Welcome Back to our New Blog Series: Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s, where our favorite Travel Planning Aficionado shares her wealth of knowledge and experiences about traveling the world! After every trip to a new destination, Jamie gives us her perspective as both a traveler, and a travel advisor, through a quick but comprehensive list of what to do or not do at each vacation location!
Although Halloween in the Orlando Theme Parks doesn’t require Jamie to “take a trip” per say, going to the Parks, even for a day, is often a trip in itself, even when you live close by like Jamie! So after this year’s round of experiencing Halloween festivities in the Parks (and with years of past Halloween visits under her belt, too), Jamie wanted to share her Top Tips for Halloween in the Orlando Parks with you, in case you are lucky enough to be headed to the Parks during this Spooky Season!
So Let’s Go to Orlando for Halloween! But First…
Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s for Halloween in the Parks
Top Favorites and Jamie’s “Must-Do” Experiences
Plan Time in Every Park
The highlights of spending time in the Parks during the Fall Season are definitely the nighttime parties, but don’t forget about all the amazing seasonal offerings, decorations and character costumes available during the day at ALL of the parks, not just the ones where the parties are hosted. At Walt Disney World, all four Parks, plus Disney Springs, have seasonal changes that are super fun to experience as part of your Autumnal vacation; you won’t want to miss out on EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival that happens every Fall, and there’s great character dining at Hollywood Studios. And at Universal, Islands of Adventure gets into the Harvest Spirit, too, especially Hogsmeade Village in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Experience the Halloween Parties at Disney and Universal
Of course, the reason many people visit Orlando in the Fall is to attend the Halloween Parties at Disney and Universal. Disney offers Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, which, as you can tell by the name of the Party, is good for visitors of all ages. Disney has always been exceptional at creating the perfect atmosphere for the whole family, and their Halloween Party falls right in line. However, Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights is not so family friendly, unless your family is all over age 13, and every member of your family enjoys being extremely scared, since Universal’s Party is true to its name as well, being quite horrifying for all guests, and especially so for those easily frightened.
Wear Costumes Where Allowed, and Halloween Outfits at All Other Times
Halloween Season is the one time of year when costumes are permitted in certain parks and at certain times. While costumes (that follow specific guidelines; see below) are allowed at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom, costumes at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights are not allowed for anyone. Costume limitations don’t prevent you from showing your Halloween Spirit in other ways, though! Although holiday attire was once thought of as your great-aunt’s original Ugly Christmas Sweater and the Annual Signature Old Navy Flag T-Shirt (if you know, you know), Holiday Fashion, much like Disney Fashion, has exploded over the last decade. And like most things Holiday and Disney, going all-out with themed clothes and accessories makes the experience that much more fun for everyone!
Be Sure to Attend The Monstrous Scream-O-Ween Ball and The Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular
There are a few signature events at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party that you should make it a priority to attend. One is Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade (but more on that below), and two others are The Monstrous Scream-O-Ween Ball, and The Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. The Ball is a super fun and energetic dance party that runs the length of the party, from 7pm to midnight, and The Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular is the Villain-centric show that takes place in front of the castle a few times throughout each party, with none other than your favorite witches, the Sanderson Sisters, running the show. Of course, there is a specially-themed fireworks show, Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular, that you should be sure to catch, as well!
Top Tips that Jamie Learned Along the Way
Know Your Priorities and Have a Plan
Whether you’re Park-hopping during the day, or even just attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at night, there is so much added to the Parks for the Fall Season that knowing what you want to see and do is imperative to enjoying your experience. Especially for MNSSHP, the list of attractions, characters and activities has grown exponentially since the Party began in 1995, making it impossible to get to everything in one night (unless you have a Time-Turner or know a spell to stop time). Wait times to see characters who are only available at the Party can get particularly long, so make sure you know everything available to see and do, and plan your family’s priorities accordingly.
Remember Fall Orlando Weather Isn’t Always Sweater Weather
As soon as September hits, social media becomes flooded with mentions of Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Sweater Weather, and while much of the country does get to pull out their favorite cozy apparel for the season around this time of year, don’t forget that Orlando is still often HOT, despite the orange and yellow leaves that pop up around all the parks. If you’re visiting from somewhere North, don’t forget to pack for the warm weather climate of Florida, and especially don’t forget to plan your costume and Halloween attire the same way! An elaborate costume with heavy material and accessories like hats or wigs may not be breathable enough to keep you comfortable in the Orlando heat. Which is a great excuse to get an additional Halloween costume suitable for warm weather if you love dressing up (and who doesn’t)!
