This is the beginning of a new column called, “Once Upon a Theme Park,” by Orlando park blogger, Jess Mack.

In this column, she’ll cover special events at both Disney World and Universal Studios, provide insider tips and keep you up to date with all that’s new and exciting at the parks.

Spooky season is upon us and one of the biggest Halloween events in central Florida has been in full swing for about a month and a half now. That may seem crazy for some but, for others (including me) it was the beginning of their favorite time of the year.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party began on August 16th and I went to the event to give you the full rundown on how to have the perfect night!

Let’s start out with the basics. Not-So-Scary takes place on select nights in August-November. Tickets are anywhere from $90-$122 per person, depending on the night. The party begins at 7 p.m. and runs until midnight, but your party ticket will allow entry into the Magic Kingdom as early as 4 p.m. that day.

These parties are jam-packed full of things to do and see, and it can become overwhelming for first-timers. I suggest taking a look at the event schedule so that you know exactly what you want to see and do.

There are several special shows – like the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular – throughout the night with multiple showtimes for each, so you can be a bit flexible with your schedule. Keep in mind the fireworks happen only once per night.

There are also special changes made to a few attractions just for the event, including an even darker Space Mountain and live actors on Pirates of the Caribbean.

Special character meet-and-greets are also available like Jack and Sally, the Seven Dwarfs and various villains, just to name a few. However, these meet-and-greets will have tremendous waits. Jack and Sally can get up to three hours depending on the night. Unless you really want to meet these characters, I would suggest skipping them. Some characters will have very short waits though so you can still meet them without losing too much time.

And don’t forget about the candy! As soon as you enter the event, you’re handed your own trick-or-treat bag to fill with as much candy as you can get at the designated treat trails throughout the park. They are rather small so if you want to collect more, bring your own bag.

Now that you have all the basic info, let’s run through how we had the most relaxing time, even with the crowds.
First, we created a list of the things we wanted to do, which included Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular Fireworks and the Boo-to-You Parade.

We knocked the rides out as soon as we got in and only waited about 15 minutes for Space Mountain and 20 minutes for Pirates of the Caribbean. Once we did those, we had about two hours of free time to roam around the park to observe and enjoy the little not-so-scary touches Disney created.

Your best chance to get on some of the more popular attractions will likely be during the first parade. We saw Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at only 30 minutes!

During this downtime we ate dinner, hit all of the treat trails to load up our bags with candy, headed to the Haunted Mansion to listen to Lady Carlotta tell tales of the classic attraction (highly recommend) and then found our way to Main Street to get our spot for the fireworks.

The best spot for the fireworks this year, in my opinion, is in the back of the hub by Casey’s Corner. You will have a great view of the projections on the castle while also being able to see all of the half perimeter fireworks without having to turn your head. Definitely don’t miss the fireworks. They are amazing and the projections are stunning.

After the fireworks we grabbed our spot on a curb on Main Street for the second Boo-to-You parade.

Unless you really want to see the first parade, wait for the second one. Most guests will already be waiting for the first parade by 7:30 p.m. and they’ll spend roughly two hours just waiting around. And if you’re on Main Street, keep in mind that the parade starts at 9:15 p.m. in Frontier Land, meaning it won’t be getting to you until about 9:45 p.m. If you wait for the second Boo-to-You, you will have a much easier time finding a great spot about 30-45 minutes before the parade.

A couple extra tips:
1. Dress for the weather! It’s fun to dress up for Halloween, but this is Florida and it will most likely be 90 degrees during your Party.

2. My last and most important tip to you is to have fun and take it all in. Chances are you are only going to be at this event once this year so take your pictures and then put your phone away and enjoy time with your family and friends!