Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is already spooking up the Magic Kingdom on select nights, and it can offer a rare chance to play in the world's busiest theme park for under $100.
As the name implies, it's not a scary event. But it does embrace the kooky Disney villains with acts like the Cadaver Dans Barbershop Quartet and a parade led by the Headless Horseman.
You may not be in the trick-or-treat mood yet, but you can find significant savings hitting this party in early September. Entry is $74 and $69 for ages 3-9 on the three parties left through Sept. 12, after which it rises to $88 and $83 through Oct. 1. Come October, the price balloons again to $94 and $89, and for Halloween night, the price maxes out at $115 and $110 and often sells out.
Considering single-day tickets to the Magic Kingdom now run $99-$119, depending on when you visit, this party is a price cut with some bonus features. For one, the park closes to the general public, but they will let you in as early as 4 p.m. so you can hit your favorite attractions and then watch the crowd dwindle after the park closes at 7 p.m.
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party offers a similar deal that also starts shockingly early in the season on Nov. 9. Tickets for that range from $89 in early November to $109 on Dec. 22.
Not all of the rides will remain open, but the most popular ones such as Space Mountain and the Haunted Mansion will be.
Then come the extras. There are treat stations all over the park so you can load up on free candy. And back by popular demand is a stage show hosted by the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus. The show in front of Cinderella's Castle features Disney villains like Oogie Boogie and Maleficent.
The parade is one of Disney's best. The Headless Horseman makes a grand entrance, the music is a great tuba-thumping soundtrack that sets an eerie tone and the elaborate floats celebrate the best villains. But the march of the grave diggers is the highlight, with sparks flying from their scraping shovels.
This is the one time of year you can show up in costume, and the park is overrun with princesses and pirates. Note: Children 13 and under cannot wear full masks and visitors 14 and older may not wear masks of any kind. Realistic weapons are banned but plastic light sabers and foam swords are allowed.
Get there early. While the party officially starts at 7 p.m., you can enter as early as 4 p.m. to maximize your time there.
Plan your day. Here's what Disney experts recommend to manage your time: Spend 4-9 p.m. hitting your favorite rides, getting dinner and pictures with characters. Then get in place for the fireworks at 10:15, the Hocus Pocus show at 10:45 and line up to watch the second parade at 11:15 when it's less crowded. Use the last hour to get as much candy as you can, and you'll find shorter lines to meet characters before the park closes at midnight.
Bring rain gear. This will be held rain or shine, though Hurricane Irma could make even that promise moot. You can bring umbrellas into the park, but a cheap plastic poncho is easier to lug around.
Bring your own treat bag. Upon entry into the park, guests are given treat bags, but they are on the small side. If your children are there for the loot, bring along a string backpack with extra treat bags so they can fill up. They also sell souvenir bags that are about the size of a cloth grocery bag that hold lots of candy.
Character lines are long. The park is stocked with favorite Disney characters wearing costumes. Jack and Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas are very popular, along with the Seven Dwarfs and all of the villains. Make a beeline for them when the party begins at 7 p.m. or check at the party's end. You can also find lines for some characters are a lot shorter just prior to and during the two parade performances.
Pick a parade spot. You don't want to miss the start when the Headless Horseman makes a grand entrance just before the parade begins. Find a spot along the parade route at least 15 minutes in advance — and at least an hour if you want to be in the front row. The second parade is less crowded since it's past the bedtime of the littlest ones, especially if you for wait for it in Frontierland.
Fireworks viewing. The very best spot for taking in the pyrotechnics is straight ahead on Main Street U.S.A. Viewing areas near Fantasyland can be a lot less crowded, however.
Stay late. The last hour of the party (11 p.m. to midnight) has shorter lines for candy, characters and Disney veterans say they found the staff more generous in giving out four or five pieces of candy at a time at the night's end.
Schedule: The Hocus Pocus show takes place at 8:15 p.m., 10:45 p.m., and midnight in front of Cinderella's Castle. Parades are 9:15 and 11:15 p.m. Fireworks are at 10:15 p.m. Note: If it's raining some of these events may be delayed or canceled.
Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @SharonKWn.