Mickey Mouse has gifted us an early Christmas present with the announcement of a brand new after-hours event at Disneyland! “Disney Merriest Nites” is the newest separately ticketed event to come to the park. The new party will be held at Disneyland on 5 select nights this holiday season in November and December. After not being able to celebrate the holidays at Disneyland during 2020, we are ready to make up for some lost time!
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM DISNEY MERRIEST NITES
This festive party is actually 6 in 1, with some of our favorite Disney friends hosting their own parties in each land:
Mickey, our host with the most, will be hosting a Victorian themed party on Main Street USA. In addition to carolers singing some favorite holiday songs, the best snow in Southern California will fall from the sky over Main Street. The Disneyland snow experience is so magical, especially for Southern California residents who may never experience snow during Christmas time otherwise! It is a favorite experience for kids and always a fun way to kick off the holiday season in the parks.
Miguel from Coco will be hosting his Feliz Navidad party in Frontierland with music and dancing. Tiana will be celebrating in New Orleans with her signature beignets, and we expect to see some New Orleans beads as well! Elsa will be celebrating in Fantasyland, Lilo and Stitch in Adventureland, and Buzz in Tomorrowland along with a DJ. We are never one to turn down a dance party in Tomorrowland, and we can’t wait to experience the other parties as well!
A Christmas Fantasy Parade will take place during the party. Parades have yet to resume in the parks since reopening again after the Covid closure, so this holiday parade will be highly anticipated. While Mickey and Minnie are always the stars of any parade, we do love a Santa sighting in the parks!
Other event-only experiences include event merchandise that will only be available during the party, photo backdrops for those Instagram moments, and character sightings dressed in their holiday best! We always love to see characters dressed up in their holiday clothes.
In addition to these event only experiences, party attendees will also be able to soak up all of the usual holiday magic that Disneyland offers. Each year the castle is adorned with snow and lights. Both It’s A Small World and the Haunted Mansion get a holiday makeover that can’t be missed, and the park itself will be decked out in holiday decor. One of the big highlights of Christmas time at Disneyland is the huge Christmas tree in the middle of Main Street USA. We look forward to it every year! It’s the perfect spot for a family photo.
And did we mention all the holiday treats? Another highlight of any season, and extra icing on the cake for Disney Merriest Nites. The Disneyland website includes costume protocol and encouragement on the Disney Merriest Nites information page. While this could be information left there from Oogie Boogie Bash, we are never one to turn down an opportunity to dress up at Disneyland! We’re hoping to see lots of Christmas sweaters, Santa hats, and of course some festive mouse ears at the party.
While this is the first after-hours Christmas event, we expect it to run similarly to after-hours events in the past. Thinking of attending, or already have theme park reservations on an event day? We are breaking down what all that will look like below:
VISITING DISNEYLAND, BUT NOT THE PARTY
Those who have regular theme park tickets can still make a Disneyland reservation on the dates Disney Merriest Nites will be held. With a Disneyland ticket and reservation, you will be able to enjoy the park as usual prior to the party beginning. Starting at 5:00 PM, those attending the party will be able to enter the park early.
During these hours of overlap between regular park attendees and Disney Merriest Nites attendees, you can expect the crowds to increase a bit. There will be some closures during the party including Mickey’s Toontown, Critter Country, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, so be sure to enjoy those areas before they close down for the party. Once the park closes and the party officially begins at 8:00 PM, a party wristband is required to ride attractions, make purchases, and do pretty much everything inside the park. This is the method for ushering out those who have not purchased a party ticket.
The schedule and park hours for November are not listed on the Disneyland site quite yet; if California Adventure remains open after 8:00, those who have not purchased an event ticket typically make their way over to that park. Keep in mind that because of this, there is typically an increase in crowds at California Adventure.
We have listed the Disney Merriest Nites event dates farther down in this article. If you are visiting Disneyland in November and/or December, be sure to check those dates and plan accordingly so you are not surprised when the party crowd arrives!
VISITING BOTH DISNEYLAND AND THE PARTY
If you have both a theme park ticket and reservation and Disney Merriest Nites ticket, you will be able to attend both! You can enjoy a Disney day, obtain your party wristband prior to the party beginning, and then stay in the park until the party ends. At 8:00 PM, those that do not have a party ticket will have to exit the park, and the true perks of attending an after-hours event begins! You’ll be able to enjoy all the exclusive holiday parties and run onto rides with little wait times. The crowds disperse, making it the perfect time to run onto the popular attractions that usually have a long wait time.
