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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn

Review: Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Who doesn’t love spooky season, the pumpkins, the pumpkin spiced beverages and foods, the fun decor, the movies, the improved weather, the crowd mobbing at 4pm to enter the Magic Kingdom and start celebrating Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party…that last one might not be so normal…but then again what is normal? Certainly any avid Disney fan scoffs at normal. Come along with us as we recount joining that mobbing crowd and got to experience Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party for the first time a couple weeks ago.

We’ll preface this post by saying that there is a ton going on at MNSSHP, from special character meet and greets, Halloween shows, the big parade, ride overlays, trick-or-treating, specialty food and drinks, dance parties, and of course the Halloween fireworks. It’s a lot and it is impossible to do it all in one evening. We decided that we wanted to focus on getting in a couple high impact character meet and greets (multiple characters for one line), enjoy the show, parade, and fireworks, and ride Haunted Mansion and Tron if possible. We accomplished all of our goals, and we had a lot of fun while doing it, but we definitely felt like there was so much more to see and do. We have a post that covers all the offerings at MNSSHP here. This particular post just covers our specific experience. Below is a quick overview of our party, with corresponding times for anyone interested in the exact timing of our activities. Jump below that to dive into our detailed review of the party.

Quick Re-Cap with Times

We typically visit the Disney parks in late February or early March, great weather, fun festivals at Epcot, fairly decent crowd levels…it works for us. But this year we decided to make a trip in October and experience Disney in the fall. And what fall is complete without some Halloween fun thrown in? That’s right, no fall. For those of you who have never been in the fall, like us not long ago, there is a dearth of fall decor and activities to be found outside of Magic Kingdom. And even less Halloween fun to be found outside of the Halloween party. The Halloween overlay of rides, the characters in Halloween costumes, the special Halloween shows are all limited to the special hard ticket event. So we grabbed our tickets for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) as soon as they went on sale and got ready to join in on the spooky season fun at Disney World.

Tickets in hand we did our research to plan out what we wanted to do at the party and planned our Halloween party outfits. One of the extra fun things you can do at the Halloween party is get dressed up. Normally adults are not allowed to wear costumes inside the parks, but at the Halloween party you can go all out. Well, almost all out, masks are not permitted and dresses and capes are not supposed to drag on the ground, but otherwise you can go all out. And let us tell you, plenty of people did. We saw plenty of Sanderson Sisters, complete with makeup and wigs, many a mini prince or princess with parents taking on side character roles. One of our favorites had the little girl as Belle, the boy as the Beast, the dad was Gaston, and the mom was the Rose, it was so adorable! We decided to be more comfortable and channel a couple of our favorite Disney villains through Bounding. Can you guess who we are? We’ll give you a hint: no one steals poor unfortunate souls like us.

Now onto the day of the party! MNSSHP officially starts at 7pm on party nights, with the park closing to day guests at 6pm. However, guests with party tickets can enter Magic Kingdom starting at 4pm. If you read blog posts about the party they all make it seem like this is a little known fact, but boy is that wrong. We took the morning and early afternoon of our party date easy, did a character breakfast, hung around our resort, grabbed an early dinner at the Contemporary Resort, and were over to the Magic Kingdom by 3:30pm ready to queue for entry…along with everyone else under the sun. It was a bit overwhelming even for the two of us who went and are mostly okay with crowds - as opposed to our family members who very well might have abandoned any idea of the party when cast members tried to funnel them into that crowd. It was all handled as efficiently and quickly as possible, but the crowd to get in was probably the most stressful part of the whole party. If we were to do the party again we would definitely wait to enter, sacrificing a little in-the-park time for the ease of walking right in closer to 5pm.

Once we entered we were given a party bracelet, the cast members put these on the same wrist for everybody making it easy to check for it when the time comes for day guests to be sorted out of the masses and funneled out of the park before the official party begins. Ours were bright orange which we felt was very festive. Quick aside, these are nice cloth wristbands tightened by way of this little plastic piece…don’t be like one of us and tighten it further while absentmindedly playing with it, it does not untighten and she was stuck with a slightly too tight bracelet for the remainder of the evening.

Next we grabbed our party map and made our way under the train station and into Main Street USA bedecked with pumpkin scarecrows, fall colored banners, and the infamous Mickey pumpkin wreaths. We were so excited to stroll down main street in all its fall glory…except instead of strolling among the fall leaves, we were directed to the right, away from Main Street USA and down a back street. Not quite ready to abandon the fall splendor, we joined a small queue for the photopass photographer stationed at the front of Main Street USA to get our photo taken with the pumpkins and the castle in the background.

