Jollywood Nights Christmas Party Review

Disney hosted the first ever Jollywood Nights this weekend! The brand new Christmas party takes place in Hollywood Studios and is full of glitz and glam. There’s shows, character meets, and so many delicious treats – but with a $100+ price, is it worth it?

Checking in at Jollywood Nights

We were there for the first party and, we’ve got a LOT to say about the event. The night starts at 7:00pm when part guests are able to enter the park. Day guests who have already entered the park are able to claim they’re event wristband at the Mickey Shorts theater, anytime after 6:00pm.

The night was off to a pretty rough start as the line inside the park to check-in was longer than the queue for Slinky Dog Dash. And it was even worse outside. Simply put, there were too many people flooding in during a short window, with too few distribution spots.

Entertainment at Jollywood Nights


With any event at Disney, even a day trip to the parks, it helps to know what you want to prioritize. For us that top priority was the ‘What’s This‘ Sing-a-long at the Hyperion theater.

What’s This Sing-A-Long

This show was fantastic. The atmosphere in a room full of fans, belting their favorite Tim Burton songs for 20 minutes is phenomenal. Having grown up watching this film I can only equate this experience to when I saw Queen (with Adam Lambert) live.

There’s just something about the comradery of NBC fans that elevates the sing-a-long. But that’s not all! Both Oogie Boogie and Jack Skellington make towering appearances on stage. It’s good to see they’ve found another use for the magnificent Jack puppet used during Mickey’s Not So Spooky Spooktacular.

Holidays in Hollywood

Holidays in Hollywood is the second nighttime entertainment show offered at Jollywood Nights. It takes place at the Theater of the Stars near the Tower of Terror once an hour for the duration of the party. The line gets extremely long and, unlike during the day, the theater will fill up completely. Once you get in though, this is another home run for the event.

Disney defiantly over-sold the Muppets, using images of Kermit and Miss Piggy in all the ads and media. This infamous pair are in the show, and they are perfection, but only for a few minutes. However – Miss Piggy singing a rendition of ‘Toyland’ to celebrate the presents she’s expecting for Christmas is perfection.

There are also TWO princesses who make appearances, both in exclusive costumes and singing holiday songs. Tiana has an original song all about celebrating in her restaurant and everything she loves about the holidays.

Belle, of course, brings the Beauty and the Beast Holiday Special to life by singing ‘As Long As There’s Christmas’ in her winter best.

And let’s not forget the real stars of the show!

Mickey and Minnie arrive halfway through the celebration with a merry mashup of holiday classics. Spoiler alert: they kiss under the mistletoe! My heart can barely handle how adorable this section of Holidays in Hollywood is.

Jingle Bell Jingle Bam

At the end of the night party guests are treated to a final kiss goodnight with the return of ‘Jingle Bell Jingle Jam.’ This fireworks spectacular is a big hit with Disney parks fan and it’s return is was warmly welcomed.

We found that the crowds all congregated in the main courtyard about 30 minutes before the show. This is when we finally saw just how many people were in the parks and it was astonishing. The party exclusive fireworks were more crowded than the two regularly scheduled shows for daytime guests earlier in the evening.

Some of the best spots to view Jingle Bell Jingle Bam are near the park entrance along the street of gift shops. From here you have a great vantage point to see everything happening on the facade of Runaway Railway and the widespread fireworks. You’ll also be ahead of the pack as everyone rushes to make their exit.

Characters at Jollywood Nights

Jollywood Nights was packed with character meet and greets, including several rare and exclusive characters. Most notably was Phineas and Ferb! Having grown up with these two I was ecstatic to take a picture. But this is where things started to go downhill. The wait time for this meet and greet was consistently above 2 hours all night. During a 4 hour event.

Phineas and Ferb

But look at how freaking cute this little scene is! Peep Perry the Platypus as the Christmas Tree topper! Honestly I wish I would have waited this one out, but I can’t justify spending half of an event in line for a character meet. Even if it is these guys.

Many of Disney’s limited parties are known for rare characters and the absurd queue times people are willing to wait for. Just look at the waits for Jack and Sally or The Seven Dwarves during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! But this was just out of hand, and extremely disorganized.

More Cahracters at Throwback Bash

It wasn’t just our favorite backyard engineers at the Throwback Bash though. Max Goof was there dressed as Powerline as well as Chip and Dale as the Rescue Rangers. Each of these lines were out of control, winding around planters and into primary walkways. We’re hoping Hollywood Studios takes notes from the Magic Kingdom parties and starts these meet and greets early for the remaining parties.

