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Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Archives

September 7, 2017

Guests with food allergies can trick-or-treat at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

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Walt Disney World is well-known for its willingness to accommodate guests with food allergies. In fact, its chefs often go out of their way to prepare special dishes even when they are not requested. Now, the Orlando resort is offering another option for those with food concerns: allergy friendly trick-or-treating at its Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party events.

When I attended a party last week as an invited media guest, I decided to trick-or-treat using the new program so I could see how it works. I do not have any food allergies, but my 12-year-old daughter (who was with me) does have some food sensitivities and we both wanted to better understand the experience.

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Guests who participate in allergy friendly trick-or-treating start the evening the same way any other guest does -- by asking for a complimentary bag on the Main Street bypass or at any candy station in the park. But the allergy friendly bags look different from the other candy bags that cast members are handing out. They are teal with the image of a single orange pumpkin, as a reference to the Teal Pumpkin Project, which was started to promote the inclusion of all trick-or-treaters during the Halloween season.

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Guests – children and adults alike – take these bags to the candy stations throughout the park and exclaim, “Trick or Treat!” When cast members see the teal bags, they will give the bearers special teal tokens that say, “Please redeem for allergy-friendly treats.” Guests can choose to trade in the tokens at any point in the evening so they can begin enjoying their treats (like other guests) and continue trick-or-treating. There are three locations for redemption: in Liberty Square between Sleepy Hollow and the Hall of Presidents attraction, at the Town Square Theater or at City Hall.

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I waited until the end of the night to exchange my tokens, so the only location open was City Hall. I was presented with a list of available treats (and their ingredients) and asked what I would like to receive. My choices included: Smarties, Gummy Worms, Gummy Bears, Jelly Beans, Ricemilk Chocolate Bars, Dark Chocolate Bars, Vanilla Honey Graham Crunchy Cookies and Double Chocolate Crunchy Cookies. There were even craft kits for those who wanted a treat that wasn’t a food item. I received a generous portion of all the items I asked for.

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Guests who spot regular candy that they know they can safely consume in the trick-or-treat barrels also can ask cast members specifically for that candy along with a token. Cast members I encountered were happy to fulfill such requests. Remember, your party ticket includes unlimited trick-or-treating so it’s not an either-or situation, unless you need it to be. This worked for my daughter because she has some food sensitivities and not life-threatening allergies. If you are concerned about cross-contamination, though, this would not be a good practice because the candy you can safely eat is stored in a container of other treats you cannot.

Overall, my daughter and I found the allergy friendly trick-or-treating to be a fun experience and one that allowed all guests to participate without being singled out. The cast members were friendly and helpful, which we appreciated.

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Have you tried the allergy friendly trick-or-treating? Please share your experience in the comments.

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of Walt Disney World at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. This did not affect my story; my opinions are my own.





September 5, 2017

Tips for 2017 Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

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It still may feel like summer in Orlando, but at the Magic Kingdom, fall came early (as it usually does) with autumn decorations and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. My family thinks this is one of the best hard-ticket events at Walt Disney World and has been attending the party for more than a decade. As such, we have some up-to-date tips for families who want to make the most of their time and money.

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The party only lasts for five hours – from 7 p.m. to midnight – so you’ll need a strategy in order to do most everything that’s important to your group. Our family focuses on the entertainment that is unique to the party because we can choose to experience other things at Magic Kingdom another day.

First, know that your party ticket allows you to enter the Magic Kingdom at 4 p.m., even though most party activities do not start until 7 p.m. Early admission used to be a non-publicized perk and a tool to disburse the arriving crowds. Now, however, Walt Disney World touts the entrance time. You could, of course, use the extra time to experience attractions, but I think that three-hour window is best used to prepare for the party so you don't waste precious party time.

Once you enter the park, head straight to the Firehouse in Town Square so you can pick up a special Halloween card for the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom virtual game. Each person will need his or her party wristband to collect the card, beginning at 4 p.m. Because this is the only time you can get the card, I recommend collecting it and using it on another visit. There was no line at about 6:30 p.m. on the day we attended the party.

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Next, if you are interested in exclusive party merchandise, head into the adjacent Emporium store. In the center room, the goods are displayed in a section behind the cash registers. Cast members will allow a few guests – with party wristbands -- at a time to peruse and purchase items. This is a change from past years when the merchandise was not uncovered until 7 p.m. If you see something you like, don’t hesitate to purchase it because items can and do sell out later in the night. Other locations with party merchandise include Mickey’s Star Traders, Frontier Trading Post and Big Top Souvenirs.

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After shopping, you can continue down Main Street, U.S.A., and into the park or backtrack a little and take the bypass route into the park. Near The Chapeau store in Town Square, the gates to a “back stage” area are open, providing guests with an alternative pathway into the park. The purpose is to alleviate congestion on Main Street with day guests leaving at the same time many party guests are entering. Cast members offer incentives for guests to walk this way, including a starter pack of Mars treats and the opportunities to take photos with party props and to purchase party merchandise from carts. If you don’t walk this way, don’t worry about missing out. The candy, with the exception of a granola bar, is the same that you will receive at the trick-or-treat stations; the merchandise is the same as what is offered at other locations; and the party frame photo prop is available in other PhotoPass spots later in the party. (At Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party last year, guests were handsomely rewarded for choosing the bypass route with large, wrapped sugar cookies not available elsewhere during the party.)

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Next, I would either recommend having an early dinner before the party starts or getting in line for one of the popular meet-and-greets. If having an actual meal (as opposed to grabbing snacks on the go) is important to your group, don’t waste party time; eat beforehand. There are limited restaurants open during the party, so having dinner beforehand also gives you more choices for your meal. This may be especially important to families with small children. If the food aspect is not key to your group having a successful evening, then I would suggest getting in line for Jack Skellington and Sally, the Seven Dwarfs or Moana, who is new to the party this year. Jack and Sally are in the gazebo behind Liberty Square, where Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen used to greet guests. The Seven Dwarfs can be found in the covered area in Storybook Circus adjacent to where Minnie Mouse meets. Moana is greeting guests on the wooden platform near the exit of Swiss Family Treehouse in Adventureland. Lines this year for these meet-and-greets routinely are about two hours, so if you do use your time before the party starts to wait, you’ll have more time for the other entertainment later. Plus, these character experiences have been known to start before 7 p.m. for guests with party wristbands.

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Once the party starts, guests can begin trick-or-treating. This fun tradition is open to all guests, including adults, and bags are provided. Also, guests are invited to wear costumes, as long as they are family friendly. My own children love this tradition, which allows them to see the Magic Kingdom in a whole new way.

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The big entertainment this year – Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween Parade and Happy HalloWishes fireworks – are all scheduled a little later in the evening. Depending on your strategy, this may actually give you more party time. The first stage shows and parade are always more crowded than the later ones, so if everyone in your party can stay awake, choose later options. For example, you could choose to view Happy HalloWishes at 10:15 p.m. (the only time it’s available) and then grab a seat in the hub for the Hocus Pocus show at 10:45 p.m. and the second parade at 11:15 p.m. (There actually is a Hocus Pocus show at midnight, if you want to try to do something in between the fireworks and second parade.) That gives you at least three hours to collect candy, meet characters, go on rides and more.

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What to do when the clock strikes 7 p.m. if you are saving the big entertainment until the latter part of the evening?

Here are a few suggestions:

** The Fab Five are decked out in their costumes, and lines to meet them typically aren’t as long as those for Jack Skellington and the Seven Dwarfs. We waited 30 minutes a couple years ago to meet Mickey Mouse, who actually talks to guests, and is in his Halloween costume. Mickey engages guests in conversation about their costumes and even strikes a pose himself.

** Check out the dance party in Tomorrowland, which features the Monsters University characters. This is not a meet-and-greet opportunity so characters don't stop and pose but you may be able to capture some fun candid shots.

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** Trick-or-treat. There are candy spots all over the park so you can pick up candy wherever you find yourself.

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** If candy is not your thing, try one of the specialty foods at the party: Jack Skellington Desserts, Haunted Mansion Portrait Desserts, Pumpkin Cheesecake Dome, Candy Corn Soft-Serve Ice Cream, Worms and Dirt, Pumpkin Mickey Waffles and Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate Crisped Rice Treats and Vampire Mickey Brownies. My daughter loves the ice cream, and I enjoyed the waffles.

