If you’re wondering which Disney holiday party offers the most fun, the best value, or the coolest overall experience, here’s your guide.
If you’re visiting Walt Disney World during the holiday season, you have two exciting seasonal events you can choose to attend: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Disney Jollywood Nights. Both of these festive parties are designed to get guests in the spirit of the merriest time of the year. Yet while the two Disney holiday parties might seem pretty similar at first glance, they’re actually quite different.
So, which Disney World holiday event should you attend if you’re looking to get festive? Below, we’re breaking down the differences between Magic Kingdom’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Hollywood Studios’s Jollywood Nights.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party was, until 2023, Disney World’s big annual holiday event. The after-hours party takes place at Magic Kingdom and requires a separate ticket for entry. As part of this Christmas-themed party, guests can experience exclusive holiday entertainment, ride overlays, delicious sweets, and special seasonal character meet and greets.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party first debuted in 1983, and it’s grown substantially over the decades since. Today, the annual party takes place on select nights from early November through December. Guests can enter Magic Kingdom as early as 4 PM on party dates, and the event runs until midnight, offering up to eight hours of festive fun.
When you purchase a ticket for a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party date, you’ll have all of the following entertainment, snacks, ride overlays, and other seasonal fun included.
What’s Included With a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Ticket
Guests who attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will get to experience:
- Early theme park admission: Enter Magic Kingdom up to three hours before the party begins (no reservation required!)
- Complimentary snacks: Snack stations are set up throughout Magic Kingdom, providing you the chance to grab holiday-themed treats all night long
- Seasonal attraction overlays: Party attendees have the chance to experience several attraction overlays, including Space Mountain – Holiday Run!!, Jingle Cruise, Mad Tea Party, Tomorrowland Speedway, and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor with festive decorations, music, and other touches.
- Exclusive entertainment: Enjoy party-exclusive entertainment including Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, Frozen Holiday Surprise, and Reindeer Wranglers. There are also exclusive dance parties available, too!
- Character experiences: You’ll have the opportunity to get pictures with your favorite characters dressed up in their best, most festive holiday attire.
- Exclusive food and drink options: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party features exclusive menus at dining spots throughout Magic Kingdom, giving you the chance to try food and drinks you can’t normally find during the holidays at Disney World.
Additionally, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party includes exclusive merchandise and special Disney PhotoPass opportunities (like seasonal Magic Shots) that guests can experience while the event is taking place. And, of course, you can’t forget about the ability to enjoy attractions with potentially lower wait times!
The Best Experiences at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
With the price of your party ticket, you’ll have the chance to experience up to eight hours of fun in Magic Kingdom before and after it closes to regular guests. But it’s the party-exclusive additions that make Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party so special – and let’s be honest, it’s why it’s worth the cost!
Wondering what the best parts of the party are? Here’s what we think are the biggest standouts and best experiences:
- Low wait times: Because Magic Kingdom is the most popular of Disney World’s theme parks, it’s often home to some of the longest wait times for attractions. Fortunately, attendance is capped for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, which means you’ll experience lower-than-average wait times throughout the night! This is your chance to ride some of the most popular rides (looking at you, TRON Lightcycle / Run!) without lengthy queues.
- Limited-time seasonal attraction overlays: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is your one chance each year to catch some beloved attractions transformed into Christmas wonderlands. One of the best aspects of the party is getting to experience the Jingle Cruise, the festive touches on Tomorrowland Speedway, and the Mad Tea Party overlay (including the fragrance of fresh-baked cookies!), so don’t miss these!
- Exclusive entertainment: We highly recommend making time for the exclusive entertainment available to party guests. In particular, we love Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade and Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, which will really have you feeling festive.
Disney Jollywood Nights
Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you’ll find a holiday party with a very different atmosphere and vibe: Disney Jollywood Nights. 2023 marks the very first year Jollywood Nights is offered, and it’s already capturing plenty of attention. With an elevated holiday atmosphere and Old Hollywood vibes, it’s quite a different event compared to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Wondering what Jollywood Nights is like? This all-new party features a list of must-dos that are festive and fresh (although there are a few returning favorites, too). Here’s a look at what’s included with your event ticket.
What’s Included With a Disney Jollywood Nights Ticket
Guests who attend Jollywood Nights will get to experience:
- Early theme park admission: Enter Hollywood Studios up to one and a half hours before the party begins (no reservation required!)
- Festive hangout spots: Three locations within Hollywood Studios transform into exclusive “clubs” for the party, with live music, cocktails, and special seasonal decor. You can head to Jazzy Holidays at The Hollywood Brown Derby, Holiday Fiesta en la Calle along Commissary Lane, and Twilight Soirée at The Tip Top Club.
- Exclusive entertainment: During the party, you can catch What’s This? Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Sing-Along at the Hyperion Theater and Holidays in Hollywood at Theater of the Stars, two shows that are only available during Jollywood Nights.
- Character experiences: There are a number of character meet and greet opportunities available during the event (and yes, your favorite Disney friends will be wearing event-exclusive attire to celebrate!), including Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse as well as Max (dressed as Powerline), Goofy, Chip ‘n’ Dale (as Rescue Rangers), and even Pixar pals like Frozone and Edna Mode.
