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Friday, August 30, 2019

our experience at the 2019 mickey's not-so-scary halloween party

Our family joined the grim, grinning, ghosts that came out to socialize on 8/20 at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party!  Here's a tale of crowds, spooky snacks, pictures, crowds, character meet and greets, and like I said: crowds.

Grab your Trick-or-Treating bags and your favorite costume, because today I'm taking you to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

For those of you who are currently unfamiliar, Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, or MNSSHP, is a hard-ticket event that runs at Magic Kingdom on select nights from August 16-Nov 1.  For an extra cost (separate from your theme park admission), you can don your favorite halloween costume and enjoy an evening of spooky special offerings from 7 PM-12 AM.  Rare character meet & greets, lower than usual wait times for your favorite attractions, exclusive party entertainment, and trick-or-treat locations are all included!  For an extra cost, party-exclusive snacks and merchandise are also available.

In 2016, when I did my first Disney College Program, MNSSHP szn was the highlight of my program.  I still consider it to be maybe the best two months of my entire life.  As a CM, the crowds were low, the fireworks were great, everyone was in a good mood and wearing their halloween costume, and the party soundtrack was awesome.  Don't even get me started on the adorable treat trail costume I wore when I handed out candy during the best shift of my life.

As a guest, these parties only got better.  I got to meet so many rare characters, I saw the Boo to You Parade, I ate a candy corn ice cream cone, I collected so much candy, and in general, I had the time of my life.  Part of this was because Disney marketing had hyped these parties up for so long, and in 2016, they not only met those expectations-- they exceeded them.

So this year, I tried to manage my expectations going into the party.  I knew that since my own DCP, Disney had raised the "cap" on how many tickets were sold per party.  A party night no longer meant "low crowds," it just meant "cooler things to wait in line for."  That unfortunately also means you can get less done per party.  I was a little apprehensive about how successful a MNSSHP would be with my family, but it was something that everyone really wanted to do, so I booked our tickets the day they were released and followed the Disney Parks touring mantra: hope for the best, expect the worst.

Disney did a great job of hyping up this year's party with new entertainment offerings.  For example: a new fireworks show!  The long-standing HalloWishes has been replaced this year with Disney's Not-So-Spooky Spectacular.  As the world's #1 HalloWishes stan, I didn't want to be excited for the new show.  But through sneak peeks and reviews from the first batch of partygoers, I was totally on board with the new show by the time our party came around.  I don't want to spoil anything, but the way Disney mixes projection with pyrotechnics in this show is amazing, and the way Jack Skellington appears in this show is insane.  My favorite parade on Disney Property, Boo to You, also got new additions from Tomorrowland and the Haunted Mansion, and I was ready to see them thrive.  Last year, Disney started doing special party-only overlays for select attractions, and Space Mountain was supposed to be the best of them, with a completely pitch black track and spooky space music.  AND Disney announced that there was going to be a Pumpkin Spice Milkshake for sale, which I obviously had to consume as soon as the party began.  Long story short, my desire to have low expectations for this party was countered with the fact that there were a lot of awesome new things to see and do.

So let's move on to how this evening actually played out.

MNSSHP is the only event of the year where adults are allowed (and encouraged!) to wear costumes to the parks.  While costumes are fun, they're also a hassle to pull together and can sometimes get sticky in the hot August weather.  I opted to do a fun halloween inspired outfit instead.  My tank top is the Miss Pumpkin monogram tank from The Blonde Ruby, and I bought my tutu off of Amazon.  The face glitter is from IG shop GleamAndGlowGlitters.  My bag and ears were both bought from Disney, but I bought the ears in 2016 and bought the bag that morning.  Sidenote: I love this darling little pumpkin bag that Disney put out this year!  Definitely one of my favorite purchases from the entire trip.

If you have a ticket to MNSSHP, you are allowed to enter the park at 4 PM unless you are a DVC member.  If you are a DVC member, you can enter the park at 2 PM with your admission to MNSSHP.  After an afternoon at the pool, I ended up getting to the park at 3 PM.  With my DVC member card and photo ID, I was able to quickly go through the party-only turnstile, where I received my party wrist-band and promptly headed to my first order of business: meeting Jack Skellington & Sally.

