When you’re planning a Disney trip, it may get to the point where you simultaneously want to spend money on all the things that will make your family smile regardless of price and feel like you’re suddenly faced with spending money you may never have. Coming from New England, we were definitely in that place by the time we discovered that Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party starts in August and had not one, but two dates scheduled for the last week of August when we’d be there for our first trip with our family. I knew Miss O would love every second of it, but would it be worth the extra cost on top of our park hopper tickets?
Our trip planning started a little more than a year in advance of what became our trip dates, so we had plenty of time to build our wish list of experiences and save the money we’d need for our hotel, airfare, dining plan and park tickets. I even budgeted money for souvenirs and treats that may not be on the dining plan and a character breakfast. When you see it all on paper, it can be very sobering, so adding an additional few hundred dollars on top of that is either no big deal or worthy of serious discussion depending on your financial situation. For us, we’re good, but we’re only good because of very careful spending. Throwing a couple hundred around is not something we do lightly.
To make matters more complicated, we still hadn’t told Miss O we were going to Disney, so it wasn’t easy to ask her if she even wanted to go. Know that it involved going to Disney at night, wearing her costume and getting buckets of candy, I was pretty sure I knew what her answer would be. We were treating this trip as once in a lifetime, just in case we wouldn’t be able to afford it again, at least not at this scale, and decided it was worth the cost. You only live once, right? You’re only six once, too.
We chose to go on Friday night, which was the last night of our trip, our second day at Magic Kingdom and the last day of our time in the parks. We debated staying the park all day and maybe getting a locker to store our costumes so we could change in one of the restrooms nearby. We’d heard lots of advice about getting a locker for candy when you’re bags get full, but our goal wasn’t candy hoarding and I wasn’t thrilled about getting us changed in the restroom. I was also a little concerned about Miss O lasting from rope drop at 7:45 AM all the way through Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, which goes past midnight. She’d potentially be going full steam all week at Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and two days at Magic Kingdom by the time we got to the party. I really didn’t think she’d make it. Quite frankly, I wasn’t sure I would make it either.
We decided to plan for a break that afternoon to go rest at our hotel, the Art of Animation Resort, then return right around 4 when they start letting partygoers in. We’d let her stay up as long as she could and we’d have plenty of time to sleep in the next day before we needed to check out and spend some time at Disney Springs before our flight home that evening.
Fortunately for me, Miss O had already declared her costume sometime in June, so after a casual discussion of Halloween in general, I confirmed her choice, Carlos De Vil from the Descendants movies, and got to work. Thankfully, Carlos wears a lot of t-shirts and shorts, and a lot of white, black and red. I ordered a plain white t-shirt and a pair of red shorts and black shorts from Primary.com, currently the only brand of shorts and pants she’ll wear. I bought two colors so 1) she could choose which version of Carlos she wanted to be and 2) she’d have a backup with the other pair, just in case.
It would be too hot for a full leather jacket, but those Disney costumers know what they’re doing and gave that boy a jacket with zip off sleeves. I ordered a kids’ pleather motorcycle vest off ebay for $13. It was adorable and perfect! I found some vinyl paint at Michael’s and printed the crossed bones for the back of the jacket on printable vinyl and cut it out on my Cricut Maker. It’s the first year I haven’t sewn a thing!
I can’t remember when we actually told Miss O. I know it wasn’t when we revealed the trip to her. She had enough to process at that point. I think we waited until the initial shock wore off and we were eating breakfast before heading to the airport. I had packed her luggage and her Carlos costume was safely tucked inside ready for the big night.
Friday finally came and after a wonderful morning at Magic Kingdom, we stayed true to our plan and headed to the shuttles after our last character visit with Tinker Bell by the main gate. We left later than we planned, but we still had plenty of time for a decent break. After a quick nap for all of us, Hubs and Miss O went to the Big Blue Pool and I took a moment to myself while getting our things ready to pack the next day. I knew a late night would make a slow morning for all of us and as much as I hated seeing our Magical Express notification, I knew it meant we really did have to go home the next day. We got changed into our costumes and headed back down to the shuttle.
It was so great seeing everyone dressed up! We’d seen lots of DisneyBounders and people in character shirts all week, but there is something truly special about seeing people of all ages in costume at Disney. As we came through the main gate, we were given wristbands to identify us as partygoers. Miss O thought it was delightful that she got a special bracelet, especially when she saw it had pictures of candy corn on it. We headed in to the park and were directed by cast members holding signs for the party, clearly steering us in while helping move others out. We came to a side street I’ve never been down and were each handed small shopping bags. I asked for an allergy friendly bag because even though I knew I could eat some of the candy, I was curious what my gluten-free options would be.
I am so glad we went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. It was so much fun and I’d do it again. In fact, I can’t wait to do it again!
Trick or treating at Disney is so much fun, no matter how old you are. There are stations set up throughout the park. Basically, head for the giant orange inflatable pumpkins in each land and get in the longest line you see. It’s probably for candy. Cast members will put HANDFULS of candy into your bag and yes, you might want to bring a bigger bag or use your backpack to off load some of it as you go through the night. Some folks get in the line two and three times, which is totally fine.
