The Least Crowded Halloween Party of 2016

TP_Halloween_Wallpaper_iPadWelcome back to what has become a yearly tradition: predicting the least crowded Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party. We’ll look back at last year’s recommendations in a bit and give you the full 2016 list, but first make sure you check out our dedicated page for a complete list of dates as well as a thorough description of what the Halloween party is.

In short, if you’re looking for the best 2016 Halloween Party to attend, we recommend Tuesday, September 13, 2016. Each of the past three years we recommended the equivalent party, September 17, 2013, September 16, 2014, and September 15, 2015. In 2013 it turned out to be the party with the lowest wait times by our calculation, while last year’s came in fourth. Last year’s didn’t do so great (as you can see in the chart below). The reason we still recommend that day is because the calendar of parties this year is much more like the ones in previous years. 2015 saw fewer parties and they began on September 15–later than in any other year that we’ve tracked. More on this below.

The entire list of parties and how we rank them can be found below, but here are some general rules:

  • September is less busy than October. There are exceptions, of course, but you are more likely to see crowds at the October parties.
  • Tuesdays are generally less busy than other days. Sundays and Fridays are busier than other days.

Before we get to the 2016 party rankings, let’s revisit our predictions from last year to see how accurate we were. Here were our top 5 recommended party days and how they turned out:

2015 Party Date Projected Wait Time Rank Actual Measured Wait Time Rank
Tuesday, September 15, 2015 Lowest Wait Times 7
Tuesday, September 22, 2015 2 10
Sunday, September 27, 2015 3 16
Tuesday, October 6, 2015 4 8
Friday, September 18, 2015 5 12

Oof, 2015 was a little rough on our predictions. On average we were off by 6 places, which is terrible by our standards (3.5 was our previous low), but we believe that we have identified the reasons for our missteps.

Some of what happened was that 2015 parties were just plain busier than they have been in the 4 years we’ve been tracking. We track the wait times for several attractions that we find are good indicators for crowds. The average wait for all of these attractions during the Halloween parties was 10.8 minutes in 2012, 10.6 in 2013, and 9.3 in 2014. In 2015 the average wait was 12.3 minutes. Yes, averaging a 12 minute wait is not bad, but that represents a 20% increase over previous years.

What also messed with us a little is that the range was much smaller, with only 4.7 minutes separating the average low and average high (that is normally a minute higher). The higher times and smaller range means that the margin of error was very thin: for instance, the 10th place party and 20th place party had average wait times less than minute apart.

More than anything though, we didn’t take into account that the parties were just plain starting later in September. The first 2015 party was September 15–the latest the parties started from 2012-14 was September 11. That removed the early-September parties from 2014 that were lightly attended and packed all 25 parties into about 45 days. This particular problem is non-existent this year since the 2016 Halloween parties begin September 2. The increased crowds? That we’re not so sure of.

Now let’s get on to this year’s rankings. Here are our predicted rankings of attraction wait times at each of the 2016 Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties. One important note is that we rank these based on attraction wait times. You will see that some of the higher-ranked parties sold out well in advance meaning that they were crowded. There are some parties–especially the late-October ones–where a large percentage of visitors chooses to enjoy the parades, trick-or-treating, and character meets rather than the rides. We present the chart below in order to give you as much information as we have so that you can make an informed decision.

[Please note that prices have not yet been released for the 2016 Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party dates. This page will be updated once they are out.]

Party Date Attraction Wait Times Rank Notes
Tuesday, September 13, 2016 Lowest Wait Times
Friday, September 2, 2016 2
Sunday, September 11, 2016 3
Thursday, September 8, 2016 4
Tuesday, October 4, 2016 5
Friday, September 30, 2016 6
Tuesday, October 25, 2016 7 Sold out 1 day in advance in 2013 and 7 days in advance in both 2014 and 2015.
Thursday, October 27, 2016 8 Sold out 28 days in advance in 2014 and 14 days in advance in 2015.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016 9 Sold out 1 day in advance in 2015.
Sunday, September 25, 2016 10 Sold out 1 day in advance in 2015.
Thursday, September 29, 2016 11
Sunday, October 30, 2016 12
Sunday, September 18, 2016 13
Friday, September 16, 2016 14
Tuesday, October 18, 2016 15 Sold out 1 day in advance in 2015.
Sunday, October 2, 2016 16
Monday, October 10, 2016 17 Sold out 1 day in advance in 2013 and 2014.
Thursday, October 6, 2016 18 Sold out 1 day in advance in 2013.
Sunday, October 23, 2016 19
Friday, September 23, 2016 20 Sold out 1 day in advance in 2013 and 2 days in advance in 2015.
Thursday, October 20, 2016 21
Thursday, October 13, 2016 22 Sold out 2 days in advance in 2013 and 1 day in advance in 2014.
Friday, October 21, 2016 23 Sold out 1 day in advance in 2014 and 2 days in advance in 2015.
Monday, October 31, 2016 24 Sold out 27 days in advance in 2013, 71 (August 21) days in advance in 2014, and 89 (August 3!) days in 2015. Crowds will be heavy for character meets and parades.
Sunday, October 16, 2016 25 Sold out 1 day in advance in 2014.
Friday, October 7, 2016 26 Sold out 1 day in advance in both 2013 and 2015, and 2 days in advance in 2014.
Friday, October 14, 2016 27 Sold out 1 day in advance in 2014.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016 28
Friday, October 28, 2016 Highest Wait Times

