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WDW Radio # 756 – Jollywood Nights Review, Guide, Reflections, and Recommendations

I just attended the first ever Disney Jollywood Nights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the new, after-hours holiday event, and I am joined by fellow attendees this week to share our full guide to the party, including what you need to know before you go. In this very thorough discussion, we also recap the entire evening, and share our insights, reviews, and recommendations, including how to decide if this party is right for you.

And because I want you to experience Disney Jollywood Nights for yourself, I’m going to have a very special giveaway! Find out how you can enter for a chance to win two tickets to the event, and join us for our WDW Radio Night at Jollywood Nights!

Then stay tuned for remarkable offers and opportunities to help children through our Dream Team Project and Make-A-Wish Foundation!

Join us in this episode of WDW Radio, titled “WDW Radio Episode 756: Jollywood Nights Exposed!” as our host Lou Mongello and special guests Matthew Krul and Serena Lyn delve deep into the Disney Hollywood Studios’ new event, Jollywood Nights. Listen in as we dissect our experiences of this exclusive, hard-ticketed event, compare it with the beloved Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and offer invaluable advice for maximizing your enjoyment at this or any future Disney park event.

Is Jollywood Nights more of a high-brow holiday cocktail party or a family event? Find out as our team provides exciting insights about their experience and identifies where Jollywood Nights hits the bullseye with an array of Broadway-style productions and exclusive live entertainment like Disney’s Holidays in Hollywood stage show, and areas that might need a bit more pixie dust.

Hear firsthand accounts of navigating the virtual queues, battling food lines, and prioritizing attractions – you might even pick up some tips for strategizing your own visit. Plus, we’ll explore the transformation of renowned venues, such as Hollywood Brown Derby and the Hollywood Tower of Terror into immersive entertainment zones, offering you a glimpse into the glamour and charm of vintage Hollywood, Disney style!

Our hosts tackle the critical questions every Disney vacation planner needs to know: How does the event handle capacity management? Can you expect shorter wait times for rides? How does the cost of the ticketed event equate to value, and is it worth your hard-earned dollars?

Whether you’re a die-hard Disney fan or planning your first trip to Walt Disney World, this episode will offer a comprehensive look at the captivating spell Jollywood Nights casts on its attendees. Illuminate your holiday celebration with WDW Radio – your ultimate guide to Disney Jollywood Nights. Don’t miss this magical episode – tune in now!

Thanks to Serena Lyn from Living by Disney and Matthew Krul from Imagination Skyway for joining me this week.

The key moments in this episode are:

  1. Introduction to Jollywood Nights at Disney Hollywood Studios
    • Lou Mongello, Serena Lyn, and Matthew Krul experiences at the event
    • What attendees need to know before attending
    • Comparison with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
    • Differences in ticket prices, targeted audience, and vibes
  2. Event Highlights at Jollywood Nights
  • Matthew Krul’s strategy for experiencing the event
  • Serena Lyn’s emphasis on managing expectations
  • Social media’s impact on event expectations
  • Event deemed as an adult-focused cocktail party
  1. Venue Experiences
  • The Hollywood Tower of Terror Twilight soiree
  • The Hollywood Brown Derby transformation
  • Challenges with the virtual queue system
  • Appreciation for the food at Hollywood Brown Derby
  1. Live Performances and Shows
  • The Holidays in Hollywood stage show
  • Comparison of performances to Broadway-style productions
  • Importance of timing and planning to avoid long lines
  1. Constructive Criticisms and Improvements
  • Improvements for in-park wristband experiences
  • Desire for more characted walk-arounds
  • Lou Mongello’s suggestion for increased entertainment options
  • Conversation around attendee behavior patterns at the event
  1. Miscellaneous Activities at the event
  • Prioritization of activities attributable to the number available
  • Suggestions given for how to strategically approach the event
  • Experiences at various entertainment zones such as Tip top Club and Brown Derby
  • Cast members’ enthusiasm and friendliness
  1. Podcast Interaction with Listeners
  • Introduction to Trivia Challenge sponsored by HelloFresh
  • Encouragement for podcast listeners to provide feedback on Jollywood Nights
  • Hosting of WWDO Meet of the Month and auction for Make a Wish Foundation
  • Encouragement to support the Dream Team project
  1. Promotion of Live Theater Experiences
  • Discussion on Tiana’s Showboat Jubilee and Nightmare Before Christmas Sing Along
  • Importance of planning and prioritizing activities at the event
  • Positive experiences and recommendations for the shows
  1. Jollywood Nights Recommendations
  • Importance of arriving early and getting wristbands outside the park
  • Encouragement to dress up and enhance the experience
  • Recommendation for event as a great date night
  • Inclusion of unique photopass options and character meet and greet experiences
  1. Food and Drink Options at Jollywood Nights
  • Over 50 exclusive food and drink options, with some notable wait times
  • Highlights of unique food items and experiences with long lines
  • Introduction of the Brown Derby’s transformation into the Jazzy Holidays Club, serving a full menu
  1. Closing Thoughts on Jollywood Nights
  • Discussion on Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam nighttime show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Ambivalence about the show being part of a ticketed event
  • Desire for a unique climax to end the event and bring attendees together
  • Acknowledgment of room for improvement in the event
  1. Closing Statements of the Podcast
  • Appreciation for choosing WW radio and a reminder to choose positivity and kindness daily
  • Acknowledgement of show’s partnership with Mouse fan travel
  • Encouragement to share the show and leave ratings and reviews
  • Congratulation to past Heart of the Month winners and encouragement to nominate others.

Timestamped summary of this episode:

  • [10:27] Conflicted feelings about judging Disney’s opening night.
  • [16:30] Strategic planning.
  • [28:29] Mickey’s Merry Christmas party is amazing, but Disney Jollywood Nights is also very well done, but less for kids, and shorter wait times.
  • [36:06] Enormous cheer for Kermit and Miss Piggy.
  • [49:18] Late show timing not ideal for kids.
  • [01:00:18] Enjoyed park visit with minimal wait times.
  • [01:15:17] Unique Photopass options and attractions at park.
  • [01:16:20] Over 50 unique sweets; long wait times.
  • [01:30:53] Focus on food, shows, and realistic expectations.
  • [01:37:47] Bring back live actors and streetmosphere daily.
  • [01:52:51] Disney World trivia contest: Win 2 tickets to Jollywood Nights on Nov. 20!
  • [02:01:41] Dream Team Project benefits Make A Wish.

What are your thoughts about Disney Jollywood Nights? Are you planning to attend? If you already have, what is YOUR opinion of this new event?

Share your thoughts in the WDW Radio Clubhouse at WDWRadio.com/Clubhouse, or call the voicemail at 407-900-9391 (WDW1) and share your story on the show.

Episode Transcript

Click Here To Read The Full Podcast Episode Transcript

Lou Mongello: One of the things I love about Walt Disney World are the snacks. No, what I meant to say is that one of the things I love about Walt Disney World is how depending on the time of year that you go, you can have such a wide variety and spectrum of experiences. Going to a food festival at Walt Disney World is very different than trick or treating through the Magic Kingdom versus going in summer or coming down for a race weekend.

But the holidays at Walt Disney World to me, I think they are something extra special from the decor to the musics To music's right. I speak for a living to the music from the decor to the music to yes, uh, the snacks and, and the weather and the specialty foods and of course, snow on main street USA. It is the most wonderful time of the year.

And there are so many different and diverse ways and places to celebrate, including something brand new for 2023. Disney Jollywood Nights at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Uh, this new nighttime party debuted on Saturday, November 11th, and I was fortunate to have been invited to attend its grand opening.

And so this week, I want to share with you not just everything you need to know about the party, but what to know before you go. How to determine if Jollywood is the right party for you. What we liked, maybe what we didn't. A little bit of reaction and reflection. And maybe even a few suggestions on how to make the party even better and by we I mean I cannot Will not and should not do this alone.

In fact, I really especially for this. I really wanted A number of different voices and opinions because I have been screenshotting a lot of different other voices and opinions and I think I seen online and for an event like this, especially a new one. I think you as a listener and potential guest of the party will get more value hearing a number of different perspectives.

So I want to welcome back to the show. Serena Lyn from Living by Disney.

Serena Lyn: Hello. Good to see you again and Matthew Kroll from Imagination Skyway. Hello,

Matthew Krul: great

Lou Mongello: to be back. It is good to see you both, uh, again. Matthew, I haven't seen you in a while. Serena, I saw you at, um, the, the party the other night. And this is like, I'm very excited to, to talk about this because one, we don't often get the opportunity to experience something that is completely new for the first time, um, in Walt Disney World.

And, you know, like I said, not a spoiler, but I, I love the holidays. I love the, the... The, the energy that it brings to, um, the parks. And, and when I said I was looking forward to doing this with you, you know, I don't, we didn't talk ahead of time, right? We, Serena, I saw you a couple of times, um, dressed in your holiday vintage best, which I don't, um, but you know, you and Matthew, we, we didn't, um, we didn't speak about this.

So I'm really, really curious to hear. What your thoughts are about it. Now, I know, you know, Serena, I, we were invited over as, uh, sort of had a media invite, but we really, and we'll talk about this too. Had for the most part, um, the, the other sense and some preserved seating, um, had the same experience as every other guest in terms of lines and, um, et cetera.

But just very quickly, Serena, ladies first, and then Matthew, when you first heard this event announced, uh, what were your original thoughts? What were your initial impressions?

Serena Lyn: I thought it was so smart. It's one of those things where once they tell you the concept, you're like, of course, why didn't actually, why didn't this exist before it?

It's such a perfect blend of the, the Hollywood, the old Hollywood vintage vibes that they already give for the holidays, how Hollywood studios has just really. Blown out, out of the water, their decorations. I just feel like they have far exceeded even Magic Kingdom, which used to be the iconic one for me.

And the vibe is very much that, that vintage retro vibe. So having an event there, a holiday event was perfect. And then. Taking it even an extra step and making it something that's old Hollywood glam and you're getting tapping into the The vibes that are already all over the park and all of the theming that we already have It just was so smart and then sort of giving that like it that it's not an adults only event by any means Disney's always family friendly, but it but it's it's sort of marketed more to Maybe a little bit different audience than very merry.

So it kind of makes sense that you're tapping into a different Maybe a different type of Disney guest.

Matthew Krul: Yeah, I felt that I agree with Serena. This was really a clever way to create a different kind of Christmas event experience at Walt Disney World. I've been to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party a number of times, and it really is, while family focused, geared a lot towards the kids.

You can meet Santa. You see that fantastic Once Upon a Christmastime parade. There are some attraction overlays. Lots of sweets which by the way because this is a snack focus discussion as well I came prepared with a snickerdoodle cookie from Mickey's very Christmas party and a hot chocolate on top of my Disney Jollywood nights coaster that we got at the event But I I appreciated the fact that this was offering something different and like you Serena I love Hollywood studios, especially at night, so getting the chance to see this for an extended period with the holiday decor and with some enhancements to the experience, I was really looking forward to.

That being said, I wasn't sure how much was going to be offered here when I looked at the list, I thought it was maybe going to be a few snack locations to try something new, holiday focused, maybe a few attractions open to experience after dark, and a couple of live shows and experiences, so I was expecting to be in and out of there within a couple of hours, and I Despite running around and taking no breaks, absolutely ran out of time.

There was so much that this event offered.

