Filed under: Walt Disney World (FL)
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) is the Halloween Party you always wanted as a kid – music, costumes, noise, and candy, candy, candy, plus some creepy stuff that’s not so creepy it would give you nightmares. Here’s the complete scoop on what to expect when you attend.
When/Where is the Halloween Party?
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party takes place in the Magic Kingdom on select nights in the fall, typically running from mid-September until a day or two after Halloween. In 2012, the party dates are September 11, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28, 30; October 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31; November 2.
Tickets for MNSSHP and its cousin Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party typically become available in May.
What time is the Party?
Officially the Party runs from 7:00 p.m. until midnight. There is substantial anecdotal evidence that guests attending the Party are allowed admission into the Magic Kingdom as early as 4:00 or 4:30 p.m. using only MNSSHP tickets (not regular admission media). This practice could change at any time.
Will I need a special ticket to get into the Party?
Yes. Admission requires buying a separate ticket just for this event. It’s not included in any version of the Magic Your Way ticketing.
How much do the Party tickets cost?
There’s a range of pricing including discounts for buying in advance. On the low end, you’ll pay about $51 for a child’s ticket on a September weekday if you buy before the day of the party. On the high end, you’ll pay about $70 for an adult ticket purchased on Halloween day. There may be discounts for DVC members, annual pass holders, active military, or other special categories of guests, depending on the date. You should always ask about available discounts when purchasing Disney tickets or tours. Tickets can be obtained through Disney online, over the phone at 407-W-DISNEY, or at any WDW ticket window, concierge desk, or guest relations office.
I don’t have a Park Hopper, can I still buy a MNSSHP ticket?
You sure can. MNSSHP tickets are totally separate from regular park admission media. If you have a Magic Your Way base ticket, you’re welcome to visit Epcot in the morning and then MNSSHP in the evening using a Party ticket. This would not count as a “Park Hop.”
I see that there’s a discount for early ticket purchase, but do I need to purchase tickets early if I’m not sure about attending the party?
Same-day tickets may be available for some weekday Parties in September, but you should absolutely buy your tickets in advance if you’d like to go to MNSSHP on a weekend in October. A limited number of tickets are available for each party. The event does typically sell out on October weekends.
Where do I enter the Magic Kingdom for the Party?
Depending on what time you arrive at the Magic Kingdom, some or all of the entrance turnstiles will be dedicated to Party admission. Look for the signs indicating where to go. When you enter the park with a Halloween Party ticket, a cast member will place a plastic wristband on your arm and hand you a plastic candy collection bag. Also be sure to grab a map/schedule on the way in.
I’m not going to MNSSHP, but I will be in the Magic Kingdom during a day when the Party is held. Will they kick me out of the park at 7:00?
Well, no one will forcibly remove you from the park, but beginning at around 7:00 cast members will set up moving checkpoints for wristbands. If you’re not wearing a wristband, then you’ll be directed toward the park exit. Wristband checks occur periodically at the attractions.
I’ll be visiting the Magic Kingdom in the afternoon and also attending MNSSHP. Do I have to leave the park at some point?
No. Beginning in late afternoon, several stations will be set up inside the park to distribute wristbands to Party guests who are already inside. Stop by one of the stations, they’ll scan your ticket, give you a wristband, and you can be back to the fun in no time.
It’s a Halloween Party – does that mean costumes?
Costumes are NOT required to attend the Party, but many guests do add to the fun by getting dressed up. There are a few restrictions on costumes (more on that in a sec), but there is no requirement that costumes be Disney-related. Many guests choose to give a nod to Disney in their dress-up (Mouseketeers and pirates are popular choices), but you’ll also see plenty of non-Disney superheros on hand.
Costumes range from just a Halloween-themed tee or pirate eye patch to full on Haunted Mansion ghosts. The choice is really up to you. Personally, I love seeing other guests dressed creatively.
What types of costume restrictions are there?
I’m all for the truth in advertising that this is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. The goal for costumes is being fun and creative, not frightening. You’ll be asked to change or leave if your costume is too scary or grotesque.
The official language on the tickets states. “Halloween costumes should NOT:
- Obstruct the guest’s view or interfere with their ability to board/unload from attractions and/or the the Walt Disney World Resort transportation system (including monorails, ferry boats, and motorcoaches).
- Drag on the ground.
- Contain sharp or pointed objects or material that may accidentally strike another guest.
