Waits Times During a Sold Out Mickey’s Halloween Party and What The Lowest Crowds of the Year Look Like

Mickey’s Party season has begun in earnest with the first Halloween Party selling out. Typically, the event starts about a week earlier in the month and the first few Halloween Parties are some of the least crowded of the year. That’s historically different than the Christmas Party, which typically sells out its first few Parties due to the Veterans Day holiday and marathon crowds.

I used to cover the event in a lot of detail. You can check out 2013’s 5000+ word/100+ picture look at strategizing your evening. But it’s such a nightmare to cover with the crowds and humidity that it’s just not worth it. And I don’t think I recommend going to the Mickey’s Parties at all anymore. The Party is a great opportunity to visit the major attractions with short waits, but the character lines are endless and there aren’t nearly enough of them, the parade route is congested, trick or treat lines are stupid long, and the iPads and shoulder kids make seeing the shows and fireworks frustrating. My advice to those considering attending a Party is to don’t, unless you’re looking at September 20th or 22nd, which should be relatively manageable. Or if you do, be aware of what you’re getting yourself into and plan accordingly.

The fact is that “crowds” or “the number of people in the Park” is significantly lower than just about any other day of the year. But with so few people interested in the usual rides and so much going on around Cinderella Castle that it “feels” much more crowded. And I think this year it’s gotten to the point where it’s not enjoyable if your priorities are the Hocus Pocus show, Boo to You Parade, HalloWishes, trick or treating, and special characters. That’s really what you’re paying the $75 for, I think.

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports13/mk91515.jpg

This is a look at wait times during the day on Tuesday September 15th, which was the first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. 4pm is highlighted because that’s the time Party goers can enter the Park with their Party tickets. 7pm is highlighted because that’s when the Party starts. As you can see, wait times for the majority of the attractions are short or nonexistent after 7pm. Peter Pan’s Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train are the two exceptions. You’re best served putting either off until about 11:15pm if you’re planning to see the 12am Hocus Pocus show or saving Peter Pan for around 11:30pm and then getting in line for Mine Train at 11:59pm if you’re not.

Daytime wait times are manageable for the most part, though high FastPass+ distribution rates continue to push wait times up higher at historically secondary attractions.

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports13/septlowcrowds.jpg

September is usually peak “Disney World was busier than my visit in 2009!! And because of that the crowd calendar was wrong!!!” season. The thing about September is that it’s the least crowded time of year regardless of how crowded it is. It’s the one time of year when most families with kids can’t get away from school and extracurricular activities and international attendance is also modest. Remember that the easyWDW crowd calendar only compares crowds to the six months before and the six months after a given date. So when we discuss a day with a crowd level of “1,” we’re not comparing it to the recession economy of 2010, the pre-FP+ era of 2012, or your first visit in 1987. I’ll occasionally see somebody say something like, “We haven’t seen the Parks less than a ‘5’ in the last three years!” As I’ve mentioned countless times in the past, this is sort of a dumb way of looking at it as there’s not much use in starting your scale at a “5” and going up to a “10.” Because then what you really have is a scale that could just as easily be a “1” to a “5.” And it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to start your scale at a “5” and go up to a “15” because then you have a scale that basically goes from “1” to “10.” But I guess if it makes you feel better, you might print the crowd calendar for your visit, cross out all the numbers, and add six to everything. Then early September here becomes a “7” and Christmas is a “16.” But regardless of what number you attribute to a given day, the fact remains that September, for the most part, sees the lowest wait times and fewest number of people in the Parks of the entire year (barring economic or natural disaster). This is not a debatable position.

As far as going back and looking over what crowds were like compared to what was predicted, we can actually do that. The Cheat Sheets include expected wait times based on crowd level. For a Mickey’s Party date, the next chart illustrates the expected waits. The “Lavg” on the right is the average wait from the chart below where the “L” stands for “Lowest.” The “Havg” wait is the average wait for the next chart, where the “H” stands for “heavy:”

Compare that 9am-7pm Party date to what you can expect from much heavier crowds with much longer operating hours:

A few things probably stick out. First, average waits over the course of the day don’t always skyrocket under heavy crowds. There are a few reasons for this, but it’s largely due to the fact that heavier crowds come with longer operating hours, and the typically short waits after 9pm help bring the day’s averages down. Maximum FastPass+ distribution rates also come into play. That means an attraction like Haunted Mansion or Peter Pan’s Flight is going to have a similar number of people arriving with FP+ on the least crowded days as the most crowded days. And as we know, FP+ users are typically prioritized over standby riders at a ratio that nears 4 to 1. That means 60-70% of a ride’s capacity goes to FastPass+ or for every 10 people admitted onto a ride, seven will be FP+ users and three will be standby riders. In other words, so much of an attraction’s capacity goes to FP+ that standby waits suffer even given far few people in the Park.

