Updated with 2018 information. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party takes place in Magic Kingdom every fall. The party is a hard-ticketed event that is not included with park admission. Typically, Mickey’s Not So Scary runs several times a week from 7 PM (guests can enter Magic Kingdom anytime after 4 PM) to midnight. This post will cover our review of the Halloween Party as well as a few thoughts on an ideal touring plan.
2018 dates are now available and on sale for guests. You can see all of the dates, which range from August 17th to October 31, and prices here. Is August 17th too early for a Halloween Party? Yes, probably but if people are going then Disney doesn’t mind as these parties basically allow them to print money. Still, walking around in a costume in mid-August doesn’t sound great and I’d recommend from Labor Day on.
There are a few new additions for 2018, in that a few attractions will receive a Halloween makeover for the party. These include the Mad Tea Party, Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain. I don’t expect the overlay to be anything substantial but they may add a little bit of spooky fun to the evening. Pirates and Mad Tea Party should be fairly easy to ride later in the night while Space Mountain remains to be seen. There is also a new Storybook Circus Disney Jr. Dance Party for those with little ones. Ultimately, these additions hardly affect our itinerary. Scroll to the bottom to see that itinerary, where we did add in a few attractions to the list.
I can’t say that I’m the biggest fan of Halloween. My thoughts on dressing up are similar to Jim Halpert’s. While candy has my absolute respect, I’m more of a savory fan. All this led to me not really thinking twice about Halloween growing up. When it came to Disney World, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party was a bit of an afterthought too. Why pay extra to go into Magic Kingdom when I already have a regular park ticket?
As my Disney Parks fandom grew, I started reading and learning more about the Halloween Party. While far from what I was most excited about, my interest did grow and eventually the dates matched up for us to be able to go to a Halloween Party. I was pleasantly surprised by our experience and would probably recommend it, depending on your priorities. We’ll start with the individual components that make-up the Halloween Party.
Know Before You Go
Before we get to the main offerings of the Halloween Party, let’s get a few quick items out-of-the-way.
- Wear a costume – While a costume isn’t necessary for the Halloween Party, it does make the whole event more fun. Seeing what everyone is wearing and having others ask what you are is part of the fun. No masks are allowed though.
- No, the party isn’t scary – Nothing about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is overly frightening. There are moments that can be eerie, like the headless horseman or a flash of lightning, but they’re usually followed by something goofy and fun. I wouldn’t worry about your child getting scared at all. This is far from what Universal Studios does.
- Most rides are open – While I don’t think this is a particularly good use of time, there are rides open during the party. I enjoy going on the Haunted Mansion and maybe sneak in another attraction. Otherwise, I would save the rides for an actual day at Magic Kingdom.
- Specialty food & merchandise – If specifically themed Halloween food and clothing is your thing then there are several different places to take advantage of this. Most shops at Magic Kingdom will have some merchandise to commemorate your Halloween Party. Specialty food items, typically of the sweet variety, are served around the park. Check the guide map for what is offered and where to get it. I don’t get particularly excited about either of these but do think they are a fun addition. The Pumpkin Mickey Waffle with ice cream from Sleepy Hollow Refreshments is delicious.
- If there are other logistic questions you have about the Halloween Party let us know in the comments!
Unique Character Meet & Greets
This is probably the most divisive component of Mickey’s Not So Scary Party. Not because people have bad experiences with character but because some won’t spend much time meeting unique characters while others will spend the whole night doing it. If you love meeting characters then the Halloween Party is a potential gold mine.
For me, this is the least important part of the Halloween Party so I don’t spend much time here. I do think it’s fun to meet a few characters. Our first time at the party we met all of the 7 dwarfs. This last year we met Winnie the Pooh and all his friends as they were dressed in their best Halloween costumes. Jack Skellington is another character to meet, as well as a few other rare characters.
The lines for these characters can get very long so I recommend queueing for them even before the party starts. Using that strategy and then going to see a few other characters right before the party ends works pretty well. All of this depends on your interest in seeing characters. While I don’t think this is the best perk the party offers, I do enjoy going to meet a few and getting a nice photo-op while wearing a costume. I would stay away from meeting characters who are regularly in the parks though as this is, more or less, wasting some valuable time.
In the past few years Disney has been cutting back on the amount of characters out for guests to meet. This is unfortunate and a trend that hopefully is reversed in the future.
