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Disney World

Our Review of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Last week I took my 9 year old on a very special one-on-one trip to Disney World. While we only had three days there, we packed in as much fun and bonding as we possibly could. The focal point of the trip was Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP), which my daughter has been wanting to go to since she knew it existed.

Mickey's not so scary Halloween party

I’ll give you the play by play of how our night went, and sum it up by answering the question “is it worth the ticket price?

Ticket prices range from $74 to $115, depending on the date (Halloween night is the most expensive, August and September dates are less expensive). The party ticket costs almost as much as a full day park ticket, so it’s important to weigh your priorities.

Entering the park

Here is something they don’t tell you on the party ticket, and it could make a real difference for people deciding whether or not to go. The party officially runs from 7pm to 12am, but you can enter Magic Kingdom with your party ticket at 4pm. So if you’re calculating how much you’re paying per party hour, count it as an 8 hour party instead of 5.

Thanks to the internet, I knew this tidbit ahead of time. Tiana and I rolled up to the gates just after 3:30 pm along with a few thousand of our closest friends. The cast members were directing the people with party tickets to line up to enter through the gates on the right, and people with regular tickets to enter on the left.

They scanned our Magic bands and finger print like a normal park entry.

As soon as we were through the gates, cast members were waiting to put our party bands on us.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party
photo credit: Allears.net

Just beyond them were other cast members handing out the treat bags.

The whole entry process was much quicker and smoother than I expected and we were actually inside the park before 4pm.

The next part was a bit different than what I expected. As soon as we got to the town square, they funneled all party guests to the right down a road not typically open to park guests. It went back behind the shops on the right side of Main Street and came out right around the Plaza Ice Cream parlor. There wasn’t much going on on this path, except some photo ops with photographers and more cast members handing out the first treats for everyone’s bags. My guess is they just wanted to keep Main Street clear for the regular visitors who may be trying to exit at that time.

The entrance procedure worked fine, but it is worth mentioning that you don’t get to walk down Main Street upon entering. For those of us (myself included) who love the joyful feeling you get when you’ve just entered Magic Kingdom and you’re walking down that iconic street with the exhilarating view of the castle… you might feel like you’re missing something.

The 4-7pm “overlap” hours

Here is another reason to enter the park as soon as possible! During the party, there is no FP+. I’m unsure of the reason for this except that with the limited number of tickets sold plus a myriad of special party events going on, there isn’t a huge need for it. But with your party ticket, you ARE able to book three fast passes from 4 to 7. This is a great way to “guarantee” you get to hit your most popular rides without wasting valuable party time.

Tiana and I had made our FP selections 60 days in advance and we chose Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion (the only ride that actually might have longer than typical wait times during the party) and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. So as soon as we got through the entry procedure we made a beeline for Big Thunder Mountain.

Tiana had to take off her wig and I took off my horns because we were concerned about them flying off on the ride.

On the walk from Frontierland to Liberty Square, I was already starting to notice how sparse the crowds were.

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

Before we knew it we were walking into Haunted Mansion. This is one that Tiana has never been brave enough to get on before, but she was excited to ride now. She may have been squeezing all the blood out of my arm and closing her eyes for most of it, but she made it through.

When we got off Haunted Mansion we were starting to get hungry and it looked like it might rain, so we made our way to Columbia Harbor House for dinner. It worked out perfectly because the restaurant was practically empty so we enjoyed a quiet, peaceful sit down dinner without taking up too much time. There was also a brief downpour outside that we completely missed.

After dinner we hopped right on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. That ride is easily one of my favorites in all of Walt Disney World and it’s one of Tiana’s favorites as well so we definitely enjoyed our ride.

We were on a roller coaster kick at this point so we hopped over to Barnstormer, which was a walk-on (one of many we experienced that night!) Barnstormer is on my list of 5 most underrated Disney attractions so obviously I’m a fan of this short-but-sweet little coaster.