Otherwise, peak afternoon waits are typically 50% to 100% higher on the more heavily crowded day. Ariel’s Grotto peaks at 60 instead of 30, even if it goes back down to 10 and 5 at the very end of the night. Astro Orbiter hits 40 minutes instead of 30. Barnstormer maxes out at 40 minutes on more-heavily-crowded days instead of 20 on the least crowded days. Big Thunder hits 75 instead of 40 before going down to 20 and 10 at the end of the night.

Back to comparing what was expected versus what actually happened, let’s take a look at the chart:

This is probably not the best way to visualize the data, but if you take a look at what this website looks like, you shouldn’t be surprised. What I’ve done is charted the actual posted waits throughout the day on top in “white” and the expected wait times from the Cheat Sheets in “green” underneath.

The first thing you should notice is that the expected wait times from the Cheat Sheet are longer than the actual posted wait times. This is due mostly to the fact that there’s only one Cheat Sheet wait times chart for Party days and these days in September are some of the least crowded of the year. If we were looking at a Party date in October with average crowds, the posted waits from the day in question would be a little higher and more in line with what was expected. The rest of the chart:

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports13/mkpartycomparisons2_large.jpg

Or the original Excel file, which may be easier to work with: http://www.easywdw.com/reports13/mkseptemberpartywaits.xlsx

Looking over the expected vs actual posted waits, it’s pretty clear that the average, peak, and exact waits throughout the day are even lower here in September than what the website predicted with just a few exceptions. And those exceptions aren’t off by more than five or so minutes.

So what have we learned? If past history is any indication…probably nothing…But as far as, “Will easyWDW adjust crowd levels based on this year?” The answer is “No.” Because they don’t need to be. September is the least crowded time of the year. It’s not debatable. Adjust your expectations accordingly. But I will remind you of the bet I made with you all back in January:

I’m happy to announce a new game we’re playing on the website. If you visit during a “crowd level 1 or 2 day” and think the wait times and attendance were much higher than predicted, you get to pick another date during the year outside of September that you think will have lower waits and lower attendance. And then when that date actually has higher attendance and higher wait times because you actually did visit on one of the least crowded days of the year with the lowest wait times, you get to pay me $100. It’s fun because I always win.

If you want to go Full Kira™, you’re more than welcome to forward me a date along with a check.

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports13/ak917_large.jpg

Moving on to the other Parks, the overall crowd level on September 17th was a “1” with Animal Kingdom as the third most recommended Park. The expected wait times hold up pretty well here. Downtime at DINOSAUR pushes up the 5pm wait time – otherwise the average would be within a minute. Everest is within three minutes. Kilimanjaro Safaris stands out as being off, but again, it looks like downtime was a problem with 30 minutes worth in the afternoon. Capacity may have been an issue earlier in the day.

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports13/ep917_large.jpg

This is on Tuesday of last week – a most recommended day and a day after Labor Day. Kali River Rapids sees waits a little higher given weather that might have been a little nicer. Safaris continues to see higher peak waits from 11am-12pm before dropping down to walk-on status from 2:30pm on out.

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports13/ep917_large.jpg

For the seven or eight of you still with me, we move on to Epcot. Again, the overall crowd level on September 17th was predicted to be a “1” with Epcot as the most recommended Park. Ellen’s Energy Adventure is apparently posted at ten minutes according to the app, even if it’s a walk-on. The average Journey into Imagination comes out spot on, though the ride does post a peak wait of 25 minutes from 11am-11:30am before dropping back down to 5 minutes by noon. Mission: SPACE’s average is within a minute of expected. Soarin’ is within three minutes – the expected average is higher than the actual posted. Spaceship Earth’s expected wait according to the cheat sheet is also higher as Earth was at five minutes as early as 12:45pm. Usually the longer posted waits last longer into the afternoon. Test Track was down at Park open for about three hours and was then closed for another two hours after that, resulting in higher standby waits due to more FastPass+ users returning in a small window of time. Disney has a 10-minute posted wait at Nemo all day, but it’s likely a walk-on all day. Overall, waits are in line with exactly what you should expect from a “1” day.

