Thinking about attending Disney World Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party? Well, we did and we almost had a HORRIBLE time!! Keep reading to learn what we did wrong, and what you can do to avoid the same blunders!
**get yourself some popcorn it’s quite the journey**
Let’s rewind, so I can tell you how we ended up at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party all the way in Orlando versus the Disneyland party.
I’ll admit it; our Orlando Quest was planned with the Adult members of the Tribe in mind. So often, we plan our trips around the kiddos, but adults need time to unwind as well! Initially, the plan was to only visit Universal Orlando, but how could we possibly come all the way to Orlando and not visit the sibling of our second home, Disney World?!?!
A trip to the theme park capital of the world can ravage your pockets so it was hard to convince the other half to swing park admission to both theme parks. Plus 7 days was not nearly enough time, so I resolved to settle for Universal only.
That was until I got wind of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party dates, and serendipitously the first night of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party was the same week we were going to be in to be in Orlando!!
To sweeten the deal, Shades of Green offers military pricing for select dates for the party and the first party date was included, so it was a no-brainer to attend!
Buying our tickets from Shades of Green was a bit of a pain. They require for you to fill out a form online, but then you have to print that form out, sign it, and send it back in with your I.D. Once they verify your order, they have to call you (which is usually not the same day), and then process your payment over the phone.
It is 2017 and they should have a more streamlined process for this! But after jumping through all of their hoops and paying to have our tickets sent via FedEx I was jumping up and down in the kitchen because we were actually going to get to visit Disney World!
It was time to start preparing for both theme park visits, which for me includes character outfits, Mickey ears for Disney, costumes for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, transportation, hotel, etc.
All of our other theme park visits have been planned to the minute to avoid chaos, ASD meltdowns, and optimal Disney magic immersion. But my therapist had this great idea for me to relinquish control this visit and just “wing it.” Thinking back that was where everything went left and took a trip down Disaster Lane!
Planning (or lack thereof) Process:
My therapist gives out really great advice. Her advice typically pushes me out of my comfort zone and results in personal growth; so I trusted her advice to not plan out our Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party experience.
Here’s my rationale for why this would be okay. The party runs from 7:00 pm until midnight, but you can enter the Magic Kingdom as early as 4:00 pm. That seemed like a ton of time, so I set off to plan other parts of the experience like our costumes.
Roo, my Mom & I are big on dressing up for Disney trips (the rest of the adults, not so much). We decided on Cinderella, Cruella DeVille, and Ursula as our costume choices for this special event.
The month of July was too crazy, so I ended up creating our costumes 2 weeks prior to the trip. I was excited how they turned out, and I decided that this whole non-planning thing was going to work in our favor!
We arrived in Orlando, had a great time in Clearwater, and 2 epic adventure filled days at Universal Orlando. Finally, it was Friday, time for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party!! Being the Disney fanatic that I am, I could hardly sleep the night before.
To fill in space before the party I decided we should do a character breakfast at Cape May at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, and it was C’est Magnifique! It was such a different experience from our character dining breakfast at Ariel’s Grotto, and I was giddy to the point of tears at what a great day this was going to be.
After breakfast, we had some time to kill before theMickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party started so we headed over to Congo River Golf. It was so humid and hot that everyone was miserable within an hour and we ended up stopping around hole 8 to conserve our energy for the night’s festivities.
3:00 pm came around and it was finally time to head over to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party! We arrived at the Magic Kingdom and paid $20 to park. I had a bit of sticker shock because we are used to walking to Disneyland.
None of us had our costumes on because we were out mini-golfing, and let’s be honest Halloween costumes in broad daylight, in August, is just weird to non-Halloween folks! So we attempted the process of changing into costumes in the van. Minimalist costumes or not this was quite the feat, and before I knew it was 3:45 and I started panicking a little bit.
*What you should do instead: Change into your costumes in your hotel room or if that is not a viable option arrive at the Magic Kingdom with an extra 30-60 minutes so that you don’t feel rushed.