** Take advantage of short lines for attractions. You will be able to walk right on many of the rides, and others will have much shorter waits than a typical day. For example, we saw Seven Dwarfs Mine Train only had a 40-minute queue at one point. Some guests actually buy tickets to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party with no intention of experiencing the seasonal events. Instead, they plan to take advantage of the short waits for rides.

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** Once it gets dark, get in line for one (or more) of several cool party-exclusive Magic Shots. (Magic Shots are photos that the professional photographers take. When you view it later on My Disney Experience, a character or other enhancement has been added to the image. For a detailed explanation of everything related to Disney’s PhotoPass, please read my newsletter story.) At the front of the park, in front of the train station, photographers take two pictures of each guest – one looking scared and one looking happy. The Headless Horseman, who starts Mickey’s Boo To You Parade, is added alongside the guests. I really like this image because this is the only time guests can get an image with the Headless Horseman. Check the party map for locations for other Magic Shots. Remember that the photographers on Main Street stay in place until 1 a.m., so you can take those last photos when the queues might be shorter.

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Have a tip or a question? Please share it in the comments.

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of Walt Disney World at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. This did not affect my story; my opinions are my own.





August 29, 2017

What's new at 2017 Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

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I have made no secret over the years that Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is one of my favorite events at Walt Disney World, and that hasn’t changed even as my children have gotten older. If you’re like me, though, you like to know what’s new so you can make sure to sample those offerings as well as your annual favorites. Here a rundown of what you can expect:

** Party dates have started earlier than ever this year – in August! The second party is tonight and another happens Friday night.

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** The Main Street bypass is open again at the start of the party, and there are incentives for walking that way. Located just past Chapeau Hat Shoppe are gates that open to a “back stage” walkway that has been dressed up and is used regularly for crowd control. In this case, Disney officials want to lessen traffic on Main Street, which gets very congested with day guests leaving and party guests arriving. To encourage arriving guests to take the alternate route, cast members stationed on the bypass hand out extra candy and photo opportunities are available. This year, guests can also buy event T-shirts there, avoiding the lines in the gift shops.

** There are a few new character meet-and-greets at the 2017 Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party nights. Moana from her self-titled movie is greeting guests in Adventureland near the Swiss Family Treehouse exit. (For a few months, she did greet guests at Hollywood Studios, but that set has ended, so this currently is the only opportunity to meet Moana.) Also, Ariel in her blue dress (and human legs) will be meeting guests with Prince Eric near her attraction, Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid, at the back of Fantasyland. (At past parties, Ariel as the mermaid was greeting guests in her grotto.)

** This year’s event-exclusive Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card features The Country Bears in a “Moonlight Jamboree.” Pick one up when you first enter the park so you don’t forget or get busy! Stop by the Firehouse in Town Square and show your party wristband to collect the card, beginning at 4 p.m. For the last few years, a cast member has been standing outside the Firehouse, ready to hand out cards, and there was no line. Because this is the only time you can get the card, I recommend collecting the card. You can always use it on another visit to enhance your game.

** Trick-or-treating candy spots are marked and listed on the Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party paper map. However, some guests who attended the first party of the 2017 season have indicated there was an extra candy spot set up inside Stitch’s Great Escape attraction in Tomorrowland. The attraction is only open seasonally so that looks like a fun way to see the inside. My daughter is dressing up as Scrump this year, so we definitely will have to go to this spot if it is open at other parties. Also, if it’s been a few years since you’ve attended the party, know that the treat trails are a thing of the past; candy is collected at individual stations now. I miss being able to fill my treat bag quickly, but there is no shortage of candy during the evening, that’s for sure.

** Speaking of sweet treats, there are special desserts available for purchase only during the party. Look for:

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Jack Skellington Dessert (Sleepy Hollow): A vanilla panna cotta, chocolate cake, vanilla buttercream, white chocolate and dark chocolate crisp pearls, dark chocolate curls and a white chocolate Jack Skellington.

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Haunted Mansion Portrait Desserts:

Aloha Isle – A chocolate tart filled with chocolate ganache and topped with Oreo panna cotta and a white chocolate Haunted Mansion-inspired portrait.

Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies – A chocolate tart filled with raspberry compote and topped with white chocolate mousse and a Haunted Mansion-inspired white chocolate portrait.

Liberty Square Market – A chocolate tart filled with chocolate ganache and topped with peanut butter icing and a Haunted Mansion-inspired white chocolate portrait.

Storybook Treats – A chocolate tart filled with lemon curd, strawberry compote and topped with strawberry mousse and a Haunted Mansion-inspired white chocolate portrait.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Dome (Main Street Bakery and Gaston’s Tavern): Served with a graham cracker streusel base, orange white chocolate glaze and a white chocolate Mickey.

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Candy Corn Soft-Serve Ice Cream (Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies)

Pumpkin Mickey Waffle (Sleepy Hollow): Served with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, sprinkles and caramel sauce.

Worms and Dirt (Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café): A chocolate gravestone with chocolate cake and chocolate mousse with a chocolate glaze topped with Oreo crumbs and gummy candy.

Chocolate Crisped Rice Treats and Vampire Mickey Brownies (Outdoor vending and kiosks).

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** Finally, for the shoppers among us: Of course there is event-only merchandise, including T-shirts, MagicBands, ornaments and trading pins. The MagicBands glow in the dark and the box they are packaged in smell like chocolate! Annual Passholders can purchase an exclusive logo T-shirt and a limited edition pin with Hades from Disney’s “Hercules.” Disney previewed a line of Sanderson Sisters from “Hocus Pocus” merchandise, but it was pulled from shelves before the first party. No word on whether the merchandise will be sold this season.

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And that’s it … plenty of new mixed with old favorites. Happy Haunting!





August 19, 2017

Costumes you can -- and can't -- wear to 2017 Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

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It’s August, so that must mean Halloween, right? Well, for the first time, it does at Walt Disney World. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party dates begin next week --on the 25th to be exact.

For many guests, one of the most fun things about these parties is the ability to dress up during their visits to the Magic Kingdom. And while we’re used to seeing classic photos of little Disney Princesses and Mickey Mouses every day in the resort’s theme parks, there are some very specific rules that apply to costumes.

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First, know that Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and runDisney events are special because those are the only times that adults can wear costumes on property. As such, families often spend considerable time (and sometimes, expense) planning coordinating costumes.

If you are part of such a group, here are the official rules to keep in mind:

“While we encourage creativity, we also value safety and good judgment. If you’re planning to attend these special holiday events, take a moment to read over our latest rules and regulations:

** Disney reserves the right to deny admission to or remove any person wearing attire that is considered inappropriate or attire that could detract from the experience of other guests.

** All guests may dress as their favorite character, but may not pose for pictures or sign autographs for other guests.

** Costumes must be family-friendly and may not be obstructive, offensive, objectionable or violent.

** Costumes may not contain any weapons that resemble or could easily be mistaken for an actual weapon.

** Costumes may not contain sharp objects, pointed objects or materials that may accidentally strike another guest.

Guests who do not adhere to these guidelines may be refused entry into, and/ or removed from, unless his or her costume can be modified to meet the above standards.

For guests ages 13 and under:

** Costumes and some masks may be worn, as long as the mask does not cover the entire face and eyes are visible.
For guests ages 14 and older:

** Layered costumes or costume props that surround the entire body are strongly discouraged and may be subject to additional security screening.

** Costumes may not reach or drag on the ground. (e.g., full-length Princess dresses)

** Capes may be worn if the length does not go below the waist.

** Themed T-shirts, blouses, sweatshirts, and hats are acceptable.

** Acceptable accessories include: transparent wings, plastic light sabers, toy swords, and tutus. Headwear may be worn as long as it does not cover the face. Masks of any kind may not be worn.”

Especially with the earlier party dates this year, remember that the Halloween parties in Orlando will be hot and humid, so plan your costumes accordingly. It’s really still summer weather here, so trust me when I say you don’t want to be stuck in heavy or layered costumes – even at night.

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Have a favorite costume you wore to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party? Share with us in the comments!