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports13/ep916_large.jpg

Subtracting a day, Test Track doesn’t go down until 4:30pm, which is better than usual. That still pushes up posted standby waits (which are likely exaggerated) at the end of the night, but the afternoon sees 15-minute posted waits, indicating very low crowds. You’d be lucky to see anything under 60 over the summer. Soarin’ waits are lower than expected as well, though you could complain that both Ellen and The Seas with Nemo are TWICE AS HIGH as the Cheat Sheet says.

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports13/ep97_large.jpg

Subtract a week to the Monday over Labor Day Weekend with a higher overall crowd level and you see higher wait times, but things are still more than manageable.

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports13/hs917_large.jpg

Hollywood Studios was highly recommended on the 17th. Muppet Vision waits are your standard five minutes. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster follows what’s expected pretty well. According to the Cheat Sheet:

Finally, the last few pages are wait times charts. They assume that the Park specified is recommended that day. The Park hours and crowd level are in the upper left hand corner.  The attractions are down the left and the time of day goes across the top. This is not an exact science. I’ve stood in front of Tower of Terror and watched the wait go from 90 minutes to 30 minutes to 50 minutes over the course of just a minute or two. But this will give you an idea about what to expect over the course of the day depending on the crowd level. Make sure to note the Park hours and crowd level at the top of each chart.

Disney doesn’t always post accurate wait times, which can make making generalizations problematic. Star Tours goes from 20 minutes at 12pm to 50 minutes at 12:15pm and is then back down again to 10 minutes just 45 minutes later at 1pm. But for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, the average wait comes in exactly right. Star Tours sees its average higher than expected, thanks to what are probably some inaccurately high wait times or surges after Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular concludes next door. Still, there are 21 instances of a ten-minute wait, which means the attraction would basically be a walk-on for at least five hours. Great Movie Ride wait times need to be adjusted higher for all crowd levels. Over the summer, it was routinely peaking at 60 minutes for an extended period of time. Tower of Terror’s waits are lower than expected with an average of just 20 minutes. It can see much higher waits given the same number of people in the Park if it’s having capacity problems. Toy Story Mania’s posted waits take off faster than the Cheat Sheet states, but there isn’t necessarily a big difference between a 61-minute average and a 51-minute average, practically speaking.

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports13/hs911_large.jpg

Subtract exactly one week and you have basically the same wait times as the 17th given the same crowd level and the recommendation. Wait times from the 11th are even on a Night of Joy day with a 7pm close at Magic Kingdom, which typically makes the other Parks busier.

Crowd perception is largely based on experience and expectations. Walt Disney World is made up of four of the most visited theme parks in the world, with Magic Kingdom far and away #1. To a point, you could say that it’s always “crowded.” But crowd levels are based on “how crowded” it is compared to the six months before and the six months after a given date. Crowd levels are also distributed along what is commonly called a “bell curve,” so you have a lot more 4s, 5s, and 6s than you do 1s and 10s. In fact, the only time you’ll see a crowd level “10” is when one of the Parks is liable to close to capacity and that’s almost always Magic Kingdom.

September is the least crowded time of year by a significant margin. That doesn’t mean Mine Train is going to be a walk-on or Toy Story Mania isn’t going to see 70 minute waits or it isn’t going to “feel” congested when you’re standing in front of Expedition Everest surrounded by walls or as you head towards Tower of Terror as a Beauty and the Beast show just lets out, but it remains the best time of year to visit as far as crowds are concerned. And if you are still under the impression that September is exactly like July, I would invite you to change your dates next year and visit me in the heart of the summer. I have a feeling your trip the year after will be back to September.

Comments

  1. Kevin says

    I still long for the great days of 2002-2008, when late November and early December provided wide open walkways and legacy Fastpass machines! Great memories.

  2. Kim says

    I was hoping for a post like this! I’ve been reading comments elsewhere about how crowded the first MNSSHP was this year (specifically in regard to rides), and having attended a sold-out party last year, I wondered WTH people were talking about. I saw something about Haunted Mansion lines wrapped around the park. Ridiculous. I can’t imagine why people are complaining about ride waits at these parties, although I’m sure the character wait times are another story.

