September 27 Update – Donald and Daisy Duck have moved from Adventureland to Fantasyland, across from the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride.
So, another Halloween comes and goes, as it does every October 31st. Looking forward, the first couple of weeks of November should see relatively light crowds until the Thanksgiving rush begins around November 20th. Wait. It’s September? Oh, sorry. I just got back from Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and I am still delightfully in the Halloween spirit.
As you’re probably aware, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is an after-hours event at the Magic Kingdom that runs on 23 dates between September 13th and November 1st. More background information, including pricing, event information, what’s included, general tips and tricks, and more can be found here: https://www.easywdw.com/category/worth-2/halloweenparty/. It’s not all the way updated for 2011, since the first Party was last night, so you’ll have to give me a minute after I finish this post up to update everything. There’s plenty to come in this post.
Buying Your Ticket
In most cases, the easiest and cheapest way to purchase Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween tickets is to purchase them online in advance and print the tickets at home. Called “Disney eTicket,” this option is available for all tickets purchased online, so long as you are not using any discount in addition to the “advanced purchase” discount. In other words, if you’re using a military, DVC, Annual Pass, etc. discount and plan to purchase online, then you’ll need to use the “will call” option to pick up your tickets. If you use the will call option, you’ll be given a link to a confirmation page to print and take to a will call location. Note that you can select will call as your delivery method for any online Mickey’s Party ticket purchase. The confirmation page looks like this:
According to the Will Call FAQ on Disney’s site:
Will Call orders are only available for pick up by the Credit Card Holder at the Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida, and tickets can be picked up starting the day your order is confirmed. Upon arrival, pick up your Will Call ticket order at one of the following ticket sales locations: Epcot®, Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios™, or the Ticket and Transportation Center at Magic Kingdom® Park. Please present your confirmation along with a valid photo ID (e.g. driver’s license, passport, or military I.D.) at any ticket sales location.
However, I had no trouble picking up my ticket at the Coronado Springs Resort’s concierge desk, so you should have no trouble picking up your tickets at your resort either. I provided a picture ID, but they didn’t ask to see the Annual Pass itself. Tickets can also be picked up at Magic Kingdom guest services, in addition to the locations listed.
There’s no name on the ticket and while it has space for a signature on the back, I seriously doubt more than seven people have actually ever signed one.
For an additional fee and assuming your Party date is far enough in the future, you may also opt to have the plastic tickets you see above mailed to your address. Standard Domestic USPS (7 to 14 days) is $5, Fedex Domestic Standard (up to 7 days) is $15, and International Fedex (up to 12 days) is $25. Tickets purchased with additional discounts (Military, Annual Pass, Disney Vacation Club, etc.) must be picked up using will call – they cannot be shipped.
Tickets can also be purchased in advance or on the day of the Party (pending availability) at any guest services window. If you’re going to a Party in September or during the first three weeks in October then there is little risk of the Party selling out. Because almost all of the activities are outside, you may want to wait until you see a more definitive weather report before committing to a date. The Parade can theoretically be cancelled due to inclement weather and it’s unlikely many of the characters will appear in the rain. While tickets are officially “non-refundable,” I have heard hearsay reports that Disney is willing to issue tickets for a different Party date should the weather be absolutely atrocious and tickets are still available. Your chances of getting a full refund are probably lower. Consider purchasing tickets soon if you’re planning to go to the October 28, 30, 31st or November 1st Party as they are likely to sell out in advance.
Although the official hours of the Party are 7pm to 12am, you may use your Mickey’s Party ticket to enter the Magic Kingdom as early as 4pm. This is confirmed again in 2011, as it has every year in recent memory. Regular turnstiles on the right side of the entrance will be converted to “event entrances.”
Guests using regular tickets may enter the Park through the turnstiles on the left side after 4pm.
Beginning at 6:45pm, announcements will be broadcast (in true Haunted Mansion narration) around the Magic Kingdom, alerting visitors that Mickey’s Not So Scary Party is about to begin. Come 7pm, the haunting voice will beckon guests not participating in the Party to leave.
If you enter after 4pm through the event entrances, you’ll see a lot of cast members handing out wristbands that indicate you are a Halloween Party guest. Unlike evening Extra Magic Hours, which now require you to show your room key at each attraction, Mickey’s Parties still use wristbands to indicate who belongs.
There’s six cast members ready to hand out wristbands here with little to do at the moment. There are a few more of them in the vicinity. In case you’re already in the Park, you’ll see cast members distributing wristbands throughout the Magic Kingdom. Head to the front if you can’t find one.