September 1, 2016

Know before you go: 2016 Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

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The first date for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is tomorrow -- Sept. 2 – one of the earliest starts for the two-month run of special events. That gives us more dates to choose from, though, right? I have made no secret over the years that Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is one of my favorite events at Walt Disney World, and that hasn’t changed even as my children have gotten older.

Here are some things for you to consider – mostly new offerings and policies – to help you decide if Disney’s after-hours party is a good fit for your family. (Look for a future blog post with tips for making the most of your party night.)

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Earlier this year, I wrote about the new ticket pricing structure for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. The same basic pricing principles hold true from previous years: Tickets are least expensive in September and there are advance-purchase, Walt Disney World annual passholder and Disney Vacation Club discounts. Tickets range from $67 to $105 plus tax, and you can sort through the breakdown of dates and prices on the AllEars.Net resource page.

When considering the party prices, understand that your ticket allows you to enter the Magic Kingdom at 4 p.m. – even though the party activities don’t begin until 7 p.m. The party ends at midnight, but Main Street, U.S.A., stays open another hour, so if you plan to use that time wisely, you could get nine hours in the park for the cost of your ticket. That’s a pretty good deal, especially for the party tickets that cost less than a one-day ticket for Magic Kingdom.

So, let’s say you’ve decided that financially, it makes sense to spend the money for the party, but you are concerned because someone in your group has a food allergy that could interfere with trick-or-treating. The folks at the Magic Kingdom have you covered! They have been offering allergy-friendly treats to guests for years, but there is a new system in place for 2016. In the past, guests would trick-or-treat at the regular stations throughout the park and then trade their candy for allergy-friendly treats at City Hall.

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This year, guests are invited to visit one of two allergy-friendly centers located near Tony’s Town Square restaurant on Main Street and Heritage House in Liberty Square – to receive a teal treat bag. (Teal is the official color of food-allergy awareness.) When they trick-or-treat with teal bags, cast members will give them a teal token at each treat station. They can redeem the tokens at one of the centers at any time to receive their special treats.

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Of course, trick-or-treating means fun costumes, right? That is one of the draws for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party: children AND adults are invited to dress up. But not everything goes at Walt Disney World because of safety concerns and its family friendly atmosphere. Be sure to note the rules, some of which are new this year, before you plan your costumes.

For guests 14 and older:

** May not wear masks of any kind.

** Layered costumes or costume props that surround the entire body are strongly discouraged and may be subject to additional security screening.

** Costumes may not reach or drag on the ground. (For example, full-length Princess dresses.)

For guests ages 13 and under:

** Masks may be worn, as long as the mask does not cover the entire face and eyes are visible.

For all guests:

** May not pose for pictures or sign autographs for other guests.

** Costumes must be family-friendly and may not be offensive, objectionable or violent.

** Costumes may not contain any weapons that resemble or could easily be mistaken for an actual weapon.

Speaking of planning … new this year is the opportunity to have a table-service meal during the Halloween party. Walt Disney World has announced that Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table and Crystal Palace restaurants will remain open for dinner. Reservations can be made now, but you must have purchased tickets to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party to make a reservation during party hours.

For a couple years now, Be Our Guest quietly has taken same-day, walk-up reservations for a limited dining window on party nights. Because it still is one of the most difficult restaurants on Disney World property to book, I would recommend this tip to families who were willing to sacrifice party time for the opportunity to eat in Beast's Castle. For my family and I, the tradeoff of losing time we could be participating in the Halloween activities has never been worth it.

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Finally, once you have purchased your Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party tickets, you also have the option to book the Happy HalloWishes Dessert Premium Package. This package offers guests reserved (and less crowded) viewing of the Happy HalloWishes fireworks and Mickey’s Boo To You parade as well as a themed dessert party. At $69 plus tax per adult, you will be paying almost as much as you did to enter the park for these privileges. (That $69 is in addition to your admission ticket into the party.)

Happy Haunting (and planning)!



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May 7, 2016

Why Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is worth new, higher prices

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On Thursday, Walt Disney World announced substantial price increases for its seasonal hard-ticket events, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and a lot of complaining followed on Twitter and other social media channels. I have to say, though, that the higher prices and tiered ticket system really are not unexpected, given all the recent pricing decisions put in place at the resort. Plus, I still think the Halloween party in particular offers enough special entertainment and time in the Magic Kingdom – if you manage your night well – to make it a must-do event if you are vacationing during that time. Here’s what you need to know.

First, not all tickets are created equal. For the lowest ticket price and least-crowded nights for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, choose dates in September. Also, there are advance-purchase, Walt Disney World annual passholder and Disney Vacation Club discounts. The least expensive adult ticket is $67 plus tax for an advance-purchase, annual passholder or DVC ticket for many of the September party dates. The most expensive is $105 plus tax for a same-day-purchase ticket on Halloween. That’s a difference of $38 if you are eligible for annual pass or DVC discounts. If you’re not, you still can save $33 with an advance purchase for many September dates. (See the complete pricing structure on our AllEars.Net resource page.) So, it would make sense to attend one of the earlier parties, if possible, for substantial savings – especially for a family or large group.

Next, understand that your party ticket allows you to enter the Magic Kingdom at 4 p.m. – even though the party activities don’t begin until 7 p.m. The party ends at midnight, but Main Street, U.S.A., stays open another hour, so if you plan to use that time wisely, you could get nine hours in the park for the cost of your ticket. That’s a pretty good deal, especially for the party tickets that cost less than a one-day ticket for Magic Kingdom.

So, how do you maximize those nine hours of fun? I’ve written several blog posts with touring plans that my family and I have followed. We have been attending Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party for more than a decade. Here is the latest.

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New this year is the opportunity to have a table-service meal during the Halloween party. Walt Disney World has announced that Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table and Crystal Palace restaurants will remain open for dinner. Reservations can be made now, but you must have purchased tickets to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party to make a reservation during party hours.

For a couple years now, Be Our Guest quietly has taken same-day, walk-up reservations for a limited dining window on party nights. Because it still is one of the most difficult restaurants on Disney World property to book, I would recommend this tip to families who were willing to sacrifice party time for the opportunity to eat in Beast's Castle. For my family and I, the tradeoff of losing time we could be participating in the Halloween activities has never been worth it. Still, I can understand how the new policy could benefit guests, especially if they can eat at the start of the party so they do not miss the exclusive (and incredible!) parade and fireworks.

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The Happy HalloWishes Dessert Premium Package returns to the Halloween party, offering guests reserved (and less crowded) viewing of the Happy HalloWishes fireworks and Mickey’s Boo To You parade as well as a themed dessert party. At $69 plus tax per adult, you will be paying almost as much as you did to enter the park for these privileges. (That $69 is in addition to your admission ticket into the party.) There are too many other things my family and I could do at Walt Disney World with the $300 to make this experience worth it to us. Plus, although it would be nice to have the reserved seating, we don’t need more sweets on a night we already are trick-or-treating, which is included in our admission. If I wanted to do a dessert party at the Magic Kingdom, I’d save it for another night.

The higher prices and tiered ticket system have been implemented for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, too, and my advice about maximizing your party dollars and hours holds true for those events, too. However, the big difference between the two holiday parties is that much of the Christmas entertainment at the party will be performed in the Magic Kingdom with regular park admission during the week before Christmas and the week before New Year’s Day, and the Halloween entertainment can only be experienced at the party. That, in my opinion, makes Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party worth the admission price. As a local annual passholder, I’m a lot less inclined to pay for the Christmas party when I already have access to the Christmas entertainment with my pass. Still, visitors who are not visiting during the last two weeks in December can enjoy the holiday entertainment beginning in November if they attend a party.

What do YOU think? Does the new pricing still make the Halloween or Christmas Party "worth it"? Will you be buying tickets for the 2016 parties?



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September 24, 2015

Tips for families attending 2015 Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

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It still may feel like summer in Orlando, but at the Magic Kingdom, fall came early (as it usually does) with autumn decorations and the first Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party mid-month. My family thinks this is one of the best hard-ticket events at Walt Disney World and has been attending the party for more than a decade. As such, we have some up-to-date tips for families who want to make the most of their time and money.

The party only lasts for five hours – from 7 p.m. to midnight – so you’ll need a strategy in order to do most everything that’s important to your group. Our family focuses on the entertainment that is unique to the party because we can choose to experience other things at Magic Kingdom another day.

