It’s that spooky time of year again at Walt Disney World, which means the return of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom. The child-friendly event looks at the lighter side of the typically spooky holiday. In this review and guide, we’ll talk about everything from logistics to treats, fireworks to wait times. The goal of this review isn’t only to come up with an opinion on if it’s “worth it” to attend the event this year, but to provide some commentary about the event as we take you through the various offerings. While some sites will have to add a disclaimer that Disney covered their costs, we paid 100% out of pocket for everything reviewed below, including our party tickets.
Dates and Pricing
It seems like the event gets longer and longer each year (as if reading a Halloween party review in mid-August wasn’t evidence enough). We attended the first two nights, so with that out of the way, here are the remaining dates.
- August –
16, 20, 23, 27 and 30
- September – 2, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 24, 27 and 29
- October – 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 24, 25, 27, 29 and 31
- November 1
Tickets for the event range from $79 for an adult on Tuesdays and Sundays until mid-to-late September, all the way up to a whopping $135 on Halloween night. That’s a $56 difference for those of you keeping track at home. Accordingly, our commentary on whether or not there is “value” to be found will be skewed given the fact that we weren’t paying the top dollar price having attended an August party. That said, the cost for various items within the party such as treats and merchandise won’t change based on your party date. That is, unless something isn’t selling particularly well. In that case, you might actually see some discounts in the later party dates, but not deep enough discounts to make up the $56 difference.
To throw another wrench into your ticket purchasing options, Disney has also introduced a “Party Pass“, which is essentially a seasonal pass for every Not-So-Scary party night with the exception of Halloween night. The cost is $299 plus tax per person, and can be purchased at ticket windows, guest relations, or via the reservation phone line. Of course, unless you plan on going for 4 or more party nights, it would generally be cheaper to just buy the single night tickets.
Anyway, if you haven’t purchased your party ticket yet, you can see pricing for your desired date on Disney’s website. You can also purchase tickets on their site: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events/mickeys-not-so-scary-halloween-party/purchase/
Here’s a look at the guide map for the event.
Arriving and Checking In
Just like in year’s past, you’re able to enter the park with your Not-So-Scary Halloween Party ticket starting at 4pm, or 2pm if you’re a Disney Vacation Club member. No matter what mode of transportation you’re using, there are dedicated tappoints at the front of the park for party goers to use to enter the park.
If you’re already inside of Magic Kingdom, there are a few areas within the park where you can check in and receive your party wristband.
Wristband distribution areas are located at Fantasy Faire, Tortuga Tavern, and between the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin in Tomorrowland. Distribution at these locations begins at 4pm, which is the same time the average guest can enter at the main entrance to Magic Kingdom.
To make planning a bit easier, we have divided the guide and review into what we think are various sections of interest. You can jump to each section by clicking below, or scrolling through all of the content.
- Attraction Overlays
- New Fireworks
- New Parade Floats
- Food and drink
- Free trick-or-treating
- Overall Thoughts and Crowds
New to this year’s event is the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor overlay. As Disney describes it, guests will interact in all-new ways with the comedic cast of monsters as they learn about the curious Human World holiday we call Halloween. Overall, this is very much like the first version of the Pirates of the Caribbean overlay where Disney can say “we tried”, but it just didn’t work for us. It’s a traditional treat trail, which means that guests grab candy in the queue and then either walk past the screen or take a seat.
Periodically, a monster will appear on the screen, but because there is no “story” like the regular version of the attraction, the bit relies 100% on audience interactions. Most of the bits included the monsters inquiring about the holiday of Halloween and then attempting to make an improve joke during the conversation. It will probably largely fall flat, but it’s the first attempt and it will hopefully get better in the years to come. With Stitch’s Great Escape under construction/demolition/renovation/whatever it is right now, Disney had to find an alternative treat trail and this was the result.
On to the returning attraction overlays. First up, we’ll talk about the Pirates of the Caribbean overlay. As described by Disney, we embark “upon the high seas with the Pirates of the Caribbean, you’ll discover a crew of live pirates on your journey, engaged in a whole new adventure in search of treasure”.
Not only can we compare this overlay to last year’s offering, we also have a body of work to consider from the Villains After Hours event. While the logistics of the overlay are similar, there were some notable differences between the Villains After Hours offering and the 2018 Not-So-Scary version. At Not-So-Scary, we were searching for Gunpowder Pete. He was a pirate not yet seen or heard of from the franchise, essentially a one-off for the event. For Villains After Hours, Disney (probably smartly) replaced Gunpowder Pete with Barbossa. Arguably a more popular pirate, but the execution was the same.
First, here’s the 2018 Not-So-Scary Pirates of the Caribbean overlay.
Next up is the Villains After Hours version of the overlay.
Finally, here’s a look at what was offered last night during the opening night of the 2019 Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Disney took the main complaint we had during their previous two attempts (a lack of live actors), and improved upon it for this version. There are three live actors in two different parts of the ride. There are also actors in the queue, but that hasn’t changed for this year’s party. The first live actor in the ride can be found in the fort that Barbossa is firing on after the only short drop in the ride. The next two actors can be found at the bridge that we have seen utilized in versions past. As it is now, the overlay is a much better version than in previous years. We’re not sure how many more spaces there are in the attraction that could support live actors, but the more the merrier as far as we’re concerned.
Next up is the same pitch black version of Space Mountain that we saw at last year’s Not-So-Scary Party and Villains After Hours. While the “special effects that transform the adventure” didn’t transpire in 2018, we saw Disney opt for just turning off the lights. We think that just turning off the lights is a cheap way to present an “overlay”, especially during a hard ticket event that people are paying upwards of $135 for. We’re happy with Disney’s investment in the Pirates of the Caribbean overlay, but they could do some really fun things with Space Mountain and they choose to turn off the lights. Of course, that’s just one person’s opinion. There are plenty of guests that we’ve seen rave about being able to ride in the dark. Your mileage may vary on this one.
Another returning overlay is the very colorful version of the Mad Tea Party. Out of all the overlays at last year’s event, this was the one that we enjoyed the most. It was unexpected, and high energy enough to feel like an actual overlay and not just some thrown together additions. The same version returns this year and gets crazier the quicker you spin!
New Fireworks Show
As announced by Disney, the new “Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular” at Magic Kingdom Park invites guests to embark on a hair-raising Halloween adventure with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck.
Jack Skellington from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” serves as the host of this all-new nighttime extravaganza, with state-of-the-art projection effects, lasers, lighting and dazzling fireworks filling the sky above Magic Kingdom Park. Jack has come to tell a not-so-scary story about how anything can happen on Halloween night. Jack’s ghost dog, Zero, then flies off carrying everyone along on a trick-or-treating adventure, where four friends – Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy – find themselves drawn into a mysterious haunted house. Their journey takes them from one room of the house to another, encountering dancing skeletons, waltzing ghosts and a whole series of troublemaking Disney villains. “Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular” promises to be the perfect Halloween treat!
We actually gave you an exclusive sneak peek of sorts over a week ago when we brought you a first look at the fireworks during their testing. We have been intrigued by the marketing material put out so far and we were very excited to see the fireworks for ourselves on opening night. So, did they live up to our expectations?
First, a bit of logistics. Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular is shown once per night. Unlike HalloWishes before it, Not So Spooky fireworks actually rely quite a bit on projection effects on Cinderella Castle. Whereas you would be able to enjoy HalloWishes from multiple spots around Magic Kingdom, there is a storyline to follow with Not So Spooky that almost requires that you watch from in front of Cinderella Castle.
As a matter of fact, there is a Jack Skellington puppet that takes the stage a couple of times throughout the show. If you want a good view of him, you’ll likely have to dedicate some time in front of Cinderella Castle for a good view.
We provide some more thoughts in our review post, but Not-So-Spooky basically boils down to another world-class effort from Disney on projection effects, wonderful puppetry, but a less than engaging storyline and a lack of Halloween feel. In our opinion, the best view of the show would be between the Partners statue (of Walt and Mickey), and Cinderella Castle. That gives you the best view of the Jack Skellington puppet and the projections on Cinderella Castle. If you’re unable or unwilling to get to the spot early (probably before the first Boo-To-You parade of the evening), we’ve included our front-and-center video to provide you with the best possible view.
New Parade Floats
In addition to the new fireworks show, there are some new parade floats in Mickey’s Boo to You Parade. The parade has become a Halloween staple and is widely received as one of the best parts of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Shown twice per night, the parade draws big crowds along Main Street USA and moderate to low crowds along other parts of the parade route depending on which showing you see. The parade kicks off in Frontierland, next to Splash Mountain, and works through Liberty Square and eventually down Main Street USA.
As with years past, our recommendation and the prevailing wisdom says to watch the second Boo-To-You parade somewhere early in the route, like Frontierland. If you watch it on Main Street USA, not only will you have to deal with bigger crowds, but by the time it finishes, the clock will have struck midnight and the party will be over. It’s also worth noting that a significant portion of the area around the flagpole in Town Square will be reserved for various upcharge events and special access. Here’s a quick photo rundown of the changes to this year’s parade.
The lead parade float with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy saw all of the characters receive new costumes.
There is a new female pirate on the Pirates of the Caribbean float.
