Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom is more expensive than ever before, with tickets costing up to $199 each. On top of that, more sold out dates than normal means higher crowds. With that in mind, we’re here to help you decide whether Walt Disney World’s fall seasonal event is “worth it” for you–plus commentary on whether MNSSHP offers sufficient value for money to us.
One of the difficulties in assessing whether Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party justifies the high price is that there are no easy comparisons. Buying a single-day ticket to Magic Kingdom isn’t an apples to apples equivalent, nor are there any “Enchanting Extra” upcharges (at this time) that are viable alternatives to MNSSHP.
As such, determining whether Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is worth the money requires a look at alternatives to the hard ticket event, its core components, past precedent, and more. It’s a patchwork approach, but that’s sorta the nature of the beast when it comes to these “is it worth it?” questions and all things Walt Disney World.
In large part, this is because there’s always an inarticulable x-factor when it comes to Disney. An emotional or nostalgic pull that causes many people to overlook objective on-paper comparisons. We justify so much on the basis of perceived advantages or substance. If we’re being honest with ourselves, the reality is that it usually boils down to something far more emotional, nebulous, or intangible.
This is true not just with Walt Disney World diehards. A large swath of the public is willing to pay premium pricing for Disney’s product and that’s because there’s the perception that there’s no “substitute good.” Sure, there are other Halloween events–probably a half-dozen of them just in Central Florida–but none of them have the same fundamental appeal to the target demo as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
(We say this as people who love Halloween Horror Nights, but are cognizant of the fact that we’re outliers. The two events are hardly direct competitors, which is patently obvious to anyone who attends both and simply looks around.)
When objectively analyzing things, it’s difficult to argue that a lot of what Disney offers is worth the cost on paper. Whether that be upcharge offerings, rack rates for Deluxe Resorts, or a multitude of other things. Comparable “real world” counterparts almost always offer better value for money. Again, on paper.
Basically, this preface is our cop out. A roundabout way of saying that everything at Walt Disney World is worth it, and nothing is. Admitting that this is an exercise in futility, as emotion and nostalgia are huge drivers for Walt Disney World and value for those things is very much in the eye of the beholder.
Nevertheless, it’s an exercise we’ll undertake just the same, trying to determine if the ever-increasing ticket prices for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party can be justified in any way.
Prices are probably a good place to start an analysis of worth, so let’s begin there. Tickets for the 2023 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party range in price from $109 to $199. This range is identical to last year, albeit with a greater distribution of dates at the higher end of the spectrum, meaning that the average price has increased.
The last year that the event was held before last year, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary tickets cost between $79 and $135 in 2019. Prior to that, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party saw some pretty big jumps. It didn’t break the $100/night barrier (on the high end) until 2016. For many years, the average party cost was around $50. We first started attending in 2007, and budgeted ~$50 for both the Halloween and Christmas Party for the first several years we went.
Of course, this doesn’t mean it was properly priced in 2007 or 2016 and is overpriced now. It’s possible that it was underpriced then. It’s also possible that it was overpriced then and is underpriced now.
That paradoxical statement makes sense if we assume that the free market determines whether something is priced appropriately. Back in the day, there were fewer party nights and they frequently did not sell out at their full prices (I remember our friends scoring bargains on deeply-discounted Cast Members tickets for several years–those have since vanished). Now, it’s common for more party nights to sell out at higher prices.
I’m more than slightly skeptical of that type of analysis. While worthy of consideration, it fails to address a lot of externalities like marketing, cultural trends, economics, demographics, and so much more. Quite simply, the world is a very different place than it was in 2007-2009.
I also don’t think it quite passes the smell test to say “this event that’s substantially the same as it was in 2007, except more crowded and more expensive, is now better than it was then.” Demand can explain Disney’s underlying rationale for price increases, but not answer questions of worth. But perhaps that’s a bit too in the weeds.
Sticking with dollar-cost, we can compare MNSSHP ticket prices to the cost of a 1-day ticket to Magic Kingdom. Like the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, these start at $109 and increase from there.
Not so coincidentally, day ticket prices are actually very similar to MNSSHP ticket prices on a date by date basis for the remaining event nights. Some are exactly the same; Friday nights in October being $20 more expensive.
As long as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party continues to be comparably priced to single-day Magic Kingdom tickets in the fall, you can expect it to continue selling out quickly in 2024 and beyond–barring a recession or other major change. This is because an increasing number of guests are purchasing Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween instead of day tickets.
This is playing out in a ways big and small, from tourists buying shorter duration tickets (3 days instead of 4) to locals skipping out on Annual Passes and getting their “Disney fix” during Party Season. The latter is likely a huge factor, as Floridians are being priced out of APs or opting to take a year off from them, but still want to do Walt Disney World on occasion. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is a way to scratch that itch, so to speak.
We’ve seen exactly the same thing play out in California. When Disneyland really started increasing prices on Annual Passes several years ago and reduced options for locals, many Californians started skipping APs and instead doing Mickey’s Halloween Party (now Oogie Boogie Bash). These priced-out locals wanting to get their fix would also explain why MNSSHP is selling even faster than last year, despite pent-up demand otherwise slowing.
It also explains the larger crowd prior to 4 pm. These are higher-knowledge guests who also want to get as much value out of the party ticket as possible. This is a contrast to tourists with multi-day tickets that may include a park day prior to the start of MNSSHP, who have no incentive to arrive right at 4 pm.
Let’s turn back to tourists and the value proposition of MNSSHP vs. regular tickets. We’ve been urging Walt Disney World vacation planners to do Magic Kingdom on party days, which amounts to as many as 10 hours in the park (plus another 30-60 minutes if you count Early Entry). Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween begins at 7 pm and runs until 12 am, but as noted above, party-goers can actually enter the park beginning at 4 pm, for a grand total of up to 8 hours.
From a qualitative perspective, the argument could be made that those 8 hours during the party are superior to the 10 hours during the day. If that math is tough to square, it means you haven’t visited Florida during the months of August through October. Point being, evening hours are more enjoyable than the daytime.
This is actually as good of a point as any to address crowds. Perceptions of crowds varies widely based on places and priorities. Once the entertainment starts, Main Street and the area in front of Cinderella Castle can feel downright unsafely congested at times. The front of Magic Kingdom are an 11/10 in terms of crowds, so if you spend a disproportionate amount of the event up there (as we do), you might think MNSSHP is insanely crowded–worse than a normal day.
Meanwhile, over in Fantasyland, Adventureland, and Frontierland, there are often wide open walkways during the exact same parties, at the exact same times. While not as short as After Hours events, wait times for most attractions without overlays are under 10 minutes. Guests who use MNSSHP as a way to do rides with minimal waits and steer clear of Main Street might perceive crowds to be around 2/10 or so.
That’s about on par with a normal day in Magic Kingdom during party season with a 6 pm closing. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween is a little less busy if we’re using nothing but the objective measure of wait times. Conversely, the party can be lot worse if we’re using the highly subjective measure of congestion. This can be exacerbated by weather and other factors, too.
For this reason, we try to steer clear of crowd conversations when discussing Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. It’s highly variable to the point of being practically useless. We’ll just point out that crowds around entertainment have gotten progressively worse and are nothing like MNSSHP pre-2017. Wait times can still be low, but it’s not a fundamentally low-crowds event. (See “Is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Too Crowded?” for more.)
Moreover, if your primarily concerned with crowds, there are more consistent and efficient ways to accomplish that. Early Entry and Extended Evening Hours are both better (albeit shorter), and accessible via DVC point rental, select third party hotels, and other economical options. Or at least, more cost-effective than dropping ~$139 times however many people are in your party.
Circling back to the topic of ticket cost, much of this is irrelevant to most Walt Disney World vacation planners. The vast majority of attendees aren’t deciding between a 1-day ticket and MNSSHP, they’re deciding between MNSSHP and (potentially) one fewer day on their multi-day tickets.
As such, the incremental cost of adding (or subtracting) a day to multi-day tickets is the key consideration. In this case, that’s an extra ~$10 to ~$30 as compared to $139 to $199. Suddenly it’s a big difference. Suddenly the qualitative advantage of evening v. daytime in Magic Kingdom melts away.
When assessing value, we often have readers point to the “free” trick-or-treating. This is misguided.
By my calculations, if you spent the entire night doing nothing but trick-or-treating, you’d end up with a candy haul having a fair market value of $8.97 from Walmart or CVS. (Or ~$234 at Walt Disney World gift shop prices.) As someone who enjoys having teeth, I’ll also admit to being biased against consuming copious amounts of sugar. But seriously, the actual value of candy is not a winning “argument” when it comes to the cost of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
Given all of that, we’re left with no better options for assessing value than by ascribing value to the core competencies of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party: Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, Mickey’s Boo to You Parade, and Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Fireworks. These three pieces of entertainment are the cornerstones of the event.
Walt Disney World fans can quibble over whether HalloWishes is better than the current fireworks or if Boo to You is as good as the Christmas parade, each bring something different to the table. They’re all well worth seeing and each offer something impressive.
If we were to pretend the entertainment at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party sold Lightning Lane access, it’s likely that seeing each one of these would cost around $25. Assuming you don’t want to repeat any of them, that’s $75 of entertainment plus a time cost of about 3 hours of the event itself.
Add in another $25 for atmospheric acts and ambiance, and you’re at $100. Then there are character meet & greets, trick-or-treating, attraction overlays, and the time you’re able to access Magic Kingdom. In theory, that gets you to the average ticket price, assuming you value all of those things.
Of course, you can adjust those numbers upwards and downwards based on your party’s priorities and what you value. It’s possible the extra time in Magic Kingdom or doing regular attractions with short lines is worth significantly more to you, but the entertainment is worth significantly less. Maybe the individual components were barely worth it for you 5 years ago and now really aren’t.
Perhaps simply being there among other guests costumed for Halloween while your kids are able to trick-or-treat in a fun and safe setting is priceless. It’s also possible you’re wholly concerned with having the best vacation possible and are willing to spare no expense to achieve that. (In that case, not sure why you even are reading this.) Again, value is in the eye of the beholder.
To that point, I figured it’s worth sharing our perspective as annual attendees (well, minus the last two years) for the last decade-plus. We are total suckers for these parties, and we absolutely love the atmosphere at the events. This is equally true for both MNSSHP and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
From 11 pm until whenever we leave is our favorite time at Magic Kingdom, and the parties are immensely satisfying on a personal level based on that end-of-night atmosphere alone. A lot about the Walt Disney World experience for diehards is revisiting fond memories, and we have a ton of them from late nights at MNSSHP and MVMCP. The end of the evening during these parties transports me back to 2007-2010, and I’d pay a stupid amount of money just for that feeling. It’s not rational, but it is what it is.
With that said, if the question is whether Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is worth the money to us based on the current event itself, the answer is probably not.
For us, MNSSHP peaked in 2015 or 2016. Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular had debuted, the event was relatively uncrowded, there were more meet & greets, HalloWishes was still around, and ticket prices were significantly lower. There have been incremental improvements since then via ride overlays and other changes, but none of that really moves the needle enough for me to offset the higher crowds and cost.
It’s still a close call, and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is the type of event we’re inclined to splurge on because we want to do it–without regard for its value proposition. It’s one of those things we know isn’t quite what it once was, but since we don’t own a time machine (yet), we continue attending. It’s a really fun experience and still “close enough” on value that we tend to give it a pass.
At this point, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is something we would do every other year if it were just a matter of personal enjoyment. Writing about the event is what tips the scales for us, and makes it easier to justify paying the ever-increasing prices to attend.
Of course, all of this is highly personal. Even though it’s even more expensive and often busier than MNSSHP, I cannot imagine missing Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The need to write about it excuse also exists with MVMCP, but we’d absolutely attend annually for personal enjoyment. That comes down to even more nostalgia, preferring Christmas, weather, and the spirit of the season. (Christmas in November is a lot more fun for us than Halloween in August.)
Ultimately, that underscores why it’s so difficult to determine whether Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is worth the money. Others may feel about MNSSHP how we do about MVMCP. Conversely, you may have zero sentimentality or nostalgia towards these holidays; maybe you don’t care about parades or stage shows, and don’t get the appeal at all.
There’s also the fact that we ascribed a lot of value to the time after 11 pm, which might be downright laughable to those of you who are parents of small children. We didn’t even scratch the surface there–or of how expensive this can get for larger parties. The point is that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The best we can offer is the rambling analysis above, and the hope that it provides sufficient “food for thought” such that you can make a personal determination for your family.
In the end, we always have a good time at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Not as much as we did back in the day (especially with the cost in mind), but still enough fun to continue going year after year. Even as Annual Passholders who have done the event dozens of times, we still look forward to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party–the event is still close enough to being worth it to us. The ambiance, fireworks, and two showings of both the Boo to You parade and Hocus Pocus show provide sufficient value for us to keep returning, with everything else being icing on the cake.
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Have you attended Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World yet this year? What did you think of the crowds? Think it was worth the high ticket price? Thoughts on the Boo to You Parade, HalloWishes Fireworks, Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, or any other entertainment? Any other tips, likes or dislikes? 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!