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First, know that your party ticket allows you to enter the Magic Kingdom at 4 p.m., even though most party activities do not start until 7 p.m. Early admission used to be a non-publicized perk and a tool to disburse the arriving crowds. Now, however, Walt Disney World touts the entrance time. You could, of course, use the extra time to experience attractions, but I think that three-hour window is best used to prepare for the party so you don't waste precious party time.

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** Once you enter the park, head straight to the Firehouse in Town Square so you can pick up a special Halloween card for the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom virtual game. Each person will need his or her party wristband to collect the card, beginning at 4 p.m. Because this is the only time you can get the card, I recommend collecting it and using it on another visit. There was no line at about 5:30 p.m. on the day we attended the party.

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** Next, if you are interested in exclusive party merchandise, head into the adjacent Emporium store. In the center room, the goods are displayed in a section behind the cash registers. Cast members will allow a few guests – with party wristbands -- at a time to peruse and purchase items. This is a change from past years when the merchandise was not uncovered until 7 p.m. If you see something you like, don’t hesitate to purchase it because items can and do sell out later in the night. Other locations with party merchandise include Mickey’s Star Traders, Box Office Gifts and Frontier Trading Post.

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** After shopping, I would either recommend having an early dinner before the party starts or getting in line for one of the popular meet-and-greets. If having an actual meal (as opposed to grabbing snacks on the go) is important to your group, don’t waste party time; eat beforehand. There are limited restaurants open during the party, so having dinner beforehand also gives you more choices for your meal. This may be especially important to families with small children. If the food aspect is not key to your group having a successful evening, then I would suggest getting in line for Jack Skellington and Sally or the Seven Dwarfs. Jack has moved back to the outdoor tent adjacent to Casey Jr. and there is a new, more detailed backdrop for photos this year. The Seven Dwarfs can be found behind Cinderella Castle near the gates to New Fantasyland. Both meet-and-greets routinely have lines of at least an hour, so if you do use your time before the party starts, you’ll have more time for the other entertainment later. Plus, it isn’t out of the question for some meets to start before 7 p.m. for guests with party wristbands.

Once the party starts, guests can begin trick-or-treating. This fun tradition is open to all guests, including adults, and bags are provided. Also, guests are invited to wear costumes, as long as they are family friendly. My own children love this tradition, which allows them to see the Magic Kingdom in a whole new way.

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The big entertainment this year – Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween Parade, Celebrate the Magic castle projection show and Happy HalloWishes fireworks – are all scheduled a little later in the evening. Depending on your strategy, this may actually give you more party time. The first stage shows and parade are always more crowded than the later ones, so if everyone in your party can stay awake, choose later options. For example, you could choose to view Celebrate the Magic at 9:45 p.m. and Happy HalloWishes at 10 p.m. (the only times they’re available) and then grab a seat in the hub for the Hocus Pocus show at 10:40 p.m. and the second parade at 11:15 p.m. That gives you at least two and half hours to collect candy, meet characters, go on rides and more.

What to do when the clock strikes 7 p.m. if you are saving the big entertainment until the latter part of the evening?

Here are a few suggestions:

** The Fab Five are decked out in their costumes, and lines to meet them typically aren’t as long as those for Jack Skellington and the Seven Dwarfs. We waited 30 minutes last year to meet Mickey Mouse, who actually talks to guests. Mickey engages guests in conversation about their costumes and even strikes a pose himself.

** Check out the dance party in Tomorrowland, which features the Monsters University characters. (There is only one character dance party this year, down from two last year.) This is not a meet-and-greet opportunity so characters don't stop and pose but you may be able to capture some fun candid shots.

** Trick-or-treat. Be sure to walk along the pathway between Storybook Circus and Tomorrowland and go inside the Enchanted Tiki Room because these two locations have several candy barrels close together.

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** If candy is not your thing, try one of the specialty foods at the party: ghost, monster and spider cupcakes and candy corn soft serve ice cream. We tried the candy corn ice cream at the end of the night and found a surprise in the bottom of each cone.

** Take advantage of short lines for attractions. You will be able to walk right on many of the rides, and others will have much shorter waits than a typical day. For example, we saw Seven Dwarfs Mine Train only had a 20-minute queue at one point. Some guests actually buy tickets to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party with no intention of experiencing the seasonal events. Instead, they plan to take advantage of the short waits for rides.

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Finally, on our way out of the park, we had a photo of the kids taken in Town Square with the pumpkin statues and Cinderella Castle in the background. After learning that the PhotoPass photographers stay there until about 1 a.m., I thought it would be a nice change to get a photo with Main Street lit up instead of the afternoon image that we have taken for the last several years at the party. Unfortunately, the photographer was in a hurry and only took two quick shots of the kids and she zoomed in on them so much that you can’t see my daughter’s costume, which was the whole point. This was really disappointing after watching her spend ample time with the couple before us. But I didn’t realize the problem until we got home because it was the last thing we did at the party. So, if this shot is important to you, I recommend doing it earlier than we did and checking it online.

Have a tip or a question? Please share it in the comments.

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of Walt Disney World at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. This did not affect my story; my opinions are my own.



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September 21, 2015

‘Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular' at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party just might put a spell on you

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Despite the pleas and rumors from fans, a sequel has not been announced for the popular Halloween movie, Disney’s “Hocus Pocus.” However, if your broomstick can get you to Orlando, you can see the Sanderson Sisters in all their glory in a new stage show at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom this Halloween season.

“Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular” debuted last week at the first Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, where the show is performed exclusively four times during each party night. (See details about the Halloween party, including dates and prices, on our AllEars.Net resource page.)

“In ‘Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular,’ the mischievous Sanderson Sisters from Disney’s ‘Hocus Pocus’ return to the mortal world for one night during the Halloween season,” wrote Shawn Slater, communications manager for Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts, Creative Entertainment, on the Disney Parks Blog. “With only a few hours to run amuck, the three sisters decide to use their magic to throw the best evil Halloween party this side of the graveyard!”

My family and I got to see “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular” on Friday, and we really enjoyed it even though we hadn’t seen the movie (gasp!), which came out in 1993. The choreography, upbeat music, projections on the castle and inclusion of some familiar villains from other Disney stories makes this production appealing to all partygoers. And it just might inspire you to watch the fan-favorite flick, as it did us. (Hocus Pocus will be on ABC Family during the 2015 13 Nights of Halloween celebration on Oct. 19, 20, 24, 25, 27, 29, 30 and 31.)

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Afterward, we could appreciate the details that were translated from the screen to the stage, such as the significance of the candle. Lighting it awakens the Sanderson Sisters -- Winifred, Mary and Sarah – in the movie after 300 years. That scene is replayed in the stage show with various candles that are lit on stage and in projections on the castle. The set also includes the wrought-iron gate from the cemetery that figures prominently in the movie and the bubbling cauldron used to concoct spells.

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Walt Disney World’s Sanderson Sisters truly look like they could have stepped out of the movie, and their mannerisms match, as well. The trio replicates scenes of hypnotizing children and then attempting to put a spell on the audience with the help of other Disney villains. The show builds toward the finale, “I Put A Spell On You,” with all the characters, fireworks and then farewells.

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“Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular” is longer than the show it replaces, “Villains Mix and Mingle,” at almost 22 minutes. It does not offer the audience the opportunity to meet the villains as its predecessor did, although I’m sure fans would enjoy that experience.

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On Friday, I spoke with Denise Case, show director for Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts, Creative Entertainment, about the new production.

Question: Why “Hocus Pocus”?

Case: Because we love, love, love the Sanderson Sisters. They were originated by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker. It’s a funny Halloween film. It’s become a real fan favorite for this time of the year. ABC Family shows it every year. … So we felt like the Sanderson Sisters were perfect for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

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Q: How do you think a younger audience that maybe hasn’t seen “Hocus Pocus” will relate to the show?

Case: I think younger audiences will like it because of the comedy -- the sisters are very funny. And they know the villains from some of their favorite movies. Dr. Facilier, obviously, from “The Princess and The Frog” and Oogie Boogie from “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” Jafar, Cruella de Vil. I think it really does have something for everyone, even if you’re not a “Hocus Pocus” fan.

