Editor’s Note: During this season’s Flurry of Fun at Walt Disney World’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! nighttime spectacular lights up the skies with festive fireworks set to holiday music and projections. But how does it stand up to Magic Kingdom’s holiday dessert party? Guest author, DFB Reader Mark Roberts, chimes in with a helpful review.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party
First, it is important to know that everything is being evaluated in light of the dessert party at the Tomorrowland Terrace during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party that we attended the night before. The holiday version of Wishes is simply stunning and everything about that dessert party was equal to the fireworks show. We had a fabulous time. Unfortunately, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam! doesn’t measure up to its cousin over in the Magic Kingdom.
For starters, the Bam! dessert party is hurried. We were supposed to check in at 7:30 p.m. for the 8:30 p.m. show. Over in MK you can be a little late and not worry about it because you eat on the Terrace and watch (in a nice chair – remember that – it’s important later) the fireworks from the Terrace. If you are late, that just means less time to grab some food before the show starts.
Not so over in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We arrived about 7:35 p.m. in the front alcove area of Grauman’s Chinese Theater (right where the entrance to the Great Movie Ride was). It was roped off and there were tables and a dessert buffet set up. But as soon as we were checked in and given a credential we were told that at 8:00 p.m. we would have to move because we were in a fireworks landing zone! That gave the evening a rushed feel, because — well — we were rushed!
We quickly filled a plate with some chips and spinach artichoke dip while we reconnoitered the situation. There were two long dessert tables (with identical choices) filled with tiny cheesecake bites, cookies, a Yule log (dark chocolate), and more. Fresh fruit awaited a helping of chocolate fondue and the bread pudding was simmering at the end of the table. That was all great to see and it was all delicious.
There was an open bar (the wife and I don’t drink so cannot comment), plenty of hot chocolate, coffee and decaf coffee as well as hot water and a Twinings box of tea.
Best of all, there was a station where a cast member took chocolate mousse, scooped it into a ball and dropped it into a big bowl of liquid nitrogen. It froze solid, of course. Then he pulled it out, smacked it firmly with the scoop to break it, and ladled caramel or raspberry sauce over it. For me this was the hit of the evening. It was crazy good
Goofy was there in full Santa regalia so we got a picture with him too. Then a cast member came around and snapped a tag off our credential, which he exchanged for a Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam! Christmas ornament.
By now they were moving people to the viewing area so we wolfed down our goodies. My wife has a gluten allergy so they brought her a bag of gluten free stuff, including a cupcake and some other treats. Since she had received a huge plate of gluten free desserts the night before a bag with a few cellophane wrapped items didn’t leave her any too impressed.
My wife’s gluten free treat bag contained a gluten free bun in a cellophane bag that she said was passable, a gluten free chocolate muffin (bagged) that was pretty good and two decent chocolate bars. Also there was a gluten free chocolate chip cookie (in a bag as well) but she hasn’t tried it yet. Compare that to the night before in the Magic Kingdom where she had received banana bread (that was delicious), gummy bears, two chocolate chip cookies (fresh), and four mini cupcakes of varying flavors. Plus there was fruit and marshmallows on the dessert bar. It was all more than she could eat and we were there for over an hour. That is a very different experience from having a paper bag with cellophane wrapped treats handed to you!
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam! Show
Then it was time to go. We moved over to a saved space directly in front of the theater only to find THERE WERE NO CHAIRS. Since my wife is a cancer survivor she has neuropathy issues in her feet. Sitting down is very important to her. It is why I booked the party. Now we find ourselves sitting on the ground on cold concrete. As soon as the show started people began to stand to see better and as one row of folks would stand the next would have to stand as well… until it worked back to us and we found ourselves standing (and still not seeing well)
Everything began with a ten minute salute to live action Disney films. This was enjoyable, as clips were projected in stunning color onto Grumman’s theater. However a lot of it we couldn’t see because we were so close the theater! If Disney wants to reserve prime viewing space they would do better to get us something a little further back! Even more frustrating was the standing issue. People started standing almost right away meaning it was stand to see or remain seated on cold concrete and miss a lot. We decided, after a long day theme parking, we could do without a great look at this live action short, and so we stayed seated.
After a brief pause the Bam! show proper began. It turns out this wasn’t a fireworks show at all. It is a show about two elves rescuing Santa who has been kidnapped (Spoiler alert: Santa is saved. There will be Christmas this year). Occasionally a rocket or two would be shot off to punctuate something happening in the story. Mostly, however, the story line set up musical numbers like Rocking Around the Christmas Tree so the elves could rock out and Disney could shoot a lot of red and green lasers over our heads. There was plenty of music but the fireworks were lacking. All in all, it was kind of fun but mostly the show was a yawner. A few fireworks, some more musical hijinks to save Santa and then finally, the grand finale, complete with soap bubbles being shot over the crowd as it “snowed” and everyone was wished a merry Christmas.
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam Review Overall
I don’t want this review to be harsh but in truth, the Bam! show is far from spectacular and impressive. The story isn’t that engaging, or funny, or fun. We felt particularly stung to have paid $79 to have a chair to watch the show and then be standing. [Note: I went back and looked at Disney’s website and while they promise “banquet style seating” when describing the dessert party the website only says “reserved viewing area” for the fireworks show so I guess they get off on a technicality!). Even with the chair thing dismissed, we were far too close to really see well and the show is a clunker. It wasn’t “I’m walking out” awful but it certainly wasn’t great.
To finish the evening off, on our way to the parking lot we could see and hear the monster fireworks going off in the distance at EPCOT for the IllumiNations show. That was like salt in the wound. Why weren’t we there seeing a real fireworks show? The short answer is we couldn’t get a reservation but we quit trying once we booked Bam! Now we know why it was fairly easy to book the Bam! Show — it’s not even close to as good as IllumiNations.
It is hard to be critical of anything that happens at Walt Disney World. But the Jingle Bam! party would rate about a 6 out of 10, if even that. The desserts were good but everything was rushed and again, there were no chairs for the actual viewing. I would strongly recommend the Tomorrowland Terrace party but if you want to see Jingle Bam! (and you need to think carefully about seeing it because if you skip it the lines at all the rides will be way down and you could do some serious riding) just bring your own treats and pull up some concrete. You’ll see the same thing the dessert party offers at likely a much better spot to and certainly at a much better price.
Holiday moments from Disney films are interspersed with visits from Wayne and Lanny from the Prep & Landing holiday TV special.
Editor’s Note: DFB reader and guest author Mark Roberts let us know that he shared his disappointment with the quality of the gluten-free food and that there were no seats for the firework show with Disney. He mentioned they sent back a nice email in which they said they were offering a one time refund. “No worries about us repeating that mistake!,” Mark says! Check out information for the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party here.
The Flurry of Fun is on our list of Disney World Holiday Must-Dos! See everything else on the list in our DFB YouTube Video!
Let us know your thoughts on this dessert party!