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Our Not-So-Spooky Guide to Halloween on the High Seas

by Mommy Frog on October 12, 2023

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Did you feel that? A crisp autumn breeze meets the salty sea air ... and a cruise ship that's all decked out in Halloween finery. It could only mean one thing — it's Disney Cruise Line's Halloween on the High Seas! Halloween on the High Seas is a not-so-scary way to celebrate the spookiest holiday of the year while sailing on the seas. In this blog post, we'll take you through the highlights of this bewitching event, sharing all you need to know about what to expect and how to make the most of your Halloween at sea. And here's a treat (no tricks): Undercover Tourist now offers exclusive Disney Cruise Line savings! Now that's sweeter than candy!

Halloween Cruise - Vampire Mickey Mouse

What Is Halloween on the High Seas?

Halloween on the High Seas is a festive autumn celebration held on all five ships in the Disney Cruise Line fleet. If you're cruising anytime from late September through Oct. 31, you'll likely experience this spooktacular event.

@undercovertourist♬ Spooky, Scary Skeletons (House VIP Remix) - Crystal Knives & Lex Allen

Disney is famous for its frogtastic holiday celebrations, both at Disney World and Disneyland. And when it comes to Halloween festivities on Disney's cruise ships, they definitely know how to throw a party. Unlike Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World or Oogie Boogie Bash at Disneyland, this event doesn't limit the fun to just one night. Instead, it sprinkles Halloween magic throughout your entire voyage. There are some differences in scheduling, but we'll cover those details as we go along.

Must-Do Disney Cruise Halloween Activities

Similar to the laid-back vibe of "island time," Disney's Halloween on the High Seas is a more relaxed affair compared to the theme park parties. For the most part, you'll enjoy the sights and sounds at your own pace. I love Halloween! My blood type is practically pumpkin spice. So, I've conjured up a list of the must-see and do activities that our family never misses. ;) This list will help to make the most of your experience, too.

Halloween Decor & Music

Halloween on the High Seas - Lobby Decor

When you first step onto the ship, you'll see that the lobby atrium or the Grand Hall is all dressed up for Halloween. The staircase and railings are covered in spooky garlands, ribbons and, of course, pumpkins!

Don't froget to take a look at the ship's porthole windows. They get a Halloween makeover with jack-o-lanterns, autumn decorations and even some of your favorite Disney Villains. And here's the Disney touch: the window overlays match the theme of the specific area of the ship. For example, Nightingale's, a lounge on the Disney Wish, is themed around Cinderella, so of course, the porthole windows feature Cinderella's wicked stepmother and stepsisters, Anastasia and Drizella. Talk about bibiddi, bobbidi, BOO!

As you explore the ship, you'll be treated to classic Disney Halloween tunes such as the "Monster Mash," the theme from "The Twilight Zone," or even the enchanting "I Put a Spell on You" from the iconic "Hocus Pocus" film. It's a little detail, but it goes a long way in setting the Halloween mood aboard your ship.

Pumpkin Tree & Caretaker Storytelling 

Located in the center of the ship's lobby atrium or Grand Hall, you can't miss the big Pumpkin Tree. And did you know that each of Disney's five ships — the Magic, Wonder, Dream, Fantasy and the Wish — has its very own unique pumpkin tree? They even have special names!

Halloween on the High Seas - Boo the Pumpkin Tree

Disney is all about storytelling — it's what they do best. So, naturally, there's a special story about Halloween's past and the Pumpkin King, who was the very first caretaker of Halloween. The story goes like this ... the Pumpkin King needed some help to keep Halloween's history alive. He took five pumpkin seeds from his head, and each seed represented a different part of his personality. Those seeds grew into the five pumpkin trees you see on Disney's cruise ships. They only bloom once a year, and their branches hold the stories of Halloween.

A caretaker looks after these trees and shares an exciting Halloween tale. And guess what? When everyone understands the story, these trees actually come to life! There's Grim on the Disney Dream, Mucklebones on the Disney Fantasy, Bog on the Disney Wonder, Reap on the Disney Magic, and Boo on the Disney Wish.

