It’s basically July, which can mean only one thing…it’s time to start talking about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom.
It’s been a couple of years since we’ve embarked on a deep dive into what the Halloween Party offers and discussed the least stressful ways to experience the best parts. This post will introduce what you can expect to see and do and then I’ll follow it up with a more detailed look at the individual pieces in separate posts.
A Hard Ticket Event
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is one of several “hard ticket” events hosted at Magic Kingdom over the course of the year, which means no other ticket is necessary to attend the evening’s festivities.
Those entering Magic Kingdom with their Halloween Party tickets may do so as early as 3:45pm – 4pm using the Event Entrance tapstiles that are on the right. Lines will begin to form around 3pm, but there is not much use in waiting around outside the entrance if you can help it. Once Disney begins admitting Party guests, the process is typically fast. Once you enter, you’ll be handed a map, a treat bag, and a cast member will place a wristband around your wrist. New for this year, Disney Vacation Club members may enter the Park with their Halloween tickets as early as 2pm.
If you’re already inside Magic Kingdom, either using a day ticket, Annual Pass, or what have you, then you can pick up your map, treat bag, and wristband at one of a couple of locations in the Park beginning at 4pm. This includes the area across from Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland. Another spot is located in Tomorrowland near Stitch’s Great Escape. The line may be a couple of minutes long between 4pm and 6pm, but there’s typically nobody waiting after that. Pick up the map/wristband/treat bag when it’s convenient. Wristbands are required to purchase the Party-exclusive merchandise, which is available beginning at 4pm in the Emporium on Main Street and at Big Top Souvenirs in Storybook Circus, among other locations. Otherwise, you’ll want to pick up your wristbands by 6pm as some of the trick or treat stations open at that time and you’ll need them to continue experiencing the attractions. Magic Kingdom closes to day guests at 6pm and a wristband is required to do most things after that time. Note that the rides that operate during the Party continue running from 6pm to 7pm, even if the Park is technically “closed.” The Party-exclusive experiences at Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, and Mad Tea Party won’t begin until 7pm, though.
Whether you enter from the front of the Park or not, you’ll probably want to walk up the pathway to the left of Tony’s Town Square Restaurant.
You’ll be welcomed to the Party.
There’s a few photo ops.
And you’ll receive a small sealed bag of candy.
Which Party to Attend
Mickey’s Halloween Party is offered on 34 dates between August 17th and October 31st. There are four Parties scheduled in August, including the August 17th date that officially sold out. The Party on the 28th will likely be the least-attended of the year with August 24th and 31st seeing well-below average attendance.
There are 12 Party dates in September with adult prices ranging from $75 up to $109.
18 Parties are scheduled in October with adult prices ranging from $89 to $125.
At this point in the year, most guests are probably locked into their vacation dates, but you may find yourself trying to figure out which Party will be the least crowded during your visit. Typically, the earlier the Party, the less crowded it will be. By September 18th, just about every Halloween Party will get close to selling out with a couple likely to sell out on the day of the event. And while demand for each Party may be less in August and the first week or two in September, you might also notice that there are only two Parties during the first week in September and four during the last week. So yes, there is less demand earlier in the season, but there’s also less supply. Due to the transparency of Disney’s pricing structure on the calendars above, guests able to visit on less expensive weekdays will likely do so, while those unable to visit on weekdays will be pushed to pay more on Friday nights. If you’re planning on going October 31st, buy your tickets sooner rather than later because that date sold out nearly two months in advance in 2016 and more than three weeks in advance in 2017, despite being the highest-priced Party.
Those who can should pick the earliest Halloween Party date that they can make, both for the sake of lower prices and lower crowds. Those visiting from the middle of September onward probably want to pick a date based on where it fits into their overall itinerary. In 2017, only two Halloween Parties actually sold out – Halloween night and Sunday October 15th. But virtually all dates were “busy.” A lot of people that attend the Halloween Party plan what they want to do well in advance and just about every single one of them is going to read the advice that Tuesdays are “the least crowded.” Here in 2018, that’s not typically true and it hasn’t been for some time. In 2016, three dates sold out. One was Halloween. One was a Sunday. And one was a Tuesday over a week before Halloween. In 2015, nine Party dates sold out, three of which were Tuesdays and three of which were Fridays. If the same number of Tuesdays and Fridays sell out, then it doesn’t seem like it makes much sense to recommend going on a Tuesday.
