This year, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party has so much to offer, including a few brand-new additions to its arsenal. Guests have been attending the party since mid-August, but there are still plenty of dates left to check out.
We’ll take you through what we were able to accomplish in the 5 official party hours, as well as the 3 bonus hours prior to the party. It’s also an opportunity to let you know how we navigated the park, what we prioritized at the party and our overall strategies for the night. If you’d like more information, be sure to check out our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Guide for a full overview of the party.
We managed to attend one of the earlier parties in September, though there had already been a little over a half dozen parties before ours. Typically, we’ll try to attend a party on a Tuesday night, since it’s less expensive than a Friday night and usually has a lower crowd in attendance (we’ll get to that in a minute).
With your party ticket, you can check into the Magic Kingdom and receive your party band as early as 4pm (2pm if you’re a DVC member). This gives you 3 extra hours to go through the park before the party officially starts at 7pm. If you’re not visiting another park before the party, we highly recommend arriving at around 4pm because it gives you a chance to experience the Magic Kingdom, specifically the attractions that you otherwise won’t get to during the course of the party.
The Sorcerers Card
Picking up our wristbands and heading into the park, the Cast Members and their signage direct guests to the back-side of Main Street U.S.A. for their first treat bags and some PhotoPass photographers next to statues of characters in their Halloween costumes.
We took a brief detour over to the Main Street Fire Station to pick up our party exclusive Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards first, before being ushered into the back-side of Main Street. Having forgotten this crucial stop in years past, we recommend making it your first priority. Now, we live by the mantra of “If you forget it, you’ll regret it”…meaning if you miss out on your chance to pick up the card, prepare to drop some cash buying one on eBay instead. It’s free with your party ticket, so make sure to grab one while it’s on your mind.
We tend to go all-out on our costumes for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party…and why not? It’s a special event, why not make it a special occasion? Deciding on costumes is a tricky business for Lauren and I. We tend to pick a theme, a pairing, while making sure it’s manageable to build and travel with. For example, a few years ago, we created Johnny Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet hats to wear, because we were flying down and they needed to fit in our luggage. Last year we drove down with friends of ours, which meant we could construct larger costumes (hence, the Ursula, Flotsam and Jetsam costumes).
This year, we decided to tackle some costumes inspired by the Gran Fiesta Tour in the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot. Lauren created a Panchito costume and I cobbled together a Jose Carioca one to match. Since the theme of our costumes focused around the ride, we routinely played up the fact that we were searching for Donald, as we were preparing for the show that marks the finale of the Gran Fiesta Tour.
As always, rules apply as to what you can and cannot wear for a costume. See Disney’s official site before you start creating, so you can make sure to avoid disappointment. Pick something that is fun but definitely breathable if you plan on attending the party in the hotter summer weather.
We did actually go to Magic Kingdom during the day before the party. We wanted to spend some time in the park, then head back to our resort for a break in the middle of the day, get ready and then return for the party. In the morning, the crowds were sparse. We enjoyed really short wait times for most of the attractions and it gave us a false sense of security that the party may have a lower attendance. We were wrong.
By far, the busiest and most crowded time we experienced on our trip was at the Halloween party. It’s practically an extra park-day for Disney, because it seems like they sell an equal number of tickets for the party as they do for the day. Lines for attractions were definitely much longer than they were in the morning and there were longer lines to meet characters (which we expected) as well as long lines to get snacks and special PhotoPass magic shots (which we did not expect).
We know that it’s generally impossible to experience everything the party has to offer in a single night, but the crowd really impeded our efficiency at even moving through the park. Especially during the parade and fireworks, the crowds were at such a high level that we started to question whether the party would be worth it if we had never experienced it before. Thankfully, knowing to expect larger crowds can help you plan a little better, but if we didn’t have a gameplan, we would likely have gotten lost in the sea of people and missed out on some really great elements in the party.
We had a few major priorities for the party:
- Try a couple party-exclusive snacks
- Ride Pirates of the Caribbean to see the live actors
- Meet a character (which we had never done in a party before)
- Watch Mickey’s Boo-To-You Parade (with a decent view)
- See Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular (for the first time)
In years past, our priorities list has included the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular and seeing Mme. Renate and Mme Carlota at the Haunted Mansion. However, since we had experienced both of these in the past, we knew we had some flexibility if we needed to skip these. All in all, we decided to tackle the party in 4 steps:
Step 1 – The Pre-Party
As I’ve mentioned, the hours between 4pm and 7pm can be crucial to setting yourself up for success at the party. For us, that meant getting dinner and checking anything off our list we could technically accomplish before the party starts. One of the benefits of being early is the fact that some shops will have the Halloween party-exclusive merchandise available prior to 7pm if you already have your wristband.
