All About Halloween On The High Seas – Disney Cruise Line
A Disney cruise is amazing any time of year, but especially during spooky season. In September and October, guests can set sail for Halloween at the High Seas, a special themed cruise featuring everything from Disney characters in costume and trick-or-treating to autumn-inspired arts & crafts and an adults-only party guest-starring the Disney Villains.
But what else does this frightfully fun cruise have in store, and is it worth it for your next family vacation? We booked a stateroom on the Disney Dream to find out. Put on your bewitching best and read on as we dig into all the treats a Disney Halloween cruise has to offer, as well as a few tricks to help you make the most of it.
Celebrating Halloween on the High Seas
So, which Disney cruise ship has Halloween on the High Seas? Where does a Halloween Disney cruise go? When do Disney Cruise Line Halloween festivities begin? Here are all the devilish details.
Disney Cruise Ships With Halloween on the High Seas
While we got into the spooky spirit on the Disney Dream, every Disney cruise ship takes part in Halloween on the High Seas, even the all-new Disney Wish. Each ship has its own scream-worthy setting especially for the season, including a unique Pumpkin Tree that serves as the centerpiece of the festivities.
Departure Ports & Destinations Visited on a Halloween on the High Seas Cruise
Think of Halloween on the High Seas more like a costume for your Disney cruise ship than a completely themed cruise. In other words, don’t expect a stop in Salem, Massachusetts, port adventures like ghost tours or a pop-up haunted house on Castaway Cay.
Rather, Disney Halloween cruises depart from several of the same ports as regular Disney Cruise Line sailings, including Port Canaveral and Miami in Florida, San Diego in California, and New York City. Halloween on the High Seas cruises also visit many of Disney Cruise Line’s most popular destinations, from fair-weathered voyages to Bermuda, the Bahamas, Mexico, and the Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean or through the Panama Canal to cold-weather cruises to Canada.
Cost of Halloween at the High Seas vs. a Typical Disney Cruise
You might be wondering if Halloween on the High Seas is more expensive than a typical Disney cruise. That depends on a few factors. While many themed Disney cruises can cost a little more than normal, factors like where you are sailing or which ship you are on can actually earn you a deal.
With sailings departing in September and October, many of Disney’s Halloween on the High Seas cruises go to the Caribbean, where spooky season sadly coincides with hurricane season, in search of warmer weather. Fortunately, as long as you can get past the overall uncertainty that comes with cruising during this occasionally treacherous time, you can sail away with quite a savings.
You may also notice that certain Disney cruise ships or ports are more in demand than others. As a result, Disney Cruise Line may drop the price for less popular departures, including Halloween on the High Seas sailings. So, you could save a buck or two if you are more flexible on the itinerary.
Halloween on the High Seas Sail Dates
Disney Cruise Line Halloween sailings start in mid-September and continue through the end of October, with the last cruises departing on October 31. Itineraries are offered from several different departure ports to a variety of popular destinations, from short 3-night jaunts to longer 5-night tours.
Why Do a Disney Cruise, Halloween Style
A Disney Halloween on the High Seas cruise is as jam-packed with fun as a trick-or-treat bag bursting with candy. Once onboard, you’ll find enough autumn-inspired activities and enchanting events to keep you up long into the night – both from the Halloween candy sugar rush you’re sure to get and the sheer number of things that is available to do.
Fang-tastic Halloween Decorations
One of the most charming parts about Halloween on the High Seas is the magical décor. From fiery garlands of autumn leaves to character-inspired pumpkins to adorable jack-o-lantern stickers on the ship’s massive portholes, each ship gets decked out with tons of boo-tiful touches that are sure to put you in the Halloween spirit.
The highlight of these All Hallows’ Eve decorations, however, is each ship’s signature Pumpkin Tree. Designed to have its own unique face, personality and even name (the one on the Disney Dream is named Grim, while those on the Fantasy, Wonder and Magic are respectively called Mucklebones, Bog and Reap), the Pumpkin Trees are said to keep the spirit of Halloween.
With the introduction of the Disney Wish, this quartet of terrifying trees also got a sister. Named Boo, this elegant Pumpkin Tree has willowy branches heavy with glittering jack-o-lanterns, lighter bark and a graceful face, and once grew the fated gourd that would carry Cinderella to the ball.
