Designing Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Posted by Sasha Bailyn on Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is the heart of the Magic Kingdom’s holiday celebrations. The Imagineers do a tremendous amount of decorating, developing original live entertainment and creating a festive fantasy atmosphere. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party includes seasonal fireworks, a holiday parade and live shows. The parks and rides are bedecked for the holidays. As guests wander onto Main Street USA, faux snow falls from the sky and they’re greeted with complimentary Christmas cookies and hot cocoa at stations around the park. Even if the weather is purely tropical in Florida, the Disney team does their best to bring the charm of a classic winter holiday to life.

The Christmas Party is a hard ticketed event that takes place each year at the Magic Kingdom in Florida, kicking off in November and wrapping up in late December. The party formally runs from 7pm until midnight on approximately 20 prescheduled nights. Guests purchase a ticket and can enter the park beginning at 4pm to enjoy a few rides or dinner before the festivities begin. For guests, the holiday season is brought to life through an attention to a million little details. Cinderella’s Castle is set ablaze with lights. Holiday songs and carols fill the air. Characters dress in festive clothes for Meets and Greets, parades and informal dance party appearances.

Cinderella’s Castle is an important focal point in the park. In 2015, the castle has been decorated with icicles and a winter theme as an homage to Frozen. The party kicks off as the castle’s lights come to life. Twice per night, a live show called A Frozen Holiday Wish takes place in front of the castle. The turrets and towers have been draped with more than 200,000 lights to help create the sense of a Nordic wonderland. Anna, Olaf, Elsa and the other characters from the Frozen story sing and dance as the castle transforms into an ice palace. The Very Merry Christmas Party is a natural fit for the Frozen narrative, and the Imagineers have expertly woven it into the fabric of the event.

Meanwhile, a wide variety of shows, musical acts and character meetings are scattered throughout the park to keep guests entertained as they move around. Classic Disney favorites Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and others are featured in a live performance of Celebrate the Season. It’s a fun, kid-friendly version of the Nutcracker musical. Guests looking for a Pixar fix can also visit a Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show to see Buzz Lightyear and Stitch together in a musical performance. Other events include a seasonal fireworks show called Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season. Once per evening, the Celebrate the Magic projection show showcases favorite Disney films on the front of the Castle. Character dance parties are held at locations in the park. This year’s lineup also features VoicePlay, an acapella group that’s performing a few times per night.

Parades are an integral part of the Disney experience and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime parade blends holiday themes with classic characters. Marching Soldiers, gingerbread men, and Santa and his reindeer grace the parade. It also features a variety of familiar Disney characters who are dressed in their holiday finest. Fans of Disney parades enjoy the unique music, floats and character versions. A common theme throughout the Party is that guests enjoy the chance to experience the parks in a whole new way; it’s especially apparent when watching the parade.

From an entertainment design perspective, the amount of work that goes into creating Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is staggering. The parks remain open on their normal schedules each day, and many rides and restaurants are open in tandem with the Party later in the evening. As night falls, the parks come alive for a second shift to create a magical holiday environment. From massive touches like the lighting of Cinderella’s Castle to the smallest details on a character’s Christmas garb, the visuals deliver on Disney’s world-class design. Their design efforts don’t stop there; every sense in engaged. The smell of Christmas cookies, the taste of hot cocoa, the sound of holiday songs, and the soft touch of “snow” on the skin all help transport guests to an alternate holiday environment. Disney’s version of Christmas is filled with celebration, joy and fun – and it’s the Imagineers’ big vision that makes it all possible.

Images sourced courtesy of Disney, School of Tomorrow, YouTube

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