Disney World Halloween and Christmas Parties, Worth the Price?

Written by Chris Wood. Posted in Features, Park Wise, Walt Disney World

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Published on September 19, 2012 at 10:54 pm with 18 Comments

It’s that time of year again, the start of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and, in November, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. . .

Each party is a hard ticket evening event, meaning you’ll pay a separate admission price.  Both parties offer special parades, activities, and shows, but at around $60 per ticket, it can take a huge bite out of your budget.  So, are these parties worth the price? Let’s look at what they offer and see if they’re right for you.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

There are plenty of opportunities for trick or treating at this party, where even grown-ups dress up and hunt for the best candy. You can also see a special showing of “Hallo Wishes” fireworks, dance parties, a flash mob, meet rare characters, and even talk to a very entertaining, opera singing “ghost” outside of the Haunted Mansion while you wait in line.

Where this party really shines, however, is during the parade. You’ll see some of your favorite villains and scenes from the Haunted Mansion come to life, including a group of dancing gravediggers who steal the show.  The parade takes place twice a night, so if you’re not coming with younger children, see the second parade. You’ll start to see parents of younger children clearing out sometime around 10:00 PM, which means better viewing for those who stay later.

Get Park Wise:  If you’ve ever wanted to parade around the Magic Kingdom dressed up as your favorite princess, now’s the time to do it. While Disney has a strict policy against adults dressing up as Disney characters during regular hours, this rule is thrown out the door during the party. So grab your tiara and and that Belle dress you’ve been dying to wear–on this night, it’s allowed.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party:

Want to see ” snow ” on Main Street? Well you can, several times a night, if you go to this Christmas party, which features a special parade, Holiday “Wishes,” cookies and hot cocoa, meet-ups with your favorite characters in their holiday finery, and dance parties throughout the night. It’s less lively and creative than the Halloween party, but its still a great time and it’s a wonderful way to be in the park late at night during at time of year when the Magic Kingdom closes early.

Get Park Wise:  You can only see this parade during the party until the day after the parties end for the season. However, after that date, this special Christmas parade becomes the daily 3:00 o’ clock parade in the Magic Kingdom.

 Crowds:

One benefit of these parties is at they’re capped at around 25,000 guests (Disney doesn’t release official figures, so this is just an estimate) and they often don’t reach capacity. This means that you can walk on many attractions on less crowded nights, particularly after 10:00 p.m. or so.   Unfortunately, busier party nights can feel like a waste of money; better to focus on the parades and shows if you’re going on one of those nights and save the rides for another time.

One word about sold-out parties: Avoid them if you can.  These tend to be any party close to Halloween, Halloween night, and the last couple Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas parties of the season.  Weekend parties tend to be more crowded as well, although they’re rarely sold out. In general, if you’re looking to avoid crowds, go on a weeknight.  While you can’t predict what party will be sold out, discounted party nights tend to cost less because they’re historically less popular. If you really want to avoid sold-out parties, just buy your ticket the day of the event.  You won’t get a discount for paying in advance (around $5) but you’ll know that your party isn’t going to be packed to capacity either.

Get Park Wise:  If you’re not attending the party, you’ll be required to leave promptly at 7:00 on party nights. Guests who dawdle will not be allowed in shops, restaurants or, of course, rides. Party guests will be required to show their wristbands most of the night, much like during Extra Magic Hours.

Strategies: 

Because these parties allow guests to experience lower crowds, you shouldn’t need a touring plan for the party, but it helps to have a rough idea of how you’re going to tackle this event and what your goal is. For example (as I advised above), if you came to see the parades and fireworks and you’re with a group of adults, go to the second showing once parents with younger children have cleared out.  If you’re a character fan, you’ll want to get as much character interaction as possible since these parties are a great places to see some of the more unique characters, so do that first. If you want to experience the entirety of the party, go ahead and do those events unique to the party first, then visit attractions later in the night, since you can do those any time.

Get Park Wise:  Officially, these parties begin at 7:00. Unofficially, Disney allows party guests to enter the Magic Kingdom as early as 4:00. While we hear rumors every year that Disney has changed this policy and is enforcing the 7:00 o’clock entrance rule, the fact is that crowd control issues mean it benefits Disney to allow party guests to enter early.

