On general principle, I’m against the front-loading of any major holiday. I stopped shopping at craft retailer Michael’s years ago after they began trotting out their Halloween merchandise in mid-July, so incensed was I (also because everything is wildly overpriced, and their staff, in my experience, are not the nicest of folks.)
But when Mr. Finger Candy and I went to Disney World over the Labour Day long weekend and found ourselves at the Magic Kingdom for one of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Part(ies), we just decided to roll with it, late August date and 91 degree temps notwithstanding. Here’s some of the festive fun we had. 🙂
First, a photo with some of the outstanding Halloween decorations at the very front of the park. Not too surprisingly, Disney does seasonal decorating very well; glance around the park and you’ll find lush boughs of leaves trimming every door frame, flickering rows of Jack-o-Lanterns lining each balcony and streetlights hung with festive foliage.
The Halloween parties (hereafter known as MNSSHP) run from mid-August to Halloween. It is a hard ticketed event, which means your admission is NOT included in the cost of a regular park ticket, so be prepared to pay up (and up and up and up…) The party itself runs from 7 pm to midnight, although guests are admitted as early as 4 pm (but as annual passholders, we can go whenever the heck we want!)
Around 6 pm cast members will begin ushering out the day’s remaining guests to prepare the Kingdom for the evening’s festivities. I wouldn’t recommend hiding out behind the little Dutch kids on It’s a Small World so you can stay on until the party; the CMs are rather diligent about checking your issued event bracelets. Capacity for the parties is capped at 20,000 guests, although there were far fewer than that in attendance on August 31st. Which, of course, made it the perfect evening for these two MNSSHP newbs to really explore this cool seasonal event.
Because of all the usual safety concerns, there are strict rules concerning costumes. Within reason, kids can wear pretty well whatever they’d like, while adult costumes are measured against a firm list of do nots – do not wear a mask, do not wear a full, floor-length costume, do not come dressed as 45 (sorry, that’s just one of my personal requirements.) Basically, do not look like you could be confused for an actual character at work (and play) in the parks (and that includes 45! Anyone take a real gander at his animatronic in the Hall of Presidents? I swear they just nabbed an old beaver pelt from one of the tableaus out by Tom Sawyer Island and stapled it to his head. Just like real life, ba-dum *ching*!) We attended this party costume-less (a very wise decision given the obscenely humid weather) but we’ll be back on Halloween, and you can bet we’ll bring our A game then. 🙂
Our first stop, for the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom-lovin’ nerd I’m married to, was the Main Street Firehouse for our special event Sorcerers cards. Limited edition cards for this neat, Magic Kingdom-exclusive collectible card game/scavenger hunt have been produced nearly every year for both the Halloween and Christmas parties; this year’s Halloween card features Orange Bird, the cheery citrus spokesbird of Sunshine Tree Terrace, a counter service spot in Adventureland where you can enjoy life-sustaining (or at least life-improving!) Citrus Swirls – frozen orange juice concentrate on one side, creamy vanilla soft serve on the other, blissed out heaven in the middle. Here we’ve shown one of our cards (already safely ensconced in a protective top-loader; thanks, nerd!) alongside our not-long-for-this-world Citrus Swirl and a passholder exclusive Orange Bird pin we picked up later on in the evening.
Crucial administrative details thus attended to, we walked over to Liberty Square and joined a lineup of 500 other overgrown goth lite types to meet Jack and Sally of The Nightmare Before Christmas. The Pumpkin King and his ragdoll paramour only show up during MNSSHP; they are not characters you will find regularly bopping about the parks like you would the princesses or Pooh and the gang. Which is the ONLY reason I consented to stand in a very hot, not particularly well shaded lineup for two and a half hours in order to meet them!
Also because I adore The Nightmare Before Christmas, and when we finally met them, I could not stop myself from excitedly telling them about our Halloween wedding nearly 14 years prior (“Did it rain?” Jack queried. “Actually, it did!” we chirped, prompting a keening, “Oh, how perfectly lucky AND marvelous!” from the man himself. I nearly up and died and became a resident of Halloween Town right then and there.)
Regrettably, after standing in a nearly three-hour lineup in the blazing sun (twas not blazing by the time we made it to the front of the line) the rest of the evening proved a real struggle against total collapse – following all that unaccustomed heat, 12 hours of air travel, precious little sustenance and a 2:30 am wakeup call nearly 24 hours previous, we were feeling quite piqued.