The side street ended up being a way to funnel party guests over to get their Trick-or-Treat bags and make the first candy stop. Since neither of us are big candy people this ended up being our only candy stop of the party, but it was still fun to have the bag and the M&Ms ended up being a good snack later in the night while we waited for the fireworks. Plus, the side street had some Halloween statues that can only be seen if you are attending MNSSHP, which is understandable but a bit of a shame because they are super fun. There was Jester Goofy, befittingly looking ridiculous and having a grand time, Princess Minnie looking adorable with a pumpkin bedecked with a Mickey icon and hearts, and Musketeers Pluto and Donald, and Donald had a pumpkin with Daisy carved into it, how cute is that?!

Bags with candy in hand, photos of statues obtained, we continued along the street and found ourselves dumped in the hub between The Plaza Restaurant and Tomorrowland Terrace.

Now we are seasoned Disney goers, but since we had never done a Halloween party before we did quite a bit of reading prior to attending the festivities. We perused other people’s reviews, proposed party itineraries, and lists of everything there is to do…and let me tell you there are a lot of things to do. Way too many to accomplish in one evening. That issue, coupled with the fact that we were not convinced of our ability to stay up until midnight, meant that we decided to prioritize a few things, focusing on party specific offerings while trying to soak up as much of the atmosphere along the way. So in the time between when party guests were allowed into the park and when the party actually started we decided to fit in a few rides. Our first stop was Haunted Mansion, which is clearly a must when there is Disney and Halloween in the air. The queue was only 30 minutes and we felt confident that it was likely only to get longer once the party started so we looked alive and dragged ourselves into the dead end of the queue (see what we did there?).

After our very satisfying ride with the grim grinning ghosts we started meandering through Fantasyland, stopping for a quick jaunt under the sea at Journey of the Little Mermaid. It was walk on (so the wait was listed as 5 minutes), which of course meant we spent those 5 minutes winding through the expansive queue (it’s a really really long queue) before hopping into our shell to sing along with all the brilliant songs. The Little Mermaid: poor life choices but some of the best songs ever! And the ride does the perfect job featuring those songs for us to dance and sing to.

Back out on dry land we checked the time, and somehow an hour and forty-five minutes had passed since the 4 o’clock entry time! It was 5:45pm and time to start focusing on Halloween party things. No, the party did not officially start until 7pm, but some of the most popular character meet and greets start prior to the party. For example, Jack and Sally - easily the most popular MNSSHP meet and greet, opens to party guests at 4:30pm…and pretty much has a two hour or more wait the entire evening. With the idea of getting in a little of everything, we skipped that wait, and the one for the Seven Dwarfs - who start seeing guests at 6pm - and hopped in line for Winnie the Pooh and Friends. Now generally we are not big character meet and greeters. We like to book a character meal each visit so we get some fun character interaction without the waiting in line part, but how could we pass up Winnie the Pooh dressed like a bumble bee?! Plus he was with Butterfly Piglet, Pirate Tigger, and gloomy Eeyore dressed like a clown, so cute!! Winnie the Pooh and Friends is another popular meet and greet that starts before the official party opening, meeting guests starting at 6:30pm. So joining the line at 5:45pm we waited just about an hour to see them since we were about 5th in line when we joined. The only character meet and greets with wait times posted in the app during the party are Jack and Sally and the Seven Dwarfs, but it's our understanding that if you wait to join the queue for Winnie the Pooh you’ll easily be waiting well over an hour, so we did pretty good.

Oh, and while waiting to see Winnie the Pooh and friends we managed to snag a virtual queue for TRON! For MNSSHP there is a special virtual queue that opens at 6pm for party guests to join. We don’t know what the cap was for guests allowed to enter the virtual queue, but when our number got called much later in the evening it was pretty much a walk-on. Normally the virtual queue, during standard operating hours, comes with an additional wait in the actual queue after your number is called, so it was really nice to have no wait during the precious party time.

In the Halloween character visiting spirit, we decided it was worth the wait to join another character queue, this time to see Daisy, Donald, and Minnie. While the queues can get long it’s really fun to be able to see multiple characters at once, which is a rarity in the parks. For this queue you get to visit with both Donald and Daisy together and then continue on to meet Minnie solo. For this meet and greet we ended up waiting about 50 minutes, we joined the line at about 6:45pm, before they started seeing guests at the official party start time (i.e. 7pm for those who missed that) and waited about 35 minutes after the line started moving to get to the front. We weren’t that far back, but all the characters really took the time to interact with the guests, making them feel special, so the line moved more slowly than we expected it to. This was great fun when we got to the front though, joking with Daisy about stealing her voice (cause Ursula bounding), being made fun of by Donald (because no, our Gaston bounding member is not actually that strong), and admiring Minnie’s princess outfit.

The downside of how popular all the characters at the party are is that it wasn’t really possible to see many more of them. We really enjoyed getting to see those seven all decked out in their Halloween best, but after saying farewell to Minnie it was time to move on to other party offerings: namely food.

