At both the Disneyland Resort and the Walt Disney World Resort, there are ever-expanding opportunities to add on to your day at the park if you’re willing to spend a bit extra. There are character meals where the characters come to your table to greet you. There are VIP dining packages that include FastPasses to nighttime shows such as Fantasmic! or World of Color. But some of the most popular offerings at both Resorts are the seasonal evening parties.
Disneyland Resort currently only offers Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland Park, while Walt Disney World Resort offers both Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom.
Personally, I’m grateful that Disneyland Resort does not charge for the Christmas holiday entertainment such as the parade, fireworks, castle lighting and snowfall on Main Street, U.S.A. – one of the most magical moments any guest can have at Disneyland Park. (Although this year, due to the Diamond Anniversary Celebration, we may only be getting the parade out of any of those special experiences.)
But when it comes to Halloweentime, in looking at the two Resorts’ Halloween events, the Magic Kingdom version is absolutely superior in its size and scope. But the real question is… is it worth the expense?
Well, that depends on what you want to get out of the event.
The cost this year to attend Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party starts at $74 + tax per adult attendee and goes up to $87 + tax depending on the date you wish to attend (although discounts are available for purchasing in advance or being an Annual Passholder or Disney Vacation Club member). That’s not cheap. And in the past year or so, Disney has added upcharge parties WITHIN the Halloween Party such as this year’s Happy Hallowishes Dessert Premium Package which will cost an adult an additional $69 on top of the Halloween Party ticket price to attend. But whether an upcharge package at a hard ticket event is worth it is a separate question. For today, I’m just going to focus on the value of the event itself.
Assuming you’re buying a ticket the day of the event, it will cost at least $80 per adult including tax (children’s prices are slightly less). The Parties are scheduled from 7pm-midnight, however, attendees with tickets are allowed to enter the park three hours in advance. So really, for $80, you’re getting up to eight hours in the park. As opposed to a regular one-day ticket to the Magic Kingdom, which currently would cost an adult $105 to have a 12-16 hour day depending on the season.
However, five of those hours, during the Party itself, have a much more limited crowd in the park – meaning if your priority is to ride as many attractions as possible, you may actually get more done in an 8-hour Party day than in a typical fight-the-crowds 12-16 hour non-Party day. So if attractions are your focus, I think it’s a good choice.
But if you’re looking for a different kind of day in the park and attractions are not your goal, but unique experiences are – is that same cost worth it?
I’d say a qualified yes – and here’s why it tips in that direction:
- The decorations/special lighting! – Con: Every park guest can enjoy Halloween decorations all day long and in the evenings on non-Party nights in the park. Pro: However, the Magic Kingdom is given a special atmospheric glow to it on Party nights and extra touches are added for Party hours.
- The candy! – Pro: No Halloween celebration is complete without trick-or-treating and the park has multiple locations (and multiple treat options for those wanting a candy alternate) to do so! Cast Members also passed out Mickey Mouse lollipops to those waiting along the parade route where I stood. Con: I found the candy at the trick-or-treat stations was given out in VERY skimpy amounts and thought it was quite disappointing that after visiting several candy lines, I still only wound up with a half-filled complimentary paper lunch-bag of candy at the end of the night – or about $3 worth of sweets. Other people supposedly did far better than I, so your treats may vary!
- The characters! – Pro: Definitely a highlight of the Halloween Parties is getting to Meet & Greet characters that aren’t out regularly at the park. Con: There seems to be a leaning towards more character *appearances* rather than actual photo ops to Meet & Greet – such as replacing the former Villains Mix & Mingle with this year’s Sanderson Sisters’ Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. At the former, there was a brief show in front of Cinderella Castle and then the Villains would come down to Meet & Greet the guests for a limited period of time. But at least there was a chance to interact with them – I enjoyed encountering the Queen of Hearts there, for example. But they are still bringing out rarer characters to see in the new show, so that’s still a good thing.
- The limited release merchandise! – Pro: Various collectible items can be found that are exclusive to the Party ranging from clothing items to pins to MagicBands as well as special sweet treats that are only sold during the Party. There is also a special Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card (part of an interactive game at the Park to be featured in a future article!) released only to guests who attend on Party nights. Con: The limited edition merchandise can sell out quickly and may not be available through the run of the Parties. So if you’re looking for something specific – choose a Party early in the season!
- The fireworks! – The fantastic Happy HalloWishes presentation combines great spooky Disney tunes with fireworks bursts and special light projections on Cinderella Castle for a frightfully good time!
NOTE: SPOILERS A…HEAD!!!
- The parade!!!!!!!!!! – Pro: Now THIS is the absolute best reason to go to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at least once in your Park-going life. This would vie with the Main Street Electrical Parade and Lion King Celebration at Disneyland Park in my heart for best parade I’ve ever seen! And while the floats are amazing, the characters varied and the Haunted Mansion section of the parade featuring the Hitchhiking Ghosts, the ballroom dancers, and the shovel-scraping Gravediggers is absolutely awesome – it is ALL about the Headless Horseman!!! There is absolutely nothing more gloriously Halloween than the Headless Horseman leading off the parade by galloping down the parade route, pumpkin head raised up high! Best. Parade. Moment. Ever. (But the Haunted Mansion section is really so cool too!) Con: Nothing! It’s perfect!
In all, I think Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a must to try at least once – although similar to the character meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table, it may not be worth the expense of a return visit. Though between those two extra cost options, I would definitely (and plan to) return to this Party again – but I’m glad I have experienced each!
Have you been to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party? Did you feel it was worth attending?
Update 9/2/16: Since I wrote this piece last year, some changes have happened. Prices have gone up for both versions of the Halloween parties. Parking for Mickey’s Halloween Party at the Disneyland Resort is now no longer included in the ticket price. However, they have added a new “Frightfully Fun Parade” AND this year will be bringing out the Headless Horseman to ride through Disneyland Park! With these opportunities, it now means that the Disneyland iteration will finally match that of the Magic Kingdom and is therefore a more worthwhile experience. Especially for those passholders who already have free parking. Otherwise, it’s still a very expensive option – but now at least worth doing once!