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The Best Places to Watch Epcot’s Fireworks (Restaurants, Fastpass, and more!)

The Best Places to Watch Epcot’s Fireworks (Restaurants, Fastpass, and more!)

Epcot’s fireworks show, “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth,” was a tribute to the nations of the world, involving not just fireworks, but also lasers, dancing water, and music. Premiering on October 1, 1999, it was Walt Disney World’s longest running fireworks show and, according to Wikipedia, has received several awards over the years, including 11 straight Best Outdoor Night Production Show Golden Ticket Awards.

If you haven’t already heard, the final showing of Illuminations was on September 30, 2019.

 

Illunminations fireworks show at Epcot
Illuminations — Epcot Fireworks from 1999 to 2019
Photo courtesy
Photo courtesy of of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

 
After reading this
article, you’ll know the details about the new (yet temporary) fireworks show, Epcot Forever, the best viewing spots for the show, how to get those spots, and the pros and cons of each.

Note: I first wrote this article when Illuminations was the current fireworks show, and I have not updated the section on the best places to watch.

Having seen both shows, I would imagine that, overall, the details about the viewing spots hasn’t changed much. The small amount of research I’ve done seems to verify that. But I did want to make it clear that I wrote that section is regards to Illuminations, specifically.

 

What Time is the Epcot Fireworks Show?

Epcot Forever is at 9pm every night, almost without exception.

However, it’s a good idea to double-check the time, because sometimes (not often) it varies slightly.

For example, during the holiday season, the fireworks may be pushed back to 9:30 on certain nights due to the Candlelight Processional.

Also, Epcot closes an hour early (8:00pm) on Good Friday, so the fireworks show that night is 8:00pm as well.

 

Does Epcot Have Fireworks Every Night?

Yes, weather permitting.

I did a little research to see what exactly “weather permitting” means.

Will they still have fireworks if it’s raining? Yep. (You can read more about which Disney rides and fireworks get canceled when it rains.)

Even in cases of thunderstorms, they usually delay the show for an hour or two it before deciding to cancel it altogether.

So … does Epcot have fireworks every night? It sounds like the answer is “yes,” except in very, very rare occasions due to weather.

Touring Plans, one of my favorite Disney planning sites and the authors of my all-time favorite Disney World planning book, points out something important about the ending of the show, especially if you have young kids:

“IllumiNations ends the day at Epcot. When it’s over, only a couple of gift shops remain open. Because there’s nothing to do, everyone leaves at once …
More groups get separated and more kids get lost following IllumiNations than at any other time. In summer, you’ll be walking in a throng of up to 30,000 people. If you’re heading for the parking lot, anticipate this congestion and preselect a point in the Epcot entrance area where you can meet if someone gets separated from the group. We recommend the fountain just inside the main entrance.”

 

What is Epcot Forever?

Epcot Forever replaced Illuminations on October 1, 2019.

The show is a celebration of Epcot’s four founding principals:

  1. Innovation
  2. Exploration
  3. Imagination
  4. Celebration

 

How Long is the Epcot Forever Show?

The show is 11-12 minutes long.

 

Epcot Forever over World Showcase
Epcot Forever

 

Is Epcot Forever Temporary?

Despite its name, Epcot Forever was created to last for one year, basically bridging the gap between Illuminations’ retirement and the beginning of the “real” new fireworks show.

Some people have described it as a time and way to grieve the loss of Epcot’s true vision before it is completely overhauled for Disney World’ 50th anniversary in 2021.

The new permament nighttime fireworks show coming to Epcot after the run of Epcot Forever is called “HarmonioUS.” It will celebrate how Disney’s music has inspired people from around the world.

The closest I come coming to finding a date for Epcot Forever ending and HarmonioUS beginning is “Summer 2020.”

 

Epcot Forever Soundtrack

People who are hard-core fans of the original Epcot from 1980’s 1990’s will probably have some emotional reaction while watching Epcot Forever (whether happiness, sadness, or a combination), in part due to its soundtrack of songs from older attractions.

Here is the Epcot Forever soundtrack list, in order, according to Touring Plans:

  • Epcot Main Entrance Loop weaves throughout the show
  • “One Little Spark” from the original Journey Into Imagination attraction
  • “We’ve Just Begun to Dream” from EPCOT Center original music
  • “New Horizons (If We Can Dream It)” from Horizons
  • “Universe of Energy” from the original Universe of Energy attraction
  • “Listen to the Land” from the original Listen to the Land attraction circa 1982
  • “Soarin’” instrumental score from the original Soarin’ (circa 2005)
  • “Magic Journeys” from Magic Journeys
  • “Tomorrow”s Child” from the Spaceship Earth circa 1986
  • “One Little Spark” reprise
  • “Making Memories” from Magic Journeys attraction pre-show
  • “Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit” from Kitchen Kabaret
  • “It’s Fun to be Free” from World of Motion
  • “Tapestry of Nations” (the meyla weyla song) from Tapestry of Nations parade
  • “Golden Dreams” from American Adventure
  • “Celebrate the Future” from Epcot’s Millennium Celebration circa 1999
  • “One Little Spark” reprise
  • “A Whole New World” from the motion picture “Aladdin”

 

Video — Epcot Forever Full Soundtrack

 

Epcot Forever Review

I recently saw Epcot Forever on my adult-only Disney trip in November 2019, with my friend Loraine.

We’re probably not the best people to give a personal review of the show.

I don’t think Loraine ever went to Epcot in the early days, and her comment after the show was that she liked the kites and that she never really liked Epcot’s fireworks because it seems like there’s always a tree in your way.

I only went to Epcot once, briefly, in the 1980s and 1990’s, as part of a college convention I was attending. The only attractions I even remember visiting were Cranium Command and Body Wars.

So I don’t know too terribly much about Early Epcot or have much personal nostalgia connected to it.

My main thoughts about Epcot Forever were:

  • I liked hearing the clip of Walt’s voice
  • The kites (pulled by people on jet skis) were cool
  • I wished I was familiar with the music
  • The children’s voices announcing the show and throughout the show bugged me

 

Epcot Forever new temporary fireworks show

 

In reading discussions about Epcot Forever on the Internet, it sounds like this is a very difficult show to people to review objectively, at least for big-time Disney fans, because either:

  1. They’re annoyed that Illuminations is gone
  2. They’re very upset that the “original Epcot era” is now really, officially over

And for more “normal people” who have just been to Disney World a handful of times, mostly in the last couple decades, Epcot Forever doesn’t do much for them just because the songs have no recognition or meaning at all. (I actually fall into this camp, as I explained above.)

Having said all that, here are some specific guests’ reactions to Epcot Forever.

FractalPotato on the DisBoards doesn’t mince words:

[We] are huge, huge fans of Illuminations, and we were very sad to hear it was leaving … we braced ourselves for Epcot Forever …

Well, not to put too fine a point on it, we thought it was awful and left very disappointed. It felt like the music, fireworks, kites and all of that were just happening coincidentally at the same time.

There was no coordination, the fireworks didn’t match the music at all, the kites seemed to glitch a light …

Also, there was no story, no narrative, it was just a YouTube style mash-up of Epcot music/sounds, it didn’t flow at all.

Random Aladdin music was weird, and the kids voice as the announcer was just kind of a strange choice.

