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?

Christmas Toy Soldier on Main Street at Magic Kingdom

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 Christmas 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.

Snacks

Another difference between Very Merriest After Hours and Very Merry Christmas party is the included snacks. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party only 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.

Characters

Character interactions will look much different during Disney Very Merriest After Hours with distanced characters plus no meet and greets. Previously, during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party you could meet unique characters or classic characters in their finest holiday styles.

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.

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 at After Hours Boo Bash we had no waits over 20 minutes, including Seven Dwarf Mine Train.

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

Olaf stands on a float during Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

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. During the day and at Boo Bash only brief character cavalcades occur which pale in comparison.

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. 

I’m hoping that the lower After Hours crowds mean less time devoted to securing a parade viewing spot. For Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party we often needed to set up an hour ahead of time for premium parade views.

Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show

Cinderella Castle with covered in colorful projections for Minnie's Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show

This relatively new Christmas firework show debuted during the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party of 2019. We were fortunate to attend the first night, and are excited for the return of Christmas fireworks during Disney Very Merriest After Hours. 

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.

The fireworks and castle projections for Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show are designed to be seen from anywhere on Main Street U.S.A. This means you don’t have to set up for a special viewing spot far in advance. This flexibility allows better use of your expensive Very Merriest After Hours event time.

Disney Very Merriest After Hours Ride Overlays

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

I’m including information about previous Christmas ride overlays from Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party in hopes some of these return for Disney Very Merriest After Hours.

Jingle Cruise – Confirmed

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 I’m hoping there is something a little extra special during Very Merriest After Hours.

Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor – Confirmed

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.

Tomorrowland Speedway – Unconfirmed

The Tomorrowland Speedway has several areas of Christmas lights along the track while holiday music plays from speakers overhead. This is a fun version of Tomorrowland Speedway, and it is about the only way you can get me to joyfully do this attraction.

Space Mountain – Unconfirmed

This is the version of Space Mountain I never knew I needed. The track has several areas lit with red, green, or blue lights with a rock inspired Christmas soundtrack. I liked that I could see some of the track and wasn’t as jostled as normal, but it shocked my daughter to see how close the tracks are to each other in certain areas.

Mad Tea Party – Unconfirmed

Hopefully Mad Tea Party gets a seasonal makeover for Disney Very Merriest After Hours like past Very Merry Christmas Parties. The overlay is a cute way to add some holiday flair to this classic ride.

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. 

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

Disney Very Merriest After Hours Character Sightings

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.

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. 

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 and special Christmas fireworks will love Very Merriest After Hours.

The low crowds at Disney Very Merriest After Hours certainly makes Magic Kingdom feel peaceful and special for the holidays. However, for most families this event is probably not worth the high price tag.

Instead I suggest celebrating the holiday season at Disney World in a less expensive way 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.