Disney Merriest Nites an all new after hours event at Disneyland during the holidays for the first time ever this year in 2021. Enjoy after hours access to attractions, 6 different themed parties, exclusive festive holiday treats created just for event plus a special performance at 9:30 p.m. of “A Christmas Fantasy” Parade. The event is from 8 p.m. to midnight with early access at 5:00 p.m. into Disneyland Park. At this time tickets are sold out to the event. Dates for the party are November 11, 16 and 30, December 7 and 9. I attended the first party last week! I’ve got some tips to share plus a FREE printable checklist on this post you can print to help you plan your night!
Early Admission to Disneyland Park
Arrive ahead beginning at 5:00 PM and explore the park before the party, no theme park reservation required. A cast member will hand you light up lanyard as shown in the photo below. At this point your PhotoPass that comes with your ticket is activated. The photo I have below is from a PhotoPass photographer taken at 6:30 p.m. Take advantage of the PhotoPass that comes with your ticket even before the party starts.
Be sure to take advantage of the mix-in time before the party starts at 8 p.m. Enjoy holiday entertainment like It’s a Small World light up, tree light in Town Square and more. Check out this holiday post for all the things!
After-Hours Access to Attractions
Ride some of the park’s classic attractions with shorter wait times due to the limited number of guests attending the event. And don’t miss the two holiday attraction overlays “it’s a small world” Holiday and Haunted Mansion Holiday. Access to Mickey’s Toontown, Critter Country and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will not be available during event hours.
Be on the lookout! You may see both rare and classic Disney Characters dressed in their holiday best. Plus a guest appearance from Santa Claus himself. A list of all characters is found on the printable at the end of the post. Here are a few I saw during the evening.
6 Holiday parties during the event
Make the most of all “six holiday parties in one” during the event. Let’s break it down by party including special characters, entertainment and food found in each location.
Victorian-Themed Party on Main Street, U.S.A.
- The host with the most, Mickey Mouse, invites you to the party of the year! Find Mickey and Minnie dressed in their best attire over near the Mad Hatter store in Town Square.
- Listen to the Handbell Carolers singing some holiday favorites. We heard them playing on the steps of the train station. I loved the hand bells. The performance times are in the app under “entertainment.”
- Join Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and their friends for Christmas carols, Muppet antics, and a few chickens. The Muppets Christmas Caroling Coach comes down Main Street, circles around in front of the castle and then stops in front of the Partners Statue. For the best view of the show stand on the very end corner of Main Street in front of the statue for the best views. The Muppets are only on one side of the vehicle as shown in this photo.
- Exclusive special event food at Jolly Holiday – Sipping Chocolate with Dipping Waffle and Dulce de Leche-drizzled Christmas Churro at the Hub Churro Cart on Main Street, U.S.A.
The Sipping Chocolate with Dipping Waffle was SO good. The hot chocolate was very sweet but the waffle dipped in it made for the perfect combo of flavors and toned down the sweet. I loved this treat, get it!
New Orleans Holiday in New Orleans Square
- Swing by this jazzy celebration hosted by Tiana and brimming with beads, beignets and bountiful holiday fun.
- This party also includes a holiday jazz cruise on the Mark Twain Riverboat.
- Exclusive special event food at French Market – Andouille Sausage Po’ Boy.
Frozen-Themed Party in Fantasyland
- Discover a flurry of festivities at a celebration featuring Elsa and her icy escapades—and plenty of heartwarming cheer. Plus character appearances from Anna, and Olaf too.
- Exclusive special event food at Red Rose Taverne – Frozen Flurry.
Feliz Navidad Party in Frontierland
- Join Miguel from Coco for a jolly fiesta with live music from Mariachis up above the Golden Horseshoe.
- Exclusive special event food at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante – Remember Me Cinnamon Fry Bread. I really wanted to try this one, but when I arrived at 11:35 p.m. it was closed. So grab this one earlier if you want to try it.
Tropical Party in Adventureland
- Delight in a holiday celebration with tropical flair hosted by the loveable Lilo and her mischievous pal, Stitch. The line for Stitch was really long.
