2021 Disney Very Merriest After Hours vs Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party: Is After Hours Worth It?

Making the decision on where to spend and where to save on a Disney World trip is something everyone struggles with during planning. Now that Disney Very Merriest After Hours has replaced Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at even higher prices, many wonder if the After Hours event is worth it. So what does an extra paid admission during Disney Very Merriest After Hours vs Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party get you?

What Is Disney Very Merriest After Hours?

Main Street USA at Magic Kingdom covered in Christmas lights with a large tree at the end.

Disney Very Merriest After Hours is a Magic Kingdom event requiring an additional after hours ticket to attend. This Christmas themed After Hours is a chance to visit Magic Kingdom with small crowds and unique experiences in exchange for the extra ticket cost.

Very Merriest After Hours officially starts at 9pm and ends at 1am. However, After Hours ticket holders can enter the Magic Kingdom beginning at 7pm on their event night.

A bonus of entering at 7pm for Very Merriest After Hours means you can see two different Magic Kingdom fireworks shows on the same night. Also guests with After Hours tickets don’t need a daytime ticket or park reservation.

Disney Very Merriest After Hours vs Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

There are a few key differences and some similarities when comparing Disney Very Merriest After Hours vs Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. 

Capacity

The first major difference is Disney Very Merriest After Hours has a much lower capacity than Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This means average wait times are much lower at After Hours than Christmas parties over the last few years.

I was able to walk onto most rides on my event night. The only exceptions were Jingle Cruise, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Peter Pan’s Flight which all had low wait times.

Snacks

Another difference between Very Merriest After Hours and Very Merry Christmas party are the included snacks. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party offered a selection of seasonal treats which varied by location.

Now during After Hours Events grab items like soft drinks, bottled water, popcorn, and Mickey ice cream bars at carts stationed throughout Magic Kingdom. Four locations also have complimentary snickerdoodle cookies and hot cocoa during the event.

Characters

Character interactions look different during Disney Very Merriest After Hours with distanced character interactions. Previously, during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party you could meet unique characters or classic characters in their finest holiday styles.

Based on our mediocre After Hours Boo Bash character experiences, I skipped intentionally visiting characters during Very Merry After Hours. Instead I focused on the fun holiday entertainment and short ride queues which made for a better experience.

The only exception is meeting Santa at Very Merriest After Hours. Before, and in between, the two parades Santa meets with good boys and girls in a decorated gazebo in Liberty Square. If you miss him here you can still meet with Santa at Disney Springs another day.

Entertainment

One way these events are the same is Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade and Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show. These events were both part of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in 2019 and return in 2021 for Disney Very Merriest After Hours.

Club Tinsel, a DJ hosted dance party in Tomorrowland, lets little ones burn off some energy or say hi to Stitch who dances up on the stage.

Why Attend Disney Very Merriest After Hours?

Short Attraction Wait Times At Disney Very Merriest After Hours

Crowds steadily increased over the last few years at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but the relative emptiness of an After Hours event is a treat. Party attraction wait times often topped 20 minutes during parties whereas most attractions were a walk on during Very Merriest After Hours with a few exceptions.

Attraction wait times were generally 5 to 10 minutes on our event night. Only Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Jingle Cruise took 15 to 30 minutes of waiting.

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

Mickey and Minnie wave to guests on a Christmas themed float at Very Merriest After Hours

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is the first Disney World parade to return after the parks have reopened. This parade is a huge upside to attending Disney Very Merriest After Hours.

Although Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is a shorter version at Very Merriest After Hours than previous MVMCP nights, it was still fabulous to see a parade instead of just a cavalcade.

Beloved Disney and Pixar characters wearing seasonal outfits and floats that smell like treats wind their way through Magic Kingdom. Santa is the fitting finale of Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, with him waving and wishing all a very Merry Christmas. 

There are two Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parades on each Very Merriest After Hours night. The first parade is at 9:45pm and a second one begins at 12:05am. Crowds were manageable for the first parade, but almost non-existent for the second one.

If you plan on staying until the end of the event, I recommend riding attractions during the first parade and securing a spot a few minutes before the second parade. This is the best use of your valuable after hours event time.

Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show

Cinderella castle in green and red lights with fireworks overhead at Disney Very Merriest After Hours

This relatively new Christmas firework show debuted during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in 2019. The joyful return of this cute seasonal firework show is the perfect addition to Very Merriest.

Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show is narrated by Minnie and has both festive castle projections and fireworks. The soundtrack is a mix of classic and new Christmas music perfectly timed to the projections and fireworks.

Although less crowded than Disney Enchantment fireworks during a regular Magic Kingdom day, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks drew a large crowd. There is only one showing of these Christmas fireworks each night so it seemed everyone took time to watch.

I arrived about 20 minutes before the 11:15pm start and was able to get a decent fireworks spot. If you have a large group you’ll need to grab a viewing spot about 30 minutes ahead of time.

Mickey and Minnie’s Very Merry Memories Stage Show

The Three Caballeros and other Disney characters perform Christmas songs in front of Cinderella Castle

This stage show takes place on the Cinderella Castle forecourt stage four times each night. Mickey and Minnie share holiday memories and several characters show up to celebrate.

Mickey and Minnie’s Very Merry Memories is a cute show you can watch without needing to grab a spot early. I would stop for a song or two, but not devote much of your valuable after hours time to this show.

Disney Very Merriest After Hours Ride Overlays

Previously, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party had several seasonal ride overlays as part of the party. Unfortunately the only seasonal attraction experiences for Very Merriest After Hours are Jingle Cruise and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. 

