Halloween on the High Seas with Babies & Toddlers
Our son’s favorite holiday is Halloween, which is interesting considering his baby years were through the pandemic, so he’s never celebrated it. Well, this year, we pulled out all the stops and went to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Halloween on the High Seas.
I know what you are thinking, and yes, you are right. We are amazing parents. Yes. Our son is lucky to have us as parents.
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The idea to take our first cruise came from watching the same two movies every day for months. Every day for nearly eight months, our son watched The Scariest Story Ever: A Mickey Mouse Spooktacular and Trick or Treat (a cartoon featuring Donald Duck from 1952) on Disney+. Every single day over, and over, and over again.
We decided, let’s do it. Let’s go all out and celebrate Halloween since he missed it for the last three years (basically his entire life). Plus, his birthday is two weeks after Halloween, so it became an early birthday celebration.
Here we are one-month post-cruise, and I’m finally writing about our first cruise, Disney’s Halloween on the High Seas. We sailed away on October 31st, which was pretty cool. Trust me; it wasn’t planned that way. It was a nice coincidence based on my work schedule and our travel plans.
With this being our first cruise, we had no idea what to expect. Our concern heading to the cruise was potty training (the lack thereof) and the 10 hours of nursery time we had to disperse throughout the four-day cruise.
Now that it’s over, we’re happy to share our experience with other families looking to sail away on Disney’s Halloween on the High Seas with their babies or toddlers.
Planning Your Halloween on the High Seas Disney Cruise
With this being our first cruise, I was a little overwhelmed and lost during the planning process.
In hindsight, having a travel agent would have made the process easier, but I’m too much of a control freak, so I took the plunge and planned this cruise.
You can see from our pictures that we sailed on the Disney Wonder. The cruises from San Diego are a little cheaper, so if you are on a tight budget, I recommend sailing from San Diego.
We chose this itinerary because we wanted two days at sea and didn’t plan on going ashore. We’ve already been to Cabo, so we took the opportunity to take advantage of our time on the ship.
We recently booked a Disney cruise to Alaska for September 2023 and are looking forward to the excursions on that trip.
Note: Check your Castaway Club status on Disney Cruise online to determine when your window opens to reserve activities.
Choosing a Stateroom
The most affordable staterooms are the inside cabins. If you are on a tight budget, I recommend the inside staterooms, which will be on decks 1,2,5,6 and 7.
If you want to be close to the kid clubs, you want to be on deck five (on Disney Wonder).
I wanted a balcony, but we opted for a window view after my wife said a balcony was too expensive. I would have loved to sit outside our stateroom and watch the sunset, but maybe next time (I want to take a cruise to the Caribbean in 2024).
If you are cruising with a toddler, you will spend a lot of time on decks 4, 5, and 9.
For parents with light sleepers, I recommend picking a stateroom away from the elevators. Some activities are late, so your little ones may be in bed as other guests go to their rooms throughout the night.
We were in stateroom 2600, and I loved it. I wanted a nice round number to remember, which is simple, but it made a huge difference.
Picking Dining Seating
Most families with young kids choose the early dining session, which is what we did. Although it made sense at the time, we decided to go with the second seating for our next cruise.
Dinner for the first seating is at 5:45, and the second is at 8:15. For many families, the first dinner time makes sense, but that may not be the case for everyone.
If you go to the first seating, you miss the earlier shows, so most of the entertainment will start after 9 pm, which is too late for some little ones.
I recommend the second seating, and if your little ones are hungry, you can stop by the quick service areas for fruit, pizza, or fries.
Our son ate fries and pizza at dinner anyway, so grabbing him something to eat on deck 9 before heading to the shows would have made a lot of sense. That way, you can head back to your room or to the parties after dinner.
You want to avoid too much time between dinner and activities because someone will fall asleep.
Note: I highly recommend bringing something to keep your little ones busy during dinner. We downloaded a few shows and movies on his tablet and brought play-doh and a few toy cars to keep him entertained.
Check out Excursions
We decided not to get off the boat, but many people go on excursions at ports. If you have an upcoming cruise, you can look at the port adventures here.
Before you have sticker shock, these activities are expensive. I recommend using Get Your Guide for cheaper alternatives.
Be sure you plan your time accordingly because you will be left behind if you are not back on the boat in time.
Be sure to set a reminder in your phone to register for the princess gathering. This is a free event for your little one to meet the princesses.
Our toddler had no idea who they were, but we didn’t want him to miss out on the opportunity to interact with Disney Princesses.
Although he didn’t know them, he kept saying he wanted to meet Tiana, which was adorable.
Before you judge us, it’s not our fault he refuses to watch the classic Disney movies we watched growing up. I’ve been trying to get him to watch Lion King since he was two years old, and he will not do it.
Hopefully, he will watch a few of the classics before our next cruise. Anyway, you will register, and on the day of your reservation, get in line and take a picture with your favorite princesses.