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Q: What did it take to get “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular” on the stage? When did you start developing the show?

Case: We really started wrapping our hands around the high concept for the show at the beginning of this year, and we’ve been working on it very diligently ever since. It was a huge team effort.

Q: What is your favorite part of the show?

Case: My favorite part of the show has got to be the Sanderson Sisters’ entrance and the top of “I Put a Spell On You” just because of the audience reaction. The audiences are reacting as we hoped they would, so every time that happens, I just get really excited.

Q: I know this is only the second night that “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular” has been performed, but what has the feedback been so far?

Case: Knock wood, it’s been really great. Guests seem to love it. The thing that I think makes me the happiest is that a lot of guests are telling us that they are seeing the Sanderson Sisters as they wanted to see them. I think we are fulfilling their excitement about the sisters and that makes me really happy because that was really important to us. We wanted to give fans and guests what they wanted.

Q: What time do you recommend guests see the show? (It plays at 8, 9:20 and 10:40 p.m. and midnight on the Castle Forecourt Stage.)

Case: Later in the evening – the 10:40 or midnight show – are best [if you want a less-crowded experience]. If you have little ones who can stay up late, I think the midnight show is a bunch of fun!

Can’t make it to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party? We have a video of the full “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular” show for you to watch:

Finally, one last note from me: On the first night of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, the Magic Kingdom offered a T-shirt with an image from the new show. It sold out that night, though a cast member told me it would be restocked and partygoers could bring proof they had attended a party (wristband, receipt, ID) and they would be allowed to purchase the T-shirt.

Also, Sept 21 through 27, DisneyStore.com will sell T-shirts that depict each of the Sanderson Sisters’ outfits plus another T-shirt with the logo for the Sanderson Sisters Witch Museum.

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of Walt Disney World at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. This did not affect my story; my opinions are my own.



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October 13, 2014

Don't miss this treat: 1-day Memory Maker option at Disney World Halloween parties

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Trick or treat? Let me tell you, this is definitely a treat.

Walt Disney World has just announced a special offer for the remaining nights of Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party that I certainly wish I could have taken advantage of when I attended last month. Through Oct. 31, guests can purchase a one-day Memory Maker credit for just $39.

For those not familiar with the new terminology, Memory Maker is what used to be called Disney's PhotoPass CD. Basically, the service allows you to purchase all the professional photos taken of your family at Walt Disney World during your vacation. This new version delivers the photos as high-resolution downloads, rather than JPGs. Until now, there has only been one option: Purchase an unlimited number of photos for $199 after your vacation, or save $50 by buying the Memory Maker credit in advance.

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The new offer, which currently is being tested at Magic Kingdom, allows the guest to receive "all of your Disney PhotoPass photos taken on the day your event ticket is used, including character encounters and select dining and attraction photos are included - no matter how many you get or if they were taken earlier in the day before Mickey's Not-So-scary Halloween Party," according to Kelly Glassburn, manager of marketing & communications for Disney's PhotoPass Service.

That's one up-sell I would have happily bought!

For comparison, a download of an individual photo from Disney's PhotoPass costs $15 (unless there is a sale). I purchased four photos after my family's recent night at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, so this definitely would have been a savings for us. Considering the opportunities for family photos and shots with rarely seen characters at the party, I can easily see this being a good deal for guests. Plus, if you are relying on a smartphone or point-and-shoot camera, it can be difficult to get great shots in low lighting like what is the norm at the Halloween party. Using the professional Disney photographers will make your night so much more relaxing.

When my children were younger, there were a couple years they visited the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and A Pirate's League to be transformed into a princess and a pirate on the day of the Halloween party. We definitely would have gotten our money's worth with the new one-day Memory Maker product.

If this sounds like something you could use, stop by any ticket booth at the Transportation and Ticket Center to add the one day Memory Maker entitlement to your Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party ticket. It does have to be purchased before the party, but you can do so even on the day you are attending the event. This offer is good for the remaining party nights of Oct. 13, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 30 and 31. (Oct. 13, 16, 30 and 31 are sold out, but those ticket holders can add this option, as well.)

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Even if you are not going to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party this year, Disney's PhotoPass Service is offering you a treat. Log into your My Disney Experience account and claim PhotoPass ID COMEJOINTHEPARTY to receive a bonus shot of well-known ghosts from the Haunted Mansion.



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September 16, 2014

Tips for families at 2014 Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

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My family and I have been attending Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom since my son and daughter were babies. It's been more than a decade since our first party! In that time, there have been changes, for sure, but many staples are still part of the evening. Having experienced the Halloween fun with my children at all different ages, I would like to offer some tips for families.

1. Know what is most important for your family to see and do at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party before you arrive. You only have five hours of party festivities -- if you arrive on time and stay until midnight -- so a plan will help ensure your family won't be disappointed. Do you want to meet characters, see the special Halloween fireworks and parade, trick-or-treat, ride attractions with very short lines -- or a combination of all of these?

2. To make the most of your party time, I highly recommend arriving at the Magic Kingdom before the 7 p.m. start time. Your ticket allows you to enter as early as 4 p.m., even though the activities don't start until 7 p.m. We have been going early for years and we use that time to accomplish several things on our -- well, my -- to-do list:

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** First stop for the Ford Family is the pumpkin-themed photo opportunity in Town Square with Cinderella Castle as a backdrop. This is available during the night, too, with a PhotoPass photographer, but I like to get it done while the line is short and the kids (and their costumes) are fresh. Plus, if you don't plan to buy the professional photo, you have better lighting for cellphone and point-and-shoot cameras.

** Adjacent to the photo op is the Firehouse, where party participants can collect a special Halloween card for the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom virtual game. Each person will need his or her admission ticket AND party wristband to collect the card, beginning at 4 p.m. Because this is the only time you can get the card, I recommend collecting it and using it on another visit.

** Have dinner before the party starts so you all will have energy for the evening, and the kids have something besides sugar in their already-excited systems. There are limited restaurants open during the party, so having dinner beforehand also gives you more choices for your meal.

** If you want to meet some of the most popular characters, such as Jack Skellington and Sally or the Seven Dwarfs, you will have a wait. That time in line can vary throughout the party but often runs at least an hour. By getting in line early, you can meet these popular characters shortly after the party starts, leaving more party time for things other than waiting in queues. If waiting that long in line seems an impossible feat for your little ones, I'm told that the best time to see popular characters is during the fireworks at 9:30 p.m. This also is true for Anna and Elsa, who had wait times of 10 to 40 minutes during the Sept. 12 party.

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3. No matter how many times we've seen them, our family always makes viewing Mickey's "Boo-To-You" Halloween Parade and Happy HalloWishes fireworks a priority. The first parade at 8:15 p.m. is almost always more crowded than the second at 10:30 p.m., so if your children can stay awake for the later viewing, you might get a better curbside seat. Otherwise, be prepared to stake out your spot early. It's worth it! New to the parade this year are Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope van Schweetz. Happy HalloWishes can be viewed from many more locations around the park. I didn't feel like I could stand in the crowds on Main Street this year, so I tried sitting on the walkway in the Rose Garden and I had a wonderful view that was just slightly to the side. The castle projection show, Celebrate the Magic, takes place at 9:15 p.m. each night. Also, if you choose to sit in the hub, you are likely to catch the Villains Mix and Mingle show on the Castle Forecourt Stage.

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4. Trick-or-treating! Don't discount how much fun it is for kids to collect "free" candy at Walt Disney World. My children, almost ages 10 and 12, still love this. Trick-or-treating usually is our first official Halloween activity once the party starts. Be sure to hit the treat trail that starts by the railroad station in Fantasyland and ends by Space Mountain in Tomorrowland to collect more candy in a shorter time. Other candy stops are located throughout the park, denoted by an orange Mickey Mouse balloon, and marked on the party map.

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5. Have a favorite character? Even if it's not one of the rarely seen characters that command long lines, you still might consider waiting in a short line at the party for a photo. As you can imagine, as longtime Walt Disney World pass holders and Florida residents, we have many, many photos with Mickey Mouse. And we still waited 30 minutes to see him this year. For one thing, this is the first year that "Talking Mickey" is wearing his Halloween costume for photos during the party, which was a unique experience. Mickey also is willing to strike a pose that matches a costume. For my son, who was dressed as a wizard from Harry Potter, he helped cast a spell. (The rest of the Fab Five are decked out in their costumes, as well.)