Go to the Later Boo-To-You Halloween Parade
Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween Parade should definitely be a priority during MNSSHP, especially if you’ve never seen it, but it does run twice throughout the Party, with the earlier time slot being much more crowded. If your family situation will allow you to attend the later parade (very little kiddos, especially toddlers and preschoolers, may not be able to stay up that late, so as always, make the best decision for your family), not only will you find the parade route less crowded, but you’ll also be able to capitalize on emptier areas of the park during the first parade time. Rides and character visits that usually have long waits may have shorter wait times while the first parade runs, so take advantage of that while you can, though beware of the line for Jack and Sally, which is almost always hours long.
Check Costume Guidelines Before Planning Your Costume
A Halloween Party doesn’t really feel like a Halloween Party if you can’t wear a costume, right? Disney seems to agree with this, and they do allow costumes, even for adults, during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, however, there are very strict guidelines that must be followed in order to be allowed into the Park in costume. Here are some general guidelines:
– As with everything Disney, all attire, costume or not, must always be family friendly, so if your costume is questionable in any way, plan something different for your Park time.
– Costumes for kids age 13 and under are allowed as long as they are family friendly and not violent in any way (the website states “some masks” are acceptable, but may be best to forgo the mask, just in case).
– Costumes for adults (and anyone age 14 and over) have more restrictions, most notably, no masks are allowed at all, and nor are floor length costumes (such as full-length princess or witch dresses) and capes that fall below the waist.
These are just a few generalities that many people don’t realize, and you should still go over the official Disney dress code here.
Top “Must-Don’t”s, or Things Jamie Would Do Differently
Don’t Get Overwhelmed by All. The. Treats.
Even at home, Halloween can be overwhelming with so much focus on candy, and buckets of it collected from a few hours of Trick-or-Treating, but at theme parks, and especially Disney, where there are so many special treats available on a daily basis, let along during special holiday events, the candy consumption can really get out of hand.
First, there is so much to see and do at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, that stopping to collect candy from all the Trick-or-Treat locations will take up valuable time that you could be spending on Halloween-infused rides or with special Halloween characters. Second, since there is so much free candy available, spending time and money on some of the other Halloween treats offered for purchase, or even Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular Dessert Party, is borderline overkill.
Unless you and your family decide to go all in for all the candy and dessert (which is totally valid if desserts are your thing), you’ll get the most out of your MNSSHP ticket by prioritizing the shows, parades, rides and characters, and fitting the candy and treats in where you can. Plus, if desserts are your thing, you can always do a fun dessert crawl around the resorts and Disney Springs on a night when you didn’t spend so much to experience the special holiday party (and at those locations, you wouldn’t even need a park ticket, either).
Do Not Take Easily-Scared People (Kids or Adults) to Halloween Horror Nights
This cannot be stressed enough: Halloween Horror Nights are not for the faint of heart. You should not go, or take people to this event, if feeling scared is not something you or they enjoy. And even if your kids are over the age requirement of 13, it’s still a pretty intense experience, so you should help your child decide based on how you know they respond to frightening things. With all that said, if you choose not to attend the nighttime event, you can still get in on the Halloween action at Universal by going during the day. In the light of day, you can still see all the spooky decorations around the parks without it being super scary in the dark, and also without any creepy beings jumping out at you, too. Overall, Halloween at Universal is worth the experience whether you choose to do it at night or during the day.
Don’t Attempt Halloween in the Parks Without a Plan
Although having a plan was mentioned above, it bears repeating that experiencing the parks without a plan is generally less enjoyable than prioritizing what you want to do, and making sure you get to it. Even people who live right near the Parks and who have gone to Halloween events many times, like Jamie, almost always have some sort of priority for any given visit. So don’t avoid making a plan because it seems overwhelming to figure out what you want to do; that’s what the Love of the Magic Vacations Team is here to help you with! Your favorite LOTMV Travel Advisor is always ready to help you figure out your priorities and plan your best Halloween experience in the Parks.
And…That’s a Wrap on Jamie’s “Do”s and “Don’t”s for Halloween in the Orlando Theme Parks!
Ready to Plan?
Now that you have all of Jamie’s suggestions for the best Halloween experience in Orlando, are you ready to plan your Spooky Season Vacation? Contact your Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor today or email hello@LOTMV.com
Looking for more of Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s?
So far, we have:
A new list comes out the Friday after Jamie returns from her latest trip!
And don’t forget to check out our Inspiring Itineraries as well, featuring a Perfect Plan for your next vacation, and highlighting a new destination each month!
Contact your favorite Love of the Magic Travel Advisor or email hello@LOTMV.com to start planning today!