Our 1-night itinerary for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party offers a step-by-step plan-of-attack for minimizing time waiting in lines for character meet & greets, watching the fireworks, Boo to You Parade & Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, and avoiding crowds. (Updated August 17, 2023.)
For those who are unfamiliar with it, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) is a separately-ticketed event held at Magic Kingdom that features family-friendly fun for guests of all ages. MNSSHP occurs on 38 select evenings in the fall…a “season” that begins at Walt Disney World in mid-August and ends until November 1, 2023. It’s a limited-capacity, hard ticket party held after Magic Kingdom has closed to day guests, running from 7 pm until midnight.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party offers an opportunity to enjoy Magic Kingdom’s rides, costumed character meet & greets, and trick-or-treating. There’s also three pieces of flagship entertainment: Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular Fireworks, Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, and the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular Stage Show. If you want the event basics, dates & details, and whether it’s worth attending, see our Ultimate Guide to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. This is an itinerary, focused solely on maximizing time at the event for attendees…
The bad news is that even with this Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party plan-of-attack, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to do everything there during the event. There’s a lot happening during MNSSHP, and pretty much everything has a line or wait time. And we’re talking just the character greetings, trick-or-treating, parade, fireworks, and Hocus Pocus stage show.
Not only that, but MNSSHP is not really a “low crowds” event. While that used to be the case, Walt Disney World raised the capacity cap several years ago. While the last two years haven’t been as bad as October 2019, this year’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is busier than Boo Bash or one of the other After Hours events. Additionally, it’s entirely possible that capacity and crowds will increase for the October 2023 parties–we’ve seen exactly that happen in the past.
Last year, every single night of the event sold out. As of our latest update, the 2023 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is actually slightly outpacing last year’s ticket sales, so we’re again expecting the same. Suffice to say, lines for character meet & greets and congestion on Main Street and near Cinderella Castle around the entertainment can be bad. We would strongly recommend “Is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Too Crowded?” for a look at what we mean.
If you want to be able to ride regular attractions like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (or even the rides with spook season overlays), you’ll have to make compromises and cuts. This is especially true if you plan on doing multiple meet and greets, as characters can consume several hours of your party time. If you don’t plan on meeting any characters–or plan on doing the less popular ones–you’ll have far more flexibility.
The good news is that we’ve attended MNSSHP a ton, and have refined this Halloween party plan based on our experiences. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party doesn’t change much from year to year, and the 2023 incarnation of the event is almost identical to last year. We’ve done MNSSHP every year that it’s been held for the last 15 years–multiple times, some years (including over a dozen times in 2019)–learning a lot about the event’s ins and outs.
We’ve also done the 2023 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party to put this plan through its paces, and the itinerary holds up. With that out of the way, let’s start the evening at Magic Kingdom!
Arrive Early – Purchasing an event ticket to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party gives you access to Magic Kingdom for up to 3 hours before the party starts. MNSSHP itself runs for 5 hours, with special Halloween-themed entertainment, attractions, character greetings, and more.
With this in mind, we recommend planning to get to Magic Kingdom by 3:45 pm. If you already have admission for this day in the park, enter even earlier through the non-event turnstiles and get your wristband in Tomorrowland rather than the front of the park.
Line Up For First Characters – Jack Skellington and Sally meet in Town Square Theater starting sometime between 4 and 5 pm, so line up for them by 4:30 pm for them (you’ll need a party wristband). This is the most sound strategy unless you want to wait until the end of the party.
Even if you line up before 5 pm, be prepared for a wait time of at least an hour–potentially 2-3 hours. If this isn’t worth it, enjoy some free time until about 6:15 pm. There isn’t anything uniquely Halloween at Magic Kingdom outside of the paid event, so this essentially means enjoying normal park activities. You’ll definitely want to eat an early dinner if you haven’t already.
Alternatively, the Seven Dwarfs are once again meeting in Storybook Circus for the 2023 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Along with Jack & Sally, this is the other most popular meet & greet at the event. Line up for this by 5 pm. (Aside from the characters, the biggest difference between the two meet & greets is that the Seven Dwarfs start later and their line is outdoors at first–a tough sell during the August and September heat!)
TRON Lightcycle Run Virtual Queue – This is the new roller coaster in Tomorrowland, and it’s only accessible via virtual queue–that includes during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. You’ll have a chance to join at 6 pm, and it’s imperative that you do so right on the dot if you want to ride.
We highly recommend utilizing the “speed strategy” explained in our Virtual Queue Strategy Guide for TRON Lightcycle Run. That should get you a return time before 7 pm, which is ideal both in terms of having a short return line for the roller coaster and knocking it out before the party officially starts.
