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Yes, it’s still August, but Halloween time has arrived at Walt Disney World, and the only scary part about it is the heat.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, a ticketed after-hours event at Magic Kingdom, takes place on select nights from August 11 to November 1. The spellbinding soiree runs from 7 p.m. to midnight and with trick-or-treating, a full parade, stage show, fireworks, dance parties and more, this ghoulishly good time flies by.
My family and I went to the first party of the season—here’s how we got the most frightful fun out of the five-hour fete.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party officially starts at 7 p.m. but party guests can enter Magic Kingdom as early as 4 p.m. when wristband distribution begins. To really maximize your time, line up at the park gates at 3:30 p.m. to be at the front of the line for your wristbands at 4 p.m.
If you’re a fan of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” like we are, you’ll want to head straight to the Town Square Theater to knock out one of the party’s most popular offerings—a meet-and-greet with Jack and Sally.
Posing with Jack and Sally. (Photo Credit: Brooke McDonald)
Jack and Sally begin meeting guests soon after 4 p.m., well ahead of any of the other party festivities, so this is a great way to knock out this character experience—which has been known to post three-plus-hour waits—without missing any actual party time.
The last performance of the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular stage show begins at midnight, so doing everything else before closing out your evening with that show will ensure you’ve squeezed every last minute out of your party ticket.
Though we’re nearing the end of the wettest Florida season, when it rains nearly every day, you can be sure it will be steamy, and showers are always a possibility. Certain entertainment offerings are sometimes canceled for weather too, so be aware that rain can put a serious damper on your pricey plans.
Officially, there are no refunds, even for weather, so know that you’re taking a chance on the forecast when you buy those tickets.
Our party night was dry, but it was a sweltering 95 degrees until after 6 p.m. Costumes are definitely encouraged and will make your night more fun—but this probably isn’t the time to go all in on a furry Chewbacca getup or multi-layered Hitchhiking Ghost suit. We kept it cool in Jack Skellington and Star Wars costume T-shirts—just enough to feel festive without overheating.
Boo to You Parade. (Photo Credit: Brooke McDonald)
The top-notch entertainment is the number-one reason to attend Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and this event could be your only opportunity all year long to see certain characters.
Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade happens twice a night—at 9:15 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. New to the parade this year, Minnie, Daisy and Clarabelle dress as the Sanderson Sisters from “Hocus Pocus.” You’ll also see plenty of Disney villains like Oogie Boogie and Maleficent, grim, grinning ghosts and gravediggers from the Haunted Mansion, favorite Disney pals in adorable Halloween costumes and hear the earworm of a soundtrack.
We watched the 9:15 p.m. parade in Town Square, but a smarter move would be to visit characters or do rides during this time and watch the slightly less-popular later parade.
The Sanderson Sisters (the human versions) are the stars of the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular stage show, which happens three times a night on the Castle Forecourt Stage for party dates through September; four times a night on October and November dates.
The witchy sisters will put a spell on you alongside other famous Disney villains. This show is some of the best live entertainment you’ll see in a Disney theme park and it’s not to be missed. For an easier time getting close to the stage, choose a later showtime.
Hocus Pocus Spelltacular. (Photo Credit: Brooke McDonald)
Magic Kingdom fireworks are typically best watched in the hub with a little bit of distance from the castle to better take in the projections and fireworks, but Jack Skellington fans simply must get a spot close to the stage for Disney’s No-So-Spooky Spectacular at 10:15 p.m. A magnificent life-sized Jack Skellington puppet holds court as the evening’s emcee for a fireworks and projection show packed with segments from “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” animated Disney Halloween classics, the Haunted Mansion, and more.
Our 7-year-old loves Jack and our biggest regret last year was watching the fireworks from an otherwise wonderful spot in the hub in front of Casey’s Corner, rather than getting a spot near the stage to better see the puppet. This year we made sure to be front and center for Jack and my son loved it.
New this year, Max Goof and his Powerline party pack will appear in pop-up locations around the park before dancing down Main Street, U.S.A. ahead of the parade.
Elsewhere around the park you’ll find cute but okay-to-miss dance parties and entertainment that are fun to stumble upon but don’t need to be on your must-do list unless you love the featured characters. Disney Junior Jam stars Vampirina and other Disney Junior friends; Zom-Beatz Bash in at the Rockettower Stage features zombies, cheerleaders, werewolves and aliens; new to the party this year in Adventureland, the Rusty Cutlass Pirate Band; and in Frontierland, the perennially popular Cadaver Dans Barbershop Quartet.