This is a popular event, so make sure to check the showtimes in the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app. It's a good idea to arrive a little early to grab a good spot for watching. Many families, especially those with little ones, like to sit on the carpet near the center stage or close to the Pumpkin Tree. You can also get a decent view from the staircase on the second- or third-level railings.

For even more storytelling, join the crew on deck and experience bone-chilling tales with Haunted Stories of the Sea, a campfire-style gathering featuring spooky ghost stories.

Mickey's Mouse-querade Party!

Halloween just wouldn't be the same without a party, and that's exactly what you'll find at Mickey's Mouse-querade Party! Head on up to the pool deck, and get ready to have a blast with your favorite Disney characters. It's a night filled with dancing and exciting entertainment. Join in on the fun by dressing up in your Halloween best, just like Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto and Chip 'n Dale. Plus, the party features some popular Halloween tunes that'll really get everyone in the spirit. Get ready to groove!

Halloween Disney Cruise - Mickey's Mouse-querade Party

Disney Cruise Halloween Character Meet & Greets

Right after Mickey's Mouse-querade Party, you'll get the chance to meet some of your favorite Disney characters including Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto and Chip 'n Dale. There are several opportunities to meet them during your cruise, but this is one of the few times they'll be in their adorable Halloween costumes.

The characters will disperse into different meeting spots around the ship and spend about 15-20 minutes with fans. You might not get to meet all of them in one go, so we suggest starting with your top two or three favorites. If you get to meet even more, consider it a delightful bonus.

Halloween on the High Seas - Clarabelle Cow, Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck dressed up as the Sanderson Sisters

The Sanderson Sisters are causing a bit of a ruckus on the ship. Amuck, amuck, amuck! Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck and Clarabelle Cow will be dressed as the Sanderson Sisters, and you can meet them at various times during your cruise. It's not just tied to Mickey's Mouse-querade Party. To make sure you don't miss out, keep an eye on the character meet and greet schedule in your Disney Cruise Line Navigator app. You can even "heart" or favorite those times, and the app will remind you when it's time to meet these sinister sisters. It's a handy way to stay on top of all the events while you're enjoying everything else on the ship.

Dress in Costumes

Feel free to bring along your favorite costumes for you and your family. Whether you want to transform into a swashbuckling pirate, a charming princess or even a classic Disney character, Halloween on the High Seas is the perfect time to let your creativity shine.

You can wear your costumes as often as you like during your cruise (although it's not required). We saw many fellow passengers who practically lived in their costumes throughout the entire trip. Now that's dedication to the cause!

Halloween on the High Seas - Family dressed in Halloween costumes on the ship deck

For most guests, costumes were worn on the same night that the trick-or-treating and Mickey's Mouse-querade Party were scheduled.

Trick-or-Treating

On one select night during your Halloween cruise, you'll get the chance to go trick-or-treating around the ship! On the Disney Wish, they set up four different trick-or-treat spots, and the crew provides trick-or-treat bags (or you can also bring your own, like we did). Your stateroom attendant will either leave the treat bags in your room or you can grab one on the deck before you start your trick-or-treat adventure. Trick-or-treating isn't just for the kids. Parents, you're invited to join in on the fun, too!

You'll find the exact trick-or-treat time and location in your Disney Cruise Line Navigator app. We recommend giving yourself enough time, especially if you plan on changing into your Halloween costumes. For example, our trick-or-treat was scheduled for the evening of our Castaway Cay day. I made sure our frog family of four had plenty of time to come back to the ship, shower and get into our costumes before the 5 p.m. trick-or-treat time.

Halloween on the High Seas - boys in skeleton costumes

Keep in mind, trick-or-treating only happens once, and it's typically about 30 minutes long. You can go trick-or-treating as many times as you want during that time, even revisiting the candy stations, but just remember, it moves pretty quickly. On our cruise itinerary, the first rotational dinner seating started at 5:45 p.m., so this schedule ensured that everyone had time to collect candy and make their way to their dinner reservation. The one thing we can't stress enough is to arrive early. The lines can be lengthy, and arriving early will allow you to get ahead of the crowds.

Halloween Movies 

In the fall, the kids and I love to bundle up on the couch with a cup of hot apple cider and settle in with a Halloween movie. Did you know that you can have a cozy Halloween movie night on the Disney cruise ships? If that sounds like your jam, then be sure to catch the classic Disney Halloween films such as "Haunted Mansion" and "Hocus Pocus" on the deck Funnel Vision screens and in the ship's movie cinemas.

