While the season of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is still many months away, the time to purchase tickets for these events is now. (Official dates just released, yay!)
The parties are hoot, but they may not be for everyone. Guests with younger children, say ages 7 and under, may want to spend some extra time considering whether an evening Magic Kingdom party makes sense for their families at this time.
I’ve often heard new Disney guests ask whether the parties are appropriate for their young child. They’ll ask something like, “I’ll be at Walt Disney World in October, should I take my four-year-old son to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party?”
If your child loves Roo, a party may be the best place for a glimpse.
As with many Disney questions the answer is a resounding, “It depends.” It depends on your temperament and your child’s. It depends on your financial resources. It depends on where you’re visiting from. And it depends on what else you’ll be doing during your vacation.
Let’s walk through some of the decision factors to see if bringing a youngster to a Magic Kingdom evening party makes sense for you.
- What is your child’s usual bedtime? The Magic Kingdom parties begin at 7:00 p.m. and end at midnight. Most young kids go to bed at the early end of this range. Do you intend to keep to your child’s sleep schedule during your vacation? Why or why not?
- How does your child react to disruptions in his sleep schedule? Some kids are able to quickly bounce back from a late night out. Others are a cranky mess for days afterward. Which is more like your child?
- What do you have planned the next day? Can you let your child sleep as long as she likes? Or do you have to get up early for a coveted breakfast with Cinderella?
- How far away is your hotel? If you’re at the Contemporary, the travel time “home” is negligible. If you’re using Disney transportation to get back to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, you could be adding as much as an hour to your evening. Factor this into your sleep plan.
- Can you physically manage your child when he’s asleep? For example, if you’re a single parent with a 50-pound preschooler, could you physically carry him asleep, and your gear, and fold your stoller, and get everything on a bus?
Is a dance party something your young child would enjoy?
- Are you coming from a different time zone? This may impact everyone’s stamina.
- During what day of your vacation does the Party fall? Personally, I’m more comfortable with completely wearing my kids out on the last day of my vacation than the first. I’m OK if my child is cranky and sleeps on the plane home. I’m not so OK if my kid is cranky during our one and only day at Epcot.
- Is the party a financial imposition for your family? Let’s face it, the evening parties are not cheap. Will you feel disappointed if you’ve spent $50 for your child to attend the party and he falls asleep in the stroller an hour into it?
- Why are you going to party? And can those factors be experienced at another venue at a different hour or for less money? For example, if you want to see the snow on Main Street, would you be satisfied with the similar snow at the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights? Or if you want to see the special party fireworks, would you be satisfied watching them from distance, such as on the beach at the Polynesian?
- Does your child have fears that may be exacerbated by party elements? For example, if your child is afraid of the dark, an evening party is not a good option. If your child fears costumes or costumed characters, then the Halloween party does not make sense for you.
- Are there elements of the party that are not part of your home culture that you’d like your child to experience? For example, if you’re coming from a country that does not trick-or-treat, then that element of the Halloween party may override other concerns.
- Is your child’s favorite character EVER only available to greet guests during a party? Sometimes enduring a late night is worth it to make your child’s dream of meeting Dopey come true.
- Is your visit to Walt Disney World very brief? If you only have a day or two in the area, attending an evening party may be your only opportunity to experience some of the rides. This may trump other concerns.
Will your young child find elements of the party to be frightening?
- Are you planning to come back to WDW during this season again in the foreseeable future? If you know you’ll be back for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party next year, the decision to forgo it this year may be easier.
I took my own children to their first evening party at the Magic Kingdom, the dearly departed Pirate & Princess Party, when my twins were six years old. We only lasted until 9:30 p.m. I’m glad we went to see what all all hubbub was about, but from a financial perspective, the decision to go might not have been our soundest.
What have your experiences been with young kids at the evening parties? Did they have a good time? Did you? Are there factors to consider that I haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments below.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) is Disney’s answer to the American trick-or-treat tradition that takes place every fall. For the span of a month and a half (September 14 – November 1) Disney closes the Magic Kingdom relatively early on select days and transforms in the evening for a Halloween celebration. This party requires the attendees to purchase an entirely separate ticket specifically for the event. Regular park tickets and Annual Passes cannot be used for admittance. Guests are welcome to masquerade in their costume of choice, collect candy, and participate in special happenings around the park for the last five hours of the day (7pm to 12am).
