Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party


Once Eric and I made it through Epcot, to catch the Monorail, we figured we'd reach Magic Kingdom by 4:15 PM. Our tickets, which we had to purchase, were valid from 4:00 PM through Midnight. Unfortunately our plan was thrown off completely. The Monorail from Epcot to Magic Kingdom had broken down, and had been for at least 10 minutes. After waiting a while we decided to take a resort bus to The Wilderness Lodge. Eric and I would then need to catch a different bus to finally arrive at the park for the party. It felt just as lengthy as it sounds. While waiting at The Wilderness Lodge, we sat there for what seemed an eternity, but was probably 20 minutes. The buses seemed very spaced out for our entire trip. 

Of course I knew we would arrive, but I figured since we had to pay for this ticketed event, we were losing money each minute we were late. We both were excited to arrive. I just had to get a photo with the event cast members. Their costumes are just so bizarre and "loud". The male version could be slightly toned down, but it is a party after all. These two cast members filter out guest not wearing party wristbands. When the cast was given the "go ahead", they would usher non-party guests to the main entry. Even the doors to the Main St. shops are shut to avoid receiving new shoppers. 

I took the reigns of the schedule and hoped it didn't annoy Eric. The attractions would be accessible throughout the trip, but the shows, parades, and fireworks were special to this event. One of my first goals was to avoid hunger during the party. I've never been a fan of the food offered at Magic Kingdom, but it's always fun to hear the silly jokes from Sonny Ecplise at the Starlight Lounge.

We had some good ole American burgers, veggie for me. After we ate, there was a little time during normal operating hours. We visited the new Storybook Circus area. This area hadn't been completed during our trip in 2012. The Disney characters had some nicely themed outfits for the circus. 

Goofy was taking a break from riding his motorbike in the Cage of Doom! We also rode the newly designed Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

As Eric and I moved through the park, toward the western end, we both noticed a crowd awaiting the parade. Although our tickets were good at 4 PM, the party officially started at 7 PM. It was only 6:30 PM and people already were grabbing spots! I think Eric would have rather waited to see what spot we could grab around 7:30, but he knew I didn't want to miss this. We took a spot on Main St. This area is that picturesque spot most people seek. It is also the section of the route most people incorrectly think is the one place to watch. Truthfully, I wanted to watch the parade with this image as the background (i.e. Garlands, wreaths, old looking buildings).

Once the party kicked off, it began to snow onto the parade route. Various versions of holiday favorites started to play and the street became filled with guests. It was a huge crowd! The mob was full of late arrivals and some guests being shown the door. I looked over at Eric. As it snowed on him I thought of a moment where we sat on a frozen street in Pasadena, awaiting the arrival of the Rose Parade. Here was his expression on this day. 

Disneyland is so much more strict about crowd control. The parade was getting close (we could hear the music) and the street was still full of people. It didn't help that a short street show, where guests joined in the dancing, had just finished. Where the park was strict was when cast members, clothed in those outfits mentioned earlier, were checking guests for wristbands. I didn't see it happen, but it must be quite a scene when someone is asked to leave from the viewing area.  

Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime parade

Snow White and her prince. 

Duffy the bear couldn't care less that he was in a parade. I think my sofa's throw pillow at home was more animated. 

There is no debating that the parade was festive. Maybe I'm just too big a fan of Disneyland's Christmas parade because I felt this one wasn't as good. However; I did enjoy the different ways Winter, Candy, Santa's Workshop, and Christmas scenes were presented. They did have a great deal more of toy soldiers than Disneyland. The Magic Kingdom has a musical band of them plus marching soldiers. 

As Eric was guessing, I would need to watch the second parade showing. Side note: I have been watching the Disney Parks Christmas Day special since I was around 8 years old. It's primarily filmed at Disney World, so I wasn't going to pass up this chance to see their version twice. 

We moved our position to the park's central hub. We would be waiting for their castle "projection" show and stay at that spot for Holiday Wishes (fireworks). The projection show, Celebrate the Magic,  started around 9:15 PM and we were both impressed. It looked like the technology had improved from the first incarnation of this show, which we saw in 2011. The images seemed to have more depth. I think the best part was "Let it Go" from Frozen. You can see Elsa projected here. 


Quickly after this show, the fireworks began. I could see the average, once a decade visitor loving this show. It is entertaining, but there was something dull about the music. Eric made a good point that projecting silhouettes of snowflakes onto the castle aren't as exciting as the grand, three dimensional projections from the previous show. But, as you can see from these few shots, fireworks themselves are enjoyable. Loud noises, explosions, and colors.....what's not to like about that?

The show ended and we shuffled over to a nearby spot on the curb. We would be front row for the second parade showing at 10:30. People were still milling about with that "What do we do next?" look on their faces. Not us. We were ready for the parade and resting our legs. 

Prince Eric & Ariel atop one of the oldest floats in Walt Disney World. (To be fair, Disneyland also has it's share of reused floats)
Although not pictured, there were a few court dancers that had a nice conversation about last night's house party. Eric and I looked at one another, and we giggled. Was there no supervisor watching these performers? I wouldn't say these little details completely ruined the parade, but a few performers didn't "have his head in the game". 

Let's take it to the positive. The music for the parade was very up beat. It wasn't full of grandiose moments but felt more like dance music. During the Candy Factory segment, the pop song "I Want Candy" was used. (Here I go again) That seemed out of place for a traditional parade. But, Santa Claus had a beautiful outfit with a lot of embroidery. (See there's positive there)


The clock was pushing toward the 11 PM hour. The majority of the park entertainment was now in the past. So it was time to grab our snicker doodle cookies and hot chocolate (all you want with party admission). The cookies were so good I made a mental promise we would grab more, but we didn't have a chance. 


I look like a floating head here. Obviously the photo is too dark, but I thought the ornament was cute. 

The party's merchandise sold out quickly. From listening in on another guest's conversation (ask Eric, I do that like a professional), she was angry they were out of shirts. Well, I didn't want a party shirt, but I did want something to commemorate the occasion. As usual I do have many photos, so there's our souvenir for the party. 


To wrap the party up I want to be clear that we both did enjoy ourselves. We did see the specialty offerings, but missed out on a few holiday dance parties. I was okay missing those dance venues. I know Eric will dance anywhere so maybe he is disappointed about that. What I find hard to believe is the resorts say tickets sell out for the event. We have also been to the Halloween event and it was just as crowded. 

I can't imagine people attending the party as their only visit to Magic Kingdom. For Eric and I, we are accustom to crowds and can manage them just fine. If your reading this and hate crowds, still attend and try to return another day. If you followed the timeline I laid out during this post you'll see hours passed quickly. 

Luckily we still had more time to return this park and more adventures to see. And, let's face it, we had more food to eat. I always say healthy will be the route I'll take. Judging by my waist size now, I made a few turns from that "healthy road". Next time we'll visit Victoria & Albert's restaurant. That was a seven course meal and you'll hear all about our elegant meal. 

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