Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party FAQ
We’ve already been getting a lot of questions about the 2023 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. This FAQ answers those common inquiries about prices, best & worst crowds, ticket sell-outs, when to visit Magic Kingdom, and much more.
Aside from the two years when it didn’t happen, we’ve attended Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at least once every year since 2008–including over a dozen times in 2019 and twice in 2022! From all of those party nights–and ticket purchases–we’ve learned a lot about how it works, much of which is also covered in our Guide to 2023 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, which also covers whether it’s worth the money, strategy for the event, and questions readers are not asking (yet).
Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of questions about the 2023 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, including from seasoned Walt Disney World veterans. One thing to keep in mind is that what happened in the past isn’t necessary what’ll happen this year. This is generally something to keep in mind with regard to all these answers–they’re all based on a mix of speculation and knowledge of past precedent, with no guarantee that it holds true in the present/future.
In this MNSSHP FAQ, we’ll try to answer the most common reader questions and concerns. We’ll also add to it over time, so if you have questions that are still unanswered after reading this, please feel free to inquire in the comments–we’ll update accordingly!
How quickly will tickets sell out?
No one knows. Period, full stop, whatever.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween is beloved among Walt Disney World fans and it has not been held since 2019. Normally, the reactions to this announcement would be a 50/50 mix of complaints about price increases and excitement about the event returning. This time, I’d estimate that <10% of reactions were complaints of any variety. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and that’s despite this being the largest price increase ever for MNSSHP.
The fact is that there’s a ton of pent-up demand for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party among locals and diehard fans. Add to that uncertainty about the economy and unknowns about the capacity cap, and I’m not even remotely comfortable guessing when tickets will sell out.
Which dates typically sell out first?
Typically, the first and the last night sell out before any other date, followed by other dates during the week of Halloween.
Last year, the party on Halloween night sold out at the beginning of July, approximately 45 days after tickets went on sale. Our expectation is that the first August date and October 28-31, 2023 parties will sell out first this year.
After that, there’s very little consistency. Sometimes one of the Fridays early-on in August goes, other times it’s Fridays in October. Dates coinciding with large group bookings, special events, and conventions also tend to go fast–those are wild cards.
Which are the best nights to attend?
As a general rule, the earlier in the season, the lower the crowd levels. While tourists are eager to celebrate Halloween whenever, this event is also popular with locals. Most (normal) Floridians are not celebrating Halloween in August.
Similarly, weeknights are usually less crowded than weekends. Again, this comes down to locals rather than tourists. Florida residents mostly won’t book weeknights because they have to get up for work and/or school the next morning.
Combining these two principles, Tuesdays in August are a great time to go. Conversely, Fridays in October tend to be worst.
For more comprehensive advice and our favorite 4 nights of the event, see our updated Best & Worst 2023 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Dates.
What about the very first night?
It tends to be overrun with bloggers, vloggers, social media influencers, and the many other Floridians who have to be first to do anything. You might want to avoid those evenings–especially if you don’t want to be in the background of someone’s vlog or live stream. Personally, I would not attend the first night if I did not have to for the sake of “research.” (Honestly, we’re debating whether to do the 4th party instead–there will be a surplus of coverage from night one, and waiting might be more pleasant for us.)
The second party is typically not nearly as bad. The only caveat I’d offer there is that Disney typically uses this as media night, so it can have some of the same problems as the first (on a much smaller scale). The bigger issue is that they often rope off some of the best parade viewing areas.
Still, it’s a Tuesday in mid-August, so it won’t be too bad.
What if all nights sell out?
It stands to reason that if every Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party sells out, they’re all equally crowded, right?
In theory, yes. In actuality, our experience over the years has been that Walt Disney World gradually increases the capacity cap in late September and October. In other words, a “sold out” night in August often is not as bad as a “sold out” night in October.
How bad are crowds at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party?
As noted above, it depends on which day of the week and which month of the event you attend. Another reason why perceptions of crowds varies is because too many Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party guests congregate in a few limited areas of the park.
Between the fireworks and second parade, the Hub can feel downright unsafely congested as people are attempting to leave and arrive simultaneously. Main Street can feel like it’s an 11/10 in terms of crowds, so if you spend a disproportionate amount of the event up there (as we do), you might think MNSSHP is insanely crowded–worse than a normal day.