Now that you know a little bit more about the parties, lets break down the pros and cons to see if they’re worth the high price of admission.

It might be worth the money if . . . 

  • You have older kids who can stay out late.
  • You’d like to visit the parks when they are (potentially) the least crowded.
  • You’d like to see a different parade and meet characters in their holiday finery.
  • This is the only “late” night in the Magic Kingdom during your stay. The Magic Kingdom is extra special at night and shouldn’t be missed, especially during the Christmas holidays.

It might not be worth the money if . . .

  • You have younger children, since they might not be able to stay for the bulk of the party.
  • You’re on a tight budget.  This is probably the first “extra” I would skip. Instead, think about adding hoppers, which can make touring easier and increase your park time, or even going out for a special dinner. At around $240 for a family of four, this is a lot of money to spend on one night.
  • You can only attend a party on busy nights and you don’t want to deal with crowds.

These parties allow Disney to try new, fantastic things and really stretch their creativity. For this reason, I think it’s worth it to attend these parties at least once. As always however, I don’t believe in stretching your budget too far; there’s just so much to do already, that these parties are more of a nice bonus than necessity, so skip it if you’re worried about costs.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on these parties. What do you think? Do you have a favorite? Are these a ‘must do’ for you or a ‘been there done that’ sort of thing?

Thanks to John Frost of The Disney Blog for the Halloween party pictures.

Chris writes here and at Everything Walt Disney World. You can follow her updates on Facebook for your daily dose of Disney news and tips.

About Chris Wood

Chris Wood is frequent Disney traveler and travel agent. She considers Walt Disney World to be her home park.

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  • jcruise86

    Thanks, Chris! Nice overview!

    I hope we in California get an opera-singing ghost outside of our Haunted Mansion, and the grave-digging dancers in our Halloween parade, though Florida might feel a need to have some better elements since we have Jack’s version of the HM from Halloween through Christmas.
    Also, out here you can “officially” enter the parks at 4pm, three hours before the party becomes exclusive.

    Don’t you still have a galloping headless horseman starting off your Halloween parade?

    • Chris Wood

      Thank you. It’s actually 4:00 in WDW–typo. Thanks for pointing it out. I’ll change it.

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    I like the Halloween and Christmas parties, but don’t like it that they are an extra cost. Essentially, day guests are punished if they don’t want to add an additional $60 to their day.

    The Disney parks already offer parades and fireworks at other times of he year, they are just showing their extreme corporate greed by charging extra for them during these two special events.

    Christmas cheer should be a little perk of visiting at the holidays, not just an up-sell opportunity. The antithesis of the spirit of the season.

    • jcruise86

      Dusty, I agree with you about Christmas, but my (then) six-year-old and I had a very nice time at one of the earlier Halloween parties last year. Having costumed kids as such a high % of guests, and getting so many high-quality treats (The bagged apples seemed unusually fresh & delicious, and all of the candy was America’s best and most famous.) could not be done with a regular AP crowd. So make the Halloween parties even better, but, yeah, get Scrooge out of Christmas and make Christmas festivities part of the regular magic of Disney Parks.

      Disney might make even more money if they didn’t appear to be trying to make more money. (See the “Four Seasons: the Story of a Business Philosophy” by the hotel company’s founder Isadore Sharp.” Seriously, Thomas Staggs, read this book.)

      –Tom Sinsky

      • Chris Wood

        Thanks.

    • nic1984

      I think that it is great that Disney offers these parties. I also think that it is OK for them to charge an admission cost to experience these parties. Disney doesn’t offer free tours so why should they with the parties? Just like the tours, they offer things that you can not experience as part of your regular admission ticket. Disney does offer some really great things during the Holidays to make it amazing!

    • Chris Wood

      I agree with you–I can’t stand that these parades are something you have to pay extra for. I was so disappointed the first time I visited during Christmas to find out that the daytime parade was sanitized of everything Christmas and that I had to pay for the Christmas parade. I get the free cookies and trick or treating being saved for the parties, but the parades? Come on!

