Disneyland is throwing a holiday party this year! Disney Merriest Nites is the first after-hours Christmas party at Disneyland. Of course, all of the normal Disneyland Holiday Time cheer is set to continue daily throughout the holiday season.
This separately ticketed event is held on five select nights after the park has closed. Guests can wear costumes and experience rare characters and entertainment that will lift their holiday spirits to new heights.
The Frog Family was rocking around the Disneyland Christmas trees on Nov. 11. It's always fun to be back in the park for the holidays, but it was especially fun to see musical acts and fun entertainment. The most special part of the event was seeing the Muppets singing carols from a traveling vehicle. We have tips on how to best view this show.
From food to parties, here's how you can have a holly-jolly time at Disney Merriest Nights. We had a hoppin' time, and we hope it sticks around so it has a chance to get bigger and better in the future!
Dates, Times and Prices for Disney Merriest Nites
Hopefully, Santa got you an early gift (aka tickets to this holiday party). This sold-out, separately ticketed event takes place:
- Thursday, Nov. 11 — $175
- Tuesday, Nov. 16 — $165
- Tuesday, Nov. 30 — $165
- Tuesday, Dec. 7 — $165
- Thursday, Dec. 9 — $165
Tickets went on sale Tuesday, Sept. 14 through Disneyland.com and the Disneyland app. Since the event is sold out for 2021, if Disney Merriest Nites is on your 2022 holiday wish list, be sure to buy early. The December dates seemed to sell out the quickest.
The party kicks off at 8 p.m. and ends at midnight. Party ticket holders can enter the park early at 5 p.m. The park closes to daytime guests at 7 p.m.
You'll want to arrive early to get in. We arrived at the gates at 4 p.m. and were treated to an even earlier entry at 4:40 p.m. But people who arrived after 5 p.m. were met with long lines. As soon as you enter, you'll receive a wristband and the coolest Christmas light light-up lanyard credential. The wristband and lanyard allow you to stay in the park once it closes.
Guests ages 3 and up need a ticket. Unlimited PhotoPass downloads are included with your ticket. There are photo-ops and characters in each land.
Be sure to pick up an event guide. It is filled with hopful tips, showtimes and event foods. Besides the event-exclusive foods, the regular holiday treats and foods are available. You can acquire party food beginning between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Themed Parties In Each Land
Disney Merriest Nites has six different themed holiday parties hoppening across different lands. The parties include live bands and dance parties. A Disney or Pixar character hosts each party:
- Mickey Mouse is the host on Main Street, U.S.A., accompanied by the Muppets with a Victorian-inspired party. Enjoy holly-jolly Handbell Carolers at the train station, plus the Muppets sing Christmas carols from a special traveling coach. The buildings have festive projected scenes.
- Buzz Lightyear from "Toy Story" hosts an out-of-this-world party with a DJ in Tomorrowland (from a safe distance).
- Princess Tiana from "The Princess and the Frog" takes you down to the Bayou for beads, beignets and more jazzy fun in New Orleans Square. You can embark on a holiday jazz cruise on the Mark Twain Riverboat and wave to Tiana on a balcony.
- Miguel Rivera from "Coco" hosts a fiesta that has us all singing "Feliz Navidad" with the Mariachis in Frontierland.
- Lilo and Stitch host a tropical party in Adventureland with a rooftop performance by Island Duo.
- Queen Elsa from "Frozen" takes over Fantasyland with an icy cheer that is sure to warm your heart. Get a pic with Donald from a snow fort.
Not all lands are open during the event. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Mickey’s Toontown and Critter Country remain closed during Disney Merriest Nites. You can enjoy these lands before they close if you arrive early.
The Muppets were a highlight as we like to pretend that Kermit is a distant relative. Ribbit! The Muppets travel in a coach, but you need a strategy to see them during one of the four showtimes. The coach starts at Town Square, circles past the castle, and stops for a show on the other side of the Hub. Then it circles the castle again and heads back to Town Square. You can only see the Muppets from the passenger side of the vehicle. The other side of the vehicle is a solid wall.
Here's how to catch the show: If you're waiting on Main Street near Jolly Holly Bakery Café, as soon as the Muppets pass you the first time, you can hop into the street up to the taped line on the ground. You'll be ready to see the show after they circle the Hub. Do not stand on the Partners Statue side of the street or you will see the back wall of the show. The show faces out from the Hub.
Holiday Entertainment at Disney Merriest Nites
Guests can enjoy special and rare character encounters, musical performances, DJs, snowfall on Main Street, U.S.A. and themed photo-ops. And of course, no Christmas party is complete without a visit from Santa Claus! He brings up the rear of the parade — plus you can meet him in the Royal Theater.
Catch a special performance of A Christmas Fantasy Parade at 9:30 p.m. It runs from Main Street to "it's a small world."
Food and Merchandise at Disney Merriest Nites
Holiday Time has so many delicious foods and holiday treats. You can purchase these and enjoy event-inspired menu options for purchase such as hot chocolate and cookies at select Disneyland Park locations.
You can nibble on over 20 holiday treats created just for Disney Merriest Nites including:
- Andouille Sausage Po'Boy at French Market
- Thanksgiving Leftover Burger at Galactic Grill
- Sipping Chocolate with Dipping Waffle at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café (the chocolate was very rich!)
- Dulce de Leche-drizzled Christmas Churro at the Hub Churro Cart on Main Street, U.S.A.
- Paradise Party Float from The Tropical Hideaway (Yum! The plumeria is edible too!)
- Remember Me Cinnamon Fry Bread at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante (this was more ice cream and a small guitar)
- Frozen Flurry from Red Rose Taverne
Each party area has special themed food and beverage items. Guest can use mobile ordering to avoid food lines and spend more time partying. You can set up your orders before the party even starts by choosing a return window that falls during party time. You may want to use your early entry time to eat a meal so you can save your party time for, well, partying. Then enjoy a snack or two during the actual party.
