13 Tips for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
I didn’t trick-or-treat growing up, or vacation at Disney World, so Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party fulfilled just about every childhood dream. Since I’m generally not a huge fan of the ghost and witchy atmosphere of the holiday (decorating with cobwebs … gross), the family-friendly vibes and fall-inspired adornments at the Magic Kingdom event spoke my language.
Whether you’re taking the kids for some early trick-or-treating or hoping to feel like a kid again while zipping along Space Mountain with a candy-fueled belly ache, read on for 13 (Not-So-Scary) tips to make the most of your time at the party.
1. Go on a weekday
We selected a Tuesday night several weeks from the holiday, hoping for lighter crowds. While it felt a little funny to hear “happy Halloween” in mid-September, everyone was still dressed up and the decorations and music made it seem just like Halloween. And our Tuesday night strategy paid off – we were able to walk on the vast majority of rides, see the parade and fireworks show, and get tons of candy.
2. Get there early
The party doesn’t start until 7 p.m., but you can arrive at the park as early as 4 p.m. There are entrance lines specifically for party guests and after security, you’ll get a special wristband that signifies you’re here for the party and don’t need to be kicked out after regular hours. Once inside, veer away from Main Street to the party entrance on the right, where you’ll get trick-or-treating bags with a few starter pieces of candy to snack on. The first few hours are a good time to hit up all the rides and shows with shorter lines since the wait times for the more popular ones will dwindle after regular guests leave.
3. Make a plan before arriving
Even though you may have less time in the park than if you were there on a normal day, the crowds are much lighter, which means that lines for everything from rides to character meet-and-greets are generally shorter. You also have all kinds of extra experiences at the Halloween party, like trick-or-treating, themed parades and a special fireworks show. Crafting a plan ahead of time and picking your priorities – Meeting Moana? Hitting every candy stop? Riding Space Mountain five times in a row? – makes the whole night go much smoother.
4. Eat before the party
There are some special treats you might want to try, like pumpkin cheesecake (Main Street Bakery and Gaston’s Tavern) and candy corn flavored ice cream (Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies), but I recommend eating an early dinner before arriving to maximize your time in the park. You’ll have plenty of candy to munch on throughout the night and popcorn and soft pretzels make for great parade-watching snacks.
5. Dress up
Kids, teens, adults – everyone gets in on the action with costumes during the party. We were constantly caught off guard running into adults dressed as Disney characters and it took a second look several times to decide if they were guests or cast members, especially since many characters that you don’t often see out and about make special appearances at the Halloween Party (more on that later). Make sure you check Disney’s costume guidelines before selecting your outfit as there are some rules and restrictions. Also, remember to check the weather before you go. Even in October, Florida can be pretty warm (even hot) and you don’t want to be miserable and sweaty in some head-to-toe getup.
6. Meet the characters
Villains take center stage during the party, appearing in the parade and scattered around the park for meet-and-greets. We spied Jafar, Maleficent, the Queen of Hearts, and Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters. If your kiddos are frightened by the bad guys, plenty of lovable personalities were out and about too, including Aladdin and Abu, Ariel, Cinderella, the seven dwarfs, Mickey and Minnie, Pooh, Piglet and Tigger, Jack Sparrow, and more. Most had fairly short lines for photos, though Moana seemed pretty popular in her spot outside the Swiss Family Treehouse. You can find the character locations on the party map when you arrive, but most were clustered around Adventureland and Fantasyland.
7. Ride your favorites on repeat
When else will you have the opportunity to hop on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or Pirates of the Caribbean three times in a row? If you have a favorite attraction that normally suffers from long lines, this is the perfect time to get your fill. Of course, wait times vary depending on when you visit, but on a Tuesday, we only encountered two rides with a line – Peter Pan’s Flight, which topped out at about 40 minutes, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which was impacted by the ride being shut down for a bit.
8. Attend the late parade
Before our first time at MNSSHP, everyone told us the parade is the best part. With floats from different Magic Kingdom rides (the twirling ghost couples from the Haunted Mansion were pretty cool), some lesser-seen characters, and the spooky headless horseman that clip-clops in to kick things off, there’s no shortage of entertainment. Just be forewarned: the “Boo-To-You” song on repeat will get stuck in your head for weeks.
Unless you want to camp out in a prime spot for a good half-an-hour beforehand, I advise skipping the more crowded first parade at 9:15 p.m. in favor of the 11:15 p.m. one. We used the first time slot to walk on a bunch of rides and stock up on candy instead.
The route starts in Adventureland and ends on Main Street, so position yourself carefully if you want to have time to ride anything when it ends. We were about midway along the route near Tomorrowland and the floats didn’t start passing us until after 11:30, but we still managed to hop on Space Mountain and the PeopleMover one more time before midnight.
9. Save room for candy
I can’t emphasize enough just how much candy you can hoard from this event. We made only four stops and easily filled our trick-or-treating bags to the brim. I’ve even heard stories of folks who use the candy they collected to hand out at their house on Halloween. If we didn’t have five weeks of munching to go I’d probably do the same!
If you plan to pop into all of the treat locations (14 when we visited), you’ll definitely want to bring a backup bag to empty your goods into. Bonus points if you have a stroller because Snickers and Skittles get heavy in bulk!
I’ve heard that trick-or-treating at the end of the night is the best way to get a ton of sweets dumped in your bag. We didn’t try this, but we did score a bucket load by waltzing into the Pete’s Silly Sideshow tent during parade #1. There were six stations set up inside and we went to each one (hey everyone else was doing it!).
10. Watch the fireworks
The villain and ghost-filled fireworks show lights up at 10:15 p.m. and is best seen from around Cinderella’s Castle (you’ll want to have a view of the castle to see the light effects). Position yourself close to whichever land you want to visit next though, so you can run to a ride before the rest of the crowd makes it.
11. Eat during the entertainment
There’s no better time to chow down on a hot dog or turkey leg than during the parade or fireworks. Grab some grub, pick a prime spot early and camp out with your snacks until the show starts. You can use the time you would have spent eating at a table to get more candy for dessert instead.
12. Use every last minute
Attractions close at midnight, but not a second earlier, so stay until the end of the party and ride everything you can. If something has had a line all night, 11:58 p.m. is a great time to sneak on in. You might still have to wait a bit, but you’ll get to throw those hands up in the air one last time before the party stops.
13. Stay past midnight
Even though the party “ends” at midnight, the carriage doesn’t turn back into a pumpkin at the strike of the clock. In fact, the castle stage show “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular” runs one final time starting at 12 a.m. A couple of the sweeteries (a.k.a. sweet eateries) on Main Street appeared to be open as well when we strolled by at 10 minutes past closing hour, so if you didn’t get a chance to taste all the fall-flavored goodies earlier in the night, grab an ice-cream cone on the way to your car or bus and end the night on a sugary note. In case the 12 pounds of candy you have waiting for you in trick-or-treating bags just isn’t enough!