July 22, 2024

Disney World’s Controversial Christmas Party is Back for 2024–We’re Cautiously Optimistic!

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After the opening night meltdown, whether Walt Disney World would bring back its controversial new Christmas party for 2024 was an open question. There was speculation that it'd be another one and done–the second straight




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After the opening night meltdown, whether Walt Disney World would bring back its controversial new Christmas party for 2024 was an open question. There was speculation that it’d be another one and done–the second straight time Hollywood Studios had tried and failed at hosting a seasonal event.

Our experience at the inaugural night of the event, as covered in Disney Jollywood Nights Christmas Party Review: Good, Bad & Ugly, was heavy on the bad and ugly. However, as we discussed in that lengthy review, the bones of the party–the entertainment–were fantastic. Bits and pieces were really good, and there were kernels of great ideas that were incomplete or needed more time (and money) to incubate.

That’s why we were happy to hear that Walt Disney World management took the night one reviews panning the party to heart and immediately made changes. Some minor, some major. Even though my experience was negative and the review reflected that, Disney Jollywood Nights had a lot of potential. From the sounds of it, the party went significantly smoother as the season progressed. All of this is why we’re pleased to see Disney Jollywood Nights return for 2024.

Let’s start with the basic details that we already know about the 2024 Disney Jollywood Nights (DJN) from Walt Disney World’s official announcement. This event will be held on select nights in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS), offering a more refined holiday vibe, sights of sparkling décor, sounds of modern beats over classic holiday songs, tastes of craft cocktails and decadent dishes. It’s nostalgic and it’s glitz and glam galore.

Get ready to dress in your holiday glam best or festive flair, dance the night away to merry mashups, indulge in divine treats and bubbling spirits, and snap selfies with iconic characters during Disney Jollywood Nights. For an extra dose of holiday cheer, the party wraps with the return of the nighttime spectacular, “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” You’ll be in fa la la la la la la la land before you can say Tinseltown!

Disney Jollywood Nights is a separately ticketed, limited-capacity holiday event on 13 select nights from November 9 through December 21, 2024. You can get holly and jolly for five festive hours from 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. during this limited capacity, separately ticketed event.

Get ready to gather on Hollywood Boulevard for a new dazzling skating spectacular set to your favorite holiday tunes. Several times each evening, take in the grace and skill of international champion skaters in an awe-inspiring twist on the traditional ice show.

Are rare character hugs on your holiday wish list? You’re in luck – the 2024 Disney Jollywood Nights event includes over 20 unique character experiences featuring both new and returning favorites.

Reunite with beloved characters like Phineas and Ferb, Santa Duffy and Santa Stitch, and look forward to fresh new faces such as Bo Peep, Lotso,  Baloo, and King Louie from TaleSpin. Don’t forget PhotoPass digital downloads are included in your event ticket!

OG Disney Jollywood Nights fans will remember Ollie, the most dapper gingerbread man in Hollywood. This year, Walt Disney World is introducing a new merchandise collection inspired by Ollie, featuring items like a Minnie Mouse ear headband and festive apparel.

Returning culinary favorites – including the iconic Gertie cookie! – will be available alongside new treats. Upon exit, each guest will also receive one sweet treat created by Wondermade!

In addition to meeting your favorite characters, indulging in delicious treats and shopping, the night will be packed with entertaining shows like What’s This? Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Sing-Along, Disney Holidays in Hollywood, and Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!

The Holiday Fiesta en la Calle will move to Animation Courtyard and there you’ll be able to spot Jose Carioca and Panchito from The Three Caballeros! Meanwhile, The Twilight Soirée at the Tip Top Club located in the Tower Courtyard will have you dancing throughout the night.

Jazzy Holidays at the Hollywood Brown Derby will return–and continue requiring a reservation due to limited space. Stay tuned to DisneyWorld.com/Jollywood for more information on how to book that spot (details will be shared in September 2024).

Party dates: The 2024 Disney Jollywood Nights will be held on the following evenings:

  • November 9, 13, 16, 18, 23, 25, 30
  • December 2, 7, 11, 14, 18, 21

With more Saturday dates added, there are plenty of opportunities to join in the holiday fun. Don’t miss out on this swanky holiday celebration at Disney Jollywood Nights!

Ticket Prices: Event tickets are $159 to $179 per ticket, plus tax (prices vary by event date).

Event Times: This special event takes place from 7:30 PM to 12:30 AM.

You can get a head start on the festive fun! Jollywood Nights ticketholders will be admitted to Disney’s Hollywood Studios as early as 6:00 PM on the valid date of their ticket. These date-specific event tickets do not require an additional day theme park ticket or theme park reservation.

