No matter when you choose to visit a Disney Park, chances are there will some kind of special event happening. More often than not, these are included with your park admission, but Disney also hosts several that are considered “hard ticket” events. Simply put, a hard ticket event is one that requires a special, separate ticket at an additional cost.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are the two most popular examples of this, although there have been others offered throughout the years. (Villians Unleashed in the Magic Kingdom, Harambe Nights in the Animal Kingdom, and Galactic Nights in Hollywood Studios are all other hard ticket events that have been held in the past.)
As with any Disney offering that includes additional spending, people are always going to debate whether or not it is worth it. Here are some of my thoughts on the matter.
The biggest appeal of any of the hard ticket events is the fact that you get to do and see things that can’t be experienced at any other time! Exclusive Character meets and greets, event merchandise, and unique shows are what make these occasions appealing. The Halloween party especially offers characters that are either rare or make no other appearances. (Think Jack Skellington and all seven dwarfs for example!) Halloween has trick or treating throughout the park and Christmas has free cookie and hot chocolate stations.
These events have special stage shows, themed fireworks shows, and parades as well. The exclusive merchandise is something you could always buy online afterward, but it’s always better to say you bought it there, right?
Oh, and most of the attractions are still open. Since there are a limited number of tickets sold for each night, theoretically this means shorter lines. All in all, hard ticket events provide a truly unique time for anyone who wants to experience everything the parks have to offer, and to get those experiences they just can’t on a regular day.
The price ends up being a huge deterrent. The Halloween and Christmas parties have tiered pricing that varies based on what night you go; but even at their cheapest, tickets range from $80 for adults and $75 for kids. (Yes, that’s right, there’s a great big $5 difference.) Prices only go up from there as you get closer to the holiday, topping out at around $115 for an adult. You can do the math to see how much extra that would cost for your family. It’s a pretty big additional chunk of money during a vacation that already costs a pretty big chunk of money. Also, despite the promise of a less crowded park, lines and crowds can still be comparable to a normal day, especially if you attend on a weekend or close to the holiday.
So what does all of that lead to? Well, ultimately, the only person who can decide if these events are worthwhile for you is you. I’ve done both the Halloween and Christmas parties and had drastically different experiences. For the Halloween party, I went with three other adults. We enjoyed every bit of it and felt that it was well worth the money. For the Christmas party I had a 15-month-old, and by the time the party began at 7 pm, he was done. We stopped for cookies and hot chocolate at one location then left before even the first parade. (If you travel with children and go back to your room for a mid-day nap, or make the party the only thing you do that day, that problem can easily be avoided — but we didn’t realize it then!)
Personally, I think you can ask yourself three questions to help in your decision: Can you afford it? Are you willing to spend the extra money on it? Will the other members of your party get a worthwhile experience from it? If all those answers are yes, I’d highly recommend trying one of these events. I think what you get out of it is far more than the money you spend, and you will definitely be able to brag about some of the things you get to see!