- Be offensive to other guests.
- Contain any weapons which resemble or could easily be mistaken for an actual weapon.”
Additionally, the main Walt Disney World website contains the following language about general costuming issues:
“Attire that is not appropriate for the theme parks (and which may result in refusal of admittance) includes but is not limited to:
- Adult costumes or clothing that can be viewed as representative of an actual Disney character.
- Masks (unless you are dressing up for a particular event).
- Clothing with objectionable material, including obscene language or graphics.
- Excessively torn clothing.
- Clothing which, by nature, exposes excessive portions of the skin that may be viewed as inappropriate for a family environment.
- Objectionable tattoos.
A Guest is allowed into the parks if her or his hair (or make-up, if applicable) has been made to resemble a Disney Princess or character (for example, after a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique makeover) provided the Guest is not also wearing a costume or clothed to look like the character.”
Any other costume tips?
Autumn temperatures at WDW are still quite warm. Particularly for the earlier parties, you might encounter temperatures well into the 80s. This is not the time for fuzzy bear suits or full body armor. Think more along the lines of hula skirts and baseball jerseys for maximum comfort.
The Disney powers-that-be like to restrict adult costumes to the Party itself. If you’re coming directly from your resort to the Party, then you’re fine wearing your costume on the bus or monorail. If you’re coming from elsewhere, then your best bet is to change into costume once you’re at the Magic Kingdom. I speak from first hand experience that the ladies’ restroom near City Hall is practically a party itself from about 5:30-6:45 on MNSSHP nights. Most of the women there will be changing themselves or their children into costume. More than once I’ve helped someone with a zipper or shared some hairspray and bobby pins. If you don’t want to carry your street clothes around, MNSSHP is a great time to invest in a locker rental.
What is the crowd situation like during the party?
As I mentioned, there are a limited number of tickets sold for the event, so you won’t be slammed with crowds if you’re just walking through the park. I’ve personally found the lines for the rides to be quite short during the Party; however other aspects of the event can feel quite intense crowd-wise. More on that in a bit.
Now that you’ve got the business out of the way, can you tell me what there is to do at the Party?
On to the fun stuff! The Halloween Party has several components:
- Trick or treating
- Halloween-themed parade
- Halloween-themed fireworks
- Character dance parties
- Special character meet and greet opportunities
- Villain’s Dance Mix & Mingle
- A pre-parade Flash Mob – NEW THIS YEAR!
Are all the rides open during the Party?
Well, not every last one, but most of the rides are fully operational during the Party. In 2011, the following rides were available to Party guests: Pirates of the Caribbean, Magic Carpet of Aladdin, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Haunted Mansion (of course), Snow White’s Scary Adventures (now permanently closed), Peter Pan’s Flight, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, Dumbo, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Mad Tea Party, Space Mountain, Tomorrowland Speedway, Astro Orbiter, Buzz Lightyear, Tomorrowland Transit Peoplemover, Stitch’s Great Escape, and Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor.
It’s A Small World and the Hall of Presidents were most recently open during MNSSHP in 2009. The Swiss Family Treehouse was open during MNSSHP as recently as 2010. The Jungle Cruise, Country Bear Jamboree, and Tom Sawyer Island are not typically open during the Party.
Should I go on rides during the Party?
This depends on your priorities. The ride wait times during the Party are usually minimal. If your main goal for the Party is to get some quality Space Mountain time in, then by all means ride on.
What’s the Trick or Treating like?
Every guest of the Party, children and adults, will be given a trick or treat bag upon entering the park. You’re also welcome to bring your own bag if that’s more your speed. There will be about a dozen treat stations scattered throughout the park. These are noted on the MNSSHP map and can be found in the park by looking for the special large Halloween-themed “lamp posts.”
As you walk through the park, stop by the treat stations and cast members will add candy to your bag. There are dozens of types of candy available, including everything from off-brand candy corn to giant Toblerone bars. When doing my own MNSSHP trick or treating, I’ve generally received a pretty even mix of sugar-based (Dots, US Smarties, lollipops, Twizzlers, etc.) and chocolate-based (mini Hershey bars, M&Ms, Tootsie Rolls, etc.) candy. Many of the stations will have an alternative treat, such as boxed raisins, to give to guests with food allergies. Be sure to ask the cast members at the trick or treat stations if you have alternative treat needs.
