2023 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Guide: Dates, Info & Tips
We have refined this strategy guide based on our experiences of attending the party every year before for the past several years, and has been updated following our experience at recent Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties.
The tips here are pretty consistent from year to year and we’ve honed our strategy over several years, so don’t expect many changes. This is nothing scientific, just some “real world” tips from frequent visitors to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
Also, this guide does not include every character at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. You’re going to have to make difficult decisions when it comes meet & greets, because you can’t do them all. As such, we skip anyone who can be met during a normal day in Magic Kingdom. Ready? Let’s go!
For starters, you want to make sure you’re in Magic Kingdom with your costume on right at 4 pm. Grab a quick pic in front of Cinderella Castle before it gets dark, and be ready to head to the first spot on our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party touring plan pretty early.
The party officially starts at 7 pm, and invariably, lines start forming before the party starts. Additionally, one set of characters starts meeting prior to the official start time: Sally & Jack Skellington. (Previously, the Seven Dwarfs also met in the tent at Storybook Circus during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party; it’s unclear whether they will return in 2023.)
These lines will be long for the entire party, and sometimes are cut before 11 pm, so you should start with one of these two meet & greets…
Line Up For First Characters – Jack Skellington and Sally meet in Town Square Theater starting sometime between 4 and 5 p.m., so line up for them by 4:30 p.m. 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. This is a good point to line up for Daisy & Donald Duck plus Minnie Mouse in Storybook Circus, followed by Pirate Goofy.
Pooh Characters – If you start with the Storybook Circus characters, it’s easy to then bounce over to the Pooh line by the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in Fantasyland. This is one of the most popular meet & greets at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
All four meet together, and they only take one photo per guest. It felt less like a meet & greet and more like a “photo assembly line.” On the plus side, the wait wasn’t nearly as long as it has been in the past.
Boo To You Parade – By now, it’s probably about time for getting a Boo To You Parade spot. There are two showings of this parade, and the second is always far less crowded. Get spots at least 30 minutes early for the first parade (much earlier if it’s a busy night). 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 the early parade AND the late parade.
Given the excellent lighting and ambiance on Main Street, we consider this the best place to view the parade (which steps off in Frontierland). It’s also the most crowded spot. The Headless Horseman comes first, followed by the rest of the Parade much later (especially to Main Street).
Following the horse, the parade takes a long time to come–almost twenty minutes later. The Boo To You Parade is awesome. The performers in this parade are amazing: the caretaker “shovel band,” the Haunted Mansion dancers, the Headless Horseman, the Haunted Mansion caretaker–I’m probably forgetting someone–all were excellent. They absolutely made the parade.
I now think the key to any successful parade is: headless people, scrapping shovels on the ground, proclamations of it being “good to be bad,” chickens ‘bawking’ to the beat, and the Country Bears rocking out. Any parade organizers out there reading this, you can thank me later for my solid advice.
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. If you view the first Boo to You parade from Main Street, about the time it’s over you can go watch the Hocus Pocus Villains Spelltacular and then, it would be a good time for you to pick a viewing location for Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular.
This show does have perimeter bursts, and Castle projections, so a location on Main Street USA between Casey’s and the Partners are all good options. We cover exact spots for the best view and photos in our Review & Viewing Tips: Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks.
Catch Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular After Fireworks – Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular is absolutely not to be missed. The third showing of Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular is shortly after the fireworks on the Castle forecourt stage, which is just before the second Boo to You Parade. By hitting Fireworks-Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular-Boo to You like this, you don’t run all over the park wasting time.
It will show hosted by the mischievous Sanderson Sisters from Disney’s “Hocus Pocus” who return to the mortal world for one night during the Halloween season. The three sisters decide to use their magic to throw the best, evil Halloween party this side of the graveyard, featuring Dr. Facilier, Oogie Boogie, Maleficent and other Disney villains, plus dancers, projections, and special effects. Unfortunately, the villains will not do meet & greets after the show (which is fine by us since this was so chaotic), so you’ll want to find them throughout the park instead.
Donald & Daisy and Minnie – Meeting back by Storybook Circus, Donald & Daisy, and Minnie Mouse wear special Halloween costumes for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. That, plus their relatively short waits later in the evening make them an absolute must-do.
You can also find Pirate Goofy back here by the Barnstormer. As Goofy meets by himself, he tends to have a significantly shorter wait than the other characters in the middle of Storybook Circus.
Characters at Dance Parties – This tip used to include free-roaming characters (such as the Country Bears), but we haven’t seen them lately, and we haven’t heard of them being out this year. If you do see free-roaming characters, go interact with them! They typically don’t get very long waits no matter when you go and they are, and can be tons of fun.
As for dance parties, there’s the Monstrous Scream-O-Ween Ball dance party on the Rockettower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland; expect to be able to dance (and scream) with Monsters, Inc. characters there. In Frontierland, there’s also a dance party.
