Any Disney fan has either gone, or wants to go to, a Disney parks after hours event. Disney World offers a number of these typically, including events for Halloween, Christmas, and other themed nights like Villains. I have not yet been to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party, and though we don’t know when these events will return to WDW, I do want to give some insight into the parties I have attended. I have been fortunate enough to attend two Villains nights and one MNSSHP. I was able to go to both in late 2019 and 2020, making them the most recent iterations with the most current treats, shows, and parades. Although the concept of each one is a bit spooky and villainous, they are very different. I want to break down the different aspects that each party has, how they are different, the same, and which one may be better for you and your family!
When I was planning out my time at each event, I prioritized shows much differently for each. MNSSHP has a once-per-night fireworks show, a three time castle stage show, and a parade that runs twice. Villains has a castle stage show that also runs three times (with some fireworks) and a villain cavalcade (The Cursed Caravan) that began in 2020 that runs twice and includes the Maleficent dragon breathing fire. I do think it is a good idea to see the Villains stage show, and I did, regretfully, skip the one at MNSSHP when I went. I personally wasn’t interested in seeing Hocus Pocus (sorry!) but I later found out that some of my favorite characters including Dr. Facilier made appearances in that show. Regardless, it is ESSENTIAL that you see the fireworks show and the parade at MNSSHP. I might’ve even watched the parade both times if I didn’t have so much else on my to do list. They are phenomenal and Disney spares no effort in them. In 2020, they redid the “parade” for villains. It used to be only Maleficent, but you can now watch an entire procession of rare villains including Lady Tremaine, a face-character Queen of Hearts, URSULA,(!!!) Cruella, Gaston, and more! While I think the MNSSHP shows are better, I would suggest seeing each one at least once at both after hours events.
This is tricky. I rode a grand total of 3 rides at MNSSHP, one of which was It’s a Small World where the wait time was simply how long it took me to run my sore legs through the queue. I feel like MNSSHP has so much going on that rides take a back seat in terms of priority. The lines will be short for rides, since lines for other things like candy and rare character meets take most of the crowds. Villains, on the other hand, is almost entirely for the purpose of knocking out every ride in Magic Kingdom in one night. I was able to ride every E-ticket ride, (7 Dwarves, all three mountains, Pirates, Haunted, etc.) in about an hour and a half. Both events have a specialized version of Space Mountain entirely in the dark which is utterly terrifying to me but I still force myself on. They also have REAL pirates throughout the ride, Pirates of the Caribbean. If you really want your after hours ticket to be used for quick ride waits, do Villains, certainly. You will not feel like you’re missing out on shows or character meets in the way you would at the halloween party.
Both events kill it when it comes to photogenic and yummy snacks. Some highlights for me at Villains were the “Just Take Three” beignets based on Dr. Facilier at Sleepy Hollow, “Body Language” from Storybook Treats, and “Five Dozen Eggs” slush at Gaston’s Tavern. They added almost entirely new snacks to this event for 2020 after the event began in 2019, and unfortunately we didn’t have much time to appreciate them before the pandemic, but some of the Ursula treats are luckily coming to MK for fall! For MNSSHP, I loved the chocolate Mickey waffle sundae from Sleepy Hollow with BLACK waffles and the Maleficent cone from Storybook Treats. Both were delicious. I wanted to try the Constance wedding cake but the line was INSANE, for a mini cake people! I cannot stress enough how much I wanted to eat more at MNSSHP, but again, there’s so much else to get done. This is a plus, but also a downside for the event. That’s probably why locals attend multiple times!
This is what completely sets the two apart for me. At MNSSHP and the Christmas party, there are character meets available that are never offered otherwise. Lines for these get CRAZY, but also since this is a limited ticketed event, they aren’t nearly as long as they would be on a typical park day. I met Lotso, Genie, (with Jasmine) and ALMOST Jafar but I had to head to the parade! You can also meet rare characters like Jack and Sally, the seven dwarves all at once, Pooh WITH Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger, Tarzan and Jane, Jack Sparrow, Queen of Hearts, and the Mad Hatter with Alice. This makes the event so special, and you could truly spend all night meeting all of the characters. I also noticed that I had a lot of time with the characters I met. I probably spent 4 minutes with Lotso and his photographers talking about my Slinky costume, it was amazing! It is my favorite part about the event, besides having the Boo to You parade song in my head for months.
I want to start by throwing in the fact that both events have some killer free treats. MNSSHP has candy in multiple locations, and Villains has something that to me, is even more special: UNLIMITED Mickey ice cream bars and sandwiches…(and drinks but who cares?) I know that isn’t technically a theme but it’s important to know! I trick-or-treated all of one time and it was when I walked into the park that night, nobody has time for that when I have 4 hours to meet Genie, meet Lotso, eat black waffles, see the parade, see the fireworks, ride Space Mountain, and take pics in my Slinky eleganza look. ANYWAYS, the theming for both parties is pretty awesome. I love the DJ at Villains because he plays non-Disney bops like N’Sync. MNSSHP has great theming too but I attribute a lot of this to the fall decor that is always in MK. One thing to remember is that Villains typically ends at either 1 or 2 AM, whereas MNSSHP only goes until 12. The ladder does begin earlier and I believe is longer overall, but it might be better for the kids! Both have awesome night time lighting and photo pass options that stick to the theme which is a plus!
I hope this helps clarify the differences between the two parties. I truly had a great time at both and recommend them, but it is important to weigh which of these categories is most important to you. I hope we get to go to them again soon!