Disney Halloween Cruise: If you’ve ever visited a Disney park, resort or cruised with DCL you probably already know Mickey Mouse and friends love to celebrate holidays and special occasions. From décor, costumes to themed events and parties – Disney goes all out to celebrate holidays and special occasions.
Halloween is no exception. Families cruising with during the months of September and October are in for a treat. All four Disney ships are celebrate Halloween with special events and activities for cruise guests.
So if your family cruising around the Bahamas or the Caribbean, you might want to take note of the following travel tips before you set sail.
1. Halloween on the High Seas Celebration Dates
Special Halloween-themed parties, activities and events vary according to each cruise ship. Here are the celebration dates for 2019 & 2020:
- Disney Dream Sail Dates: September 9 – October 28, 2019
- Disney Fantasy Sail Dates: September 7 – October 27, 2019
- Disney Magic Sail Dates: September 25 – October 27, 2019
- Disney Wonder Sail Dates: October 4 – October 27, 2019
- Disney Fantasy Sail Dates: September 7 – October 30, 2020
- Disney Magic Sail Dates: October 12 – October 27, 2020
- Disney Wonder Sail Dates: September 23 – October 28, 2020
Cruisers sailing during these dates will receive a Halloween on the High Seas booklet in the mail.
Halloween celebration experiences include:
- Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party – Halloween party with games, trick-or-treating, dancing and meeting Disney characters in their Halloween attire
- Mask and Pumpkin Carving Crafts – Halloween-themed activities at the youth clubs
- Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Sing and Scream – An interactive movie experience followed by a character meet with Jack and Sally
- Haunted Stories of the Sea – Spooky Storytime in the atrium
- Halloween Isn’t Just For Kids – An adults-only dance party that includes a costume party
2. Ensure Your Spot at Special Halloween Events and Activities
In addition to the events listed above, Select activities (character breakfasts and character meets) have limited spots/seats and require guests to get tickets and add their name to an attendance list.
On embarkation day, make sure you read the Personal Navigator (the daily schedule of events) about events that require tickets and where to go to get them.
I’d recommend having one adult in your group head to the designated sign up spot (usually one of the lounges) for these tickets as soon as you get on board. Line ups to register for these free events and activities are quite long (about 30-45 minutes) and spots get filled quickly.
Guests are not allowed to choose the time of these Halloween themed events – each running multiple times throughout the cruise – and will be assigned the next available time slot.
3. Pack Your Halloween Costumes
There is a Halloween themed night where guests can wear their costumes to dinner. If you’d like to participate, make sure you pack your costumes.
On our Halloween on the High Seas cruise last year, about 75% of the diners in the restaurant were dressed up in Halloween attire.
RELATED READING: 7 Things to Pack for a DCL Vacation
Parents, you can join in the Halloween fun too! There’s an adult-only party and costume contest scheduled for each Halloween on the High Seas cruise.
If you don’t have space in your suitcase for costumes, don’t worry. The gift shops will have some available for purchase – but don’t be surprised when you see Disney Store like prices.
4. Younger Children May Need Noise Reducing Headphones
The music and Dracula like voices over the P.A. system and story-time may be scary for younger children. Bring noise reducing headphones if you can or find other activities on the ship to do during these Halloween activity times.
Little Miss and Little Mister weren’t fans of these voices and songs. Luckily we had our BANZ Kids Hearing Protection Headphones
They are great for fireworks and parades at the Disney World theme parks as well if you happen to be visiting before or after your cruise.
5. Arrive Early for Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party
Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party in the atrium (Deck 3) is the most popular event of each Halloween on the High Seas cruise. Arrive early for a good spot or head up to Decks 4 or 5 if you want to avoid the crowd and noise – we hung out on Deck 5 during the night party.
6. Trick-or-Treating Tips for Young Cruisers with Nut Allergies
Parents with children with nut allergies should be aware that some of the candy handing out during Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party may contain nuts (or have traces of nuts). Out of all the candy Little Mister collected, he was only able to enjoy 2 or 3 of them.
We packed a few snacks for him as well as an emergency kit in anticipation of this.
Parents can also purchase nut-free candy in the gift shops on board – they’re just a bit more expensive than those from the grocery store as everything is Disney branded on the ships.
7. Pack for Pirates in the Caribbean Night
If you’re looking to kill two birds with one stone, then pack a pirate costume to double as your Halloween costume and Pirate Night costume.
Each of the Disney cruise ships will be porting at Disney’s private island in the Bahamas – Castaway Cay – and will have a Pirates in the Caribbean dinner and deck parties that night.
You can read more about it in our Disney Cruise Line Dining Tips blog post.
Halloween on the High Seas on the Disney Wonder Review
Last year, my family cruised around the Bahamas on the Disney Wonder. We booked this cruise during our first family cruise on the Disney Dream because of the pre-booking savings. I’d highly recommend you do this if you are sailing with DCL and want to cruise with them again in the near future.
This is the first time we’ve traveled to Disney – or in this case, with Disney – during Halloween. It was fun to see the ship all decked out with Halloween décor and the themed activities were pretty great too.
We didn’t know this was going to happen when we pre-booked this cruise so it was a nice surprise when we received our cruise booklet in the mail.
On embarkation day in Port Canaveral, we were greeted by a massive tree with pumpkins hanging from the branches and Halloween decor adorning the rails by the atrium’s elevator entrance.
Every day there was at least one Halloween related activity – from stories told by the tree after dinner, sing along and movie time in the theaters and by the pool, crafts in the kids’ clubs (Little Miss and Little Mister were afraid to go on their own so they came home empty handed), and the big event that many families were looking forward to – Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party.
