Halloween Party Plan of Attack
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 last year’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
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 some “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? Make sure to be in Magic Kingdom with your costume on and 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…
Line Up For First Characters – The party officially starts at 7 pm, and invariably, lines start forming before the party starts. Additionally, 2 sets of characters start meeting prior to the official start time: the Seven Dwarfs and Jack & Sally. The Seven Dwarfs now meet in the tent at Storybook Circus during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (without Snow White). Their line is going to be long for the entire party.
Jack Skellington and Sally meet in Liberty Square starting at 5 p.m., so line up for them by 4:30 p.m. for them (you’ll need a party wristband). The Seven Dwarfs typically start meeting prior to 6:30 p.m., so you could feasibly do the Jack & Sally meet & greet and immediately line up for the dwarfs. This is the most sound strategy unless you want to wait until the end of the party.
If this sounds like a lot of time to spend in line and you only want to do one of the two, we’d recommend the Dwarfs. Not only are they a ‘bigger’ meet & greet, but their location also makes it easy to jump to other popular/semi-popular meet & greets afterward. Plus, while in line for the Seven Dwarfs, you may see other characters roaming the area.
The Tweedles/Queen of Hearts – Replacing The Witch as the third most popular character of the Halloween Parties is the Tweedles and Queen of Hearts. This crew can have a line that exceeds an hour, so doing it early is not a bad strategy.
Other villains (Gaston, Jafar, Tremaines, etc.) can all be found during daytime hours, so don’t bother with them. The big problem is that this group may already have a prohibitively long line by the time you’re done with Seven Dwarfs, in which case you should wait until after 11 pm to meet here.
Pooh Characters – If you start with the Dwarfs, 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.
You obviously can’t do this if you skip the early parade, so plan wisely. If you’re really into meeting characters, it’s difficult to meet all of the characters, watch the fireworks, do Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, AND watch both parades. If character meet and greets aren’t that important to you, we recommend watching the early parade so you at least have the ability to watch it again if you really enjoy it.
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.
HalloWishes – HalloWishes is the fireworks spectacular shown only during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties (click here for photos of the fireworks). 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 HalloWishes.
This show does have perimeter bursts, and Castle projections, so a location on Main Street USA or near Casey’s and the Ice Cream parlor are good options. Don’t get too close to the Castle, or you won’t be able to see all of the bursts!
While the Boo to You parade exceeds the Christmas parade, HalloWishes does not trump Holiday Wishes! Not even close. Maybe from a pure pyrotechnics perspective, but the show elements of Holiday Wishes are far superior. Can’t beat that “Oh Christmas Tree” portion, the wonderful score in general, and the neat juxtaposition of the bursts with various dialogue, sound effects, and the score.
Catch Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular After HalloWishes – Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular is absolutely not to be missed. The third showing of Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular is shortly after HalloWishes on the Castle forecourt stage, which is just before the second Boo to You Parade. By hitting HalloWishes-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.
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)
- HalloWishes (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!
The following advice is going to assume that you do Boo to You (1st), then the 10:45 p.m. Hocus Pocus show, and then watch HalloWishes…
Donald & Daisy and Minnie – Meeting back by New Fantasyland’s 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.
Characters at Dance Parties – This tip used to include free-roaming characters (such as the Country Bears), but we didn’t see them last year, 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 characters over in Adventureland. You should have plenty of time to play around with King Louie and Tarzan over here, as there shouldn’t be any lines–this makes for great interactions.
On our recent visit, whomever was friends with King Louie that evening had some rhythm. I’ve never seen a primate moonwalk quite like that. I guess those big ape-feet are good for something! Tarzan and Terk are just as much fun and should have just as short of a wait. In our experiences, Tarzan is “unintentionally” hilarious. He’s a lot of fun, so definitely take the time to interact with him, and not just pose with him for photos. If you need ideas for interacting, read our Disney Character Meet & Greet Tips.
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!
Jack Sparrow – Captain Jack Sparrow isn’t lumped in with the above because he’s not “less popular.” He usually meets outside Pirates of the Caribbean, and his waits can be fairly long. At this point in the night, they shouldn’t be too bad, though. Since you’re in the area, check his line. If the wait is long, check back after the second Boo To You Parade.
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.
Princess Fairytale Hall – Depending upon how busy the party is, you might not have time for this. We’re not sure when this line will be cut, but we expect it to see long lines throughout the party, especially as 75% of children go to the party dressed as Frozen characters and want photos with the characters in-costume.
Our tip: to avoid this problem, dress your kids in Frozen costumes on a normal day visit to the Magic Kingdom and meet Anna and Elsa then, and do different costumes during the Halloween party. You really can’t go wrong with a Big Bad Wolf costume! 😉
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.)
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Card – This is not something about which we care, but if you want the exclusive Halloween Party Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card, go as late as possible to the Fire Station.
The line is pretty long for this throughout the entire night, but dies down as the evening wears on. Another alternative would be to go while one person holds spots for the parade if you view it from Main Street.
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.”
Review & Conclusion
Overall, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is a great event that every guest should experience at least once if money allows. It’s especially great for character meetings, the Boo To You Parade, and the HalloWishes Fireworks.
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 $70+ 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.
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. If these photos have whetted your appetite, visit our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Photo Page!
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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? Share your thoughts on these questions, or anything else, in the comments!