Once we were changed into costumes we set off for the tram. Because Bug is 5 months old we opt to use a stroller and the carrier when she wants to see things. However, we didn’t think about how a stroller would fit on the tram. The tram is a rapid process and when you come strolling up not prepared; it is inevitable to feel like a Disney amateur while you struggle to pass the baby and all of her stroller parts into the tram.
*What you should do instead: If you are traveling with a baby, toddler, or people who have lots of stuff have it all ready to go before you get in line for the tram! The tram doors are narrow so fold your stroller down and have a plan for who will board first to help you load your stuff onto the tram.
The tram drops you off at the Ticket & Transportation Center, where you go through security (which we are pros at), purchase tickets if you haven’t yet, and take the monorail or ferry over to the Magic Kingdom.
*What you can do to breeze through this process: Have all of your belongings ready for inspection! This means removing all bags from your stroller, unzip all zippers, and remove items from your pockets for the metal detector. Pre-purchase your tickets for the Halloween Party so that you can save yourself some waiting in line time, you will get plenty of that in the party!
After a short monorail ride, we arrived at the Magic Kingdom! It was shortly after 4:10 (late for my standards, but not too bad) and the crowds were building, but moving swiftly. We were 3 people away from scanning our tickets when I noticed that Roo was doing that “wiggle dance.” That means if she does not make it to the restroom within the next 2 minutes we are going to have an accident. All of the adult’s locked eyes quickly let out a sigh and left the line in search of a bathroom. Thankfully there was a bathroom just to the right of the ticketing plaza, but that was not close enough and she had a minor bathroom accident.
*What you should do instead: If you have small children with you, or children like Roo who have a sensory processing disorder don’t get swept up in the excitement until you have gone to the restroom. Once you enter those magical gates it is really easy to forget about basic needs lol. Also be sure to pack extra clothing and underwear in your day bag just in case!
After a quick wipe-down and change, we were through the turnstiles with our special Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween armband!
Next stop was City Hall to get Disability Accommodation for Roo, which was a painless process and it took less than 15 minutes to get everyone’s ticket registered.
Now we were all set to ride rides and enjoy the Magic Kingdom before the party started!
We took our castle pictures and then realized that we didn’t have a map (rookie mistake). Thankfully the Magic Kingdom has the same layout as Disneyland, so we set off in search of Fantasyland.
*What you should do instead: If you have a large group grab at least 2 maps. If you are a Disney Fan and like souvenirs grab an extra for your bag so that it is pristine memento condition.
We were so excited to find the Under the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid ride in the Magic Kingdom; it is Roo’s favorite ride from California Adventure so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make this our first ride of the afternoon. She loved it so much that she asked to do it 2 more times!
After convincing her that the Magic Kingdom had a plethora of rides we were able to pry her away from the ride and attempt to ride some other rides. From the research I did prior to the party I learned that the ride lines are significantly shorter during the day because people who want a full day experience don’t come to the park. I also learned that because the party is a concentrated number of guests FastPasses are discontinued once the party starts. But every ride (except for the teacups & Ariel’s Undersea Adventure) had lines with wait times of over 60 minutes. Like I said earlier, our trips are usually planned out to the minute so waiting in lines longer than 20-30 minutes was a foreign concept to us.
*What you should do: Download the official Disney World parks app so you can get around the park and also check on wait times. Even better still, download a planning app that can plan out your entire evening so that you can optimize your time and less time trying to chase the magic!
At this point that we decided to split up the group. My brothers are kid-free and I didn’t feel that it was fair to them to be stuck in Fantasyland their entire trip, and my mom doesn’t ride big thrill rides so it wasn’t fair for her to stand outside in the blazing sun while we rode thrill rides.
It was at this moment that the afternoon imploded and forever changed the course of our Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party experience.
I noticed Disney fanatics starting to line up for character greetings (yep a whopping 2 hours before the party started), and I asked where Roo’s autograph book was. We frantically searched through the diaper bag. *insert that sinking feeling* We realized that it was back in the hotel room in the other bookbag!
I should note that for most people this is not a big deal, they would meet those once-a-year (or maybe even lifetime) characters and take a picture to commemorate the occasion, but that isn’t how life works for this Tribe. People on the spectrum can have a difficult time with transitions and changes to their routines.
