It’s the holiday season at Magic Kingdom and this past Thursday was the very first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party of the year. Snow was falling on Main Street USA, Christmas decorations were found throughout the park, and Santa even made an appearance! As part of the upcharge event, guests can watch Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade at 8:30pm and 11pm during the event dates. The parade will also be performed daily during Christmas Week, but who has time to wait that long?
As part of our evening at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, we stopped to watch the 8:30pm performance as it rolled down Main Street USA, and under a Florida snowfall. There were some minor changes to the parade this year, including two new characters and a small adjustment to accommodate the changes. The big thing we noticed was yet another year with the omission of the marching band from the Toy Solider unit. We were really hoping that this would be the year when the impressive band could be seen and heard throughout Magic Kingdom, but I guess that’s not in the budget.
In terms of new characters, the big change is that Clarice has taken over Wreck-It Ralph’s spot on the gingerbread house. A smaller change is the addition of Buzz Lightyear to the Toy Story unit, which is ironic given that his meet-and-greet has been suspended at Magic Kingdom. Here’s our full video of Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade looking right down Main Street USA!
In the photo of the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party event guide map below, we can see that the parade route is designated by white dots, starting in Frontierland, moving through Liberty Square, and rolling past Cinderella Castle before heading down Main Street USA. If you’re looking for snowfall during the parade, you’ll have to watch from along Main Street USA, but if you want to find lower crowds, Froniterland or Town Square are a good bet.
The parade starts with characters dancing ahead of a Christmas Tree float with Mickey and Minnie. The characters are paired off, with the exception of Pluto, who almost acts as the Rudolph of the entire parade.
It wouldn’t be a Disney World Christmas celebration without Frozen. Added in 2014, the placement of various Frozen characters has changed over the years, but remains the same this year. You can find skiers leading the unit, followed by Olaf on a cottage float, Anna & Kristoff walking with ice harvesters, and then Elsa on her own frozen wonderland float with Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post in the background.
The gingerbread unit is where we find our first significant change of the 2023 version of the parade. Wreck-It Ralph was a bit flaky in last year’s event, so he has been replaced by Clarice from Chip ‘n’ Dale lore. The removal of Ralph leaves Vanellope on an IP island in the parade. She’s still driving the gingerbread race car, which is on-brand for her, but with a more cohesive theme at the gingerbread house behind her, she’s a bit alone now. Maybe we’ll see a change here in 2024. In the meantime, we’ll start with a look at Vanellope before moving on.
Chip ‘n’ Dale are dressed up as bakers again this year, leading the candy-filled unit with Clarice at the heart of it all. There was also a staging adjustment here. With Vanellope on her IP island, Disney moved Chip ‘n’ Dale ahead of the gingerbread house float this year whereas they used to be behind the float and it would just be the 1-2 punch of Vanellope and Ralph with no characters in between.
The candy theme continues as we make our way to Clarabelle Cow in the kitchen unit.
Instead of baked goods, we’ve moved on to hard candies with the candy cane twirlers leading Goofy’s gumball machine float.
With Main Street USA literally smelling like sweets after Goofy passes by, the Seven Dwarfs are up next. It’s wonderful that guests can now meet the Seven Dwarfs again at a Christmas Party for the first time in four years. For more details, check out our earlier article.
The princess theme continues with Cinderella in her carriage.
The indestructible mirror float is next. It’s a holiday staple and contains a number of princesses with their princes as well as the Fairy Godmother!
So far we’ve covered some classic Disney characters, Frozen, baked goods and sweets, princesses, and now it’s time for Santa’s Workshop and toys.
The Toy Story unit was expanded in 2022 to include some Green Army Men.
Buzz Lightyear is new to the 2023 version of the parade after being evicted from his meet-and-greet spot in Tomorrowland earlier this summer.
The most iconic part of the parade is the marching Toy Soldiers. Unfortunately, we’re still dealing with a reduced number of soldiers and still no instruments.
The finale of the parade includes Santa and his reindeer!
For a look back at the pre-COVID version of the parade, check out our video below!
As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks!