Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is my favorite special event at the Walt Disney World Resort! While I do love the scarier atmosphere of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, the Magic Kingdom’s Halloween party offers up a family-friendly event without being geared entirely towards children. The entertainment, fireworks, and characters really make this event a standout for me, (and the trick-or-treating doesn’t hurt either!) but there are definitely some things you should keep in mind to get the most out of your visit.
Ticket prices increase as the season goes on
If you are able to go to one of the parties earlier on in September (or even in August– they start as early as the last week of the month!) you’ll save some money compared to the price of tickets as it gets closer to Halloween. Tickets start around $80 for the earlier dates (with discounts for Annual Passholders) and Halloween night ticket prices are up to $125 for adults. If you’re paying for a couple of family members, and you’re able to travel earlier in the season you’ll see a significant savings over spending Halloween in the park. You can get the full ticket details here.
When to go? August/September/October
Weekends are understandably more crowded than weeknights, and the earlier dates (primarily in August and September) will be much less crowded as well. August is the hottest and most humid month in Central Florida, you’ll have lower crowds but the weather will likely make your costume experience less comfortable. And August and September typically have more rain than October, so while it is more expensive if you’re concerned about the weather affecting your party experience going in October is a safer bet.
What to wear / costume guidelines
One of the coolest things about the Halloween party is that adults can wear costumes! Typically guests over 14 are not allowed to wear costumes in the parks and while there are guidelines (dresses may not be floor length, no masks or weapons, etc…) there is really a lot you can do in terms of a costume for the event.
Some guests really go all out with their costumes (and we applaud them) but I’m personally all about balancing a fun costume with comfort. We tend to go to the first couple of Halloween parties, and it’s just too hot for us to want to do some of the more elaborate costumes. I like to wear a cool dress done up with a witch hat or other accessories or a more breathable t-shirt sort of costume. Dressing up is definitely part of the fun though, so if you have a really creative idea and aren’t afraid of dealing with the heat be sure to wear your best costume!
When to arrive for the party
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party doesn’t officially start until 7:00 pm, but you can get into the park with your party ticket beginning at 4:30 pm. Before we had annual passes, we would always arrive at 4:30 pm because you’re getting an extra 2.5 hours for the ticket you already purchased. For this reason, I also do not recommend purchasing another park ticket for the day you attend the party. I like to use the morning of a party day to walk through Disney Springs or spend some time at the pool.
Before the party starts
I never recommend that you focus on rides during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary, with so much else going on that is specific to the event it just doesn’t make much sense to me to spend time going on rides. That being said, if you see rides as more of a priority regardless you won’t have any issues fitting them in because there are virtually no waits during the party.
The one ride I always do when I enter the park around 4:30 pm for the party is the Haunted Mansion, just because how can you attend a Halloween party and not ride the Haunted Mansion? I like to get it out of the way before the party starts, but if you do this as well be sure to re-visit the Mansion later in the evening as it will have more of a spooky atmosphere with fog and light effects and different cast member looks, as well as some special photo ops and entertainment.
After the Haunted Mansion, we get right in line for whichever character meet and greet will be the most popular one we want to do during the party. I realize this may sound crazy that we wait about two hours or so to meet a character, but the characters at the party are ones that are not regularly out in the parks, and we don’t want to waste time waiting once the party has started. We’ve waited for Jack and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas a couple of times, and last year we waited for Moana.
If meeting party-specific characters is a priority, I definitely suggest getting in line before the party starts. It’s a long time to wait, but you won’t be missing out on anything else for the party since it hasn’t started yet, and it honestly isn’t the worst wait. Last year when we waited for Moana we spent the time in line talking to other fans and planning out the rest of the night (we even had Dole Whips while we waited).
Parades / Fireworks / Stage Shows / Dance Parties, & More!
I’m not opposed to seeing the Boo to You Parade twice because it’s my favorite Disney parade, but if you’re trying to plan your night and figure out when the best time to see it is, I would go with the second performance. The parade follows the same route as the park’s daytime parade, and the second parade (and Frontierland and Liberty Square) will give you the lowest crowds and the best views.
The Happy HalloWishes fireworks understandably only happen once per night, and unless you are planning on going to more than one party it’s worth fighting the crowds to be on Main Street to see them. The show is not nearly as projection-heavy as some other shows like Happily Ever After, but you still get the full effect more from the front of Cinderella Castle.
The Hocus Pocus Villains Spelltacular takes place on the Castle Stage a couple of times each party. Because it happens more frequently than the fireworks and the parade, we recommend putting this off until you end up having free time for one of the shows (but make sure you don’t miss it!) There is usually one performance just before the party ends, and this one is always the least crowded.
