Wondering about the least-crowded or most-crowded nights to attend the 2018 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? This post covers the best and worst dates for the hard ticket event, so you can plan your times in Magic Kingdom and your Walt Disney World vacation around avoiding these crowds. (Last updated August 17, 2018.)
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party occurs multiple dates starting in mid-August and running through the first of November. There are more party nights this year than ever before. Unsurprisingly, Halloween is always the busiest (and most expensive!) night of the party, but if you have other options, when should you attend?
The first rule of thumb is that the cheaper nights are the less busy ones. There are numerous different ticket price groupings. With a couple of exceptions, the cheapest dates are all in August and early September, and prices get progressively more expensive in October. It’s pretty easy to see the trend 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 in August, or early to mid-September on a Tuesday night (or that lone Monday). The first party is always busy irrespective of when it occurs (and to that point, it’s the only night of the season that is sold out thus far). However, demand should drop off after that, especially for weeknights.
To that end, we predict that the August 28, 2018 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 two rules for how busy Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party will be: 1) Tuesday nights are typically the least crowded, whereas Friday nights are the most crowded; and, 2) 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 25, 2018 would be a good day to attend, as would Sundays through September 23, 2018.
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, and tip the scales in terms of crowded-ness.
We’ve found that October is also more crowded (in general, not just the parties) than 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 generally 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 (see also “Free Dining“) in order to more evenly re-distribute crowds. Its hard ticket parties are 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.
As a general rule, Annual Passholders and locals are more inclined to follow this advice 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.
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 (or its soft opening day, which we also really like). 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!
Which days are your favorites for doing Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? When are you planning to go this year? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts on these questions, or anything else, in the comments!