This year, Disneyland is throwing its first hard-ticket holiday party. It’s called Disney Merriest Nites, and I was able to attend on behalf of Attractions Magazine. This party had a lot of different content to check out but was only four hours long. I left the event feeling like I didn’t get to experience even half of what the party offered. It got me wondering, how much is too much?
Disney Merriest Nites features different “parties” in six of the park’s lands. It offers rare character meet-and-greets, additional photo opportunities, event food and merchandise, plus a lot of live entertainment. The main entertainment includes A Christmas Fantasy Parade and The Muppets Christmas Caroling Coach (which is fantastic), along with other small performances throughout the lands.
Four hours may sound like a long time, but I find that a lot of your party time is spent waiting. Of course, this is just the nature of theme parks in general, but when you’re paying a high ticket price to experience special offerings that you can’t do during normal park hours, you sort of feel ripped-off for not having the chance to experience most of it.
I should add that guests attending the party are allowed into the park three hours before the party begins, for a total of seven hours of party time. But none of the party-specific content is available to experience during those first three hours. You basically have to decide what is most important to you: is it live entertainment, character photos, or merchandise and food?
Some might argue that an event with so much to do means that Disney threw a pretty stellar party. I’m not sure I would agree with that sentiment. Yes, having plenty of offerings is a good thing, but having so many that it’s impossible to experience a touch of everything you desire feels disappointing and like the guest isn’t getting their money’s worth. On the other end of the spectrum is a party where there’s not enough to do. In my opinion, they’re both equally bad. You leave feeling as though you didn’t get what you paid for.
This is not something that is specific to Disney Merriest Nites. This is often the case for hard-ticket, after-hours events. So, what’s the solution? The biggest problem I tend to see at these events is lines to meet unique characters. There are two ways to shorten those lines: either sell less tickets into the party, or double cast each of the character roles. As it stands, many of the characters take photos “on stage” for 30 minutes, and then are gone for 30 minutes. So, during that four-hour party, the characters are only available for around two hours. That’s an extremely limited opportunity if your priority is character interactions. This leaves me simply seeing the characters from a distance while I head to and from live entertainment offerings.
Obviously, either of these scenarios means less profit for the company, so the chance of these things changing is unlikely, and perhaps I’m in the minority as these parties continue to sell out each time there’s a special event. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the subject. Do you like that there’s so much to do during the event, or does it leave you feeling like you didn’t get what you paid for? If you do attend an after-hours party, what is typically your priority while there? Let me know in the comments.
If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com. DePaoli’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent Attractions Magazine.