Lou Mongello: Yeah, we first heard about this, excuse me, a few months ago. I think there was like a halfway to the holidays event where they first announced Disney's Jollywood Night. And I was super excited because like you, I love this park. I love the retro feel and the vibe to it.

I, I absolutely adore it during the holidays. Um, you see decorations that... You know, I remember seeing as a kid, um, you know, around Christmas time, I love the music. I love the vintage aspect. And as they were starting to explain that there were going to be these differently themed zones of different era, uh, in terms of music, I was like, I'm all in like this, this is, this has got me written all over it.

Um, now. A couple of things, you know, especially in terms of as we, we set up our, our discussion today, I was a little conflicted even before I walked in the door and I'll explain why, um, I never ever as just sort of a personal rule, I never judge anything based on opening night. Whether it is a show, uh, an attraction, especially a restaurant.

I was in the restaurant business. Like I know like you can't open a restaurant to thousands of guests, you know, here at Walt Disney World, uh, on opening night and expect that to be representative of what it is that you need time to tweak and test and adjust. Um, and we were. You know, again, gifted with the opportunity to attend on opening night, which I understand, right, because we want to sort of see it first and see as soon as it opens and sort of take it all in.

And, and with opening night, um, you know, whether we're not, we're not sort of talking about Disney. I think there are, there's always going to be criticisms and. I'm sure you guys did as well. Um, you know, I've been very sort of paying attention to the responses, both talking to guests who were at the party, literally sitting in my car, soaking wet, by the way, at Disney's Hollywood studios, reading reviews online, um, just to see what that initial sort of pulse was.

Um, and look there, you know, let's be honest. There were some criticism criticisms that were very harsh. Um, and I think some maybe. You know potentially unfairly so but I also understand and acknowledge that One significant investments have been made. This is not an inexpensive ticket. We'll talk about the price etc There's high expectations one because it's disney And those expectations Not, they're not always met, uh, especially at, um, the beginning.

And, and my feeling was even before I walked in the gate is that every experience evolves, right. And it's going to evolve. And I think the party that we attended on Saturday will probably. Hopefully not be the same experience that other guests have going forward. I think we've seen this in the past to outlook.

I'll use a recent, like the Disney wish the hyperspace lounge is a perfect example, the way things were done on day one of that first cruise. Did not work. It was not a guest satisfier, but they were literally like handwriting tickets, like with return times and testing and adjusting. And I think this is what happens.

Like things on paper don't always execute as planned. Once you have real human beings with freedom of choices in those spaces. Um, I am, look, I do a lot of, you know, live events through it. Through the year at a microscopically smaller scale, but the dynamics are the same, right? So I can understand and appreciate and be almost a little sometimes sympathetic to the chaotic feel.

And there was moments of chaotic feels on a first night, like the ones that we saw.

Serena Lyn: Yeah, I totally agree. I think there's not maybe much grace given for that sometimes because it's Disney and because they, they set a high bar. That's, that's why we're fans. That's why we're such huge fans of their product and their parks.

That's why we show up for everything that they do because they, they set an extremely high bar for themselves, but it also means that we're not used to. Seeing them in the testing out phase of things, because how, how long has it been since we had a brand new event of the scale. It's been a very long time.

So this isn't just like you said, a restaurant opening is one thing. And that's that there's going to be a lot of things that you're going to have to work kinks out with that. But can you imagine that on a park wide scale? This every piece of this event was brand new. So I'm sure that from the moment that the party started, they were making notes of, okay, we need to change this.

We need to fix this.

Lou Mongello: And, and again, in the interest of full disclosure, like before I was even invited and because I never assume or presume that I will be, you know, I said earlier, I fell in love with the idea. Of this event, the theming, the location, the new experiences so much so that I literally, I booked a hotel room in Walt Disney world so I could get early access to tickets, right?

Cause they were going to sort of roll out ticket sales to. Resort guests first and then non resort guests. And I wasn't sure if the event was going to sell out, right? We don't know, you know, is it going to be like run dizzy where people are taking the day off to make sure that they get their tickets. So I bought not one, not two, but I bought six tickets, um, for me and my family.

And two that I knew. I was going to want to give away. I figured we'll do sort of a WWRDO night at Disney's, you know, Jollywood, uh, again, not opening night, but on Monday the 20th. Um, so for people who sometimes, you know, again, I'm sure you both have seen this online too, you know, Oh, they were invited to the event.

So of course, blah, blah, blah. Look, my, my opinion is always honest. Not just because I have a lot of 1, 200 worth of skin in the game, but because like my opinions are always honest. Like I, I always, it's always funny. Sometimes I'll like be scrolling through YouTube or on like, you know, reading blogs or whatever.

Like, here's my honest opinion of whatever. Like, I always wonder why people say this is my honest opinion. Like, are the other ones that you're giving not honest, like you sort of qualify it, um, you know, I look, I'm a choose the good kind of guy. I will always try and choose the good, especially when. I am investing money in a meal, a movie, a show, or a ticket like this, um, you know, but certainly we acknowledge too that everything at Disney isn't perfect all the time, including at this first ever Jollywood night.

Serena Lyn: Absolutely. Yeah.

Matthew Krul: And I should add that of the three of us, I was the only one not invited to this one. So I did, you know, pay that full ticket price with a Disney Vacation Club discount, but pay the full price for that event ticket. And had probably the most, although yours were also, you know, both of you had very guest like experiences as well.

Not everything was sort of catered, and you didn't have reserved spots for everything. Um. You know, I almost had to go in with a game plan and a strategy from the beginning once I did get that final list and realize that no, there's a lot more than just a couple of hours of things to fill my time with.

I had to form that strategy of how I was going to tackle this event and like D23 Expo, like Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, like Oogie Boogie Bash, like any other ticketed event, I knew it was going to be impossible for me to see and do everything, which, on one hand, is great, because You have so many options available, you get the chance to maybe come back and do it again differently.

Not so great because if it's your one time here, it makes it very hard to see and do everything. So I went in with those must do's of, here are my top three or four things. I did know I would have to make some sacrifices for things I wanted to see and do. And ultimately, I, I think I left with maybe having done a couple of fewer things than I even would have liked to have done, um, but again, knowing, just sort of going into something like this, that even if it's a, even if it is a well tested and organized and an event like Mickey's Merry Christmas Party, where they run dozens of those, Even then it, it's, it's so hard to get to see and do everything, so you still have to pick and choose.

So I, I brought that same mentality with me to this, and I think that's a way that you could perhaps approach this type of event in the future, is to think about what those must dos are and, and just going in with, okay, these are the things I, I really want to prioritize and these are the things that I, if I get to them, great.

If not. It's not a total, you know, time wasted at, at this event. Yeah,

Serena Lyn: I would totally agree with that. I think, I think expectations are a big problem in people coming away from anything disappointed, you know, and not to get super philosophical, but I always feel like social media doesn't really help with that.

And I recognize how hypocritical that is because it's literally my job to share things on social media. But, uh. It can sometimes set up an unrealistic expectation because you're not just seeing what one person did at one event. You're seeing what multiple people did over many, many events. Sometimes they're local, so they're coming often, they're coming multiple times.

So you lose any kind of context on any of that. And so you're just watching it and going, okay, they've got this, they've got this, they've got this. And, and I'm gonna, I'm gonna see and I'm gonna do it all. And I'm gonna eat these things and I'm gonna go here. And, you know, obviously you want to get the most value that you can, but sometimes we set ourselves up for disappointment because it's just unrealistic.

We have no, no logistics built into any of that as to how we can actually get any of it done within a certain timeframe. Well,

Lou Mongello: it's one of the reasons why I wanted specifically like Matthew to come on because you're not local, right? So you bring a different perspective and perception and, and experience than we who are locals.

And we'll talk more about this too, in terms of. What we are looking to get out of an event, because I think sometimes there are some folks who maybe come during the holidays and they leverage, uh, a, uh, an after hours ticket like this as a way to experience attractions without a line and do some things that maybe they couldn't do where we You know, this is in our backyard.

Maybe we don't look at it that way just to take a very quick step back from this because one We really didn't know a lot coming into this. We sort of were buying tickets You know blindly in terms of what the actual offerings were going to be. We didn't really understand until So, uh, at least for me until I sort of had boots on the ground of exactly the first time we opened up that map, what there was to experience and where it was going to be and what it looked like, um, the party takes place, uh, unlike Mickey's very Merry Christmas party, it takes place only on 10 nights.

Uh, we went to the very first one on November 11th, it runs through December 20th, so it's not some place that you could go, you know. Um, on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, um, they, they limited it to 10 nights. Um, the other thing is the, the entire park, excuse me, is not open. Um, the entire park, it is in Hollywood studios.

It's not, not every attraction is going to be open. Not everything is going to be able for you to, uh, experience, but let's, let's sort of look, you know, first at the overall event and then go into some of the individual aspects of it. Um, this is, and, and. I think what we see a lot and I think for all of us is the initial thing is how does this compare, contrast, compliment, or compete with Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party?

Uh, we sometimes try and compare apples to apples when You know, I think they're not right there. They're both hard ticketed events. Um, But they're different in a lot of ways too. So this event Runs, for example from 8 30 p. m. To 12 30 a. m. Yes, you can get in at Seven o'clock. Um, it's shorter than mickey's very merry christmas party a little bit longer than some of the other After hours, you know, quote unquote after hours events that takes place Tickets for this run a hundred and fifty nine dollars to a hundred and seventy nine dollars as opposed to Mickey's very merry christmas party, which is a hundred and fifty nine dollars up to a hundred and ninety nine dollars for an event that runs from You can get into Magic Kingdom at 4pm, uh, until midnight.

Um, let's sort of just quickly talk about this, right? In terms of how this sort of compares and contrasts. Like, I don't look at this as a replacement or even necessarily an alternative to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. And that's not a bad thing, right? I think, Matthew, you sort of referenced this too.

It's... Setting your expectations and choosing based on what you are looking to experience, right? Just like the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic is not the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, right? They're two very different experiences for, you know, potentially different types of people, um, you know, different strokes for different strokes.

So, uh, Serena and then Matthew, your thoughts on, on the overall event and, uh, costs. Uh, duration and sort of how it compares and contrasts, and we'll, we'll talk more about this in detail, but how it sort of initially compares and contrasts with the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, because that's the initial thing that I've seen over and over again is, if I had to choose one or the other, which would I choose and why?

Serena Lyn: Yeah, and I, I think you're right. It's not apples to apples because they are very different events. Jollywood nights, I think is definitely geared more to the adult experience. And Very Mary is very much about family, the whole family coming in and enjoying it together. And of course, neither one of those are exclusive to those experiences, but that's just in terms of like how they're marketing it and sort of the ideal person for it.

I do think that. You know, because they're comparably priced, it's hard not to compare them and say, you know, what you're going to do. I think there's a lot of people that are going to be visiting that aren't going to do both because that along with park tickets, that's really going to have a lot of cost involved.

And, and I don't know that you need to do both. I just think that hopefully, As Jollywood grows and more and more of us talking about it, we'll give people a sense of what it's about so that they can make that choice of basically, which, which sort of vibe are you looking for in the. It's really going to come down to how you personally prioritize your entertainment, you know, I think at the end of the day, like if you're a ride person versus a food and beverage person versus live entertainment, you know, I mean, we all like it all, but we also will prioritize certain things.

