Halloween starts earlier than ever this year at Walt Disney World

February 25, 2020, 12:11 PM · Walt Disney World's annual Halloween Party is starting earlier than ever this year. In fact, if it started just one day earlier, it would be closer to Memorial Day than Halloween itself.

Disney today announced the 36 dates for this year's Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom. This is an after-hours, hard-ticket party that requires a separate admission, so the park will close to day guests earlier in the evening on party nights.

August 13, 18, 21, 25, 28
September 1, 4, 7, 11, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 25, 27, 29
October 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31
November 1

The August 13 start is just a day from being halfway between Memorial Day and Halloween, as Disney looks to extend the Halloween season to erase any gap between it and the end of the summer vacation season.

Prices for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party start this year at $85 a night, plus tax, and range up to $149, plus tax, for Halloween itself, October 31. That's up from last year's range of $79 to $135, an increase of 8-10 percent per ticket. Tickets are available on Disney's website. The party runs from 7pm to midnight each night and includes the Mickey's Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular stage show, the Disney's Not So Spooky Spectacular fireworks, and unlimited all-ages trick-or-treating throughout the park.

Replies (7)

February 25, 2020 at 2:12 PM

While it's definitely a fun party, I feel that it loses its charm when its offered more than 2 months before Halloween. It's strange seeing the decorations put up right after July is over! But from a business point of view, if there's demand, I can see why they offer it so early.

February 25, 2020 at 2:27 PM

There's nothing more comfortable than sweating buckets wearing Halloween Party outfits while waiting to meet rare characters in mid-August heat and humidity.

I get the financial incentives here for Disney to expand this event, but it's getting out of control. Also, the popularity of the event is seeing crowds swell to uncontrollable levels where the only way it's worth experiencing MNSSHP is to do so in August when fewer people show up. The October Party crowds have gotten insane despite steady price increases, making what used to be one of the best values at WDW not really worth the hassle any more.

February 25, 2020 at 2:59 PM

@Russell Meyer - I agree. So then what is the solution? It seems like there are only two possibilities. One is to add even more dates, be it additional evenings each week, or extending it even earlier into the year. The other is to raise prices and/or put a lower cap on how many tickets are sold. And if there are less people, the prices will surely increase to maintain the profits.

I'm curious how this will evolve over time. What price point will finally strike the right balance? Yes, it will be prohibitive for many families to attend these types of events on a regular basis, but ultimately the goal should be a great guest experience that has families begging for return trips.

I do think Disney will find the right balance. But so far, they're not there yet.

February 25, 2020 at 5:23 PM

If you dont like it, then dont go.

Shanghai and HK are down, they have to make up the money somewhere.

I get the guest frustration tho, but supply and demand.

February 26, 2020 at 7:13 AM

@Gabriel - I think the solution is dramatically increasing the price. MNSSHP is a relative bargain compared to other WDW After Hours/Early Morning Magic events, especially when you consider the exclusive offerings of the Halloween party along with the party's length (guests can enter at 4 PM and stay until after midnight - compared to 3-5 hours for other hard-ticket events). Personally, I would pay well over $100 for the event if it truly guaranteed lighter than normal crowds and minimal lines for marquee rides and characters like other hard ticket events. The problem with MNSSHP is that it has gotten so popular that Disney cannot resist the temptation to jam the parks with guests, and what used to be a wonderful evening with 15 minute lines for Space Mountain and other top attraction along with 30-minute lines for characters you couldn't see any other time of the year has turned into a zoo with attraction lines that far exceed normal length (without the luxury of FP+) and character lines that border on the absurd - we waited over 2 hours to meet Jack and Sally on our last visit. Increasing the price and getting the crowds back to where they were 8-10 years ago (significant price increases would allow for no net change in revenue) would really improve the event and make it feel special. The MNSSHP has lost a lot of its shine recently even with the new and improved fireworks/projection show and parade.

Also, while this is out of Disney's control, even the Trick or Treating has lost some of its luster as TSA has more or less eliminated the ability of guests to bring home bags of individually wrapped candy unless you place them in your checked luggage.

February 26, 2020 at 2:57 PM

Last year's reported crowds were likely caused by the ill-advised MNSSHP season pass. There was no way for Disney to know how many season pass members would show up on any given night.

Despite increased prices, hard ticketed events continue to soar in popularity. It is a supply and demand issue, and Disney will continue to increase supply and prices until it reaches a point that demand decreases.

February 27, 2020 at 7:30 AM

@twobits - From what I've read from close observers of last year's "season pass", Disney only sold @1,000 of them because they were so prohibitively priced ($300), so even if every single person who bought one showed up on a given night (I believe they were still blacked out on Halloween), it would not have a huge effect on crowds.

I don't begrudge Disney trying to take advantage of the event's popularity, and they should absolutely leverage it to the max. However, I think they're undermining themselves by expanding the event earlier and earlier instead of adding more party nights during the fall. I also think that they need to get the event back to where it was 5+ years ago in terms of crowds, because the MNSSHP no longer provides much bang for your buck when lines for attractions and characters are as long, if not longer, than they are during the busiest time of year. I recognize that Disney has really hit on something with these limited after hours and early morning events. Guests see the value in paying for these hard ticket events as ways to avoid the crush of daily crowds. My point is that the MNSSHP has lost that advantage for guests because Disney continues to oversell the Party, and that if they need to reach certain revenue thresholds for each night, they should dramatically increase the price instead of letting more guests into the event. The crowd levels for the MNSSHP should be on the same level as the After Hours and Early Morning Magic events, but because Disney rarely allows Parties to "sell out", there ends up being more guests at the Parties than there are during the day (many informed guests smartly avoid MK on Party nights because of the crush of crowds entering the park for the MNSSHP at 4 PM).

The problem definitely isn't a financial one (Disney could probably price the MNSSHP at $150/night or more and they could still pack the park to near capacity), it's a quality/experience problem that will eventually undermine the reputation of the event to the point where Disney might not be able to raise the price because guests will no longer see value in the MNSSHP. We're already close to that point, so Disney needs to reign in the crowds through price controls (and allowing Parties to sell out) or risk guests turning their back on what used to be one of the highest rated annual events at WDW.

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