Now for a couple of minor disappointments. It was about 6:30 at this point, and I realized I had to hustle to a couple other of my favorite attractions that don’t stay open for the party (most of the rides stay open, but not all, so you have to research beforehand). We went over to Storybook Circus hoping to catch Minnie, Daisy, Donald and Goofy before that spot closed but when we got there they were already gone and the spot was being set up the trick-or-treat stop.

We realized the non-party attractions were actually closing before 7 so we booked it over to Mickey’s Philharmagic, but that was also closed already. It was a slight bummer to miss that one but we couldn’t stay down with all the awesome energy going on in Magic Kingdom. Tiana was especially loving checking out everyone’s costumes.

I realized our sunlight was starting to wind down so we thought we better get a picture in front of the castle. There were Photopass photographers everywhere.

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

After this photo was taken, we made our way to Adventureland to see how long the line was for Moana. The line turned out to be VERY long, so we decided to skip it. We were about to go ride Pirates of the Caribbean when we noticed a new line beginning to form that wasn’t long at all. We jumped in it and were the 5th group to meet Aladdin and Abu.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party

Not surprisingly, Abu did lots of “monkeying” around. He tried to rifle through our bag and looked for bugs in Tiana’s hair which she thought was pretty funny!

Official party time

One thing lots of people are curious about is how they change over from regular park guests to party ticket holders only. They do it by checking for the wristband they put on us when we entered using our Halloween party ticket. Right at 7:00, we noticed cast members asking to see people’s wristband (especially when going from one land to another). Anyone without a wristband was escorted to the gates while people with wristbands were allowed to keep walking.

So, we had just monkeyed around with Abu and then we went right to Pirates. Just outside the ride was a trick-or-treat stop, so we went through to add to our candy collection. All the trick-or-treat stops are easy to find because they have a big blow up marker that looks like this:

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

We never actually set out looking for candy during party, just stopped to grab some whenever it happened to be right in front of us. Our bags were still full by the end of the night so it doesn’t take much effort to amass some serious candy.

Tiana was eager to see the Sanderson sisters in the Villains Spelltacular, having recently seeing Hocus Pocus for the first time, so we decided to head over to the castle to catch the first show. (There are three shows times: 8:15, 10:45, and 12:00). We decided to grab a snack on the way. Even though there are tons of special holiday themed treats during the party, I felt like I couldn’t visit Magic Kingdom without a Dole Whip so that’s what I chose. Tiana must have had enough sweet treats so she went for popcorn.

The Sanderson sisters were fantastic and we loved seeing all the other villains as well.

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

The first of the Boo to You parades was coming up at 9:15, but we decided to take advantage of everyone else watching that and go on as many rides as we could! We were on a mission to stay for the whole party so we knew we could watch the 11:15 parade which is known to be less crowded.

First we covered Tomorrowland with Buzz (walk on), Space Mountain (15 min wait) and the Peoplemover (always a walk on).

Here are the obligatory ride pics:

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

Tiana thought it was pretty much the coolest thing ever to be able to open her treat bag and stuff her face with candy while riding the Peoplemover! We were also able to see the Monsters Inc dance party which was cool because we are both too shy to dance at it but enjoyed seeing it.

Next on the docket was Fantasyland to hit everything we missed the first time around. Every ride was a walk on except for Peter Pan’s Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train which were 20 minutes and 30 minutes. It was crazy how fast we were hopping from ride to ride!

There were lots of special characters to meet during all of this, but I was letting Tiana take the reigns on how we spent our time and she preferred to do rides. But we did see Lotso Hugging Bear, Cruella Deville, Jack Skellington, Mickey and Minnie in their Halloween attire, and Winnie the Pooh in their Halloween costumes while we were making our rounds. We were happy enough to see them from a distance instead of waiting in line to meet them.

I told Tiana to pick one last ride before heading over to see the parade and she decided she wanted to do Haunted Mansion again, this time with her eyes open 😆. She also felt like a tough guy being brave enough to ride it when it was dark out.