The tradition of past years is to allow MNSSHP ticket holders to enter the Magic Kingdom at four o’ clock in the late afternoon even though regular park guests are still actively running around. Upon presenting a ticket or purchasing it on the designated night, MNSSHP guests are given a wristband that distinguishes them from the average park guest. When the party officially starts, guests without a wristband are no longer allowed to enter attractions, and as the night progresses they are prohibited from even entering the various lands and asked to exit entirely.
MNSSHP begins at seven o’clock. At that time, Cast Members set up candy distribution spots throughout the entire park. These locations are designated on the MNSSHP park maps, but in past years these spots have been placed in every land with the highest concentration of them being along a path (labeled Alice and Mad Hatter’s Treat Party) that begins in Mickey’s Toontown Fair, runs behind the Tomorrowland Speedway, and exits in Tomorrowland beside Space Mountain. The candy that is passed out is essentially the same mixture at every location, so it isn’t necessary to visit every spot for the purpose of variety; however the more stations you visit, the more candy you accumulate. Feel free to revisit stations throughout the night as well to gather a particularly large stash of sweets.
Much like during regular park hours, guests have the opportunity to meet with Disney characters throughout the park in specified locations until 11:30pm. The primary difference during MNSSHP is that the characters are either dressed in Halloween garb or their personality is villainous in nature. It may be appropriate to prepare younger children for intimidating meetings with cruel step-mothers and harsh sorcerers.
If Disney continues its tradition, The Pirates League will remain open until 8pm so that guests with reservations can be transformed into pirates. The price of the packages start at about $30 (with the ability to add accessories and costumes a la carte style). The league can accommodate all genders and ages.
Character Dance Parties take place during the evening with Rockettower Plaza Stage being a primary location to interact and dance with characters like Stitch. Also, a Halloween stage show titled “Disney’s Villains Mix and Mingle” happens almost hourly in front of the castle with the villains roaming throughout the audience after each show (7:45pm, 9pm, 10:05pm, and 11:15pm being last year’s timetable).
“Happy HallowWishes” is the name of the fireworks show that is sandwiched in between two appearances of the Halloween-themed “Boo To You” parade (with previous times being 8:15pm and 10:30pm for the parade and 9:30pm for the fireworks). Both of these events are the cornerstones of the entire evening.
“Happy HalloWishes” can be viewed from any location in the Magic Kingdom, but the best views to be had are from Main Street USA, facing the castle. The castle turns a whole spectrum of blues, green, oranges, and purples as fireworks are synchronized to a medley of spooky and villainous tunes.
The “Boo To You” parade is an eclectic mixture of fluffy elements such as floats that emulate Halloween on a farm with clucking chickens, pumpkins, cowboys, and Country Bears as well as more ghoulish traits such as grave digging dancers and skeletons. The Disney characters are featured in Halloween attire, and there are special appearances from not-so-oft seen villains like the Headless Horseman, Pain & Panic, and personalities from the Haunted Mansion.
The expense of the event varies, depending on the date you choose to attend as well as whether you purchase your tickets prior to that particular evening. With the exception of the Friday night and Halloween weekend parties, guests have the option of purchasing tickets at an Advanced Sales Price ($53.95 + tax for people over the age of nine /$47.95 + tax for children 3-9 years of age) or at a Same Day Sales Price ($59.95 + tax for people over the age of nine / $53.95 + tax for children 3-9 years of age). The Friday night and Halloween weekend parties only sell at the Same Day Sales Price. The exception to these prices are the evenings of October 29 and 31 when tickets are sold at Premium Pricing ($64.95 + tax for people over the age of nine / $58.95 + tax for children 3-9 years of age). Disney Vacation Club members trump them all, though, with a tax included discount ticket price on select nights ($53.20 for people over the age of nine / $46.81 for children 3-9 years of age).
Most of the Magic Kingdom’s attractions remain open for MNSSHP. A number of counter service restaurants and snack kiosks continue to host hungry guests as well. No table service restaurants are expected to be open once the party officially begins, but considering that guests are only given five hours in the park, most would not want to spend a full hour or two of that time seated in a restaurant and missing the very events that they paid a premium price to experience.