I know it’s just filler, but it feels like some high school interns made it in the last few days before the show. Actually, that’s mean to high school interns.

 

Takket was a little kinder in their review, and also have a tip for getting a good viewing spot:

My child grew up on Illuminations and it was my late FIL’s favorite, so it was hugely emotional to say goodbye to it.

For those reasons anything new would have a hard time living up for me…

So tonight’s show I went into with skepticism.

The preshow announcements replaced the old dramatic narrator’s voice with a young kid. No drama at all to it. The show starts and the pyrotechnics are very good but a lot of young kids singing what I would call a poor attempt to be Wishes light. Frankly the voices aren’t that great.

But there is a lot of mixing in of Epcot classics and halfway through the show they bring in Tapestry of Nations and now I am hooked! T

The kites are well done and pretty cool and lots of very high bright fireworks. A nice show for someone like me who doesn’t care much for projections (I come to see Disney put on a fireworks show. Not turn buildings in TVs. I can watch TV on my couch.)

Like others I think they are reaching trying to use a “Whole New World” as the finale song. TONs of Epcot songs they could have gone with. Aladdin music belongs in Magic Kingom. But overall the second half really made the show for me.

In another note… we watched from well back of the railing over by the exit of the Sommerhaus. Even with DW in a scooter we could see EVERYTHING. Even the low pinwheel effects.

So if you can’t get right up in the railing don’t fret. You might even want to go FARTHER back where you aren’t staring at the back of someone’s head. The designers did a good job of making it visible from anywhere.

My grade: C+

Not bad for a placeholder show. Would be B+ if they made the finale more Epcot appropriate.

 

Honestly, it was much easier for me to find negative reviews than positive ones. The positive reviews I did see tended to be about the nostalgia of the songs (although several people even said that was ruined by the “Whole New World” finale).

 

Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Viewing Spot

1) Unlike the fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom, at Epcot it’s more of a “light show” that also has low-level fireworks and visuals on the World Showcase lagoon.

So when evaluating any viewing spot, take a moment to look around and see if any trees, torches, or light poles are blocking your view of the lagoon.

If you can see the center of the Lagoon, then you can see the show, and if not … well, then you can’t. That’s how you know whether or not you have a good spot.

2) The fireworks can produce a lot of smoke, so if the wind is strong enough that you can feel it and that it’s blowing toward you from the direction of the lagoon, this is not a good thing. Not only will you get a bunch of smoke blown in your face, but the smoke could cloud your view so much that you may not even be able to see much of the second half of the show.

Because of those two things, there is no one “best place” to watch the fireworks in Epcot.

A great place could be five yards away from a “bad” place because of a tree island blocking your view, or what was a good place last week could be a “bad” place tonight because of that wind.

With that being said, here are some general “best places to watch,” in no particular order:

 

Best Places to Watch Illuminations Around the World Showcase

1. The Bridge between the United Kingdom and France:

This bridge gives you a bit of elevation and great views of not only the lake and sky, but also of each of the pavilions as they light up during the show. The IllumiNations Fireworks Cruise typically parks their boats under or in front of this bridge during the show, so … you know it’s gotta be good.

Another nice thing about this viewing spot is that if you’re staying an Epcot resort hotel, like like the Yacht Club, Beach Club, or Boardwalk Inn, you can make a relatively quick and easy exit.

2. The Second Floor of the Mitsukoshi Department Store in Japan:
The second floor, or restaurant level), deck of the Mitsukoshi Building in the Japan Pavillian gives you some beautiful views, as you can see from this photo from my friend Meg at The Mouselets. It also has a covered deck, which is a nice plus if it’s a little drizzly out.

View of Illuminations firework show at Epcot from Japan pavillion
View of Illuminations from Mitsukoshi
Photo courtesy of Meg at The Mouselets

If you didn’t already know, Mitsukoshi is a department store chain that originally sold kimonos when it opened in 1673. So make sure you arrive early to allow some time to check it out. They sell not only kimonos and kitchenware, but also bento boxes, snacks, and merchandise from Hayao Miyazaki movies like My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away (some of my kids’ favorite movies).

3. Italy Isola:
The Italy Isola is a spot that juts out over the World Showcase Lagoon, giving you a great, unobstructed view, especially in you arrive early enough to get a spot right up against the railing.

(Once on a November trip we were, in fact, able to get a great spot against the railing here. Not because we got there early, but because of the weather: we were all wearing jackets and still uncomfortably cold. Hard to imagine, right?
Anyway, since most people had the good sense to not stand outside freezing, we had our pick of spots. I even said to the guy standing next to us, “We need to enjoy this, because it will probably never happen again!”)

Unfortunately, because Italy Isola is such a good spot, it’s often used for private Illuminations dessert parties and therefore isn’t available very often.

 

Best Restaurant to Watch Illuminations

Ah, doesn’t it sound lovely to enjoy a nice dinner in the World Showcase, then sit back and relax while you enjoy the fireworks show from your table?

Unfortunately, while that is a possible scenario, more often that not it doesn’t quite work out that way.

The problem is that none of the restaurants can guarantee you a decent view of Illuminations. Sure, you can request a table with a good view, but everyone else is going to be doing that too, so you very well may not get one — no matter how nicely you ask or even if you think you deserve preference because you’re celebrating a special event.

To make things worse, even if you are lucky enough to get a great table by the window, it is very possible that total strangers are going to come to stand right next to your table or, worse, try to wiggle up in front of you so they’re blocking your view.

Personally, I wouldn’t go to any Epcot restaurant for the purpose of seeing the fireworks show. Instead, I would pick up dessert from one of our favorite World Showcase bakeries and then find a good spot around the lagoon to watch.

Having said all that, if you still want to try viewing Illuminations from a restaurant, here are some of your options:

1, Rose & Crown — United Kingdom

The Rose & Crown is your best bet and probably the only place I would even consider eating with the intention of viewing Illuminations. It’s a table service restaurant with a pub atmosphere that serves dishes like bangers and mash and cottage pie.

Your best strategy is to make a reservation for around 7:30 or 8:00pm and arrive at the restaurant 10-15 minutes early to request an outdoor table. No, you still may not get one, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, especially if you’re willing to wait a little.

Epcot Fireworks view from Rose and Crown in United Kingdom

Photo courtesy of Kris from Nomad By Trade

Even if you end up having to siting indoors, you can still step outside “private viewing area” once the firework show begins. My friend Kris from Nomad By Trade took the photo above from that spot. If you plan on doing that, it’s a good idea to let your server know when you’re seated.

2. Tokyo Dining — Japan

Tokyo Dining is known for being a restaurant that offers a view of Illuminations, so I have to mention it here. But I don’t really think it’s a good choice, and here’s why: Remember when I said above that the deck at the top of the Mitsukoshi Department Store was a great place to watch the fireworks? Well, guess where those people are standing? Yup, outside the windows of Tokyo Dining (albeit slightly lower, but still at partially blocking the view).

Add to that the fact that at least 90% of the tables at Toyko Dining don’t even have a window seat, and … well, if you’re looking for a a great view of the Epcot fireworks, this may not be the best place to find it.

What does work for some people is telling your server at about 8:55pm that you’re leaving the restaurant to go see the fireworks and that you’ll will be returning when the show is finished. To me, that kind of defeats the purpose of eating there in order to see the fireworks, but it certainly is an option.