Tricks, Treats & Enchanted Entertainment
Halloween on the High Seas means all sorts of spirited special events, along with the many typical activities that are available on a regular Disney cruise. Cruising with Disney during spooky season can even mean double the fun, as many of these spine-tingling sailings also include the ever-popular Pirate Night in their itinerary.
When you aren’t showing off your trivia skills, sunbathing by the pool or channeling your inner swashbuckler, here are the many haunted happenings you can enjoy during Halloween on the High Seas with Disney.
Awakening the Pumpkin Tree
The Pumpkin Tree on each Disney cruise ship is so much more than just an elaborate centerpiece. It also serves as the opening act for the entire Halloween on the High Seas celebration. On the first night, you’ll be treated to storytime by the tree’s caretaker, who tells the tale of the Pumpkin Tree.
Then, it’s time to light the tree’s jack-o-lanterns, which continue to glow for the rest of the trip, making for a can’t-miss photo backdrop. This dazzling display sets the tone for the rest of the cruise’s Halloween festivities and shouldn’t be missed.
It wouldn’t be Halloween with Disney without a costume party. Mickey’s Mouse-querade is a spooktacular scare-a-bration starring much-loved Disney characters in full Halloween costumes. If you’d rather not do meet-and-greets, this can be a great way to see your favorite characters show off their frightful finest without spending a ton of time waiting around in line.
Equally as fun is seeing the many creative costumes donned by your fellow cruise guests. From jack-o-lantern t-shirts to clever DisneyBounding takes to extravagant group costumes, you’ll see it all. Make sure to wear your own costume and join the mouse-querade.
Halloween-Themed Disney Character Meet-and-Greets
Disney characters do meet-and-greets throughout your cruise and could even change outfits each time they appear. While it is possible to see your favorites in their bone-chilling best at other points during the cruise, the main time characters will wear their Halloween costumes is on the night of Mickey’s Mouse-querade.
For character chasers, these meet-and-greets are a must. Thankfully, with the exception of characters like Minnie, Daisy and Clarabelle as the Sanderson Sisters of Hocus Pocus fame and The Nightmare Before Christmas’s Jack and Sally, to a slightly lesser extent, meet-and-greet lines typically aren’t that long. That said, for these more popular characters, you may want to jump in line early or risk missing out if the line gets cut.
Those dressing up like or who share a costume with a particular character definitely won’t want to give these meet-and-greets a miss. For our cruise, my sister, sister-in-law and I DisneyBounded as the Sanderson Sisters, so we made it a point to meet Minnie, Daisy and Clarabelle during their very first appearance. Without a doubt, the pantomimed conversations we had over our shared costumes were some of the most magical moments of our cruise.
Spookalicious Sweet Treats and Other Festive Eats
No Halloween is complete without some trick-or-treating, and the same goes for Disney’s Halloween on the High Seas. On the Disney Dream, crew members passed out generous handfuls of the good stuff along a makeshift trick-or-treat trail through Cabanas. And don’t worry about needing to pack your own bag to store your stash – trick-or-treat bags are left in your stateroom earlier that day.
But, those aren’t the only Halloween eats on offer during this cursed cruise. For dinner in the main dining rooms on the night of Mickey’s Mouse-querade, your table will even tuck into some Chocolate Spider Cake (don’t worry, it isn’t actually made of cocoa-y arachnids).
Your cruise ship’s culinary team also cooks up a buffet of bewitching bites all cruise long. Spine-chilling sweets like cookies, cupcakes, meringues and more (hello, pumpkin spice!) are on offer at the ship’s casual buffet restaurant, certain lounges and the onboard sweetshop. Just keep an eye out for the special Halloween signs.
Haunted Hands-On Activities
One of the best parts of Halloween is getting your hands dirty making jack-o-lanterns. In the spirit of this Halloween tradition, cruisers can also try their hand at a number of autumn-inspired activities.
From creepy cooking demonstrations to arts & crafts to terrifying trivia, there’s something spooky to do for everyone. Little cruisers can even enjoy extra-special Halloween arts and crafts activities especially for them, such as face painting and pumpkin carving.
Spine-tingling Ghost Stories and Movie Screenings
Does your family love a good ghost story? Or perhaps you can’t celebrate Halloween without watching the latest frightful flick? Well, you’re in luck.
Along with showings of favorite Disney Halloween movies on the Funnel Vision screen – Hocus Pocus 2 had just premiered during our cruise and played multiple times during our trip – guests can also enjoy Haunted Stories of the Sea, told beneath the stars by a mysterious sea captain, and The Nightmare Before Christmas Sing and Scream, an interactive movie singalong.
