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Friday, August 24, 2018

my ultimate mickey's not-so-scary halloween party touring strategy

So, you have tickets to the 2018 Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

Lucky, lucky you!  Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party was my favorite part of being in Walt Disney World Resort during the Fall season.  I loved MNSSHP so much that I went twice.  The shifts where I worked the parties, especially the shift where I worked on the treat trail, were some of my favorite parts of my entire program.

I'm sure you're thrilled to take in all of the amazing offerings these parties have!  Hard-to-meet characters, special entertainment, spooky snacks, and party-exclusive merchandise are all on the bill for you during your evening of not-so-scary fun!  If you're unaware of just how much fun is in store for you at MNSSHP, here's a handy link that contains all the information you'll need to know: 2018 Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

While you may be excited, you may also be feeling a little overwhelmed.  There are a lot of "must-do" experiences at MNSSHP, and you definitely want to get your money's worth.  Today I'm going to give you my ultimate touring strategy for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.  With this plan, you're sure to hit all of the best characters and entertainment at this special event.

A word of warning before you read... this strategy is entertainment heavy.  If you'd rather visit some of your favorite classic rides than meet characters, and you have no interest in seeing any of the special entertainment, this plan isn't for you!

With your ticket to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, you can get into Magic Kingdom starting at 4:00 PM.  If you are a DVC member, you can get in even earlier-- 2:00 PM!  In order to maximize the value of your ticket, I recommend getting to the Magic Kingdom gate about 15 minutes before you're allowed to go in.  They'll have an area where you'll queue up to get your wristband, and you'll be able to enter the park as quickly as possible.

Day of the party, before 4:00 PM

You are definitely going to want to plan your full day around this party.  First of all, this is one of those rare Disney days where you'll want to sleep in and have an easy morning.  I wouldn't plan FP+ for the morning, or plan to be in a park at all before you head to Magic Kingdom for the party. Even if you're a usual night owl, you're going to be exhausted by the time the party is over at midnight.  Enjoy an extra hour or two (or three!  I won't judge) of sleep, maybe get some breakfast delivered to your room so you can stay in the room and reserve your energy for the evening.  If there are any activities at your resort that you have your heart set on doing, you are definitely going to want to save them for the day of your party.

Just before you head out the door, you are definitely going to want to know where your party tickets are, and make sure your camera and phone fully charged with a fuel rod or other external battery on deck.  I found that my phone died at both of the parties I went to because I was posting on social media constantly and taking so many pics.  Don't forget your costume!  This is one of the only occasions where adult Disney park goers are allowed to wear costumes in the park, and it's always fun to see what people come up with.  If you'd rather wear something simple and practical, that's fine, but don't be afraid to go all out!  You'll rack in all the compliments.

I am always going to recommend that you eat a late lunch/early dinner between 2:30 and 3:00.  It should be the very last thing you do before you get to the party.  The last thing you want is to be in the middle of the Halloween party action and have to stop for a meal-- it could take up anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour of your precious party time (don't worry about getting hungry during the party-- you'll definitely have time to grab some of those great party snacks in this plan 😉).

If you have a monorail resort restaurant that you're dying to try, this may be a great opportunity to eat there.  I always recommend the Kona Cafe or the Grand Floridian Cafe, which will normally be empty around 2:00 and 3:00.  If not, grab a meal at your resort's quick service location and head right to the buses when you're done.

[DVC Members Only: Did you know that you're allowed to enter the park a whole two hours earlier with your MNSSHP ticket this year?  Get to the park at 2:00, grab your wristband, enjoy a favorite ride, and eat inside the park at around 3:00]

If you're at the Magic Kingdom entrance at 3:45, you're doing amazing.  They'll have an area for you to wait for before it's time to distribute wristbands and go inside.  Once you get your wristband, grab a drink from Starbucks, send a tweet about how excited you are, and then get ready to hit the ground running-- we are going to cover a lot of ground tonight.


Get in line to meet Jack and Sally OR the Seven Dwarfs

To me, it's really important to take advantage of one of these two meet and greets while you're at the party.  Jack and Sally only meet as a pair during the Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and they're a lot of fun to talk to, so I will always recommend taking advantage of their meet and greet during the party.  The Seven Dwarfs also meet during the Christmas Party, but if you're a Snow White fan, you might want to prefer meeting them instead.  Either way, it's hard to go wrong-- but you will absolutely want to get in line as soon as you have your wristband.  

The lines for these M&G will exceed wait times of three hours during the party, so it's really important to get in line as soon as you're able to.  With your wristband, you'll be able to start lining up for Jack & Sally at four PM.  In recent years, they've started the M&G between 5:00 and 5:30 PM to accommodate the popularity of the M&G.  If you get in line as soon as it opens, you should be done just before the party begins!  Yes, you'll still be waiting about two hours-- but you'll get your waiting in before the party starts, which leaves you more time to collect candy and enjoy special party entertainment.  When I met them, I got in line at 4:15, they came out at 5, and I met them at 5:30-- which left me so much party time!

With the Seven Dwarfs, the line won't be open until ~5:00.  Keep a close eye on the area, enjoy some nearby Fantasyland Attractions until you see that CMs have allowed people to start lining up.  I've found that the Dwarfs have a little bit of a shorter wait time for the Halloween parties.  I started lining up as soon as they allowed us to at 5, the Dwarfs came out at 6:15, and I met them around 6:30.


