Year after year, one of our favorite things to do at Walt Disney World is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. We live about eight hours away and still feel like it’s totally worth it to drive down for a quick weekend trip every fall just so that we can go to the party! It’s been our tradition for the past few years now and I’m finally at the point where I can share some of our favorite tips and tricks to help you plan a night of spooky fun at Not So Scary!
The Not So Scary dates were released in March 2018 for this year’s party and tickets were available over the phone immediately, and available online here starting in April 2018. While it’s not imperative to buy tickets as soon as they’re on sale, the parties do sell out, especially the first one of the season and the one on Halloween.
Dates for 2018
August: 17, 24, 28, 31
September: 3, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 28, 30
October: 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31
Party ticket prices range from $75 adults/$70 kids to $125 adults/$120 kids if you purchase them in advance. Expect to pay more if you want to buy your tickets the day of the event (assuming they’re not already sold out). If you’re going to one of the earlier parties and you qualify, make sure to check for annual passholder, DVC, and military discounts because they’ll save you enough to buy a Mickey ice cream bar (or a few, in the case of military discounts).
Not So Scary technically runs from 7pm-midnight but you can actually get into the park at 4pm or a smidge earlier (and new this year, DVC members can get in at 2pm!!). We totally recommend that you get there as early as you can in order to maximize your time- and your money since party tickets definitely are not cheap!
We recommend making the morning/early afternoon of the day that you go to a party relaxing instead of spending it in one of the parks and showing up tired. We typically sleep in late and spend the day lounging by the pool or we go resort hopping to see what’s new at the Disney Resorts, especially the ones on the monorail loop. We love getting a Dole Whip at the Polynesian, wandering around the lobby of the Grand Floridian, and watching the monorail go through the Contemporary and it’s a leisurely way to spend the morning/early afternoon while still being immersed in the Disney magic.
If you arrive at Magic Kingdom before 6pm (when it officially closes to regular guests) there will be turnstiles open for regular admission as well as Event Entrance ones. If you’re not an annual passholder and you didn’t go to a park in the morning, make sure to go through the Event Entrance turnstiles so that it doesn’t use one of your regular park ticket days for admission. Once you’re through the turnstile, a Cast Member will put a party wristband on your (right!) wrist and then you’re off for a spooky good time!
One of our favorite parts of Not So Scary is that the whole family can dress up. While it’s very common to see little girls in princess dresses on a regular park day, you don’t often see older kids dressed up- and the Halloween parties are the ONLY time that adults are allowed to wear costumes in the park!
Our approach to costumes is more dis-bounding than super-elaborate costumes, partly because elaborate costumes are really expensive (and we’re a fam of 7!), and partly (mostly?) because we’re talking about Florida in September (or August/October) and it is HOT! Some years the kids just wear Halloween shirts for the party but my favorite visits are the ones where we all dress up in a group costume- like our Toy Story ones from this year!
While Disney does allow people of all ages to wear costumes to the event, they do have a costume policy- make sure to check it out here to ensure that your costume will be allowed. For the most part, as long as it’s a family-friendly costume, does not include a weapon that guests may mistake for an actual weapon (so plastic swords are fine!), and does not have a mask, you should be good to go!
When you enter the park for the party, they give you a small trick-or-treat bag with your first set of treats and starting at 7pm, treat locations are open around the park. We always bring big, reusable bags to dump our candy into because they’re easier to carry than the small bags.
You can go through as few or as many treat stops as you’d like, and you can do them more than once! Our kids love going through the same ones over and over, and as long as you wait in line again, that’s totally acceptable. We usually end up with 20+ pounds of candy by the end of the night!!
Not So Scary Gameplan
With the current ages of our kids and the fact that some years, our only time at Magic Kingdom is for the parties, the rides are the biggest draw for our crew. We make sure to arrive at the park by 4pm and then do as many rides as possible and eat dinner by 7pm when the party officially starts.
We spend our party time doing a mix of rides, trick-or-treating, and enjoying the party entertainment, but we never do the character meet and greets- mainly because we have limited time in the park and our kids don’t want to waste it standing in line. If you want to meet characters (especially the popular ones), make sure to get in line for your first choice well before 7pm (like at least an hour early) so that you don’t waste official party time waiting in line.
We definitely take a different approach to MNSSHP than most people and I think it’s partly due to the ages of our kids, as well as not being locals and needing to buy so many tickets (so we really want to get our money’s worth out of our time!). For our family, Not So Scary allows us to spend 8+ hours in the park with lower crowds than usual, at night (which is our absolute favorite), participate in some Halloween fun, and go on lots of rides with much shorter lines! If you’re an annual passholder or are doing the party as part of a longer trip, I can absolutely see the appeal of doing character meet and greets and spending the bulk of the night focused on party exclusive events and entertainment!
