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Touring Strategy for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2023

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Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is incredibly popular this year! If you’re visiting Walt Disney World between now and the end of the October, chances are that you’ve at least been tempted to go see this year’s version of this party. And you should be! Tickets may be expensive, but the party features a fully-staffed parade, fireworks, stage shows, plentiful candy, and more. And wait times at rides during the party are incredibly low. Plus … that Jack Skellington puppet.

Let’s start with a few of the basics. If you’re considering whether or not you should keep your kids up late to the party, check out this article. And if you want to attend a party but haven’t purchased tickets yet, get on that quickly! Many dates have already sold out. One of the TouringPlans travel agents can help you with your trip, including party tickets.

But after you’ve got your tickets, how should you spend your time during the party? 5 hours seems like a lot, but it passes quickly. Especially if you wait for over 2 hours just to see one character! So if you’re looking for a good balance of attractions with low waits, trick-or-treating, characters and entertainment, look no further! But if you know you want to prioritize one of those things, take this strategy as a starting point, and have fun your own way.

Celebrate fall with Mickey! Even if the temperatures are up in the 90s …

Party Basics

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party runs from 7 pm to midnight on the following dates – dates with an asterisk are (or were) sold out:

  • AUGUST 2023: 11*, 15*, 18*, 22*, 25*, and 29*
  • SEPTEMBER 2023: 1*, 4*, 8*, 10*, 12*, 15*, 17&, 19, 22, 24, 26, 28, and 20
  • OCTOBER 2023: 1, 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27, 29, 31*
  • NOVEMBER 2023: 1

Note #1 here is to try to not visit Magic Kingdom on non-party days, especially in October. Yes, you miss fireworks that way. But everyone tries to avoid party dates if they don’t have party tickets, which makes those days so nice at Magic Kingdom, and forces everyone into the non-party dates. In October, only 13 days don’t have parties. Those thirteen days will be disproportionally crowded.

Note #2 is that your party ticket gains you entrance into the Magic Kingdom as early as 4 pm. Go ahead and get there early to get some attractions in before the party starts!

Note #3 is that DAS works during the party! For attractions and characters. This can be a HUGE win if you’re eligible for DAS. I’d definitely recommend getting DAS return times for the major characters and doing attractions by standby. Character waits >> attraction waits, almost always.

The strategy presented in this article gives some specific times for various entertainment options. In case you want to make your own plan, the various shows and offerings are presented at the following times:

  • Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular (fireworks and more!): 10:15 pm
  • Mickey’s Boo to You Parade: 9:15 pm and 11:15 pm
  • Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular: 7:40 pm (October only), 8:35 pm, 10:45 pm, midnight
  • Cadaver Dans: 7 pm, 7:45 pm, 8:30 pm, 9:50 pm, 10:30 pm
Cadaver Dans!

A Note about Characters

Character meet and greets at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party are something of feast or famine. Or, really, eat-up-your-whole-night or delightful.

The hot-ticket characters require hours of waiting, and they take frequent breaks. If you’re absolutely set on meeting one, you’ll need to line up well before the party actually starts, and you’ll need to be okay with dedicating most of your party to waiting for them. Who are the most popular characters? Jack and Sally, and the Seven Dwarfs. As an example of what your night look like if you absolutely must meet Jack and Sally, for example, I present this real-life scenario that required over 4 hours of waiting:

  • Entered the park at 4 pm, when party guests are eligible to enter.
  • Got in line for Jack & Sally immediately
  • Jack & Sally started meeting at 4:30 pm
  • Eventually got to see Jack & Sally after 8 pm

On the other end of the character spectrum is the location at Mad Tea Party. At this one spot, there are FIVE different characters that rotate in and out. For example, the Queen of Hearts will be closer to the Tomorrowland shrubs and Alice and the Mad Hatter will be nearer Pooh – all at the same time.

How long are you willing to wait to meet these seven cute dudes?