Haunted Mansion was marked as a 20 minute wait but we were on the ride after waiting 10.

This time she kept her eyes open the whole time and I think she actually enjoyed it! Her famous line is now “is that a hologram?!” anytime she sees anything spooky.


The special Halloween fireworks begin at 10:15 and they are even bigger and better than the normal Magic Kingdom fireworks. Of course the music and ambience set the mood as well.

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

We were watching on the bridge to Frontierland, a spot we grabbed at the last second, so it’s not a perfect view. There is a bit of tree hanging down which you can see in this photo, but it didn’t take anything away from the experience.

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

All the explosions and effects were breathtaking. I don’t think Tiana enjoyed it as much as I did though, because she tends to be sensitive to loud noises and I saw her covering her ears at the end.

Boo to You Parade

After getting another snack from the Main Street bakery we found an empty spot on the curb right outside that we decided was perfect for parade viewing.

In fact we were so close, when the Headless Horseman galloped by, it seemed he was practically running over our feet!

Then they had some of the Zootopia characters come out and dance with kids to warm up the crowd.

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

Then finally, the parade. I had heard great things about this parade, and it did not disappoint.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party

The gravediggers were a major highlight of the parade, as well as these guys:

Mickey's not so scary halloween party

Being seated so close made the whole experience pretty eerie for a “not so scary” Halloween party!

Our first Boo to You parade was majorly pixie dusted, because not 1, not 2, but 3 characters talked to us during it! First Snow White told me she liked my horns, so my day was made. Then Cruella Deville came up and rubbed Tiana’s wig saying “ohh dahling you need to foof it up more, and next time half-white half-black, ok now?” (I could kick myself for not getting that one on video!) While Tiana’s jaw was still on the floor from that, Dr. Facilier waltzed over and pointed out her purple jacket, saying he likes it because it matches his jacket. We pretty much felt like we were the stars of the parade 💖 That’s the kind of Disney magic that has me coming back again and again!

After the parade ended, we got swept up in the current of people heading for the exit and decided we better go catch our bus before waits started to build. We were ahead of the pack when we got to the buses so it was no problem and we made it back to our room quickly. Just in time to wash our faces and collapse in bed!

Was it worth it?

Based on our experience, the cost of the party ticket was 100% worth it. Honestly, even if you didn’t like Halloween at all, just having access to Magic Kingdom with such short lines for all the rides would make it worth the price in my book. And all the Halloween extras are icing on the cake.

The park has a totally different vibe with everyone in costume, special characters, shows, parades, etc. The energy is super exciting! Had I been traveling with my whole family however, the experience would probably been very different. So these would be my guidelines for families trying to decide whether or not to do the party:

1. Will you be able to stay for the whole thing? And I don’t mean with the kids falling asleep and miserable at 9 o’clock and parents forcing them to stay for the whole thing.

2. What would the rest of the your day look like? We took it easy the day of the party- sleeping in, doing a bike ride and relaxing by the pool. I would not recommend trying to “squeeze in” MNSSHP after a full day touring the park.

3. Would your children be scared? My daughter is 9 and she was spooked by some things. My younger children might have been too afraid to enjoy themselves (one of them in particular who is extremely sensitive to scary things). Even though the party isn’t a “Halloween horrors” type of event, Disney knows how to set the mood to make even Disney villains seem pretty terrifying.

4. What night can you go? Our party was on a Sunday, which tend to be less crowded. The Tuesday parties are also recommended. I don’t know if it makes a huge difference, but I’ve heard the Friday night parties close to Halloween are more packed (and sell out).

5. Are you there for the characters? If you want to do the party to meet some of the rare characters, you’d need to do some serious prioritizing and strategizing. Some of the most popular characters there (like the Seven Dwarfs and Jack Skellington) attract wait times of 2 or more hours. If meeting lots of characters is your number one priority, then go for it! Just do it knowing you might get to do little else. You can’t go into it thinking you’re going to meet all the characters and take part in all the other party fun.