Meanwhile, over in Fantasyland, Adventureland, and Frontierland, there are often wide open walkways during the exact same parties, at the exact same times. While not as short as After Hours events, wait times for most attractions are under 10 minutes. Guests who use MNSSHP as a way to do rides with minimal waits and steer clear of Main Street might perceive crowds to be around 4/10.
With that said, you should go in with realistic expectations about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party if you’ve never attended, only done After Hours Boo Bash, or haven’t done MNSSHP since 2016. In the last two years the party ran, its attendance levels absolutely exploded in October.
We would strongly recommend “Is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Too Crowded?” for a look at what we mean.
Will the Party Pass return?
For those who are unfamiliar with it, Walt Disney World offered the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Pass–essentially an Annual Pass for the Halloween Party–in the last year it was held. This allowed access to 35 nights–every party night in August, September, October, and November except for Halloween itself. All for $299.
This was a last-minute offering, quite literally. It was announced and went on sale the day of the first MNSSHP. We scrambled to get our regular MNSSHP tickets converted to Party Passes that day, and Cast Members at Guest Relations hadn’t even heard of the Party Pass yet.
We speculated that the Party Pass was a last ditch effort to buoy ticket sales for August and September, which were likely slower than normal due to fans avoiding those months for fear of huge crowds around the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. (It’s a distant memory now, but remember that?)
Here’s our commentary from that time: “Since Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was announced, we’ve been trying to allay fears that this September at Walt Disney World is unlikely to be chaotic. It’s still school season, storm season, and the heart of what’s typically off-season in Florida. Nevertheless, we’ve heard from many readers who have debated canceling their planned trips (or have canceled).”
“In addition to fears of Star Wars-induced crowds, consumer confidence took an unexpected drop in August, and the travel industry at large has been starting to experience a slowdown in spending. Add to that growing fears about a looming recession and other recently-released ticket products suggesting that Disney might just have a “pricing issue” (which the company has denied), and it seems like ~$100/night special event tickets potentially aren’t selling like hotcakes.”
With pent-up demand still going strong, it’s incredibly unlikely that the Party Pass will be sold right away (or at all). With that said, we’ve included the above quotes because it offers a potentially interesting parallel to present day–expectations for sky-high demand that slam into hard economic realities.
Even with the “r word” being thrown around more by analysts, I’m highly skeptical that the Party Pass will return. Even though the season started out slow, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party was absolutely slammed by October of that year.
When should we do our Magic Kingdom day if we are NOT attending MNSSHP?
Magic Kingdom is least busy on days with Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in the evening and more busy on days that MNSSHP isn’t happening. This is because the Halloween Party is separately-ticketed, which causes Magic Kingdom to close early on MNSSHP nights. Many day guests avoid Magic Kingdom on party dates because the park hours are shorter and fireworks are not shown to regular guests. This results in significantly lighter crowds before the party.
These same guests then flock to non-party days in Magic Kingdom. Even though the park has longer hours on these days, you will get less done than you could before 4 pm on a party day. So long as you’re comfortable missing the fireworks (Disney Enchantment is nothing special) or are fine watching from a resort restaurant or the TTC, we highly recommend doing your days in Magic Kingdom on party dates.
Conversely, we strongly recommend avoiding Saturdays in Magic Kingdom, which will likely have 10/10 crowd levels. Also steer clear of any days that are in between two or more Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party nights. This is less important in August and September when attendance levels are lower, but is critical in October. It’s possible Disney Park Pass reservations will help normalize attendance to some degree, but don’t count on it.
If you have a Park Hopper ticket, we’d strongly recommend visiting Magic Kingdom during the day on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party nights, and then bouncing to another park at around 4 pm. Animal Kingdom will always be your best option for lower-crowd evenings during the fall. If, for some reason, Fantasmic still hasn’t returned, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be another great option.
If you don’t have a Park Hopper ticket…we’d strongly recommend upgrading to one. As far as splurges go, this is a valuable one to have during party season.
What happens with Extended Evening Hours?
Extended Evening Hours typically occur at Magic Kingdom on Wednesday, which is not a party night. It’s always possible that Walt Disney World will move those hours to Disney’s Hollywood Studios during party season, but we doubt it.
Are Disney Park Pass reservations required?
Does Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party include unlimited ice cream, popcorn, soda and other refreshments?
That’s a feature of the After Hours events. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party offers unlimited trick or treating, and there will also be special food & beverage available for purchase.