After taking a bunch of PhotoPass photos with our costumes, we headed to the Frontierland Trading Post to pick up party pins that we like to collect. I should note that we only pick up a couple, since we can’t drop $200 USD for the set every time we attend a party…that would be ludicrous.
After the pins, we popped into Columbia Harbor House to grab some dinner. Even though the party is 5 hours, there isn’t a lot of down time to get a full meal in, without feeling like you are wasting party time. So we fueled up and were ready to go around 6:30-ish.
Step 2 – The Early Party
By the time we finished grabbing dinner in Liberty Square, we decided to venture over to Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland. For the past two years, Disney has added what they call an overlay to the attraction. Basically, it’s an enhancement or a Halloween Twist that only happens during the party. For party guests waiting for the overlay, Cast Members lined us up outside the regular queue until the party officially started. Once 7pm arrived, we were led into the queue.
During the party at Pirates of the Caribbean, cast members dressed in pirate garb wander in and around the queue, interacting with guests. Once you’re on the ride, live actors appear in certain ride scenes and add to the overall experience of the attraction. To be honest, while it was neat to see, I can’t say we were blown away by the addition of the actors. On our ride-through, there were 3 actors and they were definitely dressed like pirates and shouted pirate lines to us, but it didn’t add anything to the story. Was it fun? Sure! Would I wait more than 20 minutes to experience it again? Probably not. I am glad that we lined up at 7pm, because the line ballooned to 40+ minutes at various times throughout the night.
After our pirate adventure, we waited in line at Sleepy Hollow to try the Headless Horseman Cheesecake as well as the Chocolate Mickey Waffle Sundae. The sundae isn’t exclusive to the party, you can try that any time in the Halloween season, but the cheesecake is only available during the party. Of the two, we preferred the Mickey Waffle Sundae with its pumpkin gelato and dark, chocolate Mickey waffles. It was quite large and definitely worth sharing. I also loved the Headless Horseman cheesecake with its pumpkin mousse, chocolate cake and orange glaze with a Headless Horseman chocolate piece on top.
We are weary of specialty snacks during the party because in the past, we have been drawn in by the descriptions, only to be disappointed by the size of the desserts. Try to do your research ahead of time to get a sense of whether these treats are worth the cost and the hassle of travelling all over to try them out.
Characters – Round 1
Since one of our priorities for this party was to take a picture with a Halloween character, we set out to get an idea of wait times. The most popular character photos are typically Jack Skellington and Sally at the Town Square Theater on Main Street (where Tinker Bell normally greets guests) and the Seven Dwarfs at Pete’s Silly Sideshow. Moana has also become a popular meet-and-greet over in Adventureland as well. All three of these wait times can reach well over an hour in the height of the party, so plan accordingly.
We, however, were on a Gran Fiesta Tour mission to find Donald. He and Daisy were meeting guests in Fantasyland at the Storybook Circus (right in the Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station). Daisy was in her Princess costume while Donald appeared dressed as a pumpkin. Right next to them was Minnie Mouse in her witch costume. By the time we had arrived, 2 well-established lines had formed in the area and by the looks of it, we decided to check back later and wander into Tomorrowland.
Step 3 – The Good Stuff
Mickey’s Boo-To-You Parade
By far, one of our favourite things about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is the Boo-To-You Parade. This incredibly whimsical parade happens twice a night during the party, at both 9:15pm and 11:15pm. It starts in Frontierland and snakes its way in front of Cinderella Castle and then down Main Street U.S.A. In an ideal world, we would watch this parade both times. The 9:15 parade tends to be busier as everyone starts to stake their claim to a spot where they can view the parade and then the fireworks afterwards.
We parked ourselves at the bottom of Main Street and waited roughly 40 minutes for the parade to pass by (and boy was it worth the wait). The Headless Horseman leads the parade as he comes trotting past atop his black stallion. It’s easily one of the best moments all night, seeing that intimidating horse with its headless rider going by. The mood calms and the park quiets as the sound of hoofs on the pavement bring one of the best chills Disney can provide. There’s such anticipation and a sense of urgency as Cast Members frantically prepare the Headless Horseman’s way.