Now is also a good time for the Aladdin characters over in Adventureland, as well as Captain Jack Sparrow. If meeting with characters and having some fun are more important than just getting cool pictures of them, then these locations in Adventureland and Frontierland are the hidden gems of the parties. At both Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, we’ve had a blast having extended interactions with the characters. This is the case because later in the evening, these characters typically have shorter lines. You won’t get that kind of interaction from the “big” characters who have huge lines!
Second Boo To You Parade – If you’ve already seen the first parade from Main Street, watch the second parade from wherever, if you watch it at all. If you find yourself with free time 15 minutes before the parade steps off, head to Frontierland. Main Street is our favorite place for viewing the parade, but unless you didn’t get all of the photos you wanted during the first parade, you definitely don’t want to head to Main Street and wait for it to come all the way to you again.
Main Street Theater Mickey Mouse Meet & Greet – After 11 pm is the best time to visit Mickey Mouse. I’m not sure when his line gets cut, but it’s not early. If you can’t do this at the very end of the party, do it as early or as late as possible, but not immediately after a parade. Your mileage may vary on this one, but we still recommend going towards the end of the Halloween Party.
Final Countdown – The last performance of Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular starts at midnight, which gives you a “bonus” 20 minutes at the end of the event. This is a nice way to extend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, but even this final showing is crowded.
Our strategy for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is going to be devoting the middle chunk to entertainment in the following manner:
- Boo to You Parade (9:15 pm)
- Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular (10:15 pm)
- Hocus Pocus Villains Spectacular (10:45 pm)
- Boo to You Parade (11:15 pm)
- Hocus Pocus Villains Spectacular (midnight)
*Note that this schedule is based on earlier party dates and can change for later ones as sunset occurs earlier.
By following this plan, we double up on both the parade and the stage show, but the parade is awesome and I always see it twice. As for Hocus Pocus, you’ll have a pretty poor view of the first show (since you’ll be arriving late with this plan), so you might just want to stick to the later showing. You can arrive to the second Hocus Pocus right as the party ends, effectively extending your night by a bit.
This basically leaves time for character meet & greets at the beginning and near the end of the party. I don’t recommend this strategy for everyone, but as we have already met most characters, it will work well for us. With that said, this should demonstrate why we don’t recommend doing regular attractions during the Halloween Party. You won’t have the time to do it all!
Miscellaneous Halloween Party ‘Things’
In addition to things that we think are best accomplished on a set schedule, there are other offerings during the Halloween Party of which you might want to take advantage…
Haunted Mansion – This is the only attraction we recommend doing during the Halloween Party, and the big reason is Madame Carlotta and Madame Rinata who sit on the lawn of the Haunted Mansion entertaining guests in line. Also, there is a special PhotoPass opportunity here with the Hitchhiking Ghosts. (Pro tip: go through the exit and watch the performers for a bit and skip the ride.)
Merchandise – In addition to the normal Halloween merchandise available, there is special Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party merchandise that can only be purchased during the party.
This year, that includes LE pins, LE MagicBands, shirts, and more.
Food – We advised eating before, not during, the party, but that applies to full meals. The only thing you might want to eat again once the party starts is some of the Special Magic Kingdom Halloween Snacks, some of which are exclusive to the party.
While we also manage to spot an above-average number of “free roaming” characters during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, that number seems to be decreasing with each year.
My biggest complaint, and this is entirely personal to me, is that the Country Bears are not out like they are for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Then again, I think the Country Bears should always be out. Those bears rock. I think they should actually make of subset of Frontierland and coin it “Bearland.”
Overall, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is a great event that every guest should experience at least once if money allows. The spooky/festive atmosphere, Boo To You Parade, and special fireworks are all well worth seeing–even if you have to overpay to experience them. On top of that, the Magic Kingdom gets decked out for the party, with cool decorations, an excellent lighting package, and even different background music. It’s these little details that make the party worth the money for us.
There is enough on the schedule that you need to have a good strategy to accomplish everything, and there is plenty to do during the Halloween Party to keep you entertained–enough that you might want to forgo doing any attractions and finding another day in the Magic Kingdom for those. Realistically, the above plan is a little overly-ambitious unless you race from character to character.
Just remember to use this as a rough guide, and if you encounter a line that is super long, go against our advice. Additionally, meet & greet start times are subject to change, and may not start on time (particularly those that start before the party officially starts). Improvise on the fly! You wouldn’t drive your car into a lake at your GPS’s insistence, would you?!
When we do Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, we always leave plenty of things undone. You simply cannot do it all. This is especially true if you have youngsters who may want to trick or treat, which does take some time.
We skip trick or treating entirely–if we liked candy, we could buy it at home far cheaper than the $130+ our tickets cost. It’s not just the unique parade, fireworks, and rare character meet and greets that make this party special. There is an excitement in the air (maybe it’s all that sugar) and the guest costumes really liven things up.
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Have you attended Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? Do you think it’s worth the money? What’s your own “can’t miss” thing to do during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? Do you agree or disagree with our advice or assessment of MNSSHP’s value? 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!