Prior to joining the mob to enter the Magic Kingdom we had stopped off and had a really early dinner at the Contemporary Resort’s Teakhouse 71 Lounge. There we enjoyed onion rings and the best crab cakes we have ever had (quite literally). But alas, food at 3pm would not carry us through the whole night, plus there were bunches of foods that were only available at the party, so clearly we had to try at least one of those. To fill our stomachs, and fulfill our special party food eating requirement, we headed over to Sleepy Hollow. This is a staple during our usual visits to the Magic Kingdom, we love the nutella waffle and sweet and spicy chicken waffle and get those pretty much every trip. For the party the usual menu was not available (which is probably good or we might have given into temptation and gotten the waffles instead of a party food). The party menu items at Sleepy Hollow included Char Siu Chicken Wings, Cinnamon Funnel Cake topped with Pumpkin Ice Cream, and a Headless Horseman Cupcake. Since we had already had our very early dinner, we opted for sugary goodness in the form of funnel cake and pumpkin ice cream as our dessert.

Following our scrumptious food interlude we made our way over to the hub to grab a prime spot for the show, parade, fireworks trifecta. At this point it was about 8:10pm, and the next Hocus Pocus Villains Spectacular was to start at 8:35pm. This is a roughly 22 minute show, finishing up with time for people to either vacate the area or get resituated for Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade which starts at 9:15pm (over in Frontierland, so it doesn’t hit the hub until about 9:25pm). Following the parade, there is a longer gap of about 35 minutes before the Not-So-Spooky Spectacular fireworks show at 10:15pm. So by finding a spot to stand at 8:10pm we were in prime position to not move for about two hours (our feet still haven't forgiven us for that part) and have great views of some of the premier MNSSHP offerings.

First up, the Hocus Pocus show. Of the unique Halloween things we enjoyed at MNSSHP, this show might have been our favorite (seeing Winnie the Pooh as a bumble bee was a close second though). Between the two of us we had an avid Hocus Pocus lover and one who doesn’t understand the craze, and that did not matter at all. The show was incredibly upbeat, funny, and included all sorts of villains you don’t normally get to see in the parks. Everyone from Oogie Boogie, Maleficent, Dr. Facilier, Captain Hook, Hades, Cruella Deville, and so many more were there with their unique personalities and dancing along to the villainous songs. The Sanderson Sisters themselves were perfect, over the top and campy in the best way. Plus there were lots of little callouts to the movie that were a blast. When the show finished we were energized and ready for more Halloween fun.

Turning around it was time to wait for the Boo-to-You parade. Preceding the spectacle was the Headless Horseman, who rides through the parade route ahead of the parade. He was fun to see, perfectly spooky and really cool carrying his jack-o-lantern head, but he definitely rode at a clipped pace so he came and went almost too fast for our enjoyment.

About 15 minutes later the parade turned the corner into the hub and the music started echoing through the air. Much like the rest of the Halloween party, the parade was filled with characters you don’t get to see anywhere else. From Smee making a rare appearance with Captain Hook and Peter Pan, Barbosa and Jack Sparrow atop their pirate ship, the Haunted Mansion ghosts and gravediggers, and a slew of villains making their wicked appearances as the grand finale. We really enjoyed the first float filled with Mickey and the gang in their Halloween best. The Sanderson Sisters, I mean Minnie, Daisy, and Clarabell definitely stole the show (stole the float?). Unfortunately, since we were there on a rainy day there were parts of the parade we had been anticipating that were missing. We did not get to see the Haunted Mansion hitchhiking ghosts, and Ursula was also absent.

With Boo-to-You permanently stuck in our heads it was time to turn back around and wait for the Not-So-Spooky Spectacular. The wait here was a bit longer so we ended up sitting on the ground for a while to give our feet a break. We hid under a rain poncho while it rained for a bit and munched on M&Ms to pass the time. We also played some Heads-Up. This is one of our favorite ways to pass the time while waiting in lines at Disney, it helps keep your mind off your aching feet and when you are in the parks you can use the Disney Parks deck for free!

45 minutes later the rain had moved off (thankfully) and the fireworks were ready to begin. Normally when we recommend places to stand for the fireworks we will tell people to try to be close enough to the castle to get a good view of the projections but far enough back to really take in the fireworks overhead. We typically like to squeeze in around the middle of the hub, often to one side so we can quickly navigate out of the crowd once the fireworks are over. For this spooky fireworks show, however, we decided we wanted to be as front and center as possible to take in the projections clearly and really enjoy the Jack Skellington puppet. You read that right, a Jack Skellington puppet makes an appearance during the Not-So-Spooky Spectacular and he was as impressive and fun to see as we had expected…well as one of us expected, the other missed that memo and so the puppet was an extra fun surprise for her.