A new “spectral bride” has been added to the Haunted Mansion unit. She takes over the moving platform that we see the fairies use during Festival of Fantasy.
There are two new parade units this year. The first is the Incredibles unit, which features Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible, and Edna Mode with dancers.
The second new unit is the Buzz Lightyear unit. It features the Little Green Men, dancers, and Buzz Lightyear himself.
Vanellope von Schweetz received some new lighting on her float to make it much more colorful!
The Skeleton Band float received some upgrades too, with most notable being the addition of the lighting all over the float. If it wasn’t before, it is truly a moving party for all things villainous.
This remains one of the best parades you can see at a Disney park. A catchy song combined with some wonderful floats and high energy cast makes this a must-do on every Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party visit for us.
Food and Drink
As with every new year of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, there is some new food and drink to enjoy. If you’re looking for a full rundown, we’ve compiled all of the items into a single review here. Instead of running down the full list again, we’re going to give you some of the highlights of the event. While nothing is truly a “must-do”, there are some wonderful options.
We start with our favorite entree option – Hades Nachos. You can find these wonderful nachos at Pecos Bill.
For a delicious fall treat, check out the Headless Horseman Cheesecake at Sleepy Hollow.
For another wonderful treat, head on over to Storybook Treats for the Maleficent Cone. It’s a wonderfully tart key lime soft serve that executes well in both presentation and taste.
Our top tip would be to eat before you arrive, but getting into the party at 4pm with a full stomach that will last you to midnight isn’t exactly feasible for most guests. Enjoy the nachos and a Maleficent Cone to hold you over until the clock strikes midnight.
We have another full rundown of merchandise at this post. Some highlights include spirit jerseys, Hocus Pocus cauldron ears, and a pair of MagicBands.
If you’re looking to do some shopping, note that The Emporium is the place to be. If you have your party wristband, you can start shopping before the party officially starts, usually by 5:30pm.
Just like in year’s past, one of the fun things about Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is the treat trails. Located throughout the park, the treat trails are an opportunity to get some trick-or-treating in at Magic Kingdom. It’s completely free and Cast Members will even give you a starter bag of sorts either at an in-park check in area, or in the Main Street USA bypass if you enter from the main tappoints at the front of the park.
There are some really fun treat trails like at the Country Bear Jamboree, but the majority can be found throughout the park and are designated by light up inflatables like the ones seen below.
There are a few entertainment offerings during the party above and beyond the Not-So-Spooky fireworks. The most notable being the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. This is a stage show that takes place three times per evening on the Cinderella Castle forecourt stage. As far as we’re concerned, this is the top entertainment of the evening, surpassing the parade and fireworks. If you’ve already seen the parade, the new units probably aren’t worth prioritizing over the Villain Spelltacular, if your plans force you to choose. That said, the final showing of the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular is at midnight, so the touring advice here is to do everything you want during the official hours of the party, making your way over to Cinderella Castle maybe 15 minutes before midnight to enjoy the show.
Beyond the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, there is an all-new DecenDANCE Party in Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. This is essentially a pre-teen version of the Disney Junior Jam seen over in Storybook Circus. A combination of pop songs and some songs from the Descendants movies play all night long with a makeshift dance floor appearing in front of the stage.
In Tomorrowland, you can dance the night away with Monsters Inc characters at the Monstrous Scream-O-Ween Ball.
For more on entertainment and more, check out the guide map for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in this post.
Final Thoughts and Crowds
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party remains one of the premier upcharge events at Walt Disney World. There is a lot offered throughout the party and you’ll find one of the best stage shows at any Disney park with the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. Small upgrades to Mickey’s Boo-To-You Parade might not be worth the price of admission alone, but the parade as a whole remains a Halloween staple and one that you should definitely carve out some time for.
Before we wrap up, we’d like to talk about crowds. Disney increased the capacity for the even by a little over 7%. We’re still experiencing crowds and waits that are much lower than a normal day at the park, and wait times will reflect that, but it’s not the “empty” experience you were use to 3 to 5 years ago. Disney has essentially turned to the Disney After Hours event to be the event to experience low waits at. Character lines are long, attraction lines are just ok, Main Street USA is crowded until the fireworks are over, it’s going to be tough to do it all here. Our biggest piece of advice heading into the night is to prioritize. Do you want to meet characters? You need to show up before 4pm and get in line for your must-do meet and greet. Want to load up on candy? Hit up the lines later in the evening for some of the shortest waits. Interested in the Boo-To-You parade of Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular? Wait until the end of the night and watch the parade in Frontierland.
Just because crowds are up doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to have a bad time, you just need to really figure out what your priorities are and either go early in the case of characters, or late in the case of entertainment or top attractions.