Back in late November, I was down in Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday with my in-laws. They actually live an hour and a half north of Disney but we try to book our Disney trips around when we are visiting them. This year, a Disney vacation was not in our budget but I needed a Disney-fix! So about a month before our trip, I purchased four tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party for Sunday, November 28th.
Our plan was simple, leave my in-laws house around 11 a.m., drive down to WDW and walk around Downtown Disney and then head over to the Magic Kingdom for the Christmas Party. Actually, the plan worked out well. We arrived at Downtown Disney around 12:45 p.m. and parked near Planet Hollywood (it was the closest lot to the Marketplace that was open). It took quite a while to actually find a lot and a space that was open to park but once we did our walking journey began!
Let me just say that doing this kind of trip requires some stamina. I was a little unprepared for such a task and while I am really only a step above a couch potato, I held my own for most of the day!
We toured Downtown Disney Marketplace and shopped through the Lego Imagination Center (my younger son’s favorite place!) and then spent a whole lot of time in World of Disney. I was on a quest for the perfect Christmas ornament and then just walked around wishing that I had won the lottery so that I could actually buy everything that I wanted! I came to the conclusion that if you cannot find what you are looking for in the World of Disney, then it doesn’t exist!
Next we went to Once Upon a Toy where my ten-year old built his own Light saber and then headed over to Pooh Corner and toured some of the smaller shops back in that area. What I had forgotten in my mindless giddiness of shopping in World of Disney was that there actually IS a Christmas shop in Downtown Disney – Disney’s Days of Christmas! If I had more money to spend I could have decorated several Christmas trees by the time I left!
We felt shopped out and so we headed over to the Earl of Sandwich for lunch and then decided to head back to our car (after taking several pictures of the wonderful Christmas decorations along the way). At this point it was only 2:45 and I felt like we had been in Downtown Disney for much longer! We drove over to the Magic Kingdom and parked in the Sleepy parking lot and a quick glance at the clock showed us it was barely after 3:00! We still had some time to kill before we could actually get in to the Magic Kingdom with our tickets to the Christmas Party!
So being the Disney fanatic that I am, I knew that there were some fabulous Christmas displays set up at the Grand Floridian so we took the tram from the parking lot, to the TTA (Transportation and Ticket Center) and then hopped on the monorail over to the Grand Floridian. We got some amazing holiday pictures in the lobby with the giant Christmas tree as well as in an area that was set up for photo taking and then toured the life-sized ginger bread house.
I had stayed at the Grand Floridian once before and it was on a trip without my family so I took them outside to the beach area and we sort of just sat with our toes in the sand for a little while to kill some time. It was quite possibly the most relaxing way to kill time in Disney ever!
At 4:15 we hopped the monorail back over to the Magic Kingdom and by 4:30 we had our special wristbands on and we happily skipping down Main Street U.S.A.!!
If you’ve never been to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, it is quite the event. Essentially, the event is billed as a special ticket event from 7 p.m. to midnight on select nights. In reality, you can get in before 7 p.m. and then you basically have full access to the Magic Kingdom until midnight. All of the rides are open, restaurants are open and as a perk to having this special ticket, you get complimentary cookies, hot chocolate and cider throughout the night. There is a special parade (that runs twice) and fireworks as well as snow on Main Street!
I had actually read on some Disney boards that this date was the worst date to choose for the Christmas party because there would be a lot of people there for the Thanksgiving weekend but I decided to take the chance. Honestly, there was a ten minute or less wait on just about everything which was fine with us. The only two rides that we never got on because they had 45 minute waits were Peter Pan’s Flight and Dumbo.
The way that we planned our day, we got almost eight hours in the park (which is just like a typical day) but paid almost $40 less per person to do it! We rode every ride that we wanted to (some of them two and three times in a row!), we got some amazing pictures both on our own and with our Photopass and Disney photographers that made for a wonderful Christmas card!
Honestly, by the time the tram dropped us back off in the Sleepy parking lot, that was exactly what we were! But in that time we had twelve hours of Disney fun and memories that we will cherish. I think we may make that an annual trip!