Tips and Tricks for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Aug 22, 2019

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Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party has become one of Disney World’s most popular annual events. If your family wants to experience something a little spooky but a lot of fun, here are our top party tips and advice to help you decide if the event is right for your Mouseketeers.

(Photo by Edward Pizzarello / The Points Guy)

What Is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party?

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) is an event that runs at Disney World on select nights between mid-August and November 1. If you are looking for spooky fun in California, know that Disneyland is running the New Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween Party at California Adventure this year.

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is open just for Not So Scary Halloween party guests from 7pm to midnight on 36 Not So Scary party nights. The event requires an extra ticket that costs between $79 and $135, depending on the date.

Related: Best Credit Cards for Theme Parks

New for 2019 is the “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Pass,” which for $299 ($284 ages 3–9) allows entry into every session of the party — except on Halloween night. I can see this appealing to Halloween-obsessed locals, but am skeptical it provides value to most families. If you want one, you have to buy it in person or over the phone at (407) 827-7185.

Before you buy Not So Scary 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.

(Ed Pizzarello / The Points Guy)
(Edward Pizzarello / The Points Guy)

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 some money if you buy in advance rather than at the gate — and you can pay with discounted Disney gift cards. The downside to buying from Disney is that the tickets will not code as travel if you want to use points to “erase” that charge from your credit card statement later. You will also have to buy a specific ticket for a specific day.

If you purchase via Undercover Tourist, you can potentially save some money on dates they have tickets available. For example, the Sept. 27 Halloween party ticket price is about $90 each from Disney and $84 from Undercover Tourist. On Oct. 25, tickets are $113 from Undercover Tourist and $122 from Disney.

Related: How to Save Money on Disney Tickets

Additionally, Undercover Tourist purchases code as a travel charge. That means you can use rewards from cards such 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. You could also earn 3x points per dollar by paying with your Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Those with a Disney World Annual Pass can save about $5 per ticket on select nights when booking directly with Disney.

(Photo by Melissa Ann Photography)
(Photo by Melissa Ann Photography)

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 nights around Halloween itself like the plague as they will be the most crowded. I visited on a Tuesday in September last year and crowds were about as low as they get, which made everything that much more enjoyable. You can also save money by going earlier during the season and/or during the week.

Know Your Disney Characters

This year features a brand-new fireworks and light show, “Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular.” The host of the show, Jack Skellington, may not be familiar to younger kids, so you might want to school them on “The Nightmare Before Christmas” before the party.

MNSSHP’s main stage show is called the Hocus Pocus Halloween Villain Spelltacular, hosted by The Sanderson Sisters, stars of Hocus Pocus. The first time I attended MNSSHP, I had no idea who the three ladies hosting the show were, so I also recommend brushing up on your “Hocus Pocus” movie knowledge before you go.

The Sanderson Sisters from Disney’s “Hocus Pocus" (Steven Diaz, photographer for Disney World)
The Sanderson Sisters from Disney’s “Hocus Pocus” (Steven Diaz, photographer for Disney World)

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.”

Photo by Brett Kiger/Flickr
Headless Horseman in the ‘Boo to You’ Parade. (Photo by Brett Kiger/Flickr)

I’m especially excited for the debut of Edna Mode, designer to the Incredibles, and the rest of the superhero family.

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. Edna Mode may quip “No capes, darling!” but capes are allowed at MNSSP as long as they aren’t too long.

Also keep the climate in mind, as August and September are obviously still summer, and even October can be quite warm as well. The temperature was in the low 90s on my first visit and we made a rookie mistake. The 4-year-old boy in our group, like many 4-year-old boys, was dressed 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 predawn 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. Unless you are staying within walking distance at Bay Lake Tower or the Contemporary, you’ll probably want to be on the resort buses, boat, monorail or in a Minnie Van headed to the Magic Kingdom by at least 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 adorable 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 if you go that route.

Pro Tip: To interact with characters without lines, attend the dance parties — one in Tomorrowland with the Monsters Inc. crew and one in Storybook Circus with Disney Junior stars (Vampirina being a 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.

Dancers in the 'Boo to You' parade. Photo by Brett Kiger/Flickr
Dancers in the ‘Boo to You’ parade. (Photo by Brett Kiger/Flickr)

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, toward a path that features some fun Halloween statues and a trick-or-treat station.

Instead, I encourage you to go left through Main Street. The crowds are much smaller 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 but you can ride it beforehand.

For the first time, live pirates invade Pirates of the Caribbean during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom Park. A new story line for the attraction allows guests to join the pirates in a search for the rogue Gunpowder Pete. This is just one of the many fun new experiences guests enjoy during the family-friendly nighttime event. The specially ticketed evening includes trick-or-treating, greetings with favorite characters in Halloween costumes, “Happy HalloWishes” fireworks display and “Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade.” Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party takes place select nights Aug. 17- Oct. 31 at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)
Special live actors on Pirates of the Caribbean (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Walt Disney World Resort)

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 make FastPass+ bookings via the My Disney Experience app to jump to the front of the line on a couple of rides before 6pm.

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 as they’ve added the spectral Bride, but the bonus aspect is actually outside the ride itself. The other rides mentioned have minimal tweaks: Mad Tea Party has some special lighting and Pirates adds a couple of live actors.

Mad Tea Party with special Not So Scary Lighting (photo by Steven Diaz, Disney)
Mad Tea Party with special Not So Scary Lighting (Photo by Steven Diaz/Disney)

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. Disney is allergy-friendly and has special teal bagged snacks to share for those who need them.

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

August and September are definitely rainy season in Florida, and October can be wet as well. Any sign of lightning will shut down the outdoor rides (i.e., Thunder Mountain 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 forecast, 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 fireworks show.

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.

Disney Boo to You Parade (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World)
Disney Boo to You Parade (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World)

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 7-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 largely 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 minimum age limit would be 5- to 6-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. I’m sure the new shows will be great, but the parade is still going to be the star of the show.

However, 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…”

(Photo by Edward Pizzarello / The Points Guy)

Here are additional resources for planning a trip to Walt Disney World:

Featured photo courtesy of David Roark / Walt Disney World

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