As announced today, Disney is bringing back Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party for the 2022 holiday season. We're going to talk about what is being offered, when it's happening and why it's back this year for the first time since 2019.
All of the basic information is on the page I linked above, but essentially Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) is back for 24 select nights between November 8 and December 22, 2022. Prices range from $149 to $199 per person, with discounts for annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members. The parties take place from 7:00 p.m. to midnight each night they are offered. But a ticket to this event will allow you to enter the park at 4:00 p.m., without needing a day ticket or park reservation. This is a good way to spend eight hours in Magic Kingdom if you have limited time otherwise.
So what does your money get you? The big items are the holiday entertainment - Mickey's Most Merriest Celebration on the castle stage, Minnie's Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks and of course, Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. There are a few other party-specific events, as well as complimentary snacks and holiday ride overlays on Jungle Cruise, Tomorrowland Speedway, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and the Mad Tea Party.
The return of MVMCP was largely expected but it's nice to have confirmation of it. In 2020, there was no hard ticket event at all, and in 2021, this party was replaced by Mickey's Very Merriest After Hours (Disney loves a good long name for anything). But wait, you say - what's the difference between these two events?
I'm glad you asked. Disney periodically runs (or at least "ran") special After Hours events throughout the year. The selling point for these was that there would be low crowds, as there were only a limited number of tickets sold. That way, guests could enjoy the parks with very little wait times. Mickey's Very Merriest After Hours (MVMAH) had the special fireworks and ride overlays, but didn't have the stage show or parade. They also boasted of having short wait times for attractions.
Essentially, Disney was trying to present a "best of both worlds" scenario here - holiday fun, but also After Hours level of crowds and wait times. The biggest difference between these two events is that MVMAH was just that - "after hours", meaning the event didn't start until 9:00 p.m. (with entry at 7:00) and ran until 1:00 a.m. Due to the limited number of tickets, the price per person was also higher.
This led to some guest feedback issues, most notably that this event simply started and ended too late, especially with young children who would enjoy some holiday magic. But the reason this was done was to not short change the day guests, who could have a full day at Magic Kingdom before they had to leave. In contrast, on nights that MVMCP runs, the park closes to guests at 6:00 p.m., meaning that the day at Magic Kingdom is shorter and things such as fireworks are now only available to party guests. This leads to odd guest distribution (more on this below).
So why does Disney do this? First, because MVMCP is a popular event with guests. Also, despite the lower ticket price, Disney can sell many more MVMCP tickets. Since Disney doesn't release this information, it's mostly left to anecdotal evidence, but the Christmas (and Halloween) party has been much more crowded in the most recent years in which they were held. Fewer guests than an average day, yes, but not as empty as After Hours parties. Plus the crowd distribution is skewed, making it feel more crowded - most people are there for the parade and fireworks, meaning Main Street and the hub get exceptionally crowded during those times.
Is MVMCP worth it? As always, this is a subjective question. My general answer is yes, especially if you haven't done one of these before. The holidays at Disney are the best time of year (objectively - not factoring in the crazy crowds) and there is a lot of entertainment that you won't be able to see anywhere else. Be prepared for it to be crowded, but it's manageable, especially the later you stay.
What if you're going on a vacation but a party is happening on one of the nights you will be there and you're NOT going? This is where the guest patterns I mentioned earlier come into play. Most people will look at a 6:00 closing time for Magic Kingdom and stay away. I would advise the opposite, especially if you have park hoppers. Go to Magic Kingdom on party days, even if you're not going to the party - the crowds will be MUCH lower during the day, and you can hop elsewhere later in the day. By contrast, I'd avoid Magic Kingdom on non-party days - crowds will flock there, and you'd be much better off going to any other park. You can always hop to MK in the evening if you want to see the regular Enchantment fireworks.
Regardless, the return of MVMCP is unquestionably good news. This is another step in the return to normalcy and it brings back a guest favorite event at a time when Disney can use all the good press it can get. If you plan your trip accordingly, you should have no problem working around the party and I would recommend going to one if you're going to be in the parks at that time. The closer to Christmas it gets, the more crowded it will be so the earlier the better (except for the first night, which is filled with bloggers, vloggers and locals who need to be first). Go and enjoy the holidays at Disney.