This post offers our strategy guide to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties at Walt Disney World and tips for making the most of the Magic Kingdom party nights, which occur August, September, and October 2018. (Last updated September 8, 2018.)
Our tips and tricks for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) are based on our experiences attending the party every year before that for the last decade, and we last updated this post when the 2018 Halloween Party dates were released and tickets went on sale. Those dates are as follows: August 17, 24, 28, 31; September 3, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 28, 30; October 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30, and 31. Prices start at $75, with some dates over $100 per person.
Please note that this hasn’t been fully updated with new photos and tips for 2018 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties (that’s coming very soon!), but 95% of this information will be accurate for this year’s parties. We’ll offer more thoughts on pricing and cover whether we think the Halloween Party is still worth the money later in the post. First, let’s detail some of the other changes to the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party…
2018 Update: The first few Halloween Parties are in the books, and both had a surprisingly high crowd levels. You can read our 2018 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Photo Report for more thoughts and our experience attending this year’s MNSSHP.
Suffice to say, the staples of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party remain as good as ever, with only minor changes. Higher crowd levels definitely put a damper on our experience, as did surprisingly long character lines. Moreover, the new attraction overlays are pretty sparse, and don’t really change the ride-experience significantly.
Additionally, as an update to our update, the recent Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties have not been as crowded as the one we attended. Now that there are multiple parties per week (and fewer Cast Member discounts), attendance trends have returned to what we’ve experienced in previous years. We still expect spikes on non-school nights and closer to Halloween, but the last couple MNSSHP nights have not been as outrageously crowded as the mid-August ones.
With that said, we’ll start this MNSSHP info & strategy guide with a look at the various changes to the 2018 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party…
In an average year, about 80% of the party is the same as it was the previous year. It’s rare for major entertainment and features of the party to change. In fact, 2018 is the 15th Anniversary of the Boo to You Parade. This parade is spectacular and receives minor tweaks every year, but some are not particularly noticeable. Typically, the changes to the party occur in terms of meet & greets, special food & merchandise, and other smaller enhancements. This year, the most heavily-touted addition is the attraction overlays:
Mad Tea Party – The teacups will take you for a colorful ride with new lighting and effects providing a different nighttime atmosphere.
Pirates of the Caribbean – New pirates will invade the attraction, interacting with sailing guests who will join the search for “Gunpowder Pete” who is a live actor in the ride.
Space Mountain – Rocket ships will hurtle through deep space as a new soundtrack and special effects transform the adventure.
As far as new characters go, you can expect to see Elvis Stitch, Pirate Goofy, Frontierland Costume Promenade, and Storybook Circus Disney Junior Jam dance party. Other character highlights will be a photo op with the Gravediggers (always a highlight of the Boo to You Parade!), Moana, and Lotso the Bear.
On the specialty food & merchandise front, there’s an Oogie Boogie Premium Popcorn Bucket will be available exclusively during the Halloween Party. Expect long lines for that–these buckets are highly collectible and there’s limited inventory for each party (it sold out at the first party).
There are also a ton of new snacks for the event this year–with some returning favorites from last year, too. There are so many special menu items that you could spend the entire party going from restaurant to restaurant ordering these items. That wouldn’t be a cheap or wise way to spend your MNSSHP time, but if you love cool Walt Disney World foods, you might have a good time doing there.
In the Boo To You Parade, there are minor differences. Exact same floats, just with tweaks to the characters and performers. New projected lighting effects and pyro were added to Hocus Pocus Villains Spelltacular (the big recent addition that we love), but this was not a major change.
Beyond those three attractions, the biggest ‘difference’ for 2018 is that there are more Halloween Party nights than ever before: 34 parties. This is up from 32 parties last year, which was up from 29 parties the year before–every year for the past 4 years, there has been a record number of parties.
This is not necessarily good news. While it gives you more choices in terms of when to attend, it’s a bummer for guests who aren’t attending the party, because it means the Magic Kingdom closes at 7 p.m. several nights per week to guests who haven’t not purchased tickets for the Halloween Party.
So you can prepare for the Halloween Party now, here is our analysis based upon the last several years (we go to it yearly) to help you determine whether this expensive hard ticket event is worth it to you, and if so, what your “Plan of Attack” should be to efficiently conquer the various offerings. Between this party and Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, plus improving weather, the fall months at Walt Disney World are one of our favorite times of year to visit!
Note that this guide covers Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, not Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland. For info about the latter, read our comprehensive Guide to Halloween Time at Disneyland!
Should You Attend?
So at over $70 a pop for tickets to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, you might be trying to determine, “is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party worth the money?”
Our opinion, as Disney-biased tourists, is that it is worth the price at least once if you can afford the splurge (and, ideally, if you can go to one of the cheaper September nights). We do not recommend the $100+ Halloween night party. It’s simply too much money and more crowded–you’re better off attending a less expensive party earlier in the week and doing (free) trick or treating at a resort hotel on Halloween night.
Once you’ve experienced the party once (it doesn’t change much year-to-year), you might determine that it’s simply too expensive to experience again. For a one time event, it’s worth it if your budget allows. In our updated Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Tips post, we do not make the same claim about the Christmas Party, which is more expensive for most dates.
Aside from the higher price, the biggest difference between the two parties is that the Halloween Party offers more special entertainment and character meet & greets. Personally, I enjoy the Christmas Party more, but I think it’s undeniable that there’s more to do at the Halloween Party.
There’s a lot of special entertainment including one of Disney’s best parades and a great fireworks show, a great ambiance to the party including special decorations and lighting, lots of unique character meet & greets, and even seeing other guests in Halloween costumes makes for a fun experience.
