June 9, 2015, 1:08 PM

Me and my partner are going to Florida in September for 2 weeks. We plan on doing universal and Magic kingdom's Halloween events. But my question is how does everyone recommend to do it? I was contemplating doing a full day on our first day after flying since we'll be up early anyway.

Also is there anything else worth doing in Halloween season seeing as I've never experienced it so tips / recommendations and personal experiences would be great

Replies (7)

June 10, 2015, 4:15 AM

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Edited: June 10, 2015, 7:39 AM

Bring a costume. The Halloween Party is more fun if you're also in the spirit of the events. Bring extra bags to hold your candy at the Disney event. They will fill both if you hold up both. You'll get a lot. Not sure if it's worth it to fly the candy back in your suitcase. It will be heavy.

Don't waste your day ticket on a Halloween Event day, but you might not have any choice if you're not a local. Go on all the rides during the day so at night you can focus on the shows, parade, and the treat stations.

The best way to do Universal's event is visit the newer mazes first. Visit the trip report sites for this information.

Anything else worth doing? Depends on how you have money left after spending a ton visiting Disney and Universal. Generally, the other things won't be as good.

Edited: June 10, 2015, 8:22 AM

I second Anon's suggestion about not wasting a regular admission on the day you do the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, which is a separately ticketed event. Guests with Party tickets can enter the MK at 4:00 PM (some reports of sneaking in even earlier), which is before the day guests are kicked out. You can even make FP+ reservations for that time and get on a few attractions before the park coverts over to Halloween (most attractions continue to operate throughout the Party). The highlights of the Party are the event-specific parade (Boo to You) and fireworks/projection show. I highly recommend getting to the parade route early because the Headless Horseman kicks off the parade about 5-10 minutes before the actual parade start time. Depending on the day, there can be 2 or 3 runs of the parade and fireworks.

The other unique items at the MNSSHP are the special character greets (SUPER popular), and the Dance Parties (Tomorrowland and Frontierland). Your affinity for pictures with characters will determine how important it is, but the most unusual characters (Sally and Jack Skellington, and all 7 Dwarves) can see well over 60-minute lines on party nights late in October. The Dance Parties are cute, but more for just passing through, and not worth cobbling out time in your evening to experience.

The park also sets up a number of special Photopass locations that include digitally inserted animation onto your photos that are exclusive to the MNSSHP. Finally, there's the candy. There are candy stations everywhere through the park, and it's very easy to walk away with pounds and pounds of candy. However, I do not recommend hitting the candy stations early in the evening, because the lines definitely get a lot shorter later as kids start falling asleep and families begin departing after 10 PM. Some candy stations have some more unique items that may run out (Jelly Belly and Werther's), but in general, there will be enough candy to rot out all of your teeth. As Anon noted, bringing an extra bag is a good idea. I would recommend bringing a collapsible/reusable bag with strong handles to tote your haul home after the night. The bags that the park provides are pretty small, and the handles can easily break.

Universal's HHN is also a separately ticketed event with more highly variable pricing than Disney's. I highly recommend visiting on a Sunday or Wednesday (it's typically dark on Mondays and Tuesdays), and unlike the MNSSHP, being in the park before the party starts can be a HUGE advantage. The park sells what is called a "Stay and Scream" pass, which includes a day admission to the parks along with admission to a specific evening of HHN. USF builds in a 1 hour buffer between when the park closes for the day and when it reopens for HHN. You need to be in USF (not IOA and not in Diagon Alley) before the park closes, and they will move stay and scream guests to specific holding areas around the park (in the past I have waited in Finnegan's). If you actually want to sit down and eat at Finnegan's I highly recommend having a reservation, because the bar/restaurant gets rather packed as guests wait for HHN to start. They typically release guests from the in-park holding areas before they open the front gates (when I was there in October, we were released 15 minutes before HHN officially opened at 6 PM). Because it is still light outside when HHN first opens, you should do the haunted houses located in full-interior sound stages first, and remember to bring a pair of dark sunglasses so your eyes are ready when you enter the dark houses. There are tons of sites that go through HHN strategy, and how you should tour the park without Universal Express changes depending upon the layout of the event and quality of the individual houses. Expect lines for the most popular houses to exceed 2 hours even on slower nights, but a well executed strategy can get you through every house in a single night without UE. UE is very expensive (typically more than doubles the price of an admission), but many find it very worthwhile if you don't want to adhere to a strategy or want to spend a lot of time roaming the scare zones.

