We recently attended Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party for the second year in a row, and while we loved it the first time around, this year was truly incredible! What was the difference? Planning! Like so many things at Disney World, a little planning can go a long way towards making the most of your time at the parks.
Having been to both the Christmas party and Halloween party at Walt Disney World, our family has decided that the Halloween party is our favorite. From the smoky feel in Frontierland to the characters in their own Halloween costumes, we love all that this party has to offer!
We took all five of our kids, ages 8, 8, 6, 4 and 1. Having been the year before, we tried a few new things that worked really well. Below I’m sharing what worked for us as a big family with little kids. I hope some of these tips help you have a a wonderful visit to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP)!
- Consider skipping the park and having a resort/hotel day the day you are attending the party. While older kids can power through, young kids can really only enjoy so many hours of go, go, going. Last year we went to Epcot, took a break, then went to the Halloween party, which was fine, but I much preferred going only to the party. Our kids were fresh, rested, and ready to rock! Your party ticket allows you to enter Magic Kingdom at 4:00, so you will still have a good bit of the day to enjoy rides and characters. Plus, saving one day of park admission will go a little ways toward covering the cost of your party tickets!
- Take advantage of the 4:00-7:00 window! The party doesn’t officially begin until 7:00, but they start asking non-party guests to leave Magic Kingdom at 6:00. For two years now, we’ve found the lines for rides start to really shorten around 5:00. Even major attractions like Big Thunder Mountain and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train tend to have far less than average wait times right as the park is transitioning to MNSSHP.
- Make a plan! Review the party brochure before you visit and decide what your family priorities are. Is there a character that your kids REALLY want to meet? Is there a ride overlay that you just have to do? Your time at the party won’t allow you to do everything, so think through what’s most important before you go. For us, we knew we really wanted to meet Stitch, so we jumped into his line around 6:30. I grabbed hot dogs and we ate dinner while we waited (which worked out really well). Stitch started greeting people around 6:50, and by 7:05 we had accomplished one of our big goals for the night!
- Also make a plan for which stage shows you want to see. Last year we skipped the villains stage show, but this year it was a must-do. Before we even entered the park, we knew the times of the show, parade, and fireworks, so we worked the rest of our evening around those set times.
- Get your castle picture early! While you may love the idea of a night castle picture, remember that the Main Street area gets very crowded before parades. I recommend getting a family picture in costume around 5 or 6. The lighting is great, and no one has started stripping off pieces of their costume yet! You can always stop for a picture as you exit as well, but nothing beats a shot when the kids are awake and excited! Also, don’t be afraid to ask the photo pass person to take an individual shot of each of your kids. We have shots of each of them in their costumes in front of the castle, and they are true treasures!
- Dress up! I know that dressing up is not some people’s thing, but I promise that almost all other families will be in costume, so NO ONE will be looking at you. In fact, you might feel more out of place without a costume! Even if you’re not a dress-up fan, your child will love the memory of wearing a family costume to Disney World.
- Don’t worry about hitting all the trick-or-treat stations! There is SO MUCH CANDY at this party, and you can really collect plenty by hitting up 3 stations. Remind your child that you’ll trick-or-treat again at home, but that you can’t do rides and characters later.
- Consider watching the parade somewhere other than Main Street. While Main Street is amazing, the Halloween parade has a different feel, and we really enjoyed watching it in Frontierland. My husband walked over to the route about 30 minutes before it started (while we viewed the stage show) and was able to score us front row seats! I don’t feel like we missed out at all by watching it there, and we were actually able to duck through the tunnel that connects Frontierland to Adventureland as soon as the parade ended and be the second family in line to meet Jafar!
- Don’t push your kids too far. One of my number one Disney tips for families with very young kids is to know your own limits. You know all those kids you see throwing tantrums in the park? They’ve been pushed way beyond their limits! They’re tired and over it. While I understand the desire to get your money’s worth, know when it’s time to call it a night. For us, last year that meant leaving as soon as the first parade was over. This year we watched the fireworks from the top of Main Street, then we headed straight for the exits. Leaving before anyone lost it was definitely worth missing some of the attractions that we would have enjoyed.
- Finally, on a very specific note, since we weren’t going into the park this year before the party, we booked a 2:00 late lunch at Chef Mickey’s. This was the best decision ever! It gave us character time (it’s our all-time favorite character meal), and it also allowed us to park and walk to the party. When it was time to go, we walked the short 10 minutes back to the Contemporary rather than dealing with the transportation center. This strategy would work for any party (as long as you could get a reservation), and was well worth the money for us.