My Disney Top 5 - Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Partyby Chris Barry, contributing writer
Welcome back to another Disney Top 5.
'Tis the season. Well…not that season, but you know what I mean: that other big holiday season, the spooky one. The one that, in recent years at least, has begun to overtake Christmas as the most popular and commercially significant holiday in the country. Let's face it: not everybody celebrates Christmas, but everyone can celebrate Halloween. That's especially true at Walt Disney World, or more specifically, at the Magic Kingdom, where it's been Halloween since the middle of August! That's precisely when we checked out the opening night of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party this year.
Now, I'm never too thrilled about walking into the Magic Kingdom in August and seeing Town Square and Main Street U.S.A. decked out in Jack O'Lanterns. I love Halloween as much as the next person, but August is summer. I live in New York, so Halloween is supposed to be sweater weather, not 96 degrees and humid. And we experienced the hottest August we have ever had at Disney this past summer with a real feel temperature of—and I'm not exaggerating at all here—119 degrees, 109 in the shade! Walking around Walt Disney World in that kind of weather did not make me think of trick-or-treating and pumpkins. It made me think of barely cooling off in the Yacht Club swimming pool and heading indoors for much-needed blasts of that frigid Disney A/C. But, that said, we still bought ourselves some tickets for the much beloved Halloween party, and as the day grew closer, I began to get excited about the festivities. Once you're there, you see guests arriving in costume, and you get handed that trick-or-treat bag, leave August behind, and buy into the Halloween vibe.
Now that the actual Halloween season is upon us, I thought I'd look back and recap what I liked best about this year's special ticketed night at the Magic Kingdom. I've always been a fan of this party, and this year was no different. What did I like best? Let's look at my Top 5 things to love about the 2023 Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.
5 - Shorter Wait Times
Don't get me wrong, the Magic Kingdom is busy at these parties, especially the sold-out ones. But if you're smart, you can bang out some significant attractions with significantly lower wait times. First of all, resort guests and day guests tend to stay away from the Magic Kingdom on party days because if they don't have a ticket to the nighttime event, they have to be out of the park by 6:00 o'clock. The party officially starts at 7, but if you have a party ticket, you're allowed in starting at 4. Guests in the know head to the park early, and once the day guests are filtered out, you can head to your favorite rides and attractions and score meager wait times. We were in before 6, and that hour between 6 and 7 was golden. We hit up Pirates of the Caribbean with a less than 10-minute wait and then went over to Jungle Cruise where we walked right onto a boat.
The wait times increased for the rest of the night, but they were never too bad because many people were waiting in lines to meet the special characters or trick-or-treating. If you don't particularly care about the fireworks show, you can also enjoy little to no wait times as most of the crowd is watching the show in front of the castle. The one line that was busy all night long was…you guessed it…the Haunted Mansion. That makes sense. It's kind of their night. But aside from that, we did very well balancing the Halloween festivities with banging out a whole bunch of our favorite rides.
4 - Free Candy!
That's correct. I have used the words "free" and "Disney" in the same article. It's staggering when you see how much candy is given out to guests throughout the 5 hour Halloween party. The tubs of treats are seemingly bottomless.
We had candy to snack on in our rooms for the remainder of our trip and still had two bags to leave in my son's Disney College Program apartment over at Flamingo Crossing for him and his roommates. Granted, you're paying a fairly steep admission price for the party, so is the candy really free? Sure it is. There's no limit, and Disney is just handing it to you everywhere you turn, so don't look a gift horse in the mouth, take the candy and take lots of it!
3 - Trick or Treat Locations
Following up on that last entry on the list, in my efforts to make the most of the Trick or Treat experience, I hit up some of the more unique candy distribution lines in the park. They're everywhere, but the keen observer will soon realize that this is the opportunity to walk into some places at the Magic Kingdom in a slightly different way than you're used to. My favorite example of this was Adventureland's Enchanted Tiki Room.
As much as I have a soft spot for this classic Walt Disney attraction, I don't think I've been inside for quite some time. The trick-or-treat line took you through the queue, past the waterfall, and into the room itself, where I was thrilled to see that all four of the main Tiki Room birds were in full view. You could check them out and take some photos, which I certainly did. The same can be said for the Country Bear Jamboree, another attraction I visited long ago.
2 - Mickey's "Boo-To-You" Parade
I've always been a sucker for a Disney parade. To me, it's the quintessential Disney experience. My all-time favorite will always be Spectromagic. I'd love to have that one make a comeback someday. Unfortunately, from what I've heard, all of the floats were apparently destroyed, so there goes that pipe dream. My second favorite parade has always been the Halloween party parade. Why, you may ask? There are lots of good reasons. First and foremost, it has to be The Headless Horseman.
I mean…how cool is that? If you've seen him, you know. If you haven't, it's just what it says it is. A character performer on a real live horse, sans head, holding a glowing Jack O'Lantern, galloping through the Magic Kingdom to kick off the parade. Actually, that's it. I could go on about all the other cool things in this venerable parade, but the Headless Horseman takes the prize.
1 - Characters, Characters, Characters
If you're as big a fan of meeting Disney characters as my sons and I are, then the vast array of rare Disney characters you can spot at the Halloween Party is your event. Here are a few rare characters you can encounter throughout the Magic Kingdom on party nights.
As you can tell, we waited in several lines to meet some rare favorites on that night, but you can also spot them in the parade.
If you're a character fan, it's hard to beat Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. Cross a whole bunch of them off your list.
At this point, all of the Halloween party nights have sold out. So, if this article gave you a yearning to go, you'll have to wait until next year. I'm often asked, "Is the Halloween Party worth it?" Well, it's not exactly cheap. Tickets for the opening night were about $150. They go down on other nights and get even more pricey as you get to the 31st of October. I had a fantastic night in the Magic Kingdom. We got our money's worth. We met characters, rode our favorite rides with low wait times, and had plenty of candy; but most of all, there's just a unique energy in the air on these nights. It's a different vibe. Lots of guests dress up and wear glowing necklaces or hats. Special lighting effects and creepy fog are coming over from Tom Sawyer's Island. If you were in the Magic Kingdom that day and stayed through the party that night, it would feel like two different places. I thought it was a fantastic night with my wife and boys in the park. I went last year, and I suspect I'll return next year.
That's all for this time. As always, I'd like to hear what you have to say. Click on the link below, share your thoughts, and I'll see you next time with another Disney Top 5. Happy Halloween!