'Disney Very Merriest After Hours' at Magic Kingdom - is it worth it?

Nov 09, 2021 in "Disney Very Merriest After Hours"

Disney Very Merriest After Hours overview
Posted: Tuesday November 9, 2021 12:34pm ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

The very first 'Disney Very Merriest After Hours' took place last night, continuing Disney's current strategy of offering higher-priced after-hours events in place of the original Magic Kingdom party nights.

Disney raised some eyebrows when the pricing for 'Disney Very Merriest After Hours' was announced, significantly increasing the price of the already expensive 'Disney After Boo Bash.'

Tickets begin at $169 plus tax and go up to $249 plus tax closer to Christmas. The last 'Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party' in 2019 was priced between $99 and $139 plus tax depending on dates.

So you may be thinking that you get much more at the new 'Disney Very Merriest After Hours' event. Well, that all depends on your point of view.

Anyone who went to either the Halloween or Christmas party in 2018 or 2019 knows how crowded they had become. Standing on Main Street began to feel a lot like a hectic summer day. Moving out of Main Street, things got better, but the park still felt busy, and there were some waits for rides. Disney After Hours events operate at a lower capacity, with fewer people on Main Street, and most rides are almost walk-on with no wait.

Crowds on yesterday's sold-out opening night were very manageable. Finding a parade viewing spot didn't require much time, and the parade route mainly was only one or two rows deep and mostly empty in the Town Square area.

Firework viewing was a pleasure last night, with empty space around the hub and no being packed into a shoulder-to-shoulder mass of people.

The castle stage shows were also easy to watch. Busier than the other entertainment offerings, at least for the first 2 shows, but still manageable. The last show close to 1am had lots of empty viewing space in front of the castle.

Treats on offer include pre-packed snickerdoodle cookies and hot cocoa, along with the usual included ice cream snacks, popcorn, and soft drinks. Wait times for the snacks were minimal, and some mobile stations were moving through the park handing out items.

So the takeaway here is that the higher price tickets gets you into a less-crowded park, and you can easily hit the majority, if not all of the attractions in the park. So if your objective is to experience as many rides as possible, the after-hours events are superior to the original party nights.

You may be asking why 'Disney Very Merriest After Hours' costs more than the 'Disney After Hours Boo Bash,' because that event also carries the same ride benefits. The answer is that the Christmas version offers more entertainment, which is where things then start to become a bit more complicated in working out if there is value in this event for you.

Watching entertainment takes time, and 'Disney Very Merriest After Hours' is only 4 hours long. 'Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade' takes 15 minutes, 'Minnie's Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks' takes another 15 minutes, and the new 'Mickey and Minnie's Very Merry Memories' show takes 15 minutes. And these times don't include the time taken to get into position and possibly stake out a prime spot. When all is said and done, you are looking at spending at least 1 to 2 hours on entertainment if you plan to see everything on offer. That may leave you with only 1 to 2 hours for rides, severely cutting into the value of the ticket for experiencing rides. It should be noted that your event ticket gets you into the park from 7pm, but the park will be full of day guests at that time, so don't expect to do a lot of rides before the park is cleared at 9pm.

Then there is the issue of the quality of the entertainment on offer. Before commenting on this aspect, it should be made clear that the entertainment department is still delivering the same high level of performance that they always have, and this is in no way a criticism of the performers. But, it has to be said that none of the entertainment in 2021 is at the level that it was in 2019. Every entertainment offering shows signs of cuts, and it isn't just super fans who will notice; it is glaringly apparent.

'Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade' is probably the best example of cutbacks. The dozens of performers that would fill in the gaps between the floats are no longer present, which leaves the parade looking more like a series of cavalcades than the huge parade spectacle that Disney is known for.

'Minnie's Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks' has seen a reduction in the number of fireworks. The new castle stage show 'Mickey and Minnie's Very Merry Memories' isn't on the scale or scope of Disney's best stage shows that the party nights came to be known for.

Character meet and greets or sightings are rare, you have to be looking hard to find any, and if you do, they are not in special outfits or rare. Remember the Seven Dwarfs and other rare characters that would appear during the party nights of the past?

Looking at the overall picture, 'Disney Very Merriest After Hours' is expensive and does not surprise or elevate the experience from what many will have seen before. If anything, it is a reduced offering at a higher price point.

Disney has not said what its long-term plans are for these types of ticketed events or if we will ever see a return of the original party nights. What we are seeing now may be the new normal, but those of us who remember what used to be on offer will find it difficult to accept, especially at an asking price above $1000 for a family of four in December.

Learn more about 'Disney Very Merriest After Hours.'

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MisterPenguinDec 22, 2021


MisterPenguinDec 22, 2021

It's currently WDW's best fireworks show. The right music (mostly... "Simply Having" is simply awful... but redeemed with a full orchestra and choir and short snippets), the right projections, and the right fireworks. All in sync (something which Enchantment fails at over and over again).

dothebrdwalkDec 19, 2021

Don't wanna write a whole review, but went last Thursday with the family and well...... we thought it was worth every penny. Between the snacks, Christmas entertainment, and of course walk-on attractions, it was a great evening. You just cannot beat a "0 minute wait" on Space Mountain.

Casper GutmanDec 17, 2021

The traditional parties WHEN? 2019 or 2010?

jrhwdwDec 17, 2021

Can't believe this is the last Fri for Merriest AH already! Is Merry Memories and Minnie's not showing Christmas Week? I see Enchantment(not Shocking, HEA played in 2017) is Scheduled but can't find the Castle Show on the Official Site.

peter11435Dec 10, 2021

Considerably. The cap is a fraction of that of the traditional parties

mikejs78Dec 10, 2021

But lower compared to the traditional parties, right?

peter11435Dec 10, 2021

The cap on these events is higher than previous after hours events.

MisterPenguinDec 10, 2021

Cool conspiracy story, bro. You should get together with the ones who say that they kept increasing the capacity of those DAH nights. That'd be a hoot.

Disstevefan1Dec 10, 2021

I said folks attending these events would hope they actually limit tickets sales. If they are truly limiting attendance this year, what we are seeing this year is a bait and switch. As you say, "In response to unprecedented demand" next year's events will be super mobbed. This is nothing new really, WDW crept up the tickets sales to the old Christmas and Halloween parties and they too became super mobbed.

MagicHappens1971Dec 10, 2021

The after hours last was supposedly sold out and it was not mobbed or super mobbed. Crowd levels were great tbh

HauntedPirateDec 10, 2021

Oh, you think they'll actually limit ticket sales next year? Unprecedented demand! Higher prices and more tickets will be available (but still marketed as an "After Hours event"). Stop thinking about the consumers and think about shareholder dividends and executive bonus pools - Who's going to pay for those things?? If DI$ can't retain the top notch talent they have in management, think of the drop in quality storytelling and immersive entertainment that will inevitably result!

Disstevefan1Dec 10, 2021

Folks attending these overpriced events can only hope they cut off ticket sales so instead of these events being super mobbed they are just mobbed.

HauntedPirateDec 10, 2021

I'm not buying it. I think they cut off ticket sales (nudge the number of tickets available down a little and then call things "sold out", sounds great for the next quarterly call), but I also have no way to prove it. If they truly did sell out, congratulations - You'll get to pay even more next year!