One thing I enjoy about my trips to Walt Disney World is that no matter how much of a Disney ‘expert’ you think you are there is always something new to discover and learn about the parks. This certainly applies when attending at certain times of the year and special events. I was lucky enough to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) in 2005 and 2010, and the experiences couldn’t have been more different!
As soon as I first heard about Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party I knew that I just HAD to attend! As I might have already mentioned I love Christmas at WDW and the opportunity to spend time at Magic Kingdom at a special event after regular park hours sounded like something I could not miss. Unfortunately at the time my visits involved staying at an off site hotel, with no car, so staying late at a park wasn’t exactly practical. But in 2005 I finally got to stay at a resort on Disney property and I knew that this was my opportunity to attend MVMCP.
Perhaps it was because I was so excited to finally attend that I had such high expectations of the event. I had read so much about Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, the snow on Main Street, Holiday Wishes, the complimentary cookies and cocoa. I wanted to do it all and for it all to be magical!
The reality of that first party was somewhat different. I got caught in the rush for special party merchandise at The Emporium on Main Street, so much so that by the time I could get to the rails only XL shirts were left. We saw guests staying in the park after general closing and not being checked for party wristbands. We wanted to watch the parade on Main Street so had to stake out our spot a couple of hours beforehand and then deal with people squeezing in beside us. Even the cookies and cocoa didn’t taste as sweet as I had imagined.
Sometimes I think we expect too much from our Disney experiences; we expect everything to be as perfect as we daydream. Of course the parade was still amazing and the fireworks took my breath away but I came away from that event feeling a little let down and thinking that I wouldn’t pay the additional amount to attend the same event in the future……
And so as I planned our 2010 visit to the World I came across the details for MVMCP which would once again been happening during our stay. Did I really want to put myself through that again? Could I learn from my mistakes last time and make the event as special and magical as it should have been? Of course I could give it a go, after all, Disney is about believing that dreams do come true.
This time we dressed for winter, wrapped up in several layers, knowing that it was unusually cold in Orlando for December and knowing that we could be standing around waiting for parades and fireworks. We arrived at a later time and joined the queues of party guests waiting to get into Magic Kingdom. There was no rush, we had all night to take in the festivites. Once we were through the turnstiles instead of sticking with the crowds around Main Street we strolled over to Tomorrowland and emerged into….silence….
No one had ventured as far as Tomorrowland at that point, just us wearing our Christmas Mickey hats, watching the lights cast festive shapes onto Space Mountain. We were able to walk straight onto Buzz Lightyear, Space Mountain and the TTA. At each attraction a cast member checked for our party wristband, which made us feel like we were at an exclusive party. After our attractions we took our time collecting cookies and cocoa from Cosmic Rays and then strolled through a fairly deserted Fantasyland.
As we were enjoying taking things at a slower pace we even joined the queue for the forty-five minute wait to have our photo taken with the Seven Dwarfs! We knew that they only came out as a group for photos at special events so we wanted to make the most of our opportunity to pose with them. Just as we had finished it was time for Holiday Wishes; we didn’t have time to get back to the front of the castle so we took up a spot in Fantasyland. I had never seen the fireworks from this area so it made the viewing extra special. The fireworks were making Christmas shapes in the sky all around us and I could see all the guests in the area looking one way and then the next. Every time a firework lit up the sky I could see so many smiles around me and it felt magical.
After Wishes we wanted to catch the second Christmastime parade. I knew that I had taken many photos of the parade during our previous visit so this time I could just watch and enjoy. We chose a spot in Frontierland and chatted to a cast member while we waited, telling her about where we were from and how long we had to save in between trips! Just before the parade was about to begin the cast member thanked us for taking the time to talk to her, she said that it had made the time go quicker for her and had stopped her from thinking about how cold she was! Again, a small but magical moment.
After the parade we wandered through Frontierland and Adventureland, taking our time to look at merchandise and attractions as we passed them. The park was clearing and we felt as though we were the last few guests to leave. We had had a magical night, full of the Christmas spirit that I had hoped to experience at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
And so these two very different parties taught me that I’m not always in control of everything that happens in the parks, things aren’t always going to go as planned and more importantly sometimes we have to slow down, take it easy and notice the small things that surround us in the magic