    • josh says

      They might be confusing a trick or treat line. That’s something I’ve never really understood about the Halloween Party. Waiting 20 minutes to meet Tarzan or something makes sense. Waiting 20 minutes for a fun size Snickers from a cast member wearing the same thing as the other 1,000 cast members does not.

      • Sarah says

        I can vouch for the long trick-or-treat lines. They were crazy when we went last year, mid-October, and we just bought a bag of Kit-Kats when we got home instead, lol. The ride lines were fine. Haunted Mansion was probably the longest we waited, but the line didn’t even fill the extended queue let alone wrap around the park.

        • Anonymous says

          I went on the first party night and we did all of our trick or treating between the time when fireworks finished and 11:30pm. So whats that, about an hour and 10 minutes? and during that time we hit every single trick or treat stop and filled out bags multiple times.

          However we joined an early queue for characters which was donald and minnie, who they then removed donald from and put daisy there after we had already queued for 40 minutes. Was so annoyed!! We ended up queueing 50 minutes for these characters and refused to queue for any characters again that night.

          Everywhere fights were almost breaking out over people pushing in on parade routes but what was even worse was people fighting over standing space for the hocus pocus show.

          I nearly got in a fight when I stood in a spot with a good view then a family in front put three children on their shoulders. So i decided i’d had enough of it and pushed in front of them. I held my son in my arms at my eye level. If I can see, then so can he. so why does any child need to be on someones shoulders blocking the view of 30 people behind!!!!£!$!%$£$£&&%£&£@$

          • Anonymous says

            You know what also made it even worse…..

            disney giving a large area in front of the castle to vips and press. What about us smuchks that just handed over wads of our cash for it?

        • Heather says

          2 parents & 2 kids just spent at least $250 to enter MNSSHP, costing them about $50 an hour. WDW’s not giving out pounds of Godiva, so it’s hard to reconcile wasting their time in that trick-or-treat.

          They need help, please save them Josh 😀

  3. Jaimie says

    I went to Epcot on a 1 day a week and a half ago. Walking onto Soarin’ at 9:40am felt pretty 1 to me. I like this September thing.

  4. mike says

    Thanks Josh your awesome I’ve been looking for something close to this that I can kind of predict times better during party. Much appreciated

  5. Katy says

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the first Halloween party selling out was a fluke. Because of the way Rosh Hashanah fell this year, our school district and many others in the area had a four-day weekend (and an unrelated half day off on Friday, so really a 4.5 day weekend). I know multiple families with school-aged children who went down to Orlando during that time period. While they normally wouldn’t be willing to take their children out of school so close to the beginning to the school year, they realized they had enough time for a nice little trip to Disney including the first Halloween party, while only having to call their child out of one day of school.

  6. TraciB says

    I entertained the thought of attending MNSSHP during our upcoming October trip. Thanks, Josh, for driving that silly notion out of my head. $291 (at least) saved!

  7. Linda says

    Your thoughts about not attending the Mickey parties just saddened me so much but I absolutely have to agree. The last few times we have attended either of the parties, we were overwhelmed by the crowds at the character spots, shows and parades. It is hard to understand what so drastically changed from just 10 years ago when the parties were a lovely and relaxed event. I can only attribute the change to all the information given on the internet which gives people a “plan of attack”. In the past, people just simply showed up and enjoyed the atmosphere. Now you need to have a strategic plan for the precious hours and it is no longer fun. Thanks for all the incredible details. You are right…there simply is no time of year with low crowds anymore like Kevin described.

    • Dee says

      Cast Members are unofficially reporting that ticket sales have been raised to 30,000 for the parties. There is also a huge problem with non-ticketed guests remaining in the park and folks without tickets receiving wristbands. The Disney World Facebook page is blowing up with terrible reviews of MNSSHP and undoubtedly, guest services has been inundated as well. I can only hope that they can resolve some of these issues in the next week, in time for our trip on 10/10. I haven’t purchased tickets yet, and these reviews combined with our experience at MVMCP last year, are curbing the desire to take my kids to this party. We’ve never been to MNSSHP and thought we’d do it just for the sake of saying we’ve done it and cross it off our list. At this point, paying $300 for our family of 4 to have a miserable experience is certainly not worth it.

    • josh says

      Christmas Parties are typically even more likely to sell out and tend to be busier on average, than Halloween Parties. You can certainly still have a lot of fun. I just think it’s gotten to the point where having fun takes a lot of effort. And costs a lot of money for what you end up receiving.