Pre-Party Strategy

With party tickets, you can enter Magic Kingdom as early as 4 pm. And you should enter as early as possible if you want to ride some attractions before the Halloween festivities get started. To that end, the following would be a reasonable way to spend the afternoon:

  • Immediately go to Jungle Cruise, which will likely have a 30-40 minute posted wait, but should only be an 18-20 minute actual wait. Hooray!
  • This means that around 4:45 pm, you can be at Pirates of the Caribbean with something like a 10 minute posted wait, but it should actually be something near a walk-on.
  • You can still hit Big Thunder Mountain before 6 pm. It will be posted at somewhere close to 20 minutes. But your actual waits should be closer to 10 minutes.
  • At this point, it will be nearing something like 5:30 pm. If you need to eat, you could do so now before the party begins. But hopefully you ate before you arrived and you can make it until you sugar up later in the party.
  • If you want to see one of the popular or even semi-popular (like Elvis Stitch) characters, you need to get in line by 6 pm. Even then you may spend 2-3 hours waiting for them.
  • Otherwise, your goal is to do two more attractions before 7 pm. First, Peter Pan’s Flight with approximately a 25 minute posted wait that should be more like 10 or 15 minutes. And then Seven Dwarfs Mine Train just before 7 pm. It will probably have a 60 minute posted wait, but should be a 20 minute actual wait.
I consider Haunted Mansion to be a do-not-miss during MNSSHP. Its ambiance is unmatched and it’s the perfect spooky addition to your evening. But everyone else thinks the same thing. Save it for later when crowds have started filtering out.

So, the party has just officially started. And, ideally, you’ll have already done five or six of the attractions with some of the highest waits on a normal day in Magic Kingdom. Not a bad start.

Party Time!

When the party starts, you’ll be tempted to immediately go trick-or-treating, or some other sort of fun. Consider the following! Everyone else at the party will be giving in to that temptation. If you trick-or-treat early, you’ll spoil your dinner have to carry around heavy candy all night. And, spoiler alert, Disney doesn’t run out of candy. You can save that for much later. Your goal is to experience a few more attractions before getting into the party spirit.

That being said – candy dispersal is remarkably efficient this year, so if you opt for hauling your candy around all night, you won’t have to wait in long lines to do it. In fact, if you want to avoid more walking at the end of the night, you can just hop into candy spots as you follow your plan for the evening.

  • First, head over to Tomorrowland and ride Buzz Lightyear. It’ll have some minimal posted wait, but should be close to a walk-on.
  • Then, take in the ambiance of the party on the Tomorrowland PeopleMover. This one will once again have close to zero wait, and will buy you some time as the crowds calm down at Space Mountain.
  • Time your arrival to Space Mountain to be close to 8 pm. There will be a 30 or 40 minute posted wait, but it should only really be closer to 20 or 25 minutes.
  • If you’re fortunate, you might be able to make it to Frontierland in time for the 8:30 pm performance of the Cadaver Dans. If not, you’re still headed that way to grab spots for the 9:15 pm Boo to You parade.
  • As soon as the parade is over, make your way as close to the front of the castle as possible. The fireworks spectacular won’t begin until 10:15 pm, but you want to wait it out for a prime viewing location. The Jack Skellington puppet featured on stage during the spectacular is the stand-out of the party and is worth the wait.
  • Now you can choose one of two options. You can hold your spot for the Hocus Pocus show, or you can bail and catch the show at the end of the night. Waiting means more walking, but it also “extends” your party by letting you watch the show technically after the party ends.
  • From fireworks until midnight is your time to party like it’s Halloween. Meet characters with short waits or do your trick-or-treating. And make sure to ride Haunted Mansion!
  • Finally, at midnight, end your night by watching the Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular. This is the last of 3 or 4 showings for the night, and should therefore be pretty empty and easy to enjoy.
You want to be front and center for this impressive Jack Skellington performance!

Trick-or-Treating Tutorial and Tips

Every treat location at the party has the same treat options (except for one “hidden” location this year – more on that later!). You don’t need to visit many of them unless you plan on eating your weight in sugar over the next few weeks. But, it does pay to have a savvy strategy to get as much candy as possible with as little walking and waiting as possible.

Part one of the strategy is to wait until after 10 pm if you’d like. Everyone else will have already loaded up their treat bags at that point, so the lines at the trick-or-treat locations will be almost non-existent. Easy. But if you’d rather not wait – treat locations are using scoops and moving quickly this year, so even if you start gathering treats at the beginning of the party, you won’t spend too much time in line.