Jack & Sally are two characters you can only meet during the holiday parties.  While I've never been a fan of Nightmare Before Christmas, I have to say that these are two of the most fun characters you could possibly meet.  They're such oddballs and so engaging that it's hard to not love them.  Furthermore, this M&G is the hottest event of the evening.  Everyone wants to meet Jack & Sally, so it's wise to get in line to meet them early, since wait times can exceed 3 hours during the party.  I ended up getting in line at 3:00.  There were about 30 people in front of me, and by the time the line started moving, there were about 200 people behind me.

The great thing about Jack & Sally is that they actually start meeting before the party begins.  They started at 4:35 this year, and by 4:55, I was done with the M&G.  So technically, I ended up waiting about 2 hours to meet them.  Some people argue that 2 hours of waiting is 2 hours of waiting, but to me, the difference is that I wasn't wasting that precious actual party time in line to meet them, where I could have been trick-or-treating or enjoying the party entertainment.

As usual, these two were amazing.  Sally kept talking about how "positively dreadful" halloween was, and Jack was more than thrilled to see I had paid homage to him with my pumpkin-inspired look for the evening.  I just can't get over how fun these two are.

When I got out of the Town Square Theatre, my family had just arrived to start the Not-So-Scary Fun of the evening!  We stopped to watch the flag retreat on Main St. USA, then headed through the special party "bypass" next to the Main St. Chapeau.

If you have your party wristband, you can go through this bypass for lots of amazing pictures and your first candy station of the evening!  We spent quite some time taking photographs this evening.

Like I said, here's where you'll collect your first bag of candy!  They'll give you the complimentary trick-or-treat bag AND a special "power pack" of candy favorites.

I LOVE these statues!

From there, the party still hadn't actually started yet, so we went to Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.  One thing was obvious before the party began: Magic Kingdom was crazy busy this night.  At first, I chalked the insane crowds up to the fact that the party still hadn't officially started yet, so day guests were still milling about.  But I couldn't deny the fact that because this was only the second party of the season, there would still be a pretty sizeable crowd for the evening.

After we got off of Buzz, we went to grab the first "party" treat of the evening.  Auntie Gravity's Galactic Goodies in Tomorrowland technically serves the Pumpkin Spice Milkshake all day, but it was the perfectly festive way to start our evening.  The pumpkin spice milkshake is served with a house-made marshmallow, whipped cream, and candy corn pumpkins.

This milkshake had absolutely no right being as delicious as it was.  The "form" of this milkshake sees various different themes throughout the year, and when I went back in November, I tried the cookie butter milkshake and it was pretty bad.  This one tasted like a pumpkin pie was frozen and put through a blender.  So creamy and so delicious.  Even the house-made marshmallow mickey was so nice and fresh!  This was a real treat, and if you get one thing to eat during MNSSHP, I highly recommend you get this!

From there, the party was about to begin, so we got in line to meet two more friends in Storybook Circus: Donald and Daisy Duck!  We got in line at 6:45 and by 7:10, we were done with the M&G.  These two are adorable.  While you can meet Donald and Daisy pretty much anywhere, every day, I really wanted to meet Donald in his pumpkin costume.  How cute is pumpkin-spice Donald?!?

When we were done with these two, the gang decided it would be a good time to split up for just a little while.  I wanted to go on Space Mountain with the holiday overlay so badly, but nobody else in the fam wanted to do it, so they decided to trick-or-treat in the area while I checked it out.  The posted wait time was 40 minutes, but I really don't think I waited more than 20.

"Deep Space Mountain" is a pitch-black experience with a spooky space soundtrack and it is wild.  Space Mountain is jarring enough when you can see the drops in front of you, so when you can't see anything at all, the ride is genuinely intense and terrifying.  I 10/10 recommend it and wish it was like this all the time.

I got back together with the family pretty quickly afterwards.  We saw Cruella roaming around Fantasyland and decided to head to our next Trick or Treat station in Philharmagic.  The line was pretty long, but it moved pretty quickly.  I think we were done with the experience in 7 minutes.