- Exclusive special event food at The Tropical Hideaway – Paradise Party Float. Another item I went to purchase but the watermelon Dole Whip machine was overheated. I was really bummed cause I wanted to try this one.
Tomorrowland Party in Tomorrowland
- Party to infinity and beyond at this futuristic hoopla featuring Buzz Lightyear, a DJ and more. The dance party over here was hopping. We enjoyed Buzz Lighyear’s energy!
- Exclusive special event food at Galactic Grill – Thanksgiving Leftover Burger. And I really liked the party exclusive Milk-n-Cookies pretzel at the cart in Tomorrowland. It’s a cream cheese-filled pretzel smothered in icing with chocolate cookie crumbles drizzled with Sweetened Condensed Milk. This pretzel was so good!
You’ll also be able to enjoy a special nighttime viewing of “A Christmas Fantasy” Parade at 9:30 p.m. This will be a chance to see the parade with a limited number of guests. We watched it in front of the fire station. We arrived 10 minutes before and had no problem with front row seats. But along the majority of the parade route people started sitting 30 minutes before. I liked being at the beginning of the parade route with great views of the tree in the background.
Festive Photo Ops with Themed Backdrops
Your ticket includes unlimited digital downloads from Disney PhotoPass photographers. Let them capture unlimited photos taken during the event. Disney PhotoPass photographers will be available to snap your photos in multiple locations, including iconic spots like Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle and at the 60-foot-tall Christmas tree on Main Street, U.S.A. And ask for Magic shots in your photos like this cute one we got at the Christmas tree. Just ask the photographer if they have Magic shots.
- Don’t forget to take advantage of mobile food ordering on the Disneyland app. You can order starting in the morning for this event even though it doesn’t start until 8 p.m.
- The park closes to all other guests at 7 p.m. so enjoy an hour before the entertainment and party officially starts. Come up with a game plan, where you want to start and what you want to eat. You can start getting exclusive party food as early as 7 p.m.
- Most of the attractions are a walk on or little wait. We walked right onto Big Thunder Mountain at 11:15 p.m. That was the only attraction we went on cause we were enjoying entertainment, food and characters.
- If you plan to come during a regular park day you might want to skip the parade and do other entertainment, see characters or eat during the parade time. The lines for characters get long, so go to your must see characters first.
- Remember you can eat all the holiday food available during the day at this party too. For a complete list of holiday food in 2021 see this post and print your checklist!
- There is a special Magic Key holder area along the Rivers of America.
Free printable for Merriest Nites
For a complete list of entertainment and food in each of the 6 event parties print this list. Click here to print your guide for all the fun!
My review of the event
I couldn’t let the opportunity to attend the first ever Merriest Nites event pass me up. I debated on whether to go because the ticket price was more than the Oogie Boogie Bash ticket price. I felt like the OBB party ticket was a good value for everything it included. Your theme park ticket during the holidays includes so much. So the advantage of this after hours party is exclusive food, short wait times and no need to fight a crowd to see the parade.
I attended the party on November 11th the first night. The crowds were low and ride times were 5 minutes or less. We had no wait when we went on Big Thunder Mountain as seen below.
If your focus is rides you will be able to ride over and over with no problems. The event offered so much entertainment. I had a hard time picking and choosing. Lines for characters were the longest wait times, so do those early. I wish the event was just one hour longer for the price of the ticket. I loved being in a not crowded Disneyland at Christmas time, but I just couldn’t see and do everything on my list. So go in with an idea of what’s most important and tackle that first. Most of all enjoy the atmosphere. The bonus light up lanyard you get as you enter and then postcards as you leave (as seen below) were a nice touch.Overall I had a great time and enjoyed the after hours party. Is is something that you have to do no. But it’s an added bit of holiday magic after a long 2 year wait of being in Dinseyland for Christmas. It’s an event that you could do once and for the price tag probably not do again. If the price tag is not an issue then yes it’s a great way to spend time with no lines and lots of characters you won’t otherwise see during the holidays. If you have tickets to this sold out event, enjoy! If you didn’t get tickets there’s so much available daily durint the holidays.