Disney World Skyliner Opening Trip Report Part 3

Welcome to our trip report covering the opening of the Disney Skyliner in Walt Disney World! The primary purpose of trip reports is to supplement our existing content to let you know how our strategies are actually working at a given time! This post covers a visit to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

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About This Trip Report

This trip report covers a short, three-night visit to Walt Disney World for the opening of the Disney Skyliner gondola system. The full introduction is available in part 1.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

The first thing to say is that this post is not a substitute for our Guide to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. This post is just an example of how we spent a night at the party. At the end, we discuss what we’d do differently, looking back on how our schedule turned out.

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“Pre”-Party (4PM to 7PM)

We went into this halloween party without a plan, and it showed. The thing is, we have almost no “must meet” characters. And we don’t like lines. And we’re familiar enough with the ride overlays to shrug at waiting even 20 minutes for them. And we don’t need a ton of candy.

This leaves entertainment, and we really like the entertainment. First on our schedule was the 8:35PM Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. For earlier parties this was the first show. The schedule has since changed (or was changed at least this day), to include a 7:40PM show.

Our guide was wrong (ignoring that 7:40PM show), which is a good reminder that we’re fallible humans and that Disney can change things without us knowing. This is why we always remind you to check things like maps and times guides when you arrive—times change, characters move, rides go under refurbishment.

While party guests are allowed to enter as early as 4PM (or 2PM for DVC members), the only party activity before 6PM is getting in an early line for characters (who rarely start greeting before 6PM). We recommend things like PeopleMover, Carousel of Progress, Country Bears Jamboree—things that don't have lines—during this time.

Between 6PM and 7PM, some ride overlays will start and some characters will start greeting, and at 7PM the party is in full swing.

Ultimately, we decided we were too indecisive to have to keep making decisions. So we decided to make the single decision that would save us from future decisions—we decided to go greet Jack and Sally at Town Square Theater. (Note: our party guide doesn’t include a character map, we recommend the guide at WDW Prep School for that.)

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The Jack and Sally greeting typically has the longest wait at both the halloween party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This means it’s a good way to eat a chunk of your evening. In our case, it saved us from walking the park and looking at characters debating for 15 minutes whether they were worth a 20 minute wait.

At 6:20PM, a Cast Member estimated the wait at 80 minutes. Sure enough, right at about 7:41PM we were meeting Jack and Sally, and now the park was fully in party mode.

Party Time (7PM to Midnight)

We had about 50 minutes until the 8:35PM showing of Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. This is a good time for a ride overlay or another character greeting (or two). Unless it’s your only option, this is the worst time for trick or treating. There are lines now, but after the 10:15PM fireworks there are rarely lines at the candy stops.

We walked around and checked out some of the scenery. The Main Street Vehicle operators look really cool:

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We’re not huge food people, but we decided to do the “blogger” thing and try at least one snack. This Maleficent cone is available from Storybook Treats (near the carrousel):

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Really, it’s just lime soft serve. That’s fun, and it’s instagrammable I guess. But you face the same challenge you always face eating soft serve in Florida—it melts really quickly.

We took a minute to watch the Monstrous Scream-O-Ween Ball. This is a chance for kids (and adults) to dance around with some of the characters of Monsters Inc.

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This carried us until 8:25PM, when we headed over to the castle stage for the 8:35PM Hocus Pocus show. We were able to grab a pretty good spot near the front.

Any showtime other than the first one is probably a good target for lower crowds, though the midnight show is definitely the least crowded. We’re huge fans of this show (and of Hocus Pocus) and watch it multiple times every party we visit.

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The show is about 20 minutes long and finished at about 8:56PM. At this point, you could take an hour until the 10:15PM firework show and plan to catch the 11:15PM “Boo-To-You” parade. We chose to just keep our spot and watch the 9:15PM parade from there.

The view was good from this spot. The highlight of the parade (to us) is Constance, the bride from Haunted Mansion. Unfortunately I only got video of this segment, so you’ll have to settle for a bad screenshot of her:

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The parade wrapped up where we were at about 9:44PM, having first gotten to us at 9:29PM. The parade starts in Frontierland and ends at Town Square (more on the Town Square viewing later).

Time for another decision. The 10:15PM Not So Spooky Spectacular firework show is new this year and features a large Jack Skellington puppet on the castle stage at the beginning. Our current spot would guarantee us a great view of that, but maybe not of the rest of the show (since we were so close to the castle).