After that, there is still a bit of waiting to do before the bulk of the parade arrives. There is some pre-parade entertainment to break up the waiting as Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde from Zootopia join a crew of dancers to pump up the crowd.
There were new additions to the parade this year, with the Incredibles and Buzz Lightyear bringing some extra Pixar to the evening’s festivities. While I still prefer the classic Haunted Mansion floats, I’m sure these new floats were a huge hit with the kids.
Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular
Shortly after the first parade, we made our way up Main Street to find a vantage point for the brand new Halloween fireworks and projection show. Space is limited, but be patient and courteous to your fellow guests as you find a spot.
Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular starts off with an incredible Jack Skellington puppet introducing the story to us at the foot of the castle. Sadly, if you aren’t in the central castle hub or closer, this puppet is difficult to see from far away. If it’s a priority, stake out your preferred spot sooner rather than later.
The story of the spectacular focuses on Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy as they make their way through a haunted house. The projections are pretty spectacular on their own as the story unfolds, so making sure you have a good view of the castle is imperative. Overhead, the sky is filled with new and unique fireworks that strike a nice balance between fireworks right at Cinderella Castle and ones within your peripheral view.
In hindsight, I would have loved a closer view to see the projections more clearly and definitely to get a better look at the Jack Skellington puppet. It’s unbelievably cool to see Disney’s Imagineers create something so beautiful with such a basic concept.
Step 4 – The Late Party
Characters – Round 2
After the fireworks have concluded, a large number of guests will make their way towards the exit. These are usually families with younger children, who have already stayed out way beyond their bedtime. Navigating against the flow of traffic and be difficult, so hang onto whomever is leading you forward. In our case, Lauren held my arm as we slowly meandered our way back to Storybook Circus. We were getting our Donald picture anyway we could.
Thankfully the line had subsided since we last saw it, though we did still wait close to half an hour to meet Donald and Daisy. What was clear to us was that this wasn’t going to be any ordinary character interaction. The party characters spent a little bit longer with each guest, especially kids, to make the overall experience magical. I must say, once we reached the front of the line, in our Caballero costumes, Donald and Daisy went wild. This was such a highlight for us. We enjoyed playing up that we had been searching for Donald for ages and we needed him to join us on a Three Caballero tour. Definitely worth the wait!
The Finishing Touch
Once we had crossed our last major priority off our list, we still had an hour or so left to enjoy. We went through Fantasyland (past the Mad Tea Party with the special lighting overlay) into Tomorrowland.
One of the other overlay attractions was Space Mountain. During the party, there’s not a lot added to Space Mountain, but there is one crucial element removed…light. As in, any light whatsoever. Normally, when you ride Space Mountain, the “launch” lift hill takes you past the Space Shuttle X-1 and off into space with stars providing just enough light to grab your attention. During the party, however, all of the lights are completely off…including the lift hill. While we’re used to riding Space Mountain in the dark, it was surprising to see how much darker it could actually get. On top of the lights being removed, there was also a special soundtrack for the ride that made it just a little bit more epic. It was epic…and I loved every second of it.
After Space Mountain, we decided to cram in a quick trip aboard the PeopleMover and then over the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin before the clock struck (pretty close to) midnight. While we could have stayed to see the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltactular right at midnight, we decided to get ahead of the crowd and prepare for our next morning at Epcot.
The party was incredibly crowded, particularly around the Cinderella Castle hub when the parade and fireworks are coming – that’s to be expected. The crowds for everything else was a little unexpected and without a game plan, we wouldn’t have been able to do half the things we did during the party. Always get an idea of what’s important for you when you’re planning out your Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. What are the Must-Dos? What are some things you’re okay to miss out on? Because there isn’t enough time to do everything.
Another shameless plug… If you want to take a look at all the party has to offer, check out our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Guide. Even if you can’t make it to a party this year, start planning for next year so you can be ready in time. It’s also never too early to get a jump on costumes (coming from someone who notoriously leaves his costume until the last possible moment).
Do we think the Halloween party is worth it? At this point…yes. It’s still worth the cost to experience something truly unique in the Magic Kingdom. The one thing I’ll reiterate is that you need a game plan to maximize your time in the park. Hopefully ours can help you decide how to tackle Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
Have you visited Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party this year? Are you planning to go in the future? Let us know what you enjoyed most or what you are most looking forward to in the comments below!