With a six-year old, we were definitely there for trick or treating. I feel like I got less with the allergy-friendly bag, but I did get to go to Liberty Town Hall and exchange the tokens I’d get at each station for whatever met my needs and tastes on their allergy friendly menu. They had lots of YumEarth gummy bears, gummy worms and jellybeans, which I LOVE. I also got some lollipops because I knew Miss O would like them. I still got a full bag and walked away happy. We visited every station one time and in total, we got about 5 lbs of candy, which is more than enough! I filled two one-gallon Ziploc bags and put them in our checked luggage for the way home.
We thought about doing special character meet and greets, but everyone said the lines were ridiculous, especially for characters like Jack Skellington and Sally. I wasn’t sure Miss O would want to wait in more lines, so I didn’t highlight that part. We did offer to wait for Captain Jack Sparrow, whose line wasn’t as long as I expected, but she was content to walk by and see him from afar. I think the short line had a lot to do with it being August. There are several villains out and some of the rarer characters like Moana. She probably would have gone for Moana…
We were looking forward to riding the rides at night for a different experience. The park is so pretty at night and those lines are so short! Unfortunately, we ended up only riding one ride all night – Aladdin’s Magic Carpets. Flying through the air at night over all the lights was amazing. It’s a special kind of magic that I am so grateful I got to share with Miss O.
Our limited ride time was due to our desire to see the first performance that night of Mickey’s Boo to You Halloween Parade featuring all the Disney Villains. It was something I knew Miss O would enjoy and definitely something only at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. We knew the parade started at Frontierland, so we started scoping out spots early. We also knew there were some good gluten-free options at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe, so we got dinner there and even managed to find a table outside. After dinner, we found our spot and Hubs headed over by the Tiki Room to get one final Dole Whip. Miss O went for the Dole Whip float this time, which she declared “even better!”
We had a fantastic spot and could see every float! It was busy, but not so packed that you couldn’t move if you wanted. The song definitely sticks with you and the Gravediggers were amazing with those shovels. Miss O loved seeing the villains, especially Cruella De Vil. Once the last float passed by, we headed back over to the Castle to scope out seats for the Happy Hallowishes Fireworks Show and Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular Show.
On our way back towards the castle, we did stop for a PhotoPass photo in front of the entrance of Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which lit up at night is actually sort of spooky! There are lots of special PhotoPass and Magic shots for the party, but Miss O refused to go hear the Haunted Mansion at night and we were determined to get good seats for the shows.
We definitely won out on seats and we made it with plenty of time for the first show. We were right in the first section in front of Cinderella’s castle, just to the left behind the statue of Walt and Mickey. Others’ advice says to wait for the second show and go do more rides, but I wasn’t sure Miss O would be able to stay awake that long and she had yet to see any fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. Once our place was secure, Miss O and I went for a crucial bathroom visit and ran into two college-aged girls dressed as Evie and Mal, also from the Descendants. They oohed and ahhed over finding “their Carlos” and Miss O grinned as big as Jack Skellington himself. Night made.
The Happy Hallowishes Fireworks Show featured new versions of the Villains’ songs along with projection of color changing halloween graphics over the castle, which was fun to see. Disney fireworks are always amazing, but honestly, I spent half the show watching Miss O’s face as she was watching them. I assure you it was worth every penny.
Our seats were so good, that we decided to stay right there and wait for the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular Show, which was the second showing that night. Miss O had no clue who the Sanderson Sisters were, but we assured her it would be a good time and would involve more songs and lights. Our girl loves a good production. Hubs went off in search of a milkshake and returned with a root beer float. I have no idea what happened there, but it seemed to tide him over until the show started.
I don’t often stick around for shows on the main stage, but this one was really cute. Maybe it was the nostalgia for the Sanderson Sisters or the fun of seeing the villains try to run amuck in live action. Whatever the reason, it was fun for the night and we all had a great time, except maybe Hubs, whose back was screaming in pain from having Miss O on his shoulders for the whole show.
The show ended around 11:30 PM and Miss O was showing signs of reaching her limit. She didn’t want to go on any rides and we felt we had plenty of candy, so Hubs picked up Miss O and we headed toward the main gate one last time.
We weren’t on the shuttle more than a minute before Miss O was completely asleep in my lap. I suddenly realized how quiet this ride was compared to others. All around me were adults sitting half awake, with sleeping children of various ages draped over them like costumed blankets. Tiny princesses, pirates and kid-sized toys exhausted from a night of trick or treating on steroids.
I carried Miss O from the shuttle to our room, which was blissfully shorter than it could have been and peeled her out of her costume. I knew she lasted longer than I thought she would and I dreaded getting ready the next morning. I figured I’d try to get us late check out, just in case, even though I knew the answer was likely to be no. I called the front desk and was taken aback when the cast member answered with “good morning.” What?!
Sure enough, it was 12:03 AM. I couldn’t believe we lasted that long and I almost forgot why I called. Pixie dust is an amazing thing, y’all. She gave us late check out until 1 PM.
I peeled myself out of my clothes and crashed knowing that yes, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party was worth every minute and every penny. I was bone tired, but my heart was so full. This trip was everything I hoped it would be and we still had one more day at Disney Spring before we had to leave.