I have tickets for October 1st, will the exclusive MNSSHP magic bands be available to ticket holders ahead of the event so I can link them to my resort stay ahead of time? Thanks
Hey Tom, Firstly, Thank you so much for all of your content! I love receiving my email notification of blogs you have posted. Secondly, I am considering adding a Halloween party to our Universal trip. Just doing MNSSHP with my younger ones while the older ones go to HHN. Is there a way to purchase Memory maker for just the event or would I purchase for the day? Thank you again!
any thoughts if there will be any after hours special events added for month of July? MK? HS? AK?
We already have our tickets for Disney World and planned on going to Magic Kingdom on August 15th. Then the MNSSHP schedule came out and one of the dates is the 15th. If we decided to splurge, should we go a little later in the morning since it would be a long day. The crowd level should be 5/10 so I assume we could get everything done ride and attraction wise by doing this. Or would it be to much for one day? Last time there, we stayed for 14 hours – paced ourselves.
Just wondering if a Sunday or Thursday party be less crowded in early September? Also thoughts on Labor Day party? Thanks
Do you think they will offer Disney After Hours at Epcot in October?
I just got off the phone with DVC member services and My Disney Experience CM, there are no discounts for annual pass holders and DVC member in October. Only August and September
This is correct. We just got tickets for Oct 27th and did not receive a DVC discount.
It says that in the article. ♀️
There’s a quirk of sorts right now with buying tickets for MNSSHP. We have reservations at Wilderness Lodge over Labor Day and when we go to select that date for tickets our cart says we chose Sat Sept 9th, but that’s not even a party day and our resort reservations don’t go into the 9th at all. We leave on 9/6. Sigh. So, looks like we will have to call when we have a chance.
You’re definitely not alone with the “quirks” right now. We’ve heard from several readers who have had a variety of different issues. Thanks for the heads up about this one, and good luck calling. You’re in no danger of tickets selling out today, tomorrow, etc!
My wife reported that around 11:20 eastern, the issue was resolved with the ticket page and she was able buy the tickets for 9/4.
Have the party dates always been accurate ? it only runs on select nights ? like has it always not ran on Tuesday nights ?
Hi! Do you know if they offer the Extended After Hours for Deluxe guests while they have MNNSP going on???? Didn’t know if they do Extended Hours at MK on the days they don’t have the party???
Typically no, during special events there are not extended hours on the days of the parties. At least that is what I have experienced, maybe I am doing it wrong.
You certainly don’t need my two cents but here goes. I appreciate Tom opening up my eyes about visiting MK on a party day. We are annual passholders and were at MK on 10/18/22 at 7:30 AM (resort early entry). We rode (trying to list in order) Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (walk on), It’s a Small World (walk on), Haunted Mansion (walk on although 10 min wait posted), Seven Dwarfs (ILL), Big Thunder Mountain (LL), Splash Mountain (LL), Space Mountain (LL), Carousel of Progress, and Buzz Lightyear (LL) and left the park around 1 PM. We stopped plenty of times for snacks and to rest. When we returned for the party at 4 (we skipped the long party line and went in as passholders), there was really no need to prioritize rides and could enjoy the party but we did ride Space Mountain and Seven Dwarfs again and rode Speedway, Jungle Cruise (posted wait time 35 minutes, actual wait was 17 minutes) and Peter Pan (posted time was 35 but it was a walk on). We visited Epcot on 10/17 and followed Tom’s instructions for Guardians of the Galaxy and grabbed group 19 via virtual queue and a 9:20 for Remy (LL). We’re from South Florida but still had only 2 days for magic. We had a great time!! Many thanks.
Just wanted to say thank you for the advice of going to Magic Kingdom the day of a party night. Best advice ever! We were just there the 19th-22nd and attended on the Tuesday. Wait times for rides were low and add that to the lightning lanes, our wait times for rides were 5-10 minutes. Fantastic for life with three toddlers. I was curious about crowd levels for September. The crowds seemed very high to me, I’d that standard September or has this year been different?
Hi! We are going to the party in October and staying on property. What is the bus situation at the end of the night to get back to our hotel, especially if we “meander” our way out of the park taking our time? Is it still up to 1 hour after close (so 1am) or how does that work? Or should we plan on doing ride share? Thanks!
Hey Sarah. So, we left the park after the last Hocus Pocus show around 1230am. There seemed to be plenty of resort buses still taking people back. We spent the day in Disney Springs and took a bus over to Contemporary and the monorail over to MK for the party. We took the monorail back to Contemporary and to our horror, no more buses for the night to Disney Springs. We just asked the front desk, what we should do. They lady was so nice and said it happens all the time and she got us a taxi on them back to the Springs. They will help you get back.
We travelling from Europe in October and have been on the fence about doing this. The kid in me so wants to do this, the adult travelling with young kids and jet lag thinks this will be the worst possible idea – but it appears the decision was made for us. All the dates we could possibly do seemed to have sold out on the same day so wonder what happened there!