By Sarah Sekula
When it comes to family Halloween fun, Orlando knows how to do it up. Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World is a prime example of making the most of Halloween in Orlando. The separately ticketed event ( Sept. 15 - Nov. 1, 2015) at the Magic Kingdom is a ghoulishly delightful, costume party your family won't want to miss.
This after-hours park event has been a wildly popular soiree for years, and it's not hard to see why. For starters, there are a limited amount of tickets, which means there are less park-goers (aka the lines are shorter, the streets are less crowded). And who doesn't love that? If you are making plans to be there this year, here are a few tips:
#1. Put the "Hocus Pocus" show on your list
There's are new stage show this year called Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. You'll see the Sanderson sisters from Disney's Hocus Pocus, along with Maleficent, Oogie Boogie and other villains as they cast a potion over guests.
Bonus Tip: Best bet is to arrive 20 minutes ahead of time near the Castle Forecourt Stage and stake out your spot. The Boo-To-You Halloween parade is also worth watching, especially for the Gravediggers, a fan favorite. Choose between the Central Plaza area and the Frontierland area. It's a great chance to sit down for a bit.
#2. Get there early!
The event begins at 7 p.m., but you can show up as early as 4 p.m. And why not? It means you score more time in the park. So, you have plenty of time to eat dinner and hit some rides before the event officially begins. Non-party goers start to leave the park around 6 or 7, so it's a great time to be there. Once the event begins, Fast Passes are not available, but most of the lines are 20 minutes or less.
#3. No need to bring your own candy bag
Trick-or-treat bags are provided, so you don't need to bring your own. The best part is, there is no limit to how many times you can go through the line. (Note: You may want to bring some additional bags of your own.) Also, adults are welcome to join in the fun and fill up on candy, too. The best way to find the treat stations is by grabbing a map, or just keeping an eye out for the Mickey balloons.
Bonus Tip: There are creepy confections throughout the park, too, including monster cupcakes and spider cupcakes at the Main Street Bakery, Halloween cookie ice cream sandwiches at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, candy corn soft serve ice cream at Storybook Treats, ghost cupcakes at Gaston's Tavern and candy corn cotton candy at vendors throughout the park. These tend to be popular, so grab them early in the night. They sometimes sell out.
#4. Dress up!
Part of the fun is just seeing all the costumes. Grown men dressed as Tinkerbell, teens with handmade costumes from Wall-e, a 20-something dressed as Rapunzel's tower. Park-goers put a ton of effort into their getups, and it keeps you smiling the whole time. It's also a great way to meet people. Nothing like a hilarious costume as a conversation starter.
#5. Bring a change of clothes
Kids don't always want to wear a costume the whole night. The party continues until midnight, so bringing some Halloween-themed PJs wouldn't be a bad idea. That makes it even easier to just roll into bed once you get back to your hotel or home. Also, just because it's fall doesn't mean it's cool in Orlando. Temperatures can sometimes still feel like summer.
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Sarah Sekula is a national travel correspondent who lives in Orlando and regularly contributes to USA TODAY, CNN.com, NBCnews.com, FOXnews.com, ISLANDS and Destination Weddings & Honeymoons. Follow her journeys at SarahSekula.com or @wordzilla on Twitter.