Magic Kingdom is the jewel of Walt Disney World and Christmastime in the Magic Kingdom is no exception. The park puts on glittering display with a holiday parade, shows, food, decorations and music. There is so much to see and to do and so many ways to enjoy the park that I decided to take a moment or two to give you a peak at Magic Kingdom at Christmas.
Keep in mind that while most of these events happen during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party once you get to the middle of December these events start happening in the park during regular operating hours!
The Rope Dropping at Christmastime
Now for those of you who usually don’t head to the parks just as they open you may not know about the Magic Kingdom Welcome Celebration that the park puts on every morning. The stage is the Main Street Railroad Station as guest stand just inside of the gates. The Mayor and citizens of Main Street USA gather to wish you good morning as you wait for train to arrive at the Station. The train holds Mickey Mouse, a whole gathering of other characters, and occasionally even a lucky guest or two. Once they arrive and the Magic of the park is woken up for another day guests are allowed to enter Main Street USA.
Main Street at Christmas
Every shop window, every light post, and every inch of open space is decorated to the fullest. The centerpiece is the Magic Kingdom Tree in Town Square. You’ll also find Santa waiting to meet you in the Candy Cane Garden, which is located between Town Hall (guest services) and the Chamber of Commerce (package pickup). There you kids can tell Santa what they want for Christmas and they, and the whole family, can pose for pictures. I usually explore Main Street in two phases, I’ll browse a bit when I first get to the parks with the intent of exploring a bit more towards the end of the night (Usually just as the Extra Magic Hours start). But if you are going to the parks on Christmas you really want to stop into the Candy Shop on Main Street earlier in the day. They have some fantastic treats made just for the holidays!
As you head towards the hub you can stop into the Emporium or Le Chapeau to try and find yourself a festive set of ears. My favorite are my Santa Mickey Ears, I wore them for the entirety of my trip last year. If you can’t find a pair you like at either of these places, there’s an ear stand at the hub itself and also one in Fantasyland.
Jingle All the Way
If it’s still early in the day, or not time for any of the other park events then you should really head over to the Jingle Cruise. Yes you read that right, the Jingle Cruise. That is the Holiday overlay of the park classic the Jungle Cruise filled to the brim with lights, jokes and nutty skippers who would but fruitcakes to shame. It’s a Christmas blast and really not to be missed, especially since this is the only overlay the Magic Kingdom does!
There’s a special parade that runs in the Magic Kingdom during the holiday season: Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. You can watch the parade as a part of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on select evenings in November and December. However, if you are at the parks on a non-party day in the week leading up to Christmas you can!
For the non-MVMCP parade the start times are 12:00p.m. and 3:30 p.m. in Frontierland. If you have the chance to see the parade during MVMCP then the times (this year) are 8:15 pm and 10:30 p.m. This means that on non-party days the parade replaced Festival of Fantasy with the Main Street Electrical Parade still running in the Evening. During the Party Festival of Fantasy runs during the day and the Christmas parade replaces MSEP.
My advice to you if you go to the parks just before Christmas Day: make sure you find a spot at least a half-hour before the time that the parade will be in your spot. I know you’ve heard that before, but in this case it is very important. Christmas defines peak season at the parks and you will be very lucky indeed to get within five people of the parade if you wait for a spot.
Celebrate the Season
Celebrate along with the gang as Mickey Mouse presents Minnie Mouse with her Christmas gift in the form of a magical rendition of the Nutcracker including toy soldiers, dancers and fireworks. Its an annual tradition at the Magic Kingdom and really shouldn’t be missed.
A Frozen Holiday Wish
Something magical happens to the castle when the sun goes down. In a moment of magic the castle transforms into an iced masterpiece as Queen Elsa uses her powers to bring the citizens of the Magic Kingdom a holiday treat. Now there are some mixed feelings about this show since it replaced the show featuring Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother. The biggest spot of contention being that Cinderella isn’t even there for Elsa to ask. However I will say this about the new show: it is absolutely breathtaking. The old show featured a cascading light effect that resulted in the beauty of the iced castle. The new show uses the laser show technology to make the magic spiral and swirl over the castle as the transformation happens. I’ll talk a bit more about the show in a day or two with video from last years lighting.
Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season
“Wishes” is one of my favorite things in the park. It’s my absolute number one must do, and the holiday version is just as spectacular as the traditional version. The castle is lit up with the reflections of ornaments and snowflakes as fireworks light up the sky to traditional holiday tunes. Now this is where the crowds really begin to show up during non-party nights. You should find a spot early, because once the show starts you won’t be allowed to stop unless it’s in a designated viewing area. If those are full you’ll have to keep moving until you find one that isn’t! After the show is done there’s a couple of surprises. One is a holiday edition of the Celebrate the Magic show. The other: Snow. Yes, even on non-party nights snow falls on Main Street in Florida. Its magical, it’s beautiful, but don’t eat it!
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
This is the highlight of the Christmas season at the Magic Kingdom. The park is lit up in more ways than usual with rides like Space Mountain getting a light show wrapping. The character meet and greets are enhanced with bonus characters that don’t usually show up in the day-to-day happenings in the park. There are special holiday snacks, treats, limited edition merchandise and dance parties and special events. The castle is light up with glittering ‘ice’ and Santa holds court in the Candy Cane Garden.
The party is accessible via an extra ticket, meaning you won’t get in with your park ticket. The number of tickets sold for the party is limited so they sell out quickly. Why do they limit the number of tickets? The smaller crowds go along way towards making events like Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas Parade more enjoyable because the there is space for everyone to find their own spot to watch. Also, it has happened that the parks become so crowded during this season that merchandize and even holiday food run out long before the parks close. That doesn’t happen during the Party since they plan to have enough merchandize and food for every ticket sold.
The parade happens at night during the party, both before and after the holiday version of wishes, so you can watch the toy soldiers and Santa march by as the ‘snow’ falls and against the backdrop of the sparkling lights.
Remember though, even if you can’t get to the party you can still have the magic on the days before Christmas! It’ll just be a bit more crowded!
Christmas in the Magic Kingdom lives up to its name whether you can make it to the party or if you are there on Christmas Eve. The festivities, food and fun fill every moment brining you memories that will last you a lifetime. Merry Christmas and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!