The PeopleMover is one of our favorite rides and we go on it at least once every time we’re in the park- and usually more than once because we like riding while it’s light out and after the sun goes down!
For MNSSHP we typically go to Tomorrowland first so that we can ride the PeopleMover and take a spin on the Carousel of Progress since it’s always closed during the party. While a majority of Magic Kingdom rides are open during the party, several are closed (including Jungle Cruise) so make sure to check ahead of time if there’s something specific that you want to ride.
New this year, there are REAL pirates roaming the Pirates of the Caribbean line AND in the ride itself! Make sure to ride during the party hours and see if you can find Gunpowder Pete!
We don’t stop for every PhotoPass photographer or magic shot that we see, but we do like to do a couple of new ones each time we’re there. As our family’s official photographer, it allows me to be in some of the pictures and it’s a great way to get new and unique photos.
The Headless Horseman Magic Shot outside of the Train Station is one of our favorites! They don’t start doing it until the party officially begins so if you enter the park early, don’t forget to do it on your way out at the end of the night! The PhotoPass photographers are usually out front doing this one until 1-115am!
Fireworks and Shows
HalloWishes, the exclusive Not So Scary fireworks extravaganza, cannot be missed and runs every party night at 1015pm. The best place to watch the show is from the hub/Main Street so that you can see all of the castle projections- they are phenomenal! If you’ve already seen the castle projections or you want to avoid the crowds on Main Street, Storybook Circus and Rivers of America are both great places to watch from with fewer people.
Kicked off by the Headless Horseman, the Boo to You! parade runs nightly during Not So Scary at 915pm and 1115pm- it starts in Frontierland and makes its way down Main Street. I absolutely LOVE the parade but since they’ve already seen it, the kids veto my request to stake a spot and watch since it uses up so much party time (ie. they don’t want to give up ride or candy time to sit on a curb). If you’ve never seen it before, I would definitely add it to your must-do list at the party, and remember that the second run of the parade is significantly less crowded than the first- especially in Frontierland!
The Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular is another party exclusive and it runs three times every party night (at 830pm, 1045pm, and 12am) on the Castle Forecourt Stage. We love watching the midnight showing because other than arriving a bit early to get a spot, it doesn’t take up any official party time. We walked up at around 1145pm and had a great view of the stage (though obviously, we were not in the very front).
We always wrap up every Magic Kingdom night with ice cream from the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor while we watch all of the people stream down Main Street and out of the park. It’s funny how something as seemingly inconsequential as an ice cream cone at the end of the night becomes such a treasured family tradition- even the kids look forward to it!
And once everyone has left the park, we stick around to take a few pictures on an empty Main Street- at least until we start getting pushed out by security!! We usually get a couple of family pictures with a PhotoPass photographer and then I end up taking a few of just the kids though we do try and hurry since I know that the Cast Members want to go home, too.
We always have a magical time at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party which is why we keep going back year after year. It’s one of our favorite ways to kick off the fall season, and while it’s still hot in Florida in Aug/Sept/Oct, being around all of the fall decor (like the Mickey pumpkins!) is the perfect way to make it feel like fall!
THINGS TO REMEMBER FOR MICKEY’S NOT SO SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY
- Dress up! It doesn’t matter if you wear a full costume or a festive shirt, it’s so fun to see all of the people walking around the party in their Halloween best. We try and get ideas for what to wear to our next party while we’re there since so many people dress up!
- Get there early! While the party officially runs from 7pm-midnight and those are the hours for the exclusive party offerings, you can get into the park at 4pm with a party ticket (or 2pm this year if you’re a DVC member). Spend your morning/early afternoon relaxing and arrive right before 4pm in order to maximize your time in the park
- Get lots of candy! Bring a big, reusable bag to empty your little treat bags into- they hold more candy and are easier to carry.
- Buy your ticket early! You don’t have to buy your ticket as soon as they’re released but if you want to go to the first, last, or a Friday party, definitely buy your tickets sooner rather than later.
- See if you qualify for any discounts! Tickets are $75-$125 depending on which night you choose (earlier in the season is cheaper than later) but there are discounts for military, AP, and DVC for some of the Aug/Sept parties so double check before you buy.
- Check the weather! Not So Scary runs during peak hurricane season in Florida and the party has been canceled due to weather before. Always bring ponchos (you can get them for less than $2 each at Target, whereas Disney sells theirs for $10) because it’s Florida and rains a lot.
- Have fun!! Go with a plan, especially if you want to see a lot of the party exclusive characters, but take time to soak in the atmosphere. Magic Kingdom all done up for fall is an amazing sight to see and just being immersed in the fall magic is one of the most wonderful parts of the party.
Have you been to Not So Scary yet this year?? What’s your best tip for a first timer??