The events exclusive to the Halloween Party, like the parade, fireworks, and unique characters, are busy and crowded. Above is a picture of Main Street about a half hour after the Party ended on August 17th, 2018.
Here’s the Hub area ten minutes before HalloWishes began at 10:15pm, also on August 17th.
People are about eight deep on Main Street for the second Boo to You Parade, which steps off at 11:15pm.
The area in front of the Castle Forecourt Stage was almost completely filled in for the 12am Hocus Pocus Villains Spelltacular show. As we move through the offerings, I’ll include some tips on when and where to see the shows with a minimum amount of hassle. But there’s really no way around the number of people that you’ll see on Main Street in particular. You’ll want to avoid that area whenever possible.
The Integral Parts
Boo to You Parade
So why might you decide to attend Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, given the fact that it’s apparently so expensive and so crowded?
There are a lot of reasons, actually, the first of which is the Boo to You Parade.
Scheduled at 9:15pm and 11:15pm nightly, the Parade is unlike any other offered in the domestic Disney Parks with stunning visuals, a plethora of characters and floats that you won’t see anywhere else, and music that you’ll “literally” be singing to yourself well after Christmas. “It’s really not so scary…”
Here’s a bad phone picture from Mickey’s Halloween Party in 2017 in Frontierland as the Headless Horseman gallops by. Parade crowds in Frontierland are significantly lower than Main Street and the second Parade of the night is always much less crowded than the first due to all the families that leave much earlier in the night. See the second Parade in Frontierland to avoid the crowds as much as possible. Frontierland is also darker than Main Street, which works with the spooky atmosphere of the event much better than the Christmas Party.
If you’re a fan of Zootopia, note that Party Patrol featuring Nick and Judy only runs along Main Street and the characters do not appear in the Frontierland portion.
It is possible to see the second Parade from Main Street without a tremendous amount of effort, but it does require arriving in your spot no later than 10:45pm. The above picture was taken right at that time and you can see that there are still front row spots available on the curb closer to the flag pole. The closer you get to the Castle, the more people you’ll find as tourists have a tendency to fill in whatever space they can find with the least amount of walking necessary, even if they can’t end up seeing whatever it is they’re waiting for.
HalloWishes is one of Disney’s best fireworks shows with its spooky theme, haunting narration, perimeter fireworks, and Cinderella Castle projections. I have two favorite spots, the first of which is in the Hub area off to the right, where this picture was taken. It’s possible to fill in here up until show time, but you’ll probably want to arrive closer to 10pm for the 10:15pm show.
There’s no light posts or obstructions between you and the Castle, it’s close enough to clearly see the projections, and you’re far enough back to see just about everything that’s happening overhead, though you’ll need to look around a bit to take in the spectacular finale. Note that this area is more congested than our second spot, but for whatever reason, people typically congregate on the curb and not in the street. They may be trying to hold a parade spot for later so they don’t have to move, but Boo to You is better enjoyed further down Main Street anyway.
My other favorite spot to view the Mickey’s Party fireworks is further back on Main Street in the Casey’s Corner area. This is a straight-on view where it’s easier to see the perimeter fireworks all at once. The further you move back, the fewer people you’ll also see, which can reduce the amount of stress you might feel trying to defend a closer position away from last-minute arrivals, shoulder kids, and bloggers.
No matter where you elect to see the show, the fireworks are an integral part of the Halloween Party experience. It’s also typically easy to find a good viewing spot, so don’t let an uncomfortable experience trying to see Happily Ever After deter you.
Hocus Pocus Villains Spelltacular
The Hocus Pocus Villains Spelltacular is scheduled at 8:30pm, 10:45pm, and 12am during Parties through September 28th and then at 7:40pm, 8:35pm, 10:45pm, and 12am for Parties beginning September 30th on the stage in front of Cinderella Castle.
It’s an incredibly fun blend of singing, dancing, and special effects featuring the Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus returning to the land of the living to throw an eerie Halloween party with a roster of some of Disney’s spookiest villains.
The 20-minute show is packed with action and just the right length.
I like to end the night with the 12am show.
While the Halloween Party officially “ends” at 12am, everyone is welcome to stay for the nightcap, which means you’re not spending 20 precious minutes watching the show during Not-So-Scary’s regular hours.
If you can’t stay that late, then the first show is typically easiest to fit into an itinerary. If the viewing area in front of the Castle is congested, consider seeing the show from much further back, where the ground is raised higher than the front. This will let you look right over the top of the crowd and directly at the action on stage.