Jingle Cruise

Jungle Cruise decked out in garland, ornaments, and name changed to Jingle Cruise

My daughter is an aspiring Jungle Cruise skipper so not surprisingly we are big fans of this iconic attraction. During the Christmas season Jungle Cruise gets a seasonal upgrade and transforms into the Jingle Cruise. 

Look for special holiday decorations during your cruise and expect some very bad seasonal jokes, too. This overlay is available during a normal Magic Kingdom day, but has a different feel when cruising at night.

Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor

This is the same style comedy show of a normal Monsters, Inc Laugh Floor show, but with seasonal jokes and design. Even Roz gets in the Christmas spirit with a special sweater. We have a good time at the show, but don’t feel rushed to do it as part of your event.

Treats Included With Disney Very Merriest After Hours Tickets

During Disney Very Merriest After Hours carts around Magic Kingdom provide free treats. Grab popcorn, bottled water or soda, Mickey bars, fruit bars, and some seasonal treats. There are also four spots handing out free snickerdoodle cookies and hot chocolate on event nights.

We learned from our After Hours Boo Bash experience that it’s a good idea to get your favorite drink or snacks early in the night. Sometimes carts run out of certain items before the event ends.

However, don’t wait in crazy long snack lines at the start of the event. I was able to walk onto Big Thunder Mountain and ride faster than people got snacks so use your time wisely. I found a short line about 10:15pm in Tomorrowland and got water plus popcorn in under 5 minutes.

Disney Very Merriest After Hours Character Sightings

Santa waits to meet guests in a decorated gazebo in Liberty Square

Several Disney characters share the joy of the holiday season during Very Merriest After Hours. Look for Country Bears, Pooh and friends, Jiminy Cricket and more during the event.

However, based on our Disney After Hours Boo Bash experience don’t go out of your way to see characters. The interactions are limited and not a great use of the short event time. I mostly skipped characters and had a better overall experience at this after hours event.

2021 Disney Very Merriest After Hours Dates

There are 24 event nights in 2021 ranging in price from $169 to $249 per person:

  • November 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 28, 30
  • December 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 19, 21

Can I Stay For Disney Very Merriest After Hours If I Spend The Day At Magic Kingdom?

The short answer is no. Those who have purchased After Hours tickets are issued special wristbands to show they are event guests. After Magic Kingdom closes to day guests those without wristbands aren’t allowed to enter queues for rides. Day guests must then make their way to Main Street and exit the park.

A lot of people think that if you spend the day at Magic Kingdom you can sneak into Disney Very Merriest After Hours, but this is just wishful thinking. Cast members ask to see your wristband several times per night as you walk around the park. 

Disney Very Merriest After Hours Tips

Arrive At Very Merriest After Hours Before 7pm

Guests with Disney Very Merriest After Hours tickets can enter Magic Kingdom at 7pm. Arrive about 30 minutes ahead of time so you are one of the first event guests in the park. This helps you maximize activities even before the official 9pm event start time.

If you already have a park hopper ticket or were at Magic Kingdom earlier in the day, enter Magic Kingdom before 7pm for even more holiday fun.

See Two Magic Kingdom Firework Shows In One Night At Disney Very Merriest After Hours

Disney Enchantment is the current Disney World 50th anniversary firework and projection show. When you arrive at 7pm for Very Merriest you’ll be able to see Disney Enchantment with the regular day guests.

If you have already seen Enchantment, this is a great time to ride popular Magic Kingdom attractions since most guests are waiting for fireworks.

Skip Characters At Very Merriest After Hours

Special character experiences at After Hours events are not worth using your limited event time. The only exceptions are Stitch who is easy to find at Club Tinsel and Santa, if you happen to catch him between parades.

Finding characters was a huge time waster when attending After Hours Boo Bash. Skipping characters at Very Merriest let me have a better experience by riding more attractions and watching special entertainment.

Get A Disney PhotoPass Magic Shot At Very Merriest After Hours

A woman holds a happy holidays sign while an image of Santa and his reindeer fly by overhead

There aren’t tons of Disney PhotoPass photographers at Very Merriest, but they are a great way to commemorate your special night. Just outside Jingle Cruise, on Main Street in front of Cinderella Castle, and in front of the giant Christmas tree are some places for Magic Shots.

Most PhotoPass photographer lines close at 1am, but unlike Boo Bash a couple of lines remain open for an extra few minutes.

Don’t Wait Until Closing To Shop

Disney World stores close at the end of After Hours. Make sure you are inside a store before 1am if you really want Disney World souvenirs.

Is Disney Very Merriest After Hours Worth It?

I think Disney Very Merriest After Hours is worth it for a limited number of Disney World guests. Adults, or families with older kids, willing to stay up super late for low ride wait times, special Christmas fireworks, and a parade will love Very Merriest After Hours.

The low crowds at Disney Very Merriest After Hours makes Magic Kingdom feel peaceful and special for the holidays. Very Merriest After Hours atmosphere is more magical than Boo Bash, but is still lacking compared to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

For most families this after hours event is probably not worth the high price tag. Halfway through the event most small children had left early or were very unhappy.

However, there were a few happy, perky kids waiting in line with me at the very end of the night. You know which kind of child you have so plan accordingly.

If this late night After Hours event is too expensive, or just won’t work for your family with younger kids, I suggest celebrating the holiday season at Disney World other ways using our guide. For example, tour on-site resorts, enjoy the holiday atmosphere included in a day at the parks, or explore the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll.

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Is Disney Very Merriest After Hours worth it? Understand Disney Very Merriest After Hours vs Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party to help you make this important decision.