One of our routines for Disney follows this exact pattern: Stand in line for character -> Roo greets character, immediately hands them her custom autograph book -> she carefully watches as they sign the book, and she requests a heart to be added to the autograph -> I reach in, grab the book, she takes a photo, and lavishes the character in hugs and kisses while waving frantically as she walks off.
It is incredibly cute and so heartwarming to watch her interact with her favorite characters. However, this process can turn into a certifiable meltdown if not done in this order. Case in point, she wanted to greet Mickey at our visit at Disneyland earlier in the Summer.
Mickey was already in her autograph book from a previous greet so we didn’t bring the book with us to the line. When it was her turn she had a complete meltdown because the process was different. For kids on the spectrum, routine and order help reduce their anxiety as it prepares them for what’s to come.
I gave you all of that backstory because without an autograph book character meet-n-greets was officially off the table.
Now, remember how I said this Orlando Quest was planned with adults in mind? Well, I had characters that I had been daydreaming about meeting, including Sally & Jack Skellington, Lotso Bear, and the 7 Dwarfs. And to read your mind, yes I could have just met with those characters without her, but seriously we have an equal appreciation and fanaticism with Disney and I would feel bad that she had to miss out and I didn’t so we were going to have to suffer together.
*What you should do instead: BRING YOUR AUTOGRAPH BOOK! Double, triple, and quadruple check that you have it, and also bring an extra sharpie. If you don’t care to make a custom book you can order them from Etsy or pick one up at a retail store prior to entering the park.
Because character meet-n-greets was one of our primary goals for the night we had to completely switch the plan and also avoid character setups so she didn’t even know they were going on because that would cause its own meltdown.
Our other priority for the night was the Boo-To-You parade and as we headed back towards Mainstreet, U.S.A. I noticed there were people staking out their spots! So we further split up the group. I was feeling so much anxiety at this point that I decided to be the one who would claim our spot and everyone else could go experience the magic.
This was actually exactly what I needed, I was able to take some deep breath and appreciate just being at the party at all. I also had a prime spot on Mainstreet in front of the castle which gave me the chance to view all of the amazing costumes people had crafted.
Around 6:15 pm the rest of the family joined me in our spot and they came bearing food! We settled in for the parade and it was so totally worth sitting in that spot for over an hour. We had a front row spot for the Headless Horseman and Roo got to interact with the characters!
*What you should do instead: I would do this part over again the same way, the only thing I would change would be to have someone take Roo to keep riding rides or trick-or-treating until right before the parade starts. She has issues with impulse control and waiting is incredibly hard. This can lead to frustration and aggression on her part and that was exactly what happened, it wasn’t pretty.
As soon as the parade passed us we grabbed everything and made a direct beeline for the castle. Keeping with the tradition of Disney parades & fireworks the Happy HalloWishes Fireworks show happens about 10-15 minutes after the Boo-To-You Parade ends.
Of course, anywhere on Mainstreet, U.S.A. is a great vantage point for the fireworks, being up close and personal with the castle allows for you to see all of the visuals that are projected onto the castle!
*What you should do: Try and find a parade spot that gives you easy access to the castle after the parade. If you are too close to the castle you will miss seeing the Boo-to-You parade up close.
After the Happy HalloWishes Fireworks ended (which was AWESOME by the way) we had about 1.5 hours left for the party. Everyone in our group was in a much better mood by this point in the night; I mean how can you still be mad after witnessing all that Disney magic?
My other two priorities for the party were to ride Space Mountain and Haunted Mansion, so we set out for Tomorrowland. I should point out that it had been raining off and on all day, and guess what we didn’t bring? Yep ponchos. For our Disneyland trips, we always pack ponchos for water rides because I LOATHE being soaking wet all day, but the ponchos were back in the room with that confounded autograph book so when the sky opened up it was a done deal.
*What you should do: Pack ponchos in your day bag! You can grab cheapy ones at the Dollar Store, but if you are a frequent theme park attendee I would recommend splurging on a decent set of ponchos for the family that is in a distinguishable color in case someone gets separated.