We’ve never eaten at Tokyo Dining, but I’ve heard that both the food and service are top-notch.

3. Monsieur Paul- France

Monsieur Paul is a gourmet French cuisone restaurant with classic French architecture and bright colors. The menu has items that I literally have no idea how to pronounce, but which sound delicious when translated, like Cassolette d’Escargots Cauderanaise (Escargot Cassolette with White Wine, Bacon, and Shallots) or Salade au Roquefort à la Poire et aux Noix de Pécan Caramélisées, (Salad featuring Bleu Cheese, Pear, and Caramelized Pecans).

And Monsieur Paul actually has a dress code (for example, no tank tops, flip-flops, or cut-offs). It is what my husband Robert would probably call “hoity-toity,” which would be his way of saying that he would never want to eat there.

Dessert at Monsieur Paul Restaurant in Epcot
Dessert at Monsieur Paul in France (Preston Mack, photographer)

So how is it for viewing fireworks? Same basic story: It just depends on your luck. The restaurant is on the second floor, so you could potentially get a good view, but many of the tables are not close to windows, and the windows are fairly small, which means the view you get from your table is likely to be very limited.

4. La Hacienda and La Cantina de San Angel – Mexico

La Hacienda de San Angel and Cantina de San Angel are sort of two restaurants in one, the first being table service where you need reservations, and the second being counter service where you don’t.

It has great ambiance, with soaring ceilings, warm-colored tile floors, and hanging lights shaped like metal star sconces and the paper lanterns. We’ve never eaten there, but is sounds the general consensus is that the atmosphere is amazing, but the food is … just okay. And surprisingly mild for a Mexican restaurant.

However, if you can get a table with a view, it’s supposed to be one of the best.

 

Watching Illuminations at the Frozen Ever After Dessert Party

Another option that’s kinda sorta like seeing the fireworks from a restaurant but that does guarantee you’ll get a good view is to get reservations for the Frozen Ever After Dessert Party.

Keep in mind that this is probably not a great option is you’re trying to do Disney on a budget. Priced at $79 per adult (ages 10 and up) and $47 per child, it would cost my family just under $400, which is a price tag that wouldn’t have been worth it for us, even when our girls were younger.

However, I’ve heard people rave about it in reviews, and if you love both a) Anna, Else, Olaf, and the gang; and b) Large amount of decorative sugar, then you might want to consider it.

Here’s how the Dessert Party works:

An hour before Illuminations begins (normally 8pm, although I’ve heard you can arrive even a little earlier than that), you’ll head to World Showcase Plaza East (the path that separates Future World and the World Showcase) and check in at the Disney Traders merchandise shop, located right before you reach Mexico.

You’ll receive an armband and be seated at your pre-assigned table. (If you’re in a smaller group, you’ll probably be seated with others as well.)
Your seats are assigned when you make your reservations, so the earlier you plan ahead, the better seats you’ll get. (Also worth noting: unlike making reservations at Disney World restaurants, reservations for the dessert parties are usually not available until 90 days beforehand. So don’t panic if you don’t see your trip dates listed just yet.)

The dessert buffet includes things like:
* Kristoff’s Kransekake Almond Cookie
* Wandering Oaken’s Eclairons
* Hans’ Key Lime Tarts with Orange Glitter Glaze
* Troll Rock Crispy Bon Bons
* Elsa’s Blue Velvet Cupcakes
* Kristoff’s No Sugar Added Lemon Curd with Blueberry
* Freeze Fried Salted Caramel Popcorn
* Olaf’s Warm Double Chocolate S’mores Pudding Cake
* Anna’s Warm Cottage Pudding with Salted Caramel Glaze
* Hand Dipped Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

There are also non-dessert options:
* Sven’s Fresh Fruits with Berries
* Grand Pabbie’s Mystical Winter Spiced Snack Mix
* Duke of Weselton’s Cheese Fondue—served with country bread cubes, broccoli, and grilled flatbread

In addition, they serve several beverages, including soda, margaritas, piña coladas, beer and wine, coffee and tea, and “melted snow.”

When it’s time for the fireworks to begin, you’ll be given a pair 3-D snowflake glasses. (I honestly don’t know if these actually improve the fireworks viewing experience or if they’re just cute. If you know, drop me a line in the comments.) Then after the show, you’ll be escorted to the Frozen Ever After attraction in the Norway Pavilion for a special VIP ride.

Frozen Ever After in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot
Frozen Ever After attraction in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot (Matt Stroshane, photographer)
It’s important to note that the Dessert Party does NOT involve a Disney character meet and greet with Anna, Elsa, or anyone else.

 

Some Frozen from IMDB Trivia to impress people at your next cocktail party: The characters of Hans, Kristoff, Anna and Sven are a reference to Hans Christian Andersen, the author of The Snow Queen.

 

Review: Is the Frozen Ever After Dessert Party Worth It?

?

 

Watching Epcot’s Illuminations from the FastPass Viewing Area

Getting a Fastpass to watch Illuminations may sound strange at first. (It definitely did to me.) How do you get a Fastpass for a fireworks show?

But yes, there is a reserved viewing area at Showcase Plaza between Disney Traders and Port of Entry, the two tower gift shops.

See how it says “Disney Traders” smack in the middle of the map below? That’s where the Fastpass viewing area is.

I’ve heard that the view is a very good one, and certainly this photo of Illuminations is fantastic.

Illuminations Reflections of Earth from Fastpass Viewing Area in Epcot
Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

Illuminations View from Fastpass+ location at Epcot Walt Disney World

 

So is it worth it to use one of your precious FastPassses for Illuminations?

The short answer is “probably not.”

The problem is that Illuminations is considered a “Top Tier FastPass experience.” You can only get one Top Tier FastPass. That means that is you get a FastPass for Illuminations, you’re forfeiting the chance to get one for Soarin’ Around the World, Test Track, or Frozen Ever After.

Over on the DisBoards forums, some people had a good experience with Illuminations FastPass:

We did a fast pass for illuminations in November because we had a couple people with us who had never been. It was well worth the FP. We didn’t have to worry about finding a spot super early and fighting the crowds, and the view was great.. Typically we would not have wasted a FP for it but considering the fact that we had “first timers” with us and that was their first day so we didn’t have morning FPs scheduled for them it was well worth it.

However, it seemed like many more people had these kind of experience with it:

FP+ for Illuminations is an utter waste. About as useful as a FP+ for Pixar Short film festival. The World Showcase is massive, there are endless viewing spots. You can show up last minute and find a good viewing spot.

We were there on the 4th of July this year didn’t show up until 8:50pm and had no problem finding a spot. Yes, it was much more crowded than normal, but we still found space (we actually stood on the bridge next to Mexico and had a great view). On a normal night, a prime viewing spot is simple.

 

Not only is it not worth it, we find it worse than “standby”. The World Showcase is HUGE, so there are endless spots to see it. The FP+ viewing area is relatively small (by way of comparison to the WS itself) and they cram a lot of people into it. We found it much more cramped in the FP+ area than just finding another nearby spot on standby…5 minutes before the show starts.

 

If you’re still debating whether using Fastpass is the right choice for you and your family, here are some other things to consider:

* You could choose to ride Soarin’ Around the World the second you walk into the park and use the single-rider line for Test Track, which is a way to shorten your wait considerably without getting a FastPass.