This year, look for the return of the Alice & Mad Hatter Treat Trail which winds from the Storybook Circus (formerly Toontown) area, behind the Tomorrowland Speedway, and ends near Space Mountain.
There is no limit to the candy collection. You’re welcome to hit the treat lines as often as you wish. If you’ve got a candy-mad child in your group, this may be his idea of heaven. While I always make a few trick or treat pitstops when I visit MNSSHP, here are some things to think about before you invest too much of your time on candy collection:
- If you’re trying to maintain healthfulness, do you really want to come home with pounds of candy?
- If simply having candy is your goal, it’s more cost effective to go to the supermarket and just buy the kinds you like.
- What’s the opportunity cost of spending time trick or treating? Will you miss out on other party activities?
- Do you come from a culture that does not trick or treat? If so, the novelty of this experience may outweigh other considerations.
- Anecdotal evidence suggests that the candy distribution cast members become more generous as the evening wears on. You may get a bigger haul if you visit the lines later in the Party.
Other than candy, what are my food options during the Party?
There are no table service restaurants seating guests once the Party starts. However, if you’re seated at a table service before the start of the Party, you’ll be allowed to finish your meal at a normal pace. You won’t be rushed out.
There are a number of counter service venues open during the Party. In recent years these have included: Casey’s Corner, Main Street Sweets, Aloha Isle, Pecos Bill, Golden Oak Outpost, Westward Ho, Frontierland Turkey Cart, Sleepy Hollow, the Liberty Square Pizza Cart, Storybook Treats Ice Cream, Cosmic Ray’s and the Lunching Pad. These spots give you a range of options from sweets to salads. Check out the restaurant menus for specifics.
My personal opinion is that grabbing a Dole Whip or funnel cake during MNSSHP is a nice way to keep your sugar buzz steady, but it seems silly to me to use a substantial percentage of your valuable Party time for a full meal. To take best advantage of the Halloween offerings, consume your sit-down protein before the party starts. A 5:30 p.m. dinner at Crystal Palace or the Liberty Tree Tavern is a great way to fortify yourself for the long night ahead.
Tell me about the parade.
Mickey’s Boo to You Halloween Parade starts in Frontierland at 8:15 and 10:30 p.m. As with all parades, depending on where you’re situated on the parade route, it could take 15 minutes or more for the parade to pass your location. The exact parade route is noted on the MNSSHP park map.
Crowds will begin lining up along the route about 45 minutes before the start of the parade. However, if you don’t need to be right up front, then it’s possible to see almost everything if you’re along the route in Frontierland about 5-10 minutes before start time. Another good vantage point is upstairs on the second floor overlook at the Train Station at the base of Main Street. As an added bonus, there may be real chairs there to sit on while you watch. Typically, viewing crowds are thinner for the second run of the parade than the first.
A highlight of the parade happens before even the official start of the performance, when a horse with a shockingly realistic headless rider travels the parade route.
Other things to expect are floats with Disney characters wearing their Halloween costumes (in 2011, Donald Duck was a knight in shining armor and Minnie Mouse was a friendly witch), more Villain characters than other parades, elaborately choreographed gravediggers, and Goofy on his Candy Company float directing cast members to pass treats into the crowd. If you have a child with food allergies, keep a close eye on this.
I’m not a parade addict myself. I can easily take a pass on the typical afternoon park parade, but I always make a point to see the Boo to You parade during MNSSHP. The gravediggers alone are worth it.
What are the fireworks like?
A special “Happy HalloWishes” fireworks show is run at 9:30 p.m. The show lasts about 12 minutes. Good vantage points can be had anywhere along Main Street.
The actual fireworks in the sky are fairly standard for Disney, but the music and narration takes on a decidedly spooky tone. There is audio from the Haunted Mansion attraction (Grim Grinning Ghosts) and songs from Disney villains. The castle itself is primarily bathed in blues and greens. If you like fireworks, but all means have at it. If you have a child who is fearful of loud noise or creepy tones, then hop on a ride during the fireworks and skip this part.
What is a “dance party”?
In 2010 and 2011 there were two character dance parties running throughout the Party: Stitch’s Club 626, featuring Stitch, Pluto, Goofy, and Chip & Dale, taking place at the Rockettower Stage in Tomorrowland, and Woody’s Harvest Roundup, featuring Toy Story pals, taking place at the Diamond Horseshoe Review in Liberty Square.
