Filed under: Walt Disney World (FL)
Last night was the first Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party of the season at Magic Kingdom, and I headed over to check it out. Daisy Lauren had some great tips earlier this week for preparing for the party that I definitely took advantage of.
Even though the party is from 7:00 pm to midnight, I knew guests with party tickets would be let in beginning at 4:00 pm and headed over early. I was surprised to see when we arrived at the gates at 3:45 pm that they were already admitting party guests and giving out party wristbands. We also collected our Trick-or-Treat bags (featuring Frozen and Muppets Most Wanted), and event maps and were ready to go. Guests who were already in the park on day tickets could collect their party accoutrements at the Rose Garden near the hub.
Normally there are no party activities until 7:00 pm; however, this year Disney began handing out the special Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card at the Fire House and Liberty Square locations right at 4:00 pm. When we went by to get ours, Cast Members informed us that there was a limited amount of cards for each night of the party. I didn’t actually think they could run out…but they did! At about 10:00 pm we started to hear rumors that they had run out and were giving out last year’s card instead. If this card is something important to you, make sure to get there early both to ensure that you get one and to maximize your actual party time. While you can only collect the special card at the party, it will work any time. So don’t feel the need to waste party time on playing the game unless you just really want to.
I was a bit worried that my kids (age 3 and 4) would be distracted by the need to do attractions during the party, so from 4-6:30 we took advantage of the low crowds and hit some of their favorites. After a few rides on Peoplemover, Buzz Lightyear, and Carousel of Progress and some quality time in the Dumbo queue playground, they were ready to focus on other activities. We grabbed a quick dinner at Cosmic Ray’s and finished up just before 7:00 pm and the actual start of the party.
We began our adventure by securing merchandise (I know, I know…we’re merchandise people. I NEED event t-shirts!). Then we headed to Big Top Souvenirs since we figured it wouldn’t be too crowded. While is wasn’t the violent chaos I’ve experienced in the Emporium previous years, it was still a struggle to get into the pack and grab shirts in our sizes. They had an adult and child sized t-shirt in orange, an adult long sleeved t-shirt in gray, and a children’s sweatshirt in purple, all with the same logo. There were also pins available, but these were only at select locations (Emporium, Frontierland Trading Post, Heritage House) that all had super long lines at the beginning of the night but had no crowds later on. While no pins sold out last night, towards the end of the event I couldn’t find any small or medium adult sized event shirts. If you want to buy a shirt, try to get it early to make sure they don’t run out of your size. Disney only put a select number out each party night to ensure that guests coming to later parties have the same selection of merchandise.
At this point is was about 7:15 pm, an hour before the first Boo to You parade. If you want to see the first parade, this is probably the time to start lining up to get a prime spot. The parade runs twice during each party. The second parade is always much less crowded, and I recommend attending that one. However, this is my favorite parade in all of Walt Disney World, and I like to see both showings during the party. My preferred viewing spot is in Frontierland (the Boo to You parade starts there). In addition to being less crowded than Main Street, in this area the preshow is The Cadaver Dans (The Dapper Dans dressed as dead Frontiersmen) as opposed to The Creepa Crew (a dance troupe that intends to hype up the crowd but that I personally find highly annoying…I would rather just listen to the regular Halloween background loop and wait). Also in Frontierland Woody’s Happy Harvest Round-Up is nearby in the Diamond Horseshoe, so an adult can take the kids over to dance and collect candy so they don’t get too antsy waiting for the parade, but it’s still close enough to keep an eye on the rest of our party holding the spot, and we can get back before crowds fill in too much.
While my party was holding spots I ran up to meet Mickey and Minnie in Town Square Theater in their Halloween costumes. This is the one meet and greet I absolutely HAVE to do every year at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. The wait was only 10 minutes, and I was in and out really quickly. I was back to Frontierland just in time for the parade.
This year’s Boo to You Parade has a few minor changes, primarily in the Frontierland Hoe-Down section. Previously they had the cowboys dancing out front, followed by Country Bears on the silo float, and then girls partner dancing with Chip, Dale, and the Br’er characters. This year, the cowboys were square dancing with the girls up front, followed by the silo float with Clarabelle Cow doing the dance calls, and then Br’ers and Country Bears following. The changes were minor, and this is still my favorite parade. I love the song and the characters (Big Bad Wolf!) and getting candy at the end!
After the parade we slowly made our way towards Main Street. We knew we had plenty of time since the parade hadn’t gone through there yet, so we went by way of Adventureland to check out some of the special character meet and greets. Characters are generally not a priority for me at parties because I think the lines are too long and not worth the wait, but I like to walk past and see them even if I don’t meet them. However, if characters are important to you, Kenny the Pirate has great information on his site outlining all the locations and times and has tips to help you maximize your characters.