* If you have toddlers and preschoolers, you could try this same strategy by hitting Frozen Ever After first thing when you arrive. (If they are under 40 inches tall, they won’t be able to ride Soarin’ or Test Track.)

* If you’ve already used you’re three Fastpasses for the day, you can get on the My Disney Experience app and check to see if there are still FastPasses left for Illuminations (which is very possible if it’s around 2pm). If so, you can snatch them then.

* If you are visiting Epcot at a super-crowded time, like New Year’s Eve, getting a FastPass for Illuminations may well be worth it to not have fight the crowds and stake out a spot early at the World Showcase.

 

 

Best Places to View Fireworks Outside of Epcot

The new fireworks show, Epcot Forever, has more fireworks than Illuminations did, so watching the show outside the park may be even more enjoyable that it used to be (although I can’t vouch for that personally).

Also, I’m guessing that riding the Skyliner at about 9pm could give you a great view, depending on your timing.

Here are some places outside Epcot where it’s possible to catch at least some elements of the show.

1. Disney’s Boardwalk Resort

The Boardwalk isn’t a bad place to watch the fireworks, as long as you don’t mind missing some of the low-level effects of the show. One of the nice things about it is that there is a lot of “stuff” going on, like street performers, caricature artists, and midway games.

For the best view of Illuminations, go to the bridge just past the ESPN Club.

2. Disney’s Beach Club Resort

If you’re staying at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, you have a few nice options for seeing Illuminations from your resort.

First, you can watch the high-level fireworks from Stormalong Bay.

Stormalong Bay at Disney's Beach Club Resort
Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Beach Club Resort (Todd Anderson, photographer)

Second, you could walk to the above-mentioned bridge connecting the Boardwalk and Beach Club and watch them there.

A third option is to walk over to Epcot at about 8:45pm, stand at the wall by France, and then leave through the International Gateway. Easy in, easy out.

Illuminations Seen from the Beach Club Lighthouse Pier

 

Orlando Hotels with a Great View of Epcot Fireworks

If you want to view the Illuminations completely outside of Disney property, here are two good options:

1. Hilton Buena Vista Palace at Disney Springs

This is a lake-front hotel that offers a Disney character breakfast, complimentary shuttle service to both the Disney theme parks and Disney Springs, and access to Extra Magic Hours. In addition, you could use the Pedestrian Skybridge to walk to Disney Springs.

You can choose to book a fireworks view, Disney Springs view, or resort view room.

2. Capa Steakhouse at the Four Seasons in Orlando

You can great a great view of both Illuminations at Epcot and Wishes at the Magic Kingdom from this rooftop Spanish steakhouse and bar, located on the 17th floor. This is a good option for people who are not traveling with little kids, both because of the price and the atmosphere.

In addition, the Four Season also has Park View rooms, where you can watch the Wishes fireworks show from your balcony. And they have a great Disney character breakfast as well!

 

And now I want to hear from you!

Have you watched IllumiNations from one of these spots? What did you think? Any other spots or secret strategies to share? Let me know in the comments!

Best Places to View Fireworks at Epcot in Disney World
The best viewing spots for Illuminations, the fireworks show at Epcot. Includes restaurants, Epcot resort hotels, and hotels in the Orlando area outside the park

Best Restaurants for Watching Illuminations firework show at Epcot

Illuminations Reflections of Earth should you get a Fastpass

Illuminations Reflections of Earth should you get a Fastpass
Illuminations Reflections of Earth should you get a Fastpass

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Cape May Cafe: Menu, Price, Characters, and Breakfast Review

Cape May Cafe: Menu, Price, Characters, and Breakfast Review

On my recent adults-only Disney trip with my friend Loraine, we had breakfast at Cape May Cafe.

It was a good choice for us because, in all the years each of us have gone to Disney with our respective three kids and husband (we leave the cats at home), neither of us had ever been to Cape May Cafe or the Beach Club in which it resides.

After reading this post, you’ll know everything about Cape May Cafe’s location (including the various ways to get there), characters, prices, and menu.

You’ll also discover why I considered it to be a hidden gem.

 

Is Cape May Cafe on the Dining Plan?

Yes, it counts as one Table Service credit on the Disney Dining Plan. It also accepts the Tables in Wonderland discount card.

 

Is Cape May Cafe a buffet?

Yes, the food is buffet-style at both breakfast and dinner.

 

Which characters are at Cape May Cafe?

At Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, and Donald and Daisy Duck are there, all of them wearing adorable beach outfits.

 

Daisy duck at Cape May Cafe
Daisy Duck modeling her beachwear for us

 

There are no characters at Cape May Cafe during dinner.

 

Prices

Breakfast Price

Ages 10 and over: $43.67
Ages 3-9: $25.56

 

Dinner Price

Ages 10 and over: $52.00 plus tax
Ages 3-9: $29.00 plus tax

 

What Park is Cape May Cafe In?

It’s not in any of the parks. It’s located in the Beach Club Resort, which is one of Disney’s Deluxe Resorts.

Disneys Beach Club Resort near Epcot
Disney’s Beach Club Resort, home of Cape May Cafe

 

Which Park is Cape May Cape Closest To?

Epcot.

 

Can I walk from Epcot to Cape May Cafe?

Yes.

It’s roughly a quarter of a mile walk and will take you about 10 minutes, if even that long.

Exit through Epcot’s “back entrance” at the International Gateway, which is located between the France and United Kingdom pavilions in the World Showcase, and you’ll see the path to walk to the Beach Club Resort.

You can also choose to take the resort boat from the same location.

One thing worth noting is that if you have breakfast at Cape May Cafe and then walk (or take the boat) to Epcot before 11am, the World Showcase will be closed except for Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie, the bakery in the French pavilion.

To actually get to anything Epcot, you’ll need to walk another 8-10 minutes through the United Kingdom and Canada to get to Future World.

 

How Far is Cape May Cafe from Magic Kingdom?

It’s about five and a half miles from Beach Club to the Magic Kingdom.

If you take the Disney buses, the ride itself is about 20 minutes, but you also need to factor in time waiting for the bus. (Which can be, um, a little longer than the bus schedule says it will be.)

If you’re not in any hurry and you want to take the scenic route, you could walk through Epcot, take the monorail to the Ticket and Transportation Center, then switch monorails to go to the Magic Kingdom.

 

How Do You Get to Cape May Cafe from Hollywood Studios?

You have 3 choices. You can either:

  1. Ride a Bus
  2. Ride a Boat
  3. Walk

The walk from Beach Club to Hollywood Studios is considerably longer than it is to Epcot, but it’s certainly do-able. It’s about one and a quarter miles and will take you roughly 20 minutes.

It’s actually quite possible that walking will take less time than riding the boat or or the bus.

 

Breakfast Menu

Cape May Cafe character breakfast menu

The menu as listed on the above sign and Disney’s website doesn’t nearly do the restaurant justice. Just a few of the many buffet items include:

  • Yogurt bar
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Carved Ham
  • Omelet station
  • Biscuits with sausage gravy
  • Bacon Gruyère Casserole
  • Mickey Waffles
  • Breakfast Potatoes
  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Oatmeal
  • Cheese Grits
  • Breakfast Pizza
  • Assorted Breads and Pastries

 

Breakfast Pizza, Strawberries, and Cranberry Bread at Cape May Cafe
Breakfast Pizza, Strawberries, and Cranberry Bread

 

Dinner Menu

  • Clams
  • Mussels
  • Crab Legs
  • Shrimp
  • Pasta
  • Prime Rib
  • Chicken
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Kids’ Menu Items
    • Macaroni & Cheese
    • Corn Dog Nuggets
    • Chicken Strips
    • Fish Nuggets
    • Cheese Pizza

 

Does Cape May Cafe Have Crab Legs?

