It’s August, so that can only mean one thing: it’s time for Halloween at Walt Disney World! That’s right; in the heat of the summer, Disney World is kicking off spooky season this week with the first day of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in 2023. This guide gives you a sneak peek into the enchanting world of Mickey’s Halloween Party, where the villains rule and the Haunted Mansion ghosts play. Find out about the party’s must-see events, tips to make the most of your visit, secrets to uncover during this fan-favorite after hours event, and my thoughts on whether you should bring the little ones. It’s time to put on your best costume and get ready for a not-so-scary adventure at the most magical place on earth!
What is Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party?
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP for short) is a Halloween event held annually at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. This year it runs from August 11 through November 1, 2023. The Halloween-infused event lets guests immerse themselves in familiar magic with spooky overlays, music, parades, and food.
Background and Pricing
MNSSHP has been delighting guests since its inception in 1995. To attend this spook-tacular event, a separate hard ticket is required—this type of ticket is different from a regular day park ticket. This means that you do not need to buy both, nor do you need a park pass reservation—you just need to make sure you have a specific ticket to attend MNSSHP. Tickets range in price from $109-$149 for adults and $99 and $139 for children aged 3-9, depending on the evening. There are discounts available for Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members.
I advise you to purchase your tickets in advance, as they tend to sell out quickly. The event starts at 7:00PM and ends at the stroke of Midnight, but guests with MNSSHP tickets can enter the Magic Kingdom starting at 4:00 PM. Though guests without MNSHHP tickets can enjoy the theme park and Halloween decor until 7:00PM, at that time Cast Members will begin asking guests without wristbands to exit the park.
Key Attractions and Entertainment
At MNSSHP, there is an abundance of thrilling attractions and experiences that can make your experience truly unforgettable. From special the Halloween-themed parade, to character meet and greets, trick-or-treating, food, and fireworks. there is something for everyone to enjoy at this spooktacular event. Let’s delve into the key attractions and entertainment offerings that await you at this year’s MNSSHP.
Special Halloween-themed Parades
One of the highlights of MNSSHP is Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, the special Halloween-themed parade that features your favorite Disney characters, dressed in their Halloween costumes, march through the streets of Magic Kingdom. Though Disney has not announced the exact parade times, expect two parades, one early evening, the other closer to midnight. The earlier parade will draw larger crowds, especially among the stroller set, so if this is a high priority for you, don’t forget to secure a good spot along the parade route to ensure you don’t miss a moment of the Halloween magic!
Character Meet and Greets
Meeting beloved Disney characters is always a special moment, and at MNSSHP you’ll have the opportunity to meet some of your favorite characters in their Halloween best. From classic Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse to like the Evil Queen and Jack Skellington and Sally, you’ll find a wide array of characters ready to pose for photos and interact with guests. Be aware: character meet and greets are extremely popular at MNSSHP, and lines can run from half and hour to over an hour. Plan your night appropriately!
Forget your regular neighborhood Halloween bash. At MNSSHP, you can trick-or-treat around the Magic Kingdom. Grab your complimentary treat bag and look for trick-or-treat stations around the park (they are hard to miss). If you have children with allergies, let the Cast Members know, and you will instead received a teal token, which can be redeemed at allergy-friendly stations located around the park.
Fireworks and Light Shows
As the night sky darkens, get ready to be dazzled by a mesmerizing Halloween-themed fireworks show. This year, Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular, will feature Disney favorites and be hosted by Jack Skellington of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Expect the fireworks show to run two separate times, and expect the earlier showing to be more crowded. There are also Dessert Parties at Tomorrowland Terrace—similar to the Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Parties for Happily Ever After on regular nights. Note these dessert parties are not included in the MNSSHP ticket, and cost an additional $114 for adults or $69 for children aged 3-9 (plus tax).
Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular
The Sanderson Sisters are back this year, and they brought some Disney villains with them. This explosive and creative live show hosted by the three sisters takes place in front of Cinderella Castle. The show is a spooky blend of Broadway style singing, stage pieces, and Halloween all wrapped into one, and you won’t want to miss it.