Once 7pm hits, cast members will begin escorting non-Party-guests to Main Street.
There are checkpoints throughout the Magic Kingdom weeding out people without wristbands. Here are a couple of examples. In addition, cast members manning all rides and handling all characters will ask to see your wristband, at least for the first hour or two.
Major Components of the Party
Characters – Characters, some rarer than others, will be on hand to meet and greet.
Villains Dance Mix & Mingle – Performed four times each evening at the Castle Forecourt Stage, this 10 minute show features many of Disney’s most popular villains. After the show, the villains come down to take pictures with guests for about 15 minutes. Due to time constraints, they don’t sign autographs.
Rides – All major attractions and some minor attractions will be open during the Party, many of which will have short or nonexistent lines for much of the night.
Parade – The Boo to You Halloween Parade runs twice nightly, at 8:30pm and 10:30pm. Unlike Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, which runs during regular theme park hours around Christmas, the Boo to You Parade is only available during the Party. It features many rare characters you won’t see at any other time, including numerous villains and Haunted Mansion inspired floats and characters. And the headless horeseman.
Fireworks – Happy HalloWishes, with its villain’s theme, is one of Disney’s best and most popular fireworks shows.
Dance Parties – Each Party features two dance parties. At the Diamond Horseshoe in Frontierland, you’ll find Bullseye, Woody, and Jeese hosting a western style hoedown . In Tomorrowland, Goofy, Pluto, Stitch, Chip, and Dale join Party goers.
Candy – What’s Halloween without trick or treating? Cast members with barrels of candy can be found all around Magic Kingdom. Disney provides bags or you may bring/buy your own (or both).
Merchandise – There isn’t a ton of event specific merchandise, but you’ll find a few pins and the yearly edition of the t-shirt.
I highly recommend checking mickeyhunter’s Unofficial Disney Character Hunting Guide for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party here: http://unofficialdisneycharacterhuntingguide.blogspot.com/2011/09/mnsshp-2011-character-locations.html. She was nice enough to meet with me after the Party to discuss character locations and past availability. She also has much better quality pictures of the characters than I do. I’ll try to fill in some of the gaps and add commentary about popularity and wait times.
Rapunzel/Flynn, Snow White/The Prince, Cinderella/Prince Charming in Town Square Theater – These characters meet continuously in Town Square Theater, which is located immediately to your right after you enter the Magic Kingdom. You wait in a single line and meet with each couple individually for an autograph, picture, and conversation. Expect waits to be 30+ minutes all night. I waited for 35 minutes beginning at 11:00pm on one of the least crowded Party nights of the year. There’s only one set and each couple spends a minute or two with each guest. It’s nice when you’re meeting them, but expect long waits. Note that you can meet all of these characters with the exception of Flynn during regular theme park hours. If you don’t care about Rapunzel/Flynn, skip it and FASTPASS the princesses during regular hours.
Mickey and Minnie – Mickey and Minnie appear in Town Square Theater in their Halloween costumes. Waits were 5-10 minutes all night. It’s certainly worth popping in to get a picture, though they are wearing the same pirate costumes as last year (and the Pirate/Princess Parties for that matter).
Duffy the Halloween Bear – “Buy a Duffy” – Disney. Duffy can be found in Tour Guide Gardens, which is directly to the right of City Hall at the front of Main Street. His lines are the shortest of any character. Seriously, I was more popular in my Cookie Monster hat.
Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, and Piglet – Find these characters in Halloween costumes at the Flag Pole at the base of Main Street. Lines weren’t particularly long when I was nearby. While these characters are available during regular theme park hours and at Crystal Palace, it’s rare to get them all together at one time and the costumes are a lot of fun.
Gaston, Tremaines, Lotso, Jafar – These characters appear in the Hub area intermittently. They don’t appear during Parades, Fireworks, or Villain shows, as far as I know. You’ll have to get in a separate line for each character, but waits were modest for most of the night. Try to meet with one or two of them during one of the Villain shows or towards the end of the evening. It’s your only opportunity to meet Gaston and Lotso, as they don’t appear during regular theme park hours. Jafar is also rare, though the Tremaines can be seen in the Magic Kingdom and at 1900 Park Fare at Grand Floridian.
Jack Sparrow – Jack meets out near Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland. If you’re looking at the ride entrance, he’s located to the left against a wall down closer to Tiki Room and Aladdin’s Carpets. Lines are horrendous early in the Party because he’s popular, he’s out in the open, he’s near a candy location, and he spends a considerable amount of time interacting with guests and signing autographs. He’s not available during regular hours. Try to hold off on meeting him until later in the evening – about 11:50pm would be best. He doesn’t appear during Parades (since he’s featured), which means people won’t see him and know to line up. Don’t get in line within 45 minutes of the start of the Parade (unless the line is obviously short, ask the cast member with him if you’re not sure) or you run the risk of waiting, only to find out you’re in for a much longer wait as he disappears.
