Earlier this month, on May 15th, the Disney Parks Blog hosted a virtual “Halfway 2 Halloween” celebration via their online outlets. There was a #Halfway2Halloween costume challenge inspired by Cast Members, they shared recipes, unveiled some new Halloween merchandise and more. It was so fun and a great distraction during this really un-magical time we are all facing. It got me feeling a little “home” sick for one of my favorite places so I reached out to my friend Katie from Pictures and Postcards Travel and we decided we needed a Disney day. We scheduled a call to talk all about Halloween at Walt Disney World and we recorded it for you!
Walt Disney World is a magical place year round, but fall and in particular Halloween time are a real treat! The Magic Kingdom is overrun with garlands of fall leaves and Mickey Mouse pumpkins. The Haunted Mansion lights up in a way you’ve never seen, and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is the sweetest most spooktacular party you’ll ever attend. Add to this Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, spectacular weather and light crowds and you’ve got a recipe for the best Disney vacation ever! October is truly my absolute favorite time of year to visit Orlando and WDW.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) is a festive after hours party at the Magic Kingdom. It’s inspired by Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas but it is truly “not so scary” so it’s perfect for guests of all ages. It is what’s considered at hard ticketed event meaning that you purchase tickets for a specific date rather than it being open ended. In 2020 there are 36 dates available to purchase tickets for starting August 13 and running through November 1. Ticket prices start at $85 and increase as through September and October with Halloween night being the most expensive at $150 per person.
The party officially kicks off at 7pm and ends at midnight but, you can enter the park as early as 4pm. On MNSSHP nights the park closes to day guests at 6pm and they will be escorted to the exits no later than 7pm. Halloween party guests receive special armbands so Cast Members know who is allowed to be in the park and who they need to assist to the park exits.
You might be thinking, is it worth the price to get the Halloween party ticket or can I just see everything during the regular park hours? Why is this event so special? The first answer is yes it is worth the price, no you can’t see everything during regular park hours. Disney doesn’t mess around. This is a truly unique and special event and we’re going to dig into why it’s an experience worth every penny.
Normally adults cannot wear costumes in any Disney Park but, if you’re attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, not only are you allowed to wear a costume, it’s encouraged! Of course you can only wear your costume in the Magic Kingdom for the party but it is so much fun and adds to all the other special things we’ll talk about in a few minutes. There are a few rules about what you can wear for safety reasons. For instance you can’t have any costume props that look like real weapons, nothing that drags on the ground and no full face coverings. Checkout Disney’s official costume policy for specific info.
When I took my mom to MNSSHP years ago we saw some totally stellar costumes. We saw an entire family dressed as The Incredibles AND a very sweet couple dressed in the best Jack Skellington and Sally costumes I’ve ever seen. They even had a Zero that looked real! This is really the moment to embrace your inner eight year old and go for it. Just be weary of the weather. With party dates starting in mid august it can still be very hot, so you’ll want to wear a lighter costume to stay comfortable.
This 12 minute show from Cinderella’s Castle is hosted by Jack Skellington and features lasers, lights, projections and fireworks. It is a completely different nighttime show than Happily Ever After and can only be seen at MNSSHP. Due to the highly technical nature of the show, it only occurs once during each party so you’ll want to check the time (normally about 10:15pm) and grab your spot early. If you want to ensure a viewing spot and add a little extra sweet experience to your night, there is a dessert party option that includes reserved viewing space.
This castle stage show is hosted by the Sanderson Sisters from the now cult classic Halloween flick Hocus Pocus. Villains and dancers run amuck amid projections and other special effects. Expect three showings per night at approximately 8:30pm, 10:45pm and 12:00am.
It’s not just for kids anymore. Every Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party ticket holder gets a trick or treat bag and there are treat stations all over the park where Cast Members are waiting to fill your sacks! They’ve even got special bags and treats for guests with food allergies so everyone can enjoy the fun.
