Having a game plan for visiting the parks is a must, and this is especially true for guests visiting during the holidays – partly because the holidays are very busy, and partly because there is just so much to see and do! Continuing from last time, here’s some tips on planning your holiday itinerary at the Magic Kingdom.
The Magic Kingdom’s biggest holiday event is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, which takes place on select nights in November and December. This event requires a separate ticket from regular park admission (thus it is called a “hard-ticket” event). These tickets can sell out quickly for some nights, so buy your tickets in advance. Those attending the party should have a plan in place, because there are lots of events and characters to see and only a few hours to do so.
The party starts at 7pm, but guests with party tickets can enter and receive their wristbands as early as 4pm. Plan the rest of your day with the party night in mind. Don’t waste party time with a meal – eat before the party starts (but save some room for some party treats!). You will want to stay until the party ends, so this could be a good day to relax. Guests don’t need regular park admission if they only enter for the party, so take a day off from the parks, shop at Downtown Disney, or tour the resort Christmas decorations. If you do decide to go into the parks, you can “park hop” without actually having the Park Hopper by using your regular admission at another park, and then entering the Magic Kingdom with your party ticket. But, because the Magic Kingdom closes early to non-party guests on party days, it is often less busy during the day.
Once the party actually starts, know what you want to do. The party has some do-not-miss entertainment. The Once Upon a Christmastime Parade features the famous marching toy soldiers and the magic of snow on Main Street. Predictably, the second parade showing is less crowded. Make sure to see the Holiday Wishes Fireworks, a beautiful display synced to holiday music and including a 180-degree perimeter burst. Celebrate the Season is a show in front of Cinderella Castle with Mickey and the gang in their Christmas finery, and at the Rockettower Plaza Stage is the Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show featuring Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski, and Stitch. Both of these are performed multiple times each party night. Make sure to grab a party guide and map to keep track of when these events occur.
There are also characters available for special meets – among others, Santa greets guests in the Town Square, the rare Seven Dwarfs are available to meet, and Scrooge appears with Donald and Daisy. For popular meets, try lining up before the party starts, waiting until late, or visit during one of the parade showings. The party also has two ongoing dance parties, one at Cosmic Ray’s and the other at the Diamond Horseshoe, where guests can dance with characters.
With all of these events and characters, make sure to prioritize what you want to see during your party time – don’t try to see every character and every show in one night. Because the party has a limited number of tickets, lines for rides are usually short – do you want to spend your party time on rides? Decide what matters to you, and make it your priority (though I will note that the fireworks and parade should be categorized as a must).
For those not attending the party, there is also holiday fun to be had. Guests can enjoy the festive decorations around the Magic Kingdom throughout the day. The Jungle Cruise transforms into the Jingle Cruise, with festive touches added to both the scenery and the skipper’s shtick. The beautiful Castle Dream Lights are lit on Cinderella’s Castle every night, and there is a show each evening where Mickey and friends, Cinderella, and the Fairy Godmother help light up the castle. Regular guests can see this show even on party nights. The projection show Celebrate the Magic also features a fun holiday segment.
Note that around the week of Christmas (December 21st this year), the parade, fireworks, and Celebrate the Season show are available during regular park hours. If you’re visiting during this time, make a point of including these events in your itinerary. This week, however, has legendarily insane crowds. These can be managed with a good touring plan and adjusted expectations, but if you would rather see less crowds throughout your vacation, you may want to visit at another time and attend the party instead.
The Magic Kingdom is already such a magical place, and it becomes even more magical during Christmas! With so much to see and do, having a good itinerary can help you make the most of your holiday time in the parks.
Elizabeth lives in Kansas City with her wonderful parents and sister. She enjoys long walks, happy thoughts, and Disney magic! Elizabeth first visited Disney as a child, and when she prepared to visit Walt Disney World as an adult, she foolishly thought she may have ‘outgrown’ Disney. Happily, Elizabeth was proven wrong. After planning a second trip to Walt Disney World, Elizabeth is now her family’s go-to resource for Disney. She even has her own blog, planningformagic.com, with advice on how to plan your next Disney trip. Someday, she even hopes to be an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. Elizabeth’s Disney wish list is a mile long, so she’s always ready to plan her next Disney adventure.