Hey everybody, there’s a new itinerary out for arrivals 8/31 through 10/26/2019. You can find it here.

By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.





Category — 4. Halloween at Disney World

October 2019 at Walt Disney World

On March 7, Disney announced that the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land would partially open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on August 29.

Crowds in the new land will be a mess, and likely will spill over into the other thrill-style rides at that park. While I don’t see much impact on the other parks, no one knows for sure, and the dates folk have fall breaks will probably be worse than I had originally forecast.

I don’t see a huge impact outside the land itself, as the partial opening will make visiting specifically to see Star Wars less attractive, and many people will move their October trips to avoid the mess entirely.

While I don’t see much impact on the other parks, no one knows for sure, and the dates folk have fall breaks will probably be worse than I had originally forecast.  I have bumped up my crowd forecasts for October by a point for each week.  See this for more.

WHAT IS OCTOBER LIKE AT DISNEY WORLD?

Late October has some of the best times of the year to visit Disney World, with nice weather, low-ish crowds, low-ish prices, and fun special events.

The earlier part of the month is not so good, as

  • The first week is still in the peak of the hurricane season
  • The first three weeks see extra crowds from fall breaks, and
  • The second week sees both higher crowds and some higher prices from Columbus Day.

Note also that picking the right park to visit each day is critical at this time of the year. See this, and use the comment form below to ask me about your specific dates!

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April 23, 2019   26 Comments

September 2019 at Walt Disney World

 August   September   October   November   December    January   February   March

Updated June 25, 2019.

On March 7, Disney announced that the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land would partially open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on August 29.

Crowds in the new land will be a mess, and likely will spill over into the other thrill-style rides at that park. While I don’t see much impact on the other parks, no one knows for sure, and the Labor Day weekend that immediately follows opening day will likely be the busiest such in Disney World history.

I don’t see a huge impact outside the land itself the rest of the month, as it is hard to take kids out of school in September, the partial opening will make visiting specifically to see Star Wars less attractive, and many people will cancel their September trips to avoid the mess entirely.  See this for more.

WHAT IS SEPTEMBER LIKE AT DISNEY WORLD?

September at Disney World combines lower crowds with low prices, and typically also has nice deals as well.

This makes it a great month for returning visitors.

But it has lousy weather, combining continuing summer heat and humidity with the peak of the hurricane season, making me not so keen on the month for first time visitors who may never return.

Note also that picking the right park to visit each day is critical at this time of the year.  See this, and use the comment form below to ask me about your specific dates!

[Read more →]

February 26, 2019   31 Comments

August 2019 at Walt Disney World

WHAT IS AUGUST LIKE AT DISNEY WORLD?

Updated June 25, 2019.

On March 7, Disney announced that the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land would partially open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on August 29.

Crowds in the new land will be a mess, and likely will spill over into the other thrill-style rides at that park. While I don’t see much impact on the other parks, no one knows for sure, and the Labor Day weekend that immediately follows opening day will likely be the busiest such in Disney World history.  See this for more.

There are no great times for first-timers who may never return to visit in August. Kids start going back to school in August, so crowds (and most prices) go down later in the month–but that’s also when the peak of the hurricane season kicks off.

Note however, that the last three summers have been unusually good at Disney World in terms of crowds. If this trend continues, then August will be better earlier in the month than I’ve noted.

Hotel prices begin the month low at the deluxes and stay low all month long. Prices begin the month OK at the moderates, and high at the values. Values prices drop to moderate levels on 8/11, and on 8/25 prices drop to among the lowest of the year at the values. Moderate prices also change these dates, but stay within the general band of 10-20% higher than the lowest of the year.

Ticket prices are low in the later two-thirds of the month.

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January 25, 2019   No Comments

Halloween 2019 at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD’S SPECIAL HALLOWEEN PARTY IN 2019

While Halloween itself is October 31st of course, Walt Disney World provides a special Halloween celebration at the Magic Kingdom many evenings in 2019, from August 16 until November 1.

This celebration is called “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party,” or “MNSSHP” for short.

At the party, many of the Magic Kingdom’s rides are open, and trick or treating, special events, and different parades and fireworks are offered.

The official Disney World page for this event can be found here. My review of the 2018 party is here.

Click the images below for the 2018 brochure.