Storybook Second (or First) Characters – By about 6:30 pm, it’s a good idea to be in Storybook Circus for the next high-priority characters, which are Daisy & Donald Duck plus Minnie Mouse. This line forms opposite the queue for Dumbo, with the meet & greet taking place inside the indoor queue.
Typically, this meet & greet starts right at 6 pm. If you line up by 6:30 pm, you’ll usually be in and out by 7:15 pm.
More Characters – Following the ducks and mouse, we’ve often found that Pirate Goofy has a modest line by Barnstormer. This is another good meet & greet to knock out, and you’ll likely wait in line 15-20 minutes for it on a normal night.
Another option is heading to the Thotful Spot near the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh for a meet & greet with Tigger, Pooh, Piglet, and Eeyore (or some combination thereof). This is one of the most popular meet & greets at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, with wait times over an hour being common.
PhotoPass Magic Shots – If you opt for the Winnie the Pooh & Friends meet & greet, that’s going to take at least until 8 pm, if not 8:30 pm. In which case, you’ll be skipping this step.
If the line is simply too long or you don’t care about characters, consider knocking out some of the PhotoPass Magic Shots in Fantasyland or Liberty Square. See our Guide to ALL PhotoPass Magic Shots at the 2023 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
First Showtime – Following either of these options, head to the front of Cinderella Castle for to the 8:35 pm showtime of Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular.
It’s not necessary to arrive for this far in advance–a perfect front and center spot is not necessary, as we’ll be watching the show again at the end of the night. If possible, get a spot along the parade route behind the Partners (Walt Disney & Mickey Mouse) statue. You’ll be able to identify this circle where the light pavement ends. (Also, a lot of other guests will be camped out along it.)
Alternatively, if you’re super into character meet & greets, trick or treating, dance parties…or anything else…use this time to do that instead.
Boo To You Parade – If you were able to get a front row spot for the parade up by Cinderella Castle, stay there. If you’re several rows back even after the Hocus Pocus stage show ends, head to the very front of the park. (Either outcome is possible, even last minute. It all depends on how many guests were only there for the stage show.)
Don’t feel bad if you have to bail. This area directly in front of Cinderella Castle isn’t the best Boo to You Parade spot, especially for photos or video. The lighting is rough, and spotlights flanking the castle can create some hellacious flare and color-cast.
A great alternative is Town Square, which is the last section of Main Street to fill up. Here, the lighting is brighter and even and if you snag a spot directly under the Main Street USA Train Station, you still have Cinderella Castle in the background. The Headless Horseman comes first, followed by the rest of the Parade much later (especially to Main Street).
Note that this advice only applies if you want to see the Boo to You Parade twice. There are two performances of this parade, and the second is always less crowded. If you do elect to just go with the second parade, you may end up kicking yourself, because this is one of the best parades Disney does. We always watch it twice, despite having seen it 50+ times over the years.
If you’re really into meeting characters, you should do that during the first parade. We’d recommend the royalty in Fantasyland or Aladdin and friends in Adventureland. None of those will otherwise be included in this itinerary.
Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular – This is the recently-added fireworks spectacular shown only during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties. It runs only once per night, and is not to be missed. The highlight of this nighttime spectacular is a larger-than-life Jack Skellington puppet that is best appreciated up close.
If this is your priority–and the puppet is so cool that maybe it should be–the ideal viewing spot is going to be between Partners and Cinderella Castle. This is a big reason why we recommended this area for the first Boo to You Parade despite the harsh lighting–so you’re not scrambling to the castle immediately after the parade passes.
With that said, the pyro is not best viewed from quite as close. In addition to the normal fireworks shot from directly behind Cinderella Castle (some of which are blocked by that building if you’re front and center), Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular also has perimeter bursts and projections. For the best balance, a location on Main Street USA between Casey’s Corner and Partners is the best option. We cover exact spots for the best view and photos in Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks Viewing Guide.
Catch Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular After Fireworks – If you managed a front and center spot for the Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Fireworks, you should stick around for the next performance of Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, which begins shortly thereafter.
If you didn’t, it might be a good time to make a lap of Magic Kingdom, checking out the dance parties or atmospheric entertainment acts. There will be one more chance to see Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, so don’t fret if you skip this showtime. It might be good to explore somewhere beyond Main Street.
Fun on the Frontier – If you do opt against catching Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, we’d recommend heading over to Frontierland.
This is a good time to catch the final performance of the Cadaver Dans Barbershop Quartet, clown around with the Country Bears, and enjoy the moody ambiance along the Rivers of America.
