Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party + Villains’ Not-So-Sinister Soiree

When we were in Walt Disney World last month, we attended Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party for the first time in four years, mostly so we could experience the new Villains’ Sinister Soiree: A Wicked Takeover of Cinderella Castle—because if they were charging $99/person on top of the cost of a party ticket that costs $62–$77/person, it must be starring Michael Jackson returned from the grave and feature brand-new Cadillacs as favors, right?!

Despite not being a huge fan of character meet-n-greets, parades or stale candy, I was really looking forward to attending the party this year. The only other time we’d been, we went with our pals the Roots in our Harrison Hightower and Haunted Mansion Constance costumes, which was fun until my feet started hurting and my costume got all sweaty and itchy. And then it was the WORST. Only the Roots’ infectious enthusiasm for the party kept me from heisting some grandma’s E-Z-Go and scooting straight outta the park.

But this year I would be in my comfiest clothes, footloose and fancy-free to enjoy all that MNSSHP had to offer.

How Not to Do Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Because we were only in town for 72 hours, I crammed way WAY more stuff into the party day than I should have. They say you should spend your MNSSHP day sleeping in, relaxing at the resort and maybe swimming. So, naturally, I had us dashing off to a Be Our Guest Restaurant pre-ordered-lunch test in the morning (more on that in a separate post) and trekking several miles around World Showcase in 95-degree heat sampling Food & Wine Festival treats all afternoon. The resultant showering and recovering meant we didn’t get to MNSSHP til 8pm. (Wait — don’t cringe yet! Save that for dinnertime, when I stand in line for 20 minutes at a place that isn’t serving dinner!)

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Reading people’s scheduled-to-the-minute party plans on the DIS made my eye twitch, so I went the opposite way and made no plans. We thought perhaps we’d breeze onto Seven Dwarfs Mine Train a few times, grab some candy here and there, and maybe take in one of the parades before our 11:25pm reservation for the Villains Sinister Soiree.

But when we walked in and saw everybody lined up for the first parade, I bowed to peer pressure and went in search of the soiree’s reserved viewing area.
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Included with your Villains’ Sinister Soiree ticket is access to a reserved viewing area for the first Boo to You parade and the HalloWishes fireworks. The entrance is on the Tomorrowland side of the Hub, and the area wraps around the front of the hub to the Liberty Square bridge. We showed up a few minutes before the 8:15pm parade and found plenty of open space in the middle, but all the benches and every spot along the rope in front of the castle were taken. For me, this was ameliorated by the ice bucket full of free mini water bottles.

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The only gap in the crowd at the rope was around the corner, facing the bridge from Liberty Square.

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On paper, this is a pretty great spot for shooting pictures of the parade because you can snap the floats head-on as they cross the bridge and from the side as they round the corner. But as you will see, there’s also a huge spotlight shining directly at you when you face the castle that mucks up those profile shots.

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I noticed a few instances of “declining by degrees” since the last time we saw the parade, mostly that Goofy’s helpers don’t chuck candy at you anymore, and the pelvis-thrustin’ cowboys have been replaced by plain old square-dancing ones (perhaps due to pelvic-safety measures instituted by OSHA).

After the parade I made two more rookie MNSSHP mistakes. First, I be’ed hungry. Everyone knows you’re supposed to eat dinner before you get to the party so you don’t waste valuable time eating. I thought an afternoon of stuffing ourselves with samples from the marketplace booths at the Food & Wine Festival would take care of this for us. But apparently my tummy had heard something about there being free stale candy and decided to make room.

By that time I was thinking we should take advantage of our reserved viewing spot for the fireworks, too, so we needed to grab something quick and close. As we struggled through the crowds, my first thought was candy, but the line for the distribution spot near the Liberty Belle snaked all the way down the river and back again. Then I remembered that Sleepy Hollow had savory waffle sandwiches and veered back that way. While I became increasingly frazzled waiting in line, Patrick got this serene shot.

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When I finally got to the window and hollered my order of a chicken waffle over the din, the CM mumbled, “We don’t have those. We only have pumpkin. There was a sign,” and flung her hand in the direction of a wall that had been obscured by the line all night. Exasperated, I ordered Patrick a pumpkin waffle and me nothing because I hate pumpkin everything. While I waited another 10 minutes for his order to be made, EVERY SINGLE PERSON in line behind me tried to order a chicken waffle and was similarly disappointed.

