Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

This weekend my wife and I headed to Orlando to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary. The primary focus of the trip was a celebratory dinner at the renowned Victoria & Albert's on Saturday, however we found ourselves searching for something fun to fill our Friday evening. After checking into our new favorite hotel, the Hilton Bonnet Creek, we made our way over to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.

About 15 years ago, Disney came up with the brilliant idea of hosting a "Christmas Party" in the Magic Kingdom after the park had closed for regular hours. The Party would require purchase of a separate park entry, and tickets would be limited in number. Over the years, this original idea has been tweaked beyond recognition, as the popularity of the Parties has grown exponentially.

What started as a handful of dates in mid-December, has been expanded to over 20 nights beginning in early November. There are also now Parties for Halloween, and various other themed events during the year. In addition, it seems Disney has a fairly loose interpretation of the word "limited" as it applies to the number of tickets sold, as the crowds seem to be worse than some of the busiest of summer days. One has to admire Disney's marketing department for convincing thousands of people, most of whom already paid $80+ for their daily park entry, to fork over another $60 for an extra few hours in the park. Considering we haven't had to pay for park entry in over two years, thanks to some awesome cast member friends, I'm somewhat willing to turn a blind eye to what otherwise would be a blatant rip-off.

All that aside, however, there are some unique and fun things that the Parties have to offer. The most obvious of these is the transformation of Cinderella Castle into an ice palace of sorts, through use of thousands of LED lights. I don't tend to embrace change at Disney very well, as I tend to be a traditionalist in this regard, however it's tough to complain about changing the castle when this is the outcome.
To further the illusion of a winter Christmas party, free hot cocoa and cookies are served, and it also "snows" on Main Street. Just don't try to catch a snowflake with your tongue, as you may find they taste a bit sudsy. In addition, because everyone loves a parade, there is a special Christmas version that makes it's way down Main Street. But without question the best perk of attending the Christmas Party is the special holiday version of the Wishes Fireworks Spectacular. This show alone is worth about half the cost of admission, and leaves many in attendance misty eyed, myself included.

This was our fourth year attending the Christmas Party, and it's become clear that Disney has placed these events on auto-pilot for quite some time. The cookies, fireworks, parade, and shows have not changed in the four years that we've attended. Again, one has to admire Disney's ability to convince people like me to willingly hand over hard earned money every year, for an event that hasn't seen any enhancements in half a decade or longer.

I must say, however, that despite all my complaining about Disney's exploitation of mindless tourists, the Christmas Party can present a good value. Disney likes to keep secret the fact that Party ticket holders can enter the park starting at 4pm, as opposed to the stated 7pm start time. If one has to choose between paying $87 for daily admission, or $60 for the Christmas Party which only gives 2 hours less access to the park, then in my opinion the Party clearly wins.

Given that attending the Christmas Party has become a bit of tradition for us, I'm sure that we are likely to return next year, and many more into the future. My hope is that Disney finds ways to enhance the experience, but if they don't we will surely part with our cash just like the rest of the other suckers...I mean tourists.

Besides, it's easy to overlook the feeling of being ripped off, when one knows 5 Diamond dining is less than 24 hours away. But that is a post for another day...

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~


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