This is one the best parts of MNSSHP. You’re going to see characters as you’ve never seen them before! Many of your classic favorites like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy, Goofy, Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore come out to greet guests in their own Halloween costumes! For my fellow Stitch fans, you’ll even have the opportunity to see him dressed as Elvis! Mickey’s Not So Scary is the only time you’ll see characters dressed in Halloween costumes. They don’t appear in the parks in costumes during regular park hours.
In addition to classic characters in costumes, you’ll also get the chance to meet characters that don’t normally host meet and greets any other time of year. Some of these include Jack Skellington and Sally, Moana, Tarzan and Jane and Captain Jack Sparrow. This is also the only opportunity to get your photo taken with all seven dwarfs at once! Wait times for many of these characters can climb above two hours due to the rarity, so you’ll want see who is scheduled to appear during your party and plan accordingly.
I cannot contain my excitement about this parade. If you listen to the audio recording of Katie and I, you will hear the excitement in my voice. This, in my opinion, is the absolute best parade ever at any Disney Park that I’ve ever been to, ever. Did I mention EVER?! I honestly believe this parade alone is worth the price of the ticket.
The parade begins in Frontierland, run through Liberty Square then turns out to the hub passing in front of Cinderella’s Castle and down Main Street USA to Town Square. There are normally two parades per night (weather permitting) around 9pm and 11pm. If you have small kids, we recommend viewing the parade from the hub, along Main Street USA, or in the Town Square area at the front of the park. You might also consider the second parade which typically has less crowded viewing.
If your children are older or you are traveling childfree, I recommend viewing the parade from Frontierland across from the Frontier Trading Post, or in Liberty Square across from The Diamond Horseshoe. The park is normally a bit darker back here and you’ll get a fuller effect of the character that opens the parade, one of my absolute favorites of all time, the Headless Horseman! YES, Disney has a Headless Horseman on a black horse ride through the dark streets of Frontierland and Liberty Square and it is freakin AMAZING! You WILL NOT get the same effect of him if you view the parade from the hub or Main Street areas. He rides much slower, a trot really, through those areas which are also much more brightly lit as well. So if you want to get a little extra rush, catch the parade from the locations I described above. And again the second parade is typically less crowded.
In addition to the Headless Horseman, the parade floats and performers are extra special. You’ll see classic characters in their Halloween costumes, special floats for rarely seen characters like Jack Skellington, plus some really fun routines within the parade. My favorite is the gravediggers. They dance around with shovels, dragging them along the ground and sending sparks flying. They are so much fun. And again, this parade only happens at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. None of these floats or routines can be seen during regular park hours.
Disney’s PhotoPass photographers will be set up at over 30 locations throughout Magic Kingdom to capture special photo opportunities. Some will be stationed at character meet and greets while others will be stationed at popular spots around the park and at special backdrops set up specifically for the party. There are even special “magic shots” which add Halloween related characters and elements to your PhotoPass images. You can buy single images, but we highly recommend investing in the Magic Maker which will collect all of your PhotoPass pictures for one flat price. It’s good for the duration of your trip so you are welcome to get as many photos as possible from all the parks and resorts with no limits.
There are two Not So Spooky Spectactular Dessert Party options for guests that want to plus their Halloween experience. The parties themselves are both hosted at the Tomorrowland Terrace and include the same treat, dessert and drink choices. The difference is the included special viewing location for the Not So Spooky Spectacular along with varied ticket pricing based on viewing location. One party includes viewing from Tomorrowland Terrace, while the other includes viewing from the Plaza Garden. Prices start at $79 per person age 10 and up and $47 for kids age 3-9.
For those that want a special dining experience but aren’t quite keen on the dessert parties, there’s Cruella’s Halloween Hide-A-Way at Tony’s Town Square. This includes heavy hors d’oeuvres and savory dishes plus a variety of desserts. Like a character meal, Cruella will visit your table for gossip and photos. This experience also includes reserved seating in Town Square for the second showing of Mickey’s Boo To You Halloween Parade. The price is $99 per person.