I don’t understand why there aren’t more meal options and/or more counter-service places open during MNSSHP. The lines for food were worse than on any normal day at the park, and we were paying extra for the privilege! One of the selling points of MNSSHP is this idea that you’re getting a less-crowded park. To me it felt more mobbed than a busy summer day. Patrick says it’s just that everyone at the party is doing the same thing at the same time (parade, dinner, fireworks, ride Seven Dwarfs, parade, etc.) so it feels more crowded than a regular day.

Patrick volunteered to wait in line at Casey’s Corner for a hot dog while I held down our spot in the Villains’ Soiree reserved area for fireworks. The viewing area is great for seeing the castle projections during HalloWishes and the castle-projection show they do right before it, but a lot of the fireworks are blocked by the castle when you’re that close to it.

What we should have been doing during HalloWishes was riding Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Or any ride, really. That was Mistake No. 2. As soon as the last ember fell, the crowd in the Hub swarmed SDMT, and by the time we reached it, the wait was up to 40 minutes. Instead we decided to look for the elusive candy spot supposedly located near Gaston’s Tavern. I did not realize that the souvenir party maps they give you are not to scale or for actual wayfinding purposes. After stumbling around in endless circles in the muggy night air, feet sore from a day of hoofin’ it around World Showcase lagoon, I finally gave up and collapsed here:

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On the MNSSHP map, this gate is in Frontierland!

Patrick soldiered on and eventually discovered the candy spot *inside* Pinocchio Village House. We limped back together, only to find they were distributing nothing but Werthers’ apple candies—yecch! I was starting to take this lack of Lurkyloo-edible food personally! In desperation, I all but grabbed one of the CMs by the lapels and begged for directions to a spot serving real candy (i.e., chocolate).

Off we went to Storybook Circus!

As in years past, the one surefire place to get candy without ridiculous lines is the treat trail that runs from Storybook Circus to Tomorrowland. We made a killing! I finally got my chocolate and for one brief, shining moment enjoyed MNSSHP.

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And then…

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We never ride Space Mountain in Florida because it’s so punishingly jerky and bumpy. But there it was, with no line and me all hopped up on candy… it sounded like such a good idea…

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BAD IDEA! How does anyone survive that thing in one piece? Sure, Disneyland’s Space Mountain whips you around the corners, but it’s all so smooth. This one is like being dragged over a cobblestone path in a gunny sack at 28 mph. I’m pretty sure I lost some teeth, and possibly my spleen. As Internet is my witness, I WILL NEVER RIDE THAT SPACE MOUNTAIN AGAIN!

At that point it started to rain, so we don’t have many photos of the rest of our time before the soiree. We got to Haunted Mansion just as the heavens unleashed a downpour and everyone who’d been waiting to view the now-canceled 10:30 parade swarmed the ride. It was one of the longest waits we’ve ever had for the Mansion—in a monsoon in the new outdoor queue, no less—but it’s Halloween… you gotta ride that one!

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Our next refuge from the storm was Small World. Then, after making it onto a total of 3 rides in 3 1/2 hours, it was time for us to check in for the Villains’ Sinister Soiree.

Villains’ Sinister Soiree: A Wicked Takeover of Cinderella Castle

The idea here is that some of the Disney villains have taken over Cinderella Castle and—instead of holing up for a night of debauchery or world-ending spell-casting—opened a small business in a sector with a 70% failure rate: the restaurant industry. For their $99, guests get appetizers and desserts, mingling with characters downstairs, a couple of songs and some crowd interaction by Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother, and tableside visits with a few more characters. Basically it’s a character meal with half as much food for twice the price.

There are two seatings for the Sinister Soiree. I’d heard that the first one felt rushed, and I liked the idea that the second one kept you inside the park after closing time, so that’s the one I picked. Our reservation was for 11:25pm, but we found out that the second seating doesn’t start til 11:45, so we arrived about 10 minutes beforehand.