To the right is about 2/3 of the line at 7:15pm.
This is the line at 10:00pm, which is obviously much shorter. Unfortunately for them, he’s leaving in about ten minutes.
Jane, Terk, Tarzan – Find these three characters from Disney’s Tarzan on the Adventureland Veranda, where Ariel and Eric usually meet guests during the day. Terk is easy to find in Animal Kingdom, but Jane and Tarzan are much rarer. Lines were low to moderate throughout the evening. Expect to find two of the three characters out at a time – usually Terk and one of the face characters.
Abu, Genie, Aladdin, Jasmine – These characters are located at the Adventureland Agrabah Market, which is located across from Aladdin’s Magic Carpets Sunshine Terrace beverages/treats. Abu is extremely rare these days and Genie isn’t much more common. Aladdin and Jasmine are easy to find at Magic Kingdom or Epcot. Get in line and hope you get Abu and/or Genie. They are a little bit out of the way and lines were shorter than they would be if they were in a more obvious location.
Timon or Rafiki: Timon or Rafiki appear across from Swiss Family Robinson in Adventureland. They’re in a somewhat awkward location and lines were short all night. Only one will appear at a time in most instances.
Tinker Bell and Vidia/Rosetta – Tinker Bell and Vidia/Rosetta can be found throughout the Party at Tinker Bell’s Magical Nook. At least as of now, only the Fairies you meet during regular theme park hours appear during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Since they’re in their usual attire, I recommend spending time in line elsewhere unless you won’t have another opportunity to meet them.
Don’t get into a staring contest with Cookie Monster, unless George Lucas is around (it’s funny because the Ewoks blink now).
The Seven Dwarfs – Arguably the most sought after picture at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, the Seven Dwarfs appear together near the exit to Splash Mountain, in the space where Woody appears during regular Park hours. Mickeyhunter said she was fifth in line after she got in line at 6:15pm, meaning she waited a solid hour to be among the first to meet them. I accidentally deleted my picture of the line, but it was a solid hour plus right at 7pm. Either get here by 6:20pm or be prepared to wait an hour.
This is the area at 7pm.
Haunted Mansion Courtyard: Madame Carlotta and Rinotta appear on a bench on the Haunted Mansion lawn. Apparently they are two of the ghosts in the attraction. I have no idea why they don’t do traditional meet and greets. They’re hilarious, extremely well cast, and look amazing. Otherwise, you have to position yourself in front of them to get a picture or get a picture in front of the haunted carriage. There was basically no wait for the carriage and you could walk up and interact with Carlotta or Rinotta pretty easily. When they switch off to go backstage, they take the arm of a lucky gentleman in the crowd.
The Haunted Carriage has short waits and provides a great backdrop, especially if you can get one of the ghost from the other side.
Prince Naveen and Princess Tiana – They are located in Liberty Square in their usual attire. I honestly never saw them.
Fantasyland Characters – Alice, Mad Hatter, Suzy, Perla. Alice and Mad Hatter were near Mad Tea Party in their regular outfits. Catch them during regular hours unless waits are short. Suzy and Perla (Cinderella’s Mice) were across from Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (though mickeyhunter spotted them out in front of Town Square Theater also).
Princess Aurora and Prince Philip meet in Fairytale Gardens, where Rapunzel normally meets guests. Lines were reportedly around 20 minutes throughout most of the evening.
Cinderella’s Carriage is located in Fantasyland in front of what was once the Skyway station. In other words, just past it’s a small world and on your way to Liberty Square on the right side. You simply pose in front of it and snap a picture.
Donald and Daisy Duck – Donald and Daisy can be found in their Halloween best in Fantasyland, across from the Winnie the Pooh ride. Lines for them are relatively short – 10 to 15 minutes. While they can’t be found in costume during regular hours, they are widely available (Donald more than Daisy). Note that this picture was taken in their old location – in Adventureland next to Aloha Isle.
Buzz Lightyear – Buzz is the only character in Tomorrowland, other than the characters at the Tomorrowland Dance Party. He is in his usual location and in his usual outfit, so there’s really no reason to spend Party time waiting for a picture unless the line is short or you won’t have another chance during the day.
