The schedule for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party kicks into high gear now that we’re in September, with multiple events per week in Magic Kingdom–in some cases every other night. MNSSHP bumps up to 3 nights per week until October, at which point it’ll happen 4 nights per week, including every Thursday and Friday.
However, the first two parties this September have been delightfully dead, reminding us of the good ole days of these events years ago. On our recent visits to Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, we waited in line less than 10 minutes for the Seven Dwarfs, got parade spots at the last minute, and enjoyed a largely-empty park!
Now, before you get excited about the prospect of low crowds at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party throughout September and October, temper your expectations a bit. There are several simple explanations for the low crowds the last two nights, and why that won’t necessarily be the case going forward…
The first explanation is Hurricane Dorian. These early party nights are disproportionately attended by tourists (locals have more flexibility in when to attend, and most favor the cooler dates that are more in the heart of spook season), and a lot of people canceled their Walt Disney World trips. This is easily the biggest and best way to account for ~70% of the lower crowds.
However, it’s not the only explanation–and these other variables could impact attendance numbers at future Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party nights. A couple are of particular interest to me…
First, there’s the possibility that Extra, Extra Magic Hours in Magic Kingdom and elsewhere are causing on-site guests to get up earlier, and thus, finish their days earlier.
The idea of leaving a theme park for the day by 6 pm is practically heresy to me, but people entering Magic Kingdom around 7 am could feel satisfied or tired by late afternoon.
This, in turn, could lead to fewer same-day sales of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party tickets. Spontaneous party ticket sales occur when people arrive at Magic Kingdom not realizing they’ll have to leave early.
While savvy planners who read sites like this one couldn’t fathom showing up to Magic Kingdom and not knowing the park hours, this happens more than you might think. (Remember, plenty of guests still don’t use FastPass+ because they don’t know about it, or assume it costs extra.)
Second, there’s more to do in other parks this year. The big one here is Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which is going to be the big draw for many guests this year now that it’s open.
Obviously, this is just one land (with only one attraction right now), but it’s enough to move the needle. That means it’ll pull at least some people out of the other parks and into Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Third, it’s possible that pent-up demand is starting to be exhausted. The first several parties, which are more spaced out, were pretty busy (albeit not as bad as last year).
Even though many Disney fans grouse about Halloween being celebrated in August, many guests want this, a fact that’s borne out in attendance numbers.
Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t note that even as of this morning (September 6, 2019), crowds at Magic Kingdom are still really low. We were on hand for Extra, Extra Magic Hours and it was a ghost town. Even after that ended and the park opened to day guests, it’s been really quiet.
With each passing day, the hurricane is less and less of a viable explanation for the low crowds. Whether this translates to low crowds for tonight’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party remains to be seen, but we’re expecting exactly that.
Explanations that I wouldn’t consider particularly compelling are pricing and the parties being too early on the calendar. If either were true, the first several parties would’ve also been impacted, and they were not. At least, not to this extent. If I had to guess, I’d say year over year MNSSHP attendance was down a little (maybe 10-15% lower) at the early parties, but not to a significant degree.
As we speculated in our Unlimited No So Scary Halloween Party Pass post, we suspect that the motivation for selling the Party Pass is not (primarily) to cram more people into Magic Kingdom on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party nights. Rather, it’s to help with lagging attendance at the late August and September parties, which are likely seeing slower ticket sales than normal.
Setting this speculation aside, our main reason for this post is simply to share some photos I took during the last two Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties. So…here they are:
Most of these can be presented without commentary, but a couple are worth discussing.
Above is a picture of the waiting area for the Seven Dwarfs. If you’ve seen this on a normal night, you know it’s normally packed with people, and the wait is best measured in hours.
There were 4 parties in front of us, and we waited under 10 minutes.
Even on an off night, I couldn’t believe this. (Later that same evening, Sally and Jack Skellington also had a ~10 minute wait.)
We didn’t do the dessert party, but in walking by, it appeared that maybe 10-15% of the tables were full.
Presumably, there were a lot of cancellations due to the hurricane. (If you’re considering this dessert party, we’d direct you towards our Review & Viewing Tips: Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks post, which covers the best views. Tomorrowland Terrace is not one of them.)
Both nights, this was how Main Street looked about 15-30 minutes before the first Boo to You parade.
Normally, these sidewalks start filling up 45 minutes or more in advance. One night, I snagged a prime flagpole spot after the Headless Horseman ran.
We also took a lot of character and PhotoPass photos, as most of those had no wait. At this point, I think our next Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party posts will be ones dedicated to the PhotoPass photo ops, the various characters at MNSSHP, and maybe a new 1-night itinerary.
If anyone else has ‘requests’, we’ll take those into consideration. (Gotta justify attending so many of these things somehow!)
Turning back to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party attendance and crowd patterns, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. There’s a strong possibility that the lower numbers can be primarily explained by weather-related cancellations. It’s also probable that other factors are coming into play, and we’ll see lower attendance at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party year over year in September and October, too.
Frankly, that needs to happen, as last year was way too crowded. Even if party attendance turns out to be 20% lower, it’s still about 20% higher than it should be. (Last year was out of control.) We’ll keep monitoring the situation, putting those Party Passes to good use, and letting you know what happens with crowds. In the meantime, hopefully you enjoyed this speculation and photos from our last couple of evenings at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
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Are you hoping for continued low attendance at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? Have you done MNSSHP in the last couple of years and found the crowds to be excessive? Do you agree or disagree with our analysis here? 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!