Why are tickets cheaper than last year’s Disney After Hours Boo Bash?
As intimated above, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is fundamentally different than the After Hours events. The heart of the After Hours events is low crowds and short lines at attractions, with entertainment being the icing on the cake. By contrast, the heart of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is the entertainment, and short lines for rides are the icing.
More to the point, the attendance cap is significantly higher for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. We’re talking around double the number of guests. With a lower guest limit comes higher prices–with a higher limit, lower prices.
Why are tickets more expensive than previous Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party years?
The last year tickets were sold for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (the cancelled 2020 event), tickets started at $85 for weeknights in August and early September, which was “only” an increase of $6 as compared to the previous year. That was the smallest increase in a while.
Comparatively, this is the largest increase since we’ve been tracking prices. Granted, it’s over the course of two years instead of one, but it’s still a sizable jump.
As for why, presumably because they can. Prices will continue increasing until demand drops. The cost of visiting Walt Disney World has skyrocketed in the last two years, just like most domestic travel destinations. So long as there’s pent-up demand and plenty of people to pay these higher prices, it’ll continue.
Will Walt Disney World bring back other After Hours events?
We are surprised that they haven’t brought back the other events already. If you told me at the beginning of this calendar year that Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party would return in mid-August, I would’ve guessed that, at minimum, Villains After Hours would return before it.
So the answer here is “I don’t know.” Disney is leaving money on the table by not bringing back other After Hours events, and the only explanation I can come up with is that staffing still isn’t where it needs to be for those events. I truly do not know, though.
What does this mean for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party?
My guess would be that it’s coming back.
The only thing that could throw a monkey wrench in that is attendance projections for November and December, which are historically much busier months than August and September. Consequently, it’s possible Walt Disney World leadership won’t want to close at 7 pm several nights per week because of the crowd disruptions it’ll cause.
Still, it’s hard to imagine bringing back MNSSHP but not Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The opening of TRON Lightcycle Run is another wild card, and it looks increasingly likely to debut this year–potentially during the holiday season around when Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opened a few years ago. In other words, the return of MVMCP is no sure thing at this point, but “leans likely.”
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Have any questions about the 2023 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party that this FAQ did not answer? Other thoughts or points to address? Excited that MNSSHP is returning this year? Will your family be buying or sitting this Halloween event out? Do you agree or disagree with our perspective on this? 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!
Do we need to dress up? Can kids still trick or treat/ get candy without being in a costume? We are a family of 6 trying to cram into carry- ons and 2-3 checked bags and I just don’t know that we have room for costumes for kids (much less all of us). If we splurge on tix to the party, I don’t want to have to pay for another checked bag just for costumes.
No one has to dress up to participate in all party activities, including trick-or-treating. Some find it more fun to wear a costume. My costume consists of a tee shirt with a monster on it. The monster’s eyeball is an animation I play on an old iPhone inside my shirt. Nothing elaborate, but it’s an attention grabber when the kids see the eyeball moving back and forth on my tee shirt.
I have a day pass but I am considering purchasing the Boo Bash ticket as well. I will be there on Halloween day. Will we be able to ride all of the rides in the evening as well during the Boo Bash? I am just confused as to what is all offered. I want to make sure it is worth spending the extra money. Thank you for allowing us to answer questions.
There is a difference between last year’s “Boo Bash” and this year’s “Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party” (MNSSHP). As far as I no, there is no Boo Bash this year, it’s being replaced by MNSSHP. The Halloween party has much longer hours than the Boo Bash. With a ticket, you can enter the park at 4pm and stay to 12am. At 7pm, guests without a party ticket are asked to leave the park. They won’t be able to ride anything or enter certain areas without a wrist band. The crowd steadily thins out after 7pm, but the crowd really doesn’t drop until after the parade and fireworks.
What hasn’t been stated is whether guests can purchase Genie+ for the party from 4pm-7pm. In the past, we were able to snag a FastPass or two prior to the start of the party at 7pm. There were no FastPasses during the actual party. I would assume that no Lightning Lane reservations would be available from 7pm-12am. All rides will be operational, but there may still be a wait of an hour or more for the more popular rides, particularly early in the party. The Haunted Mansion is quite popular.