The next step is maximizing treats per step. The absolute best location for this is the bypass between Storybook Circus and TRON. There are three stops along this bypass, and you can hit them all as part of the plan above when you make your way from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland! A close runner up is the Enchanted Tiki Room, which has two treat stops in one location. Easy candy.

But here’s the thing – Disney is being really generous with candy this year. According to our very scientific calculations, at each treat stop you can expect to get a little under 2 CUPS of candy – including packaging. It’s enough that if you stop at 7 locations (like the TRON bypass once and Tiki room twice), your reusable bag that you’re given at the beginning of the night will already be full of candy. That’s like a gallon jug filled with candy at just 7 stops. I think our next test is whether one of our in-park testers can successfully gather their own weight in candy at the party …

If you need allergy-friendly treats, you’ll be given an allergy token. You can use that to get treats that meet your needs at every single treat location, except the “hidden” location.

Speaking of that “hidden” location, back in Storybook Circus, you’ll find a bonus treat location that doesn’t show up on the map. That’s because you won’t get the “normal” (or allergy-friendly) treats. Instead, you can find Kind-brand goodies to add to your bag.

What about TRON?

You can join a special virtual queue for TRON if you’re a party guest. From data we’ve been able to gather so far, wait times after your boarding group gets called back are much shorter than daytime waits. And the virtual queue is much easier to join than the normal 7 am or the 1 pm options.

Not-So-Scary Strategy Summary

  • 4 – 8:30 pm: Do the rides! Suggested order: Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Buzz Lightyear, PeopleMover, Space Mountain. Phew!
  • 8:30 – 10:30 pm: Boo to You Parade and Not-So-Spooky Spectacular
  • 10:30 – midnight: Treats and characters, plus Haunted Mansion
  • Midnight: Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular

Are you headed to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party this year? Do you plan on emphasizing rides, characters, treats, or attractions? Let us know in the comments!

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Becky Gandillon

Becky Gandillon was trained in biomedical engineering, but is now a full-time data and analytics nerd. She loves problem solving and travelling. She and her husband, Jeff, live in St. Louis with their two daughters and they have Disney family movie night every Saturday. You can follow her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/becky-gandillon/ or instagram @raisingminniemes

17 thoughts on “Touring Strategy for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2023

  • Great post, thank you! I had a couple of questions about the parade and meet&Greets. I heard the parade is heralded by the headless horseman walking the route, but that he does it 15-20 mins ahead of the parade arriving. Does this mean for the 9:15 parade that he comes at 8:55? Or does that mean the parade “really” starts at 9:35?

    Also, do you know anything about the use of DAS for meet and greets during the parties? Thank you.

    • Hi KW, the start time is the listed start time, but parades are tricky – that start time is when it starts in Frontierland. So if it’s listed as 9:15 in Frontierland, it will be quite a bit later when it gets to the hub. The reason you see those 15-20 minute estimates is that the horseman starts with the rest of the parade, and rapidly leaves them in the dust. So if the parade starts at 9:15 and you’re in the hub, you’ll see the horseman a little after 9:15 and then the parade 15-20 minutes later.

      DAS can be used for party meet & greets, but not all of them. The ones that support DAS are the ones that are set up in character meeting spaces that normally support Lightning Lane. You can see a more complete description with some examples here: https://touringplans.com/blog/walt-disney-worlds-disability-access-service-faq/

      Have a great trip!

  • If you were planning on being at NK before the party started (have tickets for the day and party), what would be your plan of attaining. Not too into characters. But definitely want to hit up haunted mansion and looking to leave around 10:30/11. Thanks!

  • Disclaimer- I’m just a user so maybe TP has a more official answer. But I also didn’t see the option of putting in the party hours on the app for the days I did. However if you go on to your account on the computer, then when you make a new personal plan on a day the party is held, it has “have a ticket to to the party” as an option to check. I did make a plan based Beckys plan that you might want as a starting point- you can copy it and change the date and make it your own- see link below, but the current predictions for wait times don’t align with Becky’s so the times are a bit different. (see my comment and response above.) Good luck!!