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It was like a refugee camp inside, with everyone crammed in to escape the rain. Children up way past their bedtimes lay draped across laps, benches and even the floor, while able-bodied young men filled seats as their elders stood.
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Eventually a few of the villain characters came out and forded the sea of humanity for some photo ops.

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Um, Queen of Hearts…? (tap, tap)

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“Off with their heads!”

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“I’ll get you for this, Pan, if it’s the last thing I do!”

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“Uh, dance for me, foxy Esmeralda? …Aw, who’m I kidding? I don’t have a catchphrase! Just these freakishly large yellow hands…”

Time to go upstairs!

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When you get to the top of the stairs, they take your name and lead you to an assigned table piled high with candy, an antipasto plate and souvenir EVERYTHING: menus, autograph cards, cups, and soon even a drink stirrer and glow cube.

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No room for elbows on this table!

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“Lady Tremaine’s Classic Castle Favorites: Dungeon-aged bleu cheese with honeycomb and Meyer lemon, triple cream cheese with raspberry habanero sauce, black diamond cheese fondue, walnut toasted bread, fresh fig and aged salami sausage”

It was so nice to finally be seated and dry and cool and comfortable for the first time all night that I actually ventured to try some of the stuff on the antipasto plate. And it wasn’t as bad as I’d expected—maybe Trader Joe’s quality?

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Waaaaait a minute… This is NOT a Cadillac!

As everyone was being seated, the servers began bringing out the Captain’s Not-So-Poisoned Potion, a fizzy apple drink with foam on top. Even I could drink it, if that gives you an idea how fruit-like it was.

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More from the Spirit Halloween Superstore Dragon Collection


One cool thing they give you is this Poison Apple glow cube. It’s such a clever idea, so well executed. Toward the end of the event you could look around the restaurant and see everyone dunking these in ice water to wash them off and take them home.

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At first I thought we were supposed to take this home because it seemed of a piece with the Halloween superstore souvenirs.

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Pre-printed character autographs



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The first part of the event is just for eating and accidentally breaking your dragon stirrers in a duel while Horatio the organist plays Disney tunes transposed into a minor key. He’s good!

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Unfortunately, Michael Jackson Returned from the Grave was not our host for the evening. Instead, Lady Tremaine, a.k.a. the Wicked Stepmother, came out to banter with the audience and sing a mashup of “Sing Sweet Nightingale” and “Royals.” Patrick, who loves him some Top 40 radio, thought it was really clever. I appreciated the musicianship and all-around chutzpah it must require to be a face character with a straight face.

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Then Lady Tremaine introduced the evening’s villains and they began making the rounds. There’s The Evil Queen, Maleficent, Dr. Facilier, Cruella de Vil, Captain Hook and of course Lady Tremaine. On the DIS they were saying that at least one of them (Maleficent maybe?) can now only be seen at MNSSHP if you pay for this party, which seems like kind of a dirty trick. But they are villains, after all. Villains just trying to make a go of it with their scrappy little mom ‘n’ pop venture in Cinderella Castle!

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“Turn those tables, girls—we gotta make rent!”

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“OK, who ordered the frog legs?”


To alleviate the awkwardness we always feel around characters, we decided just to request glamour shots of each one when they got to our table.

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Chef de Cuisine

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Cocktail Waitress

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Maitre D’

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Hat rack


I’d done enough research to know that I’d only be able to eat one of the four fruit-sullied desserts they give you, so I wasn’t disappointed.  However, I took a chance and asked if I could have another one of the thing I could eat—a tasty chocolate-covered praline—and they brought me four!

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Patrick declared the four items “no worse than any other Disney dessert.”  A ringing endorsement!


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The Queen’s Bleeding-Heart Apple: White wine-poached apple with a cherry center

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Maleficent’s Dragon-toasted Confection: Pistachio mousse topped with meringue

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Dr. Facilier’s Chocolate Tarot Card: Dark chocolate-covered pecan praline and flourless chocolate torte

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Cruella de Vil’s Spotted Chocolate Mousse Cake: 101 layers of white chocolate and dark chocolate mousse with a hint of raspberry

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Here’s Patrick training for a career in evil food service

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Facilier to Evil Queen: “Does she look 21 to you?! We could lose our liquor license over this!!!”


