Doing It All at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party 2016
Now that I've sucked you in with that clickbait-y title and promises of a truly magical touring plan, let me be blunt: there's no way you can do all the things available to you in one Christmas Party. Maybe if you've got Hermione's time turner, otherwise it's not going to happen. There's just too much!
Anyone who knows me knows that I love Halloween, but if I'm being completely honest? Christmas is actually my favorite holiday. WDW lets me celebrate Christmas for 2 months. Just like Halloween. As an Annual Passholder, my life is one big holiday from September through December, and I couldn't be happier about it.
Last year was our first MVMCP and my 3-year-old was in tow. We'd already broken Daphne in to night parties with Halloween, so we knew her limitations. You have to prioritize the things you want to do and plan accordingly. It's not that you can't do a party with no plan and meander at your whim, but you'll likely (1) have obstructed views for popular entertainment offerings and (2) wait in very long lines for popular party-exclusive character interactions.
CHARACTER INTERACTION OFFERINGS
Party-exclusive characters include Sandy Claws, Santa Claus, the 7 Dwarfs and some other rare characters also at MNSSHP, a few disney princes and (new this year) NICK AND JUDY FROM ZOOTOPIA. Nick and Judy have been living a (literally) guarded parks existence up to this point segregated on floats in Move It Shake It. Their line started forming before 5pm the night I was there, and it looked like they began greeting party guests as early as around 6:15 p.m. (not unlike the Dwarfs; Sandy starts as early as 5pm). Due to my eternal awkwardness with characters when I don't have my kid with me, I opted to exclusively pursue shows and parades this party. If you need to do Sandy Claws, get in line around 4. His line is prohibitive most of the night otherwise. You can do Sandy, then get in line for the princes either at the wall or Fairytale Hall (these don't start until 7pm, but the lines can be crazy so getting in them before party start is a good idea). *Make sure you check park guides for locations when you arrive, locations have changed from past years so online guides are not always up-to-date.*
PARTY ENTERTAINMENT OFFERINGS
A Frozen Holiday Wish
I can't understate the impact of seeing Cinderella's Castle lit up for the holidays. Returning this year, A Frozen Holiday Wish is a mini-show during which Elsa lights up the castle with her ice magic and some help from her other Frozen movie co-stars. This also occurs during non-party nights, so unless your family is both die-hard for Frozen and also not having any other chance to see this, you can probably skip it in favor of other party-exclusive options.
*NEW THIS YEAR* Mickey's Most Merriest Celebration
The castle and castle projections are a common theme this year. Disney just launched the replacement for Celebrate the Magic, Once Upon a Time (structurally it's the same, but the content and music are different). Projections also feature prominently in this year's new Christmas Castle Show: Mickey's Most Merriest Celebration (M3C for short), which replaces Celebrate the Season. (Note- to Annual Passholders who are used to braving the crowds to see some of the Christmas Entertainment without going to a party, due to these Castle Projections it is rumored that this show will only be offered at night during those Daily Ops).
Confession time: Christmas IS my favorite holiday. But... I... can't stand Christmas Music. So I feel like I'm definitely not the target audience for a show that is celebrating Christmas music. With that said, M3C definitely subscribes to the more is more philosophy and it strives to unite a massive quantity of classic characters (that AP's have been vocally mourning since the loss of Dream Along) and performers with a more modern musical sensibility.
There are live singers. Epic dance numbers. Costume changes. A stage so crammed with characters that every time a dancer leaps and twirls you have a tiny anxiety attack that someone is getting knocked off the stage (ok, I am slightly exaggerating, but I had moments that I clutched my pearls and said a little prayer for Dopey). Modern dance numbers? How about Daisy and the Fab Five parading around the stage with giant cell phones "Text Me Merry Christmas." ?
Or, the one Christmas Song I don't loathe "All I Want For Christmas Is You" is delivered with unparalleled showmanship by none other than Clarabelle Cow.
Some true throwbacks to my childhood that had me totally starry-eyed: The Three Caballeros.
There's a country number with Woody and pals (it's only slightly out of place, maybe because this section is the only one to feature non-articulated fur characters).
And a truly massive Fantasyland number led by Chip and Dale and SO MANY characters and bells that most of the time my ADD got overwhelmed by all the things to look at. So. High. Energy.
So my verdict for M3C is that it will very likely be very appealing to a massive amount of party-goers, particularly if you love modern Christmas music. It is VERY popular as the new kid on the block this party season, and I recommend grabbing a spot reasonably close to the stage early (I was in front for the first show at 7:40, and I grabbed my spot around quarter to 7).
Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
AKA The parade that continues to plague me as the most un-photographable. None of my bag of photography tricks from Boo To You seemed to work, and I think it's because the bulk of this parade doesn't seem specialized to nighttime. My favorite time to watch this parade, even with the crazy crowds, is during the previously mentioned Daily Ops in broad daylight. With that said, the snow that gets pumped over the parade on Main Street with that magnificent glowing castle in the background? That view is hard to beat. That view is not featured here, because by the time I scrambled down Main Street after M3C to watch OUACP, that view was not to be had. Your best bet is to catch the 11pm running of the parade (unless you have a small child that will have nodded off long before the parade steps off).
Totally Tomorrowland Christmas
I was bound and determined to catch this show, so while the rest of the invited media was enjoying some tasty vittles at the Jungle Skipper Canteen, I was giving myself shin splints trying to master the Disney Sprint from Town Square to the 9:20 showing of the Totally Tomorrowland Christmas show THAT I HAVE NEVER SEEN. As a die hard for Stitch, I was bound and determined to finally catch it. I did.
This is the most modern of the Entertainment offerings, with lots of Hip Hop dancing, Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski, live singing, and the cutest blue alien in town. It's cute, and if these characters are up your alley, it's worth your time, but it is DEFINITELY the hardest one to catch with the way it is scheduled up against other entertainment offerings.
Another notable change to this Christmas Party from others is the variety of complimentary food and drinks: there is variety this year. Snickerdoodles, hot chocolate, and apple juice are great, but this year almost every snack stop has something different. From Snow Cones to Ginger snaps, cocoa to Egg Nog, you can sugar coma your way around the kingdom.
*Disclaimer: I was invited to the Unwrap the Magic Media event and experienced MVMCP gratis. We were offered a meal (which I skipped to shoot more events). I was not obligated to write anything in exchange. All opinions stated here are my own.*