REVIEW: Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party at New Echo Lake Location in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is More Festive, But Still Unnecessary
We’re back at the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party after getting rained out at the first one, which ended up taking place at PizzeRizzo. We were pleasantly surprised at how comfortable the experience was, with plenty of space to sprawl out across the two floors of the restaurant. It also probably marked the first time that PizzeRizzo was open past 4:00 PM, but I digress.
We had to make our way over to attend a second party in order to take advantage of its all-new location, which just happens to be situated alongside Echo Lake. Forget fireworks viewing, the best view here is of Santa Gertie and all of the retro-kitsch Christmas decor.
If it were up to us, we’d review this party based off of the gingerbread martinis and pretzel bread alone, but we also understand that the majority of people (who aren’t bloggers) considering attending are families looking to get prime fireworks viewing spots or otherwise experience an elevated version of the park’s nighttime entertainment. That being said, let’s delve into the fine print:
Here’s how Disney describes this event on its reservations page:
Delight in holiday-inspired snacks, delicious desserts, wine, beer, and specialty alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Menu favorites include the classic Yule log, cheese fondue with pretzel bread, and Gingerbread martinis. Enjoy our new location along Echo Lake, offering a beautiful view of the Christmas Tree while you eat!
While you sip and savor, you can mingle with a VIP Disney Character!
The event started on Friday, November 8th and runs through January 5th. Here’s the pricing schedule:
November 8 to December 21, 2019: $89 per adult; $53 per child ages 3 to 9 (tax and gratuity included)
December 22, 2019 to January 1, 2020: $99 per adult; $59 per child ages 3 to 9 (tax and gratuity included)
January 2 to January 5, 2020: $89 per adult; $53 per child ages 3 to 9 (tax and gratuity included)
So overall, you’re looking at anywhere from $89 to $99 per adult, and $53 to $59 per child. For a cookie cutter family of four, that’s almost $300 for 2.5 hours of desserts, reserved fireworks viewing, and a character meet and greet experience. So, is the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party still “worth it” in its new iteration? Let’s head on in and find out.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party – New Echo Lake Location
Upon entering the park, you’ll want to make a left at Keystone Clothiers. Check-in takes place just past 50’s Prime Time Cafe on the left-hand side of Echo Lake as you head on in that way from the entrance of the park. A set of Cast Members are stationed at a podium with candy canes on it. The section is also closed off with candy-striped rope ahead of the event start time. The official check-in time is 15 minutes before official party start. The usual rule of thumb here is to plan to arrive as early as possible. Every minute of these short-lived dessert parties is valuable, and as you’ll come to see, arriving early is a surefire way to extract the most value out of it.
Two rows of tables and plastic chairs line each side of the walkway here, with some prime spots right up by Gertie.
We came in half-expecting to be seated with another party, but actually had a table to ourselves, as did everyone else. It was surprisingly comfortable. Unlike the PizzeRizzo situation, where everyone essentially picks out where they want to sit, the seating arrangements here are assigned.
Of course, we’re huge fans of the decor here, and this is a great way to really soak it up, especially with the nighttime lighting. The atmosphere here is simply fantastic.
The way the party is set up at this location is that there are two dessert buffets, two savory food buffets, and one central bar (comprised of two tables/bartenders) at the center, beneath the Dinosaur Gertie’s Ice Cream of Extinction sign.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party – Desserts, Snacks, and Beverages
If you were in the mood for store-bought mini cheesecake bites, you’ve come to the right place. The tiny cheesecakes came in classic, pumpkin, raspberry swirl, chocolate, and strawberry flavors and tasted as you would expect.
A variety of holiday cookies were available, but besides the holiday sprinkles, there wasn’t anything really notable about these.
These Prep and Landing mini desserts were cute and well presented.
The real showstopper was this giant Yule Log. Truth be told, we didn’t notice that it was ever cut into all night.
One Yule Log we did get to try was this dark chocolate ganache one. I’m a huge fan of dark chocolate anything, and the dense, deep chocolate flavors of this yule log were amazing. There’s a reason these are cut into such small pieces, and you might want to stick to just one or two slices of this given how rich it is.
Hot dessert items (a must in this cold weather) include Pumpkin Pie Spiced Bread Pudding with Cinnamon Scented Vanilla Anglaise, a Holiday Blondie with Cream Cheese Icing. There’s also Chocolate Fondue with strawberries, cake bits, and marshmallows for dipping.