After about 45 minutes, Lady Tremaine began shooing us out and the staff all but flashed the lights. We took our time, though, cuz what were they gonna do? Turn us into toads?

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Horatio: “Lessee… how do you play ‘Closing Time’ in a minor key?”

I was surprised to realize how much I had enjoyed the event despite my distaste for characters, soirees, price-gouging, etc. I think a lot of it had to do with this being the first time all night that I was actually comfortable and stress-free. But then that makes me think, hey! I shouldn’t have to pay a hundred bucks extra just to enjoy MNSSHP!

Except for the types of characters present, the Villains’ Sinister Soiree follows the same format as the regular character meals offered at Cinderella’s Royal Table. If it cost the same as those, it would be worth it. Or if it cost $99 but included admission to MNSSHP, it would be worth it. As it is, well, maybe if you’re super-into villains…?

I think Patrick felt we’d gotten our money’s worth as soon as we stepped outside to a nearly empty park!

 The Witching Hour at Magic Kingdom

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Patrick absolutely adores the dioramas in the Emporium’s windows, so we lingered there for a bit.

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Looks like they need to dust Pocahontas’ hair!

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“Who the H is she dancing with now? Cuz that sure as H don’t look like Prince Charming!”

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I was a little worried about how we were going to get back to the Grand Floridian Villas, because the monorail had shut down at midnight. But there was a boat waiting at the dock and we had it all to ourselves!
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Stay tuned for more from our trip, including that pre-ordered-lunch test at Be Our Guest, a Fozzie Bear cake, and a birthday party menu tasting in Epcot’s kitchens!



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21 Responses
  • Claire (Chilly)
    November 25, 2014

    As that’s something I probably wouldn’t pay for, especially now I know its fruity desserts, it was great to live it through you.

    • Carrie
      December 2, 2014

      Just doing my job, ma’am! 😀

  • Eileen Johnson
    November 4, 2014

    I would have loved to see Patrick’s expression when he saw his Fozzy cake. How big was it? Where were you when you ate the yummy looking cake?
    Are you saying, “I can’t believe we ate the whole thing?”

    • Carrie
      November 4, 2014

      We had to order an 8-inch cake for them to customize it like I wanted, which means it’s a cake for 10 or 12 people! We had it delivered to California Grill at the top of the Contemporary Resort. I am saying “Burp!”

  • Eileen Johnson
    November 4, 2014

    Did Patrick use a flash or some special setting on his camera to get such great night time and indoor photos?

    • Carrie
      November 4, 2014

      Nope! That’s our new Canon Rebel SL1 DSLR working its magic! It helps that we can shoot RAW and then edit the photos in Photoshop better than we could with JPGs, but I actually didn’t have time to edit most of these, so that’s pretty much what he shot.

  • Eileen Johnson
    November 4, 2014

    Patrick’s pictures turned out great! And as always, I love reading your blog!

    • Carrie
      November 4, 2014

      Thanks, Moma!

  • Kimberly
    November 2, 2014

    I had contemplated doing the Villain’s Soirée last weekend when we went to WDW for a long weekend. I wish we had now! Like you, we crammed too much in a day going to Busch Gardens and not getting to MK until 8 p.m. Our intention was to skip the parade and fireworks show to ride rides since we had gone to MNSSHP last year. The park was so crowded! It was 10/23 but it felt like when we used to go during the summer in the 90’s. The frustrating thing too was that a lot of the wait times were wrong because of the ebb and flow of people leaving other things. Peter Pan’s flight said 20 min. but it was easily an hour wait.

    We had plans to eat at Cosmic Ray’s on the balcony at 10:30 to relax and people watch, but we ended up stuck on the other side of the park due to the last parade. We ended up getting hotdogs and corn dog nuggets and enjoyed our meal next to a tall, garish green wall.

    We will not be going to MNSSHP in the future for quite some time. We used to use the parties as an opportunity to ride many rides with little to no wait. During the fireworks we were able to ride the Haunted Mansion with a ten minute wait, but by the time we got out and navigated the crowds, the fireworks were over. The only other rides we rode are those that typically have little to no wait at night anyways (Buzz Lightyear, Splash Mountain, Small World). We don’t attempt Space Mountain anymore after having to ride it 5 times in a row with our nieces a few years ago…

    I love your details and your commentary is so funny! Always enjoy your blog posts and trip reports.