MORE ON MICKEY’S NOT-SO-SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY IN 2019

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January 24, 2019   2 Comments

Review: Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2018

Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2016 from yourfirstvisit.net (2)

MICKEY’S NOT-SO-SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY 2018

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (“MNSSHP”) is a special, separately ticketed party that happens on certain nights every September, October and some years even early November at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

At the party you will find un-crowded rides, a special parade (shown twice, at 9.15 and 11.15p), special fireworks at 10.15p, a Hocus Pocus show, trick-or-treating, a dance party…and a ton of guests in costumes!

I had a chance to see it again a couple of times in mid-September 2018, and the scoop follows!

(See this for more on logistics–Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party dates, ticket prices, etc.)

WHAT’S NEW FOR 2018 AT MICKEY’S NOT-SO-SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY

The 2018 party pretty much follows the pattern set in 2015 and continued since. The most important change over the period is that the first parade is later.  This limits a bit the crowds in the hub during the first part of the party. You will still see crowds everywhere–ride waits are low to very low but the paths are mobbed.

For 2018, three rides have been “plussed.”

The Mad Tea Party has gained a different soundtrack, lights, and spooky smoke effects, greatly increasing its popularity–except with me.

Pirates of the Caribbean has gained some live characters…

…around the theme of finding “Gunpowder Pete.” The overall effect has led to some derision, but for some will give a new reason to pay more attention to scenes that perhaps they have come to take for granted, and for others will be a distraction from the dullness of the new redhead tableau.

Finally, the experience of Space Mountain really changes with a near blackout of the ride.

A big part of the fun of Space Mountain has been not being able to see what comes next–and a refurb a few years ago made the ride even darker (though not everyone is a fan). For the party, we have something different–a near black-out.  All lighting effects are turned off, objects formerly lit are now dark, there’s no stars in the sky.  All you can see is a few red dots here and there and some distant “EXIT” signs.

The effect is to make Space Mountain much more scary than before–as testified to by the quite louder screams, mostly of joy, you will hear while riding it.

The best approach to the Party remains the same–see rides until the fireworks, and watch the second parade rather than the first.

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2015 from yourfirstvisit.net

But because of the crowds remaining after the 9.15 parade, it may be hard to get to the hub to see the fireworks from there. While HalloWishes, like all Magic Kingdom fireworks shows, is best seen from between the Castle and the Main Street railroad station, it does work really well from elsewhere in the park, because of things that happen in the finale that I’m not gonna spoil here.

So do rides until just before ten, find a good nearby fireworks spot, then see the characters and go trick or treating, see the 11.15p parade, and see the midnight Hocus Pocus show. A late night, but one that avoids the congestion around the Castle hub and Main Street.

COSTUMES AT MICKEY’S NOT-SO-SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY

Costumes are not required, and not everyone wears them. But even after the increased security that began in December 2015, they are still allowed at the party.

Above is the official Disney lingo (click it to enlarge it). Note that these guidelines are solely for the Halloween Party.  “Regular” attendance is subject to different rules, basically ruling out costumes for those 14 and older.

Guest Costumes Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2015 from yourfirstvisit.net

The most common costumes continue to be princess costumes and pirate costumes, and after that Star Wars costumes.

Guest Costumes Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2015 from yourfirstvisit.net (2)

And this group in Tomorrowland proved a Disney princess theme was not required!

THE PARADE, FIREWORKS, DANCE PARTY, HOCUS POCUS SHOW AND TRICK-OR-TREATS AT MICKEY’S NOT-SO-SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY

Besides most rides being open to short (or shorter) waits, MNSSHP has a special set of Halloween-themed activities (see above–click to enlarge it).

Boo to You Parade at Mickey's Not-So-Scary-Halloween Party from yourfirstvisit.net (2) (800x525)

For example, the parade–Mickey’s Boo-to-You Parade–is seen only at MNSSHP.

It begins with a surprise–pay attention when the Cast members start to rope off the crosswalks (dampness on the streets may eliminate this first surprise).

Then a bunch of characters stroll by.

It then shifts to ducks and mice…

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) from yourfirstvisit.ne (8)

…then some pirates…

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) from yourfirstvisit.ne (7)

…more pirates…

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party from yourfirstvisit.net
…but then shortly shifts to my favorite part, Haunted-Mansion themed dancing gravediggers and ghouls.

Boo to You Parade at Mickey's Not-So-Scary-Halloween Party from yourfirstvisit.net (8) (450x800)

More ghouls.

