Cinderella Castle Dreamlightsby Andy Fix
(Part 1 of a 2 part series)

There is no such thing as a bad time to go to Walt Disney World, but if I had to pick my favorite, it would definitely be Christmas time. The parks always have this celebratory, magical feel to them, and when you couple that every day magic with some added decorations and lighting, it just makes everything feel that much more magical. With the dining reservation window opening 180 days prior to check-in, it is important to be thinking about Christmas travel now.

I know that not everyone celebrates Christmas, and you might wonder why you’d want to go during the holiday season. Well, it doesn’t necessarily have to be all about Christmas. As is true with just about everything involving Disney World, there is something for everyone. It is true that the focus of celebrations and decorations is Christmas, but it isn’t “in your face” Christmas. The Osborne Lights in Hollywood Studios are a great example of this. They are a wonderful display of lights dancing to music that will leave anyone in your party in awe regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas or not. There are also the storytellers in World Showcase at Epcot. A big part of World Showcase is learning about other countries and their culture. One of my favorite things about Christmas time at Disney World is strolling around the World Showcase and catching the storytellers. Each country has someone who comes out every couple of hours, in costume, to interact and tell a story about the holidays in their country. Some of these are just different takes on their celebration of Christmas, and some of these cultures celebrate something entirely different. It is just kind of fun, because you get a glimpse of how their country celebrates, and how it is similar or different to the Christmas celebrations here in the United States.

MVMCP2014Somewhere in the middle ground is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, which takes place a few nights each week from mid-November until just before Christmas in the Magic Kingdom. While it has the word Christmas in the title, it isn’t something that is overtly “Christmas.” True, there is Christmas music playing throughout the park on the speakers. But this party is really an opportunity to get an evening in the park to see some things that are rather unique. The most unique of which is free, yes, free cookies and hot chocolate (or apple slices and juice) available at a few locations throughout the park. The biggest highlight of these parties would be several characters doing meet and greets that you might not necessarily get to see every day. The Seven Dwarfs always draw a huge crowd at the parties. Some of the “regular” characters provide a special meet and greet opportunity because they are dressed for the season and the princesses tend to be joined for these parties by their respective princes.

In addition to some special meet and greets, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas parties also include a couple of dance parties for the kids to have fun dancing with characters. There is also a Christmas themed castle show, the Once Upon a Christmastime parade and Holiday Wishes. Holiday Wishes includes the perimeter fireworks that go off all around the park. The first time we went to the party, my wife told me that she felt it was worth the price of admission for the fireworks alone.

And that brings me to the not so good part about Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. It is a hard ticket event. You have to buy a separate admission to this party and the tickets aren’t cheap. Although it can take a nice chunk out of a vacation budget, I encourage everyone to try it once, because it really is something special. They transform the Magic Kingdom into a winter wonderland through the lighting, musical effects and decorations that they roll out. The nice thing about it is that while the party starts at 7 p.m., they let you into the park with a party ticket at 4 p.m. So you get 8 hours in the Magic Kingdom with that ticket. So one way to work it out is to make your party day a resort day and just go to the party at 4 p.m. That way you still get 8 hours in a park, but you’re not using a park ticket day in addition to your extra hard ticket event expense that same day.

(More from Andy on WDW Christmas time travel next week).

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