    • Carrie
      November 2, 2014

      I am bummed you had a similarly frustrating experience but also selfishly glad to know it’s not just my imagination that they’re cramming more people into MNSSHP. I guess the parade, fireworks and characters are still enough to justify the cost for some folks, but for those of us who liked the parties mainly for the limited attendance, there’s no draw anymore. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Michelle
    October 24, 2014

    I always find it funny how much I agree with you on so many points. My last MNSSHP I did exactly what you didn’t, after getting in a 4am I slept all day, ate, and got it right at the 4pm mark because darn it if I am not maximizing that ticket. I went the most in 2008 and 2009 when I was a CM, and even then folks commented how many included extras were disappearing. It seems 2006 was the peak of value for both MNSSHP and MVMCP, and they were $20-30 cheaper.

    In 2009 I ate in the castle with some friends for my first time, and did it during the Halloween party. We got very much a similar experience, with Halloween menus (pumpkin and camel) and take aways on our table, but also the regular castle experience of blue wands and Fairy Godmother. We had an early seating and missed part of the first parade, which helped us grab candy while everyone was occupied. It was a bit much at $60 on top of the party price, and we had a full meal.

    You have my full interest with a Fozzie Bear cake.

    • Carrie
      October 27, 2014

      Fascinating! I was wondering when the peak value of MNSSHP had been, and now I know: 2006. It’s depressing how calculating Disney is, slashing as many offerings as they possibly can while raising prices.

  • Heather
    October 24, 2014

    Great review. I had heard the feedback from the Dis, so It looks like yours went MUCH better. You mentioned that you stayed at the Grand Floridian Villas. Might we see a photo tour??

    • Carrie
      October 24, 2014

      Sure thing—I’ll put it on the list! We actually got to shoot two different rooms AND a room at the regular Grand Floridian, so it might be fun to compare them.

      • Heather
        October 24, 2014

        Sweet! I’ll look forward to it.

  • Jennifer
    October 23, 2014

    Great review! I have to say, even though it was way too expensive, that Villians Party looks perfectly themed and well done. My favorite thing about Disney is the detail, and those desserts are a great example. Clearly not enough chocolate, but still so beautifully presented. We’ve only been to this party once, 11 years ago, when it was $25 per person and a lot less crowded. It was really fun then! I wonder if the fun level has kept up with the cost increase.

    • Carrie
      October 23, 2014

      Wow! $25/person?! I mean, even accounting for inflation, that’s a great price. I would definitely be curious to hear your take on the party now. I get the sense that they began adding more after you went but now are gradually removing offerings—or attaching an extra cost to them—while still increasing the price.

  • Hope at Disneyland
    October 23, 2014

    I really enjoyed your recap. How insane that the Villains meal isn’t included in the price for the Halloween party! That’s why we haven’t gone to the ones out here. We pay SO MUCH for our AP’s and then have to pay almost a day’s admission to go to a n evening party for just a few hours?!? I agree with you that the $99 should’ve included the party. At that price, it’s totally doable because it did seem like a cute meet and greet and the food seemed decent. I didn’t realize you didn’t like pumpkin and were so particular about the free candies. ;P The parade and fireworks seemed cool, but not $100+ extra cool. I’m glad that you two eventually had a good time. So I guess if anyone is taking notes: rest before this event, eat before this event, and lower all expectations. 🙂

    • Carrie
      October 23, 2014

      Nailed it! 🙂 And I think the Halloween parties out here are even worse. They are SO crowded, they don’t even have a real parade, and it’s the same fireworks show we used to get at Halloween for free. Not worth it.

      • Hope at Disneyland
        October 23, 2014

        Yeah. I’m glad we did all that stuff when it was still “free”. There’s still that rumor that they’ll do the same for the Holidays and make the parade and fireworks a separate ticketed event like they do in WDW, so we’re just enjoying it while it lasts and is still included in the price of our regular admission. At least you got that super awesome dragon cup to remember it all by! 😉

        • Carrie
          October 23, 2014

          Hee hee! Yeah, I’ve been using it at every meal so I feel like I got my money’s worth!

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