Your little one will meet Belle, Cinderella, Tiana, and Ariel.
For our cruise, we received 10 hours of nursery time. The nursery is for kids three and under who are not potty trained.
The nursery is $10 per hour. The price isn’t too bad compared to the cost of daycare and babysitters.
How you plan your time depends on your plans when you board the ship.
Unfortunately, you do not know the schedule until you board the ship and download the Disney Cruise Navigator App.
We recommend booking your time in 2-3 hour slots if you are on a 4-day cruise. You can always change or cancel your reservation on the ship.
We changed our reservation several times onboard the ship when we wanted to go to an activity or have time to relax (we usually ended up taking a nap).
If your little one is fully potty-trained, they can go to the kids club at no cost for as long as they want. There is no time limit for the kids club.
If your little one wants to leave, they will contact you (via the app) to pick them up.
Note: If you cancel your nursery reservation less than four hours ahead of time, you have to pay half the cost.
Join Facebook Groups
Facebook groups are a great way to understand the Disney cruise language. I had no idea what people were talking about, but I asked questions in the group, and everyone was kind enough to answer them.
Someone will make a group for your sailing date check 60-90 days before your departure date to join. Plus, it’s a great way to connect with other families before your cruise. You never know what can happen.
Disney Cruise Line Navigator App
The Disney cruise line navigator app has everything you need to plan your days on the ship. Everyone in your party with a phone should download the app.
You can use the app to communicate with one another, plus it’s how the kids club contacts you if there is a problem or if your little one wants to leave.
Add activities to your itinerary by tapping the heart. You will get a reminder 15 minutes before the greeting/event/activity starts, so you don’t have to remember everything.
Some people were complaining, but it worked fine for us. It disconnected from the network periodically, but what do you expect in the middle of the ocean?
You can message within the app, so if you split up, it’s easy to communicate with people in your party. We used this feature a lot. Honestly, I just liked sending the emojis to my wife. The emojis are so cute!
Here is a video of the application and how to save events/activities/greetings to your itinerary.
Halloween on the High Seas Activities
The decorations aren’t the only thing that makes Halloween on the High Seas different from a regular Disney cruise.
There are some great activities for not only kids but adults too. Here are some fun activities you can expect while sailing on Disney’s Halloween on the High Seas.
Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party
You can expect a dance party while sailing on Halloween on the High Seas. Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party is the perfect place for your little one to release energy and excitement before bedtime.
Break out your costumes. This is your time to shine with your family-themed costumes.
On the Disney Wonder, the party was on deck nine. There was a dance floor on top of the pool. This is where your toddler can dance the night away (only an hour or so).
If you have smaller toddlers, stick close to them, as the older kids can accidentally knock them over. There is a large television to see Mickey and his friends when they come out.
The party starts between 8 and 830pm. If you have a little one that goes to bed early, they will need a nap.
To see the characters, you can try to get a front-row seat, but I recommend getting there early.
Halloween is all about Trick or Treating. After Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party, your little ones can trick or treat on decks 10 and 4 (Disney Wonder).
We opted to head to deck four because it was too chilly for our three-year-old to remain outside. There will be chaos at the elevators, so I highly recommend using the stairs.
We didn’t bring a Halloween bag, but there were bags available. The first bag was a brown paper bag that quickly ripped then we got a reusable canvas bag. It was very little chaotic.
We did bring our Mickey popcorn holder from Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and we used it to get $2 refills.
Halloween Themed Meet and Greets
This is your chance to get pictures with the characters in their Halloween costumes. Plus, there are special characters that make an appearance during your sailing.
If you are a fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas, this is your chance to get a picture with Jack and Sally. We took this opportunity to see Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Pluto, and Goofy.
The only character we didn’t get a picture with is Donald. Unfortunately, he only made one appearance during our cruise beside the parties. Minnie and Daisy are our son’s favorite characters, so he wasn’t disappointed by missing Donald.
While our son enjoyed the kids club, we had the chance to see the Sanderson Sisters. I watched Hocus Pocus growing up, so it was a great moment for us (as millennials).
Tip: Keep an eye out when you first board. We got pictures with Minnie, Mickey, and Cinderella the few hours onboard the ship.
You can count on having movies that fit the Halloween theme of the cruise. During our cruise, Hocus Pocus 2 played at the Buena Theatre next to the nursery.
There were other movies playing as well, Thor, Lightyear, and Pinnochio, but our toddler wasn’t interested in watching movies, so we didn’t spend much time in the theatre.
Our toddler was excited about Pirate Night, but we were nervous he wouldn’t make it to the party. The party started at 10 pm, which is very late for a toddler.
We kept him up by walking the ship, and I was suckered into buying a pirate costume with a sword. Surprisingly, it was perfect because we got pictures with Jack Sparrow and our little guy made the cutest pirate.
To get your money’s worth from your costumes, your family can be pirates and wear them on both nights.