  8. says

    I’m so angry at myself for not going to MNSSHP back in 2008. We’re visiting during Halloween week next year and never mind the crowds, I can’t buy tickets early because I don’t know if my then 2 yr old will sleep without me. So I guess we’re missing out :(
    But hey, family vacation to Disney next year, yay!

  9. Andrea W says

    I saw mention on another site complaining about “hordes” of people throughout the party all night (taking up parade route space and even in character lines) without a party armband contributing to the crowded situation. Just wondering if that was your experience as well?

  10. Jared says

    I was at last night’s party (the 18th). The CMs did a great job of checking armbands multiple times, I thought. Also, I was able to score a reasonably good spot for fireworks in the hub about 20 minutes before they began; and an unobstructed view of the second parade in Frontierland just a couple minutes before the Headless Horseman…getting out of the park before the second parade reached Town Square. I thought it was awesome and crowds were low. My only issue the whole night was that both Splash and BTMRR were down for the entire party (Splash might’ve come back online, not sure.) So in that half of the park, there were exactly two operating attractions (three if you count Country Bear Jamboree). But as someone who didn’t need to get candy or meet characters (I stood to the side and snapped pics of the ones I wanted in between meets), it was just about perfect.

  11. Linda says

    I am so happy you had a great time Jared! But you see, for so many people, (dare I say most?) meeting special characters at the parties, in addition to special shows, is the number one reason to attend a party. I truly believe Disney executives need to see that the simple solution to this is to allow additional characters throughout all parks. My kids feel so lucky to have photos with Hercules, Gepetto and a few other rare friends. Our most treasured is, of course, the photo with the 7 Dwarfs! Bring on more Long Lost Friends!!

  12. Jared says

    The only issue with your simple solution is that additional characters cost additional money. That $68 extra we all paid pays for the CMs who work the party.

    As I mentioned, last night I found good spots for shows and parades with little wait time, and I saw some character lines that were not long. (Not for the Dwarfs…but several others I could’ve jumped in and waited a very short time, if I’d wanted. The shows and special items were my personal priority though.) But that’s the difference between a sold out party and a not sold out party. Should Disney consider lowering the number that constitutes a ‘sell out’ in order to improve guest experience during a party? Maybe so, but that would almost certainly have to come with a higher ticket price to offset it.

  13. Brian says

    I am headed down Oct 14-17 and am doing my first two ever MNSSHP parties. I hope that it doesn’t turn out to be a bust. :(

    • Shannon says

      My sister and I did two parties in 09. Third week of October on a Tuesday and a Friday night. Granted, it was just the two of us, no kids, no strollers and thanks to Josh I had a very specific plan of attack. We LOVED it. Best time ever. We got pics with tons of characters, saw the parade, saw the (then) villains show and fireworks, more candy than we could eat, rode Pirates and HM, got the “secret” pics, etc etc etc.

      The first party, we immediately got in line for the Seven Dwarves and that wait was hella long, but that was the longest line all night. We got in line VERY early, before the party officially started. The second party, we arrived early and got in line for Capt Jack Sparrow, were the first ones in line, waited a good while since we were there so early and he showed up shortly after the official party start time. We even got a picture with Dr. Facilier because we knew where to go and when. (I don’t know if they do that anymore. I’m kind of doubting it) OH!!! And on our way out, got in a VERY short line for Jack and Sally (less than 20 mins). This was the first year they were doing M&G at MNSSHP and they were EXTREMELY popular, with waits of over 90 minutes. When we saw the line was so short, we figured it was closed since it near the end of the night. Don’t know how we got so lucky.

      The sad fact is, the only way to really see and do everything at MNSSHP is to go two separate times, have a plan of attack and be prepared. It’s very expensive and I wouldn’t even argue with someone who says it’s not worth it, but for us, it was a once in a lifetime thing, so we splurged. Good luck – with two nights and a plan you should have an AWESOME time.

  14. hmmm says

    What you’re saying is 100% accurate, reasonable and factually correct … And yet doesn’t change the fact that it’s not unusual for someone who only goes to Disney every 3-4 years, which is most people, to potentially check a crowd calendar see a “1” and remember the last time they were there in 2012, or whenever, and it was rated a “5” and think, ‘Wow, it’s gonna be dead,’ and then be disappointed, confused and convinced the rating was wrong when waits are longer than the “higher crowd level” visit they experienced last time.