  • Thanks so much for this very thorough blog post! How do I put this touring plan into my app? I’m not seeing an option to select the Halloween party! 🙂

  • I was trying to put in this plan into a touring plan and it had much longer predicted waits- especially for Peter Pan and Mine Train, but as my party day is Oct. 24th I thought it might be busier. But even if I moved it to Sept 12 (Tues) it still predicts finishing Mine train at 7:06 instead of 5:50 (starting at 4 PM Touring plans waits are J.Cruise (20 min) Pirates (16), Big Thunder (12), PeterPan (35) Mine Train (47)) https://touringplans.com/plans/print?id=4932646.) I actually really like your plan and know that there is no certainty with any plan- All are based on different data and assumptions and Im glad to have different perspectives.- Can you explain the Math 🙂 so I can make an assessment why these two predictions differ- or perhaps I just put in the plan wrong. Thanks!

    • PS should have also said. The plan does still work according to touring plans. It just is tight without any of the extra free time except 45 min at the end. But that would still be great for us. So Im going to try it

    • I think our predictions for party nights are a little unreliable because of little data to support it. This strategy was built on in-person experience with actual wait times. The predictions in the app and in your plans won’t update until that day when posted wait times are lower than what the model expects.

      • Thank you. Very helpful to understand the difference. I’m looking forward to testing it with the one exception of not doing space mountain, which should make it easier to catch those Cadaver Dans :).

  • Another great touring plan post, Becky! Thanks.
    I won’t be at MNSSHP until the last night (technically AFTER Halloween). I have a quick question:

    Any tips on food? We plan to eat a “large meal” (late lunch?) before entering at 4pm, but 8 hours of partying is likely going to require some calories. Ideally, something other than candy. Mobile ordering is off during the party, but do you know if the Quick Service restaurants will have the “normal” menus if they are open for MNSSHP or just the exclusive treats offered? And do you recommend certain spots/items?

    • Regular food is still available even at locations that also have special treats. If your main concern is time, then your best best is to get quick food or snacks from a location that doesn’t have special treats. Lines will be shorter and you can move along with your night. If you want real food that is also party-exclusive, I’ve heard that the Snarling Sub and the Terrifying Twice-Spiced Chicken Sandwich at Cosmic Ray’s are good options. The Char Siu Wings at Sleepy Hollow look terrible but supposedly taste great, and the Cinnamon Funnel Cake there gets good reviews too. And if you opt for Sleepy Hollow some members of your party can save spots in the hub while one or two people grab food!

  • Thanks for the great article Becky!
    If we want good spots for the first parade, how early do you think we need to be? I would ideally like to be first row and close to the hub for the fireworks later. Probably my only time at this party and really prioritizing entertainment

    • Our sample size is small. But parties are less crowded than a normal park day. If you’re prioritizing entertainment, I’d try to get there at least 20 minutes early.

  • Unfortunately, the Railroad isn’t open during the party (and it’s a long-duration attraction, so it’s not included even in my pre-party strategy). If you want to do it with your party ticket, you’ll have to ride before 6 pm.

  • Perfect I am so happy to have this plan. It is going to be very helpful for me October 24. However, There is one ride missing from your list, and Im not even sure what its hours are. But it is top of my list because I have not been on it for years! I want to go on the rail road! Do you recommend doing it in that 4 to 7 time point. I was thinking about doing it first thing, but it sounds like I won’t get through those key rides you have listed that are going to have longer waits later on so I would prefer to delay it if I can I don’t know what do you think??

  • Thanks for this post, great info! But, in the ride strategy summary at the end, I think it might be a very long wait to ride Splash Mointain – smile!

    Do you have ride strategy suggestions for those who cannot arrive until closer to 7pm?

    • Thank you for the editing catch! Updated that now.

      If you arrive closer to 7, rides will have even shorter lines – but you’ll have to balance party-specific things with rides. Unless you want to solely focus on rides, I would suggest picking one “side” of the park and doing the treats and rides on that side until it’s time to line up for the 8:30 parade. Make sure to stay away from rides with long durations (like it’s a small world) since those will eat up a lot of time.


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