Cadaver Dans Barbershop Quartet
A macabre take on the Dapper Dans singing quarter, look for the Cadaver Dans to sing and crack jokes over at Frontierland. This is a fan favorite—expect crowds around the troupe.
Halloween Overlays on Attractions
Some of your favorite attractions feature Halloween overlays during part nights. Both Space Mountain and Mad Tea Party features special lighting and music, while Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor usually features more jokes during spooky season. Expect live actors to be features on Pirates of the Caribbean as well. And of course, the Haunted Mansion will truly shine with spooky smoke and low lighting during the event.
Disney Junior Jam
For the younger crowd (and their parents), this dance party at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe (near the Mad Tea Party in Fantasyland, across from The Cheshire Cat Cafe) features Disney Junior favorites. This is a good place to hide out if it rains—and knowing Florida, it will likely rain.
Costume Guidelines and Tips
MNSSHP is a great place to sport your Halloween best, whether it’s Disney-themed or not. Just know that there are a few costume guidelines you must adhere to, which help ensure that everyone can enjoy the party in a safe yet still magical environment. Here’s what you need to know:
- Family-Friendly: MNSSHP is a family-friendly event, so costumes should be appropriate for all ages.
- No Masks for Adults: While masks are allowed for children, adults are not permitted to wear masks that completely cover their faces.
- Costume Props: Swords, wands, or light sabers are allowed but they cannot be sharp or resemble an actual weapon. Remember, safety is a top priority!
- Dresses and Capes. Costumes cannot reach the ground—that includes princess dresses and capes. Make sure your outfit doesn’t not drag the ground.
- Rain gear: Florida weather can be unpredictable, even during Halloween. Consider a poncho, umbrella, or clothes that are quick to dry in the event you get a rain shower.
Dining and Treats
Indulging in spooky snacks and treats is an essential part of the magical experience at MNSSHP, so much so that it deserves its own separate article. For now, know that they are treats and foods offered both during regular park hours and only during the event.
Let’s Talk Strategy
MNSSHP is truly a fun experience, but in recent years, it has increased in popularity resulting in a somewhat frenetic experience. Though Disney bills the event as one with limited capacity, Disney pros know it is anything but—in fact, it can feel like the park is more crowded because everyone is trying to partake in the limited experiences. Here are some tips to consider when planning your MNSSHP visit.
- Ticket Prices. As mentioned, the prices range depending on the evening, with tickets costing more during the first few days of the event and then trending higher as we head into October. Considering being flexible with your dates and picking a date where the tickets cost less. When. Buying for a family, you may find yourself paying way more than anticipated for an event that is only a few hours long.
- Costume Planning: Make sure your costumes are comfortable, allowing you to easily get in and out of rides, and also make sure they aren’t too heavy. It is still very warm out! Also make sure to comply with Disney’s costume guidelines.
- Arrive Early: To maximize your time at the party, aim to arrive early. This is especially true if you want to meet certain costumed characters, like Jack Skellington and Sally. Remember that you can enter the Magic Kingdom at 4:00 PM. Use that time to ride attractions, eat, and shop, or use it to get in line early for character meet and greets!
- Attraction Strategy: With limited time and tons of attractions to choose from, it’s essential to prioritize your must-visit rides and shows. Research the event schedule and decided what are your must-dos. Do you want to see a lot of characters? Or prioritize shows and parades? Are you there to try as much food as possible? Or are attractions the top of your list? Decide before you go in—it will be distracting and exciting, and you want to have a game plan so you hit the things you want without feeling like you missed out.
- Parade Spots: The Halloween parade is one of Disney’s best, and for good reason. (See: the headless horseman.) This means people will be lining up for a good spot for over an hour before the show starts—this is crucial time away from other experiences, so again, prioritize what you want to do and STICK TO IT. Some guests and there only to film the parades and shows, and nothing else, so they are staking out spots early and setting up camera equipment. On my last visit to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, I elected to grab and early spot and hour and half before the parade started; while I am glad I did, I couldn’t help but think of all the other things I could have been doing! That said, think about the angles: do you want to be where the parade begins in Frontierland? Or at the hub with Cinderella Castle in view? Or do you prefer Main Street, U.S.A.?
