If you’re visiting Walt Disney World in the fall (or at the end of summer this year!) then chances are, you’re planning on hitting Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. The highlight of the Halloween season for guests and locals alike, the party is the perfect way to celebrate. You can dress up as your favorite character, go trick or treating for bagfuls of candy, watch an amazing Halloween show and one of the finest parades on property, and spend a night of fun at the Magic Kingdom with shorter waits for rides and the opportunity to meet some amazing rare characters. All in all, a fabulous time! The party runs from 7pm until midnight select nights in September and October (this year a couple of dates in August were added, as well as a date on November 1st) and with the late hour, attending the party with young kids can be difficult. I’ve navigated this party with a toddler and a preschooler, and have learned a thing or two about what to do (and what not to do!) so that the whole family, including the little ones, have a great time. Read through these tips on visiting Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party with young kids.
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Choose what you want to do most beforehand
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party lasts five hours, and between the shows, parade, fireworks, character meet and greets, trick or treating, and rides, it is absolutely impossible to do everything, especially with young kids in tow. You can find out exactly what is on offer each year once the first party happens and the maps are released online, but looking at previous years parties will give you a good idea of what is going on and when (note that in recent years, parade and fireworks times seem to change slightly from year to year) so you can make a list of everything you want to do. Choose your priorities carefully, and leave time between activities to get from one place to the other; while most of the park will be on the emptier side, Main Street and the Castle Hub area will be packed, especially around the show times, parade times, or fireworks. When we visit the party, we pick three things that we absolutely want to do, a handful of things that we will do if there is time, and some things we know we’ll avoid this year. This way, we can make sure we’re in place for our number one activities in plenty of time, and can get to everything else if we have the chance.
Think about your costumes
One of the most fun things about the Halloween party is being able to dress up! Ordinarily, guests over 14 years old cannot dress up to visit the Disney parks, but this rule is waived on party nights, and you will see the most amazing costumes (for the 2017 costume guidelines, click here)! Although kids can dress up any day at the parks, there’s something about being at the Halloween party that makes it all the more special! We usually opt for family costumes; we’ve been a band of pirates, characters from The Wizard of Oz, and most recently, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Choosing our costumes and putting them together is always one of the things I look forward to the most when planning the party each year, but there are some things to keep in mind. Firstly, remember that although it is fall, it is also still Florida! The August and September parties are always still very hot and humid, and even the October parties are on the warmer side. Waiting for the shows and parades where it is crowded, it’s easy to get overheated in long sleeves or a heavy costume. Stick with something lighter, ideally with some layers so you can take off/add on as the temperatures change throughout the night. The earlier parties also have to contend with the fact that it is prime hurricane season; in the past two years, parties have been cancelled because of hurricanes but even without that, there is a good chance of rain during the first few weeks of September. Check the weather forecast before you go, bring a poncho or rain jacket if necessary, and don’t wear a priceless costume if there is a chance it will be ruined by heavy rain. Try to make young kids costumes as comfortable as possible, especially since they’ll probably have fallen asleep in them by the end of the night! Lastly, remember that there is no requirement to dress up; you can go wearing what you would normally wear to the parks, or just a Halloween-themed t-shirt. The most important thing is to be comfortable for what will be a long evening.
Although the Halloween party starts at 7pm, guests can enter the Magic Kingdom with their party tickets from 4pm. My best piece of advice is to spend the earlier part of the day taking it easy, relaxing by the pool for example, then head to the Magic Kingdom for 4pm. Additionally, although you cannot make FP+ selections during the party (they’re really unnecessary since wait times are usually low), you can make them for 4-7pm (there have been cases where FP+ choices only went until 6.30pm, however you can still make a third choice by adding a 3.30-4.30pm option). The Magic Kingdom can still be a little on the busy side at this point, but non-party guests start to trickle out by about 6pm as they head to other parks or back to their resort. By 6.30pm, we found lines to be very short; a lot of the party guests had gotten in line for character meet and greets or started to line up for trick or treat stations; we waited just 10 minutes for Peter Pan, then walked right on to Winnie the Pooh! This is also a great time to get some dinner; I strongly suggest against making an ADR for a dining reservation during the party, as this takes away valuable party time, but 4-7pm would be a great time to eat.
