When hinges creak in doorless chambers, and strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls. Whenever candlelights flicker where the air is deathly still — that is the time when ghosts are present, practicing their terror with ghoulish delight!
I have a tough time deciding which Disney World season I love more. Christmas, with outrageous decorations, fake snow, and a life-size gingerbread house. Or, the Halloween season which comes equipped with adorable little ones dressed in their Disney best, a fantastic parade, and the best stage show Disney Parks has to offer, Hocus Pocus Villian Spelltacular. If you have a chance to visit during both seasons, I highly recommend it! For the sake of the current season, I’ll help you with some basic logistics while attending the Halloween Party and how to get your money’s worth. I also covered some fall seasonal must-dos at Disney World, so be sure to check that out when you’re finished here too!
When to Visit
On Disney’s website, make note that tickets are more expensive on certain nights. Halloween night is much more expensive than the August and early September parties. This is due to the expected crowded attendance for each day. We visited on September 16th and the crowd levels were fairly low. The character lines will always be long, but we had no problem with lines for food and rides. The least busy weeks are August through September and Magic Kingdom gets progressively gets busier towards the week of Halloween. Fridays tend to be the more crowded than the other nights as well. Naturally, the week of Halloween is the busiest time for the party, but honestly, it’s one of the most fun times to visit. Everyone is wearing their spooky best and the spirit of Halloween is alive and well!
Sleep In & Stay Up Late
My advice is to sleep in late on your designated party day and also the morning after. The party lasts until midnight, which means you won’t get back to your hotel and fall asleep until at least 1:30 AM. Unless you catch all the early shows and leave before 11 or so. Even then, you won’t get back to your hotel until midnight-ish. I think the most enjoyable Disney vacations are the kind where you take it easy. You will most likely see and do everything you’d like to and you might even accomplish more if you pace yourself. When everyone else is sluggishly dragging themselves to People Mover so they can rest their weary bodies, you’ll be gleefully skipping ahead to visit Elvis Stitch.
Arrive Before the Party Starts
The official start time of the party is 6:00 PM, but partygoers can arrive at the park two hours before the party starts at 4:00 PM. I highly advise taking advantage of this perk. This gives you a chance to enjoy a few attractions that won’t be open once the party starts. It also allows you to jump in line for popular characters before the party starts.
Special events provide the opportunity to meet characters who don’t normally make appearances. The only downside is that the character lines tend to get a little outrageous. Most rides and attractions have relatively short lines, but characters always have about an hour to two-hour wait. My tip is to get into the park before the party starts and queue up in the area that the characters will appear around 6:00 PM. Chances are, you won’t be the only one lining up early. Popular meet n’ greets are Jack & Sally, the Grave Diggers, the Seven Dwarves, Moana, Brer Fox & Rabbit, and Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore.
Boo to You Halloween Parade
In my humble opinion, Boo to You is the best parade at Disney World. If Paint the Night transfers to Florida then I might rethink my answer. Be aware that the parade starts in Frontierland and travels to Main Street. Meaning, the parade may start in Frontierland at 9:15, but it won’t get to the end of Main Street until about 9:30 or later. My personal plan of attack is to watch the fireworks at 10:15, enjoy the 11:15 parade, then view the midnight showing of the Hocus Pocus stage show.
Happy HalloWishes Fireworks
This unique firework show is presented exclusively for Halloween party nights. The first time I saw this show I thought I was super clever and snagged a table next to Sleepy Hollow with a perfect view of the castle. The joke was on me because the fireworks were shot behind the trees and nowhere in my view. The best place to view the fireworks is about halfway up Main Street. Any closer to the castle and you won’t get the full effect.
Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular
Watching Hocus Pocus makes you realize what Disney is capable of in terms of show caliber, music, and talent. This show is what I hold as a standard to anything else Disney produces in the park and why so many Disney fans are disappointed when they create something with far less quality. This show is worth the price of admission on its own!
I’m a huge Disney foodie so I plan most of my days around reservations and seeking out the best dishes at the parks. The Halloween Party features new and unique treats that are exclusive to the event. This year, I tried the Zero Waffle Sundae from Sleepy Hollow and the Muenster Smash Burger from Cosmic Ray’s. I’m a big fan of the Pumpkin Spice waffles they serve at the parties and I even wrote up a simple recipe for the Pumpkin Spice Christmas Party Waffles last year. The burger, however, was not the greatest thing I’ve eaten at Disney. It comes with Muenster cheese and sriracha aioli on a black bun. Love the name, because it sounds like something Bob Belcher would think of, but the meat was dry and there wasn’t a lot of sauce, so I had to load it up at the topping bar. All other special Halloween treats can be found on Disney Parks Blog. Free candy treat stations are scattered throughout the park and are highlighted on the Halloween guide maps. My favorite treat stations are in Mickey’s Philharmagic and the Tiki Room.
Some guests arrive completely decked out in handmade full-length gowns, others do a subtle Disney bound, and guests like me put on a Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice shirt and call it day. You’re not required to wear a costume, so don’t feel pressured if you choose not too! If you want to wear a costume, the trick is to choose something that isn’t too heavy or hot. Be aware of all the humidity and potential Florida thunderstorms that occur in the fall. As always, comfortable shoes are an absolute must. You want to enjoy your experience, not feel like a sweaty, drowned rat.
A few Disney rules regarding costumes:
- Nothing inappropriate or possibly offensive. This is subject to the opinion of Disney Security.
- No real or fake weapons.
- You can dress as your favorite Disney character, but you cannot pose for pictures or sign autographs as one.
- No masks that cover your face. The exception here is for guests under 13, but you must be able to see their eyes.
Halloween PhotoPass Magic Shots
The Memory Maker is worth the price if you want unlimited high-quality professional photos of you and your loved ones, without lugging around a camera or distracting yourself with your phone. Not only this, it is particularly enjoyable on special event nights. In certain areas, PhotoPass will photoshop some special Halloween elements to your pictures, creating really fun scenes. The Haunted Mansion and Main Street are the best places to get your picture taken with the moody Halloween ambiance! Try to get your picture with the Butler at Haunted Mansion. He was my favorite part of the experience!
Halloween Ambiance & Overlays
Disney takes your normal happy-go-lucky park and transforms it with eerie music, spooky light displays, and fog machines on every corner. My favorite surprise was wandering into Mickey’s Philharmagic to discover Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride playing in the theatre. It was a great place to take a break and gave me all the Disney warm fuzzies. Dance your butt off at the Monstrous Scream-O-Ween Dance Ball with Mike and Sulley in Tomorrowland, listen to the ghoulish 4-part harmonies of the Cadaver Dans, Space Mountain in complete darkness, and be sure to check out the Teacups for the special light design and music this year! Another new element this year, in Pirates of the Caribbean, real Pirates roam the ride queue holding Wanted signs for the scoundrel Gunpowder Pete. You may spot him wandering about the ride too!
Halloween Party Itinerary
This is the itinerary I used when I visited a couple weeks ago. It should give you a good idea on how to plan your Halloween visit!
If you’re still wondering whether the Halloween Party is worth the money, I will say yes every time. Just come prepared, don’t wear yourself out, and do a little bit of planning ahead. If costumes, candy, and Halloween parades aren’t your jam, then maybe skip it. I suggest perusing some YouTube videos about the parties if you’re still unsure the vibe is for you! If you have any questions about the party feel free to comment below!
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