Best & Worst Dates for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
Wondering about the least-crowded or most-crowded nights to attend the 2023 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? This post covers the best & worst dates to buy tickets for Magic Kingdom’s special event, so you can plan your vacation around avoiding these crowds.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party occurs in Magic Kingdom on 37 select nights August 12 through October 31, from 7 p.m. until midnight. There are more party nights this year than ever before, which has become something of a trend. Unsurprisingly, Halloween is always the busiest (and most expensive!) night of the party, but if you have other options, when should you attend?
Expect the parties to be busy, in general. Last time it was held, most nights were crowds were moderately crowded to very crowded–we would strongly recommend “Is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Too Crowded?” for a look at what we mean.
When it comes to choosing the least-crowded Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, the first rule of thumb is that the cheaper nights are the less busy ones. There are numerous different ticket price groupings, with most of cheapest dates are all in August and early September.
Prices get progressively more expensive in October, at which point many dates are over $150 per ticket. It’s pretty easy to spot some trends simply by looking at Disney’s calendar of available party dates. However, not all dates in the same price tier will be equally busy.
In an ideal world, we would recommend attending a party on a Tuesday in August. Even Friday in August will be less busy than Fridays in September and October. The one exception to this is the first party, which is always busy due to vloggers, bloggers, influencers, all of the fans who want to be “first,” and Walt Disney World guests doing late summer vacation who are leaving that weekend and don’t have any other MNSSHP nights during their trip.
However, demand should drop off after that, especially for weeknights. If you can’t go in August, early to mid-September on a Tuesday night will be the best option.
We predict that the August 23 party will be the least busy of the entire season…but there’s the slight chance celebrating Halloween in August might not sit well with you. (Hence our prediction that it’ll be the least crowded party!)
Historically, there are generally three rules for how busy Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party will be:
- Tuesday nights are always the least crowded
- Friday nights are the most crowded
- The parties get progressively busier the closer you get to Halloween
We consider these fairly hard and fast rules because locals/Annual Passholders don’t want to take their kids to the Halloween party on a school night, and because they actually start thinking about Halloween when you get closer to Halloween.
As such, pretty much any Tuesday night through September 20 would be a good day to attend, as would Sundays through September 25.
There’s one Monday night party this year–on September 5, which is Labor Day. Typically, that’s not a busy weekend at Walt Disney World by holiday standards and most Southerners doing long weekend trips will head home by then. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but I’d definitely pick the party on September 5 over the one on September 2. The Friday one will almost certainly be worse.
You might think that “it doesn’t matter if every single party sells out,” which very well might occur with the 2023 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party given that it’s returning from a two year hiatus. However, our experience has also been that capacity caps are increased as the event wears on.
Totally anecdotal, but we attended over a dozen MNSSHP nights in 2019, including numerous “sold out” parties in August and October. The latter were easily 30% busier on average. Of course, things could always be different this year–again, it has been 3 years since the last Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
Basically, tourists go to the parties on whatever night they feel like going (they’re on vacation, it’s all the same to them), but locals who could go any night of the season choose more carefully. They’re the ones who tip the scales in terms of congestion.
With that said, overarching crowd trends also come into play–if there are fewer tourists, it stands to reason that there’s also less demand for MNSSHP. As a general matter, October is also more crowded than mid-August through September, which definitely adds to it. In the last few years, October has become busier and busier at Walt Disney World, and we do not expect that trend to change.
Tourists also don’t have the same luxury of picking and choosing nights, having only a few days from which to choose during their trips. But locals with the entire calendar in front of them want to get dressed up and take their kids later on weekend nights, once Halloween is actually on their radar and they have made costumes.
Plus, locals know that Florida is still hot and humid in September, and typically cooler in October, making those bulky or ornate costumes more feasible later in the season.
While crowd level recommendations for the entire calendar of dates is well beyond the scope of our knowledge and expertise, we think if you follow the go Tuesday, don’t go Friday rule (expanded to ‘go school nights, don’t go weekend nights’), and/or plan for a trip earlier in the Halloween (if you still have that luxury–if not, there’s always next year), you’ll be pretty well set.
Another easy trick that you should use for determining whether Disney is projecting a particular party to have low or high attendance is to look at the price of tickets for that party, and available discounts.
Disney does not offer Disney Vacation Club or Annual Passholder discounts out of some sense of corporate benevolence, it does so to encourage guests to attend the cheaper parties because they have lower attendance. How this can be helpful in your planning is when you see an anomaly party, price-wise.