    Basically, what seems logical to a guy who goes every few days, might not seem as cut-and-dried obvious to the occasional goer. Not arguing with you, just sayin’.

      • Jim says

        While I think your explanation in each of the crowd calendars is plenty sufficient, I might suggest linking to one of your more detailed explanatory articles (such as this one) in your standard monthly calendar header information (i.e. the bullet list with “The fourth line is an estimation of the overall crowd level…”), with a link saying “MORE DETAILED EXPLANATION” or something. Just a thought. Might help at least one or two people actually try to understand what the data represents.

  15. hmmm says

    ^^^ Having said all that our last three Disney trips were in September, and we’d never go any other time. No way. No how.

  16. Ana says

    I was there Sept 7-12th and I agree, it may “feel” crowded to some but only in September can you get a FP+ to Soarin for 3ppl as a 4th choice to be used 5 minutes after selecting it (and this was at around 3:30pm). I’m already planning my Sept trip for next year!

  17. Steph says

    Is it possible that Disney is selling more party tickets than before? We are headed down the dreaded Columbus Day week and after reading this and many other negative posts about the party, I am really nervous.

  18. JCos says

    We’ve been going to Disney for our “big” vacation every 2-3 years since 2003. The crowds have definitely gotten much worse over the years. In November 2010 during Veteran’s Day week we walked on nearly every ride, and that was before I discovered all these wonderful planning sites. I doubt we’ll ever enjoy that luxury again. I love to plan, but now it’s become a necessity that you have a plan and you stick to it. Seriously thinking that our trip next week will be our last for a very long time.

  19. Dawn says

    I attended the 9/15 party this year. I had a good time, but I feel like we didn’t get to do much. We only went through 1 trick or treat line, and that was only because there was hardly anyone in line for it. The rest of the trick or treat stations were ridiculous long lines. We got in line to meet Alice and the Mad Hatter at 8:15. The line was moving very slowly because Alice and the Mad Hatter were taking a really long time with each group. While I appreciate the play these two were doing, being that It’s only a five hour party, I think the time the characters spent with people should have been a little more limited. What really frustrated me was at 8:45, the cast member started coming round telling us they were going off to tea and would be back at 9:00. 9:00 came, the 9:05, 9:10, and still nothing. We finally gave up at 9:20 and got out of line. There was too much we wanted to do, and we had already wasted an hour.

    The other thing that frustrated me was we were trying to get to Main Street for Celebrate the Magic. Cast Members stopped us at the bridge by Sleepy Hollow, so we had to watch from there, not a very good view. After, the cast members immediately started moving us towards the Riverboat and Liberty Bell area, telling us we would get a much better view of the fireworks there. They didn’t even give us a chance to try to get to the hub or Main Street. They were right, it is a really great view of the fireworks, but there is one drawback, you don’t get the castle view. This didn’t bother me, because this was my fourth party, but my two nieces were a little upset because it was their first time to attend a party, and I have been raving about Hallowishes for months. They liked the fireworks, but they would have liked it more if the castle had been there too.

    I agree with Josh, this party will more than likely be the last party I attend, and it makes me sad, because it’s something I have really enjoyed doing.

  20. Mike says

    Josh,
    Do you have any recommendations on how to spend Halloween at Disney without going to the Not so Scary Party? It is sold out for Halloween, and I was interested in doing something with the family. Is there anything you can suggest? is there Trick or Treating at Celebration? Anything in Disney Springs? Any advice is appreciated.

  21. tim says

    I spent 10 days at the Poly last September from the 2nd on. Never saw a wait of more than 10-15 minutes park wide save for A&E and 7DMT. Ate in any and all restaurants including Ohana,1900 Park, Crystal Palace, Cali Grill etc. without a reservation and just walked in. Rode splash in my own log. Took the ferry from TTC to MK and was the ONLY person on it. Sped around the Lagoon and Bay Lake in a Searacer THREE times and was the ONLY boat on the water on the entire property. Many times had my own car on the Monorail.
    Sat in a completely empty bar at Wilderness Lodge and The Wave and had great conversations with veteran Cast Members. Sorry but I just don’t get the griping about September crowds. I had an amazing, amazing time and it felt like ‘the good ole days’ to me.
    See for yourself in the film I made I think you will enjoy. Empty. Empty.
    WDW
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCDjdbRcEHU

  22. Prudence Marsupial says

    We went to MNSSHP 9/18 and it was a hot/crowded mess. The effort to walk anywhere while staying with your party amongst the heavy crowds was tiring, then the long lines for candy, along with the roped off walkways and walls that made us feel like rats in a maze….Saturday 8/20 we went to AK and it was more like a 2010 crowd level 8 or 9. I think WDW needs to build more parks, and stop selling the MNSSHP tickets after the point of the park being a cluster—-.

