UPDATE: Disney has announced that MNSSHP will be returning on select dates, starting Auguest 2022.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom hosts a special event during the fall season–Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP). This evening event, usually starting end of August until early November, runs on designated nights. Families can get into the spirit of Halloween and enjoy the Magic Kingdom Park until late. The park hosts exclusive events, so kids (and parents) can dress up and come home with bags of Halloween candy.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party event is a hard ticket event, meaning you will not be able to enter the park with only your Magic Band only or your day pass. You must buy an additional ticket in order to attend the event. Guests with tickets can start entering the park at 4pm; however, the event does not officially begin until 7pm (and runs until midnight).
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Ticket prices cost anywhere from $89.00 to $135.00 USD per adult, and are slightly less for kids 3-9 years of age. Those 3 years of age and younger are free. Many Disney add-on events come at an additional price, like the Disney VIP experience.
Once you enter through the main gates with your ticket, a cast member will put a wristband on you denoting that you have purchased tickets for the event. Those in the park without tickets will be stopped from entering rides after 7pm, and asked to leave the park (bot not forced to leave). While I’m not sure how Disney ushers guests without tickets out, I can say that not be able to partake in candy or rides, greet characters, or go to dance parties may get boring rather quickly.
We first attended this event back in 2008, when crowd sizes were more manageable and the event wasn’t sold out. Now, however, most of the MNSSHP events are sold out. The crowds can make it hard to navigate, especially with young ones in strollers. Watching the event-exclusive entertainment like Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, performed on the Castle Forecourt stage, can also become challenging if you’re vertically challenged, like younger kids or me (skimming the 5ft range). Inevitably, someone taller or a child on a parent’s shoulders finds the spot in front of you, making viewing nearly impossible.
In planning your evening, remember that you will need to stake out your best viewing spot early. If you want to guarantee yourself a prime perch, then consider purchasing (at additional cost) designated VIP viewing with Cruella’s Halloween Hideaway at $99/per person. This event is a dinner at Tony Town Square Restaurant, check in starts in at 9:00PM and guests will have prime viewing for the 11:15 Parade.
Keep in mind, that you may miss the fireworks while dining at this event and you cannot use dining plan for this either.
Try a dessert party package like the Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular Dessert Party ($69.00 USD guests 10 year of age and up, $41.00 USD, ages 3-9 years of age). Those will both give you primo fireworks entertainment viewing or parade viewing, but won’t necessarily give best views of both. Disney also has Dessert parties at their other parks which gets guests the best viewing locations for their evening entertainment, The Star Wars, A Galactic SpectacularDessert Party in Hollywood Studios.
Event Exclusive Entertainment
Many of the Exclusive Entertainment events have multiple showings, with the exception of the Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular-The Firework Show. That said, coordinating the seating from one event and then another is a bit of a science. For example, if you don’t want to see the first Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular at 8:30 pm because of the crowds and, instead, want to see the 10:45 pm showing, but you also want to see the 11:15 pm parade (since you avoided the 9:15 parade due to crowd), you now run the risk of not getting great seats for the parade at 11:15 pm. It can all get a bit tricky trying to navigate the perfect entertainment plan. Did I mention that there is only fireworks show, and that is at 10:15PM? Remember, that visitors start showing up early to stake out the “perfect” viewing spot.
Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular
This show, presented on the Castle Forecourt stage, is hosted by the Sander Sisters from the Disney movie Hocus Pocus. Many Disney movie villains like Shadow Man, Malificent, and Oogie Boogie make their appearance as well. You can choose from three shows each evening. If you can make it to a later showing, I strongly recommend it, as the chances of being able to get a better view are much higher. I learned this the hard way—last year, we went to the first showing and couldn’t see a thing.
Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Fireworks
The firework show and Castle spectacular is narrated by Jack Skellington (from Nightmare Before Christmas). The show follows Mickey and Pals on a Halloween night as they make their way through a haunted house, accompanied by Zero, the dog ghost from Nightmare Before Christmas. You will see many dancing skeletons and ghouls projected on the castle (the show does change throughout the years). The projections and lasers on the castle are fabulous.
