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There are a lot of things to consider when you book a Disney Cruise. You will need to think about school and/or work schedules, cruise ports and itineraries, transportation options to get to the port, time of year and typical weather. That’s really just the top of the list as there are many variables to consider before you go ahead and click that “book” button. One thing that we did last year that we have NEVER done before was to sail on a Disney ship over Halloween. We booked a “Halloween on the High Seas” 7-night sailing on the Disney Magic out of New York City. We were pleasantly surprised at how fun it was to celebrate Halloween at sea! There were many holiday-themed events, activities, parties and treats to enjoy. I’m putting them all together in this Halloween Disney Cruise Guide in the hopes that it will be helpful to you as you consider booking your own Halloween Disney Cruise! (Read my full review of that cruise here!)
When does Disney run their Halloween Cruises? While the itineraries can vary slightly from year to year, the “Halloween on the High Seas” cruises are typically offered on most sailings between mid-September and the end of October. Halloween cruises occur on all 4 ships in Disney’s fleet. An itinerary will be listed as a “Halloween on the High Seas” cruise if it is, indeed, a holiday sailing.
Are the ships decorated for Halloween? In one word: YES! There are decorations all over the place! There is a huge pumpkin tree in the atrium of the ship. Each tree is unique to its ship and they have a backstory which you can learn about in this video:
Our pumpkin tree on the Disney Magic was named “Reap.” Reap had big empty branches when we boarded the ship. The first night of the cruise, there was a show in the atrium where the “caretaker” told the tale of the trees. Over the course of the cruise, pumpkins begin to grow on the tree’s branches! Finally, the entire tree is covered in pumpkins. Since our cruise was over the actual holiday, our pumpkin tree sprouted pumpkins at an accelerated rate so that the tree was in full bloom by Halloween day.
Other decor on the ship includes many Jack O’Lantern porthole windows in the public areas. We were in line for formal night pictures before dinner when I happened to catch this picture of the sun setting over the ocean.
I made us a bunch of Halloween Disney themed shirts that we wore between boarding the ship and Halloween. My “Mickey Pumpkin Spice Latte” shirt and the family’s Halloween on the High Seas shirts grabbed us lots of compliments from cast members and fellow passengers!
The kids received treat bags on Halloween morning! On the morning of Halloween, our cabin steward dropped off a trick or treat bag for each kid. The bags had candy in them and could be re-used for trick or treating on the ship later that day.
What is Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party? For us, the Halloween celebrations took place ON Halloween. If you are on a Halloween cruise but not sailing on 10/31, your cruise will have a certain day when these activities take place. There were two different parties and trick or treat times to choose from. Both of these parties are identical. You can attend one or both. We attended one and felt like we saw the show, got the candy, we were good.
For the Mouse-querade Party, everyone gathers in the atrium facing the restaurant doors. It is VERY crowded and I advise arriving at least 15 minutes early if you want to get the kids up front to see. You can also opt to watch from the higher floors, just note that the characters only circulate around the atrium. (They circulate and dance but do NOT stop for photo ops or autographs.)
If you brought a Halloween costume, this is the time to wear it. Many kids AND adults were dressed up for the party. (We got our costumes from Amazon and the kids’ pumpkins came from Grandma and Great Grandma via Disney Store.)
The entertainment staff opens the party up with some dancing and then games around the room. The games are really hard to get to because it’s so crowded, so we opted to just stay in our spots waiting for the characters to come out. After a few more minutes, the characters enter from behind the restaurant doors and perform a few songs.
How do you trick or treat on a Disney Cruise? Trick or treating on a Disney Cruise is surprisingly easy and the candy is PLENTIFUL! After the Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party draws to a close, you can walk around the atrium (ground floor AND the next deck up) and there are various candy stations set up. We only made it to about half of the candy stations and both kids had BULGING pumpkins full of candy! The staff was incredibly generous with their candy portions and gave the kids each big handfuls of candy.
You can watch the Mouse-querade Party AND see us trick or treating in this video:
Can you get a family picture taken on Halloween? YES! We discovered the picture area by accident! We thought we were following a crowd of people towards more trick or treating candy stations, only to find the photographer instead. The picture area was set up outside of the theatre, at the end of the hallway with the shops.
Such a fun keepsake! (Pictures will be added to your photo account. You can stop by Shutters to check them out and order a copy if you like it.)
What other Halloween activities are offered on a Disney Cruise? There are a bunch of fun holiday related activities! These can vary by sailing but ours had options including:
“Sing and Scream” version of The Nightmare Before Christmas in the movie theater
Meet and greets with Jack and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas
Costume party/contest for the adults
The Pumpkin Tree shows in the atrium
Halloween movies on Funnel Vision
What Halloween activities are offered in Vibe, Edge, Oceaneer Lab and Oceaneer Club for the kids and teens? Some of the activities offered on our sailing:
Halloween Animation Cells
Halloween Face Paint
Are there character meet and greets with costumed characters? Yes! Throughout the day on Halloween and on the days leading up to Halloween, there are characters available for photo ops in their Halloween costumes. Check your daily Navigator or the Navigator app for meet and greet times.
If you sail over Halloween week, does the ship change over to Christmas during your cruise? We boarded our ship on Saturday, 10/29/16, so by Tuesday (11/1) Halloween had come and gone and we still had half a cruise left! On Wednesday 11/2 we were docked in Port Canaveral, FL and spent a long day in the Disney Parks. When we returned to the ship late that night, guess what we found? The cruise ship had been transformed from Halloween to Christmas! True Disney Magic! It’s important to note, that while we did get to see Christmas decorations, including the giant tree, our cruise was NOT a “Very MerryTime Cruise” and therefore did not offer any Christmas-related activities. Those activities started on the sailing after ours. We saw the big gingerbread house being constructed behind partitions but the finished house was never revealed during our trip.
Here are some more videos – the first shows the atrium decorated for Halloween and the next two show the atrium decked out for Christmas!
I hope this has given you a great idea of what to expect on a Halloween Disney Cruise! We had the trip of a lifetime during our Halloween on the High Seas sailing and would absolutely book another holiday cruise! Have anything to add? Have a question? Drop me a comment!
Our Disney Video Highlight Reel: