Walt Disney World’s first Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party kicked off over the weekend, and I was in Magic Kingdom for the festivities. In this event recap, I’ll share photos of the new fireworks, parade floats, attraction overlays. I’ll also share thoughts on MNSSHP, review the experience, and more.
If you’re looking for comprehensive strategy for the event, consult our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Tips post instead. This is not going to cover everything. For the past 3 years, we’ve done a single Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party recap following the first (or one of the first) MNSSHP nights, with those reports each clocking in at over 3,000 words. That’s a lot of text to read (or scroll through while looking at the photos) and even with that many words, it rushes through the event.
This year, we’re going to take a more concise, installment-driven approach. Not because I’m lacking in things to say about this year’s MNSSHP, but because there’s simply too much to cover without this getting out of hand. Plus, we bought the Unlimited Party Pass for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and plan to put that to good use. So, rather than racing through everything in a single night, we can take a more methodical approach to the event, and write several updates about our observations…
I’m not going to fixate on crowds too much here for a couple of reasons. It was the first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party; it could be held in June and would be heavily attended due to pent up demand and all of the fan interest to see what’s new. That was amplified this year by the new fireworks.
Second, it was difficult to assess crowds. Disney has done a good job of changing guest behavior in some regards, to the point that the frequent “tips” (on the party map, My Disney Experience, etc.) about the second parade being less crowded actually made it more crowded, at least on Main Street. We’ll be revisiting Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party again this week, so I’ll save further crowd commentary until after that.
The downside to the parties in August is always that people are less into the Halloween spirit than during the parties in late September and October. This is mostly apparent in terms of costumes and, I assume, is an act of self preservation due to the summer heat and humidity.
In an ironic twist, it was an incredibly nice evening, with a cool breeze and temperatures in the mid-70s. Best Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party weather I’ve experienced in a few years! I do fear that some other blogger made some sort of Faustian bargain for this, and now it’s going to be 99 degrees with 99% humidity on August 29. The weather was just too nice to have come without any sort of catch.
Before buying the Party Pass, our plan was for me to attend this party by myself “for research.” We’d then attend another party together “for fun” later in the year. It’s tough to balance things we want to do with things we need to do, and the September parties are usually more personally enjoyable for us.
However, after buying the Party Pass, Sarah decided to join me for a quick afternoon stop in Magic Kingdom to try out a few snacks that were of interest to her and wander around. We did that for a bit, before she left and I met up with other friends. Most of the first hour-plus of the party was then spent waiting in line for, ordering, and eating overpriced party-exclusive snacks. (We’ll have a full post reviewing those soon.)
After eating pretty much everything, I checked out the new Monster World Treat Trail at Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor in Tomorrowland. The idea is that you can sit as long as you want and listen to the monsters interact with guests, or simply just walk through the treat trail.
This is not a full show–it’s shorter segments that run continuously with brief pauses in between. (Think Sunset Seasons Greetings at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.) That’s both good and bad. The good is that there’s no wait for Monster World Treat Trail; anyone who has timed this attraction poorly knows that it can be a long wait if you miss the start of a show.
The bad news is that the segments are much more audience-dependent. Normally, that’s fine if you have an engaged audience or the monsters target “kids saying the darndest things.” However, the segments I saw mostly had preoccupied guests and most of the humor didn’t land.
Monsters Laugh Floor is always a mixed bag, with the prepared sketches balancing out the impromptu guest interactions that can be dicey. This, unfortunately, was all dicey guest interactions. We’ll give this another chance, but my initial impression is that it’s a good impulse break and a nice chance to sit for ~10 minutes, but not something anyone should seek out.
After that, I made a lap of the park to assess crowds, then grabbed a spot in Town Square for the first Boo to You parade. The crowd here was not bad, nor was much of Main Street, for that matter…
This year, there were a number of changes to the Boo to You parade. Some are as minor as new costumes or lighting, but almost every single unit of Boo to You was different in one way or another. Much of this only keen eyes would notice, so don’t expect anything major.
The biggest addition, or at least the one Disney touted with concept art, is the new Tomorrowland unit. This features the Incredibles and designer extraordinaire Edna Mode, followed by Buzz Lightyear and Alien explorers discovering crystalline treasures on the surface of a planetary playset float.
The Tomorrowland unit is not good.
I can forgive the weak parade floats; Boo to You has a lot of those. However, the ho-hum floats are usually offset by impressive street-level performers doing carefully choreographed routines. In this case, the floats are boring and so too is the ground level stuff.
Then there’s the addition of the “the spectral Bride, who glides among the waltzing spirits.” Despite being a one-line note in the announcement meant to hype the new Tomorrowland unit, this is the addition of the year to Boo to You. The spectral Bride has an ethereal glow as she literally floats like a ghost along the parade route.
The Haunted Mansion unit is far and away the strongest part of Boo to You (as it should be), and this is a nice enhancement. I also appreciate that this appears to be the ‘old school’ spectral Bride instead of Constance. She has a bouquet of flowers instead of a hatchet, and is understated yet ominous.
If Walt Disney World wants to enhance Boo to You again next year, I think the best approach would be looking at the Frightfully Fun Parade (in California) and seeing what that parade has that Boo to You lacks. I don’t think anyone was clamoring for a Tomorrowland unit, whereas one with Jack and Sally would’ve been a hugely popular addition.
Another cool float, perhaps featuring a contorted “Halloween tree” would be another great addition. As noted, Boo to You is somewhat weak on its floats, so this could be a nice addition to break up some of that monotony. I still think Boo to You is Disney’s best Halloween parade, but I’m beginning to think it could use a more comprehensive overhaul.
After Boo to You, it was time to race forward to grab a spot for the Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular fireworks, the show replacing Happy HalloWishes. This did not go well.
The hub was already packed, and after doing a couple of laps trying to find a place where I could set up my tripod, I resolved myself in defeat, heading back towards the middle of Main Street for an uncrowded vantage. For a fireworks show with perimeter bursts (and other elements I won’t spoil), this is an objectively poor location that isn’t recommended. You want to be on the other side of Casey’s Corner, or ideally, around the Hub.
However, once I got the Party Pass, I started making a mental list of the spots from which I wanted to photograph Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular fireworks. This was one of the locations…just not the one I wanted to try on night one. It was far away, difficult to see everything that was happening, and I was admittedly a bit preoccupied adjusting my camera settings.
This is all a long-winded way of me saying I haven’t yet formed a strong opinion of Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular fireworks and want to wait until I watch it again from a good location before offering my review. My first impression was a mix of “whoa!” and “what?” We’ll see if any of those reactions change with a closer and more attentive viewing.
The rest of the evening was spent wandering around enjoying the spooky atmosphere of Magic Kingdom before returning to Main Street for the second, more crowded viewing of Boo to You parade.
After that, it was back to the Hub to watch the final show of the superlative Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, which remains the best addition to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party since I’ve been attending the event.
Overall, it was a great evening in Magic Kingdom. A big part of this came from not having a sense of urgency in “getting it all done” in a single night. Obviously, that won’t be true for many of you reading this, so one of my top priorities with the next party we attend will be creating a false sense of urgency and going through the motions in trying to get as much done as possible, with an emphasis on a good view of Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular fireworks. I’ll report back on how that goes at some point in the next couple of weeks!
Have a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party report of your own to share? Thoughts on new additions to Boo to You, Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular fireworks, 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!