THE BLOG
09/05/2013 01:05 pm ET | Updated Nov 05, 2013

Haunting and Magical - Halloween at Walt Disney World

One of my favorite times to visit Walt Disney World is during the holidays, and in particular at Halloween, when the park holds Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party .

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Photo: The Walt Disney Company

During the Halloween season, the train station, entrance to The Magic Kingdom and Main Street U.S.A. are decorated with orange and brown bunting, carved jack-o-lanterns, hay bales, fall flowers and scarecrows that are dressed as Main Street U.S.A. cast members. It's a fun, festive look and gives Main Street U.S.A. even more of a down-home feel.

Some of the restaurants will feature fall-inspired menus, the bakery and confection shop typically will have Halloween-themed dipped apples, cupcakes and cookies and the retails shops will carry a wide-assortment of Halloween merchandise.

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Photo: Corey Martin / The Disunplugged

Even though the Halloween decorations make The Magic Kingdom festive, it isn't until the sun goes down that the park takes on a magically spooky atmosphere during one of these Halloween parties.

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Photo: mvf-m11c / Disboards.com

The real star though is Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. This is an incredibly popular, special-ticket event that will be held this year on 23 specific dates from September 10 through November 1 from 7:00 pm to Midnight. Technically, starting at 4:00 pm you can get into The Magic Kingdom on your party ticket. Since this is a separate event there is an additional fee to attend and prices vary based on the event night. It's advisable to purchase your tickets in advance, as many of the dates sell out. When you purchase tickets for this event you will receive a hard ticket. Bring that hard ticket with you on the day of the event and starting at 4:00 pm you can exchange your ticket for a party wristband at select locations in the park. If you are entering the Magic Kingdom there is a separate check-in area at the park entrance. If you are already in the Magic Kingdom, the wristband distribution is usually in Tomorrowland near Stitch's Great Escape.

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Photo: The Walt Disney Company

Make sure you pick up the special park guide for the evening. It will tell you the times for the Halloween parade, HalloWishes Fireworks, Villians Mix and Mingle, Trick or Treat locations and other event information.

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Photo: The Walt Disney Company

Although you don't have to wear a costume during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, you'll find a large majority of park guests will be dressed up for the evening. Walking down Main Street U.S.A. the buildings are bathed in soft yellow, orange, blue and other assorted haunted lighting.

This year's party offers a few new events including the debut appearance of Jack Skellington and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Phineas and Ferb will also take charge of the Creepa Crew this year. This group gets parade-goers warmed up for fun on Main Street, U.S.A., while they wait for the parade's arrival.

Over in Tomorrowland, "Monsters, Inc.," scarers Mike and Sulley will host their own Monstrous Scream-O-Ween Ball dance party on the Rockettower Plaza Stage. The stage has been completely transformed for this "monstrous" event.

Trick-or-treating will also be enhanced this year with more than 220 tons of candy on order. In addition to trick-or-treat stations, there will also be two treat trails - pathways that guests will trick-or-treat through and offer multiple candy stops along the way. Our friends at Magic Kingdom Park also hinted that in addition to these locations, there might be one or two surprise treat locations to stop at as well.

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Photo: mvf-m11c / Disboards.com

Two returning party favorites are the Boo-to-You Halloween Parade and the HalloWishes Fireworks. This special parade features the Headless Horseman, Disney characters in Halloween regalia and the ghostly inhabitants of The Haunted Mansion. The HalloWishes fireworks spectacular, which illuminates the park in glittering color and light, incorporates all the fun of Halloween with the "spooky" and "sinister" side of the villains.

On the day of the party how you plan your day is up to you, but when we are attending Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party typically we will spend the entire day at The Magic Kingdom. We will enjoy the park as if it was any normal day, but unlike other days we will have an early dinner around 5:00 pm. With our party wristbands securely on our wrists we may stay in the park and have dinner at The Crystal Palace or head out for a park break and have dinner at one of the area resort hotels. Hopping on the monorail or boat, we typically will eat at Citricos at The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, 'Ohana's at The Polynesian Resort, Chef Mickey's or California Grill or Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge. Sometimes we will even head over to Ft. Wilderness and catch and early show of one of our favorite dinner shows, The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.

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Maleficent from "Sleeping Beauty" in the new fall "Celebrate The Magic" Castle Show
Image: Disney Parks Blog / The Walt Disney Company

Depending on what time we return to The Magic Kingdom we will either do a little shopping or find our spot for the fireworks. Our spot of preference is either at the top of Main Street between Casey's Corner and the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor or at The Hub. We usually will find our spot about one hour prior to the start of the parade and stay there through the Villans' DAnce Mix & Mingle, Celebrate The Magic Castle Show and HalloWishes Fireworks. After that we will ride a few attractions and probably catch the second parade.

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Photo: Corey Martin / The Disunplugged

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party offers a number of special events that shouldn't be missed, including many of the attractions, which are open throughout the evening. Of the two parade showings, most families with children typically catch the earlier Mickey's Boo-To-You Halloween Parade. The second parade is usually less crowded if you plan on staying late. The parade starts in Frontierland with the ride of The Headless Horseman. Guests are asked not to have any item that will illuminate during his ride as the horse is guided by a light.

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Photo: Corey Martin / The Disunplugged

The parade is amazing. It features performers portraying some of Disney's quintessential spooky characters including many from my favorite The Haunted Mansion. They include the graveyard caretaker and his dog, the gravediggers and the ballroom dancers. One of my other favorite parts of the parade is the Villains section where Maleficent, Jafar, The Evil Queen and others have a lot of fun with everyone.

Sandwiched in between the first and second parade are the "HalloWishes" Fireworks. This fireworks presentation, held only once in the evening, is one of my favorite fireworks show next to the special fireworks show during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade and Epcot's IllumiNations.

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Additionally, Disney's Villians Mix and Mingle is where guests not only get to see a staged production, at Cinderella Castle Court, with some of Disney's popular villains, but also get to meet some of them after the show.

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Not to be missed is The Haunted Mansion because, for obvious reasons, it's the mansion's holiday and you just may get the rare chance to meet and talk with one of its residents Madame Carlotta!

Just because it's the spookiest time of the year doesn't mean it can't be magical as well!