The Disney and Universal events are VERY DIFFERENT, and I do not recommend HHN for children under 13.

Another thing you should do if you're traveling near the end of September is the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival. In addition to special separately ticketed meals, events, demonstrations, etc... the World Showcase is lined with kiosks selling small plates of food unique to a country (some World Showcase countries, some others). You can literally eat (and drink) your way around the World tasting a little bit from all corners of the globe. Try to stay away from going on Friday and Saturday nights where college-aged and 20-something APs turn the World Showcase into a giant bachelor/bachelorette party (unless you're going to the Party for the Senses, which is only held on Saturday nights). If you love food, wine, and beer, the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival is a must if it meshes with your scheduled trip. The Festival usually starts the second or third week of September and runs through the first or second week of November.

June 11, 2015, 2:45 PM

Ah yes the food and wine festival, how can I forget about that!!!

Off the back of everyones advice, looks like I might need to do some replanning then, I figured seeing as she'd be so excited and wake up early then a full day at MK would be good. But in hindsight you're probably right that it would not be as enjoyable doing a full day at MK and then the night as well. Is there a lot more uncommon characters at MNSSHP to have photo ops with?

I've actually got a two night stay at Hard Rock with fast pass tickets, so would it be worth paying the extra and doing HHN then or going back again at a separate time?

Sorry if it sounds like a lot of silly questions guys, but being her first vacation to Florida since she was a little girl I want to try and get everything planned and sorted beforehand.

June 11, 2015, 3:28 PM

It sounds like you're overplanning. There's no way of knowing what characters will show up for photo ops and where. You have to be aware of everything and be ready to take a photo. There will be a lot of walking.

Whatever you do, it is worth paying depending on what you'll get out of it. Again, we advised you to not do too much. You won't be able to. Buying a day ticket that is cut short due to the Halloween event is a misuse of your funds. You said you have two weeks of vacation. Why waste your money? Use your ticket on another day.

Little girls are not forced to do everything. You should plan before the trip and then just put it away when you arrive. Reality is different than what you imagined at home.

Edited: June 12, 2015, 11:35 AM

Every character meet at the MNSSHP is "unique" since even the Big 5 are wearing their Halloween costumes that change from year to year (and sometimes even night to night). The MNSSHP Park Map will show where each of the greets are (many places where characters don't normally meet like at the New Fantasyland gate and in front of the Castle). Most of the Disney fan sites will detail the characters in each location after the first party of the season so you can figure out which ones you want to do and where you need to be to meet them. Contrary to what Anon stated, the Halloween characters are pretty consistent and have dedicated locations during the MNSSHP. Lines start forming for the most popular Halloween characters an hour before the Party officially starts (Jack and Sally were meeting in the Pooh greet area by the Town Hall last fall with lines exceeding an hour throughout the Party we went to on a Sunday night in Mid-October).

The reason you should not go to MK on the day of a party is because you'll be double-paying. If you enter MK at 9 AM on the day of a party, you will be required to use an admission day, and then you're also paying for the MNSSHP that night---it's just not a good value to pay over $150 (assuming $70 for the party and $80 or more for an admission on a multi-day ticket) for one day at the MK. I would recommend making your Party day a pool day or perhaps a waterpark day and then show up at the MK for the Party at 4 PM. You could also plan to do the Party on your arrival day (this is what we did last fall) since you would probably not be planning a full theme park day when you get to Orlando anyway.

If you're staying at the Hard Rock for 2 nights, that means you get free Universal Express for 3 days (arrival day, departure day, and the day in between). I would not split your trip to come back for HHN, just do it one of the nights you're there (again Sundays and Wednesdays tend to be the less crowded days). Also, if you do HHN on a night when you're not in the parks, you cannot do the Stay and Scream, which is a HUGE advantage over guests just coming for HHN. Like I said before, regular guests have to wait at the front gate (and get through security) while Stay and Scream guests can start touring houses when the park officially opens for HHN. On busy night, you can stand in line for over an hour just to get through the front gates into HHN, so already being in the park when HHN starts is a HUGE advantage.

I'm not sure, but I don't believe the UE that comes free with your room is eligible for the HHN attractions, but I'm pretty sure you can use UE on the rides that are open during HHN (Rip Ride Rocket, Mummy, MIB, and Simpsons). Don't quote me on that, but I'm pretty sure,

June 13, 2015, 12:56 AM

Thanks Russell and thanks for being a bit more helpful and less rude too

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