Monday, September 09, 2013

Thanksgiving at Disney: A Trip Report - Day 8 - Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Two years ago I went on a December Walt Disney World trip with a friend, and we decided to shell out the dough to attend Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. (We'll call it MVMCP from now on in this post!) It was absolutely worth the money. This trip we realized that while there were no MVMCPs during Thanksgiving week, there was one the Sunday night after Thanksgiving. After much discussion, we decided to purchase tickets for the party. This meant we would fly back on Monday causing Randy and I to miss a day of work and the kids to miss a day of school. We'll discuss whether this sacrifice was worth it at the end of the party. (Remember as you read this post that this was still considered high level, peak season crowds. Check out what all we got done!)

Once we purchased our tickets, we quickly decided on a couple of absolutes:

  1. We would not tell the kids that we were attending MVMCP until the day of or the day before the party. We thought it would be a fun surprise.
  2. We would make the most of the extra cash we shelled out by closing down the park the night of the party. The only times we've done this successfully with the kids was when Epcot closed at 9 PM or we were at Animal Kingdom until close which is always fairly early.
LaRae and Randy told the kids our party plans by giving them Christmas mouse ears headbands we'd found at Walgreens.  They were predictably excited.  This helped encourage them to help us move resorts earlier in the day and convinced them to take naps that afternoon.

MVMCP officially starts at 7 PM. Guests can use their party ticket to enter the park at 4 PM though.  We entered Magic Kingdom around 5:30 PM, and we were given wristbands to wear to show we had MVMCP tickets. Around 7 PM cast members start checking for bands and shoo anyone without one out of the park. If you try to stick around without a wristband, you can't enter queues, get food, do anything. They'll escort you right out when they discover your lack of wrist-wear.

My family loves to ride the Jungle Cruise, but it closes for MVMCP, so we went there first to snag an evening cruise. If you haven't ridden the Jungle Cruise as night, you are missing out! Make sure to go after dark to get an entirely different experience.  After Jungle Cruise we rode Pirates of the Caribbean as a family. Prior to this trip the kids were too scared to ride it, but this trip we insisted we'd all ride together. They loved it! 

We wanted a new dining experience, so we tried to eat at Tortuga Tavern, but it was closed. Bummer. We went back to an old family favorite, Pinocchio's Village Haus, instead. Once there we discovered that the menu had changed from burgers, fries, and standard pizzas to flatbreads, and wow were they delicious! We got sides of fries because they still had the good honey mustard from the pump. ;-) We didn't find a seat close enough to wave at the It's a Small World boats, but we did go ride it afterwards.

I asked for a side of marinara for my pepperoni flatbread.
The crust was perfectly crisp. Loved this meal!
The GOOD honey mustard from the pump!

Bellies full, happily humming It's a Small World, we noticed the crowds were definitely thinning out. Wrists were being checked everywhere, and cast members we walking in lines down the street to sweep the park.  We split for a bit for Katelyn to go with Randy to meet Merida. It was a pretty long line, but Merida spent quite a bit of time with Katelyn. She met us later telling us all about the story Merida told her about Captain Jack (Katelyn showed her her pirate gold necklace) and her wee brothers. It was an amazing experience for her.
Showing her necklace & storytelling
Love the kiddo's smile :) 

LaRae, Josh, and I were able ride Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin twice before Katelyn and Randy were done. Once they joined us, we rode once more together! I decided to have a bit of fun taking photos in the attraction:
Riding alone, not impressed (this was after the Olympics...) - high score
in my family though thanks to lack of distractions. :)
Buzz! Look! An alien!
From there Randy, Josh, and Katelyn went to ride the TTA People Mover while LaRae and I ran to the restroom and grabbed a quick spin on the Astro Orbiter. This is another attraction that you've GOT to ride at night! The view with the park all lit up is to die for!

We met up again to stop for free cookies and hot chocolate. While I'm not a huge fan of the cookies, the hot chocolate was a welcome treat. From there we started to split up again. Some of us wanted to see the Holiday Wishes Fireworks, while others wanted to ride more rides. Then we realized we came as a family and had split up so much already that we should stick together a bit better. A quick moment of clarity helped us realize that while Wishes is amazing and Holiday Wishes is neat, the kids really just wanted to ride things, and if we stopped, they might realize how tired they were and want to leave! So we scrapped stopping for fireworks and went to ride the Tomorrowland Speedway. 

FastPass runner becomes hot chocolate runner...
Chocolate Chip Cookies were better than 2 year ago's Snickerdoodle Cookies

You won't believe this, but while we were in line the fireworks starting going. That was cool and all, but right as we all sat in our cars, the finale with the 180 degree fireworks went off. Cast member and guest alike stopped in their tracks to watch the fireworks! It was a totally different view than we ever would have experienced if we'd gone to stand in front of Cinderella Castle. Sometimes a new perspective is cooler than the one you're "meant" to see. Afterwards, we grabbed another hot chocolate. (Hey we paid for it in the ticket price! haha!)

No photos of finale because I was just being in the moment & taking it in!

I know we said we weren't going to split again, but the parade was going to start soon, and LaRae, Josh, and I wanted to ride the Haunted Mansion real quick before we found a spot. Katelyn decided she really didn't want to ride, so she and Randy went to find a good spot for us to sit. 

Next post I'll share the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, and Friday your jaw will drop when you read and see the awesomeness that is closing down the Magic Kingdom on a party night! 

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