For us this party was a magical night and the highlight of our trip! I will be recapping the other parks we visited as well, including the new Avatar rides at Animal Kingdom, so be on the lookout for that.

What other questions do you have about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party?


Why I’m Only Bringing One Of My Kids to Disney World

Two weeks from today, my oldest child (nine year old Tiana) and I will be headed to the most magical place on earth! My other three kids will be staying home with Daddy.

Why am I only bringing one of my kids to Disney? Because I only like this kid and can’t stand those other ones.

Just kidding.

Here are the real reasons 😄

bring one kid to disney

With 4 kids, it is rare to have one on one time.

Yes, I know, I wrote a post about how great it is to have a large family. On the whole I think it’s a great gift to my children to give them a bunch of siblings. But just like any family size, there are negatives too.

Like how they don’t even get to eat a whole apple because inevitably after getting two bites in, some sibling will cry that they want it too and we end up slicing it and sharing it.

And, it’s really hard to get one on one time with Mom or Dad.

We know individual time is important, it’s just hard to work into the schedule of activities, homework, birthday parties, housework, etc, etc, etc. Oh and Mom and Dad like to have date nights too.

So yeah, I’m sure Tiana doesn’t get as much one on one attention as most kids do. Being alone with Mom for three days will be a pretty huge deal for her.

There’s always been a baby in our family.

When I stopped to think about it, I realized my oldest has really never *not* had a baby in her life. She was a mere 16 months old when Zari was born, and then every few years after that she’s gained a new sibling. So there has never really been a time in her life without babies.

bring one kid to disney
Tiana became a big sister at only 16 months

Because our family has been stuck in this eternal baby stage, there have been limitations on what we can do. With the exception of Christmas Eve, our kids have never stayed out anywhere past 7pm. We almost never go places that aren’t baby-friendly, like plays, movies, trampoline parks, and pottery painting. If we do take her to one of these places, it is for her special one on one “date” which doesn’t happen too often. So Tiana doesn’t get to do a ton of older kid activities.

She has her own interests and I want something to be all about her.

Ever since she heard about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party, Tiana wanted to be there! She has a fascination with villains and all things creepy. Her siblings on the other hand have an intense fear of creepy things (especially Zari), which is why we’ve never gone to WDW at Halloween before.

Tiana also is my only kiddo that likes thrill rides, so a one on one trip means we’ll be doing ALL the fast rides this trip! Everest, Rockin Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror will all be firsts for her on this trip and she could not be more excited.

It will be a total change of pace for Tiana to have this time that’s all about HER. Not having to balance her wishes with everyone else’s. She picked the itinerary, the rides, the restaurants we’re going to eat at, and the shows she wants to see. When she feels like ice cream, we’ll eat an ice cream. If she wants to swim, we’ll swim. Kind of the like the concept of “Yes Day“.

This kid helps out a lot, and she deserves something special.

As the oldest child, Tiana is the one who most often gets asked to “keep an eye on the baby for a minute” or “go grab me the box of wipes”. I realize she is a child so we try not to ask too much of her, but when we do need a hand she is quick to help.

bring one kid to Disney
A truly loving (and helpful) big sister!

She is not a kid that’s overly entitled or expects to get something in return for helping out. She’s just a good kid and I want to reward her with something special that she’ll really love.

We could use the bonding.

My relationship with Tiana hasn’t always been as effortless and solid as it has with my other children. She came to us at a year and a half old, and attachment doesn’t always come easily when adopting a child past infancy. (If you’re interested in our adoption story, I’ve written about it here.)

I’m happy to report that our relationship has grown much stronger through the years and is pretty solid at this point. But I still feel like, of all the kids, Tiana would benefit the most from a little extra bonding.

I wish I had a chance to take a trip like this with my Mom.

Having lost my Mom when I was 20, I’m always aware of how short life is. I have a few special memories with her from my childhood that I think about often. I never did get to take a trip with just me and my Mom, but if I had I know I’d be looking at the pictures and reminiscing about it during the tough days when I really miss her.

