Review & Photos: Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
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!
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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!
My 25 year old daughter and I attended the MNSSHP Friday, September 27, 2019. It was fabulous. However what I fell I was mislead in was I kept being told that the park was less crowded. It sure did not feel that way. People who are in the park and do not have tickets for the party still stay. They have ridden all their rides the front end of the day and stay for all the festivities. The park does not do a great job in getting those people out of the park. My daughter and I saw an tremendous amount of people in the park without the band around their wrists. That is the only thing that I was so disappointed in.
Hi do you get preferred viewing for the parade if you have booked a dessert party?
So now that some time has passed do you have any updates on best places to view (and photograph) the parade and fireworks? Thanks!
Tried it last night and we hated it. Maybe since we are not fans of parades or fireworks we had very different expectations. It was very difficult to move around the park with the huge crowds. Very loud music and a lot of long lines for pictures and for candy, none of which we were interested in. We made the mistake of not making dining reservations and had to settle for tacos at Pecos Bill’s as the sit down restaurants were all closed by the time we had done most of the rides. We should have just left at that point and would have avoided the fireworks.
Overall the party was not what we consider our traditional Disney World experience and will never do that or any other holiday party there again. In fact, part of coming to Disney is to escape real life for a bit and that includes holidays, so I doubt we will book a trip over a “holiday” season again.
Luckily we had a great day at animal kingdom today that restored our faith in Disney World. Thank goodness for no Halloween decorations there.
Oh and best thing about the party was that Magic Kingdom had light crowds during the day and we were able to do just about everything we wanted in a few hours.
We are attending Disney world with 2 children 8 and 6 In September (And their parents) Is it worth paying to attend the mnsshp. We were going to give our daughter and son-in- Law a break without the kids. We do have a 5 day pass already booked.
We are attending MNSSHP for the first time next month. We are planning on arriving at the park at 4pm. Are we able to book and use fastpasses between 4 and 7pm with a party ticket or are they only available to book and use with a regular park ticket?
Yes, you can book FP with the party ticket! 😉
Love you blog. Are the parades and fireworks at the same time as last year? If not, can you post a photo of the Halloween guide like you did last year. We are planning to attend the end of Sept. and want to plan things out. Thank you
Which Sanderson sister show would you recommend? Also I have heard conflicting views on attending first or second parade. Just wondering your opinion. Thanks
Would you say this is a good idea for adults? My husband and I are going to Disney in Sept for our anniversary. (No kids yet) I dont want to spend money on this if it is mostly for kids.
In my opinion, yes it is fun for adults to experience. If you love Halloween, it is festive with special parade and fireworks and little shows scattered throughout. You can enter at 4 pm with special party ticket (so that can save the cost of a regular party ticket). We do not trick or treat — not worth the lines for melting chocolate. Food lines are long because not everything is open, so I also recommend Mobile Ordering in advance or eating prior. If you want to do attractions, the lines were manageable for the bigger rides (mountains, mansion, pirates) — not sure about the popular younger rides in Fantasyland. The overall atmosphere is great.
I was really excited about this and brought tickets for me and my family. We arrived at 5:30pm I had had enough by 07:30pm. My 4 and 6 year old said daddy can we go back to the Villa and swim? Ironically this was like going into my personal hell. Overcrowding and high humidity just made me feel stressed and annoyed. After queuing for 10-15 minutes for a couple of bags of skittles I thought why on earth am I doing this? It’s not fun, it’s tedious. I’d advise anyone who already has a weekly or fortnightly ticket to Disney to save the money don’t bother unless you want to queue up and see what you’ve probably already seen and done before. If you want candy, send me $79 dollars and I will gladly send you some!
We attended the first party on Friday night also and thought it was AWESOME!! To be honest, around 5 pm we saw tons of people with party wristbands, so I was a little nervous about the crowds. However, the crowds were dispersed throughout the park, so wait times were low. We hit many attractions including Haunted Mansion to see Madam Carlotta, special effects photo opportunity with hitchhiking ghosts, total-darkness Space Mountain, and real pirates hanging out in the Pirates of the Caribbean (I think they could add even more pirates to really make it amazing).
The parade was fantastic and the gliding Bride and the Gravediggers were our favorites. The fireworks show was great, but unless you have a direct view of the front of the castle, some of the creativity and magic will be missed because of the projections. But even though we didn’t have a direct view, it was still fantastic.
We only planned to Trick or Treat if it was on our way with no lines — we hit 2 stops, and it was a good little snack break. Candy is handed out by Cast Members, not Characters, so we would rather be doing other things during the party instead (I told my kids we can buy candy any time back home).
People were festive and many in full costumes. I admire those who can wear full costumes in August! We absolutely loved the party — the music, lights, decorations and special events made it worth the ticket price hands down.
Hello, I love reading your blog. This maybe a dumb question but it is our first time at mnsshp and was wondering if we need to bring our own treat bags or do they provide them? Thank you
They provide bags.
