While the lion’s share of seasonal attention goes to the Horror Nights festival at rival Universal Studios, Walt Disney World offers a more family-friendly option for those looking for some Halloween merriment. I attended their annual Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party with my wife and children last week, and found it a fine alternative for residents and vacationers alike.
Throngs of attendees queued up with us outside of the Magic Kingdom at nightfall to collect their admittance bracelets. Not surprisingly most were in costume, and I noted more than a few families of pirates and, for some reason, Waldos among the ranks. There were also scores of Disney princesses and villainesses alongside a healthy dose of other Halloween favorites. My son’s own Finn the Human costume was well-received by cast members – with many of them excitedly asking him what time it was – though my Dipper Pines get-up only seemed to be recognized by a trio of other attendees. (Though one particularly enthused young lady was dressed as a Black Mesa scientist and her father as a Star Fleet officer, so we can assume that hers was a matter of simply being raised right.)
The park itself was all done up with dramatic lighting and fog machines, changing the cheery Mickey Pumpkins and specialty statues we’d viewed for days before into a slightly more eerie environment. Trick-or-treating stations were spread throughout the Magic Kingdom, and, though they were relatively few and far between, offered much more candy than expected. Each was designated both on a map handed out to attendees and marked with a special lantern that made them easy to spot amid the chaotic revelry.
These treat stations were interspersed amid the attractions themselves which offered additional distractions for kids and parents looking to take a break from the nightly rounds. The Haunted Mansion was our own first stop, and riding it on Halloween Night was one for my own bucket list. The always stoic cast members were in rare form, and though the line was lengthy they kept the crowds moving through at an admirable pace.
But the candy and rides were nothing compared to the nightly parade, a procession of Disney heavy-hitters alongside celebrated villains and spooky park icons (like the beloved Hitchhiking Ghosts). Even more treats were dispensed as skeleton bands and dancing gravediggers performed, and the party itself went on until the very witching hour complete with specialty performances and fireworks.
I had my doubts about spending Halloween – long my family’s favorite holiday – in faraway Orlando, but between the lighter off-season crowds during our daily jaunts to the parks and the fun-filled spectacle that was Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, I have to admit that it’s the best time I’ve ever had at Walt Disney World. While this year’s festivities are now a thing of the past, if you’ve been squirreling away leave days in anticipation of taking the family somewhere special I must heartily recommend that you plan to spend next Halloween in the haunted house of Mouse.