Trick or Treat
Around the Magic Kingdom there will be candy stations for guests to go “Trick or Treating”. When first entering the Magic Kingdom, party goers will receive a bag with some candy already in it. You can use that bag to fill up the rest of the evening, no need to bring your own.
The only good time to visit Stitch’s Great Escape is when there’s candy inside.
This is another fun component of the Halloween Party that isn’t very high on my priorities. To me, Trick or Treating is a fun way to get a little bit of candy while seeing the inside of a few attractions I rarely go into. This year I went inside of Stitch’s Great Escape to get candy. In previous years, they had stations inside of the Tiki Room. These locations are fun to walk through. Don’t go into the party looking to make back all of the money you spent via candy. While guests could do this theoretically, as there’s no limit to how many times you can go to a station, having cast members fill up a bag with candy that you may or may not eat is far from the most exciting party of Mickey’s Party. Instead I would advise to hit a few locations throughout the night. The later it gets the less lines these places will have. You can find all Trick or Treat locations on the guide map you will be handed at the entrance of the party.
There are a few dance parties throughout Magic Kingdom during the Halloween Party. Most notably, the Tomorrowland Dance Party will feature Sully, Mike, and Boo dancing with guests. Dance Parties are fun to happen upon and enjoy for a few minutes but don’t plan your evening around them. They aren’t especially unique to the party.
Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween Parade
Much of the Halloween Party revolves around this parade. Boo-To-You runs twice a night, once before the fireworks and once after. This is my favorite Disney parade that I’ve seen. While there are many characters, Boo-To-You is a little more villain focused. I don’t think the parade itself is any more extravagant than the regular Magic Kingdom afternoon parade, but it certainly has the soundtrack is fantastic, the parade is more cohesive and the rare characters are enjoyable.
Another place where the parade excels is the dancers in between the floats. Whether it be the grave diggers with their shovels or the ghosts ball room dancing in front of the Haunted Mansion float, these characters are just as much fun to watch as the actual floats.
While it will certainly be more crowded, I advise guests to see Boo-To-You on Main Street. Right as the parade begins the Headless Horseman will trot down the street. The only place where you can see this is on Main Street. I also like the lighting of the parade better here and the backdrop of the castle is hard to beat. If you can find room right by the flag pole, this is a wonderful place to watch the parade.
On top of that, I would suggest seeing the first parade. Again this will be the more crowded option but it also affords guests to see the parade twice if it turns out that they really like it. My typical move will be to see this on Main Street on the first showing and then watch Boo-To-You somewhere in Frontierland where I can find a spot last-minute on the second showing. Boo-To-You is one of the main highlights of the evening and is not to be missed.
Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular
This show, which plays in front the castle three different times throughout the party, has taken on a large following. Rightfully so, as this is the most fun portion of Not-So-Scary. This stage show features the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus. Before you say that you could care less about Hocus Pocus, know that I’ve never seen the movie and I love this show. These sisters sing a few songs, flirt with Dr. Facilier (Princess and the Frog), and bring out a host of different villains to… Well, I’m not sure what the plot is. I think they’re trying to take over Magic Kingdom but don’t really know. I said it’s the most fun portion of the party, not the best.
The very best party of the show is when Mr. Oogie Boogie (The Nightmare Before Christmas) himself comes out and sings a song. I know nothing about Oogie Boogie and don’t think I’ve ever seen Nightmare Before Christmas. But once he steps on to the castle steps, magic happens. He looks amazing, his song is great, and he dances like there’s no tomorrow. While I’ve heard that he’s evil, seeing that he’s in the Villains Spectacular this seems to be the case, Oogie Boogie is the character I’d most want to hang out with. He singlehandedly takes this show from good to great.
Now that I’ve completely oversold Oogie Boogie’s appearance, I will say that the rest of the characters are a blast. If you have a favorite Disney villain then you’re likely to see them in this show. The live performances are great and Disney surprisingly nailed the comedy in the show. This is a can’t miss portion of the Halloween Party.
And of course, we have fireworks spectacular. HalloWishes takes the retired Wishes! fireworks and gives it an evil twist. No, it’s not very scary but the soundtrack does feature most Disney villains. The pyro for this show is larger in quantity than any other show in Disney World. There are also a few surprises along the way.
As you may have guessed, HalloWishes is not to be missed. This is one of the best fireworks shows around. Combine this with the parade and Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular and spending nearly 2 hours in front of the castle will be a fantastic use of time.
