There’s electricity in the air during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, unlike other times of the year at Walt Disney World.
Maybe it’s the excitement of finally donning the family costumes you’ve been planning for months or getting to meet beloved characters you normally don’t get to see at the parks. Perhaps it’s the sugar high from the heaping scoops of candy cast members dole out or the thrill of walking onto ride after ride with minimal waits. Or maybe it’s just how the Boo-to-You Halloween Parade delights your kids and makes you feel like a kid again, too.
Whatever it is, it goes by quicker than you think. While Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party guests may enter Magic Kingdom as early as 4 p.m. the event itself only lasts five hours, from 7 p.m. until midnight.
Here’s how to make the most of it.
1. Set priorities
You don’t have to schedule every minute of the night, but if you have your heart set on certain experiences, you should plan accordingly.
Do you really want to meet Jack and Sally from “Nightmare Before Christmas”? If so, you better get in line first thing because that line only gets longer with time.
Is Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular non-negotiable? Then, you’ll want to make sure you’re in a good viewing spot before it begins because, unlike the parade or Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular show, the fireworks only happen once a night.
You can’t do everything at the party in five hours, but you can accomplish everything on your wish list if you set priorities and plan.
2. Eat early
Several restaurants close when the park closes to daytime guests, like Pinocchio Village Haus and Columbia Harbor House, which become trick-or-treat stations. For the widest selection of eateries, grab an early dinner in that 4 to 6 p.m. window before the party.
Another option is to skip dinner and simply snack throughout the night, like at an EPCOT festival. There are lots of event-exclusive treats to try. Just know that lines can be long and mobile ordering is unavailable during the party.
3. Act fast for TRON
TRON Lightcycle / RUN is only available through a virtual queue during the party. The roller coaster queue opens at 6 p.m., but if you sign on at 6 p.m., you may be too late. Lots of people want to ride Magic Kingdom’s newest attraction, and the queue fills up almost instantly.
To increase your odds of getting a spot, have everything pulled up and your party confirmed in the free My Disney Experience app by 5:59 p.m. Then, click the refresh button to join the queue the moment it opens. Note: If you have a party ticket, you don’t have to be inside the park to join the queue.
4. Be judicious about character greetings
If characters are your thing, line up, but some meet-and-greet waits can be long.
Instead of waiting hours for Jack and Sally or the Seven Dwarfs, see who else is available. You can check wait times on Disney World’s app or simply by keeping your eyes peeled for opportunities. When I attended a sold-out party in August, there was hardly any line to meet the Queen of Hearts outside Mad Tea Party, which gets a special Halloween treatment for the party. And there was no wait to meet Cinderella and Elena of Avalor in Princess Fairytale Hall. Granted, you can meet those two any time, but not without a wait normally.
Also, watch for impromptu character sightings and interactions. I was delighted to see Powerline Max make a cameo during the Zom-Beatz Bash in Tomorrowland and Anastasia and Drizella just walking through Fantasyland. And it was incredibly special when Alice, Mad Hatter, Jasmine and Aladdin came up to my daughter and me during the parade, which was packed with Disney characters making eye contact with guests.
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5. Ride the rides
A big perk of the limited-capacity event is shorter wait times for many attractions. For instance, the standby line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is typically well over an hour long, but I only waited 15 minutes during the party. Other rides, including Space Mountain, which goes completely dark during the event, were walk-on.
There are some exceptions, though. As you can imagine, Haunted Mansion is very popular at the party and tends to have long lines.
It’s also worth noting that some attractions are not offered during the party at all, like Carousel of Progress and Enchanted Tales with Belle. Tom Sawyer Island is also closed. If you want to experience those, make sure to do so before 6 p.m.
Trick-or-treating isn’t only for kids at the party. Go for it. There may even be some candy you haven’t tried, like Caramel Cold Brew M&Ms and Skittles Gummies. But don’t feel like you have to hit up every trick-or-treat station. You get plenty of candy just going through a few because cast members fill bags by the scoop.
There are also allergy-friendly alternatives available. Just ask for teal bag wherever treat bags are distributed. Then, instead of candy, cast members will give you tokens you can later trade for allergy-friendly treats.
7. Say cheese
There are all sorts of fun photo ops around the park during the party, and you don’t have to pay for a PhotoPass to take advantage of them.
You can ask any PhotoPass cast member to take a photo with your smartphone or camera. You just won’t be able to get Magic Shots, where characters and other effects are digitally inserted into images.
Don’t forget to check the My Disney Experience app for fun PhotoPass Lenses for selfies.
8. Shop strategically
Party-exclusive merchandise is extremely popular and can sell out. It always draws a crowd at Main Street, U.S.A.’s Emporium, but two other locations sell party merchandise without the masses: Star Traders in Tomorrowland and Frontier Trading Post in Frontierland.
There is also non-exclusive Halloween themed merchandise available across the resort, including at Disney Springs and resort hotels.
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9. Stay cool and hydrated
The Orlando area is still hot well into the fall, and it would be a shame to miss out on the party because you get overheated or dehydrated.
Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and night. Free cups of ice water are available wherever fountain drinks are sold across the resort.
And take advantage of air-conditioned places to cool down. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor becomes a trick-or-treat station during the party, but guests can sit and watch the monsters crack Halloween jokes.
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10. Have an exit strategy
By the end of the night, you may be ready to go, but so will everyone else.
You can avoid crowds by snagging a spot close to Main Street’s train station for the last parade, so you can just turn around and exit the park when it’s over.
Or stay even later and watch the last Hocus Pocus Spelltacular show at midnight. By the time that ends, most fellow guests will be gone.