Disney’s Photopass photographers will be stationed throughout the park, especially in locations where the Halloweeen style of the castle can be used as a backdrop. Another spot of particular interest is the stroller parking area in Fantasyland that formerly was the location of the Skyway to Tomorrowland. In the past, Cinderella’s Coach has been parked there amongst pumpkins for a unique photo opportunity.
What are the specific dates and times of MNSSHP in 2010?
For 2010, the time frame is 7pm-12am on each of the following evenings:
September 14, 18, 21, 23, 25, 28, 30
October 1, 3, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26, 28, 29, 31
What is the price of the event?
Advanced Sales Price: $53.95 + tax for 10 & up / $47.95 + tax for 3-9
Same Day Sales Price: $59.95 + tax for 10 & up / $53.95 + tax for 3-9
Premium Sales Price: $64.95 + tax for 10 & up / $48.95 + tax for 3-9
Disney Vacation Club Discount Price: $53.20 (tax included) for 10 & up / $46.81 (tax included) for 3-9
*The Advanced Sales Price is not available for October 8, 22, 28, 29, or 31
*Tickets for October 29 and 31 are only available at the Premium Sales Price
*The Disney Vacation Club Discount Price is not available for September 25, October 8, 22, 28, 29, 31, or November 1
Are there any costume restrictions or policies?
There are a few rules that Disney asks its guests to adhere to concerning costuming. First, for safety reasons Disney does not permit costumes that obstruct vision or drag on the ground. Eyes must be visible at all times. Costumes may not contain sharp or pointed objects that could strike another guest. Because the event is child-friendly, guests are asked to not wear offensive or violent disguises. And, finally, guests that are dressed as Disney Characters are not permitted to pose for pictures or sign autographs for other guests to accommodate Disney licensing issues.
Is MNSSHP merchandise available?
MNSSHP merchandise will be available. In previous years, The Merchant of Venus store in Tomorrowland has been the headquarters for Disney’s Halloween merchandise, but there should also be some merchandise available in the Emporium on Main Street USA as well as Pirates Bazaar in Adventureland.
Do I need to bring my own container for collecting candy?
It isn’t necessary to bring a bag or container for collecting candy. Disney does provide guests with nice plastic bags for this purpose if they arrive empty-handed.
Which attractions and food services are expected to be open?
While Disney reserves the right to change their plans at a moment’s notice, their pattern of the past years has been such:
The Barnstormer at Goofy’s Wiseacre Farm; Tomorrowland Transit Authority; Stitch’s Great Escape; Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor; Tomorrowland Speedway; Astro Orbiter; Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin; Splash Mountain; Big Thunder Mountain Railroad; Haunted Mansion; The Hall of Presidents; Swiss Family Treehouse; Pirates of the Caribbean; The Magic Carpets of Aladdin; Peter Pan’s Flight; Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel; Dumbo the Flying Elephant; Mickey’s PhilharMagic; “it’s a small world”; Snow White’s Scary Adventures; The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh; Mad Tea Party
Open Food Spots
Casey’s Corner; Aloha Isle; Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe; Golden Oak Outpost; Westward Ho; Frontierland Turkey Leg; Sleepy Hollow Pizza Cart; Mrs. Potts Cupboard; Friar’s Nook; Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe; The Lunching Pad at Rockettower Plaza; Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies
Is the event worth the extra expense?
If your visit only includes a day or two at Disney, then the extra ticket is worthwhile in order to extend your hours in the park. If you are really set on seeing the Magic Kingdom in full force for Halloween, then the expense is also worthwhile since it can’t be experienced this way at any other time. However, if your vacation extends for more than a few days and the Halloween aspect of the Magic Kingdom doesn’t intrigue you, then bypass the cost of the extra ticket. In fact, it would probably be best to bypass the park entirely on the designated MNSSHP days due to the crowds. Instead, choose a separate day for your visit to the Magic Kingdom, especially if it is not scheduled for Extra Magic Hours. Since most people will have been there the previous day and late into the night, it is likely those same people will sleep in late and visit a different park to explore the following day, making your day in the Magic Kingdom less crowded, more efficient, and more pleasant while still enjoying some of Disney’s fall decor.