My Disney Top 5 - Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2022by Chris Barry, contributing writer
Welcome back to another Disney Top 5.
Fall has definitely arrived here in New York. You know it's fall when I break the jeans out of the closet. I love summer and I tend to extend shorts season well into October, sometimes even November. It's just something I do. So this past weekend when I was forced to wrestle the jeans out of the closet, it was a sure sign that summer is indeed behind us and fall has taken over. And that's not to say that I don't like fall; on the contrary, I absolutely love this season. I do like the cooler crisp temperatures, the trees changing color and those yummy pumpkin donuts at Dunkin. There's nothing really quite like autumn in New England – or here in New York for that matter. It's a special time of year in the Big Apple, and I love nothing more than a walk around Central Park on a cool October day with the leaves falling all around you. It's about as good as it gets.
Of course, nothing says fall quite like Halloween. If you're an older guy like me, you can remember a time when Halloween was essentially celebrated on October 31st, maybe some decorations up a week or even a few days earlier. Nowadays, Halloween might as well be Christmas. As a matter of fact, it's the second biggest decoration day right after Christmas. The candy and the plastic pumpkins start lining the shelves in August and I'm pretty sure that the day after school starts, the notebooks and pencils are pushed aside and Halloween completely takes over.
Case in point, ever since 2017, Walt Disney World has been starting their annual Magic Kingdom Halloween party in mid to late August. This year, Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party began on August 16th and my family and I attended on Friday, August 19. To be perfectly honest, that's a bit early for me. I am not such a fan of walking into my beloved Magic Kingdom in August and being greeted by pumpkins everywhere on Main Street. However, it didn't stop me from buying tickets. This was the earliest I have ever gone to the party. The last two visits were legitimately in fall and both were in September, which is a lot closer to Halloween, both date-wise and feeling-wise. So, now that the party is back in full form after COVID, how did I feel about returning to the Magic Kingdom at its spookiest? Let's check it out with my Top 5 things to love about the 2022 Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.
5 - Swag
Here's the thing: the cost of this event has certainly risen enough since the first time we attended in the fall of 2009. Back then a ticket was about $55. This time the entry fee was double that, around $100. That's only because I found a AAA discount which brought the tickets down to $98 apiece. (On a side note, AAA membership has continued to be completely worth it. Never mind how many times they have picked me up, got me into a car when the keys were locked in or jumped my battery, but they have also been a pretty decent Disney savings over the years.) Now I realize that $98 ain't exactly cheap, but I just built it in to the overall cost for the four of us to have the time we wanted to have on this trip. For us, it was money well spent. That said for that price, I expect a little bit of free swag to come home with me. Was I disappointed? It was a decent haul. Nothing major. We each got a reusable Trick or Treat bag which, of course, ended up filled with candy and treats by the end of the night. As a Disney fan and collector, I always make sure to grab a map from each park on each trip. They all go in a special trip folder that I make up after each trip. I've been doing that about 20 years now. It makes a great trip keepsake and, yes, I have gone back and looked at them many times. So I appreciated the "Let's Boo This" special map that they had out just for the party.
The happier surprise of the evening was the poster that was handed out to each guest as we exited the park that night. This one is a bit more special because it has the Walt Disney World 50th logo emblazoned on it, so I was pretty happy to head home with a few of those in our suitcase. Was the swag worth the price of admission? No, of course not, but it's something, and any time Disney gives me something it makes me that much happier. Of course, if you've got some money to spend, Disney puts out a boatload full of collectibles, pins, t-shirts, ears and all sorts of stuff for the Halloween party specifically and for the season in general, so it's a good time to be a Disney shopper and collector.
4 - Trick or Treating
Let's face it, Halloween is about many things, but it's really about getting bags full of candy, isn't it? Always has been and always will be. Trick or treating at the Magic Kingdom during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party is quite a big deal. The lines form quickly at the various treat locations in each land, and they pretty much stay that way all night. The real trick is to go to some of the more out-of-the-way spots. For instance, we did really well back in Storybook Circus. They had a treat spot set up at the Walt Disney World Railroad station – which was an extra special treat because the railroad has been closed while Tron gets built. There was nobody back there. A very happy, and I suspect a little bit lonely cast member was there waiting for us to dig in. The same can be said for Ariel's Grotto in Fantasyland. Nobody seemed to be back there either.
Other spots were much more packed. Frontierland had a huge line on the main drag – inside the Country Bear Jamboree – but no line at all out on the Tom Sawyer Island Dock, which is a much cooler place to be at night if you ask me. So the advice here is to scope out your trick or treat spots carefully. There's no need to wait on a huge line just to get your treat on. The only problem was that we had a little bit too much candy back in the room. A big bag made it over to my son's college program apartment, so I'm quite sure it didn't go to waste.