If you needed to choose one exclusive event out of all three at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, then this is the must. I was standing back towards the far left of the circle before the castle and had a great viewing spot. Fortunately, the fireworks are overhead, and castle is elevated so most people will be able to see. This is a highlight of the evening, so if anything, make sure to watch this event.
Mickey’s “Boo-To-You” Halloween Parade
Mickeys’s “Boo-To-You” Halloween Parade did it for me—I love Disney parades. It’s filled with Disney villains and Disney character-themed floats. The parade begins with the headless horseman riding down the dimly lit streets with a lit up jack-o-latern. The Haunted Mansion ballroom dancers appear, and gravediggers create sparks with their shovels. You’ll also see pirate floats, Bear Jamboree floats, Peter Pan, and—at parades’ end–Malificent.
You can choose between two parade times. If you can handle it, I recommend going to the later one. The earlier parade is more crowded and harder to get a good seat for viewing. However, the later one starts at 11:15, so those with younger ones may not be able to make it. The trade-off is, staying for the late parade means most visitors will be making a mad dash for the exit after the later parade. The crush to get out can be a bit overwhelming and stressful. You’ll need to decide which is right for your kids.
An ongoing and huge debate is the question of where to sit to watch the parade. Some say Frontierland is the best. This is where I sat and had a great view. However, some say the lighting isn’t as great as on Main Street. If you are serious about photography, then your best bet for viewing is probably on Main Street. The lighting is better and in some spots, the parade is head on for better photo ops. Keep in mind that Main Street will be more crowded. Plan accordingly and get there early, which will cut into other events or rides as a trade-off.
Ride Overlay: “Halloween Twist”
Disney has taken to adding some special additions to some of their rides during the MNSSHP. Also known as a ride overlay or “Halloween Twist,” augments the ride through live entertainers both in and outside of the ride, spooky music piped in during the ride, and special lighting. Guest make it a priority to ride these rides to get the full MNSSHP effect, and each year is a bit different.
Pirates of the Caribbean
This classic ride, located in Adventureland, incorporates live pirate actors throughout the ride. While waiting in line, you may encounter a pirate behind bars interacting with guests or weaving through the guest line interacting with some of the guests.
Once aboard the ride, of these bonus pirate characters are situated throughout the ride, interacting not only with the guests on their boats and also have banter with each other in pirate lingo. If it’s your first time on the ride, it may distract you from the actual ride, but if it’s your 5th or 10th or even 20th time on the ride, then most likely you will welcome the addition of the live pirate Halloween twist.
The Haunted Mansion
Everyone who goes to the MNSSHP wants a ride on the haunted mansion–and for good reason. This wonderful Magic Kingdom ride is always a must, but during the Halloween event, the Haunted Mansion is lit up with green and purple uplighting. Fog machines pump in thick clouds for spooky effect. Of course, the haunting music that always plays at the ride sounds scarier on the Halloween nights.
While waiting in line, the haunted ghost Madame Carlotta and a butler, from the Haunted Mansion come out on the lawn for a bit of fun and conversation. Their discussions are witty, engaging, and comedic while keeping in line with the haunted mansion-Halloween theme. It’s hard not to want to stay and listen to them instead of moving up in line.
This may be the one Disney “Halloween Twist” that I don’t recommend for the younger ones, especially those who are scared of the dark. The entire ride goes dark for MNSSHP. They also play music during the ride. Typically the ride is dark as it is an indoor rollercoaster, but during normal hours there are strobe lights and other flashing lights that give you hints of upcoming twists and turns. Not on Halloween parties. Riders have no idea of any upcoming turns, drops, or twists. It is a bit frightening and can feel confining.
Mad Tea Party
The Mad Tea Party, located in FantasyLand, adds fun lighting and music as visitors spin around the floor in the tea cups. It’s a light-hearted Halloween addition for the younger visitors.