Magic Key holders have a special opportunity to dine at Blue Bayou during the party. It's a Low-Country Boil (reservations open now):
- Chicken & Andouille or Market Vegetables for $55 per adult, plus tax and gratuity
- Lobster, Shrimp and Crab for $65 per adult, plus tax and gratuity
- Includes nonalcoholic beverages
- Alcoholic beverages may be purchased for an additional charge
- A la carte child’s meal menu is available upon request for ages 3 to 9.
Each person in the party must have tickets to Disney Merriest Nites and purchase a New Orleans Boils at Blue Bayou Restaurant dining experience in order to dine at the Blue Bayou Restaurant during Disney Merriest Nites. At least one Magic Key holder must be present.
Guests are able to purchase special event-themed merchandise, as well. You can find festive apparel, a tumbler and a limited-release pin that commemorates the first-ever Disney Merriest Nites event inside Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland. Quantities of Disney Merriest Nites merchandise are limited, so the store may use a mobile waitlist system. If it is activated, you can add your name and phone number to receive a text back when it’s your turn to enter Launch Bay to check out these items! You can also find many other seasonal products at select locations around Disneyland Park during the event.
If merchandise is a priority for you, go join the virtual queue in front of Star Wars Launch Bay at 7:30 p.m. You cannot even go in and look at the merch without having a spot in line. If you miss the virtual queue, you can check back in the last hour of the party and if there is space, you might get in.
Characters at Disney Merriest Nites
This event marked the return of getting your photo taken with characters, which is both a positive and negative to us. Yes, you get your special time with the characters (from a safe distance) and photo evidence of your time together. But that also means the return of lines to meet characters, which is stressful when you have a limited-time event and so much to see! We suggest picking out your top must-see character.
Here are all of the character locations and if you need to wait in line to see them:
- Friends from Mickey's Christmas Carol in Town Square (you have to wait in line to meet characters such as Mickey, Minnie, Scrooge McDuck and the ghost of Jacob Marley Goofy).
- You have to wait in line to see Santa (in the Royal Theater), Belle and Beast (behind the castle) and Donald (near Fantasyland Theater). You can also meet Pluto with his tree and Anna and Elsa.
- Wave to Tiana, Jack and Sally on a New Orleans Balcony (no line!).
- Buzz Lightyear dances on the balcony of the Star Wars Launch Bay building while a DJ cranks out tunes.
- Lilo and Stitch have a line to meet them near the exit of The Enchanted Tiki Room.
- Miguel has a line in Frontierland.
The map notes character locations.
Unlimited PhotoPass Downloads
All Disney Merriest Nites partygoers receive unlimited Disney PhotoPass digital downloads from the night of the experience. Keep an eye out for Disney PhotoPass photographers in multiple locations, such as Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle, the 60-foot-tall Christmas tree on Main Street, U.S.A. and other iconic photo spots in each land to preserve your memories of this special night. Each of the six parties has its own themed photo backdrop designed by artists who were previously seen at WonderGround Gallery in Downtown Disney District. There are also PhotoPass photographers at the character locations.
Wearing Costumes at Disney Merriest Nites
Costumes or holiday clothes are encouraged for this party, so dress in your festive best or Disney-inspired outfits. Check the weather for your event and bring layers. Follow the costume guidelines:
- All guests may dress as their favorite character, but they may not pose for pictures or sign autographs for other guests.
- Costumes must be family-friendly and may not be obstructive, offensive, objectionable or violent.
- Costumes may not contain any weapons that resemble or could easily be mistaken for an actual weapon.
- Costumes may not contain sharp objects, pointed objects or materials that may accidentally strike another guest.
- Layered costumes or costume props that surround the entire body are strongly discouraged and may be subject to additional security screening.
- Costumes may not reach or drag on the ground (so no full-length princess dresses).
- Kids 13 and under can wear a mask as long as it does not cover the entire face. Eyes must be visible.
- Adults may not wear masks, except for face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or for other medical reasons.
- Capes may be worn if the length does not go below the waist.
- Themed T-shirts, blouses, sweatshirts and hats are acceptable.
- Acceptable accessories include transparent wings, plastic light sabers, toy swords and tutus.
- Headwear may be worn as long as it does not cover the face.
Rides and Attractions Open During Disney Merriest Nites
Many of the classic attractions are open, and holiday overlays are also available, including "it’s a small world" Holiday and Haunted Mansion Holiday. Unfortunately, "it's a small world" suffered a flood the day before Disney Merriest Nites so it was not open. Hopfully, it is repaired soon! The outside is still beautifully lit up with lights. Overall, we saw very short wait times throughout the night.
The following rides and attractions are open:
Main Street U.S.A.
- Main Street Cinema
- Astro Orbitor
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
- Star Tours
- Space Mountain
- Alice in Wonderland
- Casey Jr. Circus Train
- "it's a small world" (may be under repair)
- King Arthur Carrousel
- Mad Tea Party
- Matterhorn Bobsleds
- Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
- Peter Pan's Flight
- Pinocchio's Daring Journey
- Snow White's Enchanted Wish
- Storybook Land Canal Boats
- Indiana Jones Adventure
- Jungle Cruise
- Enchanted Tiki Room
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Mark Twain Riverboat (with a live band)
New Orleans Square
- Haunted Mansion Holiday
- Pirates of the Caribbean
Are you planning on attending Disney Merriest Nites? What are you most looking forward to seeing? We could not wait to see the Muppets in the park! If you need daytime multi-day Disneyland Resort tickets or a nearby hotel for this occasion, you can save some money when booking through Undercover Tourist.