Honest Review of Jollywood Nights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Jollywood Nights is Disney Park’s newest extra ticketed event taking place at Hollywood Studios select nights from November 11 to December 20, 2023. Here is our honest review of all the happenings that took place on night one of Jollywood Nights.
Yes, we were invited out by Disney to enjoy the media preview of the event, and no we are never told what to say or how to say it. Disney has always been great letting us say what we want as long as we tell the truth about what each aspect of the event is about. Which means we can be very honest and constructive in our review.
Yes, there are a lot of positives, the stage shows, the vibe of the event, the food that can be purchased, and how fantastic the guests dressed for the evening, but they may be outweighed by the negative. Long lines for everything, the chaos of trying to get into Jazzy Holidays at The Brown Derby, timing character meet and greets, long lines, wristband distribution with long lines, and out of Disney’s control was the rain to end the evening. Oh, and did I mention the long lines.
I say this with the caveat of knowing this was the first night of a brand-new event Disney was putting on. So where do we start, we have a lot to say. Especially about ‘Ollie’, Disney World’s newest Character. Let’s do the recap and at the end, we will give you our honest thoughts.
Ticket prices range from $159.00 to $179.00 and there is a lot included with that price. Remember this ticket price, because you as a consumer and might be thinking about going should know if this price is at a point you wish the spend.
We tried to arrive in style at the Jollywood Nights Holiday party, which we noticed around the whole event. People looked great. Dressed in the 50’s Christmas time outfits, hairdos, and founders galore was the fit of the day.
Pose for fun photo ops and get downloads of your Disney PhotoPass digital photos and videos from the event—included with your event ticket. Plus, enjoy all-new Disney PhotoPass offerings!
- Disney PhotoPass Downloads – Receive downloads of your Disney PhotoPass digital photos and videos from the event—included with your event ticket!*
- Photographers & Special Effects – Disney PhotoPass photographers will be on hand to capture your memories, so you can focus on the holiday fun. Be sure to ask them about holiday-themed Magic Shots—which are special effects and surprises that they can add to your photos (select Disney PhotoPass locations only).
- Robotic Arm Magic Shot – Dressed to impress? Enjoy an event-exclusive offering designed to dazzle! Embrace the Hollywood vibes and remember your red-carpet moment with a glamorous, show-stopping video capture opportunity.
- Camera Array Magic Shot – It’s an event with so much flair that one camera isn’t enough to capture it! This 9-camera setup will capture a boomerang-style photo of your group in front of a Disney Jollywood Nights backdrop.
- Special Disney PhotoPass Lens – Take snapshots and videos with an event-themed Lens—which transforms you and the world around you with special effects. Learn more about Disney PhotoPass Lenses.
We got to meet and greet Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Frozone, Edna Mode, Phineas and Ferb, Goofy, and Powerline Max.
After leaving the introduction party, we got to meet with Tom Vazzana – the Creative Director of Jollywood Nigts, RJ Temple – Show Director; Street Entertainment, Matt Hamel – Show Director; Holidays in Hollywood, and James Silson; Show Direcor; What’s This.
They gave us a small backstory of each of the events and shows taking place, which were the absolute highlight of Jollywood Nights.
Disney Holidays in Hollywood
Behold an all-new stage show inspired by the glitz and glamour of vintage Hollywood TV specials—with a contemporary twist and some holiday magic—at Theater of the Stars.
See the holidays through a fresh lens in this star-studded series of jolly vignettes. Enjoy appearances from special guest stars, including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Tiana, Belle, Minnie Mouse, and Mickey Mouse—accompanied by a talented cast of singers, dancers, and jazz musicians.
What’s This? Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Sing-Along
Join Jack Skellington at Hyperion Theater for a dreamlike adventure inspired by Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Sing along with the Pumpkin King to beloved songs from the film as you follow 2 friends on a larger-than-life journey. You’ll discover the peculiar magic of wonder in unlikely places, conquer the Oogie Boogie man himself, and stay curious when things are not quite as they seem.
Afterwards, it was time for Jollywood Nights to start and we were free to enjoy the festivities on our own time.
That was a lot of backstory to get to the meat of this review. You have an idea of what the party was about, we now have an idea of what we are in for but were shocked at what we saw when let loose. There were lines everywhere.
There were so many people, that it almost felt like the event was oversold. But, then we realized it was night one, which means every vlogger, blogger, social media influencer, and person with huge FOMO was in attendance.