If, for example, I love Disney's live entertainment shows are always going to be my top priority. In anything, whether it's cruise line, whether it's live events, whatever. I love their live performances. And so for me, I, I might get more value from Jollywood nights than someone else who are the type of person that they're like, I'll skip the shows.

I'm not really a show person. I'll skip that. I want to do the rides. I want to do other things. So. So much of that is subjective to who you're speaking to, you know, in terms of like what they feel is most important. I think Jollywood is definitely about the the sort of Style of it the dressing up that was very much Put emphasis on even in their marketing and even in their thing that was like you were encouraged I forget exactly how they word it but like you were encouraged to show up in your hollywood glam.

So The person that's going to dress up is going to prioritize that. And that's probably not the person that's going to be like riding rock and roller coaster 12 times in a row, just because the line's short. Cause you know, if you're super glammed up, you're not going to be the person doing that. So, so those are two different people.

Right. Um, and so I think that they're, they're kind of going after the people who like love dapper day. They, they, you know, that's their vibe. They love to do that and take the photos and just have that sort of more glamorous experience in a park. And that was really fun. Cause when do we ever do that? I'm always in like tennis shoes and shorts and, you know, baseball cap at Disney.

So to put on a dress was like, that was a novelty.

Lou Mongello: And it's, I mean, I think they were very clear, right. And sort of targeting an older demographic and in terms of how they were going to be. You know, re imagining some of the elements of the park. I mean, this, you know, let's say at the outset, I don't necessarily feel that this is an event that is designed for kids, especially young kids, unless you are coming there to ride attractions and maybe meet some characters and things like that, because a lot of the entertainment offerings are maybe not things that would be attractors to younger kids.

You're not going to get, you know, a parade like you do it at Very Merry or Not So Scary. I would

Serena Lyn: totally agree with

Matthew Krul: that. And, Lew, to your point, I brought my family with me for this trip. The three of us went together to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. I went by myself to Disney Jollywood Nights. I did not bring my, you know, almost two year old daughter with me to that event, knowing there would be very limited offerings for her.

The vibe of these two experiences... Are completely different. There's some overlap when you get that Disney holiday spirit and the decor and the imagineering and the stack offerings, but compare Mickey's very Merry Christmas party to that hallmark Christmas card feeling. You just walk in and everything is.

Magical there's snow on Main Street. There's this joyful musical atmosphere. It's just like a big warm hug, you know, it's just such a comforting Nostalgic feeling at Mickey's very Merry Christmas party and in Jollywood Nights Is very good analogies Serena with a dapper day sort of feeling you get people really dressed up.

I did not dress up for this occasion. I was not going to pack my talks in my suitcase, but nor was I going to wear it in 80 degrees, but I, I had that same debate with myself for bringing my Christmas sweater to Mickey's very Merry Christmas party, not realizing it was going to be a little bit hotter than I expected it to be.

So I did not, um, But Disney Jollywood Nights is more like a, uh, a holiday cocktail party that's just done incredibly well. And I say that despite the fact that I had not a single cocktail at this event. Um, I was more focused again on, on some of the, the, uh, more family options that were, that were available there.

I did see kids to that point. I did see them having a good time. But I did feel that there was a little bit less for them to do. Uh, the other thing that I thought was actually In some ways, superior at Jollywood nights were one, the, and this might have been unique to the first night, the wait times on attractions.

I actually walked back to Star Wars Galaxy's Edge. I tried to get the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance at, uh, I think it was 8 p. m. Thinking it was going to be like 7 a. m. Any resort day, and I got boarding group 14, and I was called immediately when the park. When the event started and I never ended up getting there because I had so much else to do.

But I walked back to Star Wars Galaxy's Edge and I walked around and it was like attending it on a media day. There was nobody there. And the same thing at Toy Story Land, completely empty. The longest wait I saw in the park was 20 minutes for Slinky Dog Dash. Everything else was basically a walk on, um, so that was one element that while it might have been unique for the first night when word catches on and spreads, it might blend into an after hours event or more people prioritize the attractions.

The other element of this was the live music. That to me was. A real treat to see at this event. Lou, I know you and I both love the, the Tip Top Club Twilight Soiree over at Tower of Terror. I even loved the Disney Holidays in Hollywood performance, the live stage show. I was not expecting a live orchestra on stage, nor was I expecting some of the live performances.

It felt like a Broadway style production in Disney's Hollywood Studios. Very classic MGM Studios feeling to it, um, when I was really sitting there and sort of thinking about it. So those are two elements that I thought. If you were to prioritize those things, that might be a reason to lean towards Dollywood Nights, and if you want more of that, again, little less, um, you know, classic, warm, nostalgic Christmas feeling, and more of that adult cocktail party sort of vibe, um, with rides and attractions and lots of other fun things to do, that's how I would really compare these two completely different

Lou Mongello: events.

Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly. Look, you know, we, we keep sort of referencing that, that it's not necessarily geared for kids. I mean, there's no children's ticket. I mean, there just is no, there's no children's ticket. So if you want a child to come, they need to pay full price. And I think that is, it's a subtle or not so subtle way to say that this is meant to be, like you said, a little bit more of an upscale experience.

It's why I said that I don't think it's comparing apples and oranges to Mickey's very Merry Christmas party, because it's not meant to be. A Mickey's very Merry Christmas party in another park. It is meant to be a different experience that is meant for adults. Um, but let's, let's get into some of what the offerings are there.

I think for a lot of people, and again, everybody's going to have the thing that's going to attract them most. Uh, like you both, I love live entertainment, especially in this park. Um, I've loved it for years. I look forward to the days that even, you know, street misphere characters and all these characters come back because it brings a new.

Life and energy. And for this party, there were basically three different live entertainment performances, uh, two of which were new. The first is Disney's holidays in Hollywood, which is a stage show that's at the theater of the stars. That is, and I didn't realize until we got in there and about five minutes.

I'm like, Oh, there, this is sort of like a vintage holiday TV special that they're filming with a little bit of. Added Disney magic on top in terms of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, Muppets Make Everything Better, uh, Tiana, Belle, and then this wonderful number of Mickey and Minnie at the end. Um, I want to like see this again.

Like I want to sort of watch this again because again, we, we, we sometimes I think come into these events looking at it from a coverage perspective. We'll talk more about that later. But this, this show was. Again, it was the very first time they ever did it, right? So we're trying, we're trying to like take it all in at once.

Um, but there's singers and there's dancers. And I, like you, uh, Matthew, I love the, the live jazz band sort of playing. Uh, I think that adds such a different element to a live performance. Again, as I came out, I really wanted to try and get. My finger on the pulse of what people were feeling and it was all over the place some people absolutely loved it and like I can't wait to see it again like this is the reason why and I, I took a screenshot of, of one review I saw online.

Somebody said the show is awesome. I would go back just for the show. We need more entertainment like this. Tiana came out, sang new songs. Mickey and Minnie did a duet bell came out and she's live singing. The dancing is phenomenal. And there's a live big band orchestra on the stage. Sign me up. Like, so what were your thoughts on this show in particular?

Serena Lyn: I loved it. I absolutely loved it. It was like a Disney variety show, and I thought that it was so well done. I like you, Matthew, I was not expecting the whole live band. I, that was just like a whole and, and it's one of those things that maybe doesn't translate well to screen. Um, which people always need to remember that Disney Imagineering, they create these experiences for the person that is there in person, not for the one who has recorded it and shared it with you later.

So you will never get the full. Impact of live music in front of you, unless you are there present with it. So that's just as a good reminder, but I loved the show. I loved hearing the Muppets and seeing them and they were really there live in person. And so that was just really cool to see the fact that they wrote an original holiday song for Tiana to perform just for this.

I was kind of blown away with that. Like it shows you the level of. Conviction that they're making to this event. I mean, they, they're really dedicating some resources to this. They want it to be successful. And I think Disney live entertainment really knocked it out of the park with that show.

Lou Mongello: It's really, I'm sorry, go ahead.

Matthew Krul: No, no, that's okay. I was just going to add to that, that I went to the first performance. That was what I strategically wanted to get to first. I did so. And that's right, you were there, Serena. I remember, I think I heard you on the other side of the, someone said your name on the other side of the, on the other side of the stage, but the, uh, so there's something about the live aspect that you really cannot capture through Videos through reviews.

I say this a lot about Disney attractions. There's something different about reading a review or watching a video of Avatar Flight of Passage and then going and riding it. It's a completely different experience. There's no way to fully grasp the sensation of really being on that attraction or any other attraction and the response to the way in which Kermit and Miss Piggy Made their introduction on stage there was and I I watched back the video at listen back to the recording.

I made there's this Enormous cheer that just happened within the audience when you see Kermit and Miss Piggy on stage, and that's one thing that I've appreciated now seeing them up at several times in person, just the two of them. You cannot, it is no, it's a completely different experience seeing them in person and watching them in a movie or watching an event on screen.

The, there definitely was a lot of focus on making this particular stage show, uh, feel. As close to a live performance as possible, and that I really appreciated to your point, Serena. They did not have to do that. They could have made, you know, pre recorded segments, put them up on screen, added some live stage elements to it, and people would have still had, I think, maybe, you know, not as great reviews or I'm still mixed reviews about this, but, um, I came away from that first performance thinking I definitely would want to go back and see that again.

And I would probably prioritize that show over a lot of the other aspects of the events, um, after seeing it with my own eyes. I'm

Lou Mongello: happy you both referenced that because it was one of the things I wanted to talk about too is this idea of seeing it with your own eyes. I think we are so Sometimes we don't appreciate, um, the importance of live theater.

I come from a theater background, like way back when I started college as a theater major. Go figure weird. Um,

Serena Lyn: what a journey you've had

Matthew Krul: restaurants, law

Serena Lyn: here. We

Lou Mongello: are clown college for three years. No, I'm kidding. But you know, there's a reason why. You need to go to broadway need to go into a theater and sit there and feel the energy because nothing that you watch On a, especially small screen is going to convey that.

And we sometimes, and I'm very sort of hyper aware of when the curtain goes down, what does that energy feel like? Right? What does that crowd sound like? And maybe the video you're watching was with a shotgun mic and you can't necessarily get that energy. From the crowd. And as you're walking out, what's the buzz, right?

What are people around you saying about performance? Um, I, I think that again, it was a first performance. I think that there's some timing things that could happen and maybe every single joke doesn't land and that's okay. Um, you know, Tiana came out and sang a new song that was written specifically. This performance and for Jollywood nights that sometimes comes as a double edged sword, right?

Because it's a it's a song that people aren't familiar with you may be going in I'm expecting the vintage classic songs What is this? It sometimes takes people a little bit of time to warm up. So again people came at it from both sides I love the fact that Bella sing. Sorry Tiana sing a new song Versus, I wish, you know, she was singing something that I was more familiar with, uh, Belle came out, she sang, she was in her holiday gown from her Belle's, what is it, Enchanted Christmas, whatever the DVD was, whatever the, um, but, and, and I love, I really, really liked, and I really appreciated the way they finished it with, with the Mickey and Minnie, um, duet, so, it is one that I want to go back and see, but like you said, Serena, Not every show is going to be for everybody, which is why, nice segue, Bunjil, I'll pat myself, which is why I think Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas sing along is like, opposite side of the coin in terms of what this is.

This takes place in the Hyperion Theater where the Frozen sing along takes place. And, you know, this is sort of promoted as a sing along with the Pumpkin King as you follow two friends on a larger than life journey. This was a very unique theatrical experience that again may not be for everyone because there's no dialogue.