- Accept That You Will Not Do Everything. It’s somewhat of a bitter pill to swallow, but the earlier you do so, the better. The event is absolutely jam-packed, and people will be trying to do everything they can. Pick your favorites and enjoy what you can!
Tron and the Virtual Queue
Tron Lightcyle Power Run, a new high octane roller coaster, opened at the Magic Kingdom earlier this year—see my review of the ride here—and like all new attractions, it requires what’s called the Virtual Queue to ride. This means that despite having a ticket, you are not guaranteed a ride, so it’s best to learn how to join the Virtual Queue.
As an initial matter, make sure your MNSSHP ticket is linked to your MyDisneyExperience app. Once that is confirmed, be prepared to open the app and attempt to joint the Virtual Queue at 6:00 PM the day of your party. Guests do not need to be in the Magic Kingdom on the day of the their party to join the virtual queue, so there is no need to arrive before the event begins. Once it is time, select the option to Join the Virtual Queue—if you are right on time, you hopefully can get an assigned time slot. Remember the head over to the ride during your assigned window as it is not guaranteed a Cast Member will let you ride once it closes. (And yes, I know—the virtual queue system is not great. But this is The New Disney World Experience, so you might as well adjust!)
Should You Bring the Kids?
Disney World is first and foremost, a family-friendly destination, and that extends to events like MNSSHP. Inevitably, when planning your trip, the important question that comes to mind is whether or not to bring the kids along. This decision depends on various factors, such as as their ages, their routines, and ultimately, your preferences. Let’s delve into these aspects to help you make an informed choice.
- Age of Children: Most attractions at the Magic Kingdom are designed for guests of all ages, meaning they do not have a minimum height requirement. This is why the park is a favorite among the stroller set. But, the attractions are only part of the MNSSHP experience, which starts at time when most toddlers and younger kids are going to bed. Families with little ones need to weigh their options and whether it’s worth it to keep the kids up later (and endure a rough night or following morning), or whether they can enjoy an event with fussy children or children asleep in their stroller.
- Lines, Lines, Lines, Yeah. As I’ve mentioned, the MNSSHP crowd is an energetic one, filled with people (often bloggers and die-hards like myself) trying to soak in every detail; this results in long lines for every single experience—from food, to shows, to characters meets. Lines for a treats and characters will wind around other attractions and into different lands. Lines will combine into other lines for trick or treating, giving the night a Mardi Gras-like feeling at certain pinch points. Young children are not great about waiting in lines, and truthfully neither am I, so I don’t blame them!
- It’s a Short Event. After Hours events like MNSSHP are great for the vibe, for the experience among other Disney fans. Kids can certainly partake, but you simply can’t do it all in such a short amount of time. Consider whether your kids will really enjoy limited experiences after their bed time, and also consider whether you will enjoy an event where you may spend much of it caring for kids who may better enjoy a regular park day at rope drop experience.
- For more about my experience and why I ultimately think younger kids should not attend MNSSHP, see my article, Should You Go to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party with Small Kids?
Bringing the kids to MNSSHP can be a great experience—I have done it and I am ultimately glad I went. But I want to be transparent here, and I want you prepared for the costs, the potential toll of such a late night with little ones, and the reality of an event that sometimes comes across as less hectic on social media. As a dad and Disney fan, I prioritize experiences where my entire family can enjoy it together. It is tough to admit that MNSSHP may not be the best option for that while my kids are so young.
MNSSHP is a great experiences for Disney enthusiasts and Halloween lovers alike. Disney is increasingly leaning into the spooky vibes, and fans are responding accordingly. The food and fun is truly unique, set against the backdrop of the Most Magical Place on Earth. It’s definitely something that Disney Parks fans should do at least once—but it is getting increasingly costly and popular, and in turn, the event now requires a bit of strategy and preparation to be best enjoyed. Study the event schedule, make a game plan, and use this guide to make sure your MNSSHP event is the best one yet!
Attending MNSSHP this year? Let me know all about it in the comments! And if you enjoyed this guide, subscribe to my newsletter for more guides, tips, and articles to help on your next Disney World trip.