Buccaneer Bash – After getting your fill of the frontier, cut over to Adventureland for meet & greets, Pirates of the Caribbean, or trick-or-treating now that those lines have died down.
New for the 2023 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is the pirate takeover of Adventureland. There’s a spirited pirate band (Rusty Cutlass) along with their crew, which previously appeared inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Listen for their sea shanties while their shipmates roam the land sharing tales of their explorations at sea. Jack Sparrow also does a meet & greet across from the band, near the ride.
Haunted Mansion – I can’t remember the last time we rode Haunted Mansion during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. The line is simply too long and it’s the normal experience you can have any regular ole day at Magic Kingdom–don’t waste the time.
However, you should enter through the exit to see Lady Renata or Madame Carlotta performing on the lawn. There’s also a PhotoPass Magic Shot at Haunted Mansion.
Boo to You Times Two – At this point, it’s probably time to secure a spot for the second Boo to You Parade, if you want to see it again.
There are two options here. Since you’re already in the neighborhood, you can simply stick to Frontierland, near where the parade steps off. This is going to be the less time intensive option, as you won’t need to wait as long for the parade to arrive and will be able to leave immediately after it’s over.
Being fixated on photos, we usually head back to Main Street. There’s something about the projections and moody lighting on Cinderella Castle that just sets the perfect tone of the parade. My favorite spot is between the Emporium and flagpole, to the left of the Sharing the Magic statue. This viewing area is created when a rope goes up across the street, which usually happens less than 30 minutes before the parade starts.
Terrors of Tomorrow – If you skip the second Boo to You Parade or watch from Frontierland, you should still have time for the terrors of Tomorrow. Okay, terrors is a stretch, unless you find Stitch as Elvis to be a dreadful combination.
There are more PhotoPass Magic Shots, the aforementioned Elvis Stitch, and overlays to both Space Mountain and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. Of these options, Space Mountain is the crowd-pleaser, but we don’t think the overlay is anything special. To each their own, though.
Witching Hour – The last showtime of Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular is midnight, which means you can effectively extend the event by another 20 minutes or so. Despite the mass exodus of people post-parade, don’t expect this to be uncrowded–a ton of other guests will have the exact same idea.
Other alternatives for the end of the night include queueing up for Space Mountain a minute or so before midnight, doing more PhotoPass Magic Shots, or a high-priority meet & greet. The problem with this last option is that the lines are cut based on length, rather than at a specific time. If you want to meet Jack Skellington, you should play it safe and line up by 11 pm at the absolute latest.
Serene Spookiness – You’ll be able to linger around Tomorrowland or Main Street for a while after Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party officially ends. This is a great time to savor the spooky ambiance, take photos, or try to get the remaining PhotoPass Magic Shots on your list.
Guests are typically cleared out of Tomorrowland before 12:30 am, but Main Street usually takes longer–often until 1 am. With a slow trickle of guests still exiting meet & greets long after the party ends (and more merch to be sold on Main Street), security is in no rush to push people towards the exit.
Ultimately, you should be able to have an efficient evening with plenty of fun and lots of entertainment (perhaps too much) by following this Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party plan. We really enjoy this special event and have had a blast every year we’ve done it thus far.
As you can probably tell by our preferences and recommendations, what we really love is the party-specific entertainment. There have been some nights when we’ve spent 4 out of 5 hours on Main Street, watching both Boo to You Parades, three performances of Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, and the fireworks. For 95% of you, that is overkill. However, the entertainment is the heart of the party, and what you’re paying the big bucks for during the event.
Hopefully this MNSSHP itinerary presented a slightly more balanced evening, with time for character meet & greets, exploring the park, getting photos, doing seasonal ride overlays, and enjoying the atmosphere. Those of you who are really into trick-or-treating might notice there’s not much of that here–we’d recommend saving that for the last couple of hours, as lines are much shorter and Cast Members tend to be more generous with candy later in the night.
In the end, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is incredibly expensive, but can offer a lot of bang for your buck if you have a plan of attack. Go in with realistic expectations, but try to do as much as you can–characters, the parade, fireworks, the stage show, and even some trick-or-treating and more. With that said, this itinerary should also demonstrate why we don’t recommend doing regular attractions during the Halloween Party. You won’t have the time to do it all!
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Have you attended the 2023 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? Which character meet & greets and other entertainment are your top priorities? Did you meet Jack Skellington and/or the Seven Dwarfs…or were those lines too long for you? Do you disagree with anything in our 1-night MNSSHP plan? Planning on doing the party in October? Favorite characters you hope to see? Have your costume ready for it? Already planning ahead for the 2023 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? Any questions? 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!