ATTENDING JUST THE PARTY
If you do not have a Disneyland ticket and reservation and will be attending Disney Merriest Nites only, you can enter the park at 5:00 PM, 3 hours prior to the party beginning. You can expect a long line to get into the park at 5:00 PM. At the entrance booth, you will also be given your party wristband. Enjoy your extra few hours before the party begins, and keep that wristband on so you are ready to party at 8:00 PM!
PURCHASING DISNEY MERRIEST NITES TICKETS
Separately ticketed events are typically very popular at Disneyland, and we expect Disney Merriest Nites to be no exception. Tickets go on sale this Tuesday, September 14th at 9:00 AM. If you’ve purchased theme park tickets or Oogie Boogie Bash tickets this year, you have most likely experienced the long wait times in the virtual queue on the Disneyland site. If you are planning to purchase Disney Merriest Nites tickets, we recommend being prepared for a similar long wait.
Keep your laptop open or Disneyland app so that you are ready to make a purchase as soon as it’s your turn! If this event is like any others in the past, it’s likely that they will sell out. Have a backup date in mind and be ready to hop online or have the Disney app open Tuesday morning! Tickets are $165 and required for everyone ages 3 and up. The available dates for Disney Merriest Nites are:
- November 11th
- November 16th
- November 30th
- December 7th
- December 9th
IS IT WORTH IT?
With the cost of theme park tickets and the general cost of traveling to and from California for a Disneyland trip, many people have criticism about these separately ticketed events. You may want to consider Disney Merriest Nites not being worth the price in these specific situations:
- You are traveling on a tight budget
- You will be spending a few days at the parks already. After long days in the parks, you may not have the energy left for a few extra hours without taking a break during the day. In that case, that mid-day nap might not offset the cost for an after hours party.
- Your group includes lots of young kids. If you are a parent, you do not need to be told that 8:00-midnight might not be the best window of time for a toddler! Add in the sweets, potential loss of nap, and over stimulation from a busy day, purchasing a ticket for a few more late night hours might not be worth it for those little ones.
- You won’t be riding the bigger rides. The short lines for these popular attractions are one of the perks of an event like Disney Merriest Nites, so if you won’t be riding them anyway, you might want to re-think attending.
- You are traveling far just for the party
On the flip-side, Disney Merriest Nites is a wonderful experience for these situations:
- You only have a day or two to spend at the parks
- You do not have young children in your group
- You can take advantage of the low crowds by running onto the bigger attractions
- You are a night owl and love the feeling of closing down the park
- You are a Southern California resident and do not need to travel far to attend
WHO IS MERRIEST NITES FOR?
Want our opinion on if you should purchase a Disney Merriest Nites ticket? There are a few situations which we find ideal for an after-hour event like this!
- Local perks! We think after-hour events are ideal for Southern California residents that do not need to travel far to attend. It’s the perfect after work activity; pop over for a fun night without the stress of travel. With limited capacity, it’s such a great way to knock out so many of the attractions in one night!
- 18 and over. Whether you are local or your travel group allows, we think it’s a perfect night to enjoy without kids. If you are a Southern California resident, find a babysitter and enjoy a night out where you get to call the shots in the park! If you have traveled for a vacation, plan a designated volunteer ahead of time who will stay back at the hotel with the kids while others in the group attend the party.
- Date night! Disneyland makes for a perfect date night location. Whether you already have a designated plus one, or are looking to break the ice with a new prospect, Disneyland has the perfect combination of moments to chat in line plus excitement on rides.
- Girls or Guys night out. Have a spouse who isn’t as big of a Disney fan as you are? Save the cost of buying two tickets and attend the party with some friends instead!
You might have noticed a theme here: we think after hour events are ideal for adults. There is something to be said for experiencing the magic of Disneyland and the holidays with kids, but that can be done with a regular park ticket if you are already planning on attending. For a separately ticketed event like this, we think the most magic comes from not having to worry about late night toddler meltdowns or height requirements. If your situation allows, we highly recommend making it a grown-ups night out!
HOW WILL COVID AFFECT THE PARTY?
As we have learned in the last year +, so much cannot be predicted when it comes to Covid protocols. Masks are currently required indoors at both Disneyland and California Adventure. Character interactions are being kept to a minimum, with a distance of 6 feet between guests and characters. Characters are appearing behind a barrier such as a rope or fence to enforce the distance between guests. Photo opportunities are still available, but do not expect to get a big hug from Mickey for the time being. Assuming not much changes in the next two months, the same current Covid restrictions will likely apply to Disney Merriest Nites as well.
Will you be snagging tickets to the party? We are anxious to see what each land’s party will look like, see new holiday decor, and new holiday party treats! Let us know if you attend, and be sure to send photos our way!