On Sunday, we attended Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. This recap features photos and our take on the party, including crowds, characters, a value assessment, and random tips. We’re currently still at Walt Disney World, but we’ll have a few “reports” like this, including one from Food & Wine Festival (hopefully tomorrow). This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide–for that, see our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Tips & Review post–just somewhere to quickly share our take.
After doing lunch at Disney Springs (Splitsville followed by dessert at Sprinkles), we headed over to Saratoga Springs for a quick walk around the resort (because what better way to spend an afternoon in 90+ degree heat than wandering around a sprawling, outdoor resort?!) and then headed to Magic Kingdom.
We arrived around 5 p.m., and breezed through security and the turnstiles. Disney’s new costume policy indicates extra screening may occur for guests in costume, and that probably led to longer lines at 4 p.m. and later at 7 p.m., but there was no one at the entrance when we arrived. From there, we decided to make a quick circle tour of Magic Kingdom to see how things were looking.
Having heard that Jack & Sally had been meeting early this year, we immediately headed to Liberty Square to check out their line. Sure enough, it was already insane. I’m not sure of a precise time to jump into this line, but if you only have the party ticket, I’m betting as close to 4 p.m. as possible is the safe option if you’re looking to maximize your time during the party itself.
Likewise, the Seven Dwarfs line was already long, albeit not nearly as long as in previous years. They also are meeting early now, but not as early as Jack & Sally. I think (although I haven’t tested) that it would be feasible to get in line for Jack & Sally right at 4 p.m., meet them by 5:15 p.m., and then head to Seven Dwarfs and meet them before their line really swells. Again, this is if you’re concerned with optimizing your time during the party itself. Towards the end of the night, you won’t have to wait 75 minutes for Jack & Sally, but we think party time is more valuable than mid-afternoon time.
During this particular Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, we heard reports that waits were not nearly as long as the 1-2 hour norm for either set of characters. We have a friend who indicated they waited 15 minutes for the Seven Dwarfs around the middle of the party, which is pretty much unprecedented.
We walked around after the fireworks and noticed many characters with minimal waits (Jack & Sally was still at least 45 minutes), and some with no waits at all. In fact, all around the park, waits were pretty non-existent. Mine Train was a walk-on. None of the candy stations had lines. I’ve been to lightly-attended parties, but this was all fairly unprecedented from my experience.
Low crowds and short waits were a recurring trend throughout the evening, and we’ll circle back to that later. On the character front, things were pretty disappointing.
To my knowledge, there wasn’t a single new character there this year, and many (most?) of the characters doing meets were the same as those you could find on a normal day in Magic Kingdom.
This probably contributes to Jack & Sally and the Seven Dwarfs having such long lines. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Seven Dwarfs line shortened considerably if the party were all rare characters. I’d rather have them removed and replaced with a few 2-character meet & greets with rare characters. I’d hazard a guest that Disney would respond that “guest demand” dictates the Seven Dwarfs stay, but that demand seems a bit like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We met Minnie, Daisy, and Donald early in the night, and then Jafar later, only because he had no line. Changing out the characters seems like such an easy way to refresh the party, so I’m not really sure why it hasn’t been done. Too obvious?
After that, we headed to the front of the park. I wanted to see Hocus Pocus Villains Spelltacular a couple of times, so catching the first show made sense. We were, conveniently enough, also able to grab a parade spot for the first Boo to You.
As it was last year, the Spelltacular was fantastic. The new castle projectors pushed it up a notch, but otherwise the show was substantively the same. It’s so, so good.
I had never watched Boo to You from the Hub, and I ended up liking this spot a lot. Normally, this fills with people early–and the lighting is poor with strong color casts–so we’ve never bothered.
Boo to You is basically the same this year as last. The Candy unit is now totally Wreck-It-Ralph, which makes sense, but it utilizes the same floats as before. Minor changes. On the one hand, Boo to You is a classic, but it’s been a while since this parade has had any significant changes. Might be nice to see in the future.
Then we watched the fireworks (sorry, no photos from this year yet, but it’s exactly the same as last year’s show, so please enjoy this stock photo), which were excellent as always.
For most of the show, there was no one within 20′ of us on Main Street. Granted, we were back near Town Square, which isn’t a popular (or recommended–we were back there because I had a specific photo idea) location. Still, the lack of people was pretty crazy.
Next up was the second Boo to You. We watched this from my favorite spot, and it was not at all crowded. In fact, there were curbside spots less than 10 minutes before the parade.
After that, we pretty much just wandered around, enjoying the ambiance. One of my favorite aspects about the Halloween and Christmas parties is the moody lighting, special music, and other effects, all of which give Magic Kingom a totally different vibe.
Okay, back to crowds. As it was a school night in mid-September, the party was not crowded. Actually, “not crowded” is an understatement. We’ve attended both Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party every year for the last decade–sometimes multiple times per year–and this is the least crowded party we have ever attended. We’ve been to parties in heavy rain that have been busier. (In our Best Days to Attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party post, we predicted that the September 13, 2016 party would be the least busy one–but we don’t see how it could possibly be less busy than last night…)
Given that it’s still early in the 2016 Magic Kingdom “party season,” we are reluctant to say this is indicative of anything. We know of at least one other party that has been light on attendance, while a couple of others have been fairly busy. We do think that there’s a possibility that this year’s steep price increase represented a tipping point for a significant number of guests. Attendance this been light much of this month, and that plus the price increase amounted to a smaller guest pool from which Disney could draw from this particular party. As such, we would expect September parties on the whole to be less busy than last year’s.
Still, we expect the Halloween Parties in October to be much busier. There are a number of signs pointing to October being a busy month, including an occupancy rate that is already near 100% (so if you wondered why there was no Free Dining for much of October, there’s your reason). With that level of on-property occupancy, a significant number of guests could balk at the price of MNSSHP tickets and parties would still sell out, or come close to it.
Overall, we had a wonderful time at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. With the significant price increase this year and no new offerings to speak of, you’re safe skipping this year if you went last and are on a budget. If you’re like us and love these parties, the higher price is a tough pill to swallow (although admittedly, if it weren’t for the sake of reporting on it, I think we might have skipped this year), but one (we think) you still aren’t likely to regret–especially if attendance stays light as others balk at the pricing.