You'll also have the opportunity to meet Jack Skellington and Sally in person as you enjoy the Sing and Scream experience with the classic film, Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas."

And if you're looking for some movie snacks or a refreshing drink, make a stop at Preludes. They have themed options available for an extra charge — including Halloween popcorn buckets.

Arts & Crafts

Roll up your sleeves and prepare for some wickedly creative fun. You'll find a cauldron of hands-on activities brewing around the ship. From creepy cooking demonstrations to trivia challenges, there's something for the whole family. And for the tadpoles, there's even mask-making and pumpkin-carving classes.

Specialty Treats & Cocktails

Halloween on the High Seas - Treat Counter

Be on the lookout for Halloween-themed treats and beverages. You can discover these tasty surprises at different dining spots, bars and lounges across the ship. Whether it's themed cupcakes at the sweet shop, Halloween cookies in the buffet area or creative cocktails in the bars and lounges, you never know what gory goodies you'll find.

Adults-Only 

Halloween on the High Seas - Two adults dresses in a Mr. Potato Head and Buzz Lightyear blow-up costumes

For adults seeking some Halloween tricks on the Disney cruise ships, the exclusive adult-only Villainous Takeover is a must-attend event. This soirée promises a ghoulishly good time with a costume contest where you can show off your most creative, scary or downright hilarious costumes. Dance the night away to hauntingly catchy tunes and enjoy specialty cocktails. But watch out — prepare for some wicked surprises as Disney villains make special appearances, too!

Stateroom Halloween Decor

Halloween on the High Seas - Wish blanket pumpkin towel figure

The Halloween spirit isn't limited to just the Grand Hall. On the same night of trick-or-treating and Mickey's Mouse-querade Party, our thoughtful stateroom attendant surprised us by creating a pumpkin towel figure on our bed. (On the Disney Wish, they use the Wish blanket to craft these towel animals and figures.) It sure got us excited for the fun planned for that evening. Oh, my gourd!

Halloween on the High Sea - Halloween Stateroom Decor

If you're eager to amp up the decorations in your room, you can opt to pre-purchase the Spooky Time Bundle available through Onboard Gifts. Just make sure to order at least three days before your sailing date. This package, which usually costs a little over $100 plus tax, includes a Halloween sherpa blanket, a plush pillow, a drawstring bag and a pennant banner (subject to availability). Your Halloween-themed room decorations will be all set up and ready for you when you arrive. Don't froget to have your camera ready.

A Few More Tips

Here are a few additional tips to make the most of your Disney Cruise Halloween on the High Seas celebration:

  • Stay Flexible with Scheduling: During your cruise, the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app will be your go-to resource. However, you won't be able to access the specific itinerary and event schedule until you're onboard and connected to the ship's Wi-Fi. This can make planning a bit tricky. For example, our Halloween night coincided with our Palo dinner reservations, and we had to manage our time carefully. If you need to adjust your plans, don't hesitate to visit Guest Relations early in your cruise. They might be able to help you rearrange your schedule, especially if there's a Halloween event you really want to experience.

Halloween on the High Seas - Door Magnet Door with Minnie Mouse Ghost

  • Get Creative with Halloween Door Decorating: It's a fun tradition on cruises to decorate your stateroom door with magnets. Some folks add just a few magnets, while others go all out with their designs. The sky's the limit here, and for a Halloween-themed cruise, you'll see many doors adorned with spooky decorations. Remember to pack your door magnets — our kids loved making their own!
  • Check Out Halloween-Themed Merchandise: If you're looking to add a little extra Halloween flair to your costume or want a souvenir to remember your Halloween on the High Seas voyage, the ship's gift shops have a small selection of Halloween merchandise available for purchase.

There's nothing quite like celebrating a holiday out on the open ocean, especially Halloween. What a core memory! Save this post as a guide to help you navigate the ins and outs of Halloween on the High Seas. What questions do you still have? Drop them down in the comments. We're always hoppy to help! 

Related: Your Complete Guide to Disney Cruise Food

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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