This is one of the common questions asked about Cape May Cafe on the Internet. People are panicking that they are having dinner on the “wrong night” and that the main attraction of crab legs might not be available.

Fear not … from everything I could read, it sounds like the crab legs are a daily buffet item.

Of course the line “subject is availability” is added, so I guess there is always a chance they won’t be there (just like Cinderella’s stepsisters weren’t “available” the night we went to 1900 Park Fare for dinner).

But it’s not a “We only serve crab legs on Tuesdays and Thursdays” kind of thing.

People who have had the Cape May Cafe crab legs rave about them, claiming they are freshly cooked, served right out of the steamer, and that they break apart easily and taste delicious.

 

Drink Menu

For breakfast, there are several drinks available including:

  • Juice
  • Cold Brew Coffee
  • Cafe Mocha
  • Espresso

 

In addition, there are a few alcoholic drinks, such as:

  • Mimosa
  • Bloody Mary
  • Kahlua and Coffee
  • “Beachside Bubbles” (Sparkling Wine with Orange Guava Passionfruit)

 

For dinner, there is an extensive list of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

In addition to various wines served by the glass or bottle, there are also things like:

  • Watermelon Lemonade
  • Grapefruit Spritzer
  • Sangria
  • Pale Lager
  • Amber Lager
  • Hard Cider
  • Walk the Plank (Rye Whisky, Orange Juice, Orgeat (Almond), and fresh Lemon Juice)
  • Magical Star Cocktail (Mango and Passion Fruit Liqueur, Coconut Rum, Pineapple Juice, and a Souvenir Multicolored Glow Cube)
  • Watermelon Martini
  • and many more

 

My Cape May Cafe Breakfast Review

I really enjoyed Cape May Cafe and felt like it was a hidden gem.

I liked the pastel colors and beach theme of the restaurant, and thought the characters’ outfits were adorable.

Minnie Mouse breakfast cape may cafe

 

Donald Duck at Cape May Cafe character breakfast

 

One huge plus for me is that it didn’t feel as noisy and crowded as most character buffets.

I lingered over my coffee, as opposed to feeling like we had to get the heck out of there once we were done. And several of the characters came to our table, which I think is a first for any character meal I’ve ever been to.

Goofy cape may cafe at Disney Beach Club Resort
Goofing around with Goofy

 

As far as the food goes, it was good. I didn’t get to try as many things as I would have liked to (such as the French Toast with Caramel Banana Sauce) because I’m trying this radical new thing as I get older called “not eating anymore after you become full.”

But I thought they had a great spread with a lot of variety, and I enjoyed everything that I did have. I’m always a fan of omelet stations, and when our server saw me eating oatmeal, she suggested I top it with some of their granola and even brought me a little bowl of it.

Omelet at Cape May Cafe Breakfast Buffet
Veggie Omelet with Bacon and Sausage

 

Cape May Cafe Breakfast vs. Other Restaurants

People often narrow their dining choices down to a couple somewhat similar things that they’re trying to decide between.

Here are some other character breakfast you might be debating along with Cape May Cafe:

 

Cape May Cafe or Tusker House?

I really hate to say anything negative about the Tusker House, because when I went there with just my daughters, we all thought it was one of the best breakfasts we’d ever had, anywhere.

However …

I liked the atmosphere at Cape May Cafe at lot better. It was brighter, less crowded, and felt less rushed.

And the food at Cape May Cafe was not as “unique” as some of the Tusker House offerings, but it was pretty darn good food.

One big factor in making the decision between these two restaurants is whether you consider eating at a resort to be a plus or minus.

For me, I love visiting resort restaurants because I enjoy having some “down time” during my trip. I also like getting a chance to explore the Disney resorts that I can’t afford to stay in.

 

Beach Club Resort at Disney World
Scenes from our walk through Beach & Yacht Club Resorts after breakfast

 

Some people, on the other hand, find leaving the parks to be a time-consuming hassle that isn’t worth it.

And of course, it depends on whether the people in your party are bigger fans or Mickey (Tusker House) or Minnie Mouse (Cape May Cafe).

 

Cape May Cafe or Garden Grill?

Hmm .. these are both really good choices that I would definitely recommend.

One big difference is that, instead of a buffet, Garden Grill is served “family dinner,” which means they have a set menu and they bring the food to you. (You still get to eat as much as you want.)

So a question to ask yourself is … do you like the huge variety that you get from a buffet, or would you prefer to stay put and not have you (and your kids) popping up every few minutes to go in search of more food?

Another question to ask is, would you rather visit Mickey and Chip and Dale (Garden Grill) or Minnie and the Ducks (Cape May Cafe)?

As far as the food goes, it’s hard for me to compare the two, since I only had breakfast at Cape May Cafe and only had dinner at the Garden Grill.

I was a little underwhelmed (not turned off, just underwhelmed) by the food at the Garden Grill dinner. However, breakfast is pretty hard to mess up, and I tend to think that I’d like their breakfast food more.

 

Cape May Cafe or Chef Mickey’s?

Oh, please.

I actually felt like Cape May Cafe was “the adult alternative” to Chef Mickey’s.

I would never dream of eating at Chef Mickey’s unless I had small children that I felt obligated to take there … but I had a great time at Cape May Cafe. I never felt like I was there “just for the blog” or that it was it was embarrassing or weird for two adults to be eating there.

However, if you do have little kids with you, one thing that Chef Mickey’s has going for it (other than Mickey) is that it’s awfully convenient to get an early breakfast, then hop onto the monorail and arrive at the Magic Kingdom within a few minutes.

And if I remember correctly (it’s been a long time), Chef Mickey’s has a bunch of sugary junk at their breakfast buffet, like chocolate sauce, chocolate chips, whipped cream, and sprinkles, that kids will probably love.

 

Which is Better: Cape May Cafe Breakfast or Dinner?

Well, I haven’t had dinner there … but after doing some research, the general consensus seems to be “dinner.”

There are no characters at dinner, so if seeing characters is your main concern, then obviously go for breakfast.

However, if you want a unique meal at Disney World and you love seafood, then the Cape May Cafe gets some pretty high praise.

If you do choose to go for dinner, consider taking a little time to walk over to the Boardwalk afterward. In the evening they have street performers like magicians and jugglers.

 

Video — Cape May Cafe’s Breakfast Pizza Recipe

If you loved the breakfast pizza at Cope May Cafe, you can try making your own version at home.

You only need 4 ingredients:

  • Pizza Shell
  • Salsa
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  •  

    Your Thoughts on Cape May Cafe

    What has been your experience at Cape May Cafe? Did you enjoy it as much as we did? What is their dinner like? Are the crab legs as amazing as everyone says they are? Let us know below in the comments!

     

    Minnie's beach bash breakfast at Cape May Cafe: characters, menu, and prices

    Minnie's Beach Bash Breakfast at Cape May Cafe

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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2019: Tickets, Prices, and Characters

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2019: Tickets, Prices, and Characters

Last week I attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom for the very first time — not with my three kids and husband (or the cats), but with my good friend Loraine.