As I mentioned earlier, crowds are heavy at this hard ticket event. Most nights now sell out which means, lines, wait times and lots of people all trying to get the best viewing spots. Die-hard Disney fans don’t really care about the crowds, but others paying up to $100 per ticket may come out very disappointed with the difficulties of trying to meet characters, get on rides with “Halloween twists” or get good viewing spots for event exclusive entertainment.
Before you make this big purchase keep all of this in mind. Know going in that you will be dealing with big crowds and a late night. These two combinations can be a lot especially for young kids.
Children and adults will not be disappointed with the amount of candy that is given out at the MNSSHP. When the party starts, all visitors are given bags for trick-or-treating or you can bring your own. Guests can also get a bag at any trick-or treat location. Designated locations for trick or treating are marked by signs. Some of the rides also hand out candy at the end as well. By nights end you will have a full bag.
Parents who are more health conscious and do not want their kids over indulging in pounds of sugary treats, may want to steer clear of the trick-or-treat locations. They are clearly located on the guide handed out at the entrance. Be warned though; kids pick up on the locations pretty quickly.
There are allergy friendly trick-or-treat spots available.
Many characters that don’t usually come out during normal visiting hours make an appearance during MNSSHP. While strolling through Adventureland, we ran into Tarzan, Jane and Terk; Moana, Jafar, Abu, Jasmine, Alladin, Captain Jack Sparrow. In FantasyLand you may see Cruella de Vil, Queen of Hearts and eve the Seven Dwarfs, Jack Skellington, Sally and Mickey can be found in the Town Square Theater. Many of the regular characters are out, some dressed in costume as well.
The issue is, like with so many Disney attractions, there are lines. So getting to greet the characters may mean waiting sometimes upwards of 10-20 minutes or even longer. This will cut into the all of the events and rides of the evening and the waiting may take away some of the fun of the evening. However, getting the autograph of characters that aren’t often available may be all worth it in the end.
Many years ago we took our kids to some of the dance parties. It’s not necessarily our favorite event at the Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. It is an extra event that may serve a purpose to thin out crowds if nothing more, but most guests are at the event for rides, candy, fireworks, parades and most other things listed in this post. On the other hand, your kids may want to get some energy out on the dance floor, or just plain love to dance.
Specialty Sweet Treats
Every year Disney comes up with new, themed specialty desserts and drinks They can found at various food and beverage locations throughout Magic Kingdom and are only sold during MNSSHP. It would be almost impossible to get all the treats in one night, but can be done. Those using the dining plan can use a snack for one specialty desert or drink.
These combined with all the candy and you are sure to have a sugar overload. I did have a FOMO moment when I realized I had missed out on the treats, but then remembered I don’t really have a sweet tooth. It is tempting to not want to get them all so you can document and say you have had all the MNSSHP themed sweet treats.
Is Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Worth The Cost?
If you are visiting the parks and only have tickets for one park per day, then, yes, this is a great event to attend. Because it is a hard ticket event, you just got the opportunity to go to two parks in one day (with an additional cost). You can even enter Magic Kingdom at 4:00PM, which gives you a total of 8 hours at Magic Kingdom. If you played it smart, you were able to do Magic Hours (if staying on property) at another park and got almost 8 hours at that park. Hopefully the kids (if traveling with kids) took a long nap in the stroller). This scenario is definitely worth it.
If you have a Park Hopper pass, well then you know you can enter any park at any time, so buying an additional hard ticket for a themed event gets to be very pricy. However, most die-hard Disney fans, like myself, would tell you to do it especially if you are only going to do it once in your life. The crowds do suck, but the event-exclusive entertainment, rides with Halloween Twists, characters that are not usually out are so worth it. Who doesn’t love a good Halloween party? This one is 5 hours of epic.
I love Disney and love sharing what I’ve learned. If you are planning your own trip, I can help. Check me out at alison-wishesandwizardstravelco or email me at alison@
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