Side Note: Are you a villains expert?  When you exit Mickey's Philharmagic, you'll find a board of Disney villains at the gift shop attached to the ride.  If you can guess the names of all the villains on the board, the CM will give you a super-sweet prize!

After we had grabbed our candy, it was time to tackle the most crowded area of the night: Haunted Mansion.  We waited about 30 minutes for the ride, and Grace wanted to take photos afterwards, which we waited another 20 minutes for.  You are definitely going to want to bolster a lot of time into your schedule if you want to check out Haunted Mansion during the party.  I will say, though-- this area looks great during the party!  I love the attention it gets during MNSSHP.

With our party time dwindling, we decided to get something to eat, but wanted to wait until the first parade was over.  This ended up being the hardest part of the evening-- we tried to get from Haunted Mansion to the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad area, essentially "swimming upstream" in the most crowded I've ever seen the park in August.  I could not believe how many people were at this event.  I knew the crowds had increased for this party in recent years, but this was insane-- this was as bad as Thanksgiving Day at MK last year, maybe even worse.  It took us 15 minutes to get from the Mansion to BTMRR as we battled the crowds past the parade route.

When we finally made it to BTMRR, we got in line at the popcorn cart so that we get one of this season's hottest souvenirs, this adorable pumpkin Mickey balloon bucket!  At first, I told myself the only bucket I was going to get on this trip would be the little green alien, but after seeing how popular it was becoming, I decided I absolutely had to have one for myself.  Mom is a huge haunted mansion fan, so she also picked up this hitchhiking ghost bucket.

After we collected our bucket, we decided we all really needed something to eat and a place to sit down, so we headed over to Pecos Bill for dinner.  We each got a burger, which we tried to eat as quickly as possible before heading out to catch the fireworks.

We knew the hub was going to be a nightmare, so we decided to watch it from Liberty Square.  We stood in front of the Christmas shop for our obstructed view of the fireworks.  From where we were standing, the pyrotechnics were awesome!  I would have loved to stand in the hub or on main street to get the full effect with the castle projections, but it just wasn't possible with how the crowds were looking.

After the fireworks, the family wanted to see the parade, and they wanted to see it from Main St. USA, so I brought them over there.  While they got their spot for the parade, I went inside the Emporium and bought a party-exclusive t-shirt.  That was another 15 minute line.

I decided that I didn't need to see the parade at this point.  I had already seen it, and battling crowds at Magic Kingdom for 8.5 hours had left me completely exhausted, so I told my family I was going back to the hotel room.  

... I did, however, sneak a peek at the Headless Horseman kick-off before heading back to the room.  I've never caught him before, since it rained at both of the parties I went to on my program.  I'm glad I stayed the extra 5 minutes, he was pretty cool.

Thus ends our experience at the 2019 MNSSHP.  We met some characters, grabbed some candy, and went on a few rides, but it didn't measure up to the parties I went to in 2016, where I felt like I was able to get everything done both times.  Unfortunately, Disney has begun to grossly oversell these parties.  The value of purchasing a ticket to a party with special offerings diminishes to almost nothing when it's too crowded to do anything. 

There was a time where I insisted that you must go to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at least once, and while we did have a few great memories this year, this just isn't the case anymore.  If you're looking for a hard-ticket event to enhance your vacation, I highly recommend looking into a Disney After Hours event.  While you won't find special characters or snacks, the crowds are heavily capped and you'll get free popcorn, soft drinks, and ice cream.  These events are especially great at Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, where you'll be able to enjoy Toy Story Land and Pandora without the massive crowds.  

MNSSHP remains as a spooky time with spooky fun special offerings, but be prepared to see frightful crowds and spend your time wisely.


Whould you like to comment?

  1. Oh man, sorry you hit so many crowds! Did my first MNSSHP last night on a whim because of how low the crowds have been with Dorian approaching. Last night was pure magic. Unfortunately there were no fireworks, but the lack of lines made up for it. Loved all the coverage you shared! �� Happy Halloween!

    1. hey olivia! i'm so happy to hear you had a magical time at the 9/2 party! i have heard nothing but amazing things about the parties that weren't totally packed this year, so i'm glad you were able to experience one! thank you so much for your kind words-- happy halloween!


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