3 - Shorter Lines
Most guests don't necessarily attend these parties to go on the rides and attractions. They're there to meet special characters, see the stage shows, watch the parades and fireworks and maybe even dance with Mike Wazowski, Boo and George Sanderson from Monster's Inc. back in Tomorrowland. I do suggest that all guests should take the opportunity to see and do some of these things. It's what makes the party unique and special. However, there's something to be said about storming the rides and attractions during the party. While everyone else is waiting in line to see Pooh and his pals in their Halloween costumes, you could be ticking attractions off your list because the lines are pretty minimal.
Case in point, we were in a short line for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh when one of my son's college program friends texted and said that they literally just walked on to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Once we were done with Pooh, we walked across the road to do just exactly that. We walked right though the queue and essentially walked right into a waiting mine car. Once we got off, we got right back on the line. Word must have gotten around, or a show must have let out because this time, we waited about 15 minutes instead of five! Still, when's the last time you rode Seven Dwarfs twice in the same half-hour? I don't think we waited much more than 15 minutes for anything that night. The longest wait was probably the Haunted Mansion, which makes sense because it's kind of the star of the show at a Halloween party. If you're not that interested in the fireworks – which we weren't – you could pretty much have the attractions to yourselves. That's a pretty solid rule of thumb on any given Magic Kingdom night, but even more so when there's a special firework show to be seen.
2 - Mickey's "Boo to You" Halloween Parade
One of the hallmarks of both the Halloween and Christmas parties at the Magic Kingdom are the special parades. Simply stated, there's nothing quite like a Disney parade, and the ones that you get to see at these special parties are even better than the ones you get to see each day. The "Boo to You" parade has been relatively unchanged for a long time now, but no matter; it's still a perfect mix of all the elements that any Disney fan is looking for. One of the coolest moments in any Disney parade has to be the Headless Horseman who kicks off the show with his ride through Frontierland, through Liberty Square and out onto Main Street U.S.A. If you've never seen this sight before, then you're missing something. The parade that follows is lighthearted, as any Disney parade should be, but features a few creepy elements (but nothing scary).
If you're a Haunted Mansion fan – and what Disney fanatic isn't really – then your favorite haunted attraction is well represented. The parade also features some rare characters like Clarabelle Cow, Clara Cluck, Pain & Panic and the trio of hyenas from The Lion King. Our favorite spot to watch the action is in Frontierland, where the parade starts, because once it passes you can duck right onto Big Thunder or Splash Mountain with virtually no wait time at all.
1 - Characters
Spotting Disney characters has always been a thing in my family. Ever since my kids were very little, finding them, getting their autographs and taking photos of them has always been a major part of our trips and that hasn't changed. Granted, we don't stand in line anymore with autograph books, but spotting the Disney characters is still a big deal to us, especially the more unusual ones. And that's where this event stands out. Walk through Frontierland and you just might find the Country Bears out in the street dancing around and greeting guests.
Adventureland typically has characters from Aladdin and not just Jasmine and her beau. Jafar is typically out and about, as well as Abu. Winnie the Pooh and his friends are dressed up in their Halloween costumes. George Sanderson has been spotted dancing in Tomorrowland. Jack and Sally have made very popular appearances, and in the past you could meet all Seven Dwarfs at once in Storybook Circus. Couple that with unusual character appearances in the parade like Bowler Hat Guy, Dr. Facilier, the Hitchhiking Ghosts, Wreck-it-Ralph and the aforementioned Pain, Panic, Clarabelle and Clara and you can tick off a nice number of rare characters off of your list.
So, in the end, was this year's version of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party worth the cost and the effort? I'd have to say yes. I wish it was a little more on the less-expensive side, but that's the world these days, isn't it? For us, it was worth it to see some rare characters, ride a bunch of our favorite attractions without a wait and snack on some sweets. We didn't even check out the stage shows or the fireworks, and we were still pretty satisfied. The decorations look awesome, even in August. There's cool lighting effects everywhere and lots of smoke machines running, so the Magic Kingdom looks very different and very cool.
The best thing of all, however, has to be the crowd. The Disney fans in attendance really go all out to make this a special night. Just about everyone is wearing costumes or Halloween-themed clothing. Lots of people are wearing lights or glow in the dark necklaces or jewelry. There was lots of Disney-bounding going on. It's even more festive than a regular night at the Magic Kingdom. There's definitely a palpable spirit in the air and it's a fun one, not a scary one. Just because this is a Halloween themed event doesn't mean this is a horror themed night. It's a Disneyfied Halloween and that makes it special. So, give it a shot and enjoy yourself. We did and I have to be honest, I could see myself going again and I guess that about sums it up.
That's all for this time. As always, I'd like to hear what you have to say. Click on the link below to share your thoughts. Stay safe and I'll see you next time with another Disney Top 5.