While it may appear as though there are a lot of characters, several of the lines were ludicrously long, especially considering this is the third or fourth least crowded Party of the year. The Dwarfs could feasibly take an hour to meet, the Princesses are going to run you about 40 minutes no matter what, Jack Sparrow is a solid 30+ minutes (and 45+ if you line up around 7pm) unless you see him at the very end of the night, Tinker Bell is 20+ minutes, etc. Just with those four meet and greets, you’re looking at about two and a half hours of waiting. Yes, lines get shorter as it gets later in the evening, but even then, you can’t get in every line at 11pm! So even if Jack Sparrow is only 20 minutes at 11pm, you’re still going to have trouble getting to one of the other meet and greets before they stop accepting people. They have tons of characters they could use, many of which are in costume for the Boo to You Parade. It makes absolutely no sense that Christopher Robin and Kanga are in the Parade, but don’t do Meet and Greets or appear elsewhere during the Party. Captain Barbosa, Smee, and Angelica also do the Parades, but don’t appear anywhere in the Park. Not to mention the amazing Haunted Mansion characters.
Villains Dance Mix & Mingle
The Villains Dance Mix & Mingle is “all new” this year. It’s scheduled four times each evening – at 7:45pm, 8:50pm, 10:05pm, and 11:15pm at the Castle Forecourt stage in front of Cinderella Castle. It features Dr. Facilier as the host along with Maleficent, Cruella de Ville, Frollo, Queen of Hearts, Evil Queen, and Captain Hook. It’s a lot of fun and the choreography is excellent. You’ll definitely want to take the time to see it. It is a bit short and it’s difficult for youngsters to see if they aren’t sitting right up front. On top of that, you’ve got parents lifting their kids onto their shoulders to see better, which in turn blocks the view for everyone else behind them. Try to arrive about 10 minutes early for the first show and have the kids sit up front.
The stage leading up to the 7:45pm show. Not quite dark yet – I think there was a fake delay of a couple of minutes.
A lot of these people are lined up for the Parade. Make your way to to the front closer to the stage for a better view or hang back so you’re not right behind some 7 foot tall guy with a fourteen year old on his shoulders.
After the show, the villains come down to pose for photographs for 10-15 minutes – that’s it. Single lines form for each character other than Frollo (the bad guy from Hunchback of Notre Dame), who walks around freely looking for someone interested in his time. Look for Maleficent on the far left ramp and the Queen of Hearts on the right ramp. You’ll have time to pose with one or two characters if you move into a line quickly, but you’ll need to return for a second, third, or even fourth show if you want pictures with all six.
Wait times at this point in September were nonexistent, even leading up to the Party. When I arrived at 5:30pm, Dumbo had a 5 minute wait, Peter Pan was at 10 minutes, Space Mountain at 10 minutes, Big Thunder Mountain at 10 minutes, Jungle Cruise was at 10 minutes, etc. Once the Party started, you could have walked on anything you wanted to ride. As we get closer to and into October, that will change a little bit as the Parties get more crowded and overall crowds are higher. Still, wait times after 10pm will be mostly nonexistent and even before then, you’re looking at short waits.
Here are the notable attractions that were not operating:
Walt Disney World Railroad
Enchanted Tiki Room
Swiss Family Robinson (closed for refurbishment)
Hall of Presidents
Liberty Square Riverboat
Tom Sawyer Island
Country Bear Jamboree
it’s a small world (it’s not listed on the map, but I couldn’t swear it wasn’t operating)
Boo to You Parade
The Boo to You Parade (8:30pm and 10:30pm) is my favorite Parade and really the only one other than Main Street Electrical Parade that I would want to see for my own enjoyment. Pictures don’t do it justice whatsoever. As it says on the Guide Map, the second Parade is indeed less crowded than the first. If you want to see it twice, see the first Parade in Frontierland and then move to Main Street for the second Parade. If you want front row spots for the first Parade, plan to get to Frontierland 40 minutes early or Main Street 60 or more minutes early (seriously). I showed up for the first Parade in Frontierland at 8:10pm and barely snuck into a lone spot. There was much more room for the second Parade because a ton of people leave shortly after HalloWishes, especially those with children.
Here are a few highlights. Bad pictures are better than no pictures right? This is about half of the floats/characters you’ll see:
A capella singers entertaining before the start of the Parade.
The Headless Horseman leads the Parade. Cameras ready!
Happy HalloWishes is one of Disney’s best fireworks shows of the year. As terrible of a photographer as I am, there’s really no point in posting more than two photos of it. Just trust me, it’s good.