During the dance parties, DJs spin dance tunes and characters are available to boogie with guests. If you’re not shy, it’s possible to get in some time dancing with the characters. Beware, that the volume can be quite intense and keep an eye on the kiddos. It’s dark and confusing with lots of mood lighting and other guests trying to get time to boogie next to Bullseye.
What happens during the Villains Mix and Mingle?
The Villains Mix and Mingle is an eight minute long stage show performed in front of the castle four times per night. In 2010 and 2011, the shows were at 7:45, 8:50, 10:05 and 11:15. During the performance you’ll see classic Disney villains (Cruella, Captain Hook, Queen of Hearts, etc.) and a bevy of back-up dancers strutting their stuff to Halloween-themed techno music. If you’ve ever wanted to see Malificent shake it in quasi-Hip Hop, quasi-Broadway style, then here’s your shot.
After the performance, many of the villains will come off the stage to mingle with guests in the audience for about 10 minutes. There can be a bit of a crush to get to the characters, so be sure to stake out a spot up close to the stage if you want some face time with Cruella. You may be able to pose for a photo with your favorite bad guy, but be aware that you’ll be taking your photo among the throngs, in the dark. Get to know the low-light and flash settings on your camera if you want your photo to actually come out well.
Can I meet characters during the party?
Absolutely! Not only can you meet characters, but many of them will be wearing Halloween costumes themselves. The 2011 MNSSHP character greetings included:
- All seven dwarfs – near the exit to Splash Mountain
- Captain Jack Sparrow – near Pirates of the Caribbean
- Gaston, Lotso, Jafar, and Lady Tremain, Anastasia and Drizella (Cinderella’s step family) – at the Main Street “hub” near the front of the Castle
- Duffy – near City Hall on Main Street
- Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet – on Main Street near the flag post by the entrance
- Suzy and Perla (Cinderella’s mice) – outside the Town Square Theater
- Mickey and Minnie, Flynn Rider and Rapunzel, Cinderella and her prince, Snow White and her prince – inside the Town Square Theater
- Tarzan, Jane and Terk – at the Adventureland Veranda
- Donald and Daisy – at the Adventureland Gazebo
- Aladdin, Jasmine, the Genie, and Abu – near the Aladdin ride
- Rafiki and Timon – across from the Swiss Family Treehouse
- Tinker Bell and fairy friends – in Adventureland
- Alice and the Mad Hatter – near the teacup ride
- Aurora and Prince Phillip – in the Fantasyland Fairytale Garden
- Frollo, Maleficent, the Evil Queen, Cruella, Captain Hook and the Queen of Hearts – at the Villains Mix and Mingle
- Stitch, Chip & Dale, Goofy and Pluto – at the Stitch Dance Party
- Buzz Lightyear – near the Carousel of Progress
- Woody, Jesse, Bullseye – at the Diamond Horseshoe Dance Party
- Tiana and Naveen – Liberty Square
- Cinderella’s Carriage (not a character, but a good photo op) – past Small World, near the old Skyway station
Thanks to unofficialcharacterhuntingguide.blogspot.com for the comprehensive character location list.
The lines for the character greetings, particularly the dwarfs and Captain Jack, can become very long, very fast. Even at the start of the Party, you may face wait times of an hour or more for the dwarfs. If character photo opportunities are important to you, but sure to factor wait times into your planning.
Remember, characters who are in the parade don’t greet guests during the parade. This means that Mr. Sparrow takes two long greeting breaks during the party. Consider this in your timing.
What’s new this year?
New to MNSSHP in 2012 is a pre-parade, flashmobesque event called “Calling All the Monsters.” After the Headless Horseman and before the start of the Boo To You Parade, guests will be invited to participate in a line dance along the parade route. The music, by China Anne McClain, is available on iTunes and you can learn the choreography on YouTube via the link above. Get your Thriller claws ready for this one, folks.
Should I bring my young child to MNSSHP?
Check out an in-depth discussion of this topic on the Touring Plans blog.
How might weather impact the Halloween party?
Tickets are non-refundable and the Party goes on rain or shine, even if there’s lots and lots and lots of rain. Some of the Party activities may be postponed, curtailed, or cancelled, but the Party itself will continue. If you’re thinking of attending MNSSHP in early September, you may want to wait until your arrival at WDW to purchase your tickets, when you have a good sense of the weather forecast. If you’re thinking of attending MNSSHP in October, there’s a chance that the Party could sell out, making advance purchase advisable. However, you should go into this knowing that you’re taking a gamble on being wet during the event.