For the Not-So-Spooky Spectacular, Jack Skellington comes out to introduce the story to be told, then you go on a fun filled little haunted house adventure with Mickey and the gang. Being avid Haunted Mansion fans we feel there was a missed opportunity here to use the grim grinning ghosts song, but on the whole it was a lot of fun. The projections were really cool to see up close and having the fireworks almost directly overhead added something magical to the experience.

Now, if you’ll recall, way back to when we were waiting in line to meet Winnie the Pooh we had snagged a virtual queue for TRON. At the start of the fireworks our group number was called. So as soon as Jack bade us farewell we made a be-line through the crowd (well, it was sort of a very wobbly zigging line through the crowd, but it was made with purpose), over to Tomorrowland and back to where the brand new shiny TRON Lightcycle/Run awaited us. We entered the queue at about 10:45pm and were on our cycles a couple minutes later, literally there was no wait…it was magical. The ride was exhilarating, technically cool, visually fascinating, and over way too fast. For all that it was not Halloween themed, it was definitely one of the highlights of our party night.

By the time we got off TRON, and spent a few minutes enjoying the lit canopy housing part of the ride, it was 11pm at night. We were definitely starting to flag and about ready to call it a night, with our beds calling to us from the distant Coronado Springs Resort. On our way toward the front of the park we ducked into a couple of stores, seeking out the special party merchandise to prove we had come (because clearly the hundreds of photos and videos we had taken were not enough). Then, just before heading out we made one more stop, because what better way to say good night to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, than to say it to the mouse himself. With most of the party crowds either already gone for the night or waiting for the second Boo-to-You parade we only had to wait 15 minutes in the line. Then he was there, looking dapper in his Halloween best. It was the perfect ending to our Halloween fun.

Overall Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party was a blast, full of unique entertainment, interactions, and the perfect not-so-scary atmosphere (because we are wimps so Halloween things should always be lighthearted and fun). Would we do it again? Absolutely! Would we do it the same way? Absolutely not! There is so much to do that we feel like we missed out on a ton of things. We didn’t ride any of the attractions with a special overlay, we only saw a few characters compared to the number available, we didn’t manage any of the special photopass photos, let alone make it to any of the dance parties. Plus we proved ourselves pretty much wrong, we had anticipated being dead and ready to quit well before the party’s end at midnight. But we ended up walking out of the park at about 11:35pm, just 25 minutes shy of the final showing of the Hocus Pocus Spectacular. So whenever we manage to swing going again we’ll probably aim to see the second parade and final show and spend that two hours we spent waiting in the hub getting in some additional Halloween fun. But until then, see ya real soon!

Our Tips:

Pack your patience. No really, pack it and your flexibility. The Halloween parties are very popular, with pretty much every single one selling out this year. While lots of people expect they are paying a premium price for low crowds while in that park, you are really paying for the unique Halloween experiences only available at the party. Depending on how you manage the party you can enjoy some low wait times, if you are aiming to participate in any of the most popular aspects of the party you will be surrounded by a crowd. This includes watching the parade, the earlier Hocus Pocus shows, and the fireworks. Also the most popular characters have sizable waits.

You can’t do everything. Even if you opted for a poorer view of the show, parade, and fireworks than we did (and so didn’t need to wait in the hub as long) it is impossible to do all the special things available throughout the party. We recommend having a good idea of what there is to see and do before you go and have your must dos picked out. For example, we wanted to see some Halloween themed characters, have a prime view of the shows and parade, and ride Haunted Mansion and Tron. Everything else we did was a nice extra bonus.

Wait to enter the park at the beginning of the party, especially if you are not a fan of crowds. The huge press of people entering the park at 4pm dies down relatively quickly. By waiting until 4:30 or 5pm you may feel like you are sacrificing park time, but you will feel much better just strolling through the turnstiles.

See the later parade and show if you can manage it. There is no way to avoid the crowd if you want to see the fireworks, but many people leave after the fireworks so the crowd in the hub during the first parade and earlier Hocus Pocus show can be a lot. If you have the energy, avoid the hub during these times, maybe sneak in toward the side and back to see the fireworks, and take that time to enjoy lower waits for rides or characters (though some characters are not available during the parade). The second parade and the final Hocus Pocus show are way less crowded, making getting a good viewing spot without the crush of other people considerably easier.

Enjoy yourself. You have paid quite a pretty penny to be at the Halloween party, so be sure you make the most of your time there. Not just hitting all the must see things, but having fun just being there. We get it, it is easy to get frustrated by the crowds and feel like you didn’t see or do enough to justify the cost, but if that is all you focus on then you’ll come out of it feeling like you were gypped. Focus instead on the atmosphere around you, find the little things to love and the moments that made your night. At the end of the day it is your attitude that will influence your memories, and turn an overcrowded hub area during the fireworks into an amazing fireworks display that lit up the night and a giant Jack Skellington puppet that brought a smile to your face.


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