Well, it's that time of year again... the weather is starting to cool, (It went from 98 to 91 in Orlando, but that still counts!), Pumpkin Spice Lattes are due back in stores soon, kids are going back to school, and Disney Parks have already started stocking their shelves with Halloween merchandise. (Really.) I think it's safe to say that Fall is almost upon us.
Now, if you have ever done any research about a trip to Walt Disney World in the Fall, I am sure that you have heard of a little something called "Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party." What IS MNSSHP, you ask? Well, it is a special, hard ticketed event at the Magic Kingdom, occurring a couple of times per week, on designated dates. This year's dates are: Sept. 2nd, 8th, 11th, 13th, 16th, 18th, 20th, 23rd, 25th, 29th, 30th, Oct. 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 10th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 18th, 20th, 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th, 28th, 30th, and 31st. The party admission is NOT included on a regular Magic Kingdom ticket. In fact, if you are visiting the Magic Kingdom on a night that the Halloween Party is scheduled to take place, be prepared that if you do not have tickets to the party, you will be escorted out of the park, promptly at 7pm. Wristbands are given out to clearly identify paying party guests. Party tickets run $72-$105 per adult and $67-$100 per child. (Prices vary a bit depending on whether or not you pre-purchase, and the date you plan on attending. September dates are the least expensive.) The party runs from 7pm-midnight. For official information, click HERE.
So, why would you shell out extra money to attend this event, when you already have park tickets? I'll tell you why... (lean in)..... IT'S AWESOME!!!! I've loved every single one I have attended, and I think The Hubs and I went to about 10 of them before we even had kids. We have done three with the kiddos and plan on doing at least one this year.
So, yes, the rides and attractions are open for you to enjoy, with minimal waits, but let's start off with what's unique about the party and then I will give you a couple of tips to help you plan.
The Halloween party has ALL sorts of special things happening during it that you will not get to see during regular park hours. The first thing you'll notice is that there's not only cool Halloween decorations all over Main Street, there are special lighting effects, spooky background sounds and music, and more.
You'll be given a free Halloween goody bag to fill up, as you Trick-or-Treat your way around the park! That's right! Trick-or-Treating IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM!!!! All over the park you will find glowing orange globes, marking the Treat Stations where you can line up and collect your candy. And it's like, awesome candy! No crappy raisins here. Everything from Nerds and Wonka candies, to Snickers, M&M's and more! The Cast Members are generally pretty generous too. You can easily fill up the small treat bag they give you, and then some. In fact, feel free to bring a larger bag with you. That's a must for this family. We trick-or-treat like it's a sport!
'But wait, Tink', you're saying to yourself. 'If I am going to trick-or-treat, I need a costume!' Well, dear readers, have no fear! You are welcome to get all done up in your Halloween finest, whether you're an adult or child, and whether you want to do it low key, and wear a Halloween t-shirt and Mouse Ears, or you want to do it up and wear an exact replica of Everest around your body and dress as a yeti. You will see anything and everything in the park that night. In fact, my absolute FAVORITE thing to do at Not So Scary is to people watch and check out the costumes other Guests come up with. Nothing like watching a bearded Ariel walking around the park, or seeing beautifully hand-made Wizard of Oz costumes on an entire family. Just remember that the weather may be really hot, or chilly, or rainy. Be prepared for all options. And keep in mind that you may want to board ride vehicles in your costume, so make it something easy to move in and easy to pack in your suitcase. For obvious reasons, costumes should not include weapons, or be offensive. (Keep it "Disney", Kids!) You can check out the costume guidelines, using the "official" Disney link, in the above paragraph.
Like getting your pic snapped with the characters??? There are tons of characters out during Not So Scary, including some rare ones, like Jack Skellington and Sally. Plus, you'll see Mickey, Minnie and pals in their Halloween costumes! There are some super fun photo opportunities, Magic Shots and meet and greets! Last year you could visit all of these guys:
There are also opportunities to have "magic shots" taken by Photo Pass photographers, where magical things are added into your picture. For example, in front of the Haunted Mansion, you can pose for a photo, and ghosts will be magically added to your shot. Last year they also did a magic poison apple shot in front of the Castle. These pictures make super fun souvenirs!
Oh, and there's Halloween entertainment all over! The Dapper Dans become the Cadaver Dans on Main Street. You can dance alongside your favorite characters at a DJ dance party next to Rockettower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland. In 2015 it was themed to Monsters Inc. K and D LOVED dancing the Cha-Cha Slide with Boo!
Last year, there was a brand new offering that completely stole the show! Everyone's favorite witchy sisters, Winnie, Sarah and Mary, The Sanderson Sisters from "Hocus Pocus", put a spell on Guests with an incredible live stage show in front of the Castle. In "Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular", the sisters invite their Disney Villain friends like Oogie Boogie from "Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Dr. Facilier" from "Princess and the Frog", to conjure the spell of all spells, and make Guests dance into the wee hours. I can't even put into words how fantastic the show is. Like, I can't. Even. (Fangirl moment, sorry.) The sisters are all dead ringers for their movie counter-parts and MAN, can they sing! The show is WILDLY popular though, so, fair warning.... you're gonna have to work hard to get a spot to see it. We will get back to that in a bit, though.