  23. Brandi says

    I am certainly no expert, but I totally agree about the parties. We went to the MVMCP in 2012. It was crowded and for $250 we got a few free cookies and hot cocoa. Definitely not worth it. I don’t even like going during “Party season” because overall there are less regular operating hours, which makes it crowded on non-party days. Last year, we picked the week in between the parties and it was awesome! We got to see decorations for both seasons, and didn’t have to worry about parks closing early. We arrived the day after Halloween. I let each of the girls bring their trick or treat candy with us, and it saved us from buying as many treats throughout the week. We got the added bonus of the clocks being rolled back which made early rope drop mornings easier. The weather was great, and thanks to Josh’s crowd calendar and cheat sheets, we waited very little for any attractions. I’ll never spend that kind of money on an “upsell” party night. I would rather add an extra hotel night to our vacation!

  24. Amy says

    Was at the party in the 15th. Got an awesome spot in Frontierland for The first parade 15 minutes before the horseman. Got a spot in the hub for HalloWishes 10 minutes before they started. Weather was cool, ToT limes were crazy but at the end of the night I went through the line in Tomorrowland in front of CoP 5x in a row. Not a big character person so we just chose to see the parade. & fireworks, ToT a little & ride Space Mountain 3. Times with little wait. Only issue was Mine Train was down 90 percent if that night ( & most of our vacation!!)

    The rest of the trip was great got 4th FPs for Soarin at 6:30 for 7:30 for a party of 4, got a ” Standard View” of the castle in the 2 bedroom at BLT & finally got to see Wishes from TOW lounge. Thanks for all you do Josh!! BTW was that you at the bar in AKL on 9/13??? I saw a familiar looking face…..

  25. Nolarookie says

    Thanks for the post. We’ve never been in September because of school. We went to WDW for the first time in early May, the year my oldest son started school. I’d love to go sometime in October for the Halloween party. I think visitors need to keep two things in mind. First expect the parks to be crowded no matter when you go. It’s a major vacation destination. Second, have a plan. I’ve been inmid-July, Thanksgiving week, Presidents Week, Memorial Day week. On all those trips, we never waited more than 10-15 minutes to experience an attraction. I understand there are some things that’ll cause a long wait, like A&E, or going to MK at 1pm on Christmas Day, but if you’re experiencing significant waits during the low seasons, your plan is part of the problem

  26. Mark says

    We just returned from a long visit to WDW that included the first MNSSHP on the 15th and it was definitely a weird vibe. Tons of people but they seemed to be there a) to dress up, b) to get candy, and c) to take photos with characters, but not to d) ride rides. So while it felt crowded, there was virtually no wait for most rides. They should rename it Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Costume, Candy, and Characters Party. I don’t think we’ll be visiting it again, honestly.

    During the rest of the week, it seemed like there were lots of people (AK yesterday…), but we had little problem getting on rides as desired. We deliberately took our kids out of school this week because it is one of the least busy times of the year. But it was so hot and humid that I think I’d trade more crowds for better weather in the future. FWIW, we based our itinerary on Josh’s calendars so that also probably accounts for some of our success.

  27. theautoguy says

    We were there on the 15th. We had never been to a sold out party in the three years we have been going(Halloween and Christmas) and the crowd was noticeably larger. We had lots of luck with the 2nd parade in the past, but could not find a spot within three rows deep. We do not ride, but try to do all the characters. Arriving at 5:30 or so always put us in a solid spot for Jack and Sally or the 7 Dwarfs(whichever characters we chose to start with), however based on previous experience the spot in line for either of these would have been at least 90 mintes or longer this time. Bummer. Character lines for everyone else was hit or miss, mostly 20-30 minutes at most. It didn’t seem like we got nearly as much done as the last three years. Event specific merchandise was mostly sold out by nights end. Magic Bands were sold out, pins just about gone and only smaller size t shirts were left. I cannot believe they did not have enough merchandise to support the crowds. Then you go on Ebay the next day and sellers have ten or more magic bands for sale, 20 shirts and a huge quantity of pins available for sale 3 times the cost. It was very disappointing as we always shop at the end of the night. I can certainly understand why Josh does not even go anymore. Does anyone know how many tickets are available per show and how many people constitute a sell out?