The night prior to the Mouse-querade Party, our stateroom host left some trick-or-treat bags on our bed. We took them to the main lobby (Deck 3) and tried to navigate our way through the crowd. You’d think most kids would be asleep by 10PM but no, people go crazy for Halloween! The same party was held at 4:30PM which we also happened to go to.
The characters were dressed in their costumes and dancing – Goofy’s “Walk Like an Egyptian” and “Thriller” dance was hilarious, crew members were dumping handfuls of candy into the kids’ treat bags and everyone was lining up to play games or take photos with their favourite characters.
Entire families were getting into the Halloween spirit – we saw a family of four at dinner dressed as the Nightmare Before Christmas characters (the father made a Jack Skellington paper mache mask for himself!) and another family dressed as Aladdin, Princess Jasmine and Jafar (hat and walking stick included).
It boggles my mind how they were able to pack all of this stuff in their suitcases while we struggled with one Princess Elsa and Spiderman costume. We refuse to pay for extra suitcases so we try to be strategic about what we pack for a Disney cruise.
It was nice to celebrate Halloween in addition to Pirate Night (all sailings with a stop in Castaway Cay have this themed night with a pirate show and fireworks) and I’d highly recommend it to families planning a vacation in early autumn.
If you’re like us, Halloween is one of your favorite holidays, whether you’re in it for the mischief, the candy or the feeling of satisfaction that comes with dreaming up the perfect costume — for yourself or your kids. You won’t find a cruise line that embraces your obsession with October 31st quite like Disney Cruise Line does. With its Halloween on the High Seas events, all ages are shamelessly encouraged to dress up, boogie down and have tons of eerie fun.
What It Is
When it comes to Halloween, Disney cruises go whole hog. Themed activities — dance parties, games, stories and costume contests, collectively dubbed “Halloween on the High Seas” — are offered on each sailing throughout the entire month of October. (Festivities often start in September and bleed over into November, meaning the celebration can last for nearly two months.)
Our sailing aboard Disney Dream was actually during Halloween, but we’re told the onboard events were the same as those held on other October voyages. As Halloween fanatics, we were giddy for weeks leading up to the cruise. We started planning our costume (Vanellope von Schweetz from Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph”) months in advance, ordering specially made accessories, altering clothes and spray-painting the necessary accoutrements to make it look as authentic as possible.
The first thing we noticed when we boarded was that the interior atrium area on the ship was decorated with Mickey-shaped pumpkins and purple draperies that hung from the balconies of the upper decks. The focal point, however, was a curious, larger-than-life tree with a slightly scary face and barren branches. On the evening before the major Halloween events took place, kids and adults alike were invited to gather in front of the tree for spooky (but not too spooky) stories, which culminated in the recitation of an enchantment that caused the tree to “bloom” with pumpkins overnight. (We tried to stay up late to see how it happened — as if we didn’t know — but eventually gave up and went to sleep. We’re glad we didn’t ruin the magic.)
Events that rounded out the evening included a late-night “sing- and scream-along” screening of Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” in the ship’s onboard theater. We fought to stay awake, and it was worth it: Following the movie, Jack and Sally made an appearance to greet cruisers and offer photo opportunities. (Although most onboard characters don’t speak, Jack and Sally do — so be prepared to chat.) We have to admit we felt like kids as waited in line (wearing our Minnie Mouse ears) to snap a selfie.
The following night, Disney characters like Mickey and Minnie donned costumes and posed for pictures with passengers at designated times. They also hosted games and a family-friendly costume dance party in the atrium, and shipwide trick-or-treating was offered for children at the onboard shops. The atrium was mass chaos for a couple of hours, but after the kids went to bed, adults made their way to the onboard nightclub for cocktails, dancing and a costume contest.
Worth a Try?
If you’re a fan of all things All Hallows Eve, Halloween on the High Seas is absolutely a don’t-miss experience. (Honestly, it would be difficult to avoid if you’re booked on an October sailing; you can participate in all festivities even without a costume.)
Things to Note
It was standing room only during the pumpkin tree storytime. Even the upper decks of the atrium were crowded; passengers were standing shoulder to shoulder, three people deep, making it difficult to see. If you want the best views, check your daily schedule for the day and time, and plan to get there early.
Regardless of the time of year, Pirate Night is offered once on each sailing of every Disney ship. On short sailings, Pirate Night is held on the same night as the main Halloween soiree. That means anyone who wants to participate in both either has to bring two costumes and do a wardrobe change or simply go as a pirate for Halloween. Because the day holds as many Pirate-themed activities as it does Halloween ones, it can be exhausting for those who want to do it all.
Having put massive effort into our costume, we were so excited that we wore the darn thing nearly all day; we found ourselves in the minority in that regard. Although nearly everyone onboard dressed up, and many costumes obviously involved a lot of effort, we didn’t see many others (kids or adults) in costumes until the early evening.
We noticed that many families themed their costumes, and the results were amazing, hilarious and well thought out. If you’re hoping to sweep the adult costume contest, come up with a unique group idea, and you’re sure to be noticed. Another way to stand out is to make your own costume. One elderly woman, dressed in the most beautiful fairy godmother cloak we’ve ever seen, won a prize for best Disney costume. When we asked where she got her ensemble, she told us that she had sewn it herself and that, if she could live her life over again, she’d want to design and produce costumes for Disney. (We say it’s never too late to start.)