For example, if there’s a weeknight party that should have low attendance but has no discounts available and is priced higher, then perhaps that is because Disney knows something we don’t. Maybe there’s a convention or athletic group that is anticipated to make a large ticket buy.
Regardless of all of the other tips that we have, you can be pretty certain that if a party costs less, it will be less crowded. If a party costs more, it will be more crowded. Disney has mastered the art of manipulating attendance patterns with discounts and pricing tricks in order to more evenly re-distribute crowds. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is no exception to this rule.
The only thing to potentially keep in mind, or use as a “tie-breaker” when two dates you’re considering are priced the same is to think about potential demographics of the parties. In our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Guide, we strongly encourage guests to not do attractions during the party despite the shorter wait times, because there is a lot of party entertainment (so much that you can’t see it all in a single party), and rides can be done on a normal day in the Magic Kingdom.
Annual Passholders and locals are more inclined to follow this because they have regular access to the attractions in the Magic Kingdom, and could do them any ole time. By contrast, many tourists do not have such access, and are willing to pay a premium to attend the event for shorter lines, plus some Halloween entertainment.
Factor in when locals are more likely to be attending the parties you’re considering (based on the above) in the case of a “tie” in terms of pricing, and either go to or avoid that party depending upon whether characters/entertainment are more important to you, or doing attractions with shorter waits is more important to you. Obviously, it’s your decision, but we recommend picking the tourist-filled nights if you can and focusing on attractions during a different day in the Magic Kingdom.
With 37 party nights, chances are your Walt Disney World vacation will be impacted by Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party regardless of whether you attend. There’s also the matter of Magic Kingdom during the day on event nights, and you should absolutely plan around this.
In short, 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 dates, you will get less done than you could before ~5 pm on a party day. So long as you’re comfortable missing the fireworks or are fine watching from a resort restaurant or the TTC, we highly recommend doing your days in Magic Kingdom on party dates.
Avoid Saturdays in Magic Kingdom during party season, which will likely have 9/10 or 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 absolutely essential in October.
If you have a Park Hopper ticket, visit Magic Kingdom during the day on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party nights, and then head to another park at around 4 pm. Animal Kingdom will always be your best option for lower-crowd evenings during the fall. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is another solid option. Epcot tends to be the “hopper park” (especially during Food & Wine Festival) so we’re less inclined to recommend it.
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 at Walt Disney World.
In practice, since our Halloween party visits don’t operate in a vacuum, we love the party on the last Tuesday in September or the first Tuesday in October. We view this as the “sweet spot” because it allows us to plan a trip around both Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and better weather. It used to be that this also allowed us to attend the early days Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, but with that being moved forward a couple of weeks pretty much every year, it now starts in August…just like the Halloween Party.
Also like the Halloween party, the Food & Wine Festival is less busy on weekdays. Going at the very start of Food & Wine allows us to enjoy that, plus Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party during a less-busy September date, and weather that has cooled since the start of the parties in September. But don’t tell anyone else about this sweet spot…it’s our secret!
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Which dates are your favorites for doing Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? Have you had more success going earlier in the season as opposed to waiting until October? What about Tuesday v. Friday v. Sunday nights? Think “sold out” in August still has fewer people than “sold out” in October? When are you planning to go this year? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? 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!
One correction: Passholders DO get a discount, on some or all MNSSHP dates, I know I did. it was 10 bucks off per AP holder.
Do you think it would be less crowded Sunday, October 2nd or Tuesday, October 4th? Sunday is cheaper but it sounds like Tuesdays are usually less busy?
Question- Can you get Genie plus for the Halloween Party? Planning Friday, Aug 19th and it will just be me (Mom) and my 3 year old. I know she can’t wait in long lines. Want to go at 4pm, so we get some sunlight and rides in. Can I buy Genie plus for just the party? Would DAS work during the party?
We’re planning to go to MNSSHP on Tuesday 10/25 (just didn’t buy tickets yet). We also want to spend another day at MK on Thursday 10/27, so I’m wondering if we would get more accomplished on a normal park ticket with 1/2 hour early arrival and leave at 7 when the party starts, or purchase another set of party tickets and get into MK at 4? I feel like we never have enough time to enjoy everything the party has to offer on just one night of attendance. Kids & hubby could do all the rides on 2nd night while I continue to enjoy party festivities and shop for merch. Any thoughts?