There are two actors on stage who give a pantomime performance alongside and utilizing stage props and projections and then the, these, you know, the sing along that's taking place on the screen behind them. In this theater that has been completely redecorated and rethemed for Nightmare before christmas, um again ladies first, uh your thoughts on the the nightmare before christmas sing along

Serena Lyn: It was totally different than I was expecting.

I was honestly expecting it to be basically like the frozen sing along But Nightmare Before Christmas, you know, I kind of that in my head, I was like, Oh, they're going to have like, like a host or narrator and they're going to be like, Hey, let's sing all the songs. And then maybe at the end, you know, Jack Skellington comes out or something.

So it was a lot different than I thought it would be in a good way because it was much more of a full production. With from the beginning to the end, that was something that was written for this. If it felt like live theater, it was much more like live theater than just like a, um, a little retelling. Uh, so I thought it was really good.

I love that they have, they had the Jack Skellington puppet. I'm assuming it's the same one that they use from the, uh, the, the fireworks show. Do you guys know if it's the same one?

Lou Mongello: So I honestly had never seen it before, but people say it is the same. I mean, it's a huge, I mean, it's gotta be a. 15 foot tall, whatever it is.

Yeah. Yeah, really, really well, like very impressive. I was very, very, because it was my first time seeing it. Uh, I was, I was blown away. I thought it was really, really impressive.

Serena Lyn: Yeah. He's really, really cool. I I'm assuming it's the same one. Cause when you see the fireworks show during not so scary, he's there on the castle, but you don't get that sense of scale because.

He's way up on the castle stage and you're seeing him on the backdrop of the castle. This was like, now he's just like on a regular stage. So it just seemed like huge. Very cool. Uh, I, the, the fan base for that show is amazing. I love that they brought that out. There's so many fans of, of the music from that.

Having Oogie Boogie there, that is a, for us, not so much for Disneyland, but for us, Oogie Boogie's a rare character. Like we don't, We don't get to see him a lot in, in shows or anything. So getting to have him there was really cool. I, I thought it was amazing. Those were the two, definitely those two shows are like the cornerstone pieces of this event to me.

Matthew Krul: Yeah, on my end, so I'll, I'll admit, I actually didn't get the chance to see this while I was there, um, there were a few things I did not get to, and when it came to, again, that priority list, I prioritized the live stage performance at Disney, uh, for Disney Holidays in Hollywood over this one, and I am a fan of Nightmare Before Christmas, but I wanted that experience or something new I hadn't really So, yeah.

Thank you. Thought I'd seen before and that being said, when I went back and looked at some of the coverage from this performance, it was different than what my expectations were. Because again, I was kind of picturing it when you say a Nightmare Before Christmas sing along, you just, they have the, the large screen there in that theater.

You just sort of, you know, project the movie with Words that you could sing along to if you don't know the lyrics you have a couple of hosts of the show that are Encouraging guests to sing along and that's it. And then when I saw what it actually was I Kind of you know was beating myself up a little bit for not not prioritizing that and taking the time to see it So I I would love to go back and see that again and the interesting thing is that Because it is nightmare before Christmas you almost get the sense that that could have been a Christmas show or a Halloween show They could easily repurpose that for oogie boogie bash and they could use it over at California adventure so I I love that, that element of it.

But yeah, I did not get to see it with my own eyes. So can't, uh, from that perspective. Um, when it comes to prioritizing, if you do like Nightmare Before Christmas, I would say, don't be like me. Make sure you prioritize that show over holidays in Hollywood.

Lou Mongello: So a couple of things. One, you are, it's a testament to the fact that you, despite what you might see online, that there's quote unquote nothing to do, there's not, you cannot do it all.

If you want to try and do it all and why having a game plan going in part of the reason why we're doing the show So to help you figure out what you want to do and make sure you you sort of You know have your approach Walking in the door nightmare before christmas such an it's such an interesting animal because there are people who sort of live and die By the nightmare before christmas.

I admittedly I love halloween. I love christmas I can appreciate I for some reason I can't sort of wrap my head and heart around this movie I try every single year and I just I haven't done it That being said, I appreciated the live performance. The performers were fantastic. Um, absolutely wonderful. I love the way they used the stage and the props without having, simply by emoting and not have to say a word.

It might not be for everybody, but I think if you appreciate live theater, live performances, and Nightmare Before Christmas, you're really, really going to enjoy, um, this performance. Coming out of the theater. There were some folks that I was, you know, walking around with and seeing throughout the night Who had said up to this point, I thought the event was okay.

This was the thing that did it for me. I, someone specifically who I won't mention my name said, this is the thing that turned Jollywood nights around for me. I absolutely love the show. I think it was well done. I just went into this very long diatribe about why for her, like this was, this was her version of maybe for you.

Holidays in Hollywood. This was the stage. So it's nice that they sort of have this almost yin and yang of different types of, of live stage performances. Um, the other sort of, um, show that happens is jingle bell, jingle bam, which you may be familiar with from a number of years ago, which used to take place nightly at Disney's Hollywood studios.

It did not, has not come back over the past couple of years and is now only during Disney. And it is this fireworks and laser and light and projection and holiday, holiday music, um, with, with a number of characters from, uh, animated characters from Disney films, it takes place sort of, this is your end of the night, kiss goodnight.

I think it took place at 1230, 12, 1230 at night at Jollywood night, maybe it was 12 o'clock. It's not an early night, right? Another reason why it might not be. For kids, um, give me your thoughts on Jingle Bell Jingle Bam, not just the show itself, but you know, some people were not McLovin the fact that it is only now part of Jollywood night, as opposed to being something that takes place at Disney's Hollywood Studios every night of the holiday season.

Serena Lyn: Yeah, I don't love that. It's behind a ticketed event paywall, so to speak it. I think that it it's hard. It's always hard to take things away that you've had, right? So it used to be something that we had for free. It was just part of the holiday entertainment at Hollywood Studios and now it's gone. And then they bring it back just for this event.

I understand the draw of saying, you know, we want to give you a nighttime spectacular that you can only see. Here, so they're trying to add to the value of that ticket you've paid. And as we've said, it wasn't a cheap event. So yeah, it's nice to have that, that added thing there. I do feel like Jingle Bell Jingle Bam is more of a, um, more of a show made for kids.

Um, it's like, it's really got that, you know, kind of built into the story and the theming. So to bring it into an event that you've not marketed for kids, you know, is maybe like my only like conflict, it's still a visually pretty show and the fireworks and everything are really cool. I, I would, I want, would love to see it again, mainly because it was really pouring by then.

And so we watched it like off center under the canopy of Hollywood Brown Derby. So, cause again. I was dressed up, unfortunately for, for me and my wet shoes that are still not dry. So, uh, so we kind of didn't give it the full effect, you know, we didn't see it front and center to really get to enjoy it, but that's obviously not Disney's fault.

The weather wasn't cooperating, but I think it's a really good show. I think it's really cute. Um, I would love to see them do it all the time, but for me, and again, this goes back to. Your individual preferences for me, that show would never move the needle in terms of whether I attend this event or not.

You could have had it. You could have had not had it. Next time if I attend again, I probably won't even prioritize seeing the show. And if I need to use that time to go see something else that I missed, I would do

Matthew Krul: that. Yeah. I'm going to piggyback on that a little bit. I also think it was a, I would have loved to have seen it.

You know, during park hours, or since it is a little bit more of a kid friendly show, it's an interesting choice to put it so late, because that's generally where you're going to see the young kids especially will have left by then, or they're asleep in their stroller. So it's, it's interesting to put it this event and then to make it.

At the very end of the event, I think that maybe has to do with them testing in this being a first event for them. First time doing this kind of testing the waters and seeing if there is an appetite for an evening spectacular or if everyone was prioritizing everything else. Like you, Serena, I probably would not.

Spend my time seeing that at Jollywood Nights again, um, I would love though if they were to think of a way to do something in place of it next year, whether that's a similar style of show, similar fireworks show, but a different production, maybe a little bit more focused on the the audience. This is this event is serving, um.

Or even if I know that, you know, Hollywood studios doesn't have, um, a parade right now, but you could add in a parade of some kind and especially if you do make it more kid focused. You have that again earlier in the evening. Very similar to once upon a Christmas time parade, which I do think is for me.

That's one of the reasons I like to go to Mickey's very Merry Christmas party. Same thing with the booty. You parade at Mickey's. That's a scary Halloween party. Those are, you know. Nighttime spectaculars, I do prioritize when I go to those events. Um, so I, I think it just, it sort of missed the mark or didn't find its right home with this event.

Um, it would be great to see them bring it back during the holidays, during regular spectacular. Park days as an evening spectacular and then find something new for Dollywood Nights. I think that would really enhance the value of the ticket.

Lou Mongello: Yeah, I don't disagree with you. Um, you know, it's hard to take something away that was there for free and you feel it's being sort of gatekept.

Um, but by the same token playing pure devil's advocate for an event that's only 10 nights. It's only a 10 night event to, you know, can you justify creating an all new parade? No, all new stage show a new firework show, because there's, there's, there's a lot of logistics and there's a lot of financial investment into any and all of those, especially when you deal with real human beings that have to, you know, learn a new show and things like that.

So I don't know what the answer is. I would love to have had something. In that center courtyard to sort of wrap up and celebrate and sort of punctuate the evening. That was not that show again. Um, that's sort of something that I felt was, it wasn't absent because there was something there, but I wish it wasn't Jingle Bell Jingle Bam.

I don't have the solution of how to sort of work around the, the, um, logistical and financial aspects of it. But I'd love to have something special to sort of punctuate that night and that moment there.

Serena Lyn: Yeah, I think too, like, uh, Hollywood Studios is just laid out differently than Magic Kingdom, too. Magic Kingdom has that hub, and it's like a natural point, like, throughout, when you go, when you go to Very Merry Christmas Party, there's several points during the night where you naturally sort of come back to center, like, back to base, and you're gonna, like, watch the fireworks there, you're gonna watch the parade there, you're gonna see the snow on Main Street, like, and, and so you sort of feel like you have that connection to the place.

The other guests or the other, the event feels more holistic because of that. Whereas this one just felt a little more disjointed and that's just. To me, I just took that away as like, this is so brand new. They have not found their stride yet with connecting the various pieces and bringing them all back together again for the guests.

Lou Mongello: I think that's it. I think the, and it's new for us. It's new for the cast, right? There was a lot of casts that, you know, that's the, the, the first time they were seeing it was the first time they were working it. Right. So there's a little bit of a disconnect there too. And, and as we, you know, look, I want this event to succeed.

I want this to continue and grow because I really, really. Dig the concept, uh, look, I mean, there is that center stage area where the hat used to be in front of the theater. There's, there's something you can do there. Um, you know, I, this wouldn't be it, but I almost sort of think of, you know, in. It's like way back in that you guys are both too young to remember the pleasure island days where every night you'd count down to new years.

And it was this sort of moment that a board of ready together, but it also signified kind of the, the end of the night. Figuring something to do there. Um,

Serena Lyn: Oh, I love that idea though. Just sort of like having a, a moment where everyone is going to join in that part and it would also help them to logistically to have, uh, be able to anticipate some crowd flow because That there was some issues there with the lines and stuff we will get into, but that's just simply not knowing where people are going to go at any given time.

And when you, when you give them one event or one thing, then, then now you can anticipate where they're going to be.