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6. Have time to kill in between planned events? Pop into one of the dance parties. Club Villain is new this year at The Diamond Horseshoe in Liberty Square and the Monstrous Scream-o-Ween Ball takes place at the Rockettower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland for the entire five hours. When my kids were younger, they loved dancing with the characters. Note: These are not meet-and-greet opportunities so characters don't stop and pose but you may be able to capture some fun candid shots.

Have a tip or a question? Please share it in the comments.

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of Walt Disney World at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. This did not affect my story; my opinions are my own.



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August 25, 2014

UPDATED: What's new for 2014 at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World

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UPDATE 3: No sign of the escaped virtual ghosts at the first Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on Sept. 1, and the Mayhem at the Mansion app has been removed from the iTunes store.

UPDATE 2: There will not be a "mingle" after the Villains Mix & Mingle stage show, as there as been in years past. To meet the villains, look for greeting areas throughout the park, Club Villain dance party or the pre-paid Sinister Soiree.

UPDATE 1: The Evil Queen and Maleficent will NOT be in Princess Fairytale Hall. They are only available at the Sinister Soiree dessert party, which costs $99 per person.

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This year, Halloween at Walt Disney World begins even earlier than usual. Typically, the resort offers its first Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party during the second week of September. This year, the first party is Sept. 1 -- that's next Monday! Presumably, the early date is planned to catch guests vacationing at the resort for Labor Day weekend.

Expect to see the fall decorations going up along Main Street, U.S.A., this week and throughout the Magic Kingdom, where the party takes place. Already, we saw plenty of Halloween merchandise at The Emporium over the weekend, and the store has two of its window displays dedicated to the upcoming holiday.

Although the basic format of the party remains the same, there are, of course, some tweaks and changes to the entertainment lineup. Perhaps the most significant are the character meet-and-greets. In the past, the princes posed with their beloved Disney Princesses. This year, characters such as Flynn Rider and Prince Charming will not be attending the Halloween party. (They will be present at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, however.)

Instead, Disney is capitalizing on the increasing popularity of its villains. And if lines at its recent Villains Unleashed and Rock Your Disney Side All-Night events are any indication, you'll want to join these queues early. Jafar will be meeting guests in Adventureland, the Queen of Hearts near Mad Tea Party in Fantasyland, and Lotso near Buzz Lightyear in Tomorrowland. Originally, it was reported that the Evil Queen and Maleficent would appear with Snow White and Aurora at Princess Fairytale Hall, but that is no longer the case. Instead, the same princesses that are there during the day will be appear at the hall during the party: Elsa and Anna on one side and Cinderella and Rapunzel on the other.

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Walt Disney World also is introducing a Villains-themed dance party inside The Diamond Horseshoe in Liberty Square that has been named Club Villain. (This party replaces the Toy Story-themed dance party that featured Woody, Jessie and Bullseye.) Expect to find Cruella De Vil, Dr. Facilier, Anastasia, Drizella and Lady Tremaine -- and there may be other surprise villain visitors.

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Plus, Disney has announced that a popular baddies staple will return: Villains Mix & Mingle - Live on Stage. The Mix & Mingle is a short performance on the Castle Forecourt Stage that has featured Maleficent, Dr. Facilier, Queen Grimhilde, Captain Hook, Cruella de Vil, Queen of Hearts and Judge Claude Frollo. In the past, the characters descended into the audience for photos afterward, but that has changed and will not occur this year.

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Walt Disney World also is introducing a special dessert party that only will be offered during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Villains' Sinister Soiree: A Wicked Takeover of Cinderella Castle not only offers treats and preferred viewing for the 8:15 p.m. Mickey's "Boo To You" Halloween Parade and Happy HalloWishes fireworks, but it also is the first dessert party to have characters. Lady Tremaine and her villainous friends will entertain guests, accompanied by a live piano player, at Cinderella's Royal Table inside the castle. The dessert soiree starts at 10:15 p.m. On Sept. 1, 9 and 12, there also is an 11:45 p.m. dessert party, as well. The price is $99 per person, which includes the preferred seating for two events, desserts and non-alcoholic specialty drinks, an autograph card and a souvenir Maleficent dragon cup. That price is in addition to your admission to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. To make a reservation, call 407-939-5262.

In other character news, the Seven Dwarfs will return together for photo opportunities, as will Jack Skellington and his lady love, Sally, from "The Nightmare before Christmas." Both sets traditionally are very popular, so I recommend lining up well before the party officially starts at 7 p.m. so you don't waste precious party time. Also, Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope will join Mickey's "Boo To You" Halloween Parade for the first time. (The pair won't be meeting guests during the party, but guests can interact with them daily at Disney's Hollywood Studios.)

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Since the interactive game began, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom has issued a new card each year that only can be obtained during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. This year, the card will feature the Helmsman pirate from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Past years' cards have depicted Chip 'n' Dale and the Hitchhiking Ghosts. To pick up your card, go to the Firehouse on Main Street, U.S.A. You'll need to show a party ticket and a wristband to receive the card. This means each person actually has to be present to collect his or her card. In past years, distribution has begun before the party actually starts.

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Another new attraction that Disney officials have hinted at is "Mayhem at the Mansion," an augmented reality game that will be available during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party nights. Guests need to download an app for iOS and Android devices and then use it to take photos of themselves and ghosts throughout the theme park that they find using a map. The app would appear to be similar to Aurasma, which is used at Hollywood Studios for Star Wars Weekends and Frozen Summer Fun events.

The official description of the game, from StitchKingdom.com, states: "It was just a matter of time. With so much going on outside those walls that house 999 happy haunts for more than four decades, some of them are bound to get restless and seek some time away and now they've managed to do just that. And now, now it's up to you, the foolish mortals, not only to find them, but to capture them - capture them and return them to the Haunted Mansion before it's too late! And if you happen to grab a souvenir photo along the way, all the better."

A Disney official confirmed that "Mayhem at the Mansion" is coming to the Halloween parties and indicated more details would be released soon.

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Each year there is a selection of Halloween-themed merchandise only available to party guests. Among the new offerings this year is a Limited Edition (5,000 total) MagicBand with the party logo. It sells for $29.95 and must be linked to an active ticket, MagicBand or Memory Maker card at the time of purchase.

Of course, guest favorites will be returning to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, including Happy HalloWishes fireworks, unlimited trick-or-treating for the young and young-at-heart, and the Phineas and Ferb Creepa Crew pre-parade interactive experience. Plus, select attractions will be open, and the lines typically are pretty short. (FastPass+ is not available during the party.)

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party takes place on 26 nights from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31. (Please see the AllEars.Net resource page for other details, including pricing, which varies, and available discounts.) Halloween night already is sold out. Remember that you can enter the Magic Kingdom at 4 p.m. with a ticket to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, even though the party activities don't start until 7 p.m. That extra time is great to get dinner out of the way and line up for character meets, so you preserve more of your party time for the special events.

And check back at AllEars.Net, where several team members will be attending various nights of the Halloween party to bring you full coverage of the event.



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September 19, 2013

A family touring plan for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2013

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Here's a little trick that will help make Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party more of a treat: Map out a strategy for how you'll spend your time at the party so that you can avoid lines as much as possible and see more of the holiday attractions at the event.

With some additions to the party this year, my family changed our strategy for enjoying all the special Halloween activities only offered at the event, which requires separate admission.

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Although the party hours are from 7 p.m. to midnight, those with Halloween Party tickets are allowed to begin entering the Magic Kingdom at 4 p.m. If you call Disney World and ask, you will be told that party hours begin at 7 p.m., but this unannounced practice has been in place for years to allow the park to disperse the arriving crowds.

My best tip, especially this year, is to take advantage of the early entry! You can use that time for a number of things, including grabbing a bite to eat or getting transformed at The Pirates League or the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, so you don't have to spend precious party time on non-Halloween events.

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We arrived at the second party of the season about 5 p.m. and dedicated ourselves to activities in Town Square. There you will find a great, free photo opportunity with stacks of pumpkins framing a view of Cinderella Castle. We took a quick family photo while it was light out. A PhotoPass photographer is stationed there during the party if you want to purchase a professional photo.

