Disney World during Halloween is one the best times of the year to visit. Characters in costumes, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, seasonal treats, astounding decorations … the list of things that make Disney World so great at Halloween goes on and on!
I’ve already shared my Disney World Halloween Must Do’s featuring many activities that are available throughout the Halloween season. However, if you’ll be at Disney World ON Halloween, this is the best itinerary for you!
Here’s what this Disney World Halloween Week itinerary covers:
- Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (and why you shouldn’t visit on Halloween night!)
- Halloween night resort activities
- Explore Fort Wilderness decorated campsites both during the day and after dark
- Watch the Fort Wilderness golf cart parade
- Disney World Halloween decorations at Magic Kingdom (it’s the only park with Halloween decor)
- Epcot Food and Wine Festival (not Halloween-themed, but still a must-do this time of year!)
Your plan won’t match this itinerary exactly because your arrival and departure days will vary and your trip is probably a different length, but use this itinerary as a guide for enjoying all of Halloween fun at Disney World.
Also, while we stayed at four hotels over seven days, multiple hotel reservations certainly aren’t necessary for an ideal “Disney World during Halloween” itinerary! We love split stays, but totally understand that others don’t want the hassle. Location is a huge priority for us, so we always try to be close to the activities we want to do to limit transportation as much as possible.
Disney World During Halloween – Day 1
Saturday, October 27, 2018
Nothing like starting off a Halloween Disney World trip with no Halloween activities on arrival day! After driving down to Orlando from North Carolina, we went straight to Hollywood Studios to see Andy’s backyard since this was our first trip to Disney World after Toy Story Land opened.
After dinner and riding all the Toy Story rides, we checked into All-Star Movies Resort for one night. We would be splurging on Night Two of the trip so we kept night one, when we would just be at the resort to sleep, at the lowest cost.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Day 2 was party day and also Hotel Splurge Day!
I highly recommend attending Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on any day other than Halloween night. That sounds crazy, right? I mean, what better place to spend Halloween than at that party in the Magic Kingdom?
Well, not only is the party be insanely crowded and tickets will typically sell out weeks in advance, but there are other fun resort activities at Disney World on Halloween night that you’ll be missing out on. If your vacation covers other days when a party is held, choose one of those days to attend and save Halloween night for resort activities that ONLY take place on Halloween!
You can read all about my actual party tips in Best of Halloween at Disney World so I won’t talk about the actual party again here, but I will share my strategy for the rest of your party day with kids. It involves lots of relaxing so the kids will be ready for the long night!
We chose a one-night deluxe hotel splurge for our party night. The primary reason was to stay close to the Magic Kingdom so that we would not have far to travel when the party ended. Since the only resorts adjacent to Magic Kingdom are deluxe, that meant staying deluxe! My boys are much better at getting up early for rope drop than staying up late. I was fully expecting them to be tired and cranky when we left the party (spoiler alert: They were!) so I wanted our party exit to be as stress-free and magical as possible. Ideally, that means staying in the Magic Kingdom resort area, either on the monorail loop or a boat ride away. We typically stay at value resorts, but those all require a bus ride or driving our car.
The best choice? Disney’s Contemporary Resort. This is the only resort with a walking path to the Magic Kingdom. Exiting party crowds would be a non-issue at the Contemporary because we just walk away!
The second reason that party day is a great choice to splurge on the hotel is knowing we’d be spending lots of time at the resort. Wanting to give my boys the best chance to stay as happy as possible for as long as possible during the party, I knew that meant having a relaxing day with very little time battling park crowds so they’d be fresh for the party. Some pool time would be ideal. Staying somewhere with more amenities and activities than our usual value resorts just made sense.
Fortunately, there was an amazing deal I couldn’t pass up once Passholder discounts were released and Contemporary club level rooms were available at 30% off. One of the biggest perks of staying club level is the complimentary food. Usually, we’re in the parks during meal times so staying club level rarely makes financial sense for our family. However, since we’d be spending more time at the resort, we could take advantage of the food offerings. I estimated the amount we’d be otherwise be paying for meals during this stay, and the pricing of a standard room plus paid meals came out nearly the same as the club level room.
So, back to our trip week … We left All-Star Movies and drove straight to the Contemporary Resort in the morning. Of course, we weren’t expecting our room to be ready yet (it wasn’t), but club level guests have access to the Atrium Club for the entire length of their check-in day. So, even though we wouldn’t have a room until later that afternoon, a cast member brought us up to the 12th floor where breakfast awaited. The Atrium Club serves breakfast until 10:30 AM so there was really no rush to arrive in time for our first club meal!
Then, we walked to the Magic Kingdom for a quiet morning in the park. On party days, Magic Kingdom is usually less-crowded during the day since the park closes early at 6:00 PM to day guests. Those without park-hopper tickets usually don’t want to use one of their ticket days when they would have to leave so early, making party day Magic Kingdom visits ideal for families like us who avoid crowds!