Why is that important to mention? Easily answered, we are not your average family going to the party. Media and Influencers are not going to take advantage of the open rides with short wait times like you would at a normal party. So that meant longer lines at food stands, at character meets and greets, and at special dining options like Jazzy Holidays.
Long lines were the order of the night, from the over 2-hour wait to get the specialty drinks being served at Twilight Soiree at the Tip Top Club in the Hollywood Tower Hotel Courtyard, to the wristband distribution for guests already inside the parks at over an hour.
There is one thing I am sure Disney will fix, the wristband distribution taking place at the Mickey Shorts Theater was not ideal, it was also the only place doing this. I would imagine Disney will open more locations to make the changeover from day guests to party guests smoother.
Let’s talk about the chaos getting into Jazzy Holidays at The Brown Derby. While the bites of food were great, we had the Pork Belly Bao and Pomegranate Whiskey Sour, and the entertainment was wonderful. Getting into the club was crazy. It felt like everyone who had tickets was waiting outside The Brown Derby trying to scan the QR code, and only 3 cast members had the code.
Again, this may be a people issue and not a Disney issue. People are too concerned about themselves and have no social awareness to move out of the way once they have scanned the code. They all hovered and congregated around the codes making it nearly impossible for others to scan.
Join us for Jazzy Holidays at The Hollywood Brown Derby. During Disney Jollywood Nights, this iconic restaurant transforms into a smooth jazz joint—where you can enjoy holiday music, craft cocktails, and an exclusive menu of light bites* in a sophisticated setting. Capacity is limited.
Joining the Mobile Walk-Up List for Jazzy Holidays at The Hollywood Brown Derby It’s easy to add yourself to the mobile walk-up list for this experience during Disney Jollywood Nights. All you need is your phone and the My Disney Experience app! Note: This feature is only supported by devices running Android or iOS with the latest version of the My Disney Experience app installed and location services enabled.
After the Jazzy Holiday show, we went down to the Tower of Terror to enjoy the Tip Top Club, and guess what? Yup, Lines. More lines. We wanted to stop at Fairfax Faire and get the new menu items, but there was a 45-minute wait.
You are cordially invited to Twilight Soirée at the Tip Top Club—a swingin’ celebration in the courtyard of The Hollywood Tower Hotel. Here, you can sip cocktails* and unwind in style while a live band swoons and croons holiday tunes. Capacity is limited.
The music and the courtyard were wonderful. Hearing the swinging sounds of Christmas music being played at the base of the Hollywood Tower Hotel was a perfect choice. But, again this may be a mixture of a Disney issue and a people issue with crowds and lines.
The bar for the Tip Top Club is down the small corridor past the Joffrey’s Coffee Stand, and the stage is across from it. With the stage front facing the way it did, it made it hard for people to get in and out of the bar area, which ended up with a 2 hour or so wait. Once people got their drinks they immediately went to the front of the stage to enjoy the music and band, but that made for a choice point.
Our next stop was the new stage show Disney Holidays in Hollywood which is an absolute highlight of the evening. I do not know how to say how good this is without gushing. We all need more Muppets in our lives. Seeing Kermit and Ms. Piggy back in the parks doing a live show was fantastic. The whole show was a reminder of Holiday shows from the past, commercials and all.
We got a brand new song written specifically for Jollywood nights and sung by Tiana, and Belle showed up in her beautiful Christmas dress that was a flashback to her holiday special.
The band was phenomenal, and the performers, singers, and dancers all did such a wonderful job, with the highlight of seeing Mickey and Minnie Mouse join the Muppets on stage for a finale.
We stopped in front of the Hyperion Theater and had to refresh ourselves and found a short 20-minute wait for the new Zero-Proof Gingerbread Spritzer. Decent tasting drink, but if I didn’t know better, I could swear it should have had Fireball Whiskey in it. Little hot cinnamon flavored. The gingerbread was over-spiced for me, but you may enjoy that. You can buy those gingerbread bites at different stands around the park.
What’s This? Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Sing-Along
The large Jack puppet that is seen during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party fireworks spectacular has come to Hollywood Studios at the Hyperion Theater and he steals the show and the evening. Jack is our host for the sing-a-long, giving a beautiful rhyming introduction to what we are about to experience.
The show itself is done in a pantomime style where the actor and actress on stage do not talk, but express themselves through motion and facial expressions. Not once do they take away from what is happening on the beautiful 4k screen that has the words for guests to sing-a-long too.