Lou Mongello: Yeah. I think, look, I think a lot of people. Didn't necessarily know like where to go or what was open. Like what can I do? Like what is open? Where, where are some of these things, which sort of, let's sort of get into the next aspect, which are these, these entertainment zones that they were creating or tried to create.

And I think again, there's going to be this gradual understanding of, of what and where these are. Right. So. Um, on Hollywood Boulevard, I saw the DJ in, uh, in the courtyard. I didn't see him on Hollywood Boulevard. I would have loved to have seen a DJ maybe in that center area, playing some vintage holiday tunes, um, over in Echo Lake was meant to be the sort of eighties throwback bash to stir up the sense of nostalgia.

And you'll, you saw some throwback characters there. We'll talk more about characters like Powerline Max and Phineas and Ferb, uh, over at a commissary lane. It was meant to be this holiday street fair, uh, which was like a Latin street fair, the holiday fiesta and like I, I took two years of Spanish. It's the best I can do Latin holiday music, live musicians again, which I dig the, the, the live music there and even inside.

Um, you know, there was a lot of, of Latin inspired food inside the ABC commissary, the, uh, Twilight star soiree at the tip top club over at the Hollywood tower of terror was my favorites that, that 19 late thirties, early forties ambience in the courtyard of the Hollywood tower hotel. Um, we'll talk about the bar aspect of it, but the live music that was there with, with Rachel and the other, that the trio of musicians was.

Fantastic. Um, they were so good. They were so I could have spent all night there. And when I go back on Monday That's probably where you'll find me and the jazzy jazzy holidays at the hollywood brown derby Um the way it's positioned Is that the restaurant transforms into a smooth jazz joint where you can enjoy holiday music, craft cocktails, an exclusive menu of light bites in a sophisticated setting.

Note that capacity is limited. You bet your Bippy was. Um, let's, let's just start there and then let's go, let's go back. Um, because I think, I think the jazzy holidays at Hollywood Brown Derby ism. Bit of a misnomer. Um, it is not like a jazz club that you sort of walk in and out of. It is a sit down dining experience, not a come and go lounge, which I sort of wish That it was, I don't know how you could do it, right?

Cause you can't sort of turn the restaurant over that way. Um, the way this was done was that you needed to be at the Hollywood Brown Derby to join a virtual queue. There were admitted bugs in the virtual queue system where everybody got a 10 minute return time. Which was not necessarily the case. Um, I was with a couple of friends.

One of my friends got a table for four. We were fortunate. We were one of the first tables in there. Like, we just, it was luck of the draw. We were maybe the one of 7 to 10 tables that first sat down. Um, love the menu, love the items on the menu. We sort of knew we wanted very quickly. And, and our experience is, is, I understand, admittedly not the regular.

We were in and out in 25 minutes. Good, bad, or otherwise. We were in 25 minutes. Uh, which I would have almost were. I wish I wanted to spend more time there and hang out. There was a jazz pianist up, uh, top center of the lounge. Um, they obviously need to tweak the virtual queue system, but, uh, what, what, if any, were your experiences with the Hollywood Brown Derby?

Matthew Krul: Uh, my experience was not getting in.

Serena Lyn: Yeah, yeah, yeah, a lot of people had that right. A lot of people had that

Lou Mongello: saying the capacity is limited. I understand. But when this is one of the major sort of entertainment draws, if going to see a jazz penis was going to be a draw for you. And again, I think there's an understanding of what My, what was in my mind's eye and what I actually experienced were two different things.

Uh, not that I was right or wrong, but it was a jazz pianist playing primarily Christmas tunes. It was a couple of, I saw, I heard songs from like Moana and stuff like that in there too. Um, but having a limited capacity venue for an event where you pay this, this premium price for, um, Is for a lot of people.

It's a very difficult pill to swallow, whether you would have liked the experience or not, not being able to get in is difficult. And I don't know how to work around that because the Hollywood Brown Derby cannot fit, you know, 10, 000 people in there. I don't know. I don't know how many tickets they sell.

It was a random number. I made up.

Serena Lyn: Yeah, I think the walkup list is such a nice idea. Um, but I almost think in doing that, they created like this, uh, false sense of priority, uh, you know, where people were prioritizing that. Option and that was not like something like a lot of people did that like you before they did any shows or anything because they thought why better do it now because I get in and if it calls me back, I'm going, you know, and, um, and it wasn't, it wasn't like, I definitely would not prioritize that over any of the other things like that would be something I would do much later in the evening

Lou Mongello: unless you want to sit down meal.

Like unless you want to sit down and by meal, I mean, it's, it's lighter bites and sort of appetizers, but it's not, it is, it's, it's, I mean, that's sort of what it is.

Serena Lyn: Yeah, I did love, uh, we, we got, we got to do it and, um, it ended up being sort of like, I want to say it was like 10 or 1030 that we did it. And um, that was kind of perfect because there were lines for a lot of the snacks and this, the smaller things that were on offer throughout the park.

And so because of that, we didn't have to deal with those lines because when we got in there, we could just sit down and actually order food and eat and get something. To eat. So in that sense, I felt like it was nice. Now, the food you're going to get there is going to cost you more than what you're going to get at Fairfax fair or whatever.

So there there's something to, you know, consider with that. But, um, I actually liked the fact that we got to sit down. We got to get in the air conditioning because again, it's still hot or I'm annoyed about it, but here we are. Um, but, you know, I do think that. I would have loved to have seen them clear out in the bottom floor area because you have, you know, tables on different levels in there.

I would have loved to have just said to clear out this table and chairs do standing ones, get more people in there and have it be a little more come and go and not and a little less formal sitting and stuff because I think you would have gotten a lot more people who could have got who could have come in.

And would've just, um, come in and, and vibed a little bit, you know, maybe just had a, like a one little walkup bar, but if you wanted food you have to sit down or something. I don't know how they would work that out, but, uh, I think that it was a cute, cute idea and I think the food was really good. Did you have the sliders by the way?

I did. They were

Lou Mongello: so good. It were

Serena Lyn: fantastic. Yeah, that was like my favorite thing. I ate the whole night.

Lou Mongello: And I think it's why you have to understand what that is. I think some people would love the idea of going there and having a relaxed sit down experience as opposed to running around doing counter service fair for the rest of the night. Because it is other than ABC commissary, which is counter service, but there's places to sit inside.

You know, you are doing sort of counter service, Fairfax Fair and Sunset Ranch Market and some of these other places. So if you do want a little bit more of an upscale, chill, relaxed, you know, maybe I want to spend 40 minutes sitting down enjoying, you know, a couple of cocktails and some appetizers, it is a good option.

I think the more people know about this arena, I think the more people might say, well, this is not how I want to spend my time because I want to go and do some of these other things. Right.

Matthew Krul: And to be fair, that was my experience. So I really wanted to get in. I absolutely could have, I just prioritized other aspects of it.

I knew if I, this was something I was definitely interested in, but it was not high enough on the list for this particular night that I felt that I, I needed to prioritize it. And so, you know, my options were either go straight to Hollywood Brown Derby to get on that wait list, or again, go to. Get in line for Disney holidays in Hollywood and see that show and that's where my priority was for this But if I were to come back and do this a second time I probably would skip the things that I did and go counter to My first night do the things I didn't get to do on the second night and have probably a completely different experience

Serena Lyn: Yeah, I'm sure you would cuz there's a lot like so I got to we did holidays in Hollywood.

We did tip top club We did Brown Derby and then we did, um, the Nightmare Before Christmas. One so that was the order that we did then. Um, and then we were back for the, um, fireworks. So that was, that was pretty much our evening. I missed the Latin club because we did walk down there towards the end of the night.

It was about, um, 1130 1111 30 and they, because it has started sprinkling, they had to close up the band. So I missed that. And I never even made it over to Echo Lake. So I don't even know what was going on

Matthew Krul: over there. I made it to both those places. The, the, uh, those were a couple things I did want to see.

So, uh, the fiesta in La Calle was, was a lot of fun. There was, I was, I decided just looking at the waits for the different places to eat that the place I was going to have dinner was the ABC commissary, um, which offered a lot of. You know, Spanish, they had tacos, empanadas, they had a really interesting, I forget, I have to go back and look at the menu now.

It was a chocolate, um, a spiced chocolate cheesecake with, uh, rumschata.

Um, so that line was not, it actually was perfect because it went outside. Um, so I was waiting outside while enjoying the live street performance. And then once I got inside, it was just a few minutes before I was ordering my food. Um, it, it prompts one of the memories I have from this experience. The cast members working at this event were was one of the best parts of the event.

Um, I came across so many excited, um, just above and beyond cast members who really Were very into this experience and trying to make guests have an incredible time. I caught this on on video I'm gonna have to post it Instagram I just shared and it's my story when I was there there was a Custodial cast member who was dancing on the side and the performer literally called him over and the two of them were Dancing.

Um, I don't know what type of Spanish dance. I totally it might have been flamenco I don't remember what it was, but they were they were dancing side by side and The look on his face he was just having the greatest time and almost in that moment he was a guest enjoying himself at this party and I felt that way with so many of the cast members, um, at every place I went to order food, I was just amazed with how Warm and friendly and it's like we expect that at Disney, but it was a little above and beyond even what I get at Disney.

They were just really into the event. Um, so anyway, that, that particular performance was, was great. Definitely people dancing in the street. I think accomplished what. The objective was for that live performance, um, really got into the, to the groove there. Um, and, uh, I did not just cause I was not going to embarrass myself in front of guests, but, um, or the performers, uh, but yeah, that, that part of it ends the food at the, the commissary was very good.

Um, well, chicken empanadas, I, I'd say were. were good, not excellent. Um, the beef tacos I had were excellent and that chocolate spice cheesecake was terrific. Um, so some really great food options over there.

Lou Mongello: Yeah. And to be clear, like these, when we talk about these live bands, like these are not places to go and sit down.

I mean, these are literally sort of happening on the streets, you know, walk up, walk by whatever it might be, whether it's there. Echo Lake did not have any live band. There were characters around. Echo Lake. Um, I, there was a sort of a mobile DJ, but I saw him in the animation courtyard where a lot of the photo opportunities and characters were as opposed to being in, uh, on Holiday Boulevard.

And I think the, the Twilight Soiree at the Tip Top Club. Um, if you're, if you're going to Jollywood Nights and you're approaching Tower of Terror, do not let the long line fool you because that is not necessarily for the soiree. It chances are it's for the bar. Um, and this is again, where you have to sort of be there once to understand what this is, because the soiree takes place in the courtyard of the Hollywood tower hotel.

It's themed in that they are in vintage clothing. They're sort of meant to look like maybe there are ghosts and sort of lingering remnants 1939. Uh, the band was remarkably good. Um, I could have stood there all night long. There is a, you'll, you'll see the disclaimer that capacity is limited, not just for the courtyard space, because there's no seating.

Again, it's a, it's a stand up experience. But, I saw this huge line, and I thought there was some sort of pop up bar experience or something that was back there. And it literally was just a line. For a drink to get drinks, right? To get special cocktails, um, there was no, you know, themed area. There was no venue to sort of go into.

It was a line for drinks. So you might be able to free up or occupy, you know, some of your time when they, they have to somehow figure out a way to put another bar in front of the tower next to the tower somewhere to, to, you know, balance out those people that are trying to get those specialty themed cocktails that, that are there.