At Magic Kingdom, we enjoyed rides that didn’t make sense to ride at the party later that evening. We rode the Jungle Cruise which isn’t open for the party, Haunted Mansion (which is very busy during the party), and a few more before lunch.
While enjoying our lunch at Columbia Harbour House, I received a text that our room was ready, so we walked back over to the Contemporary (seriously – walking is SO convenient!) to finish checking in.
While the club level lounges at Disney World offer substantial food at breakfast and dinner, lunchtime is just snacks. We noshed a bit on crackers, trail mix, and house-made chips, and then headed down to the pool for a relaxing afternoon.
By 5:00 PM, we were back in our room and ready for dinner in the Atrium Club right when dinner service began. Can we talk about the butternut squash soup? Amazing!
The party officially begins at 7:00 PM, but guests with a ticket can enter as early as 3:00 PM without a separate park ticket. We had annual passes so maximizing the party ticket didn’t apply to us, but it’s certainly a great tip for anyone paying per park day. We just wanted to arrive a little before the party actually began.
Again, read all about my Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party must-do’s in my Best of Halloween at Disney World post. The party should definitely be on your itinerary if you’re visiting Disney World anytime in the fall!
The boys were DONE when the second Boo To You parade ended around 11:00 PM. Actually, they were DONE long before then, but Mom insisted on staying as long as possible to get our money’s worth, gosh darn it!
The walk back to the hotel was as easy, stress-free, and glorious as I had imagined it would be. We left everyone else waiting for the monorail, waiting for buses, and waiting for the ferryboat back to the parking lot while we walked straight to our nearby hotel room.
Fort Wilderness Disney World Halloween Decorations
Monday, October 29, 2018
On the morning after the party, I purposely didn’t plan any morning reservations or have solid plans, knowing everyone would likely sleep in after late night. The primary activity on this day was seeing the Halloween decorations at Fort Wilderness. The campers do an amazing job decorating their campsites and you simply MUST visit the Fort if you’re at Disney World around Halloween!
Due to its proximity to Magic Kingdom, you could easily add this Fort Wilderness visit to any Magic Kingdom day. Just ride a boat over! You definitely don’t have to stay in a Magic Kingdom-area resort to enjoy the Halloween offerings at Fort Wilderness.
Obviously, staying AT Fort Wilderness during Halloween week would be the best choice. However, this is the most popular time of year at the Fort (along with Christmastime) so campsites and cabins fill up very early. Make reservations one year in advance if you want to stay at the Fort during Halloween and don’t expect any discounts since Fort Wilderness easily fills up before Disney releases resort discounts.
After sleeping in on Day 3, we enjoyed another breakfast at the Contemporary Resort’s Atrium Club, maximizing club access with two breakfasts on a single-night room stay. I was happy to be able to enjoy the delicious deviled eggs twice – best I’ve ever had!
After checking out, we drove straight to nearby Wilderness Lodge where my husband and boys were only expecting to rent bicycles, but I surprised them with a two-night stay at their favorite Disney hotel! I am always searching discounts and was thrilled to find a standard room for 30% off. We were additionally surprised with a complimentary upgrade to a bunk room upon check-in!
Due to its size, it’s best to explore Fort Wilderness on wheels. We rented bikes from Teton Boat and Bike Rentals at Wilderness Lodge and were able to cover ground must faster than walking. Be aware that unless you’re a Fort Wilderness guest driving to and from your campsite, driving cars isn’t allowed within the resort. If you’re just visiting, you have to park at the entrance or arrive by bus or boat, and then walk, ride bikes, or drive a golf cart within Fort Wilderness.
At the time, the paved trail between Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness was open and provided a relaxing ride over to the Fort. As of this writing in the fall of 2019, this route is closed due to construction of a new resort so your only bike rental choice would be the Bike Barn at Fort Wilderness.
This ride around Fort Wilderness was one of our favorite memories of the entire week. We had a blast at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party the night before, but enjoying such a tranquil morning with only the four of us was just what we needed! Fort Wilderness is so quiet and those decorations … my goodness! The creativity is just off the charts!
After the morning bike ride, we returned to Wilderness Lodge, ate lunch at the Roaring Fork (resort restaurants are delightfully unbusy at lunchtime while everyone is in the parks!), and swam in the pool.
We could have easily spent the entire day just enjoying these resorts, but took a bus to Animal Kingdom for the evening.
Fort Wilderness Halloween Golf Cart Parade and Campsite Decorations
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Another one of the many fun Halloween activities at Disney’s Fort Wilderness is the decorated golf cart parade. Typically, this parade is held the day before Halloween, but always check the resort’s October recreation calendar when it is released at the beginning of the month. Recreation calendars are available for all Disney World resorts and the October calendars will include Halloween day activities as well.