Merchandise, Candy, and Snack #1

Okay, now that you have M&G #1 out of the way, it's time to start collecting some party-exclusive swag!  With your wristband, you can start purchasing park merchandise

You will definitely want to pick up your merchandise as soon as possible.  I recommend visiting either the Emporium or Big Top Souvenirs, that's where you'll find the bulk of the party's special edition merchandise.  If I was going this year, I would absolutely want to get my hands on the Hocus Pocus Spirit Jersey.  Since it is the 25th anniversary of Hocus Pocus' release this year, Sanderson sister merchandise is out in full swing for the 2018 MNSSHP!  Grab a purchase, have it sent to your resort if you're staying on property, and then go collect some candy!

Trick-or-treating is definitely something you should take advantage of at least once during the party.  I know from my time at the parties that the candy mix is no joke-- Disney has the best mix!  My personal favorite stops are the Pirates of the Caribbean, the Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor, and above all, the Philharmagic-- where you can see spooky Disney movie clips playing on the screen as you collect your candy!

Remember what I said about having time to grab a snack?  Grab your first one now.  If you think you need a salty snack to balance out all the candy, try the Hades Nachos at Peco's Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe.  Ready for the sweet stuff?  If you do anything at this party, you have to try the Candy Corn Milkshake at Aunty Gravity's Galactic Goodies.

Image result for candy corn milkshake magic kingdom
Image Courtesy of Disney Parks Blog


Character M&G #2

By 7:30, consider getting in line for a second character M&G.  Some of the unique characters at the party won't have horrible lines tonight. It took me just under 40 minutes to see Cruella DeVil during my first party, and at my second party, I nearly walked up to Tarzan, Jane, and Terk!  If there's a character you know you want to meet that wasn't covered under Jack & Sally or the Seven Dwarfs, check out their line and do that now.


Hocus Pocus Villain's Spelltacular
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party holds my favorite Walt Disney World entertainment across the board.  It has my favorite fireworks (HalloWishes), favorite parade (Boo to You), and favorite castle show-- The Hocus Pocus Villain's Spelltacular!  You can't miss this hilarious musical performance featuring everyone's favorite witches.  If you're not hype during the finale, you can stop following this plan and do whatever you want for the rest of the night.  I promise.  

There are three showings of the Villain's Spelltacular, and I always prefer the first.  It's going to be crowded, so you'll want to get there as early as you can.  But the second one cuts too close to the second parade, and I was way too tired to stay for the last show, which started at midnight.


Space Mountain, more Trick-or-Treating

After you've stopped buzzing about how Winifred Sanderson just slayed your life, it's time for more party fun.  I'm not normally one to recommend visiting attractions during MNSSHP-- but this year, you have to see Space Mountain.  Do it for me.   Space Mountain gets a spooky holiday overlay for the party, where you'll enjoy a new soundtrack and all of the lights are turned off.  If you're in the mood for a slightly-terrifying pitch black Space Mountain, I highly recommend checking out this ride during the party.

Not in the mood for Space Mountain?  Totally cool.  Do M&G #3, enjoy the Monster-Scream-O-Ween ball, and collect some more candy.


Stake out your spot for HalloWishes!

HalloWishes starts at 10:15.  I'm not a huge fan of watching fireworks in general, and you can see HalloWishes from pretty much anywhere, so I just head over to Main Street and stand wherever there's available space for me 15 minutes before the show begins.  Of course, if HalloWishes is on your bucket list for the party, I recommend getting there early-- but even 9:45 seems too early to me, since the crowds are pretty easygoing on the nights where the party isn't sold out.  Enjoy the special projections and full-perimeter fireworks!


Stake Out Your Spot for the Boo To You Parade

As you can tell, I prefer the 11:15 Boo to You Parade to the 9:15 one.  It's going to be a lot less crowded than the first one.  I am also going to strongly recommend catching the parade from Frontierland.  Across from the Golden Oak Outpost is my favorite spot.  Main Street is a lot of fun with projections on the buildings and bubbles everywhere, but it's going to be very crowded, even at the later parade.  It's just not worth the hassle in my opinion.  The parade also kicks off in Frontierland-- which means you'll be the first to start and finish watching the parade, so you'll have more time to have Halloween fun!  The closer you are to Splash Mountain, the faster the parade will pass by, but keep in mind that some of the character you'll see have special dance routines that don't officially kick off until they reach a certain point down Frontierland.

30 minutes seems like a long time to be waiting for the parade to start, but I promise you that this parade is well worth it.  Go to the bathroom, have someone in your party collect those awesome cinnamon donut holes from Golden Outpost, and get your camera ready for a fun celebration of Disney's spookiest, silliest haunts.


Enjoy the rest of the party!

After you finish up with the parade, if you're in Frontierland, you should have about another half of an hour to do whatever you want that we haven't already covered.  And you will be surprised by just how much you can get done in that half hour, since the crowds will have thinned out a lot everywhere but Main Street USA.

If you are unsure what to do, and you haven't been to Liberty Square yet, I think that Liberty Square is 100% worth a visit during the Halloween Party.  Haunted Mansion gets even spookier, and the Mansion CMs get tricked out in ghostly face paint and cobwebs.  Special characters from the Mansion roam around and talk to guests, the fog is in full effect, everything about the ambiance just so perfect.  Even if you don't feel like jumping on the Haunted Mansion, it's so much fun to just be in the area, get some pictures in, and enjoy the entertainment.  

Grab another snack before you go, just for good measure!  And of course, on your way out, don't forget to stop on the Trick-or-Treat Trail once more just to make sure you go home with a camera full of pictures and a bag full of candy.  👍

Have you done Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Before?  What are you can't-miss party offerings and tips for first-timers?  Let me know in the comments!


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