Purchase Tickets Soon: Special event tickets may be purchased starting July 10, 2024. Guests of select Walt Disney World Resort hotels can purchase tickets early—starting July 2, 2024—for event dates during their stay. This advance purchase window is available to Guests of:

  • Disney Resorts Collection hotels
  • Walt Disney World Swan Hotel
  • Walt Disney World Swan Reserve
  • Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
  • Shades of Green at Walt Disney World Resort

Tickets are limited and may not be available for purchase on the day of the event (or earlier).

Discounts: Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members can save $10 per ticket to Disney Jollywood Nights, valid for all event nights.

For those who missed the inaugural DJN, Disney Holidays in Hollywood is a star-studded variety show in the grand tradition of Tinseltown’s most beloved holiday specials – all with a twist of today’s Hollywood magic.

Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Tiana, Belle, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse are among the special guest stars, and there are plenty of surprises in store – including a brand-new original song by Tiana. Singers, dancers and live jazz musicians round out the talented cast of entertainers in this dazzling performance. Jolly vignettes remind everyone that the holidays mean something special to each and every one of us.

Jollywood Nights attendees also won’t want to miss “What’s This? Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Sing-Along.” 

Enter a dreamlike adventure in The Hyperion Theater where Jack Skellington takes us on an ethereal exploration of “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Sing along to beloved songs from the iconic film and discover peculiar magic in unexpected places. Along the way, you’ll conquer Oogie Boogie and be encouraged to follow your curiosity.

Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and friends are wearing glitzy outfits exclusively for Disney Jollywood Nights – and they invite you to do the same. The outfits are inspired by the party’s vintage vibe, which celebrates the glitz and glam of Hollywood.

Art directors, show producers and designers worked together to land on just the right combination of colors and fabric for these special looks. Delve into any old collection of ornaments from the ‘30s, ‘40s or ‘50s, and you’re sure to find an array of colorful pastels. And that’s exactly what we see here!

Mint green and soft reds in sumptuous fabrics set the tone as you encounter Mickey & Friends Holiday Greetings in Animation Courtyard. The gang has just wrapped on the set of their new holiday film, and you’re invited to catch a glimpse of the magic!

Another highlight is Twilight Soirée at the Tip Top Club in the courtyard outside the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Walt Disney World advertises this as a swingin’ celebration in the courtyard of The Hollywood Tower Hotel. Here, you can sip cocktails and unwind in style while a live band swoons and croons holiday tunes.

Last year, there was also “Holiday Fiesta En La Calle” on Commissary Lane (it’s moving to Animation Courtyard for 2024). This features holiday street fair with lively energy and Latin holiday music will fill the air as musicians play along the walkways. Drinks and treats in this area will be inspired by Latin holiday traditions.

During last year’s Disney Jollywood Nights, guests could also enjoy after-hours access to some of your favorite rides and coasters under the stars. After-hours access to some of your favorite rides and coasters including the following:

  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Toy Story Mania

Last year, Star Wars: Rise of Resistance used a virtual queue during Disney Jollywood Nights. No word yet on whether that will return for 2024, but we hope not. It really wasn’t needed last year and limiting guests to one ride wasn’t necessary–if this is how people want to spend the event, just let ’em.

Turning to commentary, I would describe my outlook towards Disney Jollywood Nights as cautiously optimistic, which is not the same as my perspective on Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. I’m overtly optimistic towards that. While there’s always the possibility of major changes or having an unlucky evening and a bad experience as a result, MVMCP is a known quantity. And in my view, it’s a great event. We wouldn’t have attended every year since 2007 if it weren’t!

While we’re looking forward to revisiting Disney Jollywood Nights and praised the company for acting fast to salvage the season last year, we want to make clear that we still have some hesitations about the event. Disney made lemonade out of lemons with last year’s DJN, which isn’t the same as, I dunno, making a nice yule log or hot chocolate or whatever. It was a fundamentally flawed event with some bold and ambitious ideas. But it also had a lot of bad ideas.

I wanted to see Disney Jollywood Nights return in the hopes that the company would continue the momentum of last year’s tweaks, while going even further to elevate the good and minimize or eliminate the bad. Our (cautious) optimism assumes Disney Jollywood Nights will continue on the trajectory of last year after night one, but with more time and other resources to make more significant changes. If the 2024 Disney Jollywood Nights is simply the same thing as last year, plus more characters and with the operational meltdown fixed…that’s still not enough. Santa Duffy alone cannot save the day.

Obviously, we don’t know what all is changing beyond the official announcement. What I will say is that, even though details are limited, I like what they’ve shared thus far. More characters and a “new dazzling skating spectacular” on Hollywood Boulevard sounds fantastic. If they stick the landing with the ice skating spectacular, there’s the possibility that the 2024 Disney Jollywood Nights event will surpass MVMCP. I’m not saying it will…but there’s a chance.