But in terms of like theming and music and location, this was the thing for me that really was, was a huge highlight of Jollywood nights.

Matthew Krul: I agree.

Serena Lyn: It was really, really well done. And so much of that, you know, talking about like these pain points of, um, hitting these lines in various places, so much of that is just depends on your, like the, the, the pattern you, you followed at your party when you chose to do things, you know, you could walk up if you had been there at the tip top club, from what I understand early in the party, because we did the, um, Holidays in Hollywood first.

So that was, I think, at 8 30. Um, so we came out so it was closer to 9 30 by the time we were going to Tower of Terror for that. If you came and done that earlier, they didn't have the line formed very well. It wasn't organized like that. So it was just like a mob of people. And so A lot of it is just the timing of when you happen upon something, you might, it might be a good time.

It might not be a good time. And because everything's new, nobody knew what, what was going on. Right. But I think that the, the theming of that event, I mean, how many times have we all written Tower of Terror? We see the little pre show and the, they're going to this, yeah. This event and they're all dressed up in the elevator and you get to go to this event that they were attending back in 1939.

That's how I took it. That's how it felt to me. And the music and everything was so fitting for the entire theming of that attraction. It was just, it was like very satisfying to, to be there and to see that. And just, yeah, I could have hung around there for a long time.

Matthew Krul: And they had this fog effect too.

That was. That made it really feel a bit paranormal when you were standing there. Um, the backdrop of Tower of Terror was, I think, it sort of made the, it made the experience. If you had placed them somewhere else, it still would have been an enjoyable performance, but there's something about being in that courtyard.

That adds to the experience, and you hear the screams from Tower of Terror, and it just, it really completed that, that atmosphere. Then, if you also add in those specialty cocktails that were over there, too, it really, that, that to me felt most like a, uh, the, the cocktail party elements of, of this, um, and I absolutely would go back and probably prioritize doing that earlier in the evening as well, um, and maybe see their first performance before it gets a little busier.

Lou Mongello: Yeah, even as you walk up to tower like there's banners and bunting so you you can tell that there's some sort of something special That is going on there. Um again, I think in terms of overall theming of any of the locations I think this was done best. Uh, did either of you take advantage of either any of the character meet and greets?

um, the characters that were there were You know the fab five, um edna mode and frozone were in pixar plaza with just different backdrops And then at echo lake there was max chip and dale as the rescue rangers and phineas and ferb But there was also a number of different Um photographers and photo opportunities.

It was a robotic arm magic shot It was a different magic a camera array magic shot and a few different Photopass lenses, um, did you take, did you guys participate and do any of, of other characters or the photopass?

Serena Lyn: We didn't do characters at all. We did the robotic arm one, uh, Louise and I did. That was really fun.

I, I, when I saw it, I was just like, this is so different. I just really want to see what it's going to look like. And you get a video clip, so it's not a photo. It's actually a video clip and it's like 25 seconds. Um, and this robotic arm is sort of moving around you while you move a little bit. And at one point it completely flips all the way around three cent 360.

So it kind of, in the video, it looks like you're, you know, sort of getting all fancy with your camera work and stuff, but it's. And then they put backdrop music with it and give it to you with a nice little Jollywood nights logo on it for you to download. And, um, all the photo pass was included with the event, which I think is important to remember, because a lot of people don't have photo pass added to their, to their tickets or, or whatever.

So if you did dress up and you wanted to make this an opportunity to get some really nice photos and really unique backdrops with it, this would be the event for you because they have them everywhere.

Matthew Krul: Yeah, I did not. Meet the characters. The only ones I wanted to if I had time were Phineas and Ferb and, um, Powerline Max just because those were rare characters.

I know the Fab Five were. Decked out for Jollywood nights, but I and then it would end in Frozone I met them before you can usually meet them during the day. I did walk by their lines were not terribly long It looked very similar to a standard day at the parks the photopass options I Didn't get to all of them.

I did get to a couple of them mostly on Hollywood Boulevard. I didn't go really digging too deep into the photopass options at the event and I, looking back at some of the photopass, you know, photos that came out of the experience, I probably should have just because it looked to be some really unique offerings.

Um, but, uh, With me, you know, PhotoPass, I get like one in a hundred are a good shot that I feel like I can share online, which has nothing to do with the PhotoPass photographer. Everything to do with me, the PhotoPass photographers are wonderful people. I'm going to do an amazing job because I get hundreds of amazing pictures of Maggie.

Um, but, but me, I, you know, usually it's. I'm like Ricky Bobby. I'm like, what do I do with my hands? I put them on my hips. Do I, what do I do? So, uh, didn't, didn't get to the photo pass options.

Lou Mongello: Uh, I want to quickly talk about, by the way, I don't normally do photo pass, but I thought these were so unique, especially the robotic arm, uh, as well as the, There was the, um, the shop in animation courtyard that had sort of that, that motion, um, the, the short video and other photos that you could do there.

So they were, they were dispersed through a number of different locations in the park. And I was just doing it just for fun. But, um, we talked briefly about the attraction. Just want to mention the attractions that were open included slinky dog, toy story, mania, twilight zone, rock and roller coaster, runaway railway.

Smugglers run. And we mentioned to rise of the resistance is the virtual queue access only how you choose to do your, you know, party ticket is really up to you. And if you want to use and spend time doing attractions, um, we talked about how everything was basically walk on for the most part. Um, one thing I did not do enough of And this is, I will obviously change this when I go back on the 20th, um, there is not one, not two, not three, but over 50 different, exclusive, sweet, and eat, and treat, and drink, and I did, I need more time to eat, it was really my biggest complaint, um, There there were some notable wait times for food despite the lower crowds We talked about how the Brown Derby was transformed into the the Jazzy Holidays Club and they had a full menu there But there was a I mean there's a ton of food here And if you go to Disney Parks blog, they have a great write up with a lot of Pictures.

I heard a lot of good things about other than some of the early lines, uh, when, when the party first opened, um, I heard a lot of good things about, um, a lot of the food, including, um, I heard dockside diner was really good. Um, there's also a spicy Korean chicken funnel cake that people were raving about.

Uh, I did get to try the. Buffalo chicken egg rolls, um, well they're spring rolls, but the things I wanted to go back for, wait I have to find it on the menu, I got very excited and then sad all at the same time that I didn't get a chance to eat it, but supposedly there's a holiday turkey popover, and a just the sides popover, the holiday turkey popover, turkey and mashed potatoes topped with gravy, cranberry chutney, and chives in a house made popover, and there's one that's just the sides, Mac and cheese and collard greens with ham topped with cornbread crumbs and a house made popover and a PB& J donut Peanut butter and jelly donut dipped in dark chocolate topped with crushed house made salt and vinegar chips I'm not a sweets guy, but sign me Did you guys get a chance to participate in any of the culinary delights and if so favorites thoughts?

Serena Lyn: Not really. I had the popovers on my list and they didn't get I didn't get them. I forget where they were, but I wanted to Fairfax there. That's right. And that's the, that was one that and the Fairfax fair line and the line for dinosaur Gertie, um, and her cookie. And there was a cute Sunday with her. Um, they were by far the longest.

Those are the ones I, I have a feeling Disney will prioritize adjusting those.

Matthew Krul: I really wanted the holiday pop over. I, I saw the queue and it went from Fairfax Fair back to like Catalina Eddie's. It was just, it had to be a couple hundred people deep. So I knew if I, if I was going to get food, that was going to be the only food I was going to get for that.

entire events. Um, so I did not wait on that queue. I probably would have, you know, I really would have liked to. Food was one of the things I did want to prioritize while I was at the event. I did look up that dessert I got at ABC commissary was a Mexican hot cocoa cheesecake. So spiced chocolate cheesecake on a chocolate cookie base top with vanilla whipped cream and cocoa powder with a chocolate handle.

Um, That was quite good. The, I am a sweets guy, so I went over to Dockside Diner, and I got the, the holiday, sorry, the Christmas treat cookie stack. Um, so there's a vanilla cookie stack filled with pistachio buttercream, cranberry, and raspberry jam, topped with sprinkles, and a yellow candy star. Um, and then, From that same location and this did not have a long queue.

I'd say I waited maybe five minutes for this one. Maybe 10 minutes for the um, the ABC commissary. It was not those were not terrible at all. Um, but also dockside diner. I got the Sandy Claus hot cocoa, um, which is inspired by night before Christmas and it's dark chocolate hot cocoa topped with cherry whipped cream.

Um, and that was that was very good. Um, Trouble falling asleep after this event with

Lou Mongello: how much sugar . Matt hasn't slept since the party because he's still on a sugar rush. .

Serena Lyn: That sounds

Matthew Krul: amazing though. Those were, those were terrific. Um, I, again, I would, I would've liked to have gotten some more food. Mm-Hmm.

But that was, that was one of the things I did like. And by the way, um, Lou, when it came to the attractions, there were more open than they advertised. Alien swirling saucers was also. Um, which was not on the list and I was surprised to see I, you know, I think that might've been the only one, but it seemed like they, they maybe ran more attractions and they even said they were going to, which was a nice little surprise.

So if you did have young kids, you could have brought them over to alien, swirling saucers, toy story, mania, slinky dog, dash, all three of those were running very minimal lines. Um, but yeah, the, the food, the food, there was, there was plenty of food and, and I believe a lot of the, um. I think that, uh, the Backlot Express was open, um, for just regular dining.

I think if, when I passed by, I know Ronto Roasters was not open, but the Milk Stand in Galaxy's Edge had no queue. That was open. Oga's Cantina was open. And not only, not only was it open, I passed by and they were trying to get me to come in because there was nobody, they were literally advertising Oga's Cantina in, in character.

Um, when do you ever see that? Like every time I go, there's always a queue. It's, you know, the reservations are full. They literally were trying to get people into Oga's Cantina, um, which was open. That is so interesting. Yeah, I mean, obviously people were not there to go to Ogas Cantina, but yeah, I was impressed with how much was open.

Um, I did not expect to see that.

Lou Mongello: So the trick is don't bring young kids, bring kids who are old enough to go stand in line for food for you. So bring your own or borrow somebody else's kids who can stand in line and go get food because there was a lot, right? ABC commissary had food, baseline tap house had specialty foods.

Dockside Donner, Epic Eats, Fairfax Fair, Dinosaur Gertie's, The Market, Pizza Rizzo, Tip Top Club, Trolley Car Cafe, there was a couple of other, um, vending locations that had Gingerbread Bites, and a few different, uh, bar locations. Hollywood Brown Derby's and Joffrey's coffee and tea. So there was a there is a lot of food But obviously, you know for a lot of people the food it was super popular

Serena Lyn: Yeah, it was and I think too it goes back to like Sometimes I feel frustrated because people just kind of be like well the lines for this were so long and we wasted, you know An hour of our four hour party time in line and I'm like, I, that, that's not cool.

And it, that's a shame, but it's also a choice you made. Like we all see the lines, like I, you know, the dinosaur Gertie cookie looked really cute, but like, I'm not going to wait an hour for that. Like I can understand for me, that's not worth that investment of time. I know it'd be nice if they didn't have the lines and maybe there'll be able to tweak that, but.

You have to kind of, it's, it's like we talk about going into it with a plan. You kind of have to know what your priorities are and stick to them, you know? And if something is a long wait, don't, just skip it. It's, it's okay. There's so much else to do that unless it's just like the one thing that's a big deal breaker for you, you know, be, be smarter with how you use your time so that by the end of the party, you feel like you got the value out of it.

