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Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party has become one of Disney World and Disneyland’s most popular annual events. If your family wants to experience something a little spooky, but a look of fun, here are our top party tips and advice to help you decide if the event is right for your Mouseketeers.
What is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party?
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) is an event that runs on select nights between August and October 31 (Halloween). The Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Disneyland are open just for party guests from 7pm – midnight on Not So Scary party nights. The event requires an extra ticket that cost from $79 – $100. The bad news is that a regular ticket to Magic Kingdom won’t get you in the evening party, but the good news is that you don’t need a separate Disney park admission ticket to attend.
Before you buy tickets, I recommend spending some time thinking about your kids, the cost and the timing to determine if you should go. I’ll come back to this in a moment.
Let’s assume you’ve already decided that MNSSHP is a great fit for you. Here’s my checklist to help you get the most out of the festivities. This advice is Disney World and Magic Kingdom-centric, but it should work for either party.
Before You Get to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween
Buy Tickets in Advance
You can buy your advance tickets in two ways: directly from Disney or from an agency such as Undercover Tourist. Buying in advance directly from Disney saves $10 from the gate price and allows you to save on days that offer the best discounts. The downside to buying from Disney is that the tickets will not code as travel if you want to use points. You will also have to buy a specific ticket for a specific day.
Undercover Tourist offers two upsides, especially on peak days. The Undercover Tourist tickets are flat-rate for any day of the party, this means you’ll also have more date flexibility. The best part about Undercover Tourist, in my opinion, is that the agency codes as a travel charge, which means you can use rewards from cards such as as the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard (if you hit the minimum redemption threshold) or the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card to cover the cost of your tickets.
Choose Your Party Day Carefully
The party is more crowded on weekends than weeknights, and more crowded the closer to Halloween you get. I’d avoid the party on Halloween night like the plague as it will be the most crowded. I visited on a Tuesday in September and crowds were about as low as they get which made everything that much more enjoyable.
Know Your Disney Characters
MNSSHP’s main stage show is called the Hocus Pocus Halloween Villain Spelltacular, hosted by The Sanderson Sisters, the stars of Hocus Pocus. Hocus Pocus is a Disney classic now celebrating its 25th anniversary. The first time I attended MNSSHP, I had no idea who the three ladies hosting the show were, so I recommend brushing up on your Hocus Pocus knowledge before you go.
The Headless Horseman leads the ‘Boo to You’ Halloween parade. For extra credit, watch Disney’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which you’ll find in the collection of movies titled The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. You’ll especially appreciate the collection if you are at Disneyland, because you can then experience Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (just don’t expect too much from the ride).
Choose Your Costume With Care
Lots of visitors lean into the Halloween spirit at Mickey’s Not So Scary Party. Much of the event’s fun comes from witnessing the ingenuity of other guests and their costumes. However, there are a few things to consider before getting all dolled up.
Disney has a list of banned items and costumes such as face masks, anything that looks like a weapon and dresses that touch the ground. Make sure that Thor leaves his hammer at home and that you can see Elsa’s shoes.
Also keep the climate in mind as September is still summer and October can be warm as well. The temperature was in the low 90s on my first visit, during which we made a rookie mistake. The four-year-old boy in our group, like many four-year-old boys, was obsessed as Captain America. Unfortunately, his full body costume doubled as a portable sauna. He was drenched before we even entered the park and the costume barely made it past the ticket booth.
For ‘cool’ costumes, I suggest giving Disneybounding a try. If you’re not yet familiar, Disneybounding is a way to emulate Disney characters while wearing street clothes. For instance, you could wear a white and black polka dotted T-shirt to evoke 101 Dalmatians. By Disneybounding you can dress for the heat and save some money by shopping from your own closet.
Before Mickey’s Not So Scary Party
Rest and Fuel Up
Party Day is not the day to visit a park at pre-dawn opening hours. In fact, I wouldn’t visit a park at all during the day. Party Day is a terrific late-breakfast, visit-the-pool-and-take-a-nap kind of day. You know how marathoners carb-load before a big race? You will want to protein and veggie-load before the Halloween Party (here are our healthy eating at Disney World tips). Below you will see why this matters.
You’ll want to plan on a 4pm arrival. This means be at the resort buses by 3:30pm. Don’t worry, you won’t be the only one on the bus in costume.
Decide if You Want to See Characters or Ride Attractions
The bottom line is you won’t have time to do both at Mickey’s Not So Scary Party. The party features characters that only show up for the party, and the waits to visit characters can top three hours. If there’s a hot ticket character pic you need for your selfie collection, get in line early.