Pick up a reusable trick-or-treat bag as you enter the party and you’ll never have to travel far to find one of more than a dozen trick-or-treating locations. Disney World regulars will find the most novelty in visiting locations housed within attractions that are closed for the party, like Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress and Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.
Don’t be deterred by the treat lines, they move quickly and it’s easy to load up on candy without wasting much time trick-or-treating for the run-of-the-mill candies offered, like Snickers, Milky Way and Starburst.
Allergy-friendly treats are available to guests who pick up a teal allergy-friendly treat bag and, instead of candy, collect tokens that can be traded for allergy-friendly treats at designated locations.
We’ve already warned you to visit Jack and Sally early. But the other characters in highest demand need to be prioritized too if you don’t want to spend all night in line. Returning for the first time since 2019, all Seven Dwarfs meet as a group in Storybook Circus.
The other most popular character meet-and-greet is usually Pooh and Friends in Fantasyland. The Dwarfs and Pooh and Friends both start meeting before the party starts, typically between 6:15-6:30 p.m., so if either are a priority, joining their queue as early as possible is a good idea.
Character lists aren’t posted in advance, but character greeting spots are designated on the event map and you’re sure to find a mix of the usual suspects (Mickey, Minnie, et. al.) in Halloween garb, plus more rare characters like the Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter.
While I’m often big on prioritizing meeting rare characters and do recommend starting your night with Jack and Sally if you want to meet them, character meets tend to fall lower on our must-do list since doing too many can mean missing out on some of the more elaborate entertainment offerings.
Meeting with Pooh and friends. (Photo Credit: Brooke McDonald)
A few Magic Kingdom rides get special “Halloween twists” during the party and these are the only ones we prioritize, if any, since there are so many other unique offerings and so little time to do everything.
Space Mountain runs in total darkness with a different soundtrack and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor and Mad Tea Party also get Halloween Twists. Space Mountain will have the longest wait among these three, and the best time to ride it is right away when the party starts, during the 9:15 p.m. parade, or as late as possible.
Haunted Mansion also looks extra eerie after dark on party nights as do the made-up Cast Members working the attraction.
Lastly, party guests get an additional opportunity during the party to ride Magic Kingdom’s newest ride, TRON Lightcyle Run, which currently requires a Virtual Queue boarding group or Individual Lightning Lane reservation to ride during normal park hours.
Party guests can join the TRON Virtual Queue at 6 p.m. on the day of the party via the My Disney Experience app. To join, you must have your party ticket linked to My Disney Experience. You do not need to be in Magic Kingdom to join the 6 p.m. Virtual Queue.
While TRON Is a great ride, we skipped it in favor of party-exclusive offerings.
There’s plenty of trick-or-treating to give you your sugar fix, but leave room for some of the party-exclusive treats too. In my opinion, the weirder it looks, the more intrigued I am. Case in point: the bright green Zombie Fingers — Almond cookie fingers, Key lime pie white chocolate ganache, salted caramel crisp pearls, and sugar.
Get your caffeine fix so you can make it to that midnight Spelltacular by picking up a Witches’ Cold Brew from Cheshire Cafe before the party starts. Another must-try treat is the Candy Corn Milkshake from Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe — Sweet corn soft-serve topped with whipped cream and sweet potato corn bread nuggets. It really does taste like corn!
Party-exclusive merchandise is available at the Emporium on Main Street, U.S.A., so be sure to pop in and peruse at some point during your evening.
Our top must-have souvenir of the night was “The Nightmare Before Christmas” Mayor’s Car souvenir popcorn bucket ($28). Easily the most elaborate bucket we’ve ever seen at Walt Disney World, this one is a must-have for “Nightmare” fans and is only sold during the parties, but can be refilled during regular park hours too for $2.25.
Disney PhotoPass photographers are stationed at most character meet-and-greets and around the park. Some of our favorite photos from the night were the Magic Shots that add digital props, eerie backdrops, or extra characters like this one with Lock, Shock and Barrel from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Get unlimited digital downloads by purchasing Memory Maker.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party tickets are going quickly but there are still plenty of dates available.
Brooke Geiger McDonald is a Chicago native who has worked for O, The Oprah Magazine, Shape magazine, Simplemost.com, and...
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