After reading this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the party, including the dates, cost, what it includes, what characters are there, and what rides are open.

You’ll also learn why I never attended the party until this year, whether or not I thought it was worth it, and what I liked and didn’t like about the experience.

 

Mickey Very Merry Christmas Party Dates

The dates for 2019 are:

November:
8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22 and 24

December:
1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20 and 22

 

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Hours

MVMCP officially starts at 7pm, but you can enter the Magic Kingdom with a party ticket as early as 4pm.

In addition, Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Members​ can enter as early as 2pm, along with as many as 7 other guests who have party tickets.

 

How Much Does Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Cost?

Here are the 2019 ticket prices​, which as you can see, vary according to date:

November 11, 12, 14, 17 & 21​
Advance Purchase: $99 adult, $94 child (Ages 3-9)​
Day of Purchase: $109 adult, $104 child​

November 8, 15 & 22 and December 3, 5, 8, 10, 12 & 15
Advance Purchase: $109 adult, $104 child (Ages 3-9)​
Day of Purchase: $119 adult, $114 child​

November 24 and December 1, 6, 13 & 17
Advance Purchase: $115 adult, $110 child (Ages 3-9)​
Day of Purchase: $125 adult, $120 child​

December 19​
Advance Purchase: $129 adult, $124 child (Ages 3-9)​
Day of Purchase: $139 adult, $134 child​

December 20 & 22​
Advance Purchase and Day of Purchase: $139 adult, $134 child (Ages 3-9)​

Annual Passholders can get $5 discount on the advance pricing listed.

 

Disney Christmas Parade
Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

 

Do You Need a Park Ticket to Go to Mickey’s Christmas Party?

You do not need a regular park ticket if all you want to do is attend the party. This is our strategy. We’re going to have a resort character breakfast that morning, do some resort-hopping, visit the pool, and then show up at the Magic Kingdom for the party around 4pm.

Some (most?) people have a regular park day and then just add the Christmas party at night. Personally, I can’t justify spending that much money for a single day. Also, call me old and boring, but I would be exhausted and miserable being at the park from morning til midnight.

Either way, you do need a “special event ticket” to attend the Christmas party itself. The Magic Kingdom closes at 6:00pm for “normal people” who have only a regular park ticket, but who do not an additional ticket specifically for the party (which is usually us).

And yes, they do check if you’re wearing a party wrist band. (I was asked twice during the party to show mine.) So no, you can’t just hide in the crowds and hope no one notices that you’re crashing the party.

You can add your MVMP Ticket to your MyDisneyExperience account and it will be on your MagicBand, so you don’t need a paper ticket.

 

Do MVMP Tickets Sell Out?

They certainly can sell not, although not all of them do, so don’t wait too long to get your tickets.

According to Touring Plans, last year the first party of the year sold out one day in advance, and 3 of the December parties sold out, between 1-6 days in advance.

 

Is MVMP Busy?

Other than the opening party or two, November parties are less crowded than December parties, and Tuesday parties are less crowded than other nights.

Touring Plans lists these as the 5 best party dates for 2019:

  1. Tuesday, November 19, 2019
  2. Sunday, November 17, 2019
  3. Tuesday, November 12, 2019
  4. Thursday, November 21, 2019
  5. Thursday, November 14, 2019

 

The worst 3 party dates for 2019 are expected to be:

  1. Sunday, November 24, 2019
  2. Sunday, December 01, 2019
  3. Sunday, December 22, 2019

These estimates are based only on attraction wait times — not lines for character meet and greets.

I was actually a little nervous about the crowds based on what I had read. Not only were people were saying the crowds had been getting worse and worse over the last few years, but reports I read on the 2019 Not-So-Scary Halloween Party said that not only were the crowds awful, but the area around Main Street was downright unsafe, especially if you had small children.

So how was it?

We attended the Christmas Party on November 14, which as you can see above, was the “5th best date” in terms of crowds.

 

Characters at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

 

I thought the crowd level was … fine. The lines for characters were pretty long. We waited in two lines that were each about 50 minutes long, which for me is an usually long time to wait for characters, but I know many Disney guests are willing to wait twice that long. I think if you plan to meet characters at MVMCP, waiting in line for a while is just going to be part of the experience.

The lines for rides were pretty good. I think we waited 25-30 to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (which was pretty cool in the dark, especially since the fireworks started going off just as we were reaching the top.)

I did not even try to attend the early parade (more about that in a minute), but we got a great spot at the 11pm parade without much effort.

Loraine was smart enough to realize that we could shoot into Town Square Theater and meet Mickey Mouse right after the parade finished, and the line there was both short and unrushed (and, interestingly, almost exclusively full of adults).

So … to sum up, the crowds weren’t heavy, but the lines for characters are not going to be “short” no matter who they are or what you do.

BUT I would expect that the people who are going during the week of Christmas will have a much different experience than we did.

 

Is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Worth It?

When I was writing the draft of this article (and actually, before I even decided whether to buy tickets) I did some research asking that very question myself.

 

Reasons for “Yes”

You have to experience it at least once
The parade is amazing
We love Christmas, so for us it was fantastic
My kids enjoyed meeting all the characters

 

Reasons for “No”

Crowds are ridiculously huge
Lines for rides were longer than expected
“Free” refreshments are underwhelming
Families could use that money to do a lot more holiday-related activities
The Halloween party is better — there is more to do, and more characters

 

Several people said the party isn’t what it used to be. This comment from the Disboards is somewhat typical:

Years ago, it was definitely worth it but I believe that they sold a lot less tickets then and I felt it actually had more of a party type atmosphere.

We have gone in recent years, however, and it was very overcrowded; we experienced longer waits during the party than there were earlier that day. It was absolutely not worth it to us, the prices do not justify the experience, in our opinion.

The only things that we went for were the parade and the fireworks, otherwise we felt you could do everything else during regular park hours. And, if you think about it, even the fireworks can be seen from somewhere outside the park.

 

So did I think it was worth it?

Yes and no.

Yes in that I’m glad I went, I had a great time, and I felt like I got my money’s worth.

The parade was great, I liked the special photo ops and meeting the characters in their Christmas outfits (especially since we had Disney Memory Maker), and it was fun to see guests dressed up in their Christmas pajamas and things.

 

Mickey's very merry christmas party

 

No in that I have no regret that we didn’t go earlier as a family, especially when the kids were little. I think most of my family members would have had little patience for standing in line for hours to meet characters, and the fireworks would have caused at least one of them (depending on what year it would have been) to scream bloody murder.

Also, it’s the kind of thing where I could justify the cost for myself for one night, but for the price for a family of five … mmm, no, I think our money was better spent over the years just getting a regular day ticket for the Magic Kingdom instead.

Would I go back? Maybe, but I tend to learn toward “no.” Once was great. I don’t particularly feel to need to do it again and again.

 

What is the Weather Like at Disney World at Christmas?

Some people (including us) have been taken be surprise to discover that Florida can get awfully cold in winter evenings. The average low temperatures are 58 for for November and 51 for December.

As funny as it may sound, I would recommend not only wearing long sleeves, but also bringing a lightweight, packable jacket, earmuffs and/or a fleece hat, and gloves.

