Disneyland kicks off Merriest Nites after-hours party with holiday food, music and characters

Disneyland’s newest separate-admission, after-hours party shrunk the crowds that usually fill the Anaheim theme park during the Christmas season down to a manageable size and sprinkled some extra holiday magic with the help of the Muppets and other Disney characters.

The new Disney Merriest Nites events run on select nights in November and December during what has traditionally been the busy holiday season at Disneyland. The separate-ticket event will return on Nov. 30 and Dec. 7 and 9.

Crowds for the private nighttime party were much lighter than typical holiday dates at the park, with popular attractions like Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain boasting walk-on lines with zero wait times throughout much of the night.

Disneyland’s new Merriest Nites holiday event featured six themed parties throughout the park hosted by Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, Princess Tiana, Miguel Rivera, Lilo and Stitch and Queen Elsa.

The Muppets traveled in a special coach for Christmas carol sing-alongs on Main Street U.S.A. with multiple shows on either side of A Christmas Fantasy parade — the marquee events of the evening.

Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and their Muppets friends played well to the crowds squeezed into the Disneyland hub as well as those farther down Main Street U.S.A. in a series of brief shows that brought their silly antics and memorable personalities to a fan base that has sorely missed their presence in the parks.

The marching tin soldiers playing fanfare trumpets remained a fan favorite of A Christmas Fantasy parade that has been a workhorse for decades at Disneyland. Many of the characters hosting the Merriest Nites holiday parties throughout the park — including Elsa, Buzz, Tiana and Mickey — took a break from their master of ceremonies duties to take part in the parade.

The Merriest Nites event was broken into six uniquely themed holiday parties with each tied to a land in the park and hosted by a familiar Disney or Pixar character.

Main Street U.S.A.

Mickey Mouse donned Victorian Flair for a Dickens-inspired Christmas on Main Street U.S.A.

Handbell carolers in matching Victorian finery welcomed visitors with music in Town Square on the steps of the Disneyland train station.

Digital projection mapping transformed the Main Street U.S.A. facades with subtle holiday animation that brought the buildings to life. Massive projection snowflakes fell on an icy blue background enveloping the Matterhorn mountain throughout the evening.

The Gibson Girl ice cream parlor served a Victorian Ginger Snap Sundae as part of a special Merriest Nites menu.


Queen Elsa from “Frozen” transformed Fantasyland into a winter wonderland.

Fantasyland was character central during Merriest Nites with Belle and the Beast dancing the night away, Donald Duck building a snow fort, Pluto trimming his own Christmas tree and Santa Claus checking who’s naughty and nice.

A brass band played horn-powered holiday tunes in front of the Casey Jr. Circus Train.

The Red Rose Taverne served up Gingerbread S’mores Coffee Nog and Frozen Flurry citrus and bubble gum slushies as part of the Merriest Nites menu.

New Orleans Square

Princess Tiana from “The Princess and the Frog” celebrated a bayou-inspired Noël in New Orleans Square.

Jack Skellington and Sally from “Nightmare Before Christmas” popped up on the balcony of the Haunted Mansion for socially distanced photo ops.

Tiana’s Tinsel & Tunes took Mark Twain Riverboat riders on a jazz cruise along the Rivers of America that spread music throughout the banks of New Orleans Square.

The Merriest Nite menu options in New Orleans Square included a three-course, prix-fixe dining experience at Cafe Orleans.


Miguel Rivera from “Coco” hosted a Feliz Navidad fiesta in Frontierland.

Mariachis strummed, bowed and trumpeted Disney favorites like “When You Wish Upon a Star” from the Golden Horseshoe balcony that made the perfect stage for the musicians to be seen and heard throughout Frontierland.

Rancho Del Zocalo had horchata on the Merriest Nites menu in the Frontierland eatery.


Lilo and Stitch threw a Mele Kalikimaka tropical holiday party in Adventureland.

An island guitar duo played Caribbean tunes that wafted out onto the rivers of the Jungle Cruise and throughout the compact Adventureland.

The Tropical Hideaway eatery whipped up a specialty Watermelon Dole Whip with blue pineapple juice called the Paradise Party Float.


Buzz Lightyear from “Toy Story” added an intergalactic twist to the season in Tomorrowland.

Buzz grooved to the dance jams spun by a DJ from the balcony of the underused Star Wars Launch Bay. Neon Christmas trees and strafing gold spotlights adorned the massive makeshift wraparound stage that turned Tomorrowland into a dance party.

Hungry partygoers lined up for Thanksgiving Leftover Burgers and Pot Roast Loaded Fries at the Galactic Grill as part of the Merriest Nites menu.

Snacks at outdoor vending carts throughout the park included Elsa’s Iced Buttered Popcorn mixed with blue sweet kettle corn in Fantasyland, Milk n’ Cookies Pretzels in Tomorrowland and Dulce de Leche Churros  on the Main Street U.S.A. hub.

Merriest Nites also featured the Haunted Mansion seasonal attraction overlay and holiday decor, food and merchandise already found throughout Disneyland during the Christmas season.

The seasonal overlay of It’s a Small World remained closed due to a flood inside the attraction.

The sold-out $165 to $175 Merriest Nites parties start at 8 p.m. each night with event visitors able to mix-in with daily crowds starting at 5 p.m.

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