Lou Mongello: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, the other thing too, that I wanted to sort of the, sort of the last piece of the puzzle that I think encapsulates this, and then we'll talk about maybe some of our tips to get the most out of the, the party is the merchandise. And I was, and I think this is probably going to change.

Um, there, if you look on the map, it shows merchandise locations, but there was very limited. And I only saw one piece of specific Jollywood nights merchandise available, which was exclusive to the party, which was The Jollywood nights t shirt, uh, that I saw over on sunset sell the posters. There are some amazing posters.

If you go to the Jollywood night site that I would buy that tip top club poster and hang it behind me in a heartbeat. Um, I'm hoping that they do start to roll out some additional merchandise. I'm sure the demand is there. And speaking of merchandise, we did get a gift as you're on your way out. You get, um, I haven't opened mine yet, but they're coasters, correct?

Jollywood nights, coasters. Yeah,

Matthew Krul: I've got one in front of me. They're wooden coasters, um, with little rubber grips at the bottom. It's very nice. It has the Jollywood Nights logo on it and 2023. That's

Serena Lyn: cool. That is nice. I, so, you know, thinking about like what would I do different again and stuff, uh, I think that There's something to be said for maybe billing this as an opportunity to really get in rides, to really look at maybe spending some time in some lands that are always crowded like Toy Story Land, like Galaxy's Edge.

So that's something to think about. We were actually contemplating maybe trying to go back and and doing a Star Wars focused night in Galaxy's Edge because I love Galaxy's Edge so much and it's always packed and If you could get time in there just like with it I guess it's so beautiful at night and do the attractions But also do ogres and you know, just get to enjoy some time back there without a lot of crowds I mean, that's To me, that's like, uh, that has a lot of value.

So that's something I'm kind of contemplating doing if I go back. I

Lou Mongello: have, there's something that I want to talk about specifically about, um, Galaxy's Edge. Um, and so what I thought is, is maybe share a couple of tips and maybe some, cause I think that we probably have them, some construction suggestions as to how to potentially Improve what we think can be realistically, you know, improved, um, to, to enhance the experience.

I think if you're going to Jollywood nights and then we'll talk at the end whether you recommend going to Jollywood nights or not. I think if you're going, there's a couple of things as with any party. You absolutely should get there early. You can get there at 7 o'clock. One thing from a logistical perspective and an operational challenge I think because of some of the dynamics of the crowd is when you arrive at the party you get your wristband when you first enter the park.

If you are in the park already, you can enter the park at 7 o'clock with your party ticket. You can, like Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, there are locations that you can get your wristband. This was an operational challenge that night. Uh, I heard those lines were very, very, very long. Um, I'm assuming that that is going to be rectified if it hasn't been already in terms of visibility, signage, more cast members, having more wristbands, and being able to distribute those.

But I would say... Right now, get your wristband outside before, you know, even if it means leaving and then coming back in, go get your wristband at the front of the park. Um, I think you both have the same thing. Plan ahead and prioritize. Like, know what you're going for. Prioritize the things that you want to do.

If you need to sort of build your schedule around the timing of shows and experiences, do that and sort of, um, you know, reverse engineer. Your night. Um, that way and Serena, to your point, like if it wasn't 112 degrees outside, I would have loved to have put on, you know, I don't know what I have in my closet, but in a perfect world, some sort of vintage theme, like get dressed up for it.

Right? Embrace that sort of Old fashioned retro feel like I dig, I've never done a dapper day, but I loved seeing so many guests like you dressed up, embracing the night. I mean, I'm sure you must've been sweating like crazy. Cause you had like a fur stole on. I mean, you did the whole thing, but you know, be comfortable.

But you know, it's almost a little bit like a Halloween party for adults, right? Where you can sort of get yourself dressed up. You don't have to worry about. You know, hopefully the kids are the strollers and again, because it's not Mickey's very merry Christmas party, right? It's not a replacement. It's not an alternative.

It's an app. It's not an after hours event. It is this more sort of more low key upscale, dare I say almost as an element of, of elegance to it. Um, allow yourself to get dressed up and just savor the evening.

Serena Lyn: Yeah. It could make an amazing date night. Like

Matthew Krul: oh yeah. So good. I mean, I, I was, I, you know, I paid for my ticket.

I left the event saying I definitely would pay to do it again. Um, I, I came away with it and I think part of that was because there was more I wanted to get to and more I would like to see. So there's a good chance while I'm not going to be able to come back this year that I might come back next year and do it again.

Would I bring my daughter? Probably not. You know, I'd still probably would choose to do this by myself just because not only are there not as many things to do for kids that age, but Also, I feel like my priorities would be a little different going with her as opposed to going by myself. Um, just to echo what's been said and what I said from the beginning, this is true for just about, it's the same experience if you go to Disney during the holidays that last week in December.

It's going to be very hard for you to get to everything. Um, and it's the expectation versus reality. Um, if you're expecting to go, you know, on. New Year's Eve to Magic Kingdom and hit every single attraction and not have genie plus or lightning lane I mean it you're you're kind of leaving yourself open for disappointment because it's gonna be very hard to do that philosophically, would you rather have an event where there is so much to do that you're not gonna get to see and do everything or Little less and then you do get to see and do everything and it's there's no right answer It's just a matter of what you prefer.

I think you can go into this with different strategic approach each time. So for this one, because it was my one time going this year, the first events, and I knew the only time I was going for 2023, I just sort of the sampler approach where I was not going to do everything but get bits and pieces of every bit of experience, see a live stage show, see the, you know, Run through the attractions, see what Galaxy's Edge and Toy Story Land looks like, get to try a few snacks, um, get to, you know, I didn't meet the characters, sort of pass by the characters, get a photopass opportunity, check out the merchandise, you know, sample everything.

You could also go in and just focus on the food, maybe have that sit down meal at Hollywood Brown Derby, um, you know, see a live stage performance or see the street performances and then sort of pick and choose some other. Items you might want to try snacks beverages and get to see and do all of that.

You might do a different approach and just focus on the shows. And there's an excellent chance that if you just focus on the shows, you could probably see every one of them in one night. And maybe add a couple of other things onto that list as well. Um, so that's generally my advice to going to Disney.

In the first place is, um, to sort of temper expectations, whatever your list is, you probably have to minimize it by. You know, 20, 25 percent just to be realistic with how much you're going to be able to get done, and especially at an after hours event like this, where there is such limited time, you only really have a few hours to four hours to see and do everything.

I mean, just think about how much is on this list and the fact that there are four hours to see into it all, um. You know, really be strategic and know what your must do's are when you go into this would be my, my sort of tips or ways to approach this, um, and then the ways to answer your question about constructive criticism or things that I think maybe could be done a little bit differently, you know, just going back to earlier with Jingle Bell Jingle Bam, I feel either, you know, do something a little bit different.

It doesn't have to be a grand. It doesn't have to be, you know, okay, A world of color overlay like it doesn't have to be this magnificent grand, um, redesign of a nighttime spectacular, but something unique, something different, even if it is a live stage performance, that's at the end of the day in front of, um.

The Grumman's Chinese theater that could be enough. Um, even I think to be honest. I think that some Disney fans might have even preferred to see Fantasmic, um, during or some, you know, different type of Fantasmic version. Um, I know that's a very expensive ordeal when you're talking about live performers, but, you know, there's other ways that I think there might be a different nighttime spectacular or different approach to the nighttime spectacular element.

Um, The other quick fix. I think that I was expecting with Mickey's with with this event that you get at Mickey's very Christmas party were complimentary treats included in the cost of the ticket. I think Gertie's cookie, for instance. Um, even if you increase the price value of, if that's what's financially needed, just increase, increase the value of the ticket by a few dollars, um, to justify giving out a free Gertie's cookie, um, at the event, you save guests time, um, by doing that, which is worth that added cost, um, or even just having something complimentary, as opposed to this felt almost like a festival of the holidays, I had to go to different booths and, um, You know, wait in line Mm-Hmm.

and purchase different items. Um, so I think just the, the savings and time, um, by, even if it did, does mean increasing the value of the ticket a little bit, um, would pay itself back in dividends and the time savings to be able to get into, you know, more at the event. So those would probably be my two biggest suggestions.

Serena Lyn: Yeah. I think for me, uh, they're, they've got the system down with these holiday parties at Magic Kingdom. And there's things that they could borrow from that, that they know work 1 is get letting people in a little bit earlier. I think cutting it a little close, but having people not be able to enter the party till 7 and, um, and then have the party started at 830.

if you have any. Hang ups with that process of getting that band and continuing on, you know, you're going to miss some party time that way, uh, letting people maybe come in, like, it's a 4 and allow that, that extra time than that, that increases the value of the ticket in the way that you can with Magic Kingdom.

I know the capacity of the park isn't the same as Magic Kingdom, but I think most people would use that time. Wisely, and they would maybe get some food and they would take some photos and they would do things that would, that would get them done so that they can enjoy the party and use the time better.

And then I, I totally agree with the complimentary snacks, even just a few locations, even if they just borrowed from the after hours parties where they just did the Mickey ice cream bars and popcorn, you know, and just had carts everywhere. It would add a lot to the value of the ticket in feeling like.

Someone can say, I'm going to get the ticket, but. I'm going to be able to eat for free there and not have an additional cost. And then, and then those premium offerings are just, you know, optional for you.

Matthew Krul: I forgot one thing. The, we talked about the in park, uh, wristband experience being, you know, room for improvement.

I think there was. Not an expectation of how many people would be already in the park. I was out front. I actually went to Epcot for the day and then headed over. I was in line at 6. 15. They let us in closer to 6. 30 than to 7 o'clock, and I was back to... There's probably a hundred, 150 people in front of me and just my...

Silo queue and I was in within 10 minutes. It was it was quick easy seamless. They did it They were very well organized at the front of the park.

Lou Mongello: Yeah, that's how I entered as well I entered for the front for the park. It was it was it was quick so I was Literally recording my thoughts of the evening as the evening went on and I'm not kidding.

Like I sat in my car soaked As I was reflecting, uh, because I wanted to sort of capture my thoughts. And then, you know, Serena, you and I were sort of texting the next day and I was doing the same thing. I'm sort of recording these thoughts because I think there's always room for improvement, especially we sort of qualify this in terms of it being a day one event.

I agree with a lot of what. You guys said, uh, I think that that theater courtyard throughout out the night was this, you know, it's a large expansive area and I sort of felt like there was an energy missing from that space. I don't know what it is. I don't know what that looks or feels like to give me something to watch or something to do.

Maybe you do a jingle bell jingle bam twice a night. Maybe you do an earlier one or later one. It disperses the crowds. There's something else on the schedule. I don't know if it's. A DJ or a band, you know, playing vintage Christmas music. I, I, there was just, I sort of felt there was something I would love to have seen there.

Um, you know, we love the live entertainment. I'm always happy with, with more entertainment options. Um, I'd love to see more, I'd love to see walk around characters. I'd love to see more walk around characters themed to the areas that they are. We've seen these in, at some media previews and things like, look.

I'm planting my flag, bring back the live actors, bring back Streetmosphere every day, all day, because we love and miss and appreciate them. But especially for an event like this, the quote unquote characters don't have to be face and fur characters. They can be characters that are unique and created for this experience.

