Last week, we headed to Magic Kingdom to attend the second Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party of 2018. This post features our impressions of Walt Disney World’s “fall” hard ticket event, photos, and other thoughts on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP).
The MNSSHP we attended was incredibly busy, which makes complete sense given that August is the heart of spooky season. I know nothing makes me want to don a thick costume, elaborate hat, and face paint like the prospect of August humidity in Florida. On the plus side, Halloween is probably the sole buttress preventing ‘Christmas in July’ from becoming an earnest thing at Walt Disney World, so I retract my tongue-in-cheek criticism.
The crowds at this MNSSHP were quite a change of pace as compared to the September parties we’ve done the last couple of years. As such, we’re going to take a renewed look at whether Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is worth the money when the event is that crowded.
Think of this as a trip report…but exclusively for the Halloween Party. We’re still in Florida and will have similar topical recaps and reports from Walt Disney World in the coming weeks. If you’re looking for step-by-step strategy for the event, consult our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Tips post instead.
Also, if you’re looking for the more interesting portion of this post, consider skipping directly to page 2 where our analysis comes into play. This first page is mostly photos and a play-by-play of what Sarah and I did during the party. I’ll try to come up with some witty photo captions, but my version of “witty” plays fast and loose with the term, so no promises.
After checking into MNSSHP around 4 p.m. in Tomorrowland, we did a couple loops on the PeopleMover before focusing on the important stuff: food. Sarah and I were also joined around this time by blog-less Disney blogger Mark Willard, who has made past appearances on the blog and is best known for attending ~27 parties per year dressed as Captain America.
If you saw our 2018 Halloween Snacks Guide to Magic Kingdom post, you’ve already read about our top priority for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. No joke. As much as we bellyache about the ‘upcharge within upcharge’ dessert parties at these events, we dropped about a dessert party’s worth of money on special food during the event.
On the plus side, can you really put a price tag on the prestige that comes with being the first person of the night to order the Muenster Smash Burger at Cosmic Ray’s?!
Our next-highest priority for this Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party was meeting “Elvis Stitch.” I had looked at wait time reports on Twitter to get an indication of his popularity during the first MNSSHP, and it seemed pretty low.
Accordingly, I figured we could eat first, then line up for him just before 7 p.m. That turned out to be a terrible idea, as his line was already quoted as being 90 minutes long. Unfortunately, by the time we returned just after 11:30 p.m., his line had already been cut.
After that, we spent a lot of time wandering around, checking out wait times for meet & greets, seeing what was busy and what wasn’t, and creeping on dance parties.
Not exactly exciting stuff, but it’s important for us to keep apprised of this sort of stuff for posts about MNSSHP strategy.
At some point during this, I got distracted by the sunset, and instead focused my energies on that.
It was stunning, with epic Florida storm clouds lighting up perfectly. Of course, this also meant that rain was on the way, but a fair tradeoff for some beautiful light.
I have a ton more unedited sunrise, night, parade, and fireworks photos that I’ll sprinkle in other posts between now and Halloween. As mentioned above, we’re still traveling and I didn’t want to spend an inordinate amount of time on this post that’s better spent watching Country Bear Jamboree.
It rained for a bit after sunset, so we bailed on getting spots for the first Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular and instead wandered around more. We were going to do Pirates of the Caribbean, but the line was out the entrance, so we opted to check back later.
Instead, we spent time in Frontierland listening to the Cadaver Dans, watching Brer Bear roam around and mess with guests, and trying more food.
After that, we grabbed spots in Town Square for the first Boo to You parade. The crowd here was not bad, especially as compared to Main Street and the hub, which were both several rows deep at that point. While Sarah held down our spots, I wandered Town Square and took some photos of the pumpkin citizens.
Our itinerary for the later portion of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party went pretty much as normal: Boo to You, HalloWishes fireworks, Hocus Pocus, and Boo to You all back to back. Here are some photos in no particular order:
I like the spot directly in front of Cinderella Castle, but the lighting is poor and this area gets really crowded. It’s also a tough angle if you’re using anything except an ultra wide angle lens to photograph it.
Basically, I don’t recommend this spot.