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Then, we headed over to the outdoor spot adjacent to City Hall where we knew Jack Skellington and Sally from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" would be greeting guests, beginning at 7 p.m. The pair are new to the party this year, and early reports were that they commanded hours-long lines. (When they appeared at Downtown Disney last year during a Frankenweenie event, the lines had three-and-a-half-hour waits.) We snagged the first spot in line.

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We all wanted to see Jack and Sally, but none of us relished the idea of waiting two hours, so I tried to break up the time for my family by multi-tasking. We took turns in different lines, with some of us waiting in line at the Fire Station to collect the new Haunted Mansion card for the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game. The new card is only available at the party. Distribution began at 4 p.m. at the Fire Station and behind Ye Old Christmas Shoppe for guests who had their party tickets and wristbands. Even if you don't play Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom during the party -- and we didn't -- it's still worth getting the card for another visit.

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We also looked at the exclusive party merchandise in The Emporium, when it was taken out at 6:30 p.m., and we had a bite to eat while we sat in line. Although we didn't avoid the long line for Jack and Sally, we chose to do our waiting before the party started so it wouldn't affect our ability to see the fireworks, parade and other shows. The pair didn't sign autographs -- probably to keep the line moving -- but they did hand out a cool autograph card designed just for the Halloween parties. You can see it in the video below:

There are other special character meet-and-greets, too, such as Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in their Halloween costumes in Town Square Theater, Winnie the Pooh and friends in costumes in their regular location, and Snow White and all seven dwarfs near the gates to New Fantasyland.

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After seeing Jack and Sally, we moved to what my daughter most wanted to do: trick-or-treating. We headed back to one of the treat trails, which have multiple candy stations, near Splash Mountain so she and her brother could get plenty of sweets. It was disappointing to see that the cleverly carved jack-o-lanterns that were themed to "Song of the South" were missing from Br'er Rabbit's Laughin' Place Candy Patch this year. Also, the treat trail that runs along the walkway between Storybook Circus and Tomorrowland was reversed, with its entry near Space Mountain. The Alice in Wonderland decorations were missing from this trail, too. Both trails had fewer candy stations than in past years, which certainly is not a hardship when the candy is unlimited and included in your party admission. It just means you may have to do a bit more walking to fill your treat sack! (Guests with food allergies can exchange their candy from trick-or-treating for other goodies at City Hall.)

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Next up: attractions and dance parties. Space Mountain was closed for the first Halloween party of the year because it was undergoing a series of short refurbishments. It was, however, open during the party I attended. The last refurbishment is scheduled for Sept. 23 to 26. Nearby, the new Monstrous Scream-O-Ween Ball was taking place on the Rockettower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland. The dance party is hosted by "Monsters University" scarers Mike and Sulley, and we saw other "Monsters, Inc." characters, as well. Woody's Happy Harvest Roundup takes place inside The Diamond Horseshoe in Liberty Square.

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You definitely won't want to miss Mickey's Boo To You! Parade, Celebrate the Magic projection show and Happy HalloWishes fireworks. The debate is whether to go to the first parade at 8:15 p.m. or the second at 10:30 p.m. (Celebrate the Magic and Happy Hallo-Wishes are only presented once -- at 9:15 and 9:30 p.m., respectively.) To be sure, the first parade is always the most crowded, with folks lining up at least an hour beforehand. If you have young children, this may be the only option for you, but if you can wait, I would recommend it. The second parade is a lot less crowded and you will be able to get some trick-or-treating, dancing and riding attractions done beforehand, which might tire the kids out enough to sit without complaining during the wait for the parade. If you choose to sit near the castle, you will be able to see the Disney Villains' Dance Mix and Mingle, which is performed at 7:45, 8:50, 10:05 and 11:15 p.m. The characters perform on stage and then descend into the crowds for a quick meet-and-greet.

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Finally, if all the candy doesn't satisfy your sweet tooth, the Magic Kingdom is offering specialty treats: a spiced pumpkin waffle sundae at Sleepy Hollow, ghost cupcakes at Gaston's Tavern, candy corn soft serve at Storybook Treats, Halloween cupcakes and cookies at Sweet Treats on Main Street, and Hitchhiking Ghost popcorn buckets at the popcorn carts.


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Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party requires a separate ticket. Prices vary, depending on date and possible discount. For a full breakdown, see the AllEars.Net resource page.

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of Walt Disney World at its Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. This did not affect my story; my opinions are my own.

September 11, 2013

New Haunted Mansion Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card released at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

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Disney World is giving attendees at its 2013 Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties another treat: an exclusive Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom spell card.

This is the second year for such a card, which only is given out at the parties that require separate admission. For those who haven't tried Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, which debuted in February 2012, it is a role-playing scavenger hunt throughout the various lands of the theme park. The ultimate goal is for each player to join Merlin in defeating the Disney villains. Participants can start or stop at any point in their day, and even continue the same game on different days if they retain their key cards. (Read more about Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom on my previous blog post.)

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The 2013 Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party card is a Monster Spell featuring the Hitchhiking Ghosts from the Haunted Mansion. According to Disney World, "Players can use the card to direct poltergeists to scare away any Disney villains they may come across on their journey." The card states it gives the user the ability to use a flying attack, a flying boost and a flying shield. Plus, it triggers a different effect for each quest. Most spell cards only utilize one effect per character. In addition, users with MagicBands say that added to the effects of the spell card.

After the first Halloween party of the season on Tuesday, Twitter users reported that the 2013 cards were gone by 10 p.m. However, party attendees also were reporting that distribution of the cards began about 4 p.m. -- before the Halloween party officially started at 7 p.m. -- for those who already had checked in and had their party wristbands and tickets.

The Halloween Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards are distributed at the Firehouse on Main Street, U.S.A. Last year, there were long lines at the Firehouse location when the party started, which likely is why distribution began early -- to disperse the crowds, just as Disney officials try to do with early admission to the Halloween party itself.

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Apparently, when cast members ran out of the 2013 Halloween cards on Tuesday, they began handing out the 2012 version of Chip 'n' Dale. That Animal Spell card gives the mischievous pair a bag of tricks to battle Disney villains.

The moral of this Disney story of the exclusive Haunted Mansion Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards is to get to the distribution location early in the party if the game pieces (and collectibles) are important to you. Happy Haunting!

August 15, 2013

2013 Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party offers new treats

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Typically, Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, the annual after-hours fall event at the Magic Kingdom, changes only slightly from year to year. This week, however, Walt Disney World officials announced some sure-to-thrill additions to the 2013 entertainment line-up.

Characters Jack Skellington and Sally (from Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas") will make their debut appearance at the party. Given the context of their story and the pair's widespread appeal, this meet-and-greet seems like a natural fit. Jack Skellington and Sally first appeared at Walt Disney World last September as part of Frankenweenie Weekend at Downtown Disney. Make no bones about it: Some guests waited three hours to meet these characters, which certainly is a testament to their popularity. At Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, you'll be able to find them in the Town Square area of Main Street, U.S.A.

Phineas and Ferb return for their second year at the holiday party. This time, however, they have been promoted from simply greeting guests to leading the Creepa Crew. The Disney Channel duo unofficially performed in this capacity last year, interacting with crowds waiting for the popular Mickey's Boo To You! Halloween Parade. Now, they will lead the Disney dancers and guests in a line dance -- the Not-So-Scary Street Jam -- performed to "Calling All the Monsters" by China Anne McClain.

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Speaking of dancing, another new event at the Halloween Party will be the Monstrous Scream-O-Ween Ball on the Rockettower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland. The dance party will be hosted by "Monsters University" scarers Mike and Sulley. Dance parties have become a staple at after-hours events in the Magic Kingdom, and for good reason -- guests love to let loose and see their favorite characters doing the same thing. The Monstrous Scream-O-Ween Ball replaces Stitch's Club 626 in the same location.