- Exclusive Disney PhotoPass opportunities: Jollywood Nights attendees will enjoy a number of fun PhotoPass perks, from special multi-camera boomerang shots to special effects to Magic Shots to Disney PhotoPass Lens options. Best of all, your PhotoPass downloads are included.
In addition to these events and experiences, you’ll also have a chance to try special holiday-themed treats and menu items, check out exclusive party decor, and ride attractions more easily with the limited guest capacity just for the after-hours party.
The Best Experiences at Jollywood Nights
There’s so much to explore and see at Jollywood Nights, and you’ll have just a few hours to cover everything – and Hollywood Studios is quite spread out! However, some of the exclusive holiday offerings are more worthwhile than others, particularly if you’re looking for special overlays, character encounters, or entertainment you can’t find anywhere else.
The following are the best experiences of the party:
- Exclusive entertainment: You’ll want to make time to check out the shows offered during this festive party, because in our opinion, they’re the best of the best! Whether you’re a fan of The Muppets, Beauty and the Beast, or The Nightmare Before Christmas, there’s so much fun to be had getting festive with your favorite characters (and plenty of jolly music) in the two stage shows exclusive to this special event.
- Party-exclusive menu at ABC Commissary: We tried everything on the menu at ABC Commissary during Jollywood Nights, and the larger, more substantial portions of food – plus dishes exclusive to the party – were one of the standouts. From cocktails to sweet treats, there’s so much on the menu throughout the event to taste and enjoy.
- Exclusive Disney PhotoPass shots: It’s hard to top the incredible PhotoPass offerings found during Jollywood Nights! This party introduces some never-before-seen photo opps, including shots that capture the glitz, glam, and upscale feel of the event. You’ll feel like you’re on the red carpet as you pose for boomerang and robotic arm shots with photographers.
- Low attraction wait times: Because there are so many things to see and explore throughout Hollywood Studios on the night of a Jollywood Nights party, the lines for attractions tend to be quite short. Many attendees choose to check out entertainment and food offerings, which means shorter wait times if you want to check out any attractions throughout the park.
Comparing Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Jollywood Nights
Does Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party or Jollywood Nights Offer the Best Value?
Ultimately, the value is going to depend on what you’re looking to get out of your holiday event! The cost for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets ranges from $159 to $199, while Jollywood Nights tickets cover a smaller range of $159 to $179.
Essentially, these close price points mean both parties will run you nearly the same in terms of upfront cost. However, you will get more time in theme park with a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party ticket. The event takes place from 7 PM to 12 AM, giving guests access into the park starting at 4 PM. That’s a full eight hours of park access, if you enter as soon as you can!
Jollywood Nights, on the other hand, takes place from 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM, giving guests access into the park starting at 7 PM. That leaves guests with five and a half hours of park time for nearly the same price.
However, there are other factors to consider beyond ticket price and the length of the event. Because both parties offer very different experiences, you’ll want to consider what’s most valuable to you. Are you looking for unique PhotoPass and character experiences? Do you want to ride attractions with special, exclusive overlays? Are you interested in dancing and having a cocktail or two? These details will help you determine which event offers the best overall value, experience-wise, for the price.
Which Disney World Holiday Party is Best for Kids?
For kids, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is the best choice. This event offers more kid-friendly activities and entertainment, with plenty of classic Disney characters, attraction options for all ages, and two showings of Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, which means guests with little ones can head out early if they’d like. Even Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks run earlier – at 10 PM on party nights – for little ones with earlier bedtimes.
Magic Kingdom is, after all, quite a kid-friendly theme park. You’ll find it easy to get onto attractions, with lower wait times (a perk kids-at-heart will love, too!). The entertainment options, like Disney Junior Jingle Jam, are geared slightly more towards younger visitors. Even the food and drink options are a bit more kid-friendly, with complimentary options like cookies, hot cocoa, and apple cider.
Which Disney World Holiday Party is Best for Adults?
Jollywood Nights is by far the more adult-friendly holiday option at Disney World. While little ones can certainly find plenty to enjoy at this event – like attractions they love year-round and the many character meet and greet opportunities – it’s really geared more towards adult preferences and tastes.
For example, much of the entertainment during Jollywood Nights leans towards adults’ preferences. Jazzy Holidays at The Hollywood Brown Derby, Holiday Fiesta en la Calle along Commissary Lane, and Twilight Soirée at The Tip Top Club are more adult-oriented, serving cocktails and playing more “grown up” tunes. The shows play more towards adults’ nostalgia, with appearances by The Muppets and Belle in her gilded Christmas dress (and so too do some character encounters, like Max dressed up as Powerline).
Additionally, the vibes for Jollywood Nights are more upscale and Hollywood glam. Guests dress to the nines for this event, and it has a fancier feel. The PhotoPass offerings feel more like paparazzi shoots rather than kid-friendly character encounters. And ultimately, the event runs later than Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, with later showtimes for offerings like Jingle Bell Jingle Bam that may not work for kids’ schedules or bedtimes.
Thanks to Disney for hosting us on the opening night of Jollywood Nights, where we were able to experience food, beverage, and entertainment options including the much-anticipated return of nighttime spectacular, Jingle Bell Jingle Bam. #jollywoodnights