My mom took Roo to participate in the Monsters, Inc. Dance Party while we rode Space Mountain. She had initially planned to ride it, but after her Disneyland experience with Space Mountain, I think she has sworn off big roller coasters for now.
Space Mountain was great as always and to make matters even better the wait was practically nonexistent! When we came outside from riding Space Mountain it was pouring! I saw my mom huddled under an awning, but Roo was nowhere to be seen. Until I looked over at the Monsters Inc. dance party and saw my sweet girl dancing with Mike & Sully in her Cinderella costume in the pouring rain! It was in this moment that I realized that all of the fails of the day didn’t actually matter. All my baby wanted to do was come to her favorite place on the entire planet, see her favorite characters, and ride the Ariel Undersea Adventure over and over.
All of the expectations that I had placed on the night melted away, and we joined her in the rain dancing out all of the frustrations of the day! The visit that was almost a complete disaster turned out to be a moment that will be etched into her memory as magical! So missing out on the special Halloween treats, missing the Sanderson Sisters show, not having personal meet-n-greets with special characters, or actually riding a ton of rides didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things because our girl was happy!
We finished the evening with Trick-or-Treating and ending up with a ton of loot because the park had pretty much cleared out, rode Haunted Mansion, and stood at the entrance of the Magic Kingdom taking it all in before we headed back to the monorail and to our car.
If you have made it to this point, I commend you it was quite the novel!
Here is a quick recap of all the things you can do to help your trip be full of blunders and few others I thought of on the way:
PLAN: Plan out your trip whether you are Type-A about it or prefer a more laid-back approach have some type of framework for how you want to experience the party.
COSTUMES: Read the official Disney guidelines for costumes. Change into your costumes in your hotel room or if that is not a viable option arrive at the Magic Kingdom with an extra 30-60 minutes so that you don’t feel rushed.
YOUR STUFF: If you are traveling with a baby, toddler, or people who have lots of stuff have it all ready to go before you get in line for the tram! The tram doors are narrow so fold your stroller down and have a plan for who will board first to help you load your stuff onto the tram. Have all of your belongings ready for inspection! This means removing all bags from your stroller, unzip all zippers, and remove items from your pockets for the metal detector. Pre-purchase your tickets for the Halloween Party so that you can save yourself some waiting in line time, you will get plenty of that in the party!
GETTING AROUND THE PARK: If you have a large group grab at least 2 maps. If you are a Disney Fan and like souvenirs grab an extra for your bag so that it is pristine memento condition. Better yet download your preferred Disney parks app so that you have a map at your fingertips.
CHARACTER MEET-N-GREETS: Bring your Autograph book! Double, triple, and quadruple check that you have it, and also bring an extra sharpie. If you don’t care to make a custom book you can order them from Etsy or pick one up at a retail store prior to entering the park. Check the website and other Disney blogs about where the lineup locations will be, and be prepared to wait in LONG lines. These characters are exclusive so everyone wants to meet them.
*Bonus tip: Bring your charging device so that you don’t have to worry about dying cellphone or camera batteries.
ATTRACTIONS: Not every attraction is going to be open, so double-check the Disney website so that you don’t have your hopes dashed when your favorite ride is closed!
WEATHER: Florida is temperamental when it comes to weather. We looked at the forecast but assumed that the rain in the forecast would be the regular afternoon Florida shower and would pass. Sadly that was not the case and we regretted not bringing ponchos! Pack ponchos in your day bag! You can grab cheapy ones at the Dollar Store, but if you are a frequent theme park attendee I would recommend splurging on a decent set of ponchos for the family that is in a distinguishable color in case someone gets separated.
EXPECTATIONS: Manage your expectations! Breathe! Try to be IN the moment! I realized way too late into the party that things happen and you can make the decision to be pissed off or take a moment to yourself and resolve to have a great time regardless.
I hope that our story was helpful for you to not make the same mistakes that we did.
Boo-To-You! Have a Magical Halloween!
*Interested in the Disneyland Halloween Party? Head over to Practically Perfect Meg’s Blog to hear about the changes to this year’s party and ways you can have a magical time! Megan is a Disneyland Passholder and visits about twice a week, has a husband who works in Downtown Disney, and she is the mom of a Castmember!