Moving on to savory items, we’d say these are the strongest suit of the party.
The hot foods table featured Spinach and Artichoke dip, which was rich and cheesy and not gritty at all.
Next up was a tub of warm Cheese Fondue, Pretzel Bread, and Smoked Flatbread. The bread was buttery and flecked with large grains of kosher salt, and the warm cheese fondue was perfectly pungent and had a slight black pepper spice to it, making it slightly elevated than you usual melted cheese. Unlike most plastic cheese you get at the parks, this definitely tasted from scratch.
There were also some Kettle Chips and Roasted Onion Dip.
It’s always nice to have a chef station at a $100 dessert party, and this is a new addition from when the party first debut in 2016. The milk chocolate mousse gets scooped up and plopped into the vat of liquid nitrogen before quickly hardening. The mousse is then cracked open with the back of the ladle and you get your choice of Salted Caramel Sauce or Raspberry Glitter Sauce to top it with.
If you want some Hot Chocolate (and with the last two nights being in the 50s, most Floridians will), there’s a station with the hot beverage and a slew of toppings. There are large bowls with whipped cream, mini marshmallows, and peppermint sprinkles (they were packaged tiny candy canes at the first party) to customize your hot chocolate creation.
As always, there’s an assortment of sodas, teas, coffee, and juices also available, with lots of to-go cups available in case you realize you’re late for the fireworks and need to rush out. (Which will happen.) There’s also the addition of a themed specialty beverage for kids, aptly named Elf Juice. Not like they’d be needing more sugar at a dessert party, but this was a fun, tart drink that isn’t your usual apple juice or punch.
If you couldn’t tell from our tweets, there were numerous trips to the bar. Surprisingly, we’d say specialty beverages is where this party really shines. All of us who’ve come seem to want to come back really just want another round of gingerbread or hot chocolate martinis, and there are few places on property that offer these drinks to begin with.
There are four specialty drinks on offer, plus wines, beer, and hard cider. As far as specialty drinks are concerned, there’s a Hot Chocolate Martini, a Black Cherry Bourbon Hot Cocoa, and the Jingle Bell Holiday Punch. Don’t be deterred by the pre-mixed vats, as those are just the mixers. You get a hearty pour of whatever liquor goes into your drink, followed by some of the mixer, and then any toppings, if applicable.
The Gingerbread Martini has reached legendary status amongst those of us who’ve visited. With the perfect consistency (not too thick or gloppy), the perfect ratio of vodka, and delicious cookie crumbles on top, this drink is so good, you should aim to at least enjoy two or three before the night is over.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party – Character Meet and Greet
Originally the character meet and greet for these was Santa Goofy, but that’s since changed to Chip and Dale in their winter attire. Each wore a set of contrasting knitted hats and scarves and stood directly across from the tree to meet with guests. Here’s where arriving early really pays off. The first ten families to check in can meet Chip and Dale directly, with no wait, right at 7:15 PM. (They can then also be among the first to have at the buffets, making it a win/win situation. The early bird gets the chipmunks.)
Everyone else is given a return time to meet Chip and Dale, delaying the meet a bit, but making for a far more relaxed and organized system.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party – Gift Ornament
Here’s where things got a bit ridiculous. When we went this night, it’d been little over a week since the first dessert party, and they’d already run out of the neat Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! event-specific ornaments. They gave out these old Passport Collection ornaments instead. It’s nice that they’re giving out something as opposed to nothing here, but they really should’ve stocked better to be able to give out the right ornaments, and not something any guest can just pick up at Celebrity 5 & 10.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party – Fireworks Viewing
Around 8:30 PM, food and beverage service ends and cast members begin ushering people over to the Chinese Theatre for the Wonderful World of Animation and of course, Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! You’re stationed really close to the Theatre up on a roped-off upper stage platform, which makes for great views in person, but less than stellar views if you’re planning on recording the show, due to how close up it is. You can check out our view of the show in the video below, presented in stunning 360°:
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party – Overall
While we had a good time, the event just isn’t worth it. You can easily walk up and see this fireworks show as, by now, most guests have had their fill of it. It’s not the best, nor is the view from the designated viewing area. The view was much better from where it was when the desert party first debuted. If you’re going to do a dessert party at Walt Disney World, there are certainly better ones, and ones for shows that are actually more challenging to see without one.