The Halloween season brings a special kind of magic to Walt Disney World, when the Magic Kingdom closes early, then opens an hour later for its extremely popular Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.
This year, guests arriving at the Magic Kingdom were greeted by a huge, inflated Madame Leota head in her crystal ball before going through security. Beyond the security area, trick or treat bags from Disney's theme park partner Nestle, were available from a large box. Many guests did not see the box upon entry, and had to ask the turnstile attendants to run back to get bags for them.
An inflatable Madame Leota greets guests at the entrance to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Guests were immersed in Halloween atmosphere as soon as they walked into the park. Eerie fog and colored lights decorated the berm in front of the train station, and large jack-o-lantern balloons and event banners welcomed guests to the passageway to Main Street, USA. Special Halloween Party maps with event listings were available in the passageway. Huge paper bag luminarias, jack-o-lanterns in second-floor windows, projected images on the facades, and the slow entry music of Grim Grinning Ghosts from the Haunted Mansion greeted guests as they arrived on Main Street. Rather than the usual Mickey/Minnie head balloons, special orange bat balloons were for sale on Main Street.
The rest of the Magic Kingdom was decorated, as well. While an inflatable Stitch sat atop the Tomorrowland Interplanetary Convention Center (shades of things to come), a spider clung to the Tomorrowland Transit Authority tracks across the way. Space Mountain had a spider and web projected onto it. Huge jack-o-lanterns lit the entrance to Mickey's Toontown Fair. A giant Mickey ghost balloon floated over Frontierland. Buildings were eerily lit with unusual colors.
Trick or treat locations were easy to find by looking for these lit, oversized balloons. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Children of all ages enjoyed trick-or-treat candy, which included items from M&M Mars, Hershey, and Tootsie Roll, in addition to Nestle chocolates. The candy was distributed in orderly lines at 16 locations in Tomorrowland, Mickey's Toontown Fair, Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, and the edges of Fantasyland. The bulk of Fantasyland was left event-free to allow all of the kids to visit the attractions without too much clutter.
Most attractions were open throughout the park. The only attractions normally open after dark that were closed were the Walt Disney World Railroad, the Enchanted Tiki Room - Under New Management, and the Hall of Presidents. Due to the small number of tickets sold for the evening of this review, the waits on lines were minimal.
The children's costume parade from previous years has been replaced by Mickey's Mouse-Ka-Rade Costume Party, held four times a night at the Tomorrowland Stage and Ariel's Grotto. There are contests (such as hula hooping) and dancing for children. In addition, a number of storytelling spots were open, with the design of the jack-o-lantern on the huge balloon designating the spots indicating whether the story was scary or not-so-scary.
Princess Minnie poses with our little fruit bat. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Four free family photo locations provided ample opportunity for guests to pose in their Halloween best. There were three locations in the west side of the parknear it's a small world, the Hall of Presidents, the Aloha Isle snack bar as well as a fourth location at Timekeeper for early runnings of the Party, switching later in the evening to the first pre-show room of ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter after that attraction closed and Timekeeper opened.
The special Mickey's Boo-To-You Halloween parade is held twice nightly, at 8 and 10. Each parade is preceded by the ride of the Headless Horseman. If you are watching the parade in Town Square or on Main Street, there isn't much lag between the Headless Horseman and the start of the parade. If you're watching from Frontierland, however, you'll be in for a bit of a wait, as it takes the parade about 15 or 20 minutes or so to work its way down the route, while the Horseman can ride it in about five.
Preceding the parade, glow carts made their way down the parade routerolling vending carts selling glow-in-the-dark merchandise such as spinny lights, necklaces, and flashlight-based toysso I joked audibly that I'd heard the budget cuts had gotten out of hand, but this parade was such a disappointment. The Cast Member pushing the nearest glow cart laughed and replied, "Yep. This is the show. What do you think?"
Dale carries a candelabra while wearing his ghost costume in Mickey's Boo-To-You Halloween Parade. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
The parade features a number of Disney characters in costume, and others just as themselves. The Pooh characters included Pooh as a bee, Tigger as a skeleton, and Eeyore as a mummy. The Peter Pan crew came through in their usual garb.