Exclusive Halloween on the High Seas Merchandise
Disney never misses out on a merchandising opportunity, Halloween on the High Seas included. In addition to regular Disney Cruise Line souvenirs, cruisers also have access to special Halloween-themed items created especially for the event, including apparel, pins, mugs and more.
As a result, scary swag can be quite the hot ticket, and it isn’t unheard of for things to sell out before the cruise is through. So, if you see something you like, buy it sooner rather than later or risk missing out.
Halloween Isn’t Just for Kids
Just like Disney Cruise Line isn’t only for families, you don’t need to be a kiddo to get into the spooky spirit during Halloween at the High Seas. On the night of Mickey’s Mouse-querade, the Disney Villains run amuck in the adults-only part of the ship during a ghoulishly grown-up Halloween party.
Sadly, don’t expect them to hang around too long. After all, they’ve got places to be and people to terrorize. Still, their steamy dance appearance is sure to cast a spell. With the villains out of the way, it’s time for a comical (and highly competitive) costume party followed by music and dancing.
On the Disney Dream, this was a silent dance party, which, if you’ve never experienced one before, is both weird and hilarious. Most people weren’t into it and, besides a few lurkers laughing at folks on the floor dancing like no one was watching, the place cleared out pretty quickly after the last award was announced. Still, the costume contest was a ton of fun.
Packing Tips & Experience Tricks for a Spook-tacular Disney Halloween Cruise
Hoping to make the most of your Halloween on the High Seas experience? These suggestions are sure to take your cruise from ordinary to hex-traordinary.
Don’t Forget Your Costume
Dressing up in costume is a Halloween tradition for a reason – it’s undeniably fun! While you don’t need to don anything too extravagant (even a Halloween t-shirt or creative DisneyBound will do), getting in costume will help put you in the appropriate spirit. If you’re anything like us, you’ll also love seeing everyone else on the cruise in their frightening finery.
Worried that you won’t have enough room in your suitcase for two costumes? Just double up and don your pirate attire twice – you’ll save space without having to skip out on the fun. Consider swapping out your swashbuckling accessories or trading with cabinmates to keep your costume feeling fresh. Just be sure that you follow the rules. Certain types of masks are prohibited, as are some prop weapons.
Give Your Door a Pixie-dusted Halloween Makeover
Expert Disney cruisers decorate their stateroom doors. Not only does this make it easier to pick your room out of the lineup of generic doors, but the extra pixie dust is sure to put a smile on your face each time you return “home.”
Stateroom doors are metal, so we recommend using magnets to create your décor. DIY your own or buy some premade off of Etsy – go for a Halloween theme or a general Disney design. If you forget to plan ahead, you might even be able to find some in one of the ship’s onboard gift shops.
Dress Up Your Stateroom with Spell-binding Décor
Don’t confine the Halloween vibes to your stateroom door. For the ultimate spine-chilling experience, consider decorating inside your room, too. If you don’t mind having to set it up, BYOD (bring your own decorations) and save some cash. Or, splurge and arrange to have Disney decorate your room for you. Sure, it’s expensive. But, the surprise of walking into your scream-worthy room for the very first time will be worth it.
Commemorate Your Disney Halloween Cruise with Plenty of Pictures
You’ll find no shortage of photo opportunities on a Disney cruise. And with everyone all dressed up for Halloween with nowhere to go except around the ship, it’s the perfect time to strike a pose.
Use the scream-worthy decorations as a festive photo backdrop, snap a pic alongside your favorite Disney characters in their Halloween best or take advantage of the ship’s dedicated photoshoot spots. Manned by professional photographers, these mini-photo studios boast bewitching backgrounds and monstrously fun Magic Shots for the cruise’s official Halloween party night.
Refer to the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App for Daily Halloween Happenings
There’s so much going on during your Halloween Disney cruise that it can be tricky to keep it all straight. To make things easy, take advantage of the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app. Similar to My Disney Experience or the Disneyland app, the Navigator lists out the various activities that are available and lets you bookmark anything that sounds appealing. Then, simply wait for the reminder around 15 minutes before the event starts.
Well, that wraps up our guide to Halloween on the High Seas with Disney Cruise Line. Have you been on a Disney Halloween cruise? What is your favorite part of this spirited sailing? Let us know in the comments! Then, learn how to save on your next Disney cruise.