When I'm on Sunset Boulevard, give me somebody dressed in vintage garb. Give me somebody walking around the Hollywood Brown Derby, interacting with me, because that's some of that playful fun that... Yes, you've got to and absolutely should pay the actors, but I think that will pay such huge dividends from a guest Enjoyment experience, right?

Those are some of the things and those are some of the interactions. I think that we, as guests come to look forward, look for and look, look forward to, um, I agree with you a thousand percent about the free refreshments as part of the ticket price. It's, it's just like Mickey's very Merry Christmas party.

It's perceived value, right? It's not about the item itself. It's a, it's a, it, it will enhance guest satisfiers. Um, it's about perception. Right. It's about perception. It's about amenities. It's about ease, right? Not having to wait on a long line to get an alcoholic or non alcoholic drink. So whether it's little bottles of water, mocktails, cookies, a Christmas churro, whatever it is, it's a relatively de minimis investment from the financial side of Disney in terms of what I think if you're somehow able to measure as a guest satisfier, which I know sometimes is hard to sort of put on a balance sheet, but I think there are little things that mean.

A lot. We love going to Merry, Merry Christmas party and lining up for cookies, not just because we want to eat. I mean, yes, we want to eat all the cookies, but there is, there's a value in inherent in that. Um, and I think, I think that's an easy fix. I think that's a really, really easy fix. Um, you mentioned galaxy's edge and the joy of being able to walk in there with not a lot of people there.

One of the things I saw online a number of times was. Enhancing the Star Wars Galaxy's Edge experience and I'm I'm sitting on the fence on this one, right? Because yeah, you can You know, some people are like, well, celebrate Life Day, right? If you're a non Star Wars nerd, Life Day was a sort of fictitious holiday with Chewbacca and his family.

It's from the holiday special. It's awful. But, you know, they've sort of embraced Life Day elsewhere, right? Have a Life Day celebration with food and characters. You can argue this either way, right? Galaxy's Edge is meant to be very serious. Like they take Galaxy's Edge and the character integrity and the story integrity very, very seriously because of what?

Star Wars used to be when Darth Vader was twerking on stage with Princess Like, it was weird. The hyperspace hoopla was weird. Yes, I think a lot of it would not only attract Star Wars fans, I think a lot of Star Wars fans would Um, stay there. You talk about ogres being a walk in all night. Um, you know, it might be something to consider.

I think some people would love the idea. Some people might hate the idea. Um, but I'm trying to find ways to continue to enhance this. I don't know how to fix the issues of capacity management at some of the special locations and special venues. I don't know what that is, but you don't want guests to feel like I can't do something Even after I've paid a premium price to come in and I think they'll fix that.

I think they'll fix a lot of these logistics Whether it's food lines, whether it's character lines, whatever it might be You know, they it's every year Mickey's very Merry Christmas party gets bigger and it improves and I think this will continue to improve Overall, and I think as I reflect on this and I think about this event, I think it, I think it must, and I think it will improve on day two.

I think the day two experience is going to be different than what we saw day one. Um, you know, would they have maybe benefited from a cast media preview day just to sort of like work out the logistics? Possibly, but It is what it is. Um, I think we as guests going in did not know what to expect. I think a lot of cast members didn't know what to expect either because this was sort of like, you know, the, the trial run and you can't, you can't plan or prepare what it's going to be like because what works on paper is different than in real life.

You know, you can predict, you know, you, you don't know how guests are going to move and react and what is going to appeal to them. Yeah, I mean, you

Serena Lyn: can guess a little but, you know, especially with the crowd flow from when you add in shows too and how, you know, the holiday show comes out of that theater and it's a huge, you know, influx of people just get, you know, pouring out onto Sunset Boulevard and now you've got a Filter those people from somewhere, you know, it's just, it's, there's a lot of logistics to it.

And I think that they, I, I feel a hundred percent confident that even by party two, it's

Matthew Krul: going to be better. I definitely think it will as well. Um, you know, the first, the first event is always going to be, as you both mentioned a trial run. I also think that. A lot of the guests who go opening night are of a different mindset than those who go at the later parties.

And I think that makes a huge difference, um, of who attends. And I think that's part of the reason why some of the food lines were as long as they were. It's the novelty of being the first to try it, the first to Instagram it, the first to Review it, you know, there's a lot of that element of it, and once it's been tried, reviewed, I think people are going to form opinions about which ones they're going to want to go to the most, um.

And so I think that, you know, that for that reason, also, it's like the opening day of an attraction, you know, there's a different group that goes opening day, it's, it's anyone, it doesn't have to be creators or podcasters, there's just anyone who wants to be able to say that they were there opening day.

And have documented that and are able to take that back with them. Um, so it's, I think that for a lot of reasons, and that included the second night and nights beyond that are going to look different than what we saw on Saturday.

Lou Mongello: Yeah, and look, time is going to tell. Um, but that being said, and understand my meaning by this, you know, it's, it's inherent in what it is that we do and what we, Consume but you know, don't necessarily judge This event based on what you see or hear or even this part because I think it's so hard to convey This event especially because it's so new and I think it's also hard to convey If it's right for you, right, it's got to fit your, you know, vibes and your timing and all the, your finances and all those things.

Um, you know, I said earlier, I have 1, 200 invested in going back to this event to go with my family. And I invited you listeners to, to come on the 20th and, and. You know, do it together. And I'm looking, I'm genuinely looking forward to going back. Um, even if I hadn't bought. Tickets in advance. I would, I would today say yes, I would buy tickets again and want to go and enjoy it with my friends and family because I think, I think we looking at the three of us, we also lose a lot sometimes when we try and cover and experience these events through a literal and figurative lens.

Because we're, we're trying to capture content, right. And we're thinking about the experience, right. In those terms. And it's hard to convey that, right. You're like, Oh yeah, you're really working. Like I lay blacktop, like, no, I get it. But I think that it impacts some of the reviews you might read online because the people that are going on, we're not experiencing it.

As guests, we're experiencing it in the terms of trying to capture something to convey later on. Look, I am self aware enough to recognize that, at least for me, I am not, I'm not capturing the experience solely as a guest. I'm thinking about the content and then we go right into editing mode and creation mode without necessarily getting a chance.

To, you know, just appreciate it. Yeah. Yeah. Um, and, and I think this is, you know, the idea of doing a media night or a cast night is, is a double edged sword, right? Because having a preview night with less people doesn't let us or Disney see what real world lines and crowds are going to be like. So we might go and say, Oh, look, this is what the media night looks like.

And then the next light is three times as many people. So. Cool. It's, it's, and it's why I always buy a second ticket. It'd be like, I will always buy a ticket to these events. And it's why I want to go back and experience it with friends. I do believe it's going to improve. Look, Disney too is self aware. Um, they watch and they listen and they recognize issues and they listen to feedback.

Directly and indirectly, like they read and they hear what's going on and, um, you know, but would I recommend it? I think it does. It depends on you. You have to weigh the financial and the time investments. Um, we are locals. We, you know, It's different how we do it and how we spend our time at parties, you know, for a lot of people to say, Hey, I'd love to be able to go and ride, you know, smugglers run 35 times a night and tower tower with no lines.

Like there's value there. Um, we don't necessarily, I think, weigh that in consideration of our reviews and appreciation of an event, um, because a lot of people like having the parks, that feeling of the parks to themselves. Look, that was part of the problem with star cruiser. This problem was not necessarily just the money.

It was the time investment people like I'm only here for five days. I don't want to spend three of it on the star cruiser. Um, you have to determine what's important for you, what you want to get out of it. Um, I don't necessarily think it's for young kids and that's not a bad thing that it's why Mickey's very merry Christmas party is, um, you know, is what it is.

And it's so popular. And I love that event so much. Uh, this is a more laid back evening. I think that this is meant to be, you know, I think the Jollywood night is meant to be sipped. And savored instead of trying to check everything off the list. Um, so I am looking forward to going back and eating more and spending most of my time at the Twilight Soiree.

Serena Lyn: I totally agree with that. Absolutely. And I do think that we, you know, we do, um, a lot of people at opening night have different behavior patterns. And so it'll be very interesting to see kind of where it goes in the next, next couple of parties.

Matthew Krul: Yeah, and I think we can expect especially that they're going to learn and improve from this that this is probably going to be, you know, I don't think it was a bad experience.

Like I said, I would happily pay for this event again. Um, but if this is the least of the best, because I don't want to say the worst, but you know, if this is if this is the weakest party that we're going to see that, I still think it was a solid event. So we can expect when you're when you're sort of judging by what you're reading and seeing and hearing, that it's only going to get better from here as Disney learns and adds, maybe add some more value or either way adapts with what they saw at Crowdflow and anything else that might have been present from this first event.

I think we can easily expect to see some. Solid gains beyond this.

Lou Mongello: Yeah. And I would love to know from you, our friend who's sitting around this virtual table with us, what are your thoughts on Jollywood nights? If you have experienced it or have a ticket for it, what did you enjoy? What did you not enjoy?

What was your feedback on it? Or if you haven't yet. Based on what you've heard, um, does Jollywood nights sound like it is for you? If so, why or why not? You can let me know. I'll post this question in the clubhouse over at www dot com slash clubhouse. Better yet, you can call the voicemail. I will play it on the air at 407 9391 that's 407 900 WDW1 and then when you go, when you're done doing that, please go and visit our friends, uh, Serena and Matthew, uh, Serena, and then Matthew, uh, thank you both for being here.

Uh, just quickly tell everybody where they can find you.

Serena Lyn: Oh, I was so happy to come living by Disney as my handle on all the platforms and we just posted a YouTube video that really shares our full experience on it. So you can find that in living by Disney

Matthew Krul: on YouTube and you can find imagination Skyway.

Just by searching for that on any social media platform. Um, and also the imagination Skyway podcast, you might hear a familiar voice on a similar episode. Cause Lou and I texted each other the same day about the same thing. So that's what you have to look forward to is. You know, once you're done hearing this conversation, you could hear it all over again, completely

Lou Mongello: different.

I'm going to change my opinion dramatically.

Matthew Krul: We'll look for inconsistencies in both of our answers. Um,

Lou Mongello: no, thank you guys for being here. Um, I really, uh, I really enjoy this and I loved hearing your thoughts and reflections on it, uh, as well. I look forward to the next time we can enjoy a party together.

But last question, if you could snap your fingers, be at Jollywood nights. What would be the one thing you would do or the one food item you could eat assuming there was no lines anywhere ladies first

Serena Lyn: Oh, I want to try those popovers that, that, that will be my first thing that I will do food wise there and I want to get one and then I want to walk down to the Tip Top Club and eat it.

Matthew Krul: You know, Serena, you had my answer, so I'm going to have to pivot quickly. The, uh, the one area that I actually didn't get to was Pizza Rizzo. I walked by it, it looked very empty, so I would love to go in there and maybe try the meatball and polenta just because that seems... To be just the photos looked incredible of that, um, but I also would probably be at the Twilight Soiree enjoying something over there at least sort of sitting or standing nearby and listening to that, that quartet play.


Lou Mongello: I was between that spicy Korean chicken funnel cake, but those poutine tater tots also sound pretty good while we are all standing there enjoying the Twilight Soiree. I'll bring my son and I'll just send him out and just do food runs for us and bring it back. Um, and we can eat it there. So that's a solid plan.

Yeah. Thank you both again. Uh, I really appreciate you both and, uh, look forward to doing this again soon. Thank you.

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