The Characters and the Costumes
Nearly 40 characters conduct meet and greets during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, including about 15 that can’t typically be found outside of the event. You’ll find:
Main Street, U.S.A.
- Mickey Mouse – Town Square Theater
- Aladdin, Abu, Jasmine, Genie – To the right of Aloha Isle behind The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- Tarzan, Jane and Terk – To the left of Swiss Family Treehouse and across from Sunshine Tree Terrace
- Jafar – Against the wall across from Swiss Family Treehouse
- Moana – In the Enchanted Tiki Room queue
- Captain Jack Sparrow – Across from Pirates of the Caribbean on the stage
- Jack and Sally – Across from Sleepy Hollow Refreshments in the gazebo
- The Gravediggers – Across from Diamond Horseshoe
- Br’er Fox and Br’er Rabbit – Roaming, typically across from Diamond Horseshoe
- Anastasia and Drizella – Castle wall, behind Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
- Cinderella – Princess Fairytale Hall
- Cruella DeVil – Near The Barnstormer
- Daisy – Storybook Circus inside Casey Jr. Splash Zone
- Donald – Storybook Circus inside Casey Jr. Splash Zone
- Alice and Mad Hatter – Mad Tea Party
- Belle and Gaston – Across from Gaston’s Tavern
- Ariel and Eric – Across from Ariel’s Grotto
- Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet – To the left of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Minnie Mouse – Storybook Circus near Casey Jr. Splash Zone
- Princess Elena – Princess Fairytale Hall
- Princess Tiana – Princess Fairytale Hall
- Queen of Hearts and Tweedles – Mad Tea Party
- Rapunzel – Princess Fairytale Hall
- Seven Dwarfs – Inside Pete’s Silly Sideshow in Storybook Circus
- Lots-o’ – To the left of Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin in Buzz’s usual spot
- Elvis Stitch – Stitch’s Great Escape
I’ll discuss the details in a separate post, but most guests attending a Halloween Party will want to key in on meeting two or three unique characters, if that. Most lines are at least 45 minutes long and can easily hit 60+ minutes. Last year, Erin and I met Jack & Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas, the Queen of Hearts, and Lots’o’, and spent about four hours in line, two of which were during the Party itself. They’re great pictures and fun memories, but the opportunity cost of those two hours is substantial.
It’s also a lot of fun to dress up for the Halloween Party and to see what creative costumes other guests have devised. See this for a list of guidelines covering what’s allowed. For example, guests over the age of 13 may not wear masks and no costume may be “obstructive, offensive, objectionable or violent.”
There are 14 locations to Trick or Treat around Magic Kingdom:
Main Street U.S.A.
- Market Street
- Jungle Cruise
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Ariel’s Grotto
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- Pinocchio Village Haus
- Country Bear Jamboree
- Dock to Tom Sawyer Island
- Splash Mountain
- Columbia Harbor House
- Carousel of Progress
- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
- Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
I usually load up at Carousel of Progress and lines are typically shorter after 10pm.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is also very allergy-friendly.
Ask for a teal treat bag when you pick up your wristband either in-park or after entering from the front.
At the trick-or-treat stations, you’ll pick up one of these tokens.
Those tokens can then be redeemed here in Liberty Square or at the front of the Park.
This year, allergy-friendly treats include Enjoy Life Crunchy Mini Cookies, Enjoy Life Seed and Fruit Mix, Enjoy Life Morsels, Enjoy Life Rice Milk Crunch, YumEarth Lollipops, Surf Sweets Gummy Bears, Smarties, GoGo Squeez applesauce, and an arts and crafts kit.
The regular candy includes Snickers, M&Ms, Lifesaver Gummies, Twix, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, Skittles, Maltesers, and more.
The vast majority of the rides are open during the Halloween Party, most with short to nonexistent waits. This year, we also see some Party-exclusive “features” at three different attractions, including Space Mountain where virtually all of the lights during the ride are turned off. While it might appear like the line stretches outside, guests are actually pulsed through the indoor portion and then quickly board inside. Anyone that’s a fan of Space Mountain should take the time to ride. Expect to wait about 15 minutes.
Over at Pirates of the Caribbean, you’ll encounter three live pirates over the course of the experience.
I won’t spoil what you’ll see, but anyone that enjoys Pirates of the Caribbean ought to consider riding during the Party, even if we were disappointed by the amount of interaction we experienced with the characters. I wouldn’t say it’s a “must do,” but it’s fun. Waits are typically around 15 minutes.
