The holiday season is underway in Disney World, and it’s time to take things up a notch!
We were at the opening night of Disney Very Merriest After Hours to check out all that the new event had to offer and bring you our thoughts and reviews. We tried some treats, enjoyed some entertainment, and just generally got into the holly jolly spirit. But was our evening worth the hefty price we paid to attend? Let’s discuss.
How Much is Very Merriest After Hours?
For starters, let’s drop some numbers. Tickets to this After Hours event start at $169 each for the “off-season” and go all the way up to $249 for the week of Christmas. That’s pretty expensive, especially when compared with the cost of the former holiday parties and other After Hours events.
At those prices, a family of four could shell out $1000 just to attend the party. That doesn’t include costs they’ll pay for snacks or parking, and they’ll also have to budget for the rest of their trip — accommodations, travel, other days of park tickets, etc. This event certainly doesn’t come cheap!
What is Included in the Price?
Even though it’s pricey, you also get quite a bit included with the price. You’ll be able to enjoy event-exclusive entertainment, some complimentary snacks, after-hours access to Magic Kingdom, and shorter wait times for many of the park’s attractions.
You’ll get the chance to watch Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, see Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, interact with some of your favorite characters, and check out the new stage show, Mickey & Minnie’s Very Merry Memories. That’s quite a lot of entertainment to occupy your time!
On top of that, Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor has a holiday-themed overlay during the After Hours event, so that’s an added bonus.
Is the Price Worth it?
Let’s start by discussing wait times and crowds. The whole point of an After Hours event is to offer lower crowds and wait times for guests so that they can experience a park with fewer crowds. As far as crowds go, things were empty in waves around the various lands.
If you’re walking through the edges of Magic Kingdom, you’ll find open walkways and few people, but the crowds were more present during the various entertainment options. We encountered larger groups of guests during the parade, fireworks, and stage show viewing times.
Wait times for rides steadily decreased throughout the night. About midway through the evening, both Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight were posted at 25 minutes, and that was during a sold-out event. If you wait until the very end of the After Hours to do your rides, you’ll probably wait even less than that!
All in all, the park wasn’t exactly “empty,” but it was certainly less crowded than it had been during the day!
Snacks & Treats
Included in the cost of your ticket are some free treats…and they’re unlimited! You can pick up snickerdoodle cookies and hot chocolate at four different locations around Magic Kingdom.
Unlike Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, there’s only one cookie flavor and one beverage choice (although, they have some allergy-friendly options). Previously, you could find different multiple cookie types spread throughout the park, so it was almost a Christmas cookie scavenger hunt!
But one thing we DID get at Very Merriest that WASN’T available at the Christmas Party was the free options at the snack carts. If you visit the snack carts during the event, you’ll be able to pick up free ice cream novelties like Mickey bars, popcorn, and bottled beverages. You could definitely fill up on those treats throughout the night!
And in addition to the freebies, there were a few event-exclusive snacks that you could purchase around the park. You won’t be able to find those treats during the daytime!
Based on our experience, entertainment was where you could really get your money’s worth. These entertainment options are only available for guests of Very Merriest After Hours, and since parades and full-scale castle stage shows haven’t returned to Magic Kingdom during the daytime yet, there’s a clear advantage for event guests.
Mickey & Minnie’s Very Merry Memories is a new stage show this year, kind of a hodgepodge of hits from the previous party shows. It’s a full-scale performance with several fan-favorite Disney characters and some excellent talent — we had a really great time watching it on opening night! The same goes for Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, which were returning from the 2o19 Christmas party, but were definitely a welcome addition to the event.
However, the standout entertainment was probably the parade. Full-scale parades haven’t been back in Disney World since the closure of the parks in March 2020, and their loss has been greatly felt since then. It was truly special to watch some of our favorite characters ride down Main Street, U.S.A. again, and we might have even shed a tear or two! Do note, there weren’t as many performers in the parade as usual.
On top of the big options, you’ll also be able to visit the Club Tinsel dance party in Tomorrowland, watch the Reindeer Wranglers in Frontierland, and find several characters dressed in holiday best scattered throughout the park. You could have a very full schedule!
You will see characters spread out around the parks but remember, these are still distanced hellos.
You can also take a distanced selfie with Santa.
One of the other big reasons that you may want to attend Very Merriest is for the atmosphere. There’s just something special about Magic Kingdom during the holidays! Throughout the night, we got the chance to experience “snoap” on Main Street, some festive ground projections in Tomorrowland, all the glitz and glamour of the holiday decorations lit up at night, and so much more.
If you’re a die-hard Christmas and holiday season fanatic, the atmosphere alone could be your motivating factor for attending. It definitely feels much more like holiday events of the past than the Disney After Hours Boo Bash did!
So, is the Very Merriest After Hours worth the hefty price tag? Well, that really depends. We’ll be the first to admit that the tickets are rather expensive, and purchasing them (especially for multiple guests) just may not be in your trip budget. If that’s the case, don’t worry — there are still plenty of other ways to celebrate the holidays in Disney World.
However, if you really want the FULL holiday experience, this is a great option that gives you access to things you can’t get elsewhere. There are plenty of holiday treats, decorations, and merchandise items around the rest of the resort, but you’ll only get to experience the special entertainment offerings if you attend Very Merriest. Is that enough to make you pay? It depends on how badly you want to check those things out!
In comparison to the Disney After Hours Boo Bash, this definitely felt like a more fully-fledged holiday party, even though the hours are shorter and the price is higher. If you’ve been missing those offerings for the past two years, then it might be worth it to consider purchasing a ticket to this event.
However, if you do attend, you’ll definitely need to prioritize what you want to do. With only four hours of the actual event, you’ll have to choose whether you want to do rides or entertainment. You could do a combination of both, but you won’t be able to get all the rides done and do all the entertainment and snacks as well, it’s just not possible in such a limited amount of time.
It would be ideal to have a few extra hours and some slightly cheaper prices, but even if you shell out the big bucks and attend this year, there are quite a few things to do. It was extra special to watch the parade, the stage show, and chat one-on-one with Santa Claus after two years without, and because of that, we were really feeling the holiday spirit!
In the end, it’s really up to you if you want to spend the money on the Very Merriest After Hours. For more details on the event and all the Disney World news, make sure to follow along with DFB!
Are you attending the Very Merriest After Hours this year? Tell us in the comments!