  28. Lula says

    First MNSSHP was last Tuesday, the 15th. Having nothing to compare it to, we enjoyed walking onto rides, watching the first parade from the pillory in Liberty Square (which we walked up to at 8:15 pm), and getting loads of candy–never standing in line longer than 5 minutes. Maybe our experience was positive because we didn’t stand in any lines to meet characters. Low-to-no ride wait times and the Halloween ambience proved to be our treat, so we found the party to be fun and very manageable. That said, it’s a one and done for my crew. Happy we did it, but also happy we’ve marked it off our “Must Try At Least Once” list.

    Oh, and this is our third trip in mid-September. Each ride on a mostly-empty monorail, waits of less than two minutes for a resort to park bus, and all the empty tables around us at Le Cellier for lunch (Wednesday, the 16th) and California Grill for dinner (also the 16th), had me quoting Easy Josh: “Feels crowded.”

    (Our most crowded dining experience of last week? The Wave on Thursday the 17th, at 7:30 pm. Blame convention crowds. We waited five minutes, despite the almost-packed restaurant.)

  29. Worldfanatic says

    As a WDW visitor for 24 years who doesn’t mind (and even enjoys) heat and rain, September is far and away primetime for visits.

  30. Chris says

    The weather last week was the best I have ever had at WDW. Granted I have been in May, June, July and September (back in 2011). But this was by far the coolest time (I know that is not normal though).

    Just saying how lucky we were. Temps in mid 80s, cloud cover many days, moderate rain.

    Went to the 9/15 MNSSHP and had a blast. Good to try it – not sure I will do it again.

    One note – got to watch Hallowishes from the Wishes FPP viewing area (since there were no FPP that night). Found a spot for the projection show 15 min before it started and stayed there for the fireworks. Sat on the grass. Just FYI as it might be a good option.

  31. Blake says

    We just returned from a week in WDW and went on every headliner at least once, plus most rides, including all the major ones in MK multiple times. We only arrived at rope drop once at MK on our last day and within 30 min of rope drop at HS to get an early jedi training. With FP+ and following Josh’s crowd calendar, we never waited more than 20 min for any ride. We’ll never go any other month.

    • Nichole says

      May I ask if you had small kids? Just curious because it seems when just adults go they are able to move faster through parks etc and get a little more done than with small kids? I really want to go Sept 2016 with my family but worried about all these reviews on how busy this month as been and not enjoyable.

  32. Matt says

    I have a question about crowds. First off we are FL residents and this site and its info is indispensable. The crowd info is fantastic. My anecdotal observation regards hotel rooms. The weekend availability seems even more limited than say JULY… Josh do you have any insight on this? It seems nigh on impossible to get reservations at values and mods etc… Could be my imagination, but I am curious is if there is something else at play here… i.e. that due to the lower prices of September and lower point totals for DVC, a higher percentage of disney guests are staying on property. Even though the total is lower there will be fewer rooms available? Is there a secondary market popping up like the dining fiasco…?

  33. Nichole says

    I was really hoping to go next September and I know that Disney is never NOT crowded but hearing all these reviews from this September it just sounds un enjoyable anymore. With two small kid’s I am afraid anytime will be to crowded to enjoy. We made the second week of December last year work and thought it was manageable except the Christmas Party and Saturday at AK which was packed. Do you think September will still be better than that time of year if we thought it was still a good time? Or is going in Jan/Feb maybe better now then September?

  34. DUSTY CHEATHAM says

    20 year passholder here. due to the dinning plan there are no DOWN TIMES anymore . now are some days slower than others YES but what is slow to me may not be a slow day to you .BUT as josh writes sept. is the slowest month of the year due too kids returning to school .

  35. Heather says

    We’ll be in WDW during the first party in 2016, on Sept 2nd. Never been to a “party”, but don’t think we can justify the expense.

    If just visiting for the day, I think $70each is reasonable to access MK for 8 hrs (4pm to Midnight). That’s a good deal, even without considering the extra value of all the special Halloween stuff.

    We’re going for 5 days on a full WDWpackage. To spend an extra $200 while taking time away from what we already paid for seems dumb. Then again, we’ve never been & may never get another chance. Pbbt… we’ll see 😛 Looks like Disney will once again relieve us of every last dime, lol.

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