Of course, two of the annual favorite entertainment experiences have been confirmed for the 2013 Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties: Mickey's Boo-to-You Halloween parade, which begins with the Headless Horseman and features Disney characters in costume as well as the ghostly inhabitants of The Haunted Mansion; and Happy HalloWishes fireworks. Both of these events are only seen during the Halloween party. This is different from the Christmas parade and fireworks at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, which can be seen as part of regular admission to the Magic Kingdom during the weeks surrounding the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

The always-popular treat trails that offer concentrated trick-or-treating return, too. Guests can collect handfuls of candy at Alice and Mad Hatter's Treat Party, which begins in Storybook Circus in Fantasyland, and at Br'er Rabbit's Laughin' Place Candy Patch near Splash Mountain in Frontierland. We're told there may be a few new surprise candy stations, as well.

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Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a hard-ticket event, meaning guests must pay a separate admission price for the party, which lasts from 7 p.m. to midnight. (The Magic Kingdom usually allows party guests to enter as early as 4 p.m., but the Halloween events do not begin until 7 p.m.) Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will be held on Sept. 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, 27, 29; Oct. 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25, 27, 29, 31; and Nov 1. Tickets are on sale now, and you can see the full breakdown on prices on the AllEars.Net resource page.


September 18, 2012

Tips for families attending Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

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My family has attended Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party every year for almost a decade, and although we have tweaked our touring plan for the evening as changes to the party come and go, it essentially remains the same. Here, I offer our tried-and-true strategies for maximizing fun for young kids during this year's five-hour party.

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To begin, know that kids and adults alike will dress up in costumes for the party, so get planning! These can be as elaborate or simple as you like, but remember that because this is a family night, gory costumes and the like are not welcome. However, ingenuity is on display. We have seen so many clever Disney-themed costumes over the years -- from a Dole Whip to FASTPasses to entire families dressing as characters from a single movie. Our most attention-getting costume was one worn by our son who went as Ghost Mickey one year.

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For the last two years, my own children have enjoyed having an afternoon makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and The Pirate's League. That means we have had a couple of princess and pirate costumes, which never go out of style at Disney World! Both salons stay open later than usual on Halloween party days to accommodate extra guests. The BBB was running pretty close to on-time this year, but we waited more than 30 minutes past our appointment time at The Pirate's League. Because of this, I would recommend giving yourself plenty of time in between reservations for either place and/or restaurants. And be sure to make reservations early because they tend to fill up quickly on party days.

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That brings me to my next tip: Even though the party doesn't start until 7 p.m., the folks at the Magic Kingdom typically will allow you to enter before the actual party starts, usually between 4 and 4:30 p.m. You are not guaranteed early entry, but I have not heard of anyone being turned away during the last several years. If you already are in the park with a day pass, you can go to the front gate between 4 and 7 p.m. to show your tickets and get a wristband, which is required for the party. Cast members in party attire also will be stationed in several locations in the park, and you can visit them for wristbands as well.

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We always go early, which gives us time to take a family picture in the Halloween photo spot on Main Street, U.S.A. and have dinner so we don't waste precious party time. One thing to be aware of, though, is that some restaurants close early on party days. And by that, I mean they close even before the 7 p.m. witching hour rolls around. We were surprised to find Columbia Harbor House closed at 5:15 p.m. last Friday. Be sure to take a look at Jack's blog for a list of which restaurants will open during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.

This year, one of the new party offerings is a Halloween card for the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card game that debuted earlier this year. Even if you don't plan to play the game during the party -- and we didn't -- it's worth getting the special card since that's the only time it is offered. We saw folks lining up outside the Main Street fire station as early as 6:30 p.m. We got in what appeared to be a rather long line about 6:45 p.m., but it moved quickly, and we had our cards within 15 minutes. Cast members designated a separate line for guests who just wanted to pick up the card and not start a new game and that certainly helped. Know that you will need to have your Halloween Party admission tickets, which will be punched, to claim SotMK Halloween cards.

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After that, the party was in full swing, and we headed off to visit the must-see characters and trick-or-treat. Many parents of little kids choose to see the first Mickey's Boo To You! Parade at 8:15 p.m., but it is jam-packed every year. Guests stake out their places more than an hour ahead of time. I certainly understand that little ones might not be awake for the 10:30 p.m. parade, and this is one that's not to be missed. For our family, however, it's more important to get out into the park.

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We hit the treat trails -- one between Storybook Circus and Tomorrowland and the other near Splash Mountain -- so the kids can gather a bunch of candy quickly. There also are individual treat stations throughout the park. Cast members are generous when they put handfuls of candy in each bag, and, for those who have asked, there is plenty of chocolate and other yummy treats in those barrels. The thrill of actually trick-or-treating in the Magic Kingdom is one that doesn't lose its appeal in our house.

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Once the candy stash has been established, we usually stop for any special character photos my children have requested. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse are wearing their Halloween costumes in the Town Square Theater. This year, Duffy the Disney Bear has moved from his photo spot adjacent to City Hall and can be found at the Liberty Belle boarding area in Frontierland. In his place, Phineas and Ferb are greeting guests at the prime location in Town Square. Captain Jack Sparrow is in Adventureland, and the Seven Dwarfs are near Splash Mountain. The Disney Villains will pose with guests after each Mix & Mingle dance show on the Castle Forecourt Stage.

We also usually take time to ride a few attractions because there is just about no wait. How can you resist a five-minute wait for Space Mountain and walking right on to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at night, even if you have been on both coasters more times than you can count? My daughter likes to visit the dance parties, as well, in Tomorrowland and Frontierland.

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Then, our goal is to be back on Main Street, U.S.A. by 9:30 p.m. for the special Happy HalloWishes fireworks, followed by the Villians Mix & Mingle and then the second parade. When all that wraps up, we usually join the crowds and head out about 11 p.m. This year, though, my 8-year-old and 10-year-old got a second wind so we stayed until the bitter end, hitting a few more rides and candy spots.

A little bit of planning and strategy before you attend the Halloween festivity will go a long way toward helping you and your family enjoy all the party offers. Now isn't that not so scary?

Please share your tips in the comments.

September 1, 2012

2012 Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party - What's new and different!

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Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Disney World's Magic Kingdom will have a few new treats for guests this year.

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Last year, Mickey's Toon Town Fair was closed during the September and October party dates, which cut down on the square footage of the party and forced the relocation of some treat stations. But what a difference a year makes. With the opening of Storybook Circus in the same location comes the return of Alice & Mad Hatter's Treat Party between Storybook Circus and Tomorrowland. The Alice in Wonderland-themed walkway contains cool, lighted decorations and enough candy to satisfy any sweet tooth.

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In addition, there will be a candy stop near the Fantasyland train station, and the Dumbo the Flying Elephant and The Barnstormer attractions in Storybook Circus will be open during the party, a Walt Disney World spokesperson told me. The twin Dumbo carousels are especially beautiful at night with their lights and water shows.

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Last year, Br'er Rabbit's Laughin' Place Candy Patch was added near Splash Mountain in Frontierland and it will remain again this year. This treat trail also is well-themed, as you would expect from Disney, with jack-o-lanterns featuring "Song of the South" characters. The queue did seem to back up more quickly here than the Alice & Mad Hatter's Treat Party.

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The balloons marking the candy stations will have a new look this year -- lighted Mickey pumpkins will take Goofy Candy Company's place.

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Disney planners hope to make the wait for Mickey's Boo to You! Halloween Parade more pleasant for guests by adding some pre-show entertainment on Main Street, USA, and in Town Square that will include music and "streetmosphere." Guests will be invited to join a line dance during the Not-So-Scary Street Jam! The featured song will be "Calling All the Monsters" by China Anne McClain.

Here's a look at the dance steps, if you want to practice so you're a pro on party night:

The Boo To You! parade, which is performed twice each night, is one of the highlights of the party and guests typically stake out their spots for the first time more than an hour before it starts. The parade features characters only seen during this event, such as ghosts and gravediggers from the Haunted Mansion, and it starts with a the Headless Horseman galloping by.

Other party favorites will return, including the Happy HalloWishes fireworks show, The Villains Mix & Mingle stage show, dance parties and meet--and-greets with rarely seen Disney characters. I'll be attending Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party the first week and bringing parents tips for making the most out of their haunted night with the kids.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party takes place from 7 p.m. to midnight September 11, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28, 30; October 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31; and November 2. Prices vary depending on date, time of purchase and discounts. For complete ticket details, see the AllEars.Net information page.

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About Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Main Street Trolley Show is the previous category.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.