 

GliderGloves Copper Infused Touch Screen GlovesGliderGloves Copper Infused Touch Screen GlovesGliderGloves Copper Infused Touch Screen GlovesWinter Beanie Knit Hats for Men & WomenWinter Beanie Knit Hats for Men & WomenWinter Beanie Knit Hats for Men & WomenThick Warm Winter Beanie Hat Skully Knit Hats Ribbed Cap for WomenThick Warm Winter Beanie Hat Skully Knit Hats Ribbed Cap for WomenThick Warm Winter Beanie Hat Skully Knit Hats Ribbed Cap for Women= Women's Lightweight Water-Resistant Packable Hooded Puffer Jacket= Women’s Lightweight Water-Resistant Packable Hooded Puffer Jacket= Women's Lightweight Water-Resistant Packable Hooded Puffer JacketFoldable Fleece Ear muffsFoldable Fleece Ear muffsFoldable Fleece Ear muffs

 

 

Of course, wearing some fun Christmas-y stuff is also a good idea.

Mickey Mouse Christmas Lights T-ShirtMickey Mouse Christmas Lights T-ShirtMickey Mouse Christmas Lights T-ShirtMinnie Mouse Christmas T ShirtMinnie Mouse Christmas T ShirtMinnie Mouse Christmas T ShirtChristmas Snowflake Reindeer Family Vacation ShirtsChristmas Snowflake Reindeer Family Vacation ShirtsChristmas Snowflake Reindeer Family Vacation ShirtsMickey Mouse Ears Headband (Red Green)Mickey Mouse Ears Headband (Red Green)Mickey Mouse Ears Headband (Red Green)

 

 

Also, keep in mind that the party will be held even if it rains, so be sure to have some disposable rain ponchos on hand so you don’t risk getting drenched.

20 Pack of Family Rain Ponchos20 Pack of Family Rain Ponchos20 Pack of Family Rain Ponchos

 

 

 

What does Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Include?

Here’s pretty much everything you get with your ticket that you wouldn’t get with just a “normal day at Magic Kingdom.”

After the list, I’ll cover each one in detail.

  • Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade
  • A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show
  • The Edge Effect
  • Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration
  • Reindeer Wranglers
  • Character Dance Parties
  • Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks
  • Complimentary Refreshments
  • Character Meet and Greets, some with rare characters and/or characters in holiday attire

In addition, there are 2 “parties within a party” that you can pay even more money for, if you enjoy spending as much money as possible:

  • Fireworks Holiday Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace
  • Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party

 

Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade

The Once Upon a Christmas Time Parade is shown 2 times each night during the party, at 8:30pm and 11:00pm.

I had heard that the parade was really, really good, and it did not disappoint. It includes reindeer, gingerbread men, Disney characters in holiday outfits, marching toy soldiers, and, of course, Santa.

 

Disney Christmas Parade on Main Street
Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

 

The parade begins in Frontierland and continues through Liberty Square, circles Central Plaza in front of Cinderella’s Castle, then heads down Main Street. So if you decide to watch from Frontierland, make sure you don’t arrive late.

Not surprisingly, the later parade is much less crowded than the first parade. If you choose to go to the earlier parade, you should get get a spot 45-60 minutes before the parade begins. The best place to watch is on Main Street. Not only is the ambiance the best there overall, but it includes fake snow.

We attended the 11pm parade and got a perfect spot, right at the rope, at the very end (beginning?) of Main Street, near the park entrance by Tony’s Town Square Restaurant.

 

Video: Mickey’s Once Upon a Time Christmas Parade

 

A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show

This show takes place in, um …. Tomorrowland, on the Rockettower Stage between Space Mountain and the Carousel of Progress.

The show lasts for about 20 minutes and stars Buzz Lightyear, Stitch, and Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc, as well as several humans. I’ve heard it described as “goofy,” “bizarre,” and “silly,” as well as “intended for people under the age of 8 years old.”

I’ve never been above enjoying something intended for 8 year olds, (much to my teen children’s embarrassment), so I had every intention of attending this one, but unfortunately the timing never worked out.
There are 5 nightly performances and it sounds like it’s never too crowded, so that will make it easy.

 

Video — Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show

 

The Edge Effect

In between showings of A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas, an a capella singing group called the Edge Effect appears on the same stage to sing Christmas music.

Again, I planned to catch this one but didn’t go a good co-ordinating being in the right place at the right time.

If you’re more organized than I was, a good strategy is to grab a couple cookies at Auntie Gravity’s right after A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas, then heading back to watch The Edge Effect.

 

Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration

This show takes place on the Cinderella forecourt stage. The premise is that it’s days before Christmas, and Mickey is throwing a Christmas party at his house and inviting all of his friends.

Guests include Donald and Daisy, Clarabelle Cow, Goofy, Jessie and Woody, Peter Pan and Wendy, and many others.

The show includes dancing and singing and general holiday cheer. A close viewing spot is recommended.

 

Video — Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration

 

Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks

It was announced in June that the 2019 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party would replace the Holiday Wishes fireworks show with something new called Minnie’s Wonderful Christastime Fireworks.

This new show will have medleys of songs like “Deck the Halls,” “Joy to the World,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Disney is advertising that these new fireworks “can be enjoyed across the park!” which suggests that, at least to some extent, you don’t to get a “great viewing spot” to enjoy it. We discovered this to be true when we suddenly experienced a great show while we were in Fantasyland.

 

Reindeer Wranglers

The Reindeer Wranglers are a country music string group that perform Christmas-themed song parodies. For example, they sang “Hey, Santa Claus” to the tune of “Sweet Caroline” and had us all sing, “Ho ho ho!” at the part in that song where everybody always sings.

I heard that sometimes you can catch the Country Bears joining the Reindeer Wranglers, but we were not so lucky.

 

Video — Reindeer Wranglers with the Country Bears

 

Character Dance Parties

Dance parties?!?

As Amy Poehler would say, “Yes, please!”

There are two of these:

  1. Junior Jingle Jam in Storybook Circus
  2. Club Tinsel in Tomorrowland’s Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe

Check the schedule, because the dance parties sometimes end before the entire Christmas party ends.

I did, in fact, duck into Club Tinsel, both to load up on cookies and hot chocolate and also to get some dancing in. After strutting my stuff to “The Cupid Shuffle” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and then decided we should probably move on to other things. (Plus I had to catch my breath.)

One thing that’s understandable, but sort of a bummer, is that the bears and reindeer don’t interact with you. I tried to make “eye contact” with them and sort of dance facing them, but they ignored me so blatantly that I’m guessing they’re trained to do so.

 

Video: Dance Party at Club Tinsel

 

Complimentary Refreshments

My father would be quick to remind me (repeatedly) that the cookies at MVMCP are not “free,” but rather about $20 each, depending on how many of them you eat.