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) from yourfirstvisit.ne (6)

The gravedigger dance.

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) from yourfirstvisit.ne (5)

Soon comes candy…

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) from yourfirstvisit.ne (4)

…then the parade goes back to scary, ending with Disney villains!

There’s two showings of the parade, at 9.15p and 11.15p, with spectacular Halloween-themed fireworks between at 10.15p.

HalloWishes Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2015 from yourfirstvisit.net (2)

While the fireworks are best seen from in front of the Castle with the Main Street train station behind you, this will lead you into a wildly crowded section of the park.

Because of their spectacular finale the fireworks can be seen from elsewhere in the park–you’ll miss a little but gain a lot of comfort from avoiding the mobs in front of the Castle.

HalloWishes Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2015 from yourfirstvisit.net (3)

Dance Party Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2015 from yourfirstvisit.net (2)

Dance Party Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2015 from yourfirstvisit.net

The Liberty Square and Cosmic Rays dance parties left three years ago, but there’s still an outdoor Monsters-themed dance party at the thingy between Astro-Orbiter and Space Mountain.

New in 2018 is a Disney Junior dance party in Storybook Circus…

…not much attended, at least during my visit to it.

Something I had not paid enough attention to until recently was fun audience interaction with characters from the Haunted Mansion.

It’s just outside the exit, so see it after your required Halloween visit to the ride.

You’ll also find lots of Halloween-themed merchandise.  Some is specific to the party (and may be sold out–see your brochure for locations) and the rest is generally available–including, somewhat jarringly, in the Christmas shop.

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) from yourfirstvisit.ne (3)

The Hocus Pocus show is quite popular.  The three sisters from the movie return…

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) from yourfirstvisit.ne (2)

…and call on hordes of Disney villains to help them stay.

The show includes strong songs and dances, fun characters, and some spectacular effects. Those familiar with the movie need not get close to the stage (thought it can’t hurt), but if you haven’t seen it, the characters of the three sisters are much more apparent if you are closer to the stage.  This is easier at the midnight show, not so easy at the earlier shows.

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) from yourfirstvisit.ne

Character meet-n-greets are all over the place–with both common and unusual characters.

Some more characters:

There’s also a ton of trick or treat locations, marked by lighted columns.

Get your trick-or-treat bag on the pathway that begins at the left of Town Square…

…and your first handful of candy, too.

But both the characters and trick-or-treating raise an issue.

STRATEGY AND RIDES AT MICKEY’S NOT-SO-SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY

Wait Times Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2015 from yourfirstvisit.net

All the major rides are open, and many minor rides as well. Most have very short waits–e.g. 10 minutes for Space Mountain. Typically, only Peter Pan and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train have annoying waits.

Characters Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2015 from yourfirstvisit.net

The trick-or-treat spots and especially the character greetings, on the other hand, have pretty long lines, and the hub is packed all evening.

So the best approach is to skip the character greetings and trick-or-treats–or delay them until after the fireworks–and spend the first part of the evening on rides.

Do rides until just before the 10.15p fireworks show and watch it.

Now try trick-or-treating or character meets. Then see the second (11.15p) parade and the midnight Hocus Pocus show.

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party from yourfirstvisit.net (2)
I struggle with whether or not this party is worth the money for first-time family visitors who may never return.

It’s quite expensive–for a family of four, more than $300, and even over $400 on many dates. And it’s just a five hour show (7p to midnight)–though Disney unofficially lets you in starting at 4p.

Yet the fireworks are among the best Disney World offers, the parade is a hoot, the rides have short lines…and the costumes are fun!

Magic Kingdom 2014 Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party from yourfirstvisit.net

My overall take is that for first-timers this time and money is better spent elsewhere, but that’s a really close call, and for sure I’d recommend it to returning visitors!

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September 19, 2018   6 Comments

September 2018 at Walt Disney World

WHAT IS SEPTEMBER 2018 LIKE AT DISNEY WORLD?

September at Disney World combines low crowds with low prices, and typically also has nice deals as well.

This makes it a great month for returning visitors.

But it has lousy weather, combining continuing summer heat and humidity with the peak of the hurricane season, making me not so keen on the month for first time visitors who may never return.

Note also that picking the right park to visit each day is critical at this time of the year.  See this, and use the comment form below to ask me about your specific dates!

[Read more →]

March 25, 2018   29 Comments