Traveling with young kids, chances are that they will not make it until midnight! This means that those early hours are extremely valuable; you’ll want to fit as much into them as possible!
Bring a stroller
Learn from a mistake I made this year here!
At 4-years old, my son doesn’t use a stroller in everyday life any more. Coming to Walt Disney World, there have been days where we’ve rented one towards the end of the day as he got tired (and we got tired of the whining!) However, at the Halloween party, I chose not to bring a stroller. I assumed that my little guy could handle a few hours of walking, and I didn’t want to deal with a stroller with all the crowds. I regretted this decision as soon as I saw that first yawn, and he mentioned how sleepy he was! When lining up for the parade, it would have been helpful to have a stroller, both for him to sit in and to provide a little space for us as more people crowded into the area. The kids next to us all had strollers, and they looked a lot more comfortable! Additionally, once it hit 10pm, my son really got tired, and wanted to be carried. If I had brought a stroller, not only could I have saved my arms and my back the trouble of carrying him all the way back to the car, but I could have let him rest while I explored the park a little more.
One more thing: a stroller would have provided a very handy place to carry our trick or treat bags once they were heavy with candy, and a wonderful place to store costume pieces as we got sick of wearing them! Lesson learned: next time, we will be bringing a stroller!
Get a good spot early on
This applies to everything from the show to the parade to the fireworks – to the characters! Since time is limited during the party, especially with kids who are getting sleepier by the minute, most guests try to get as much done as early as possible. This means that the first Hocus Pocus Villains Spelltacular show, and the first parade, are much more popular than those that follow. This year, the party we attended was sold out, so as busy as they come. We found our spot for both the first show and the first parade around 30-45 minutes before they began, and space was limited at this time. If your kids are doing well and you think they’ll make it to a later show or the second parade, you won’t need to get a spot that early on, but for those earlier versions, I would say to try to find a spot at least 30 minutes before, closer to an hour before if you want a prime spot on Main Street!
Similarly, if there are certain characters you are dying to meet, then make sure you know everything about where they will be and when. The most popular characters are always Jack and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas, and the Seven Dwarves; both these meet and greets will have people lining up hours beforehand, so make sure you know where you will need to be to get in line (this year, Moana is a similarly popular character to meet). Generally, lines begin to dwindle as the night goes on, but with little ones, it usually just isn’t possible to keep them up long enough to take advantage of that. Bear in mind also that characters that will be in the parade will not be available for meet and greets as the parade is taking place, although other characters might have shorter lines during that time.
As you can tell, there might be a lot of waiting around at the party! Tired kids sat waiting for a show or parade for 30 minutes are not fun for anyone, so be sure to bring something for them to do! My favorite go-to entertainment for any long wait at Disney, but particularly those happening at night, are glow sticks! We had a huge packet, thinking we could share with the kids around us, but it seemed that all other parents had the same thought, and all the kids we saw had them! They are such a cheap, simple way to keep little ones entertained!
Of course when all else fails, you can always let the little ones break into that Halloween candy; I know that’s how I kept myself entertained!
Hit the trick or treat spots later on
If your little ones are simply not going to make it past about 9pm, then trick or treat while you can, regardless of how long the lines might be in the beginning. If this is your situation, then I would suggest lining up for the first trick or treat station anywhere from 5-15 minutes before the party begins; this way, you’re ready to go as soon as they start handing out the candy (you might also get a second run through the line before crowds pick up!) Know where the lines are that have more than one candy stop, so you can double your candy in one swoop!
If you know your kids might make it later into the night, then hit the trick or treat spots then instead. Most people want as much candy as possible early on, but lines will be so much shorter as the night goes on, and it’s not like Disney is ever going to run out! A Halloween party bag is provided to you for free to collect all of that candy, but if this is a priority for you and you know you want as much as possible, then bring a larger bag to dump the candy into as you go (something like this would be perfect!)
If you or your kids have allergies, remember to ask for a teal Halloween bag instead. At each candy spot, you will be given a teal colored token, which can be exchanged for allergy-friendly treats at guests relations later on!
For everything you need to know about visiting Walt Disney World with a baby, during the holidays and throughout the year, read through my Ultimate Guide to visiting Walt Disney World with a baby!
What are your best tips for visiting Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party with young kids? Let me know in the comments!