The rest of the entertainment during the party like the Scream-o-Ween Dance Party in Tomorrowland and musical sets by the Cadaver Dans take place throughout the night, and you easily catch all of these offerings whenever you end up in those areas throughout the night. I would prioritize the fireworks because they only happen once, and character meet and greets because they could have lines, and fill in with the rest of the entertainment as you go.
Character meet and greets
As I’m sure you can already tell from this post, character meet and greets are huge party of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Even if you’re not usually much of a character person, some of the characters that go to the party are so unique that you might think twice and have to meet them. We love meeting Mickey and the rest of the Fab Five in their Halloween costumes, and you can always find a couple of more rare characters and villains during the event.
If you’re on the fence about purchasing Memory Maker (which for a one time cost of $170 allows you to download all of your Disney PhotoPass pictures) I would recommend getting it if you’ll be meeting characters at the party. The lighting is totally crazy in some areas (per the Halloween theme) and chances are photos on your phone will not come out nearly as good as PhotoPass pictures would. $170 is a lot, but when you’re dressed up for a special event I like to be able to leave with some high quality photos to remember the night.
Most meet and greets do have PhotoPass photographers ready to take your photo, but occasionally you’ll come across one that doesn’t. In this case definitely have a phone or camera ready to hand off to a character attendant and be sure that it’s on a setting that is easy to use.
Additional PhotoPass spots
Outside of the character meet and greets, you’ll find Halloween party-specific photo ops staffed with PhotoPass photographers as you enter the party to pick up your treat bags, on the end of Main Street, and at various other areas throughout the park like the front of the train station and outside the Haunted Mansion. You won’t typically find lines for these spots like you would with the characters so you may be tempted to skip them, but don’t– many of them include magic shots with special Halloween designs and animations that you won’t see until you download them later on.
Trick-or-treating & candy trails
Another reason why I love going to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party as an adult is because it’s really the only time I can trick-or-treat now. There are candy trails all over the park, and some of them are really beautifully themed for the party. You’re given a treat bag when you arrive, and you can really grab as much candy as you want throughout the night.
Halloween sweets & treats
The Halloween parties also feature event-specific sweets and snacks (for an additional fee). I don’t like to spend time eating during the party when it comes to quick service or table service restaurants, but some of the more on-the-go snacks that you can only get at the party always catch my eye. Last year we tried the candy corn soft serve and the pumpkin waffle sundae, both of which were delicious ways to get some fall flavors in on a hot Halloween party night in August!
Every special event at the Walt Disney World Resort comes with exclusive merchandise that you can only buy during the event. From my experience the merchandise that is billed as “limited edition” and “exclusive” does not always sell out at least not during the party. That being said, I’m not a huge fan of holiday pins and I almost never buy event-specific MagicBands, so I’m not usually looking for some of the more exclusive items.
I will say however, I do like to pick up a t-shirt from the party, and there have been times where my size was sold out by the end of the night, so if you are looking for a t-shirt and you’re in that common size range of M to XL I would probably pick one up on your way into the park rather than on your way out. The event-specific merchandise doesn’t usually end up on the ShopDisney Parks app, though it does occasionally end up in the Character Warehouse Outlets in Orlando so if you are local that could be an option to get some Halloween shopping in after the party.
Is it worth it?
This is the #1 question I see going around when people are thinking about going to one of the Halloween parties, and it’s really a difficult question to answer because it depends on what you’re hoping to get out of it. The parties are obviously worth it to me, since as I’ve mentioned this is really my favorite event to attend at Disney. But I’m also paying for only myself, and I’m not limited by things like tired kids or a large group, etc…
If you love Disney, and you love Halloween, I imagine most guests would walk away thinking it’s worth it. I also think it’s important to understand what you’re getting when you attend these parties. While it is easy to wing it and attend a party with little to no planning, I’m sure there are people who spend more time than they like in line for one character or who show up too last minute for the parade and therefore deem the party not worth it.
One other point I would bring up that I think may be an issue for guests who are worried about the party being worth it is weather. Like most if not all tickets for events anywhere, tickets to the party are non-refundable and rain and high winds can interfere with the evening’s entertainment (which is why although it’s more expensive I would go later in the season if weather is a concern for you). If it rains, entertainment can be cancelled or shortened and meet and greets may be moved around. I’ve been to the party in the rain, and it takes a little more patience in navigating the park with things changing based on the weather, but I’ve still had a blast and feel it’s still totally worth it.
All in all if you’re looking for family-friendly Halloween fun, and what is in my opinion the best parade and fireworks you’ll see at the Walt Disney World Resort, I would seriously think about grabbing some tickets for the Halloween party. If you love meeting characters and taking festive photos around the park, the event will be worth it for those reasons alone. It’s also a really unique way to sort of re-live your childhood with trick-or-treating and dressing up for a trip to the parks. If you go into it expecting something more like Halloween Horror Nights, you probably won’t see the value in this kind of event, but if you’re interested in something much more tame and just as fun I believe Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is well worth it!