seeing.
Don't miss the fireworks, they are the highlight of the night. For best viewing, position yourself about 150 feet in front of the castle.
Attend the second parade showing of the night. It will be less crowded and by doing this you will give yourself some attraction touring time during the early parade.
Disney's Pirate and Princess Party
I finally got a chance to attend this party last month. I had heard quite a bit about it and reserved comment until I could experience it for myself. Having done so I can now say that, of the three parties, this by far is my least favorite and offers the lowest value for your party dollar.
Here are my reasons:
Unlike the other two parties, there are no specific shows to entertain the crowd. There is no special castle show. Nothing. Entertainment is in the form of a few cast members here and there roaming around the park and yelling "Arrrrrrgggghhh!"
There were some attempts to entertain the crowd with a "pirate tutoring" by Jack Sparrow next to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, but I did not see many people thrilled with this event.
There was a dance party in Fantasyland and also in Tomorrowland where some characters dance with the guests, mostly children. OK, maybe the kids liked this one.
I saw carnival games of some sort in Tomorrowland but was not impressed.
They borrowed the trick-or-treat idea from MNSSHP and gave out "booty" in the form of candy and beads.
I must admit that the fireworks display was very good and in fact I might go as far as to say I have never seen more fireworks shells go off in the Magic Kingdom since my last July 4 visit.
A big disappointment was the parade. The music was something out of a medieval wedding and the theming was somewhat confusing. My guess was that it was about pirates and princesses but I don't think it was carried off too well.
So this party was somewhat of a letdown for me. I think adding a special show in the front of the castle and adding more to the parade would be a start but that would be only the beginning.
Let me also state that I have heard from several people that told me they were given free tickets by cast members to attend the party. What does that tell you? By the way, it wasn't crowded at all when I went.
Let me end this discussion on the P&P party by saying that I was able to attend all the events during the party and still have plenty of time to experience at least a dozen or more attractions.
But I didn't go to experience the attractions but to see something else.
Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
I must admit that although I would like to think that although the Annual Food & Wine Festival occurs during the timeframe that MNNSHP is shown that it is the latter that probably draws me down every fall to WDW.
I am a self-confessed Halloween junkie and that is partly why I so enjoy this party.
Unlike the P&P party this one offers a special show in front of the castle called "Villains Mix and Mingle" and the mingling portion takes place after each performance. The villains come down to mingle with the guests for some photo ops.
The "Boo to You" parade has gone through a transformation in recent years and is so much better than it was a few years back.
The special fireworks "Hallowishes" is not quite as good as those seen at the P&P party but are still topnotch.
One thing that always pops out at me during this party is the fun that the cast members have while working the party. Their enthusiasm is quite contagious.
Candy. There's lots of candy to be handed out during the party. Of course the best place to get candy is in Mickey's Toontown near Donald's Boat.
Another component of this party that makes it so memorable is the park decor. The flying silhouettes on Main Street and the eerie colors and sounds all through the park make for a great Halloween atmosphere.
MNSSHP may offer the best value of the three parties.
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
I have referred to this party as the "Fifty Dollar Cookie" because it seemed that was all you got for your money. Perhaps I was selling this party a bit too short because after all it does have some components for which I am grateful.
I am grateful for the "Twas the Night Before Christmas" show at the Galaxy Palace Theater in Tomorrowland.
I also am grateful for the "Celebrate the Season" show in front of the castle. There is so much energy in that show.
The parade is special and has everything you would want in a Christmas parade.
The fireworks have that Christmas flavor, but again, falls a bit short of the P&P fireworks display.
Snow on Main Street is always cool.
I think what I like the best however is the Christmas music playing in the background through the park.
I remember my first time visiting WDW during December and doubting whether I would feel any Christmas spirit in Florida. The MVMCP changed my tune.
During Mousefest (I'll be talking about that soon) I always make it a point to go to MVMCP.
Rating the Parties
The only way I feel I can rate the parties is to look at the value received for my party dollar and approaching it in that way has lead me to the following thoughts on which party is best.
The overall best value to me seems to me to be MNSSHP but just slightly more than MVMCP.
I think that for the price MNSSHP gives a bit more to the guest in terms of experience and fun.
It is a slight edge however as MVMCP offers two special shows compared to MNSSHP's one.
Also in recent years it seems some adjustments in the MVMCP with the party photos seems to have lessened the value received by the guests.
MNSSHP offers a photo op with the villains and of course free (free?) candy and the guests get to dress up and have fun. The MNSSHP is more of a party than the other two.
Alas, the P&P party may suffer from the fact that the party really doesn't have a link to any special holiday.
Are there future parties down the road for Walt Disney World?
Why not a special Hollywood Premiere Party at the Studios where guests can come dressed up as their favorite Hollywood celebrity and special shows are put on by cast members and special dance shows take place throughout the park as well as concerts?
Of course a special parade would have to be included as well as "Sorcery in the Sky."
How about an International Gala Party at Epcot's World Showcase where every pavilion offers music and song and festivities? There could be a special nighttime parade (get out those Tapestry of Dreams floats) and a special edition of Illuminations.
These are just two possibilities. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what the Imagineers come up with down the road that helps us ... Remember the Magic!
On our next visit I will be giving some overdue book reports.