  • DynoGoat

    I’m torn on the value of hard ticket MK parties. The concept universally makes sense for Halloween, as it has been implemented in both Anaheim and Lake Buena Vista. But when you look at how Disneyland features Christmas/Holiday Season attraction and entertainment offerings as part of their general operating schedule, it does make it a bit hard t o swallow having to shell out additional fundage to see the equivalent roster of offerings at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. This, especially in light of the recent leakage of nighttime Extra Magic Hours being shaved from 3 down to 2 hours of park time for paying Resort Guests- a “free” benefit, that really isn’t free, but instead hidden/built into their vacation package quote.

    Conversely, we all know Walt Disney World lacks the massive home base regional visitor base that Disneyland has always had, and so the hard ticket expense is easier to sell to the “what the heck, we’re on vacation” visitors. In addition, even as a Premier Passholder, I have always looked at my annual MVMCP visit in early December to be my “Magic Kingdom Insurance” night. Regardless of how light or heavy the crowds are during my visit, I know I can bank on at least one evening of walk on Space Mountain trips!

    • Chris Wood

      Thanks. I love it for the walk on rides–my husband and I usually try to make a date night of it (we’re nerds).

  • DynoGoat

    In addition, it should be noted that even at ~$60, these parties are an exceptional value when compared to a one day one park ticket, as guests can gain admission at 4PM. So for 8 hours of near walk on rides (more than you’d ever get on a normal operating day), plus the added entertainment, that’s a pretty great deal. Also note the Party prices have gone big time over the past decade. When I attended my first MVMCP in 2003, I believe we paid only $40 or so.

    • jcruise86

      I agree that the less expensive, early (September?) Halloween party we attended seemed like a good value compared with the regular one day admission ticket.

      • jcruise86

        If you attend the Disneyland parties on Sept. 28, Oct. 2, 5, 9, 15 & 23 it’s
        (with advance purchase) $54 and includes parking.
        Other days are $64, and it’s $69 on Oct. 29 & 31.
        There also AP discounts.

      • Chris Wood

        Thanks!

      • Chris Wood

        I think the Halloween party is MUCH more creative so I have to agree. I’m more of a Christmas person but as far as value, the Halloween party wins.

        Thanks.

    • Chris Wood

      Yes, if you’re doing a one-day ticket, it is a better deal. I also like the idea of using it to get some nighttime hours in the parks.

      That is a big price increase. Yikes.

  • Aotphks

    The blog author writes “These parties allow Disney to try new, fantastic things and really stretch their creativity. For this reason, I think it’s worth it to attend these parties at least once.” Well.. the only thing Disney World is stretching is the price of admission because the single one reason why we don’t attend these parties anymore is because they really don’t do much that I’d consider “new” year after year. These parties have been serving the same exact parades, fireworks and decor for almost a decade or so. So no, I don’t think Disney tries new things during these parties at all. There was a time when the parties were fun to attend and economical. Now? That is no longer the case. We used to love having our family picture taken with compliments (as part of the admission price) but they don’t even do that anymore. I also dislike how they no longer clear the park before admitting evening guests into the parties. I believe it’s bad customer service seeing the park employees hunting down day time visitors who don’t have party wrist bands and asking them to leave. The last time we did the Halloween party about 4 years ago, I saw many daytime guests without wrist bands enjoying the parade we paid to see as an exclusive special event, and I voiced my observations at Guest Relations.

    What troubles me most is the nickle and dime attitude about these parties. They offer nothing new from one year to the next, except for maybe pin sets and some nice but limited merchandise items. Why can they at least perform these holiday shows and parades as part of the regular operating hours? Hong Kong Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland, and I believe Disneyland Paris, offer Halloween and Christmas shows and parades as part of their regular day line up. THAT should be the norm as well for the USA Disney parks. Just because Universal does gory Halloween events at a special price and time, does not mean that Disney has to follow suit. But seems to me it’s all about the money they can make off these holiday events. So what will be next? Pirates and princesses parties? (oops! That concept failed royally) Easter Parties? Well maybe so since Tokyo Disneyland does lavish Easter events for day time guests already, and I know this because 2 years ago, we attended during such special event. And guess what? It was a magical day at Tokyo Disneyland. Too bad the Halloween and Christmas parties have loss that edge.

    My advise is to do it once if you must, but otherwise, skip it. You are not missing much, except for maybe the candy and cookies they pass out.

    • Chris Wood

      Thank you. Good points and well thought out.