Believe it or not, Fall is upon us. I’m not quite sure where summer went so quickly but I always hate to see it go. But if we have to leave summer behind, it’s a good thing Fall is the season that follows. Cooler temperatures, the gorgeous autumn colors, tasty fall flavors, and, by far the best reason to love fall, Mickey’s-Not-So-Scary-Halloween Party! Though I’m not otherwise a fan of Halloween, this Disney-infused event has easily become one of our favorite annual traditions. It takes everything you already love about Disney and magnifies it with a spell more of fun, magic, and delight. If you’ve never been and would like more information about the actual event itself, visit the Disney site here. Otherwise, grab a pumpkin-spiced-latte, a big comfy blanket, and read on for 11 spooktacular tips for making the most of Mickey’s-Not-So-Scary-Halloween Party.
Arrive “A-head” of Time:
The Headless Horseman will tell you that although Mickey’s-Not-So-Scary-Halloween Party (MNSSHP) officially begins at 7:00 pm, you can and should actually arrive “a-head” of time. Ticket holders for the party are allowed to enter Magic Kingdom as early as 4:00 pm for a few extra hours of fun at the park before the party begins. Regular guests are asked to leave the park at 6:00 pm. Better yet is that if you’re a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) member, you’re given access to enter Magic Kingdom even earlier at 2:00 pm! What a perfect opportunity to stroll around the park and take in all the festive decor so that you’re ready to hit the ground running once the party officially begins.
Prepare for Pre-Parade:
Speaking of the Headless Horseman, he’s a favorite part of the Boo-To-You Halloween parade. However, once the beginning of the parade has been announced, be sure to keep your own head on and eyes open because the Headless Horseman goes by fast! He’ll trot by on his trusty black steed quite a ways ahead of the rest of the parade, so stay alert and have your camera ready.
Ghosts & Cowboys:
While we’re on the subject of the Boo-To-You parade, I suggest you think of cowboys if you want a great viewing spot to take in all the ghosts and floats… the cowboys in Frontierland, that is. A large majority of party-goers will park their bones on Main Street to watch the villainous parade, but some of the best spots can be found in Frontierland along the route.
When it comes to the Boo-To-You parade, think Boo-“Two”-You instead… as in parade number two. Weather permitting, for all the special shows, including the parade and the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, there are usually multiple shows per evening. Although you’ll be excited to see these shows as soon as you possibly can, make yourself wait just a little while longer and watch the second show instead of the first. Not only will crowds be thinner, but you’ll get great access to the rides while so many other party goers are all lined up around Main Street and Cinderella’s Castle before taking their Little Monsters home.
The “Gh’oul Times”:
For the optimal “gh’oul” times, be sure to pick up a party times guide and map on your way into Magic Kingdom. While much of the park does remain open for the Halloween party, not everything does, so having a times guide and map will help you plan out your evening and prevent lost time from going to locations that aren’t actual open. Furthermore, in addition to being a regular map of Magic Kingdom, special Halloween party maps will also show you where to find Trick-Or-Treat stations, special Halloween foods, entertainment, and merchandise. Keep in mind that entertainment and shows aren’t always at the same time each night, so having a times guide will help ensure you have a hauntingly smooth night. Also, if you like to plan ahead like me, another resource to use is the calendar on the Disney World website. It always helps to go with a plan already in mind!
When it comes to Trick-Or-Treating at MNSSHP, keep some Now-and-Laters in mind, but just the later part. Kids (okay, adults too) are often really excited to start getting their Halloween candy right away. Lines will start small but become backed up before you know it. My suggestion is to skip the candy stations until later in the evening once many families with young children have left the park. Candy stations will stay open until midnight and are always kept well stocked, so there’s no need to feel rushed to fill up those bags and buckets. Plus, by waiting to get your candy, you won’t have to worry about carrying all that extra loot around as you go around on rides. However, if you absolutely just can not wait to do a little Trick-Or-Treating as the party begins, I suggest stopping at just one or two of the candy stations on your way in and then moving on to rides and character meet-and-greets.
That’s right… Bring your OWN candy! (GASP!!!) Now, hear me out on this one. Before I had ever attended a MNSSHP, for some reason I was under the impression that there would be special Disney-exclusive sweets at the candy stations. However, that just isn’t the case. Although it would be simply bewitching to have Mickey shaped M&Ms, the fact is that your M&Ms at MNSSHP are just as M&Mish as ever. So with that in mind, go to the store ahead of time, buy some candy, and have it on hand when you or the kids want in on the Trick-Or-Treating goods. You’ll be glad you did when you walk by all the people stuck standing in line at all the candy stations.
Holidays can be an especially big BOO for those of us with dietary restrictions. But don’t think for one second that Disney is okay letting anyone come to their party without feeling included! If anyone in your family has special dietary restrictions, Disney has you taken care of with a variety of gluten-free and/or allergy-free treats. When I’ve gone to collect my treats, I’ve even been presented with fun little Halloween crafts as an additional alternative. As you enter Magic Kingdom and collect your Trick-Or-Treating bag, just tell a cast member about your dietary needs and they’ll hand you a special bag. As you go around to each of the candy stations, cast members will provide you with little tokens instead of candy that you can then redeem at allergy-free stations located at the Town Square Theater (near Tony’s Town Square Restaurant on Main Street, U.S.A.) and Liberty Square Ticket Office (near The Hall of Presidents in Liberty Square). When it comes to all the Trick-Or-Treating fun, there’s no need to feel like you can’t when Disney has you covered with allergy-free CANdy.
This year, in additional to all the Jack-O-Lanterns displayed around Magic Kingdom for MNSSHP, you’ll also find another orange ball of sorts. Every year for Halloween, Disney World releases an exclusive spell card for the Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom game that all park goers are welcome to play for free around the park. This year features Disney’s classic friend Orange Bird, the orange canary who first debuted in 1971 at the Enchanted Tiki Room attraction as a mascot for a sponsorship from the Florida Citrus Commission. For those interested in playing Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom or who simply just want to collect the holiday-exclusive card, they can be found at the Firehouse on Main Street, U.S.A.
No Tricks, All Treats:
One of the best parts of visiting Disney World during the fall is enjoying all their seasonal foods and snacks. Despite some items being available all day at the Disney Parks throughout the Halloween season, lines to buy these sweet delights really stack up during MNSSHP evenings. This is especially true in the shops along Main Street, U.S.A. One way to avoid these time-zapping lines is to plan ahead and enjoy the non-exclusive treats early. Otherwise, you may want to jump in line early or late in the course of the party to grab exclusive edibles.
Beat the Meet:
Like the Trick-Or-Treating stations, character meet-and-greets are available until midnight. Beat the meet-and-greet lines by staggering your character encounters throughout the night, particularly during parades and shows when many people are crowded around Cinderella’s Castle or on Main Street. However, that being said, there are a few characters who only make appearances in Magic Kingdom for Halloween events and are fairly hard to meet at any time of night. For these characters, it’s recommended that you choose the one you want to meet the most and get in line before the party begins. The characters with the longest lines are Jack Skellington and Sally as well as the 7 Dwarfs. Other characters often out for Halloween include Cruella de Vil, Winnie-the-Pooh and friends, Belle and Gaston, the Queen of Hearts and the Tweedles, Lotso Huggin’ Bear, Jafar, Tarzan and Jane, and Jack Sparrow. Some of these lines start hours before the party, so ask cast members at the various locations when you can start lining up (which is why you want to be in the park at 4pm or earlier).
Although these 11 ideas are my top tips for making the most of your time at Mickey’s-Not-So-Scary-Halloween Party, I know there are many other great suggestions and ideas. What do you recommend?