We arrived at the hub just after the parade ended and got our spot for Happy HalloWishes fireworks at 9:30 pm. We got drinks and popcorn (in the new Mickey as the Hatbox Ghost bucket) and settled in for a 45 minute wait. Celebrate the Magic definitely made at least part of the wait more interesting, especially with the new villain section (which is shown even on non-party nights). I adore HalloWishes and was so excited to see it again after nearly a year! It’s still the same show…but for me the music and perimeter bursts just hasn’t gotten old yet.
After HalloWishes we headed toward Tomorrowland for the Monstrous Scream-O-Ween Ball with Mike and Sulley at Club 626. The dance party was fun (if you’re into that kind of thing), although I’m not sure these particular characters are made for this type of interaction. I saw Mike get his arm ripped off by an over-zealous dancer, and Sulley seemed to have a hard time maneuvering his large frame through the dense crowd of dancers. George Sanderson (famous for his 2319 in Monsters Inc.) seemed to have an easier time of things, but he also didn’t draw the same kind of attention as the film’s stars.
While we had made a few candy stops as we walked around (if we saw short lines), it hadn’t been a focus. Since we needed to get from Tomorroland to Fantasyland anyway, we went by way of the Treat Trail. The walkway from Space Mountain to Fantasyland Train Station has several candy stops along the way and is usually a good way to get lots of treats in little time. While we weren’t disappointed in the amount of candy (one station even gave my boys two extra handfuls for saying “Thank You”) there was a lack of decorations here this year. Normally the trail is decorated with some Alice in Wonderland stand-ups featuring the Queen of Hearts’ card soldiers. This year…they just weren’t there. And while these decorations in past years weren’t the most elaborate or well done, it just felt like another unnecessary cut-back.
We cut through Fantasyland (getting a peek at the Seven Dwarfs) and made a stop at Haunted Mansion. Normally this is the one attraction I do take time to ride during the party…but tonight I just spent time observing Madame Carlotta out in front. Carlotta is a ghost who sits on the lawn and jokes with guests going through the queue or who stop to see her. While I was there she was talking with guests about their modern costumes (which she clearly didn’t understand since she died quite some time ago) and telling everyone about the party going on in the ballroom. While she isn’t a major attraction, to me she is just so uniquely “Halloween!” I think she adds something fun for the holiday to an iconic attraction and makes stopping by even more fun.
We arrived in Frontierland just a few minutes before the parade began and had no trouble finding a spot right up front. See? I told you second parade was less crowded. We even had time to run in to Frontierland Trading Post and grab the pins we wanted with no wait.
The one last thing we had to do was see the Villains’ Mix and Mingle show at the Castle Forecourt Stage. The last showing was at 11:15 pm, and is by far the least crowded of the night. The big appeal with this show is that the villains all come down after for meet and greets. If you want to meet someone specific you should line up before the show even begins. Find the character attendants near the stage, and they will be able to tell you which characters go where so you know where to be. The show itself used to be (in my opinion) really terrible. A couple years ago they added a Dr. Facilier section that made it much more interesting to me. It isn’t very long, but it’s fun to see the villains all come out together and to hear Facilier’s song. I also think the dancing, lighting, and overall set design has improved over the years.
On the way out I stopped by Guest Relations to ask about candy for guests with food allergies. They had a menu that showed what options they had and which allergies they were appropriate for. Guests can pick whatever they like, just be aware that they can run out, so this may be a good place to stop by earlier in the night.
There were a few special food offerings this year, including Candy Corn Soft Serve at Storybook Treats and a Spiced Pumpkin Waffle Sundae at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments that our researcher Morgan tried out.
However, the Spiced Pumpkin Waffle Sundae ($4.99) was another story. She said, “Crispy, warm pumpkin waffle, perfectly spiced and just a little salty, topped with creamy vanilla soft serve and dusted with powdered sugar, cinnamon, and Disney sprinkles. The best treat offered at the Party so far.”
Overall, I really enjoyed the party this year. It should be noted that I am a HUGE Halloween fan. It is my absolute favorite holiday, and anything that celebrates it is awesome in my book. I think it needs to be said that the party is not a good value for every family. This was the first year I had to pay for my children to go (I didn’t take them last year), and it was hard convincing them that waiting in long lines for candy we could have bought ourselves for much less money wasn’t a good use of our time. If you are looking to go on rides with low crowds and get candy, this may not be what you want to spend your money on.
My one concern is that every year I feel like Disney takes little things away from the party that are starting to add up. Even though we didn’t have an issue with candy, I saw several reports of long lines resulting in one piece of candy instead of the usual handful. Less candy, fewer decorations, limited numbers of Sorcerers cards and t-shirts…these are little things that are adding up while prices for the event just get higher and higher. Even as someone who adores this party, I can see Disney making it difficult for me to take my whole family if they cut out too much more.
Are you planning on attending the party this year? If so, what are you most looking forward to? If not, why? What would you like to see changed? What could Disney do to make the event better?