My wife and I have been going to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party almost every year for nearly a decade. Our annual Halloween Party visits began before we had children and coincided with an annual trip to Walt Disney World for our wedding anniversary in October. The only year we have missed the Halloween Party was due to the birth of our son who was only a month old at the time. Besides that, it has been a staple for our family. So, obviously, we’re fans of this event, but a discussion I was having with a co-worker this past week, who had never been to the party, had me thinking about the pros and cons of this event. Honestly, this event has more pros than cons, but in recent years the cons have become significant enough to bear mentioning. We’ll start with the pros along with a brief synopsis of what the party entails for those of you who have never been.
What is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party?
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is a separate hard-ticketed event that is offered on select nights at Magic Kingdom. The fact that it is a “hard-ticketed” event means that on the nights the Halloween Party is taking place, regular park guests will be asked to leave the park at 7:00 pm, and only guests who have purchased a separate ticket for the event will be admitted into the park. This year those nights are: September 2, 8, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 29, 30 and October 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30, & 31. On these nights, Magic Kingdom will be transformed into a festive, spooky (in a family-friendly, Disney sort of way) atmosphere featuring a stage show filled with your favorite villains, a special version of the Wishes fireworks show called “Happy Hallowishes”, Mickey’s Boo To You Halloween Parade, and trick-or-treat stations set up all over the park giving away candy. The event officially lasts from 7:00 pm until midnight, but you can get into the park with your Halloween Party admission as early as 4:00 pm.
The atmosphere: It is a unique thing to be inside Magic Kingdom when the park has been decorated and themed for Halloween. The buildings on Main Street U.S.A. have spooky projections on them, the background music played is Halloween or spooky music, there are lots of orange and green lighting of the park icons, and a majority, but not all, of the guests come to the party dressed in costume. In fact, most nights you will probably have just as much fun people watching and enjoying some of the fantastic costumes that people have put on as you will the official offerings that Disney advertises as part of the party.
The special offerings: There are 5 key elements of the Halloween Party that are unique to the party and should not be overlooked, being that you are paying for an additional admission ticket. The Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular is a neat little stage show that is put on in front of Cinderella castle starring some of your favorite Disney villains along with the 3 witches from Hocus Pocus.
Mickey’s Boo To You Halloween Parade is a fan favorite and one of the best parades Disney offers. This is a special parade that starts off with the headless horseman on a real live horse running down the parade route. There’s a section featuring Goofy’s Candy Co. where they throw out candy, and the Haunted Mansion gravediggers really steal the show with one of the most impressive choreographed parade performances I’ve seen at Disney.
Happy Hallowishes is a spectacular fireworks show featuring many of Disney’s most classic villains. The music is mainly set to Radio Disney-type music, but very nicely done, and the fireworks are actually 360 degree fireworks at parts surrounding park guests, which is usually not done with the regular Wishes fireworks show.
There are 14 trick-or-treat stations set up all over the park where park guests can trick-or-treat safely without having to worry about things like poisoned candy. Most nights you usually will end up walking out with at least one bag of overflowing candy.
And I can’t forget the dance party in Tomorrowland. Mike and Sully from Monster’s Inc. host a dance party, with other various Disney characters, where you can boogie on down right alongside some of your favorite Disney characters.
Shorter than usual waits: Many will argue that the attractions shouldn’t be the thing that you attend the Halloween Party for. After all, you can ride Space Mountain any time, but you can only see the special fireworks show or the Boo To You parade on the nights that you attend the Halloween Party. I will agree with this to an extent. However, since this is a separate hard-ticketed event and Disney caps the tickets sold at a number much lower than capacity on a normal park day, most nights you can find some of your favorite rides with very short waits or even walk-ons. This is a major pro, and I highly recommend planning out your evening so that you can find the time to catch at least the parade and fireworks show, while leaving yourself time to ride some of the attractions without waiting in long lines. The Haunted Mansion is really the only exception. Many people head right for it, because they want to ride the spookiest attraction of all on Halloween Party nights. But even that isn’t usually that bad.
Price!: This is the main drawback. Over the years, the Halloween Party has been gaining popularity, and like anything else that is in high demand, Disney has been continuously raising the price of admission. When my wife and I first started attending the parties nearly 10 years ago, we spent around $35 per adult ticket (with an annual passholder discount). This year, without any discounts and depending on the night, the party falls anywhere between $72 per adult ticket and $95 per adult ticket. The party that actually takes place on Halloween night is a whopping $105 per adult ticket! The annual passholder rate is anywhere from $67 per adult ticket to $80 per adult ticket with many of the party dates blacked out for discounted tickets. I understand inflation, but that is a 91% increase in 10 years!
Crowds: I know! I just mentioned shorter than normal wait times for attractions at the party as a pro. This is still true to an extent. However, in recent years, it seems that Disney is raising the limit at which they cap attendance for the parties in order to sell more tickets and squeeze in more people. Now, depending on the night you go (i.e. Fridays, Saturdays, and especially Halloween night), you could find it rather crowded at the party. Again, I know many people argue that you’re not paying for the party to ride attractions, but for us, shorter lines are a large part of the appeal. Besides, crowd levels can be unpleasant for the special offerings as well when you’re trying to claim a spot for the parade or the fireworks and stage shows. Careful consideration should be given to the party night before you purchase. Halloween will always be packed to the hilt. The first couple of Halloween parties in September will likely be crowded as well. More expensive nights are, obviously, more crowded and in higher demand. So stick with cheaper nights not on the weekend, if possible.
Really those are the only 2 cons that I feel warrant mentioning. I don’t mind that they’ve started doing the parties earlier in the year, because I enjoy taking my son in September for his birthday, even though Halloween is over a month away. The atmosphere is so immersive that you really don’t even notice that it’s so early. I still feel that this is a must-do party. I even hold it above Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (and I LOVE Christmas). Therein lies the problem, though. As long as people like me continue to shell out the cash to go to this event, Disney will most likely continue to raise prices each year until they find the breaking point. And as long as the party continues to be the sort of success that bloggers want to write about and tell other people about, more and more people will be shelling out the cash and crowding the park on these select nights. Obviously, the pros outweigh the cons, but it would be nice if you didn’t feel taken advantage of as a guest in order to attend. That being said, if you’ve never experienced Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, you absolutely have to. You just might have to cut back somewhere else in your vacation or on spending in order to do so.