{Hoosier Momma Moments} Fall Disney Tips

Fall is my favorite time to visit Walt Disney World. The crowds are thinner (making wait times for your favorite attractions shorter) and there are some AMAZING special events that take place during the fall.

So if you’re planning a vacation for a long fall holiday to the most magical place on Earth, this post is for you! I’ll be going over Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom and the Food & Wine Festival at EPCOT, giving you the low down on where to spend your money (and some suggestions if you want to splurge too!) and how to get the most of what you’re paying.

Let’s talk about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Mickey’s Halloween Parties take place at the Magic Kingdom on select nights now through November 2nd. If you want the classic Halloween experience (trick or treating, costumes, etc.) but you don’t want all the scary, then this party is perfect for you.

Tickets are usually cheaper if you pre-order them and they allow you entrance to the party. Be advised they are an extra price on top of your standard park ticket. When you enter the park, you will receive a wristband which will allow you to remain in the park for the duration of the party.

The Magic Kingdom is decorated with pumpkins and scarecrows, even garlands full of fall leaves! You and your family can dress up in costumes and do some trick-or-treating!

1.) Your MNSSHP ticket can get you into the park as early as 4pm. If you are visiting the park, I suggest spending the afternoon by the pool, at Downtown Disney, or relaxing. (Consider a nap before the party starts too!) and then use your Halloween Party tickets to get you into the park at 4. You will receive your wristband and you wont waste a day on your standard park ticket!

2.) If you are already in the park when the party starts, you will not have to leave the park to scan your party tickets to get your wristbands! There are wristband locations at Tortuga Tavern in Adventureland and by Stitch’s Great Escape in Tommowland. Everyone in your party will need to be present when you scan your tickets for wristbands.

3.) Remember that on party days, the park does not close to non-party guests until 7pm. So, while party guests will be flowing in well before 7, there will still be “regular” guests present. At 7pm, a “sweep” starts in the park and makes its way towards the entrance, pushing non-party guests out the exit. Have your wristbands out and visible until around 8 pm because you will be asked to show them EVERYWHERE!

4.) The Halloween parties are a chance for adults to feel like Princesses and Pirates too, but be advised that if you put in a lot of work to your costume to look just like your favorite character, you will be told at the gate that you are not allowed to assume the role of the character. You cannot sign autographs for children or pose for photographs. (Remember, there is only one Cinderella!)

The Boo To You Parade is my all-time favorite parade all year!! The music is infectious, and it features all your favorite characters (Winnie the Pooh to Captain Jack Sparrow) in Halloween costumes, with special guest stars from The Haunted Mansion! The parade takes place twice a night and will go on rain or shine (unless it is storming, or raining too hard for performers to perform!

Before both parades, the Headless Horseman will run down the parade route and it is a sight you will not want to miss! Additionally, this year features the dance troop The Creeper Crew to teach guests a fun dance while they wait for the parade.

5.) The Boo To You Parade route is the REVERSE of the normal parade route, meaning it will start at Splash Mountain and move towards the Castle and end on Main Street. If you are seated by the train station for the parade, the parade will reach you as late as a half hour after the start time.

6.) The Headless Horseman will run about three minutes before the parade steps off, meaning if you are seated at the end of the parade route, you will see the Horseman well before you’ll see the first parade float. Be advised, the Horseman has no control over the horse–that is, he cannot see or guide the horse in any way*. Because of this, Cast Members will ask that EVERYTHING is off the street while the horse runs. This means you may be asked to sit cross-legged on the curb or even stand up while the horse is coming up the street. You will be able to have your feet in the street during the actual parade.

*Horse Ranglers will be along the parade route monitoring the horse so don’t worry the horse isn’t completely out of control. The horse is essentially taught to run the parade route and there is no telling which side of the street it will prefer to run on. Keeping feet out of the street ensures you will not get stomped on by a VERY large horse!