We’ve covered most of what the Halloween Party has to offer. Now, is this a good value? Depending on if you get a discount (annual pass or DVC) and what time of year guests go, the cost of the party can be anywhere from $70-$100+. This is a decent amount of money for one night at the Magic Kingdom. Let’s break it down a little further though.
Say you’re at the park for the full allotted time, 4 PM until midnight. That’s 8 hours, which brings the ticket price to around $10/hour. That’s not a bad deal. Furthermore, 8 hours is around the amount of time guests spend in a park on a typical day anyway and those days don’t offer special entertainment. When looking at the tickets in this vacuum, then the value appears to be there.
What we do have to consider is what the party may add to your vacation costs. Instead of adding a 7th day to your park tickets, for example, is just $20 per person. If you choose to not add that extra day and instead go for a Halloween Party then the cost is at least $50 more per person (likely closer to $70). These expenses add up.
I would advise against going to a different park during the day, unless you have an annual pass. You likely won’t spend much time in that park and might wear yourself out before the big party night. Spend a late morning and early afternoon at a water park, Disney Springs or the hotel pool.
All of these factors make me fairly indecisive in determining if the Halloween Party is a good value. I think the party is plenty of fun and a nice way to try something different. This can also be something that a group can bond over with costumes and going to a special event. But, if none of what I reviewed above sounds interesting to you then I likely wouldn’t recommend it. For me, I love the shows Disney puts on. If you are solely interested in the rides then I’d probably save the money. Again, this isn’t a bad value (I have an absolute blast at these parties) but might not be for everyone.
I know many of us are constricted on when we can go to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party based on when we are taking our vacations. But, if you have your choice then the crowd calendar for these parties isn’t hard to understand. The closer you are to Halloween the more crowded it gets. Now, going at the end of August has its drawbacks in that it’s hot and doesn’t quite feel like the holiday but guests can definitely accomplish more due to the crowds.
A Flexible Party Outline
Here is typically what my party schedule looks like:
4 PM – Arrive at Magic Kingdom, pick up goody bag, ride an attraction or two and grab a bite to eat. Waiting until the party starts to eat can be a waste of time. Try to eat dinner before the party starts and enjoy a relaxing late afternoon in Magic Kingdom.
6:30ish – Get in line for a character meet & greet. Whether it be Moana, the seven dwarfs, Pooh & friends, or Jack Skellington, find some unique characters and meet them close to when the party starts at 7. Getting in line early for some characters is essential as lines move fairly slow and can grow very long.
8:00 – Grab some candy at a few different places and enjoy the costumes. Take a little walk from whatever character you’ve just seen to a few different trick or treat spots. Enjoy some people watching while making your way to Main Street.
8:45 – Search for a place to watch Boo-To-You. Walk down Main Street and try to find a place to watch the parade. The closer to the flag pole you get the better, in my opinion. Find a spot, eat some candy and then watch the 9:15 showing of Boo-To-You.
9:45 – Parade finishes, find a spot for HalloWishes. After the parade ends, walk up Main Street and find a spot for HalloWishes. My favorite spot is on the rise right before you hit the Partners Statue. Enjoy the fireworks.
10:30 – Go dance, trick or treat, meet another character and/or ride Haunted Mansion or the other Halloween overlayed attractions. This is the do whatever you want section. Melissa always likes to ride Haunted Mansion and I don’t object because there’s extra fog around the area as well as some characters. This would also be an ideal time if you wanted to try out the overlay on Pirates, Mad Tea Party or Space Mountain. The lines should be minimal at this point in the evening and, while I don’t expect much from these overlays, this would be an opportune time to do those. This is also a good opportunity to for photos around the Magic Kingdom. Character lines should die down a little at this point so you could go track another meet & greet or two down. This would also be the time to see the parade again. Maybe you just want desserts, do whatever you want!
11:50 – Back to Main Street for the last showing of Hocus Pocus. Seeing the last showing of this will maximize your time throughout the party. The show starts at midnight, won’t be very crowded and many will have exited by the time it’s over. Once this ends soak up the ambiance or take photos for a while, slowly making your way out of the park.
Of course, this is for me and I don’t have a little one. This is my ideal schedule but I don’t think you can go very wrong as long as you see the parade, Hocus Pocus, and HalloWishes. Let me know any questions or thoughts on the itinerary and event in the comments.
If you are interested in more vacation tips, click here. Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney, if you enjoy what you’re reading please subscribe to the blog and like our social media pages. You can do both of those things on the right side of this page. Have a great day!