Some minor tweaks to Boo to You this year, most of which I don’t think are too noticeable.
I do like Clarabelle’s new dress. A good fit for this unit of the parade.
Dramatic lighting for a larger than life rockstar.
I would say the entire Boo to You parade should be replaced with Country Bears floats, but I don’t want to have to camp out 4 hours just for a decent view of that epic parade.
Normally, getting clubbed upside the head with a mop by a man in a puffy shirt and pirate bandana is a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party upcharge offering, but I lucked out and received this magical moment free of charge.
Since this is the internet and even blatant sarcasm often goes undetected–and that Cast Member’s face is clearly identifiable–I want to be clear: no heads were actually clubbed with a mop in the making of this photo.
Bwak bwak bwak bwak bwak bwak bwak bwak bwak bwak bwak bwwwwwwaaaaaak. Bwak bwak bwak bwak bwak bwak bwak bwak bwak bwak bwak bwwwwwwaaaaaak.
Now you’ll have that stuck in your head for the rest of your day, too. You’re welcome.
Now I know what Delacroix meant when he said, “the artist who aims at perfection in everything achieves it in nothing.” While my chef-d’œuvre is poorly composed and out of focus, let’s just call that artistic expression rather than technical imperfections.
Generations from now, I foresee art students spending an entire semester unpacking the deep metaphors and social commentary of Shaker shaking a wooden spoon in this photo. Is this critique of late capitalism? Does he symbolize the average millennial’s never-ending quest to spoon things to death? Or, perhaps, there is no spoon. You be the judge.
As always, photographing Boo to You is about the most humbling experience a photographer can have. I’ve been shooting this parade annually for a decade, upgrading my camera gear during that time, and my keeper rate is still around 5% at best.
This parade remains the most challenging Disney photography scenario, and is fun but frustrating.
It’s also one of the rare situations where gear really does make a difference in getting the shot. Improvements in autofocus accuracy and speed have made it easier to shoot, but that’s relative.
You’re still going to walk away with mostly out-of-focus garbage. And even when you do nail a shot, there’s a good chance that a performer will be blinking or have their back turned to you. (Meanwhile, all of your out of focus or poorly composed shots will feature performers hamming it up for the camera or with the perfect poses. Happens every time.)
After the second Boo to You, we rushed over to Tomorrowland hoping to catch Elvis Stitch. When that failed, we lined up for Lotso, whose wait was under 10 minutes at that point.
It was over an hour earlier in the night, so this worked out well. It had been ~5 years since our last encounter with him, and Sarah wanted a new photo.
The final Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular starts at midnight, which gives you a “bonus” 20 minutes at the end of the party. This is a nice way to extend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, but even this final showing is crowded.
Even with this extra time, there’s so much we didn’t have a chance to do: PhotoPass exclusive special shots, attraction overlays, dance parties, and the vast majority of character meet & greets.
We could’ve accomplished a few of these things had we skipped one of the parades or Hocus Pocus shows, but not all of it. That would’ve allowed us to meet 3-4 additional characters, but not headliners like Jack & Sally or Seven Dwarfs. Plus, given that those are among our favorite Walt Disney World entertainment offerings of the entire year, skipping one of the Boo to You parades or Hocus Pocus was a non-starter. Your mileage may vary.
After the final Hocus Pocus, we lingered around Liberty Square and Main Street for as long as possible. Magic Kingdom was still pretty busy until about 12:45 a.m. With a slow trickle of guests still exiting meet & greets long after the party ended, security is in no rush to push people towards the exit.
We were the last guests out and I managed to capture the above photo of Main Street with no one in it (well, almost no one). For me, this “bonus” hour-plus is as much a chance to capture photos with unique lighting as it is a chance to embrace the ominous party ambiance.
I love the background music, fog effects, lighting, and Magic Kingdom’s dramatically different of a vibe. As someone who likes the experience of “being there” as much as any of the substantive offerings of the theme parks, this is my favorite part of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Again, your mileage may vary.
WE’LL COVER WHETHER MICKEY’S NOT SO SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY IS STILL WORTH THE MONEY, AND MY OVERALL FEELINGS ABOUT THIS YEAR’S MNSSHP ON PAGE 2…
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