The Miller family was super excited to return for our second year at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. In 2016, a giant rainstorm dampened our fun and an exhausted 3 year old barely made it through the early parade. Although we had a good time, the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular was rained out (at least at the early shows) and the HalloWishes fireworks were delayed past our son’s breaking point. This year, we knew better. THIS YEAR WAS OUR YEAR.
And you know what? IT TOTALLY WAS.
We spent some time researching the party online once the 2017 events started taking place in. In addition to the parade, show and fireworks we made a list of characters we wanted to meet: Moana and Jack Skellington were must-sees for our 4-year-old, and he also wanted to meet Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Goofy. For me, my big wish was to finally meet the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, as I missed her in 2016 in favor of meeting the Seven Dwarfs. With that in mind, we made our plan for the evening.
The entertainment schedule for the party has 2 parades, one at [8:15] PM and one at [11:15] PM. The HalloWishes fireworks are at [10:15] PM. There are three Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular shows: one before the early parade, one between parades and one at midnight. We had decided that the best plan for us would be to stake out a place for the fireworks in the Castle Hub, and enjoy them followed by the [10:45] Hocus Pocus show and then the Boo to You Parade because we would be able to see all three right in a row from the same spot. We would do character greets before, and leave after the parade.
We spent the morning of the party taking it easy at the resort. We took our son swimming early, let him rest and watch Disney Junior in the hotel room midday, and did not hit Magic Kingdom until just before our [2:30] PM lunch reservation at Crystal Palace. We stowed Gibbs’ costume in a rental locker, so he didn’t get too hot in the afternoon, and it was still fresh for the party. Timing had us walking up Main Street, U.S.A. around [2:15] PM in the afternoon, which meant we got the bonus of walking past the Festival of Fantasy parade as it neared Town Square.
(Note: due to the Halloween and Christmas parties, Disney found that the mass exodus of people after the [3:00] parade caused too much chaos with party guests queueing up for a [4:00] park entry, so they have moved the afternoon parade to [2:00]. Note number 2: Sometimes they go earlier than that, even as early as [1:45], if they fear a weather event will delay the parade at [2:00]. I found out both of these facts by experience during our vacation).
We had a leisurely buffet lunch with Winnie the Pooh and his friends, finishing up just before [4:00] PM. As we had decided beforehand, my husband went over to Adventureland to stake out our spot in the line for the Moana Meet and Greet. I took Gibbs to meet the princesses in Princess Fairytale Hall and then to get our wristbands for the party. We walked back to meet up with my husband, and stayed in our (first in line) spot while he went to get his wristband. Then he took Gibbs to ride Magic Carpets of Aladdin. It was nearing [5:30] and suddenly there were Photopass staff checking out the location, and a crew setting up décor. We learned that Moana would begin greeting guests at [5:45] PM, rather than at 7PM when the party started! (Note: you must have a party wristband to be able to participate in the party Meet and Greets, even when they are during regular park hours. Very Merry Christmas Party will pilot a new process where the park closes an hour before the party rather than at party time.)
Since we were first, we were able to meet Moana right away at [5:45] and head over to Liberty Square, the new location for Jack and Sally’s Meet and Greet. The line was already long, but under an hour. Knowing it wouldn’t get shorter, we decided to wait. We finished with them well before 7PM and were ready to hit the party with our preschooler satisfied at having met his top characters.
We took a few moments to change him into his Hitchhiking Ghost costume, lovingly custom made for him by my mom. Then we went to meet Mickey Mouse in Town Square Theater, followed by Queen of Hearts in Fantasyland and then the rest of the Fab 5 in Storybook Circus. By this time it was just after [9:00] PM, and our little dude was toast. We took off his costume and put him in the stroller. We began to head back to the front of the park.
He was asleep before we got out of Tomorrowland. My husband and I decided that we would stay for the entertainment, hoping he would wake up. We enjoyed the fireworks, the show and the parade immensely – but Gibbs slept soundly through them, the bus ride to the resort, and up to the next morning.
If you plan on attending a holiday party with a little one, I highly suggest advance planning. Know what you absolutely must do, and keep your list short. Had our party been more full, we would not have been able to manage as many Meet and Greets as we did. Because of the light crowds after Hurricane Irma, Cast Members told us our party was only about 50% sold. Make sure your kiddo picks 2-3 characters to meet and that you stake your spot for entertainment early. Our view from the Castle Hub was outstanding for all three offerings, and an unobstructed view of the castle is not as important for HalloWishes as it is for Happily Ever After.
Make sure costumes are comfortable and be prepared to change into or out of them while in the park. Many costume fabrics are not breathable, and on a sticky Florida evening that can make a little one cranky.
Lastly, if you can make it to the later parade you should do so, because they crowds are much lighter since it’s after the fireworks. If the early parade is the only workable option for you, try to leave before the fireworks or watch them near the entrance so that you can get out quickly before the bus lines get long.
As with anything you are doing with young children, be flexible and manage your expectations. Nothing is so important to experience that it’s worth fighting an irrational tiny human. Keep in tune with how they are feeling and what they need, and everyone can have an excellent time!
(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)
To learn more about Alyson and read her recent posts for WDW Radio, visit her author page by clicking the link on her name at the top of this post.