We opted to instead just grab a spot farther back, which gave us about 20 minutes for a quick activity. I really wanted to revisit Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, which has candy and ongoing live performances during the party.

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When we first arrived, the show wasn’t going, which was a bummer, but it started shortly thereafter. The material mostly revolves around the party, like dialoguing with a kid who’d amassed four bags of candy. It’s fun, and a great way to escape the walking / heat / crowds, but also not a significant change from the regular show.

From the front of Main Street we had a decent view of the 10:15PM Not So Spooky Spectacular fireworks. Emily—who hadn’t seen the show—was happy with her view of the puppet and with the show overall.

I’m less enthused about it, but I think my feelings highlight a real challenge for Disney. “Do something original!” I demand and demand and demand. So they do, and I just say “Well where’s ‘Grim Grinning Ghosts’?”

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At the end of the day, I’m not a typical Walt Disney World guest. Much of my love for certain things was built up over years and visits numbering in the hundreds. Walt Disney World primarily caters to vacationers, and I’m in no place to resent the company for catering to people who demand the latest and greatest.

The show is about 14 minutes long and wrapped up at 10:30PM.

One big mistake we’d made today was planning our meals. We’d eaten “lunch” at Satu’li Canteen in Animal Kingdom at about 3PM. This pushed our dinner into the party, which is a huge waste of precious party time.

We grabbed dinner at Cosmic Ray’s, eating around 10:50PM. The vegetarian sloppy joe was very blegh today. It also took a very long time to prepare, which sort of makes me think these were connected. It seemed like they maybe just chopped a vegan patty hastily and dipped it in sauce before serving it to us.

We debated riding a ride, but settled on watching the parade again. This time we picked a spot at the very end of the parade, outside Emporium. The 11:15PM parade got to that spot at 11:42PM and finished at 11:55PM.

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All the parade spots face a similar set of challenges. You want to be there for as little extra time as possible, but you can’t move freely through the park during the parade.

If you wanted to aim for the front of the park at 11:40PM, you could hang out in Adventureland until maybe 11:30PM or Tomorrowland / Fantasyland until 11:25PM before hustling through the stores.

After the parade finished, we walked back up Main Street to catch the midnight showing of Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. If you’re only going to catch one showing of this and you don’t mind the risk involved in targeting the last show (e.g. weather could always cancel it), this is definitely the best to target.

There are no other major party activities ongoing after midnight, and crowds will be lowest for this show. I grabbed this photo, very similar to one I grabbed last year:

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We hung out around the park for just a few minutes to be at the tail end of the exiting crowds. One time I shockingly rarely have complaints about Disney buses is at the end of the day. I’ve found that for the most part Disney is able to send a constant flow of buses to get exiting guests home.

We were on the second bus to Caribbean Beach after we exited, and we back in our room by 1:03AM, which is great time for having left the party around 12:30AM.

Recapping Our Party Night

Here’s what our party schedule wound up looking like.

  • 6:20PM Line up for Jack & Sally

  • 7:41PM Greet Jack & Sally

  • Snacks and Scream-O-Ween Ball

  • 8:35PM Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular

  • 9:29PM Boo To You Parade (started at 9:15 in Frontierland)

  • 9:51PM Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor

  • 10:15PM Not So Spooky Spectacular

  • Dinner

  • 11:42PM Boo To You Parade (started at 11:15 in Frontierland)

  • 12AM Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular

The hour lost on dinner and arriving at the front of the park too early for the parade was a huge loss. Not exiting Jack & Sally until 7:41PM, that hour lost is something like 23% of our party time.

Had we not had dinner there, and had we watched each show once, a good schedule might have been:

  • 6:20PM Line up for Jack & Sally

  • 7:41PM Greet Jack & Sally

  • [100 minutes free time for characters, ride overlays]

  • 9:29PM Boo To You Parade (started at 9:15 in Frontierland)

  • 9:51PM Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor

  • 10:15PM Not So Spooky Spectacular

  • [90 minutes free time for characters, ride overlays]

  • 12AM Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular

That’s over three hours of “free time.” Our schedule, by contrast, left us with only about two hours of such time, but with all the walking between places and arriving early for shows, it really didn’t feel like it.

Coming Next In Part 4…Skyliner & Competing Mornings at Epcot

All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered

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