It is super important to me that I make memories like this with my kids that they can hold onto for life, no matter how long we have together. I don’t want to wait until they are adults to do special things with my kids, because who knows if we’ll ever have that time.

Next year she’ll be a tween, then she’ll be a teen.

I hate thinking this way, but at 9 years old, my time to enjoy Tiana as a kid is dwindling! Next year she will be a “tween”, a thought that overjoys her and terrifies me. While I am a big believer that any age is a great age for Disney, quite honestly I think 8-9 is the perfect age.

At her age, there is still plenty of magic for Tiana. She is still a true believer in all the unbelievable wonders. She loves the characters and wants to meet them and talk to them. I know in my heart of hearts that this is the last trip she’ll be a “believer”.

bring one kid to Disney
Meeting Princess Tiana was a magical moment for this Disney fan!

I also know there’s a good chance my daughter won’t want to spend time with me in a few years. Right now at 9, she still thinks Mom and Dad are cool and wants to be with us all the time. Soon we know the pendulum will swing and she’ll want to be with peers instead of us.

The other kids will have their turn.

Right now it’s Tiana’s turn, but each of my kids will get a one on one trip with Mom when they’re 8 or 9. They understand this, and it helps them to not feel slighted. Their trip can be Disney if that’s what they choose, or somewhere else depending on their interests.

I’m ok with them having to wait for their turn. It’s a nice lesson in delayed gratification and patience. They’ll also enjoy their special Daddy time while we’re away too.

Those are the reasons why I chose to bring one kid to Disney! I’m sure many will still not agree with my decision. What do you think? Would you take just one of your children on a special trip?

Guide to Walt Disney World Attractions: Height Restrictions, Fright Factor, and Motion Sickness Potential

height restrictions in disney

Wondering how tall your child needs to be to go on the rides at Walt Disney World, Florida? Here is the complete guide to height restrictions in Disney World including all 4 parks and the 2 water parks!

The good news for us Moms is, Walt created Disney World with families in mind. Even the “thrill rides” at Disney are mostly geared towards children. You won’t find the biggest or fastest roller coasters in the world here. His vision was for the whole family to enjoy the parks together. For this reason, there are plenty of attractions have no height restriction. And most of the rides with a height requirement are 40 inches or less, which means a typical 5 year old can ride all but a handful of attractions.

Height Restrictions

Here are the specifics for each park:

Magic Kingdom

height restrictions in disney
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: Somewhere in between a thrill ride and a kiddie coaster
  • Tomorrowland Speedway- must be 32″ to ride and 54″ to ride without an adult
  • Barnstormer (Great Goofini)- must be 35″ to ride
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train- 38″
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad- 40″
  • Splash Mountain- 40″
  • Stitch’s Great Escape- 40″
  • Space Mountain- 44″


  • Test Track- 40″
  • Soarin’- 40″
  • Mission: Space (Earth/Green Edition): 40″
  • Mission: Space (Mars/Orange Edition): 44″

Hollywood Studios

  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror- 40″
  • Star Tours- 40″
  • Rockin’ Roller Coaster- 48″

Animal Kingdom

height restrictions in Disney
Nope, it’s not a zoo! Several attractions have height restrictions
  • Kali River Rapids- 38″
  • DINOSAUR-  40″
  • Avatar Flight of Passage- 44″
  • Expedition Everest- 44″
  • Primeval Whirl- 48″

Blizzard Beach

height restrictions in Disney
Don’t forget, water parks have height requirements too.
  • Chair lift- 32″ (no infants)
  • Tike’s Peak- Must be UNDER 48″ (children’s play area)
  • Downhill Double Dipper- 48″
  • Slush Gusher- 48″
  • Summit Plummet- 48″

Typhoon Lagoon

  • Ketchakiddee Creek- must be UNDER 48″ (children’s play area for ages 2-5)
  • Bay Slide- must be UNDER 60″ (children’s slide)
  • Crush n’ Gusher- 48″
  • Humunga Kowabunga- 48″

Guidelines for pregnant women

All of the rides that have a height restriction also come with warnings for expectant mothers. If an attraction doesn’t have a height restriction, anyone can ride including infants and pregnant women. Always use your best judgement and consult your doctor beforehand if you have concerns.