Look, I get it. Elvis Stitch is beyond adorable, and don’t get me started about the Winnie the Pooh characters in costumes. That said, be sure you understand that the entire party could be spent waiting in line for a total of three or four photos.
Pro Tip: To interact with characters attend the dance parties — one in Tomorrowland with the Monsters Inc. crew and one in Storybook Circus with Disney Junior stars (Vampirina being the current hot ticket). I saw some adorable moments between Sully and a kid who came up to his knees. Mom snapped away while the monster and the little tyke boogied down.
During the Party
Enjoy the Park Before the Party Starts
Disney allows party guests to enter as early as 4pm using just the Not So Scary ticket, rather than a full-day park ticket. When party guests arrive, they are encouraged to head right, towards path that features some fun Halloween statues and a trick-or-treat station.
However, I encourage you to go left through Main Street. The crowds are much less and you’re closer to Adventureland, where I would suggest starting your fun. The reason? Jungle Cruise. It’s one of the few attractions that is not open during the party.
If you didn’t protein-load before the party, a great location to do so is at Skipper Canteen, which is right across from Jungle Cruise. I was able to walk in at 4:15pm on party day and order falafel and edamame hummus, but the menu is chock full of more meaty items such as “Tastes like chicken, because it is.”
The park doesn’t close to other guests until 6pm, but most people not attending the party either clear out of the park early or stay away entirely. This means from 4pm till closing you can ride rides to your heart’s content. You can even use same-day FastPass+ via the My Disney Experience app to jump to the front of the line on a couple rides.
Once the party starts, most rides have minimal lines. Four attractions have Halloween overlays: Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Mad Tea Party and Space Mountain. For the actual ride, Space Mountain is darker than usual, and is the one ride I’d call must-do. I’d also take a swing by the Haunted Mansion, but the bonus aspect is actually outside the ride itself. The other mentioned rise two have minimal tweaks: Mad Tea Party has some special lighting and Pirates adds a couple of live actors.
Skip the Trick-or-Treat Lines
Or if you can’t resist free candy, wait until the end of the party when the lines will disappear. I’m always amazed at the thousands of folks who will waste 25% of their party time to get $3 worth of candy. There are also treat stations at the end of rides such as Splash Mountain where you can get your sugar fix without the extra wait.
Choose One or Two Snacks to Share
A main draw of MNSSHP is the exclusive selection of treats available only at the party. They are hard to resist, but they are also huge and tend to be very sweet. At the latest party, our group of four shared the candy corn milkshake and the not-so-poison apple cupcake. We couldn’t finish either.
Keep the Weather In Mind
September is definitely rainy season in Florida and October can be wet as well. Any sign of lightning will shut down the outdoors rides (i.e. Thunder and Splash Mountain). Rain will put a damper on the shows, fireworks and parades as well. If it’s clear early on but rain is forecasted, you might want to see the early show and parade.
If the skies are clear, you’ll do much better attending the second Boo to You parade and the second or even the third stage show. Families with small children usually attend the early sessions and then clear out after the Hallowishes fireworks at 10:15pm.
Pro Tip: A prime viewing spot for the parade is on the Main Street Square right at the entrance to the park. Even better, benches line the porches of both Town Square Theater and Guest Services on the opposite side. The benches are high enough to see the entire parade, but set back enough that no one thinks to use them for parade viewing.
Is MNSSHP Right For Your Family?
I mentioned that the first time we attended the party we had a four-year-old in tow. I would not do that again. He fell asleep before the first stage show and slept soundly until the end of the party. For us it worked out because it allowed one adult to stay with the sleeping preschooler while the other ran wild with a seven-year-old. However, if I were to do it again, I’d just send one parent and kid and save the money for another excursion.
While you know your kid better than anyone else, I’ll give some blanket advice. If your kid can’t stay awake and meltdown-free until at least 10:30pm, Mickey’s Not So Scary may not be for your family quite yet. If your kid can’t wait patiently in line for a character or for the parade to start, the party may not be for you. My age limit would be five to six-years-old, depending on the child.
Is Mickey’s Not So Scary Party Worth the Money?
Yes, with some caveats. I visited during a quick trip when I didn’t have an extended park ticket. In that situation, the party made perfect sense as I got to enjoy Magic Kingdom and the party for less than $100. If you already have an extended park ticket, I’m not convinced that the event is worth paying up to another $400 for a family of four.
That said, if you love Halloween, love Disney or simply love parades, then go. The “Boo to You” parade is top notch and unique to this event. The fireworks and stage show are good, but the parade is the standout. But I’m warning you now: the parade theme will get stuck in your head. “Boo to you and you and you! Happy Halloween! Boo to You…”
Featured photo by Kerry Polizi/Flickr
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