Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party – “Hard Ticket” events, designed to add to the magic of the season, yet can be quite cost prohibitive.
If you are traveling to Disney Parks during the “Holiday” season, you may have the opportunity to attend one of these special events. There are good and bad points to them, and today we are going to look at these events, and give you some information to help you make a decision as to whether or not you, and your group, want to attend them. The events, though celebrating totally different holidays, are quite similar in their offerings, so for many of the points below, we will discuss them together.
When is the Holiday Season?
The first thing you need to remember is that Disney’s Holiday Season is substantially different than anyone else’s holiday season. I suppose they correlate best to the “Mall Decoration” schedule. The dates for the parties are as follows (for 2014):
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP):
September: 1st, 9th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 19th, 21st, 23rd, 26th, 28th
October 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 9th, 10th, 13th, 16th, 17th, 19th, 21st, 23rd, 24th, 26th, 28th, 30th, 31st
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP):
November 7th, 10th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 20th, 21st, 30th
December 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 18th, 19th
So, in theory, you could be attending a Halloween party as early as September 1st, or attending a Christmas party as early as November 7th. This has you thinking about Christmas several weeks before Thanksgiving. Disney basically glosses over Thanksgiving. They don’t really do anything significant for it. I believe that some of the resorts will offer traditional Thanksgiving type meals, but Disney’s focus on the holidays are clearly Halloween and Christmas.
What’s a Hard Ticket Event?
A hard ticket event is something where Disney is putting on a special event where you have to purchase a separate ticket to attend. This applies to Annual Pass Holders as well. I do believe that AP’s, and DVC members can purchase these tickets at a discount, but a separate ticket is required.
The events generally run from about 7pm to Midnight, but those times will vary, so if you are interested make sure you know when your party starts. The ticket will get you a wristband. These wristbands will quickly allow cast members to know who is there for the party, and who has not purchased a special ticket. There will be several announcements during the day, and at 6:30ish, they start “sweeping” the parks to herd the people without wristbands towards the front, when I was there, they also closed the stores for a period of time. This was to encourage those without tickets to leave, but also to set up for special limited edition, party specific, merchandise to be put out. Merchandise from the party is also a hot commodity. Lines will form to buy event specific merchandise early in the party, as it is also limited, and only available during the party. By 7pm, you will have to show a wrist band to get on any attraction, or get into most stores.
Along with your separate ticket allowing you to stay for the party, your ticket to either one of the parties will also allow you to get into the park at around 4pm. This gives you several options if you are choosing to attend one of these events. This is especially true if you are on vacation, and have purchased a package that includes park tickets, and may require you to put some thought into your planning for that specific day.
Let’s say that you have a 5 day ticket, maybe you have park hopper, and maybe you don’t. You do not have to use your ticket on consecutive days. You just have to use the 5 days before the expiration date for the ticket. Right now, a “Magic Your Way” ticket expires 14 days after its first use. That means that you can go to the parks for any 5 days, anytime in the two weeks after the first day you go. If you have purchased hard tickets for either one of the parties, this would allow you to enter the Magic Kingdom at 4pm. Depending on how many days you are staying in Orlando, and what you want to do, you may or may not choose to use one of your 5 days available on that day.
For example, you could spend the morning relaxing in the hotel, or by the pool, and call it a recovery morning. Spend the afternoon eating lunch somewhere outside of the parks, like at Downtown Disney, or at the Boardwalk area, then return to your hotel to get ready for the party, and be at the Magic Kingdom turnstile at 4pm to enter the park with your hard ticket, thus saving one day of your “Magic Your Way” ticket for use at the end of your trip to extend your vacation.
Say you’re staying off property – The same thing applies, or you could even go to Downtown Disney (Sorry – Disney Springs) for the afternoon, then using Disney’s transportation system make your way over to the party. Again, not using one of your days of the 5 day pass.
Other people think that some parks are half day parks (Like Animal Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but I disagree) or maybe you want to spend the morning in Epcot doing some of the things you have not done; even without a Park Hopper, you can do those things in the morning, using one of your days on your 5 day pass, then transition over to the Magic Kingdom for the party in the evening any time after 4pm.
The other choice, obviously, is to go to the Magic Kingdom all day, use one day on your 5 day pass to get in whenever you want, and use your hard ticket to stay for the party, however, this makes for a very long day, especially with young kids, as the party runs later into the evening. If you are going to do this, especially if you have younger children, I highly recommend returning to your room for some kind of nap or rest time during the day so that everyone can get the most out of the party at night.
Prices of the Hard Tickets:
This is what causes people to question the value of the party. Ticket prices for MNSSHP range from $57 (Child – 3-9, September Dates, Advance Purchase Pricing) to $77 (Adult – 10+, Premium Night Pricing). MVMCP ranges from $62 (Child – 3-9, Advance Purchase) to $74 (Adult – 10+, Premium Night). Those prices listed are the most current available for 2014, not including taxes. There are also many restrictions on when you can buy tickets, and blackout dates for advance purchase prices, so it’s best to check with your travel agent, or with Disney directly to find out what the prices are going to be for the dates when you would be attending.
Generally, I am just telling you that your tickets are going to be $60-$80 per person. Disney pricing is usually based on a family of four, so that would be $250-$320 for your family of four to spend an extra 5 hours in the Magic Kingdom (you can also think of it as $12-$15 per person per hour of the party). Obviously you need to adjust your estimates accordingly depending on the specific pricing for that day’s tickets, and whether you purchase your tickets in advance. If you do want to attend, you should purchase them in advance. Many of the parties, especially as they get closer to the actual holiday, do sell out.
What’s in it for me?