There are two Dance Parties that run from 7pm – 12am. In Tomorrowland, you’ll find Stitch, Pluto, Goofy, Chip, and Dale. They rotate out, so you’ll more often than not find two or three out of the five. Since it’s important to stay through until 12am to take advantage of the lowest crowds at the end of the night, I’m not sure how much time I’d let the kids spend at one of these things. I was waiting for the second Boo to You Parade to begin and the family next to me had to leave because the kids were too tired. Keep that in mind before you let them loose at 7:30pm.
And in Liberty Square at our favorite quick service/restaurant Diamond Horseshoe, you’ll find Woody, Jessie, and Bullseye at Woody’s Happy Harvest Roundup.
They also switch out, so you’ll most often see two of the three characters.
I feel like I must be in the minority here, but who cares what candy they’re offering? You’re paying $50-$70 for admission to the Magic Kingdom to experience some of the best entertainment in the world. And you want to know what the ratio of Peanut M&M’s to Twix Bars is? Okay, I’m not making fun of you. Let me just tell you this. Towards the end of the night, you can fill your bag up with as much candy as you think you can carry out of there. Not only that, but there’s an extra trough of candy out front just in case you find an extra zippered compartment in that fannypack. No, I’m not making fun of you. It’s a very fashionable print.
I don’t know. When you get to the front of this line, a run of the mill cast member will hand you a piece of candy from his/her vat and then you will go to the next candy location where the process will be repeated.
Speaking of candy, here is this year’s bag. The other side is an advertisement for Lion King 3D.
This year’s shirts:
The blue shirt is $24.95 and the orange tye-dye is $29.95.
Here’s a link to this year’s pins: http://eventservices.disney.go.com/pintrading/search/results?sort=date&order=desc&keywords=Mickey+s+Not+So+Scary+Halloween+Party&maxPrice=0&resortCode=0&characterCode=0&featureCode=0&artistCode=0 and also http://eventservices.disney.go.com/pintrading/event?id=28460 for pictures some of the more expensive pin sets.
Just a word on costumes very quickly. Probably 30% of people were in costume for last night’s Party. More and more will arrive “dressed up” as it gets closer to Halloween. I always recommend doing something special because it just adds to the fun. I bought that Cookie Monster hat for $25 and probably had 50 or more people comment on it throughout the evening. I really don’t understand why anyone would refuse to dress up. Yes, I’m looking at you husbands. It’s Disney World after all. Chances are everyone looks stupid anyway. Not that there’s anything wrong with dressing up as a pirate, just keep in mind that you’ll be in good company. Try to find something a little more original if you can.
Is It Worth It?
In one word: Yes. You:
- Get five to eight hours in the Magic Kingdom.
- Get to see the Boo to You Parade, one of Disney’s best, featuring characters you’ll never see anywhere else. The Parade is only available during the Halloween Party.
- Get to enjoy one of Disney’s best fireworks shows, which clocks in at over ten minutes and features a fun villain theme.
- Get virtually unlimited access to the major attractions with short to nonexistent waits.
- Get Meet and Greet opportunities with some of the rarest Disney characters, including several interactions that may “make” the trip for a youngster. Don’t be surprised if Junior is still bragging about that high five from Jack Sparrow months from now.
- Get to watch the Villains dance on stage and then pose for photos immediately afterward.
- Get to experience ambiance unlike any other event, Disney or otherwise.
Mickey’s Halloween Party may have its flaws. I would love to see more characters out and about, especially considering Disney has them on hand at the Party. I mean, how awesome would it be to have a picture with the hyenas? What about the caretaker and his mutt, the grave diggers, the skeletons, or the ghosts? Why aren’t Christopher Robin and Kanga meeting guests outside Winnie the Pooh? Why isn’t Alice riding Mad Tea Party all night (okay, maybe she would need some downtime, but it does load slow, maybe get an ice skater)? Just these sorts of things that seem like such a missed opportunity, especially when it takes an hour each to meet the Dwarfs, Jack Sparrow, or Rapunzel. 99%+ of the people attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party are never going to see any of this advice or any of the advice elsewhere in books or on the internet, yet they are expected to be able to wade through the evening’s events. Perhaps that’s why there isn’t more to do – people would just explode from the sheer number of character interaction opportunities. WELL LET THEM EXPLODE! I just can’t imagine how having Angelica & Captain Barbossa across from Jack Sparrow and Smee & Captain Hook on the Pirate’s Tutorial Stage wouldn’t cut down on wait times all around and allow people to get more photos with characters they love.
Despite long waits for certain characters, the evening still packs a lot of fun. If you can swing the cost and make the most of the events, I highly recommend it. I’ll be back with some additional touring tips to maximize your time and decrease waits at the characters as much as possible.