Fall is officially here! Well, not officially for a few weeks, but everyone knows that fall pretty much begins after Labor Day. Football games dominate Sunday afternoons, kids are back in school, and the temperatures start to chill ever so slightly – all indicators of fall. And that means Halloween is just around the corner.
Have you planned a Halloween Vacation yet?
If not, we suggest getting right on that. It’s a great time for a vacation to Central Florida since the crowds and heat are far less intense. Not to mention it’s the time of year when the local theme parks roll out their premiere nighttime events, Halloween Horror Nights© and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary-Halloween Party. Before you go, though, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind.
When to Go
For instance, the closer to Halloween, the more crowded the party will be, and prices for the events gradually increase as well. The earlier in the season, the more things you will be able to enjoy at the parties and the less you will have to spend.
Depending on how many days you budget to stay, you may want to indulge with a regular park day sandwiched in between all of the Halloween fun. However, it’s best to schedule that day on a non-event night, since the regular park hours will not be truncated in the evening.
When to Arrive
To better handle crowds at the gate, Disney allows Halloween party guests to enter the park early. The event is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m., but ticketed guests can enter the main gates two hours early.
However, please note, this option is NOT available to guests of Halloween Horror Nights© at Universal. Those guests will not be admitted until the official start time of the event. But that still means you should arrive early since guests tend to line up at the gate hours early. If you wait too long, you will be spending the first hour just trying to get through the gate.
What to Do
While attending HHN26, you may be tempted to hop on one of the regular park rides or attractions. However, the lines for the haunted houses are often long, and it can be difficult to do all of the houses in one night. You’ll want to spend all of your time experiencing the Halloween attractions, since they are exclusive to the events.
The same goes for Mickey’s Party. The main draws will be Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade, Happy HalloWishes, and the Hocus Pocus Villains Spelltacular Show.
The Halloween Parade is performed twice each night, so if your kids aren’t so little (or the littlest ones take a nice hefty nap in the afternoon), you should aim for the second parade as it is decidedly less crowded than the first performance.
To get great “seats” for the Sanderson Sisters from “Hocus Pocus”, you will want to arrive early for the performance of your choice. It’s all standing room only, there are no actual seats in front of the castle stage, so be prepared for a lot of standing around.
Enjoying Happy HalloWishes needs only an unobstructed view of the sky beyond Cinderella’s Castle. It’s a fireworks show set to Halloween themed music from Disney’s shows and movies. Most people like to watch from Main Street, which is in front of the castle. But, the music is piped through all of the park during the show, and you can hear and see the fireworks from many locations, including behind the castle in FantasyLand. Not getting stuck in the crush on Main Street can save you some party time for other events.
When to Leave
To really get your money’s worth, stay until the end. Many guests with small children check out after the fireworks at Disney, which means the lines get shorter. Universal doesn’t thin out quite that much as the night goes on – and their night is longer since the event goes until 2:00 a.m. – but there is still some advantage to staying until the bitter end.