A visit to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Written by Robert Niles
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Years ago, when I worked in the Magic Kingdom, we looked forward to the annualTweet
Yet I never actually went to the thing. For me, the appeal was the overtime, the extra shift working the party where, unlike my normal shifts, I could eat "on stage" and know that I'd be treated extra well... since every other guest knew what a pain doing this job could be.
Easy money. Good times.
Of course, lots of people did go. Each cast member could bring his or her family or a guest, and demand for tickets among non-Disney employees grew immensely over the years. So much so that Disney figured that it could make a small fortune running a version of the party not for employees, but for paying guests.
And, thus, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party was born.
These days, Disney doesn't do the cast-only parties anymore. All spare late November and early December evenings are given over to MVMCP instead. So, after you guys voted MVMCP your favorite special event at Walt Disney World, I decided to book a flight to Orlando and, for the first time, go.
Perhaps one of you with better information than mine can tell me why Disney doesn't do this event in Anaheim. With the much larger local audience, I figure that Disney could clear a couple million a night doing this event at Disneyland. That's a better park for the holiday, anyway, with more extensive decorating plus holiday versions of It's a Small World and the Haunted Mansion. The Magic Kingdom doesn't even run the Christmas version of the Country Bear Jamboree anymore.
Still, the Magic Kingdom's holiday castle is hard to beat:
The MVMCP has changed over the years. The free photos with Santa cost money now, though Disney still offers free snacks. And that's where I headed first.
Cast members served up all the hot chocolate and sugar cookies (with sprinkles!) you care to eat at several locations around the Magic Kingdom. I chose the Diamond Horseshoe for my first snack, since it's got the best holiday decor, as well as a no-wait meet n' greet with Woody and Bullseye.
And here are said snacks:
"Wow, those cookies are huge!" my Mom exclaimed when she saw me upload this picture. "Actually, Mom," I said, "that ain't exactly a Venti hot chocolate." (I'm guessing six ounces. Maybe eight.)
For the most part, aside from the cookies and hot chocolate (apple slices and apple juice also are available for the lactose intolerant), it's pretty much a normal December night at the Magic Kingdom. I hit a few favorite rides, then grabbed a space in Liberty Square to watch "Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade."
Mick and Min kick it off instead of wrap it up, since they're outranked by the special guest in this parade.
Roller stakes sub for ice stakes on the streets of Liberty Square.
By the way, don't overlook the performers as you wait to point out the next float to your kids. A) The kids can see the large float 10 feet from the faces without your help, thank you very much, and B) These guys are doing some neat stuff - skating, dancing, acrobatics.
Is Goofy really a genetic combination of a dog, Willy Wonka and Elton John? Hmmmm...
My favorite part of the holiday parade always has been the toy soldiers' band.
Though the reindeer run a close second.
And, finally, here comes that special guest, Santa.
The other highlight of the party is the special holiday version of the "Wishes" fireworks show. Here are a few of my shots:
And with that, I wrap up my trip to Orlando. Don't worry, TPI fans, I'll be back on the east coast soon enough. We've got some aggressive theme park touring planned for the new year.
And check back next week for another "Tuesday Park Visit" column from my Orlando trip. And later in the month, we'll keep the holiday spirit alive with our annual early sneak peek at the year's Tournament of Roses Parade floats, while they are still under construction.
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