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It’s beginning to feel a lot like holiday MAGIC! New for 2021, Disney’s Very Merriest After Hours features so much family-friendly fun, including the first parade to return to Walt Disney World since the pandemic shutdown. We spell out Disney Christmas Party 2021 dates, ticket information and what you need to know before you go.
Can we get real for a minute? It’s been a long few years. I’m not sure if it;s that or that my Grinch heart is just warming up, but I am REALLY into Christmas this year. Like, I-thought-about-setting-up-my-tree November-1st-level Christmas spirit here. This is unheard of and my family is wondering what happened to me.
So, planning an impromptu trip to Walt Disney World with my girls to hit Disney’s Very Merriest After Hours party became our vacation Christmas gift. I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve extensively researched this NEW party and will add even more information after we go.
Read on for tips and tricks to make your 2021 Disney Christmas party experience easier.
Is This the Same Disney Christmas Party in 2021?
Disney has offered a holiday after-hours party for years. Disney’s Very Merriest replaces Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. While some elements will be similar, this is a new Disney event.
With it being an after-hours event, it allows regular guests to still see the fireworks show before the event begins. Many people are visiting Walt Disney World Resort to celebrate the parks’ 50th anniversary so this is a nice compromise to still have an event and accommodate special event crowds.
Disney’s Very Merriest is the holiday event at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. If you’re heading to Disneyland in California the event is called Merriest Nights and you can find more information here.
Disney Very Merriest After Hours Is a Ticketed Event
First and foremost let’s get this part out of the way. You need a separate ticket to get into Disney’s Very Merriest After Hours at Magic Kingdom. Even if you have a theme park ticket and park reservations for Magic Kingdom on a party date, you will have to leave the park at the end of the regular day. Only Very Merriest ticketed guests will be allowed to say in the park for the 9pm-1am party.
You may be wondering how much after hours tickets cost. The price varies over the holiday season by date. Prices range from $189-$249, not including tax. Annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members get a $10 per ticket price break on select nights November 19th and earlier. After November 19th ticket prices are the same for all guests.
Although all of Walt Disney World gets in the spirit for the holiday season, Magic Kingdom park is the only Disney park with an after-hours holiday party. You can still see holiday decorations at EPCOT, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios though.
Resorts also show off fun Christmas season decorations.
When Will Disney Very Merriest After Hours Happen?
There are 24 nights over 2 months that Disney will be running the Very Merriest after-hours event. The Disney Christmas Party 2021 dates are:
November 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 28, 30
December 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 19, 21
Note that Disney added party nights for its Halloween celebration, Boo Bash so we’ll see if there are dates added for Disney’s 2021 Christmas party.
What’s so Special About Disney’s Very Merriest After Hours?
The after-hours event is made up of special holiday-themed character greets, music, dancing and even a parade. You’ll hear Christmas music throughout the park, a fully decorated Main Street, U.S.A. complete with snow, and special holiday-themed overlays on popular rides. Think Jingle Cruise instead of Jungle Cruise.
Here’s what to expect if you go:
Mickey & Minnie’s Very Merry Memories
This stage show in front of Cinderella Castle includes inspiration from past Christmas season shows, including “Mickey’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” “Celebrate the Season” and “Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration.”
Classic Disney characters including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, Pluto, and Chip ‘n’ Dale participate (although the exact cast varies nightly).
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
We could not be more excited for the return of parades to Disney. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade will be the first parade at Disney since the Covid shutdown. This holiday parade is led by Mickey and Minnie and Santa Claus closes it out!
Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show
Yes – that’s right! If you attend this hard ticket Christmas event you could see two fireworks shows in one night! First, watch Disney’s Enchantment before Magic Kingdom closes down for Disney’s Very Merriest After Hours event. Then watch these fireworks hosted by Minnie Mouse and set to the tune of your favorite Christmas carols.
Club Tinsel Dance Party
Party like its Yuletide at Club Tinsel in Tomorrowland. Watch for character drop ins at this Christmas-y dance party.
In the past, Club Tinsel has been located inside of Cosmic Ray’s but we’ll see if they keep it indoors this year or have it outside.
Character Sightings Throughout Magic Kingdom
In addition to all of those character sightings, watch for special Disney friends to be spread out all through the park. We’re looking forward to seeing the Country Bears, Jiminy Cricket and friends from the Hundred Acre Wood.
Keep in mind that character meets have returned to Disney in a socially distanced way so these sightings will be from a slight distance.
Reindeer Wranglers in Frontierland
Usually the Country Bears hang out near what can be best described as a country Christmas band, the Reindeer Wranglers. They’ll be performing seasonal songs on the streets of Frontierland.
Food and Snacks at Disney’s Christmas Party 2021
Disney always ups its game with fun seasonal treats. You can find the 2021 list here.
Included in your Very Merriest ticket are some complimentary treats including ice cream novelties, popcorn, select beverages like hot chocolate and a seasonal treat. These will be served from special carts stationed throughout Magic Kingdom. In doubt on what’s included? Ask a cast member to point you to the closest cart.
TravelingMom Tip: In past years, free snacks such as cookies have been individually wrapped which we expect to continue. Grab a few to take back to the hotel room with you for those late night munchies.
Rides During Disney’s Very Merriest After Hours Event
Disney has released the following list of attractions that are open during this event. They are subject to change but definitely plan time to ride what is open. It’s not often that you’ll be in a park for 4 hours after it closes with a limited number of people. Wait times are usually much shorter. I know that my 9- and 11-year-old have big plans to ride as many times as possible.
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Jungle Cruise
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Haunted Mansion
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Space Mountain
Tips to Maximize Your Disney’s Very Merriest Experience
You’re going to have a blast no matter what, but here are a few tips that we think will make your Disney Christmas party 2021 experience even better.
Get There Early!
Your ticket allows you to enter the park as early as 7pm. Do it! You’ll get two extra hours in the park.
Tickets are pricy for this party. Maximize them. Look over what attractions will be open during the party and try to hit ones that won’t be available after hours, such as the popular Splash Mountain.
You’ll also be able to see Disney’s Enchantment fireworks show if you arrive early. The fireworks usually start at 8pm, but check the calendar for your dates.
Plan Your Party on a Down Day.
There is the urge to jam pack as much as you can into a Disney family vacation. But if you want to take full advantage until the 1am end time, we advise restraint.
Have a light day. Spend time in the pool or at Disney Springs. Plan to rest and arrive refreshed for a 7pm start at Magic Kingdom. You’ll likely be exhausted if you try to pack in a daytime park too.
Buy Memory Maker
Not only are there special Magic shots and overlays available for Very Merriest, but the parks are quieter. Get those family pictures taken! We strongly advise buying Memory Maker for Disney vacations, but it becomes even more fun with the Christmas party extras.
TravelingMom Tip: For an extra special family Christmas card consider buying fun Disney shirts and getting a family photo taken on Main Street, U.S.A.
Have you ever attended a Disney holiday event? What was your favorite part?