We wanted to remain close to Fort Wilderness so this was also a Magic Kingdom park day. Like our campsite bike ride the day before, anyone can watch the golf cart parade. Fort Wilderness is easily accessible by boat from the Magic Kingdom so you can visit regardless of where you are staying.
After spending the morning of Day 4 at Magic Kingdom, we took the boat back to Wilderness Lodge for an afternoon swim before heading over to Fort Wilderness. We love staying in this Bay Lake area of Disney World because using boat transportation to get to and from the Magic Kingdom and the resorts on the lake is quite simply the most relaxing free transportation at Disney World!
The Fort Wilderness golf cart parade was scheduled to begin at 5:30 PM and run through 6:30, but check that recreation calendar for the exact date and time when you go.
We planned to watch the parade, eat dinner at the Trail’s End buffet restaurant, and then explore decorated campsites again after dinner when the sun had set. This plan worked PERFECTLY!
The parade begins in the center of Fort Wilderness at the Hitch & Unhitch area and proceeds down Fort Wilderness Trail (the main road down the center of the resort) towards Settlement, which is the area on Bay Lake where the boat arrives from Magic Kingdom and where Trail’s End is located. The popular Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue dinner show is also in Settlement so that’s another dining option, but it is pricier and will take more time.
We watched the parade right on the edge of Settlement at the end of the parade route where the golf carts turn onto Big Pine Drive. The campers and cast members who decorate their golf carts are incredibly creative and they are all so impressive!
The parade finished a little before our 6:35 PM dining reservation. Settlement is a busy place and we voted in the pumpkin decorating contest and visited the ponies at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch while waiting for our reservation time.
Dinner at Trail’s End was, of course, delicious. This is one of the few non-character buffets at Disney World so it’s one of the lowest-priced buffets with some of the best Disney buffet food! Win-win!
After dinner, Chip ‘n Dale were meeting guests outside in their Halloween costumes. Of course we had to meet our favorite troublesome chipmunks!
The sun had set and the lights were on around Fort Wilderness. Without bikes to cover ground more quickly, we chose to walk just a few of the camping loops near Settlement before heading back to the boat dock and to Wilderness Lodge for the night.
Meeting Characters on Halloween at Disney World
Wednesday, October 31, 2018 – Halloween day!
Every Disney World Resort offers special activities on Halloween day. As I mentioned earlier, this is precisely why you don’t want to attend Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party ON Halloween! The kids can trick-or-treat at your resort and meet characters as well. Attending the party on a different night also means you can wear your Halloween costumes twice.
Specific resort activities may vary, but activities may include: trick or treating, character meetings, costume contests, dance parties, games, arts and crafts, and more. These activities will usually start late afternoon around 4:00 PM. Again, always check the October resort recreation calendars for Halloween activity details.
Each resort will feature a different costume-clad character meeting. If your family loves meeting characters, consider hopping to several different resorts to meet more characters in rare costumes. This is especially convenient when staying at adjacent resorts: Pop Century and Art of Animation, resorts on the monorail loop, and resorts in the Boardwalk area outside of Epcot, for example.
We began Day 5 by checking out of Wilderness Lodge and enjoying a normal Hollywood Studios morning. We rode a FriendShip Boat over to Epcot’s International Gateway to enjoy a delicious afternoon at the International Food and Wine Festival.
By mid-afternoon, I received a text notifying us that our room at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort was ready. If you’re keeping track, yes, this is the fourth hotel of this trip! I told you that we love split stays!
We did not choose Caribbean Beach for any Halloween-specific reason. It was simply a resort that we had always wanted to try and were able to get a deep discount on these particular days – a 35% off passholder rate which made our room cheaper than our Saturday night at All-Star Movies!
We changed into our Up! costumes again, and went to go find Daisy Duck who was meeting near the resort pool. The boys enjoyed the short trick-or-treat trail and then decided they wanted to swim in the “pirate pool.” The rest of Halloween evening was spent quietly watching Hocus Pocus in our room.
Halloween is Over at Disney World
Thursday, November 1, 2018
The day after Halloween, Disney World is back to normal and fall is practically a distant memory.
On Day 6 of our trip, we spent most of the day at Epcot, enjoyed a yummy lunch at our favorite Beaches and Cream Soda Shop, and swam again at the Caribbean Beach Resort pool.
We were very curious to see the status of decorations in the Magic Kingdom, so we headed over in the evening to discover that all traces of fall and Halloween were gone and a few Christmas decorations were already hung. The dream lights on Cinderella Castle were still a week away from being lit, but the seasons had definitely changed already!
Our vacation would end the following day with an Animal Kingdom followed by a weekend with family in Florida.