In addition to the Boo To You Parade, there are also a number of Character Meet-and-Greets.

The characters you can meet with are very rare, and are not the types of characters you would meet on a standard day at the park. This includes all 7 of the Seven Dwarfs, Tarzan and Jane, Captain Jack Sparrow, the Disney Princesses WITH their Disney Princes, and plenty of your favorite Villians!

7.) Stop by Town Square Theater near the Train Station to check out Mickey and Minnie in their Halloween costumes!!

8.) The Villians Mix and Mingle is a show on the Castle stage where your favorite Villians dance and then come down to meet with you for photo and autograph opportunities. This show goes on several times throughout the night and is a great way to meet a lot of the Disney Villians.

9.) Character Dance Parties are a chance for you or your child to dance with characters like Woody and Jessie from Toy Story, or even Stitch and Goofy! However, these are meant to be an interactive experience so do not expect optimum chances for your child to pose for a picture, get an autograph, etc. Do not try to “hog” the characters! They are there for everyone!

Finally, the most important aspect of the parties? Trick-or-Treating!!

There are different chances to get candy and Disney will give you your own treat bags to collect all kinds of yummy goodies! There are even treat trails where you can get lots of candy, and candy is distributed at the end of the parades as well!

In addition to candy being distributed, take your party ticket and wristband to the Firehouse on Main Street for a limited edition Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Card–only available at the parties!

Be sure not to miss the Happy Hallo-Wishes Fireworks show at the middle of the night.

10.) The fireworks are perimeter fireworks meaning if you’re standing on Main Street there will be fireworks ahead of you, on your left, and on your right!

11.) If you wear a costume, wear something you can easily move around in. Masks–if they obstruct your eyes–and weapons are not allowed in the park so plan accordingly!

All Halloweened out? Let’s discuss the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival.

This is the perfect festival for older children or Mom and Dad. In addition to the 11 countries that usually occupy the Epcot World Showcase, many many more have been added so you can truly taste around the world.

Sample dishes and drinks from Brazil, to Belgium, to the country of Cheese (not kidding haha). All dishes are sample sizes and have a price capacity of around $10.

There is also a concert series called Eat to the Beat where popular bands will serenade you! Artists from Starship to Hanson are scheduled to play during 2012!

1.) Want to set a price limit? Pick up a gift card from the festival center! You can set a limit of $50, put it around your wrist so you can leave your wallet at home and spend only what you want to!

2.) If you are eating and drinking around the world, start at Mexico and move clockwise around the World Showcase. If you are only drinking around the world, ALWAYS end with Mexico. Why? Because Tequila as a starter drink will not get you far.

3.) Visit the Food & Wine Festival during the week. Weekends have longer hours and, combined with no black out dates on Florida annual pass holders, lines are longer! If you want to avoid the crowds, a Wednesday around 4 is a great time!

Food and Wine Festival also offers a variety of add-on Hard Ticket Events where you can purchase and have unique culinary experiences!

From Mixology classes for different types of liquors, wine and beer tastings, even cooking classes taught by famous chefs!

This past time, my family and I paid for the Party of the Senses and it was an amazing experience! There are samples from all different resorts, and performances by Cirque Du Soli!

We even met Iron Chef Kat Korra!

Prices are pretty steep but it is all you can eat. I would not recommend paying for a child to eat there. There are very sophisticated tastes with little to no child-friendly options.

4.) If you do decide to splurge on Party of the Senses, you will have the opportunity of getting “advanced” seating. This ensures you a reserved table at the party, early access to the food, and seating at the Eat to the Beat concert. Our family did just fine (even easily found a table to stay at all night) without having to shell out the extra money!

5.) Before you travel around the world, stop by a retail location and pick up a Food & Wine Festival passport! You can get it stamped at each food location and it makes a great souvenir!

Of course you can find all kinds of information about Food & Wine and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party on the Disney Parks Website!

Thanks for looking!