Our wait times only include attractions−not character meet and greets, special shows, or parades. The characters, in particular, often have long lines, especially for rare characters like the Seven Dwarfs. Regardless of which party you attend, some of the character lines will be long. If those are a must do, do them as early in the evening as possible.To determine all of the above, we looked at posted wait times from key attractions including Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, it’s a small world, and The Barnstormer. We narrowed it down to times between 7pm and midnight, which is when the park is limited to party guests.

Remember that, in general, the wait times during the Halloween parties are quite low, averaging only about 12 minutes last year (and 10 before that). If there are any attractions that you have really been wanting to do, experiencing them during the Halloween party might just be the time.

Looking for more information? Erin Foster wrote an amazing overview of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party that will help you whether this is your first trip or your 100th (and if it’s your 100th, you might have a problem…being too awesome). You may also want to check out Derek Burgan’s Six Reasons why He Loves the Halloween Party for even more Halloweenieness (that made up word is even a stretch for me).

If you consider yourself handy with the camera, or if you simply want better pictures, you can’t go wrong with Tom Bricker’s tips on photographing the Halloween party.

Now that you are armed with the most powerful weapon…knowledge, you can plan your 2015 trip to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. This blog post will help you find all of the party dates and prices.

Hopefully this analysis will help you choose the best Halloween Party to attend. Make sure to check back here later, where we’ll soon be breaking down Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, as well.

 

Brian McNichols

In addition to blogging, I also do some analyzin' here at Touring Plans. I am a travel nut, planning nut, Disney nut, wall nut. Husband of 1, father of 2. Hilariously funny in my own mind. Find me on Twitter @YesThatBrian if you like really dumb jokes.

13 thoughts on “The Least Crowded Halloween Party of 2016

  • March 30, 2016 at 10:38 am
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    We’re going to be there for the Sept 2nd party. This chart just convinced me to order tickets, and I just ordered my Kingdom Hearts costume online.

  • March 30, 2016 at 1:05 pm
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    In general how do the parties at MK affect the wait times at the other parks?

    • March 30, 2016 at 1:52 pm
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      There is usually a slight bump elsewhere. Many people avoid MK on days with shorter public hours, and some that do visit MK will hop to another park in the afternoon.

    • March 30, 2016 at 2:30 pm
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      Usually Magic Kingdom during the day is a lot less crowded on days of parties.

  • March 30, 2016 at 1:46 pm
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    How come their is no mention that they have banned costumes for adults? Which is going to have an impact on numbers, since pretty much everything points to the fact that this year will probably be the least attended Halloween party in years. Whatever numbers there have been for the last few years won’t really be that accurate for this year.

    • March 30, 2016 at 1:51 pm
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      The costume restriction has been relaxed quite a bit. Guests are discouraged from wearing “layered costumes or costume props that surround the entire body” and those that do may have to go through extra security, but they will apparently still be allowed in. That’s why I didn’t take it into account. What other factors have you seen that are pointing to low attendance?

  • March 30, 2016 at 2:31 pm
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    I’m confused. If a party sells out, doesn’t that mean the same amount of people in the party regardless of how early it sold out? Both dates I’m looking at (Tuesday October 18 and Friday October 21) sold out in the past, and I anticipate they will this time as well. This still helps me to know that I need to purchase in advance, but since it will be sold out both nights I’m not understanding how the wait times will be any different?

    Also, where can we find the 2016 party dates on the Disney website? I have been anxiously awaiting the dates and just checked today and couldn’t find them…

    Also, Thank you for this post- it was very helpful!!!

      • April 8, 2016 at 9:47 pm
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        Try this again! This is an some what of a guess. I bet that Disney’s Verizon of “sold out” is different on Tuesday versus Fridays. This would account for the difference in wait times. In short, pick a Tuesday!

  • March 30, 2016 at 7:56 pm
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    Just a comment on the late October dates. We were at the party on 10/27 which sold out well in advance. However it rained just about all day and many people, including some of our group, simply gave up and went home early. My son and I stayed and the waits were great, but I think with good weather it would have been much busier.

  • April 2, 2016 at 10:12 am
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    Just curious as to why the Tuesday October 12 date is ranked as the second worst day to go? What’s so special about that mid week early October day?

    • April 8, 2016 at 9:32 pm
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      That week is Columbus Day-Week. Some school Districts have that entire week off. I’m sure that’s the main reason.

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