The Disney Villains float was preceded by dancers in modern clothing, and the float carried such notables as Captain Hook, Maleficent, Frollo, and the White Queen, some of whom were playing musical instruments. Other villains, including Governor Ratcliff, walked behind the float. The Wicked Queen from Snow White had her own float, where she was mixing up a potion in her dungeon, and Hades rode his own float as well. Cruella de Vil arrived with Horace and Jasper driving a small truck with a cage holding two live Dalmatians. Next came a Haunted Mansion float, preceded by dancing, decaying ghosts.
Chip and Dale were also dressed as ghosts and carrying small candelabras. The float carried more ghosts, and was followed by a group wearing Haunted Mansion male Cast Member costumes and doing a choreographed number that included banging ditch-digger's shovels into each other and onto the ground.
Farmer Mickey thanks everyone for attending his Halloween Parade. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Finally, the Halloween Hoedown floats arrived, featuring Cowboy Goofy on a float with a grain silo. This was followed by a series of hayride wagons carrying Jessie, Woody, Sully, Mike, Stitch, and the parade Grand Marshall families of the evening, while other characters in and out of costume danced alongside. The final Hoedown float (and final float of the parade) featured Farmer Mickey and Minnie on the upper story of a small farmhouse waving at everyone.
Two of the regular daytime shows are presented during the evening, with three performances each of Cinderella's Surprise Celebration and Goofy's Country Dancin' Jamboree. The Fantasy in the Sky fireworks (recently replaced on its regular run by Wishes) run once per party, at 9:15, and run through most of the regular show before being taken over by the Disney Villains. A witch flies her broom down Tinkerbelle's normal path, and the fireworks become a little more intense, followed by rounds of fireworks all around the park. The fireworks-in-the-round are a great added effect.
Auntie Bellum tells tales on the Liberty Belle as is cruises the Rivers of America. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Even the Liberty Belle is recruited to provide Halloween cruises for this party. Entertainment rotates from cruise to cruise. The Frontierland band rotates with a barbershop quartet of ghostly western characters and storyteller Auntie Bellum. Disney characters also stroll the deck. On our particular cruise, we had Brer Bear and Brer Rabbit, the quartet, and Auntie Bellum. The Rivers of America are beautiful and peaceful at night, and the view of the eerily lit Haunted Mansion is wonderful.
At the exit, more, larger trick or treat bags were handed out (presumably for use at home on the actual Halloween night), featuring a Halloween advertisement for Brother Bear on one side, and a Halloween ad for The Haunted Mansion on the other.
The Haunted Mansion sports eerie lighting during the Halloween Party. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
The special lighting effects, area music, and decorations, the cast members getting into the spirit of the evening, the characters in costume, the trick-or-treating around the park (including at Mickey's House), and the special events make this a delightful evening not to be missed. Even with a 5-year-old who wanted to do nothing but trick-or-treat all nightwho even had to be coerced into watching the parade (which he loved) without riding more than a couple of ridesit was still worth the price that we paid for the event.
If you go in the future, be aware that Halloween night sells out early, and the nights immediately preceding it also sell fast. Weekends are busier than weekdays, as locals tend to go on those nights. Don't forget your camera, and don't be afraid to wear a costume. We saw many adults in costume, and many families in themed costumes. Our favorite was the Peter Pan family, who were not only dressed as Peter Pan, Wendy, Hook, and Tinkerbelle, but also as Tick-Tock the crocodile. Pirates seemed to be the most popular theme this year, on the heels of the blockbuster success of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
(Send an email to Mark Goldhaber)
Mark (@MPMark) is a veteran of dozens of trips to Walt Disney World starting in 1972, with a few Disneyland trips thrown in for good measure. As a Disney stockholder and a Disney Vacation Club member, Mark is always in touch with what's going on with The Mouse. Mark serves as MousePlanet's Walt Disney World content coordinator. Mark is a senior information technology manager working for the State of New York. He lives in the suburbs outside Albany, New York, with his wife and son.