Category Rank: 1
Park: Magic Kingdom
Park Rank: 4
If you are into nostalgia at all (and I hope for your sake that you are, or you will surely have found this blog to be an extremely dry read), then you will appreciate WDW at the holidays much more than at the regular times. Yes, they are busier on the holidays themselves (though the seasons can extend for several weeks including times that aren't as busy), but the festivities bring the park to a whole new level.
Christmas is the granddaddy of all these. We mentioned earlier the festivities flow over into the Osborne Family Lights and the Christmas parade, as well as all the decorations in the resorts and special events (like the Christmas program in Epcot. It's like Norman Rockwell or something out of Clark Griswold's dreams.
The Very Merry Christmas Party (VMXP) is the top item from this time, however. It brings together all the best of Christmas into one special night. Much like the Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, it is a special night admission, but there isn't a better spending of $60 that you can do (La Nouba would be a distant third). The night has special shows, extra decorations, hot chocolate and cookies being served on the street, and oh... the gingerbread smells are pumped up to an 11. We happened to go during a show that was signed (as in, sign language) by two of the most animated signers that we had ever seen; it was like they were more in character than the actual characters (and the characters are always in character).
The skeptic will suggest that the shows themselves are not that special (or qualify as thrills, thus being excluded from the list), and that the night isn't worth it. Again, I'd say poppycock to that. The greatest thing about the night is how great a mood all the parkgoers are. Everyone is so festive and happy, that you forget theme parks can be miserable experiences.
We have only gone one time, and it was just Kristen and I who went (the nights are typically not conducive to a school calendar, so this was on our first adults-only trip). And, it was a very magical night. Extremely relaxed, getting into the holiday vibe. You know, the Christmas season can be so rushed now that you rarely have a chance to enjoy the season for what it is. So much so that I wish every Christmas season could feature a trip to this party. Even if it was for this night only (which obviously would be cost prohibitive).
That's actually amazing when you think about it. A party so memorable that you get depressed with your normal festivities during the Christmas season as you wish longingly to be there.
Other than the very first night at WDW, this was the most special night in all of our Disney experiences, and a special event for Kristen and I in our marriage. While I recommend everyone take in at least one Christmas at WDW, I'd also encourage them to do this party as well.
We are movin' on up, not to the East Side, but to #3. It is the most famous item on this entire list, and it will slightly surprise you that it is not #1.