One thing that became clear as we wandered around checking out the various character meet & greets is that the page 2 itinerary in our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Tips post is overzealous. There was a time when bouncing from character to character while still seeing both parades and the fireworks was possible, but that hasn’t been the case for the last couple of years.
Even during the low-crowd September parties we’ve done the last couple of years, character lines have been longer than they were at comparably-crowded parties several years ago. I’m not sure how to explain this. Do Walt Disney World guests care more about characters now? Have online strategy guides for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party increased awareness about which characters appear where, creating more demand for them? Again, I’m not sure.
After crossing Jack & Sally and the Seven Dwarfs off our “list” years ago, those haven’t been priorities for us in a while, so we haven’t dealt with that frustration. We heard from a few guests who waited up to 3 hours for Jack & Sally, though.
As we walked around right at 7 p.m., we saw numerous character lines with Cast Members quoting 60-90 minute waits. Several of these weren’t exactly rare characters, either. Just ones who may not meet in Magic Kingdom on a daily basis. These waits die down in the second half of the party, but the problem with saving them is that the event is backloaded in terms of entertainment.
I don’t know what the solution to this character conundrum is, but I can’t imagine guests are “happy” waiting so long for these meet & greets. The problem is that meet & greets are low capacity (aside from the dedicated, multi-room locations), and increasing the number of characters doesn’t fix the problem. That actually has the opposite effect, as it induces more demand from character enthusiasts. (See the ill-fated Villains Unleashed event from a few years ago.)
Personally, I’ve come to really appreciate the free-roaming characters that tend to just goof around and pose randomly for quick photos or selfies with enthusiastic guests. The hijinks and spontaneous interactions of these characters tend to be far superior, and entertaining for all guests in their vicinity. Then again, this only works with “who are you?” characters like the Country Bears and Brer characters–put Jack & Sally in that same situation and they’d be mobbed.
The crowds were not just bad around character meet & greets. The sidewalk on Main Street filled early for the first parade, fireworks spots were claimed quickly thereafter, and every single Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular was packed–even the midnight showing.
It didn’t help that at some points, crowd control was minimal. The Central Plaza and parade route area directly in front of Cinderella Castle was mayhem between the fireworks, Hocus Pocus, and second Boo to You parade. We were camped out in that area for the second parade and guests with strollers and ECVs trying to get through looked downright miserable. I can’t say I blame them, as it was complete gridlock.
We’ve done this same spot for the parade before, and it’s always chaotic, but this was worse than normal. It’s frustrating that this is a known problem due to the way the entertainment is scheduled, and Disney still hasn’t found a better solution to managing guest flow than “unorganized stampede.”
If August parties are this busy–at a time when hotel occupancy is at or near its lowest of the year–I can only imagine how bad peak-season parties will be in October.
I’m not sure what has brought out the crowds this year. Perhaps it’s the new ride “overlays” (a charitable term for the minimal changes to three attractions), the special desserts, or exclusive popcorn buckets. It could also be that consumer confidence (a topic we’ve discussed elsewhere on this blog, at length) is encouraging ticket sales. Then again, it’s tough to reconcile that with on-site resort occupancy, unless it’s mostly locals purchasing MNSSHP tickets.
Whatever the case, the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party we attended “felt” busier than any other night we’ve spent in Magic Kingdom recently. In fairness, the feel of crowds does not always correspond with wait times, and those appeared moderate by hard ticket party standards (aside from the attractions with overlays).
This brings us to the ultimate question of whether the 2018 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is worth the money. We are total suckers for these parties, and we absolutely love the atmosphere at the events.
This is equally true for both MNSSHP and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. From 11 p.m. until whenever we leave is our favorite time at Magic Kingdom, and the parties are close to “worth it” for us on a personal level based on that end-of-night atmosphere alone.
However, if this were our first MNSSHP or we had kids who needed to leave before 11 p.m., I would have been disappointed by our experience.
The first few hours of the night were overly crowded and involved a lot of waiting around, and those problems would’ve been compounded if we weren’t event ‘regulars’ who could find low-crowd spots or simply skip the most popular things because we’ve done them before.
If this were our first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, it also probably would’ve been our last. We think with tempered expectations about what you can realistically accomplish (and a willingness to skip things–characters, especially–with long lines) during a single party night, first-timers can also have a blast at the event. It just requires patience and knowledge that you cannot do or see it all at a single MNSSHP.
Of course, this was not our first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. By cherry-picking what mattered most to us and approaching other popular things with a “no big deal if we skip it” mentality, we had a very good time. Even as Annual Passholders who have done the event year after year, MNSSHP is still worth it to us. The ambiance, Happy HalloWishes fireworks, and two showings of both the Boo to You parade and Hocus Pocus show provide more than sufficient value for us to keep returning, with everything else being icing on the cake.
Have you attended Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World yet this year? What did you think of the crowds? Think it was worth the high ticket price? Thoughts on the Boo to You Parade, HalloWishes Fireworks, Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, or any other entertainment? Any other tips, likes or dislikes? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!