Here are the free-but-not-really-free refreshments that are available at different locations, wherever you see a large, inflatable peppermint stick:

  • Tortuga Tavern (Adventureland):
    Snowman Soft Pretzel and Fanta​
  • Jungle Cruise (Adventureland): Ginger Molasses Cookie
  • Diamond Horseshoe (Frontierland):
    Chocolate Chip Cookie and Eggnog
  • Miner’s Cove (Frontierland): Peppermint Cookie
  • Golden Oak Outpost (Frontierland): Snickerdoodle Cookie
  • The Friar’s Nook (Fantasyland):
    Chocolate Chip Cookie​
  • Storybook Circus Snacks Cart (Fantasyland):
    Snowman Pretzel
  • Pinocchhio’s Village Haus (Fantasyland):
    Snickerdoodle Cookie, Hot Chocolate, and Fanta
  • Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café:
    Peppermint Cookie, Hot Chocolate, and Apple Cider​
  • Lunching Pad (Tomorrowland):
    Ginger Molasses Cookie and Apple Cider

 

The cookies are wrapped, which I know some people were complaining about (they didn’t used to be wrapped years ago).

However, I think it’s great that’s they’re wrapped because:

  1. Unwrapped cookies + many strangers’ hands = eww
  2. You can easily tuck it into you backpack for later

In addition to the free-not-free treats, there are also “Exclusive Treats” that you can pay extra for, like Red Velvet Mickey Waffles at Sleepy Hollow and Chocolate Yule Log at Pecos Bill.

In typical Disney fashion, there are alternative healthy and gluten-free options are available upon request.

 

Fireworks Holiday Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace

If you like the idea of spending even more money than you already did to attend MVMCP, you can also pay an extra $84 per adult and $50 for children ages 3-9 to attend this party-within-a-party.

The dessert party includes a fireworks viewing area and a buffet with desserts and non-alcoholic beverages. It does not include parade viewing.

I have no idea why someone would want to do this unless they have an unlimited vacation buffet and enjoy throwing their money around.

 

Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party

This is a similar idea, but a little more understandable (and, or course, more money).

For $99 per person, you can get reserved parade viewing for the 11pm parade and a buffet with savory appetizers, desserts, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages. It runs til 12:30 am, later than the Christmas party itself.

I guess this might possibly be worth it if you plan on drinking yourself under the table, enjoy staying out late, and hate searching for a good parade-viewing spot. But then again, this is for the later parade, which is never terribly crowded anyway.

Either which way, this is certainly not something that I will ever be paying extra for.

 

What Rides Are Open During Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party?

Most rides are open during the party. (In fact, it might be easier to have a list of which rides aren’t open.)

Here’s a list of what’s available to ride:

Fantasyland

Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
It’s a Small World
Princess Fairytale Hall
Mad Tea Party
Mickey’s Philharmagic
The Barnstormer
Casey’s Splash and Soak
Under the Sea
Enchanted Tales with Belle
Ariel’s Grotto
Peter Pan’s Flight
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

 

Liberty Square

The Haunted Mansion

 

Frontierland

Splash Mountain
Country Bear Jamboree
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

 

Adventureland

Pirates of the Caribbean
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
Swiss Family Treehouse
Jungle Cruise

 

Jingle Cruise in Disney World at Christmas
“Jingle” Cruise
Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

 

Tomorrowland

Stitch’s Great Escape
Buzz Lightyear’s Ranger Spin
Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor
Tomorrowland Transit Authority
Astro Orbiter
Space Mountain
Tomorrowland Speedway

These attractions had “special holiday enhancements” just for the Christmas parties:

  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Space Mountain
  • Mad Tea Party

 

Can You Use Fast Pass During the Party?

No.

But …

Since you can arrive for the party at 4pm, you can get Fast Pass reservations from then until the party officially starts at 7pm.

 

Magic Kingdom at Christmas time
Photo courtesy of Judd at WDWOW

 

What Characters Are At Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party?

This character list was taken from the Disboards’s Official MVMCP thread, which as of this writing has not been updated for 2019 yet, but is probably “mostly still true.”

 

Main Street, U.S.A.​

  • Santa Claus at Town Square (Meets During the Day)​
  • Mickey Mouse (Christmas Outfit) at Town Square Theater​
  • Jack Skellington as Sandy Claws and Sally at Town Square Theater (Starts Meeting @ 4:30pm & Wristbands distributed in line if you’re already in the park.)

 

Adventureland​

  • Captain Jack Sparrow​
  • Aladdin (Prince Ali) with Abu (Scarf)​
  • Jasmine with Genie
  • Moana (Starts Meeting @ 5:45pm)​
  • Peter Pan (Scarf) – Roaming​

 

Liberty Square​


 

Fantasyland​

  • Tigger and Friends (Scarves) —Near Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Starts Meeting @ 6:20pm)​
  • Ariel w/Prince Eric (Across from Ariel’s Grotto)​
  • Princess Tiana w/Naveen and Rapunzel w/Flynn Ryder (Princess Fairytale Hall)​
  • Cinderella w/Prince Charming and Elena of Avalor (Princess Fairytale Hall)​
  • Aurora w/Prince Phillip and Snow White w/Prince (Near Princess Fairytale Hall) — Line up at 6:30pm​
  • Belle​
  • Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum (Next to the Mad Tea Party) — Started making an appearance w/o 12/3)​

 

Characters at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party 2019
Meeting Tigger and Friends in Fantasyland

 

Frontierland

  • The Country Bears​

 

Storybook Circus​

  • Seven Dwarfs (Holiday Scarves) — Very popular! Line up by 5pm to meet them. (Starts Meeting @ 6:15pm)​
  • Scrooge McDuck w/Donald (Lumberjack/Holiday Plaid Hat & Coat) — Casey Jr.​
  • Minnie Mouse (Peppermint Dress) & Daisy Duck (Holiday Dress w/Snowflakes)​
  • Santa Goofy (Near Barnstormer)​
  • Timon, Doc McStuffins & Vampirina (Disney Junior Jingle Jam)​

 

Tomorrowland

  • Nick Wilde & Judy Hopps (Starts Meeting @ 6:15pm)​
  • Reindeer​
  • Polar Bears​

 

Characters that are exclusive to MVMCP:

  • Seven Dwarfs
  • Sandy Claws
  • Captain Jack Sparrow
  • Nick & Judy
  • Princes with their Princesses (Prince Charming, Prince Eric, Flynn Ryder, Prince Phillip & Prince)
  • Moana

 

Characters at MVMCP that are normally hard to find:

  • Abu
  • Genie
  • Bert
  • Piglet

 

Is there a long wait for characters?
I heard the average wait time is 30-40 minutes, which is my experience was accurate … well, closer to 45 minutes.

The Seven Dwarves and Jack & Sally are the most popular characters, with waits up to two hours long.

If meeting characters will be an important part of the evening for you, then look closely at the schedule and have a plan of attack. You could easily spend the entire party doing nothing but waiting on line for characters and still not get to see everybody.

 

Chip 'n Dale Holiday Bean Bags Set of 2Chip ‘n Dale Holiday Bean Bags Set of 2Chip 'n Dale Holiday Bean Bags Set of 2Mickey Mouse Holiday PlushMickey Mouse Holiday PlushMickey Mouse Holiday PlushDisney Holiday Minnie MouseDisney Holiday Minnie MouseDisney Holiday Minnie MouseKurt Adler 10-Inch Mickey Mouse Tree Topper or TablepieceKurt Adler 10-Inch Mickey Mouse Tree Topper or TablepieceKurt Adler 10-Inch Mickey Mouse Tree Topper or Tablepiece

 

 

You might also like:
Mickey Mouse Christmas Decorations

 

Now it’s your turn.

Have you been to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party? If so, do you think it’s worth it? Have crowds gotten worse over the years? What do you like best about the party? Let us know in the comments below!

Tips for visiting Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World

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