I’m sure that Tom would agree that you would be wasting valuable time waiting in line for rides during the party. There are so many activities that you’ll miss a lot of the party if your sole purpose is to ride everything during the party. There’s trick-or-treating, the special Boo to You parade, the Hocus Pocus stage show, special character meetings, and various other things. Crowds really thin out after 10pm, so lines will get a lot shorter then if you want to ride something. I hope to get a Haunted Mansion lightning lane reservation between 4pm-7pm, and maybe get to ride it again after 10pm.
If we go an a during the day on a party day what time will we need to leave the park? Do we have until 7pm or do they require a buffer time between day guests leaving and evening guests arriving?
Guests with party tickets get a special wrist band. At 7pm, guests without these wrist bands are asked to leave. You will not be able to ride anything or trick-or-treat without a wrist band, and access to some parts of the park will be restricted to those with wist bands. There will be monitors at the entrances to sections of the park checking for wrist bands.
Perfect! Thank you! Does anyone know how dinner reservations work at this time if I do not have a wrist band can I still make a dinner reservation for say 6:30 or 7?
Hello, I have some family staying on site and some that are not. Are the people staying on site allowed to buy on May 12 with no cap on how many tickets they buy? We are a group of 13 and to make sure we can all go to the party together. I had previously read they can only buy for the number of guest on their reservation +2. Is this correct? Thanks!
I’m from the UK staying as a guest in a disney hotel during the period. I’m a bit confused how I am able to buy tickets on 12th. All I can find online are US telephone numbers. I’m not sure if we’re meant to be able to book online via an link in the MDE app or something. Any insight at all? Many thanks.
When I open MDE app and go to tickets and special event tickets, I DO see MNSSHP listed and “coming soon”. I would think you could purchase tickets through the app. If you can’t use the app to purchase tickets after 7am Eastern Time (Orlando time) with the app, then you’ll have to call.
Hi Tom from the UK
We are excited to be visiting WDW again, pushed back from 2020
We are staying while the first 3 August parties are on but won’t go as it’s too expensive an add on to our already expense trip! I was wondering, would you recommend going to MK those days though as I have park pass reservations for 12 the and 16th August already.
Do you think other parks will be busy those day?
We have been before and also have an earlier day reserved to see the fireworks the previous week
Thank you and I LOVE your blogs!!!
Going on past precedent, Magic Kingdom will be significantly less busy on party days, and the other three parks will be slightly busier–but not significantly worse.
Of course, that precedent predates the Park Pass era, so those reservations could normalize attendance if reservations sell out for the other days. It’s hard to say with complete certainty until fall arrives, but I strongly suspect it’ll play out exactly as it has before.
Do a lot of adults wear costumes? If so, are they Disney character costumes or any Halloween costume?
Sure, many adults wear costumes of some kind. It’s the one time of the year when adults can wear costumes in MK. You must adhere to specific guidelines, however.
Thanks for taking the time to answer so many questions. I had just read your previous blog on MNSSHP. I see that you have answered for those not attending the party and advised against between party days but I’m still unsure if I need to do a separate theme park day. Could you please advise those who will attend the party? Do separate theme park or same day for both – which is the best value? I’m planning to attend 9/20 MNSSHP.
So you’re asking whether you should also do a second (regular) day at Magic Kingdom?
If so, my answer is generally yes. Typically, we recommend spending party time on entertainment and offerings unique to the event–not attractions. There’s more than enough Halloween stuff to fill the entirety of MNSSHP without doing a single ride.
Some go for the shorter lines, and that’s fine. To each their own. That’s just not what we do–or recommend doing.
Thank you so much for taking the time to clarify all this. Much appreciated.
Do you know if they will announce exactly what’s included at the event before earliest tix are go for sale? Specifically hoping to know if and which character meet and greets would be back because that would be the deciding factor (I know you questioned that offering bc it’s labor intensive) We do have SOG reservations so could make the early reservation but my kids would be devastated if they couldn’t hug their favorite characters (like it was last year)…. As always appreciate your reporting on this and everything! Best blog out there.
Typically, exact character meet & greets are not known until around the time of the first party. I would not expect a list to be released in advance.
Hi, will tickets be available to purchase on the Disney website, the MDE app or both? Thanks
Can tickets be purchased through the MDE app? Or do I have to go online or use a travel agency?