If you’re not into the idea of spending extra for the special dining options above, there are still lots of Halloween and fall inspired foods at the various snack carts and quick service locations throughout the park. There are too many for me to list here and some options may change from year to year but, check all the special Halloween foods from 2019!
While this wasn’t originally a set part of the Halloween party, based on what we saw in 2019 expect a few ride enhancements to return. The Mad Tea Party is dressed up with special lighting and music and you can experience Space Mountain in a new light as it goes completely dark. You may have an extra passenger on your cruise through Pirates of the Caribbean as some swashbucklers join guests on their journey. Plus, pop into Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor to help the Mike, Sully and the other monsters learn about this human holiday called Halloween. These are special enhancements that only happen during MNSSHP and may change from year to year.
about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party to help you get the most out of your ticket.
While I could go on for days about the delight that is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, there is so much more to spending Halloween at Walt Disney World. I love fall and all the food and fun that comes with it. Here are just a few more things you can experience during an October trip to get the best of fall wrapped up with the best of Disney!
The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will celebrate its 25th year in 2020! Expected run dates are from early September through the third week of November. There is no special ticket needed to attend the festival, though there are special experiences you can book at additional cost. The festival includes over 30 booths serving hefty sample sizes of authentic foods and drinks from regions all around the world. Go hungry, try everything that looks good, rinse and repeat. The Disney Food Blog is a great resource for prepping to take this festival by storm.
If you’re a true foodie and want more, you’ll also find cooking demonstrations, seminars on everything from cheese to beer and culinary classes on mixology and dessert decorating. Celebrity chefs also make appearances on special dates and times.
Even if you’re not staying at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, it’s worth a visit during the fall months. Rent a golf cart and tour the campgrounds to see decked out campsites decorated for Halloween by guests. Go horseback riding, book a carriage ride or channel your inner Merida and take an archery class! There are TONS of outdoor activities available to everyone at this resort. After a fun day of exploring hit the Chuckwagon Snack Bar to purchase a s’more kit and head over to Chip ‘N’ Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long.
Katie and I discussed our thoughts about the best resort to stay at during this time of year. Katie leans toward the monorail resorts, specifically Disney’s Polynesian Resort. She enjoys the ease of returning to the hotel via the monorail from the Magic Kingdom as well as all the resorts amenities. For October I would splurge and lean toward a stay at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts to take advantage of the great Florida weather and enjoy the resort amenities, specifically the amazing pool! Another resort that would make my list is Disney’s Wilderness Lodge which is a perfect backdrop to a fall inspired vacation!
Crowd sizes during this time of year are light to moderate. Weekdays for most of September and October have lighter crowds and are a little busier on the weekends and as you get closer to Halloween. The weather in October is comfortable, especially for my fellow midwestern friends that aren’t big fans of Florida’s summer heat.
For fun we dove into our own personal favorite time to visit Walt Disney World and by a stroke of magic both landed on early October as the winner. Katie’s runners up are August because she enjoys the Florida summer heat and the end of February. My own runners up are the first week of December to enjoy the Christmas celebrations during lighter crowds as well as February to mid-April.
Lastly, let’s dig into why you want to use an agent to book your trip to Walt Disney World. On top of having the most up to date information on rates and packages, Katie can help you choose and schedule dining reservations, make suggestions about what your group might enjoy in the way of special experiences, rides, shows and everything else in the world. She can get your Disney tech in order from hooking up all your MagicBands and matching them with your group’s MemoryMaker, to scheduling FastPasses. It’s easier with help and she can be as involved or hands off as you like, plus her services are totally free! My own family uses Katie’s services to make sure everyone in our age 7 to 62 year old group full enjoys every trip.
For more information visit PicturesAndPostcardsTravel.com or email Katie directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to like Pictures and Postcards Travel on Facebook! You can check out even more Disney content or email me at email@example.com to book your Disney portrait session or wedding day photography!