Did you happen to get a peek at ride wait times? We are doing the first Christmas party of the year (not my first choice, but we are cruising on the Fantasy the next day and it was cheaper than a one day park ticket) and I am wondering what we’ve gotten ourselves in for.
Aside from Space Mountain, wait times were low to moderate. Around 20-30 minutes posted for most headliners (which was probably slightly inflated). IIRC, Mine Train was also around 30 minutes after 10 pm.
Based on YouTube and photos, I like the bride addition to the Haunted Mansion unit (which is one of my favorite units) but I dislike the Tomorrowland unit and DIsneys constant shoehorning of Toy Story and Incredibles IP everywhere . I love the Frontierland Hoedown unit so I was a little disappointed to see Shaker and Brer Rabbit were missing from the parade but I am grateful the rest of the Country Bears, Brers, and Chip & Dale were retained from years past.
Hey Tom I think I have seen you on the forums at WDWMagic.com. My wife and I are taking our girls (7 & 5) on their first trip to Disney this year and will be hitting up the Halloween party on October 21st. Any particular suggestions on attending with children?
I am super excited for the party, we have tickets for Halloween night and I can’t wait!! We also have tickets for the Christmas party.
What is the weather normally like? I’m worried I might be cold? I was hoping Florida is still hot in November time. Any tips on what to wear would be great. Being a Brit I’m usually cold.. we don’t get great weather over here! I was hoping to get my legs out for a change!!
There’s no such thing as “normal” weather in Florida during November. It could be 90 degrees or it could be 40 degrees.
Our family is visiting mid-October, from Alaska, and I couldn’t be happier about the MNSSHP party pass. We’re staying CR, and we were initially disappointed that many late EMH were being removed in October. Am I disappointed that I have to technically “pay” for late admission to the MK four evenings we’ll be visiting? Yes. But we won’t be rope dropping any parks, I have 2 teenage boys, and we can now walk over four evenings to enjoy MNSSHP, our favorite family event. This pass is perfect for our family and I’m thrilled!
We’ll be at Disney World the week of Halloween and plan on attending the party on Tuesday, the 29th.
Any thoughts on which parade to watch if we’re planning on watching the fireworks show and the 12:00 am Hocus Pocus show? The rest of our party time will likely be spent on Magic Shots and meeting a few characters.
Its August 19th and we are talking about MNSSHP at WDW. Another high priced ticketed event cutting into regular parks hours is bad enough, but now it is stretched into mid August. Plus they keep adding more days of the week. It used to be 2 days a week, beginning in mid September.
I love the party. Don’t get me wrong. I have attended several of them. But come on, Disney.
Agree 100%. We just came back from a late July visit and felt we didn’t spend any late nights in the parks during our 7 day visit. Evening EMH seem to be a special ticket event now. MK one night and EPCOT one night each with EMH in the evening that week. I I’ve already paid enough for an week long park hopper, and feel that paying for late night events at AK MK Is ridiculous. Not all of us want to rise at 5am to get in for EMH. I knew this going into the trip but non the less was a bit saddened by it.
Totally agree with you Maria. I was disappointed as well with having to pay extra. My girls grew up going early and staying late!
Personally I’m disappointed that Disney is offering the pass for the party. I think they’re going to be a lot more crowded so for those of us who live in PA or anywhere not close to Disneyworld, the lure of less crowds and being able to get on premier rides without waiting hours is gone. Do you think the pass is going to make a big impact on that? so not worth the money?
I can’t see anyone but a total Disney enthusiast or people like Tom who run blogs on Disney buying one of these …
If you’re a local why would you want to attend more than one party? People that live near Disney have lives too. Their kids have school, and other things to keep them busy throughout the fall. Even if you were in Disney for two weeks (a rarity) would you want to attend more than one party?
I would not be surprised if these “party passes” disappear after poor sales.
If I was a local, I would certainly buy one of those passes. Not so much for the party itself, but for the fact that you can usually ride most rides as walk-ons or with minimal wait during the parties. You can pay $299 and go numerous times during the 2+ months to ride the rides you want with minimal wait. Its almost like being able to attend as many of the After Hours parties as you want for a set price.
And if you feel like doing something at the part once or twice? An added bonus.
I for one applaud Disney’s “thinking outside the box” as they attempt to monetize bloggers . . .
We’re an easy bunch. It doesn’t really require thinking outside the box…or much thought whatsoever! 😉
At what time do changes occur to the rides like Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean? Exactly when the party starts or beforehand?
We attended the 1st one on friday and never done it before. It was amazing loved every minute. You need more than 6hrs we only managed 3 rides wait times around 30 mins did some treating would only do a couple next time same treats at every location so not missing out (bag is supplied) make sure you go through the halloween entrance great picture opportunities. Meet and greets took up the time when not watching the parade or fireworks all of which were great.
Well worth the extra ticket price and we will definitely go back on our next visit in 2ys