Oogie Boogie himself makes an appearance singing his classic Song. Sally also joined the fun doing singing her song and is joined at the end by Jack himself.
This is the must-do show. The puppetry, the music, even the lights and audio work perfectly. We do know that Show Director James Silson and the team at Disney Live Entertainment have been working on this show since last January and it shows. You can always tell when Disney and the Cast Members really enjoy what they are doing.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!
Wrap up your evening of festive fun with this dazzling nighttime spectacular—returning to Disney’s Hollywood Studios only during Disney Jollywood Nights.
Watch in awe as heartwarming holiday moments from favorite Disney films are brought to life on the façade of the park’s iconic Chinese Theater. It’s a stunning display of fireworks, lasers, lights, projections, and merry music.
By this time of the evening, the rain decided to sit on top of us and it became very wet. So here is our view of the show.
Okay, we have talked about the lines, and we have said how much we love the stage shows. We got food and enjoyed a sit-down drink and snack. We got wet, but did we have fun? Will you have fun?
Jollywood Nights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios may turn into a holiday tradition down here at Disney World, but not without some changes and fixes. Right now with how long the lines are for everything, there is no way to enjoy everything the party has to offer.
Like trying to meet The Main 6. Mickey swaps out with Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto swap places, and Donald and Daisy do the same. So, if you are in line to meet them, you have to wait 2 times for each character. Which to me is very important in deciding if I want to go back.
Powerlines Max, Phineas, and Ferb in Echo Lake had huge lines because no one was taking advantage of the short wait times on rides. In fact, Toy Story Land and Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge were both empty of guests the time we walked through them.
Is it worth your money to go? If you have disposable income and can afford it, then the answer is yes. It is a fun event to get dressed up for in your Holiday finest. The park is absolutely made to look its best in the Holiday season with backdrops, the giant Christmas tree, the decorations, and the music.
If you have to choose between Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Jollywood Nights, MVMCP wins hands down right now. Since they are almost the exact same price point, you and the family will get more out of the party at Magic Kingdom
Which brings us to random thoughts on why the party was not the hit of the year we were hoping it would be. This is an opinion at this point: I do not think Hollywood Studios is the right Park to hold Specially Ticketed Parties at. The Park itself is not conducive to crowd flow with happenings at dead ends like the Tower of Terror.
Simple things we take into consideration like at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, when you want to order food there are multiple ordering points and cashiers, most of the places at HS have only 1 or 2 ordering stations which creates longer lines. This seems like what the major choke points are, not enough spots for Cast Members to work from to make the guest experience better.
With all that being said, I know Disney well enough to know they learn from things fast and will adapt, and we will be going again later in the year to enjoy a night we paid for.
I have two more things to discuss, and please take this first one with a grain of salt. What the heck Disney? Ollie?
“There once was a cookie named Ollie, Who made his way west on a trolley With oven-baked gleam, he followed his dream And made all of Tinseltown jolly.!”
Disney Creative made a huge point in telling us that Ollie is a Disney World-exclusive character, the first one made since Figment. Which is a lot to live up too, and then all we see of Ollie in the park is a giant cut out of a Gingerbread man blowing a saxophone.
Seriously, if you are going to make a big deal out of him, the least we could have had is a meet and greet, and maybe see him on merchandise. I will let you decide how you feel about the newest Disney World character.
That is it. That was our evening at Jollywood Nights.
Onto something that I feel needs to be said, and I was lucky enough to really live it this weekend.
The Holidays to me are about Family and Friends. I can get emotional discussing it. being able to hang out, or see friends in the Parks is why we live this lifestyle. Having inside jokes, being able to debate the good and bad, and just living our lives in the Disney bubble is amazing to me. As I get older it means more and more to me to be able to spend quality time with them.
With that being said, here are some great photos of us just having fun!
Scott and Michele Atwood from House of Mouse Expo and The Main Street Mouse are a blessing in our daily lives down here. I wish I could express my gratitude to both of them for being friends and podcast partners. Michele is and has been one of my gurus starting The Funatics Blog, and Scott has been instrumental in getting this blog off the ground. Their love and support will not ever be undersold.
I still think Michele should have been in the middle of this photo.
Below are some of the House of Mouse Expo staff, Chuck and Karen, Jeremy and Ronda from Main Street Magic, Scott and Michele Atwood, and myself.