Fright factor

height restrictions in disney
The haunts of Disney’s Haunted Mansion may be silly to some but scary to others

The elaborate theming of Disney attractions is designed to give you an emotional reaction, and some may be scary for children. You know your child best, so use your judgement about what they might find spooky. And please, don’t be that parent who forces their child on rides when they are screaming they don’t want to go on! That’s not fun for anyone.

Magic Kingdom

  • Haunted Mansion- ghosts, ghouls and creepy music can scare children
  • Pirates of the Caribbean– pirate scenes may be frightening to some small children as well as skeletons and canons being fired
  • Splash Mountain– even if they aren’t afraid of the drop, the dark part where the animatronics get creepy might get to them
  • Space Mountain– not the most intense roller coaster, but still potentially frightening since it’s completely in the dark


  • Mission Space- either version may induce claustrophobia
  • Spaceship Earth- this ride is slow and tame but there are prolonged periods of darkness
  • Soarin’– scary for those who are afraid of heights

Hollywood Studios

  • Fantasmic (evening show)- villains, loud noises, and special effects may frighten small children
  • Tower of Terror– creepy voice and imagery, this ride is designed to scare you
height restrictions in Disney
Hint: if it has the word “terror” in its name, it might frighten your child

Animal Kingdom

  • DINOSAUR– In-your-face angry animatronic dinosaurs are intense, as well as periods of darkness
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug– 3D movie features bugs and spiders jumping off of walls and dropping from the ceiling; can even frighten some adults
  • Kali River Rapids- some riders will get a little wet, while others will get completely dumped on with water. If your child is afraid of having water poured on their head, don’t chance it.
  • Expedition Everest– your 5 or 6 year old may be tall enough to ride, but that doesn’t mean they should! It is intense, jerky, appears as though the track has been ripped up, then goes backwards, and is centered around a scary monster (the Yeti) in the mountain.

Motion sickness potential

height restrictions in disney
The teacups: innocent kiddie ride, or your worst nightmare? Photo credit: Disneydining.com

If you or one of your kids is prone to motion sickness, look over this list and figure out which ones you’ll want to avoid. Some people are bothered by spinning, while other people can’t handle simulators or going upside down. You likely won’t need to avoid this whole list, just the ones with the type of motion that bothers you.

Magic Kingdom

  • Mad Tea Party (the Teacups)– Spinning. Lots of spinning.
  • Space Mountain-  fast roller coaster with some sharp turns
  • Dumbo, Astro Orbiter, Magic Carpets– these are all tame, but may affect those who can’t take spinning


  • Mission Space (Mars/Orange Edition)– most notorious ride in all of WDW for inducing “protein spills”. Centrifuge ride with G forces can make people sick who aren’t normally prone to motion sickness.
  • Soarin’– gentle ride but might be problematic to those very sensitive to motion simulators

Hollywood Studios

  • Star Tours- a jerky motion simulator that makes you think you’re traveling wildly through space
  • Tower of Terror- sudden drops, free-fall sensation
  • Rock n’ Roller Coaster– high speed roller coaster with 3 inversions

Animal Kingdom

height restrictions in Disney
DINOSAUR could leave you queasy AND terrified
  • DINOSAUR- super jerky and rough with sudden stops
  • Primeval Whirl– nicknamed “Primeval Hurl” due to spinning and hairpin turns
  • Expedition Everest- high speed roller coaster which also goes backwards, leaves lots of people green
  • Flight of Passage– motion simulator with some drops

For more on Disney attractions, check out my list of 5 most underrated rides at Disney World!