What’s it like to celebrate one of the most fantasy-driven holidays in one of the most magical places on earth? Guests who buy tickets to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort get the chance to find out.
One of the best perks of going to the Party is that even adults get to dress up in costume. Some of the costumes are extraordinarily inventive (I saw a guy dressed up as a Slab of Bacon, and a couple dressed up in “Where’s Waldo?” garb, complete with walking canes, but with red-and-white striped Mickey ears for Waldo caps.) You’ll be amazed at other guests’ creativity, and if you aren’t careful, you’ll spend a lot of precious Park time wandering around gawking. Even the familiar Disney characters are in Halloween costumes, which makes photos of your own costumed tots with their beloved Disney icons extra-special.
Don’t be afraid to bring the whole family to this event. It’s far removed from other theme parks’ creepy “horror haunts”–it’s just fiendishly good fun, even for the littlest ghosts and goblins.
Although the frightfest officially lasts from 7 p.m. until midnight, guests are admitted as early as 4 p.m., giving them eight full hours at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, a real benefit. Between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., guests can ride all the attractions; then after 7 p.m., twenty-seven of the most popular attractions stay open, with shorter-than-usual queues. (My experience during Party hours was being able to walk right on to nearly all the rides.)
Be sure to grab a Guidemap to the Party on your way into the Park, and also pick up a trick-or-treat bag if you haven’t brought one of your own along. Yes, I said, “trick-or-treat bag!” It doesn’t matter if you’re four years old or 104–you’re never too old to be a kid at Disney Parks. It’s so much fun to be a starry-eyed child again, collecting candy from Disney Cast Members along the trick-or-treat trails set up in the Park–even if you’re middle-aged. Kudos to Disney for letting ALL Park guests, regardless of age, join in the merriment! (Just don’t get into fights with your spouse when you start trading candy!)
A Disney Cast Member confided to me that Mickey had to hand out cheaper varieties of candy during the Recession, but that this Halloween season, the good stuff is flowing once again into the trick-or-treat bags along Magic Kingdom trails. In other words, you can make quite a haul. Cast Members are extremely generous when doling out the loot, even handing some costumed children additional trick-or-treat bags, bulging with goodies. And, at the tail end of Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade, Goofy rides by on a Candy Machine Mobile, and admonishes guests to “be sure to get lots and lots of candy!” (You can’t argue with Goofy.)
The parade itself is one of the best I’ve ever seen, particularly because it presents some little-seen characters, including Winnie- the-Pooh‘s Christopher Robin, and the ballroom dancers and hitchhiking ghosts from the Haunted Mansion. You’ll feel a chill creep up your spine when you watch these ghostly apparitions bow to each other just inches away from you! The parade begins with the entrance of the Headless Horseman, who really gets the crowd in the mood. And the grave diggers are stupendously mystifying, as they strike sparks from the pavement with their shovels. Wreck-It-Ralph is a fun addition this year. Keep a close eye out for the caretaker of the cemetery, out for a stroll with his trusty, sad-eyed bloodhound. The whole spectacle is positively spellbinding.
Other highlights of the Party include a “Celebrate the Magic” nighttime projection show, which transforms Cinderella Castle into a hauntingly realistic display of Disney Villains; “Happy HalloWishes,” a spectacularly-themed Halloween fireworks show, narrated by none other than the Ghost Host from the Haunted Mansion attraction; two Character Dance Parties (Monstrous Scream-O-Ween Ball and Woody’s Happy Harvest Roundup), and Disney Villains’ Dance Mix and Mingle, on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage.
And, of course, there are Disney Character Appearances throughout the event, including a special debut appearance by Jack Skellington and Sally from Tim Burton‘s The Nightmare Before Christmas. They’re dying to meet you.
A wide variety of gastronomic delights await you and your little ghouls–including Spiced Pumpkin Waffle Sundaes in Sleepy Hollow, Ghost Cupcakes at Gaston’s Tavern, Candy Corn Soft-Serve Ice Cream at Storybook Treats, and a plethora of specialty cupcakes (including chocolate mummies) and cookies at Sweet Treats on Main Street. Popcorn carts serve up delicious popped goodness (how can you resist that enticing smell?) in Hitchiking Ghost Mickey buckets.
Just walking through Magic Kingdom during the Party is a magical experience. Special lighting, music and theming effects transform the park into a series of happy haunted hollows.
Judging by the enraptured expressions on the faces of other guests at the Party that I attended, Halloween festivities just can’t get any more spook-tacular.
THE FINE PRINT: Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a special event that takes place in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort on select fall nights from September 1-October 31, 2014. Purchase of an additional event admission ticket is required to attend. Purchase your tickets at the official Disney World site. For assistance with your WDW Resort visit, call (407) 939-5277.