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More Holidays at Walt Disney World

by Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Feature Columnist

In the second part of this article, PassPorter board message guide Cheryl Pendry continues to share more reasons why she keeps heading back to Walt Disney World for the holiday season year after year. Click here to read the first part of this article.

Having already looked at the Christmas celebrations in the Animal Kingdom, MGM Studios and Epcot, you'd be forgiven for thinking that was all that's on offer during the festive season. After all, getting around to all the activities in those three parks will take some time, but there's even more to see!

The Magic Kingdom enjoys its own special ticketed event in the run up to Christmas, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP). Taking place on selected evenings from 7:00 pm until midnight in the days leading up to Christmas, this year's dates are November 27 and 29 and December 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18 and 20. If you're planning on being at Disney World on any of those dates, this is an event that's well worth seeing.

Admittedly it's not cheap - the advance price for adults is $38.95 plus tax and for children between the ages of 3 and 9, there's not that much of a reduction - prices are $29.95 plus tax. If you choose to wait to buy your tickets, the price goes up on the day of the event to $43.95 plus tax for adults and $34.95 plus tax for children aged 3 - 9. Another reason to buy your tickets in advance is because some of the Party nights do sell out. In previous years, the first to fill up is usually the last one of the season, although some of the Friday nights earlier on in the season can also sell out.

If you're sitting there now, wondering whether the steep price of admission is really worth it, then I can tell you that we felt exactly the same way when we first went to the Party in 2002. We thought it was a lot of money and weren't entirely sure what to expect, so for anyone feeling the same, here's a run down of what is offered.

Perhaps the highlight is the Very Merry Christmas parade, which runs twice nightly, with the second of the night always the quieter one. During most of December, it's the only time that the Christmas parade runs at the Magic Kingdom, with the usual Share A Dream Come True Parade still on in the afternoons. The Christmas-themed parade usually takes over the afternoon slot the day after the last MVMCP.

Another big draw is the special fireworks - not just your average showing of Wishes, but an extended version, including fireworks which appear to come from all around you - and if you get a chance to see them from the Polynesian, you'll be able to see how far afield they are actually being set off from!

There are special shows, including Mickey's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas show at the Tomorrowland Theater and a special Christmas show at the forecourt of the Castle. Main Street sees "snow" falling on it and don't forget to get a family souvenir, with free photo sites available at various locations throughout the park. There's also free hot chocolate and cookies to keep you warm and don't forget to check out the shops - there's exclusive merchandise available, with special pins on offer every night of the Party.

Fear not if you're heading to Disney after the Party nights have finished, because there's still plenty of Christmas fun at the Magic Kingdom. As mentioned earlier, the Christmas parade will be held in the afternoon and there's a special tree lighting ceremony in Town Square every evening. The Country Bear Jamboree changes to host a special holiday version and although it's not one of my favorite attractions during the rest of the year, we love the Christmas edition. And Christmas shows run during the daytime at the Castle forecourt and the Tomorrowland Theater, after the Party nights have finished.

Something else not to be missed during the Christmas season are the various Disney resorts. Each one boasts Christmas decorations, some more breathtaking than others - the best generally found at the deluxe resorts. But which ones should you visit if you've only got limited time and is it worth the time away from the parks? Well, the answer to the second part of the question has to be yes, if you've ever wanted to see a life sized gingerbread house, a revolving gingerbread carousel or a miniature African village made out of chocolate. All these and more can be found at the resorts.

Let's start with the most dramatic display on property. I think most people would agree that title should go to the Grand Floridian. The Christmas tree here is 40 feet tall, with 30,000 decorations on it and it's all put up in just one night. The gingerbread house to the left of the lobby as you walk in is also well worth a look and in fact is a shop, selling a wide range of items, including the gingerbread shingles that make up the roof of the house!

Another dramatic display is the revolving gingerbread carousel in the Beach Club lobby. Made of an amazing 2,000 gingerbread pieces, the recipe also calls for 50 pounds of chocolate, 100 pints of eggs, 100 pounds of icing and 36 pounds of honey. It really is something to see and can easily be combined with a visit to the lobbies of two other nearby resorts with staggering displays in their lobbies. The scene of a town from the 1930's in the Boardwalk lobby took three months to create and includes a fairground, complete with roller coaster and big wheel. The miniature railway display in the lobby of the Yacht Club deserves lots of close inspection, boasting its own tiny versions of favorites from the resort complex, including Beaches and Cream and the Bayside Marina.

Our two other favorites are the Animal Kingdom Lodge, great for a visit at any of the year, but also boasting a miniature chocolate African village outside Boma, which is worth a look, especially if you're planning on dining at the resort. And who could forget the Wilderness Lodge, perhaps the most festive of all the resorts on property? With its rustic northwest charm, the huge Christmas tree seems right at home and there's no better way to celebrate the season than to grab one of the chairs in the lobby and watch the world go by.

If you are staying on property during the festive season, there may also be entertainment in the lobby of your hotel - check on arrival with guest services. This can include choirs, bell ringing and even visits from some of the Disney characters or perhaps a quick stop from Santa on Christmas Eve. Cookies and hot drinks are also available in the evenings at some resort.

Something else that's offered is festive sleigh rides from the Wilderness Lodge. Having tried this last year, it's worth noting that the half hour ride takes you into the neighboring woods, which are very dark and could be scary to small children. Each carriage costs $30, including tax and the carriage can hold up to three adults and two children or four adults. Carriages can be booked by calling WDW-PLAY and are running between 30 November - 30 December, with hours from 5:30 pm - 10:00 pm, apart from Christmas Eve, when hours at 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm.

However, there are other options. Carriage rides operate year round from Fort Wilderness and Port Orleans Riverside from 6:00 pm - 9:30 pm and the 25 minute ride costs $35, including tax. Tickets are available from the carriage drivers or you can make advance reservations by calling WDW-PLAY. Pick up is from Crockett's Tavern outside Pioneer Hall at Fort Wilderness and in front of Boatwright's Dining Hall at Port Orleans Riverside. Both may provide more scenic routes than the sleigh ride, with Fort Wilderness especially beautiful at Christmas, as many residents take the trouble to decorate their campsites and cabins.

And perhaps that's what I love most about Christmas at Disney - the time and trouble that's to make it such a special celebration. There's so much to see and do, with all the parks and resorts beautifully decorated for both the day and night. Whether it's your first or fiftieth visit to Disney at Christmas, one thing's for sure - the array of events and activities on offer will dazzle you and fill you with festive spirit!
About the Author: Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to America.

This article appeared in our November 25, 2005 newsletter -- subscribe to our popular newsletter today for free!

Related Links:
Holidays at Walt Disney World
Discovering the Magic

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Updated 08/21/07 

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