“Because they can” is the most realistic explanation of why the cost of the MNSSHP tickets increased as much as they did. As someone who always gets the military-discounted park tickets, I was shocked at this year’s price increase. While it’s smart to expect an increase from one year to the next, a $30 per ticket increase went beyond typical inflation. But as long as suckers keep paying it (which includes me, I’ll admit), Disney will keep doing it.
I wouldn’t call you or anyone else paying the astronomical costs of travel right now a “sucker.”
The simple reality is that U.S. travel dropped precipitously in 2020, and was also down most of last year. Leisure is important, and people are making up for lost time now–resulting in a huge imbalance of supply and demand, pushing prices up dramatically in the process. (Rising labor and oil costs don’t help, but the latter is not relevant with regard to MNSSHP tickets.)
Great news that the party is returning and signals another ‘return to normal’ green light. Bears mentioning that guest expectations and behavior, while always an issue, may be a much bigger issue this year. There has always been a guest entitlement problem in the parks. With climbing prices and the new ‘I want my life back attitude’ it just fuels the fire. The hub is a bad spot. In 2017, I was in the hub waiting for the first Boo To You parade and also to watch the Sanderson Sisters on the stage. I had a father of 4 teenagers behind me. The longer we waited for the parade in the tight crowd, the more agitated he became. 10 minutes before the parade, he demanded everyone in the 3 rows in front of him get on their knees so his teenagers would have a better view. This included seniors and children. I was right in front of him and with the crowd pressure he was literally right on my back. I let his one ‘smallish’ teenage daughter get in front of me – I’m a 5’5 middle age woman – and this took me out of his sights but the rest of the guests around me and in front of me were yelled at and bullied for the entire parade. I was one person and thought the ticket was pricey. That was in 2017. A family of 6 is wildly expensive. Dad’s behaviour was terrible and never acceptable. But it happens. He made that choice to spend huge amounts of money. No one forced him to buy those tickets. And the next year, I watched the parade in Frontierland. I learned to stay away from the mess that is the hub. Keep in mind that people stress out when pricey tickets become the only thing that matters. We’ll see more of this craziness as prices increase and the per hour cost of special add on parties skyrockets. By all means, enjoy the party. But keep an eye out for other guests who don’t play well with others. CMs can’t be everywhere and certainly aren’t around when you’re crammed tight in a crowd in the dark. While the early parties in August and September would be my preference, with what I’ve seen at past parties, you couldn’t pay me to wade into that crowd on Halloween week.
Do you have to pay for parking during the event?
How does an early closing impact the usefulness of Genie+ at MK during a party day? Would it be easier to stack LLs for late afternoon (4-7pm when when the party hoards arrive) with theoretically lower daytime crowds translating to less competition? Or does it increase competition with more Genie+ users in the theoretically lower daytime crowds trying to maximize their MK time before park hopping for the evening? Is Genie + even available as an add-on for party-goers who would stack LLs for the 4-7 window? And how does an early closing affect the availability of dinner ADRs?
Those are very good questions that I won’t be able to answer until we have some data from the first few MNSSHP days. 😉
(Except the ADR question–those have tended to be tougher on party nights in the 4-7 window.)
Our trip will be 10/8-10/14; with 10/8 being our arrival day and a non-park day and 10/14 a travel home day. We had hoped the party would be on 10/8 and not have to use a park day for the event. With that being said- would you recommend us altering our itinerary to make 10/8 a park day and use 10/13 as our non park day and do the MNSSHP?
For the guests staying at select resorts to purchase tickets on May 12th I had a question. When does the guest need to be staying at the resort to buy the tickets? Does it mean they need to be at the resort staying over night May 12th, or does it mean a future date when the parties are going on? Meaning if I have a trip booked already for October 31st can I buy MNSSHP tickets for October 31st on May 12th? Hope that makes sese LOL!
If it’s the same way they did Boo Bash last year, you should be able to purchase tickets beginning May 12 for any party date for which you have a hotel reservation. So, on May 12 you should be able to purchase tickets for the party on Oct. 31.
If you have a hotel reservation for late October then you can purchase party tickets on May 12th for your stay in October.
Thank you for your wonderful . Just decided that the $700 price tag for my family of 4 does not justify going.
It’s definitely not for everyone! 🙂
I like Mickey Mouse. It is a good caracter. But not Halloween because it is scary like Nostradamus 2012 and 2021.
Thanks for the reply. I appreciate your time and consideration.
I will plan a separate day for MK.