Is there any special Party merchandise?
Of course there is. Disney will sell Halloween-themed merchandise throughout the parks and resorts from late August until early November. There will also be some items sold exclusively at the Parties. Typically this will include several styles of tee shirts, trading pins, and a Vinylmation. Since the exclusive merchandise only appears during the Party, you can usually find it at or near the registers where the cast members can most easily keep control of it. Try the Emporium for best selection.
Are there touring plans for MNSSHP?
Touring Plans has official MNSSHP plans for:
- Parents with Small Children (focusing on treat collection)
- Parents with Small Children (focusing on attractions)
Note: these are premium touring plans.
How do I know what’s right for me?
The first step in working out any touring plan is deciding what your priorities are. Are you there to meet characters? Do you want to focus on the unique entertainment? Is collecting a year’s worth of candy your main objective? Do you want ride time with low lines? Each of these scenarios needs a different touring strategy. Once you have have your priorities set, it’s easy to choose a plan.
What tips do you have if meeting characters is my main goal?
This is perhaps the most time consuming Party objective. The line for the seven dwarfs will be upwards of an hour long right from the beginning of the Party. Get in line for this photo op at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the Party.
Decide whether you want to prioritize classic characters in costume or unique characters found only at the Party (the dwarfs, for example).
The characters may stop greeting guests before the official end of the party. Plan to have your character photos completed by 11:00 p.m.
You have several opportunities each night to get photos with the villains after the Mix & Mingle.
Is MNSSHP worth it?
Assuming that it’s not going to kill your budget, then I’d certainly recommend seeing MNSSHP at least once. To maximize the return on your dollar, think about:
- Being present for the entire event. Think of it this way, if you pay $70 for your ticket and you stay for a full five hours, you’re spending $14 per hour for your entertainment. If you only stay for three hours, then you’re spending $23 per hour for your entertainment.
- You’ll have the most “Halloweenish” experience if you focus on events/activities that are unique to the Party. Space Mountain is the same Space Mountain with or without a MNSSHP ticket. The Boo to You Parade can only be seen at the Party.
- The lines for the trick or treating are rarely long, particularly later in the evening. Try working in your candy collection when you see a short line on the way to another activity.
- While some guests will line up for the parade 45 minutes or more before start time, to me this is a waste of quality touring time. (And time is money.) Unless you absolutely must be right up front, you can arrive for the parade just a few minutes in advance.
- Multitask when possible. If you’ve got to wait around for a parade to start, use this time for your food consumption.
So happy haunters, are you planning to attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party this year? What are you looking forward to most? What do you usually skip during the party? What are your touring strategies? Let us know in the comments below.
Thanks to the incomparable Tom Bricker for the use of many of the photos in this post.
UPDATE 9/8/12: 2012 MNSSHP official maps are now available. The information below is accurate for 2012.
- Parade, fireworks, and Mix & Mingle times remain the same as 2011.
- Trick or treat locations are: In Adventureland – next to Jungle Cruise, at the Pirates of the Caribbean queue; In Liberty Square – at the Liberty Square Riverboat; In Fantasyland – at the Peter Pan queue, at the Pinocchio Village Haus restaurant, at the Fantasyland Railroad station; In Tomorrowland – next to the Speedway, near Space Mountain, next to the Carousel of Progress. Trick or treat trails will be in Frontierland next to the Splash Mountain queue and in Fantasyland starting near the Barnstormer.
- MNSSHP merchandise sales locations will be: Emporium, Uptown Jewelers (pins only), Plaza del Sol Caribe Bazaar, Frontier Trading Post, Heritage House, Fantasy Faire, and Mickey’s Star Traders.
- All of the 2011 attractions (with the exception of Snow White) will be open during the Party. Additionally, the Barnstormer and it’s a small world will also be open.
- For dining options: the Frontierland Churro cart will be open. The Liberty Square pizza cart will not.
- There will be a Facebook Game related to the Party. Text on the MNSSHP map reads, “Mickey and Friends Trick or Treat Game. Check out Mickey’s Halloween Party on Facebook to virtually trick or treat with all your friends! Simply select the “Mickey’s Trick or Treat” tab at top right to begin. Plus, for a special treat, enter the code URSULA! Visit the page often for more codes.” I’m excited to see what that’s all about. If you try it, please let us know what your experiences have been.