Mickey, Minnie, and Friends

There were even more characters scattered throughout the park including the Sensational Six in their winter outfits and some notable super heroes.

Wait times for these interactions were far more reasonable, 20-30 minutes max. But Disney let us down here again, by not delivering on what they promised. One thing I was most looking forward to was Frozone’s Snow Zone.

Frozone

This was described as a snow play area with character meet and greet. Frozone, Disney said, would be making it snow on Pixar Place. What we got was Frozone against a blue back drop with painted snowflakes and an embarrassingly small amount of snoap.

Maybe it’s on me, but I was expecting a cold-room filled with manufactured snow. Instead we got a mural with a hint of soap bubbles. I know it’s Florida, but there are snow rooms at Christmas carnivals in Hawaii – Disney could absolutely make it happen if they wanted to.

Dance Parties at Jollywood Nights

During the event mini neighborhood parties were placed throughout Hollywood Studios. Each venue had it’s own theme as well as live performances.

We had a moonlight musical at the Tip Top Soire in the Tower of Terror Courtyard.

A rocking good time with the Fa-La-La-La-Land DJ on Sunset Boulevard.

And you can samba the night away on Commissary Lane with the Caliente band.

For me, this is where the night really fell apart.

Disney hosts tons of events throughout the year, including a lengthy series of concerts across the lake at Epcot. They should know how to set up a stage.

And yet, we found this too small to enjoy settings. The performers were all phenomenal. Amazing singers, fantastic bands, and a DJ that could liven up any party – almost.

The issue is that the performance spaces were, in most cases, a taped off square on the street. There should be stages to allow guests multiple vantage points. Dance floors should be set up in the area, and maybe throw some cast members out there to start the party.

This was the easiest part of the event, live music. There’s no reason that Disney should not have done more and done better. It was a huge disappointment and honestly felt a little cheeky of Disney to blatantly put forth so little effort in these areas.

Food and Beverages at Jollywood Nights

Last and probably least to be honest, is the food and beverage options at Jollywood Nights. If you think 2 hours is too long to wait for a character meet – pack snacks.

Kiosks throughout the park had lines wrapping around each other. Guests were waiting over 2 hours (again) for a green Christmas milkshake.

Hollywood Brown Derby

And then there’s the Hollywood Brown Derby. One of the few sit down restaurants that stayed open during the event. With a walk-up wait list, this venue should have hosted a jazzy Christmas party filled with cocktails and piano music.

We couldn’t even figure out how to join the waitlist. Other guests that I talked with said this was because it had filled up less than 30 minutes into the party. And those that got inside were just disappointed. Reviews for the food and cocktails are not positive, and even worse for the vibes of the venue.

I will say that we did not encounter the long waits for the snacks that we purchased. We must have been traveling against the flow of traffic though, because the stands we visited had humungous lines a short while later.

Santa Gertie Sugar Cookie and Soft Serve

The Santa Gertie Sugar Cookie is one I was really looking forward to and I’m so thrilled we were able to get. Just. Look. At. It! This park icon is looking too cute in cookie form, I almost couldn’t bring myself to eat her!

Almost….

This treat also came with mint flavored soft serve in a frosty green color. Would not recommend, unless you really enjoy brushing your teeth. The frozen toothpaste flavor was not subtle. Dipping little Gertie into her very own soft serve pool helped to balance the flavor profile, but I’d just skip the ice cream all together.

Sugar Cookie Martini

We also got to try the Sugar Cookie Martini which is an absolute home run. Not only is it deceptively strong and dangerously delicious, it’s so pretty! We love a well dressed cocktail.

These sprinkles are giving festive.

The taste of this treat is liquified sugar cookie, very true to the name. It’s extremely sweet on it’s own, paired with the sugary rim and cookie breadstick – it could be too sweet for some. I loved this and would have gone back for a second, but the line was already out of hand.

Jollywood Nights, so far, is a case of Disney over promising and under delivering. It was extremely disappointing, especially for the $185 price. I love the concept and I think it could be better than Mickey’s Very Merry with a few adjustments.

It was extremely evident that the park’s cast members were also taking notes and getting their barring’s around the event. There were managers and media cast members everywhere carrying iPads and cameras. I really hope the team overseeing Jollywood Nights is looking at the reviews and making improvements, so the rest of the parties go off without a hitch.

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