People are typically either Halloween people or Christmas people...I'm a Halloween person, through and through. So there is no greater time to be in Disney World than during the Halloween season! The decorations are absolutely gorgeous (especially in the Magic Kingdom):
with pumpkins hand-carved by average, everyday cast members instead of professional imagineers scattered everywhere down Main Street:
But in mid September to the first of November, there is a separate ticketed event that takes place in the Magic Kingdom called Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (or MNSSHP for short)! It is a limited ticketed event, so the number of park guests is cut exponentially and it makes the park much more enjoyable. The party runs from 7pm to 12am, but you can enter the park with only a party ticket starting at 4pm. At this time, they start clearing out all non-party ticket guests. I have had more than a mild laugh at a guest who tries to get past the barricades without a party bracelet (which you are given upon either admittance to the park for the party or you pick up at various stations throughout the park). If someone does happen to get past a barricade, they can't ride rides, get any food, or enter a store without the bracelet, so most non-party guests eventually get the message and exit the park (or are escorted out by security - which I have also seen). If people would just learn to plan before they go, they'd know what nights are party nights and plan accordingly, but alas, the world just doesn't listen to me, so I must laugh at them maniacally and continue on my merry way enjoying the party.
But it's not just having smaller crowds that make it worthwhile because it's during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party that the Magic Kingdom really comes alive:
Most all rides are open during the party (save for a few shows), but all join in on the fun, none so much as The Haunted Mansion:
and even a ghost or two comes out to play with waiting guests
There are special shows at various times throughout the night including the Villains Dance Mix and Mingle:
And several stage shows that occur on either the Tomorrowland stage or inside Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe (also in Tomorrowland):
including street acts with a very Halloweenish flair,
a parade, Mickey's Boo To You Parade, which is led by the Headless Horseman (and you if you miss the first one, there is a second one after the fireworks):
and the piece de resistance...Hallowishes Fireworks, much different than regular Wishes that occurs on regular Magic Kingdom Nights, it's special to the party only and my absolute favorite anywhere on property!
There is also special merchandise that is also only available to the party, namely pins as well as various trick-or-treating booths scattered around the park. They give you a bag upon entry and you can get as much candy at the stations as you want (although we have never done this).
You can also dress in Halloween costumes although Disney does have rules, such as you can't dress up realistically as Disney characters (i.e. where a guest might confuse you for the real thing), no face masks and other safety issue points and, of course, nothing risque. We don't dress up in costume (trauma stemming from having the privilege ripped away from me at the age of 10 - long story), but a lot of people do. I usually just wear the previous year's MNSSHP T-shirt, but this year I won't be able to do that because it will be too big!
There are special photo ops with villains and extremely rare appearances by all seven dwarfs and Cinderella's coach (which both have massively long lines that start at party opening and don't stop the entire party). It's sometimes even enough to get me involved (of course with the forceful assistance of my sister):
Granted, the price for a party ticket a bit steep, but I don't consider that a negative point considering what all you get for the cost. And there are various discounts for passholders and if you purchase ahead of time (which is highly recommended since a lot of nights sell out completely). I'd have to say, if there is a negative, it would be that the party hasn't changed in all the years we have been going. Same parades, same fireworks (although the lighting has changed a bit), even same shows (although the genre of music for the villains show changes, the lyrics never do...Halloween-loween everybody from pop to rap to reggae,ugh!).
Another recent negative would be how they handle special merchandise sales. You have always been able to go to either The Emporium on Main Street or Pin Traders in Frontierland and get in line for the pins (which are limited each night and the entire set is never offered at one time - unless you get the framed set - which is almost an investment they cost so much). But last year, not only did they only sell the pin set in Frontierland (after we had queued up at The Emporium), but there was no framed set last year at all! That completely pissed me off! They did the same at last year's Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (another review for another day), no framed set, just a boxed set. What the heck am I supposed to do with boxed sets? They can't hang on the wall like a framed set, they can't go in a book like a stand-alone pin...it's probably why they are still just sitting on a box in my Disney room, I just don't know what to do with them. Hopefully, Disney listened to all the complaints from last year and are going to do framed sets again this year...or at least I've got my fingers crossed.
They did have the T-shirts in more locations, but you have to pretty much be there when they bring them out because the other guests go mad! It's like the day after Thanksgiving at Wal-Mart! Extremely terrifying!
But, on the plus side, the added bonus of going during the fall season is Epcot's Food & Wine Festival is also going on. But let's save that for next time!