Hard ticket events to allow for many special opportunities that are not available to regular guests. One thing, although not the main focus of the party, is reduced wait times for attractions. Not all attractions will be open, but the majority are. Since there will be fewer people in the park, it will give you the opportunity to ride the attractions with less wait time, however, this may be at the sacrifice of viewing or attending other special events. Disney does limit the number of tickets sold to these events.
You get to dress up (for Halloween) – For some people this is a benefit, and part of the fun. Others refuse to do it. You will see a lot of families dressed in group costumes, so that’s something to consider too. You are not required to dress up for the Halloween party by any means, but I will guarantee you that most people, adults included, will be dressed up. It seems to gain popularity every year, and the costumes are becoming more and more elaborate. Disney does have some restrictions on costumes, specifically for adults regarding character recreation and “appropriateness” so if you think your costume may be on the line of acceptability, I would choose something else.
Parades – In my opinion, the MNSSHP Boo to You parade is one of the best parades that I have ever seen at Disney World. This may be because of my personal preferences, but I know that there are floats that I have not seen at any other parade. For example, in past years, the Headless Horseman rides down Main Street with a “flaming” pumpkin in his hand to start off the parade. Also, I really enjoyed the Haunted Mansion themed units. They had a troupe of grave diggers with choreographed shovel routines, and a float with the three hitchhiking ghosts on it. Even the caretaker with his emaciated dog made an appearance, and it was one of the only times I can remember seeing any real dog in a Disney parade. Other floats featured various villains, and you get to see all of the regular Disney characters, many of them dressed up in their Halloween costumes.
The Christmas parade was similar in the fact that the floats were all themed to Christmas. Again, they had floats that I have only seen during the Christmas Party parade, and most of the characters were dressed up in their Christmas outfits. I think that the Halloween parade was better than the Christmas parade, but that’s simply my opinion, and probably relates to my enjoyment of the Villains and the Haunted Mansion.
Rare Characters – If you are a “character hunter” this would be your opportunity to get your picture taken, or get some autographs from characters that normally are not available. In the past, at the Christmas Party there have been characters like Mary Poppins with Bert and Penguin, Captain Jack Sparrow, Snow White with all 7 Dwarves, Santa Claus, and many Princes and Princesses. A lot of them are in their Christmas outfits, so that makes some of the normal ones more unique as well.
Halloween is similar with Princes and Princesses, but also Villains that are almost never available, like Shadow Man. Snow White and the 7 Dwarves are usually there, but again this is very special to get them all at once. Also, there is usually some representation of the Haunted Mansion available, from either a ghost sitting and talking to guests on the front lawn, or special picture spots where hitchhiking ghosts magically appear in photos that you can get from Disney’s Photo Pass service.
Special Character Shows – For MNSSHP there is a special performance by many of the Disney Villains called the Disney Villain’s Mix and Mingle, usually right before the parade. This is a unique showing of about 10 Disney villains singing and dancing, and as the name implies, some of them come down to the crowd afterward to “mix and mingle” where you can get pictures with them. Similarly, for MVMCP there is Celebrate the Season where many of your favorite characters come out to perform to different Christmas themed songs. Shows may change from year to year, and they may or may not offer the same, or similar shows as time goes on, so if you feel that this would be a large part of your experience, I would check a schedule for the days you would attend before going.
Dance Parties – Disney does this a lot of times other than the special hard ticket events, but at these events they usually have several of them at the same time in different areas. The theme will depend on what part of the park you are in, but for example, I have seen futuristic ones in Tomorrow Land, and western ones in Frontier Land, all with appropriately dressed, and varied characters. Characters will also tend to switch out during the party, so there is almost always going to be some character there for your kids, or you, I guess, to dance with.
“Free” Treats – At the Christmas parties, they will hand out coco and cookies, and at Halloween, everyone can go trick or treating at the designated treat trails. Not only can you go to the designated spots, but I have also seen cast members just filling bags of candy as people are leaving. You are basically going to get as much as you want to carry around. However, it is pointless to spend a lot of your limited time getting $5 worth of candy, but if you want to, you can. However, I have to say that being allowed, and encouraged, to go trick or treating as an adult is fun.
Special Fireworks – Each respective party also has it’s own special fireworks show. Not only is the music themed to the season, but the fireworks change as well. Now days, the castle projections are also involved so it makes for a great show overall. The Castle Dream Lights are also part of the show, simulating the effect of snow covering the castle, and adding to the overall effect of the show.
“Snow” on Main Street – This is a neat effect, but for some of us, who actually have to live with snow for 5 months of the year, it’s not as exciting. However, during the Christmas party, they do have effects that re-create snow gently falling on Main Street. You can try to catch it on your tongue if you want, but I really don’t recommend it, I believe the “snow” is made from soap.
You have to realize that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. By this I mean imagine that you are in the hub area, you get to see a great villain show on the castle stage, a few minutes later the headless horseman rides by followed by a unique parade, then the fireworks start going off with a different soundtrack than usual, with a storyline of the villains dueling to see who has the most evil. Then you get to go trick or treating and get and walk on attractions. That’s quite a unique experience that you are not going to get in a lot of places. The same goes for Christmas – Decorations all over the park, the Christmas music in the air. Characters dressed up for the season, another unique show, parade and fireworks, while sipping your free hot chocolate and eating a cookie; snow falling on Main Street. Again, that’s quite a Christmas experience. It really puts you in the “Christmas Spirit” even if it is the middle of November, and 85 degrees outside.
Overall, if you are traveling on a budget, you can easily skip these events. They are nice, and fun, but certainly not something that you HAVE to do as they are quite expensive, especially for large families. I do like the Halloween one more than the Christmas one, but that’s just me. I am sure that plenty of people disagree. However, if you have the money, and the time, and enjoy the season, then you may want to seriously consider adding them to your trip.
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