Mad Tea Party was my favorite upgrade, with new music and neat lighting effects. It’s worth passing by.
Here’s a look at posted waits from the first Halloween Party of the year, which officially sold out:
Most rides experience short waits, including Big Thunder Mountain, Dumbo, small world, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, Splash Mountain, The Barnstormer, Magic Carpets, Winnie the Pooh, Tomorrowland Speedway, and Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid. Several other rides continue seeing appreciable waits – most notably Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight, which should be saved for the end of the night when possible. Space Mountain and Pirates will see longer waits than they have in the past due to the additions.
The (Not-So-Free) Treats
While trick-or-treat candy is included with the cost of the Party ticket, there’s a number of other special treats available from a variety of quick services around the Park. I’ll review these in-depth separately, but most of them are small and overpriced.
The exception is the Zero Waffle Sundae from Sleepy Hollow Refreshments in Liberty Square, which is pumpkin-flavored waffles with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, and spooky sprinkles. It’s absolutely delicious.
The Oogey Boogie Popcorn Bucket
Available for $17.50 from most popcorn kiosks around the Park, you’ll be surprised by the lines for this thing.
This isn’t the line for a character…or a ride…or free candy…or to punch me in the face. It’s a line to pay almost-$18 for the popcorn bucket. Note that the bucket is rather large and you’ll need some way to carry it with you or you can pay for a locker at the very front of the Park. Disney only sells a small number at each Party and you can expect them to be sold out by 9pm moving forward, so you shouldn’t plan on picking one up at the end of the night when lines are shorter and you won’t have to carry it around. I recommend purchasing one from the popcorn carts on the way into Storybook Circus on the walk towards Dumbo. The line should be considerably shorter than the popular kiosks in Adventureland and Liberty Square. There is a limit of two popcorn buckets per person.
The Party-Exclusive Merchandise
Disney makes available more than a dozen items that are supposed to be exclusively available to guests of the Halloween Party.
The most popular place to shop is The Emporium on Main Street, where the merchandise is located in a crowded corner where only about eight guests at a time are allowed to browse.
Here’s the apparel.
For the Halloween Party Alex and Ani Bracelets, you’ll need to visit the section of the Emporium where they sell those pieces rather than waiting in line where the apparel is located.
For pins, go to Frontier Trading Post in Frontierland. For an easier look at the other items, try Big Top Souvenirs in Storybook Circus. Last year, most of the merchandise was out during regular hours in late October in an attempt to move it.
The Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Card
This Party-exclusive card is included with your admission and is available at the Firehouse on the left side of Main Street in between City Hall Guest Relations and The Emporium.
The Dance Parties
There are two dance parties that run for the duration of Not-So-Scary. The first is themed to Monsters Inc., with several characters from the movies in attendance, and can be found in the usual location in Tomorrowland to the right of Space Mountain.
There’s also a Disney Junior Dance Party in the tent in the back of Storybook Circus, here with Timon and Doc McStuffins. The Tomorrowland Party is typically popular, but expect few people to traipse all the way back to Storybook Circus. It’s a good opportunity for the kids to interact with the characters.
Is It Worth It?
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party blends a spookily-fun atmosphere with a lineup of some of Disney’s best entertainment. It’s worth visiting just for the fireworks, parade, and Hocus Pocus show. Those able to stay through the end of the Party will extract the most value and those that can use their ticket to enter the Park at 4pm in lieu of another ticket or upgrade are the best off. There’s less value for those planning on leaving much earlier in the evening or arriving late.
The Parties are expensive and they are crowded. You’ll want to avoid Main Street as much as possible, though the fireworks experience is much less stressful than a normal night with Happily Ever After. Try to pick just a couple of priority characters because that’s where you can really get bogged down. Also be aware that come 10pm, the next two hours will probably be filled with the fireworks and parade. The fireworks run from 10:15pm to 10:30pm and then the second parade starts at 11:15pm. You might be able to fit in one or two things between the end of HalloWishes and the start of Boo to You, but if you’re planning on watching both from Main Street, you’ll probably need to find a parade spot immediately after the fireworks end. Boo to You arrives on Main Street around 11:35pm and runs until 11:50pm. At that point, it’s time to head up to Cinderella Castle for Hocus Pocus Villains Spelltacular.
If you can swing the high cost, the Halloween Parties are a lot of fun. Sprinkling in a few of these tips should also make for a much less stressful experience.
We’ll continue with a closer look at the key pieces that make up the Party.