If you do decide to do the Halloween Party, make sure to buy your tickets in advance, and use any available discounts (Disney Vacation Club member, Annual Passholder, etc.). Tickets are more expensive on the day of the party, and several nights each year sell out completely. It’s wise to purchase party tickets early if you know you’re going. It would stink to wait until the last minute and have your dates sell out.
If you’re still not convinced one way or the other as to whether it’s “worth it” for you, read our review at the end of the post. As for what you should do during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, here’s our guide to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party…
The first important tip is to pick the best day on your trip for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Some nights are busier than others, and that post covers our tips for choosing the least-crowded dates. Disney prices these parties based on historical demand, so going on the cheapest party night you can is generally the best idea from both the perspective of saving money and avoiding crowds. Win-win!
Note that last year, MNSSHP attendance was, generally speaking, lower than in past years. This was the second consecutive year of lower crowd levels, and is undoubtedly tied to the dramatic spike in party ticket prices. Many of the events–even dates in October–didn’t even sell out. That could totally change for 2018, but we suspect it won’t given that Disney didn’t budget on prices (and actually increased them again).
The second most important tip is to arrive early to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. The Party officially starts at 7 p.m., which is when all of the entertainment actually begins, but guests can enter with their Halloween Party tickets as early as 4 p.m. This is not something Walt Disney World advertises, but it absolutely is true, and you will see plenty of other guests arriving at 4 p.m., and Cast Members in their Halloween outfits at the turnstiles.
This earlier entry offers you potential savings to offset the cost of your tickets. Before we were Annual Passholders, we’d plan on doing Downtown Disney or a water park the morning we went to the Halloween Party, which allowed us to purchase 1-day less on our park tickets. We highly recommend that you do the same! In other words, if you normally would buy a 5-day ticket for your trip, buy a 4-day ticket and do something besides one of the 4 theme parks before 4 p.m.
The additional day you’re not purchasing would have only added on $10-30 in cost to your total package, so we’re not talking a substantial amount here, but it makes the Halloween Party more economical. To save even more money on multi-day Walt Disney World tickets, we recommend buying from an authorized ticket broker selling cheaper tickets than you can buy directly from Disney.
Read our Tips for Buying Discount Walt Disney World Tickets Guide for more information about saving money on park tickets. You can’t buy Halloween Party tickets from these authorized ticket sellers, but the amount you save on your regular park tickets plus the savings on that extra day you’re not purchasing will help offset the added cost of the party tickets.
The next biggest tip is to wear a costume! Although Disney has had some tweaks to its security policy over the last few years, costumes are allowed for all guests.
Here’s Disney’s official word on costumes: “while costumed attire may be worn, guests ages 14 and older are strongly discouraged from wearing layered costumes or costume props that surround the entire body as they may be subject to additional security screening. Additionally, costumes may not contain any weapons that resemble or could easily be mistaken for an actual weapon.”
At least half of the Guests who attend the party wear costumes, and it’s a lot more fun if you do. You’re spending a fair chunk of change to attend one of these parties, make sure you get as much value for your money as possible by wearing a costume.
You don’t need to buy some expensive costume from the store–make one at home from items you buy at a thrift shop. Sarah and I attended Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party as the following: astronauts; an elf and princess; and “Cute Minnie” and a Toy Story Alien, among other things. Most of the time, our costumes are pretty lame as compared to other guests, but we still have a lot of fun!
For costumes, go inexpensive, simple, and most importantly…LIGHTWEIGHT. We have a Guide to Halloween Costumes for the Disney Parks that covers the nuts and bolts. Suffice to say, we have worn heavier costumes, and let me tell you what a mistake that was. It may be cooler at nighttime in the fall, but it’s still Florida, and it’s still humid and hot.
While you will see a lot of guests in complex and really creative costumes, unless you have a specific costume in mind that you really want to make, simpler and lighter is better as far as costumes go.
A final tip is to pass on the HalloWishes Dessert Party. This is comparable to the regular Wishes dessert party, except with Halloween-decorated desserts. It costs $84 per adult ($50 for kids ages 3-9) on top of the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party ticket. So, if you’ve been thinking that the Halloween party is just too darn cheap, this option is for you!
There is not a reserved viewing area for the Boo to You Parade from Town Square, and the lack of this is a big deal. For most Halloween Parties, reserved viewing for HalloWishes is totally unnecessary. It is nice for the Boo to You Parade, though. Plus, the reserved viewing area is not a good spot for viewing the fireworks (for the best spots, check out our Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Locations Guide).
Beyond being a waste of money, the dessert party is a waste of time. There are just too many other great things to do at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (it’s unlikely you can do all of the regular entertainment in a single night) to justify attending a dessert party. It’s just not worth taking the time from the regular awesome entertainment of the Halloween party to do this. Plus, the idea of another upcharge event within an upcharge event just makes us cringe.
With that said, let’s start to get into the details of arriving at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party with a plan-of-attack for what you should do. We have a step-by-step Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Itinerary on Page 2.
Arrive at 4 p.m., grab an event map for a refresher (see above) as to what is located where and entertainment showtimes, eat and do an attraction or two before 6:00 pm. Once 6 pm hits, it’s time to get ready to party, and time to initiate your Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party attack-plan to do and see as much as you can.
If at all possible, find a way to avoid trick or treating or save it until the end of the night. It is a major time drain, and you could buy a bag of candy yourself for like $3. It may be difficult to convince kids not to trick or treat, but if you can, find a way. There is so much entertainment during the Halloween Party that you won’t get everything done even if you don’t trick or treat and don’t do any attractions.
From here, we will start with our plan of attack to efficiently accomplish as much as possible during MNSSHP on PAGE 2.