Such incredible information you always provide. I am so grateful for all of it. I hear you on the Tuesday party Tom so we have October 4th booked. I hear you on the Park Hoppers so I have that box checked but I am trying to determine if I should also purchase Genie+ for all days or just purchase as I go. Purchasing my tickets soon trough AAA. Our dates are September 29-October 6 we are staying at the Poly for quick access to Magic Kingdom. Thank you for all you do Tom
“I hear you on the Park Hoppers so I have that box checked but I am trying to determine if I should also purchase Genie+ for all days or just purchase as I go.”
We never recommend buying it for length of stay unless money doesn’t matter and you’re solely considering convenience. If you’re on a budget, buy Genie+ selectively for the days and parks when/where you’ll actually need it.
My only choices this year are Oct 30 or Oct 31 🙁 I’d planned for the Nov 1 party, but they aren’t doing it this year 🙁
We are going the day after Labor Day, so I am hoping for the low crowd. Giving us a chance to ride rides without having to pay for it.
Thanks for posting this as usual very helpful information! I had forgotten all about MNSSHP. We’ll be back Sep. 24-30 and already had our MK park reservation for Tuesday Sep. 27th so I just now purchased our event tickets.
Doing a split stay at AK Villas and BW Villas just wanted to ask you if we can still have our bags transferred to the next resort and just check in later? Don’t want to waste any park fun time with only a 6 night stay.
I don’t know how people will continue to afford it, this year for a party in September for a family of 3 it was $444 for one evening with taxes and fees. When you factor this on-top of your normal tickets it adds up really fast. I see people going only to one party per vacation, as I’m not sure a family of 5 could justify multiple nights at these prices, so hopefully the quality of the party will be better for the price you are paying (by this I only mean less crowded as I’m sure Disney will go cheap on all party perks).
Does anyone (Tom?) have an opinion on whether it’s worth doing just the rides that have overlays during the Halloween parties?
There really aren’t many ride overlays during Halloween. Space Mountain may have different music, and Mad Tea Party may have an overlay. Pirates of the Caribbean may have a live actor blending in with the animatronic figures. The Haunted Mansion queue line usually has lots of activity. Don’t waste too much time waiting in ride lines or you’ll miss the party.
I’m a tourist coming from the UK. We are buying tickets for Sunday 16th October, hoping that the week before will be busier due to the holiday. We are realistic though, the fortnight we are over ever ly day is gonna be busy so there are no “good” options for us.
That’s a complicated one, our best day in term of planning would be Friday Sept 16th.. But reading this I’m a bit scared. We are staying at universal from 10th to 14th morning so I wanted to avoid taking a lyft from Uni to MK on the tuesday but now I’m reconsidering.
Followed your advice last time we went and it was great. Now that we’re locals, I’ll be buying tickets on August 23, 2022. Hopefully not too many people are reading this and doing the same LOL.
We went the Halloween party on an a Friday night in August in 2019 because it was the only option due to our schedule. We had a great time, but I would not go on a Friday night again if given the choice. It was crazy crowded. Mid-week seems a much better option!
Attended on Friday, Sept 27. The crowds were unreal.
How do you think Friday August 30th will be? It will probably be the best night for us. October just gets too busy. If it’s less busy than October that will be a huge plus! I have a high schooler, so those mid week days don’t work for us.
Historically how crowded is the party that rolls over into a Nov. date? Ie, the last party this year is Nov 1. I would suspect as usual Oct 31 will be an absolute crowd nightmare but since Nov 1 is a Friday and the LAST party of the season I’m wondering if it will be just as crowded?
My dilemma is our travel dates this year in order to accommodate the Wine and Dine Run event allow us to only attend the party Nov 1. Do you expect the Nov 1 date will be just as crowded and possibly sold out as the traditional Oct 31 party?? The MNSSHP is my favorite special event but I dont want to invest the money if we cant enjoy the party on Nov 1 due to the excessive crowds.
Also since the last MNSSHP party is Nov 1, when can we expect they will they change Magic Kingdom overnight to Christmas decor?
This party will be one of the top 5 in terms of crowds.
anyone been or have insight to the party taking palce on labor night night? i figured it won’t be packed since a- it’s one of the least expensive nights, and b- locals have to go back to work/school the following day. i suppose there is possibility of people coming for SWGE to go that night, but i’m still feeling like people coming specifically for that are probably heading home by monday…
Oh great we have tickets to one of the nights on the sweet spot 🙂 Very excited for MNSSHP