We’re going regardless–that’s the nature of the blogging beast. But if we were regular guests, I’d probably wait for more details or–better yet–reviews from the first couple of nights before buying tickets. (Or perhaps not? Walt Disney World really made an effort to turn the event around during the season last year, so I can only imagine what changes they’ve made in the months since!)

With that in mind, you might start by reading our Disney Jollywood Nights Review (ignore the operational issues) or even rundown of potential problems in Why You Should NOT Do Disney Jollywood Nights Christmas Party at Hollywood Studios. That covers everything from crowds to capacity to entertainment, and draws parallels to one of the biggest disasters in Walt Disney World special event history…which was also at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

On the other hand, there are a lot to like about this new Christmas Party, which we cover in Why You Should Do Disney Jollywood Nights. The bottom line is that we’re truly torn. Consider those companion posts that together should help you make an informed decision about Disney Jollywood Nights.

The animating idea of Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a good one–a more sophisticated holiday hard ticket event that serves as counterprogramming to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. But as with anything, it’s very much contingent upon execution, and last year was a bit scattershot.

Part of that was Disney not committing to the concept. And honestly, we don’t really blame them. Jollywood Nights ended up being both adult and family-friendly, with plenty of entertainment and characters that appealed to kids as well as the more adult offerings. In the end, I’m not sure how much it was truly counterprogramming to MVMCP, except to the extent that it was another holiday party in another park. But demographics-wise, there was considerable overlap.

Regardless, I do appreciate Walt Disney World trying to do something more sophisticated–and there were elements of DJN that were classy, refined, and intimate–unlike what they could even conceivably do during MVMCP. As a whole, Jollywood Nights was very much in the spirit of old Hollywood, and focused more on live music, performers, and atmosphere than it does on popular characters and rides. That was a risky move–and one we appreciated!

So even if I’m a little concerned about the execution (again) or whether there will be enough entertainment to justify the cost of admission (and keep crowds occupied–even limited-capacity events can have issues if ticket sales exceed compelling offerings), I do have to give Walt Disney World props for taking a second crack at Disney Jollywood Nights. It’s different and more adult…and that’s always a risk. We’ve wanted to see precisely this type of thing. Here’s hoping it’s fully fleshed out and a hit right out the door.

Another big thing that’s worth addressing is the impact that Disney Jollywood Nights will have on crowds throughout Walt Disney World. Christmas is an incredibly busy time of year at Walt Disney World, and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party already screws with crowds and attendance dynamics.

Based on the announcement, it appears that Disney Jollywood Nights is starting earlier in 2024, which means it’ll have more of an impact on attendance trends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios…and everywhere else. One of the advantages of doing an After Hours event is that it has minimal impact on crowds since those events occur after regular park closing. Day guests thus don’t “plan around” After Hours, since it doesn’t really impact them.

Families always complain about these events with later start times, as their kids go to bed earlier. While that’s a fair perspective, there’s also the bigger-picture of how hard ticket events disrupt crowd dynamics across all of Walt Disney World. It’s a balance. Last year, Disney Jollywood Nights didn’t throw a monkey wrench into crowds like MVMCP. We shall see whether that’s still the case with the 7:30 p.m. start time. Frankly, I think Walt Disney World can only ‘afford’ to have one event with the early start time like MVMCP during the holiday season.

Ultimately, I hope that Disney Jollywood Nights ends up exceeding expectations in its sophomore season and correcting all of the first year problems. As mentioned above, the stage shows during last year’s party were really good–no need to mess with those in any major ways. Other concepts, like the holiday lounges were good…but overpromised and underdelivered.

Beyond that, there are opportunities to incorporate all of the areas of Disney’s Hollywood Studios into the event. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge could have a Life Day celebration and Toy Story Land could do something. All of the entertainment last year was concentrated in the front of the park, making the rest of DHS feel dead during Disney Jollywood Nights. Here’s hoping the entertainment and operations teams took time to look at what worked and didn’t last year, and made major changes where needed and left well enough alone what worked.

Either way, we’re both curious and cautiously optimistic. At the very least, Disney Jollywood Nights should be much improved in year two, which doesn’t always happen! The mid-season changes last year suggest Walt Disney World knew the event was falling short of guest expectations. Here’s hoping Disney Jollywood Nights actually exceeds them for Christmas 2024!

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

Will you attend this Christmas party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? If so, will you do it instead of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party or in addition to it? What do you think about Disney Jollywood Nights? What are your thoughts on ticket prices? Will your family be buying or sitting out the Christmas festivities? Are you excited for Christmas 2024 at Walt Disney World? Do you agree or disagree with our perspective on this? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!




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