The pirate party was a lot of fun. It’s similar to the Halloween party, but this time Captain Hook makes an appearance, and there are fireworks.
Kids Clubs on Disney Cruise
The most common questions on the Facebook group pertained to the kids’ clubs. To put your mind at ease there is something for everyone on Disney cruises (depending on your ship).
You want to get familiar with the names, which are, It’s a Small World Nursery, Oceaneer Lab, Oceaneer Club, Edge, and Vibe.
Here are the clubs and the different things they offer for babies to teenagers.
It’s a Small World Nursery
There is where little cruisers will spend time when their adults want to have a little fun or rest. Little ones as young as six months (or at least one year old on some cruises) can play games, watch movies, have story time, and even nap while parents enjoy their vacation.
Toddlers up to three years old can play in the nursery. Unlike the other kids’ clubs, they will provide a snack for your little ones. If your toddler isn’t fully potty trained, this is where they will spend most of their time.
You can visit the nursery during the open house when you board to see the inside. Our son spent eight hours here during our cruise and even took a nap on one of the days.
We decided not to pressure him with potty training, so we split his time between the nursery and the Oceaneer lab.
Do not be ashamed. A few toddlers were at the nursery because they were still working on potty training, so your 3-year-old will not be there with babies.
Once our son saw the toy train, he wanted to go to the “baby place” every time we passed to go to the big kids club.
There is a charge and a time limit for the nursery. The cost is $5 per half-hour for the first child and an additional $4 per half-hour for other children in your family.
You have to make reservations in advance for the nursery, and if you want to cancel, you have to do so at least four hours in advance. If you do not cancel at least four hours in advance, you are charged half for taking the time slot.
Each family gets a specified number of hours in the nursery based on the length of their cruise. For our 4-day cruise, we received 10 hours, but we only ended up using 8.5 hours because our son went to the kids club.
The Oceaneer Club is for kids between 3-12. Your toddler has to be fully potty trained to go to the club.
We forgot to take off our son’s Pull-Up, and they messaged us on the app to pick him up. Kids need to go to the bathroom without any assistance to hang out here.
There is no charge or time limit for this kid’s club. Your kids can stay as long as they want. Unlike the nursery, kids do not get snacks here, so you will need to pick them up to eat.
The schedule here is more planned, with activities throughout the day. You can see the activities throughout the day on the app.
If you have a younger kid, be prepared, you are not allowed inside with them (except during Open House), so after they check in, they will be on their own. I wasn’t prepared for this and was sad to see our little guy run and play.
The theme on our ship (Disney Wonder) was Toy Story, so he got to play in a replica of Andy’s Room, which was perfect because he loves Buzz Lightyear.
Themed Areas Oceaneer Club (Disney Wonder):
- Andy’s Room.
- Marvel Super Hero Academy
- Disney Junior
- Frozen Adventures
Although the names are similar, these clubs are different. The Oceaneer Lab focuses on creativity. You can visit both clubs during open hours to explore.
The clubs are connected, so your little ones will have double the fun. We found the Oceaneer lab to be a little advanced for our three-year-old, but if your toddler has older siblings, they will have fun.
This is where your little ones can create or have fun. There are group activities for kids to participate in, or they can take advantage of the different themed sections of the club.
There’s a dance floor, stage, televisions, interactive games, a drawing area, building blocks, and a science laboratory.
Your kids will find something they enjoy, along with special appearances from their favorite Disney characters.
For preteens and teenagers, Edge is the place to be. There are televisions, board games, gaming consoles, karaoke machines, and a dance floor. Edge is the place to hang out, meet other teens, and have fun.
The location varies by ship, but no matter the location on the ship, your teens are sure to make a friend or two during their vacation.
If your teenager is nearing adulthood (even if only in their mind), Vibe is the best hangout spot. Teens between 14 and 17 years old can chill here.
This laid-back area has snacks and a smoothie bar for teenagers to enjoy music, games, movies, and more.
There are also fun activities for these soon-to-be adults to participate in, which include learning how to make movies and an exclusive excursion for itineraries heading to the Bahamas.
Is Halloween on the High Seas Worth It?
Disney comes with an inflated price tag. It’s more about the experience and nostalgia than anything with Disney. Honestly, yes, it is absolutely worth it. We had a blast onboard the Disney Wonder for Halloween on the High Seas.
It would have been a little more fun if our three-year-old was fully potty-trained, but we didn’t want to put too much pressure on him. Our toddler did great. He had fun at the big kids club and nursery, which we called the baby place.
Although there are no immediate plans to go again, we certainly believe it would be fun now that our little guy is older.
It’s amazing how much kids grow in a few months. Only six weeks later, our now four-year-old is fully potty-trained, which is great for our next Disney cruise to Alaska.
We got the opportunity to do nothing, which is what we needed. Although my wife ended up getting a cold, we all had fun.