Did I mention the food???? Special Halloween themed treats are sold all around the park, like Candy Corn flavored Cotton Candy or Soft Serve Ice Cream, or a Pumpkin Spiced Waffle Sundae. Halloween? More like Yum-O-Ween, am I right?!!?!!!
Oh, and there's special Halloween merchandise items sold exclusively at the party, like pins, t-shirts, plush and more.
Not convinced yet? Well I've saved the very best for last! Exclusively at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, you will get to enjoy one of the best EVER Disney parades, "Mickey's Boo To You Halloween Parade". The parade runs twice nightly, and starts off with the traditional running of the Headless Horseman on his mighty steed. You'll get to see fantastic floats and unique characters and scenes, like Captain Jack and Barbosa on a pirate ship, the ballroom dancers from The Haunted Mansion, Christopher Robin and his friends in the 100 Acre Wood, and even Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope. Oh! And Bowler Hat Guy from "Meet the Robinsons" was there last year!!! That's a crazy-rare sighting! (If you have no idea who I am talking about, go Netflix "Meet the Robinsons" right now. In fact, buy it. You'll want a copy. It's awesome.) It's a fantastic parade, and worth the entry ticket in itself. But it gets even better....
There's also a special Halloween version of the Castle projection show, Celebrate the Magic, and an incredible, you've got to see-it-to-believe-it fireworks show, Hallo-Wishes!
The party is truly a remarkable and memorable night and totally worth going to, even if you are traveling with all adults!
Now, let's get into how to make the most out of your not-so-spooky night. I will start with this recommendation: To make it more worth your while, don't buy a park ticket for the day that you'll be attending the party. Use this day as a "chillin' out day". Hang by the pool, do an elaborate breakfast out, walk around Disney Springs, or do something else fun outside of the parks. Make sure your kids, (even older kids), get a good nap in, and then head to The Magic Kingdom early. Your Not So Scary ticket will grant you entrance to the park as of 4pm, even though the Halloween festivities don't begin until 7pm. In the hours before the party starts, get in some rides and attractions. That way you can use more of your party hours to enjoy the actual themed events.
I recommend knocking out the most popular character meet and greets early on, as lines get HUGE! There was a three hour wait to see Jack and Sally last year. That's a waste of a perfectly good Halloween party. Not that Jack and Sally aren't totally awesome. No offense, guys. It's just that, I didn't pay $70 to meet two characters. The most popular meet and greets tend to be the more unique ones, like the 7 Dwarfs, the old hag, Jack Sparrow and Lotso, so pick your favorite, and head there first. (Note that while the characters aren't out before the 7pm party start time, Guests will queue up well in advance, in order to be among the first in line.)
Once you've hit up your "must do" character meet and greets, next, head on over to the Castle forecourt stage, and grab a spot for one of the Hocus Pocus shows. You will not be alone. Every show time last year was mobbed, and it was hard to find a spot to stand, but it's TOTALLY worth seeing, even if it's at a bit of a distance. In whatever downtime you have, visit the dance party, grab some cute pics, and try a Halloween snack of two. Do some trick-or-treating as you go, but hold off on the majority of it until the end of the night. I say this partially because you won't have to carry a heavy candy bag around all night this way, and partially because I personally found the Cast Members' candy-giving hands to get heavier as the night wore on, thus filling your bag quicker at the end of the night.
Use the time during the first parade to hit up the attractions and meet and greets that you haven't gotten to, but are still high on your priority list. You'll find lines much shorter, because the first parade is always the busier of the two, therefore, a good number of Guests will be occupied during it, freeing up space elsewhere in the park. Make sure you are in front of the Castle for the fireworks, since most of them are designed to incorporate effects on the Castle too. Then, when it's time for the second parade, make your way to Frontierland, which you will likely find far less crowded than on Main Street. Enjoy Boo to You from there, and then, right before the party is over, trick-or-treat until you DROP!!!! If you can, stay until the very end of the night. You could maybe catch the very last Hocus Pocus show, or get the opportunity to take some super cool park photos, with very few Guests in the background. Just know that unlike when the Magic Kingdom normally closes, Main Street does NOT stay open beyond the party hours, so make sure you have already done your shopping and grabbed you snacks. You won't find so much as an ice cream cart operating after midnight. And there you have it! Best Not So Scary EVER!!!!!
OK, so this is the way WE do Not So Scary. It doesn't work for everyone, but it's how I have found we get the most out of the party ticket price. No matter what, it's good to go into it with a plan. Look at info on last year's party, and earmark what attractions, meet and greets and entertainment are most important to you, and plan your night around those things. Know that you will NOT get to do everything. The parties have gotten spectacularly popular over the past couple of years, and Disney has upped the number of tickets that they will sell per event, leading to longer lines, busy dining locations, and crowded streets. You will still have a blast, as long as you keep the expectation for yourself that you're going to miss one or two things.
OK, now contact the team at Kingdom Konsultant Travel to purchase your tickets and plan your night! Have a Spelltacular time!!!!!
- Jenn aka "Tink"