So no better time to shove a bunch of sugar in our faces, right?! There are a number of party-exclusive food items available during MNSSHP, in addition to a seemingly endless quantity of candy you can pick up along the innumerable trick-or-treat trails. We probably should have stuck with the mini Snickers (ooh, Snickers) – the Jack Skellington push pop we grabbed from Sleepy Hollow (cake, frosting and other creamy stuff layered together in a push-uppable container) nearly did us in; total blood sugar blitz.
I don’t know why we have so many darn photos of that push pop, because it wasn’t that good! There are so many incredible snacks available at the parties; why did we go with this weird, cake crumbles and cream thing? Next time, poison apple cupcake, I’m coming for you! Below, Mr. Finger Candy standing in front of Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe with a Jack Skellington push pop IS The Nightmare Before Christmas, wah-waaaahhhhhhhhhh. Get it, get it? “Yes, we get it,” you’re saying. “And it’s still not funny.” 😉
After stumbling away from our snack spot, we ambled about for a bit, seriously contemplating whether we should just pack it in for the night and return to our resort, despite not having seen the parade, the Sanderson Sisters stage show or the fireworks show. That is how sickly we were feeling! Instead, we rallied hard – not too difficult when you consider the money on the line; Disney is an incredible vacation experience, but it’s never not inexpensive – and went off to Tomorrowland to meet our buddy, Stitch, resplendent in his Halloween costume as white jumpsuited Elvis! As always, Stitch was an amorous little thing – he kissed my hand twice, oh my!
But fuzzy blue alien kisses are apparently just the remedy one needs for an overabundance of sun, heat and sugar, because after our cool meet and greet with him, we felt immensely better, and decided to hotfoot it over to Cinderella Castle to catch the HalloWishes fireworks show. We have had just the worst, most crap luck when it comes to properly seeing any of Disney’s amazing fireworks shows – usually we’re stuck behind the Castle seeing none of the cool projections they feature during Happily Ever After, or we’re at Epcot and we’re too pleasantly tipsy on walkin’ margs to possibly stay (and stand!) for Illuminations, or one particularly memorable time, we were trapped on Pirates of the Caribbean for 45 minutes and missed the entirety of the Magic Kingdom’s Happily Ever After fireworks show. But for this special seasonal show featuring incredible projections and fireworks (that finale!) scored to neat arrangements of some of my favourite creepy Disney music, we had front row, centre (standing, always standing) space, and it was wonderful. You know, I never thought I was one of those “I love it when shit blows up!” kind of people, but you guys, I love it when shit blows up! Especially sparkly shit that makes a real big bang. 😉
In between all this, we hopped about a bit and rode a few rides – Pirates of the Caribbean, with live actors dotted throughout the ride just for the Halloween party, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and the Haunted Mansion, but of course. I’d typically say that given all of the other things to occupy your time during Mickey’s Not So Scary, actually riding the rides is a pretty poor use of your party time, but we walked straight onto all three with no problem and it didn’t impact our schedule in the slightest. We also walked around and hit up a couple of the merchandise shops to check out the party-exclusive items, where we grabbed this refillable, light-up cauldron popcorn bucket I’m posing with the following morning in our hotel room. Holy crow, was this thing popular! Nearly as popular as my Gaston ears. People would just bellow across the street at me, “WHERE DID YOU GET THAT AWESOME BUCKET?!” and I’d be, like, “Uh, right over there?” Over the next couple of days, I saw so many more of them begin to pop up – pun intended – around the parks. And in case you’re wondering, yes, it will be returning with us at Halloween. We really love our $2 refills, and who doesn’t want to tote around a glowing cauldron?
Next, we walked back to Main Street and nabbed a super primo curbside spot right outside Casey’s Corners from which to watch the Boo to You Parade! Once again, parades are, historically, not my jam. I nearly had a total meltdown last Christmas after getting stuck in a massive crowd of people between Frontierland and the river on one side, and the relentlessly annoying holiday parade on the other, so no, not my thing. But I loved this parade! Gosh, it was so charming. Featuring a showstopping entrance by the Headless Horseman (I apologize, but my camera utterly failed during the parade; poor thing could not keep up with the cascade of flashing lights and colours), as well as appearances by the Grim Grinning Ghosts, Jack Sparrow and his scurvy lot of pirates, the Splash Mountain gang, the gravediggers and diningroom dancers from the Mansion, Vanellope Von Schweetz and frickin’ Clarabelle the Cow hoofing around a silo, among many, many others, this delightful parade concluded with an entire float of rarely glimpsed baddies – Cruella, Jafar, Maleficient and the Evil Queen. Badass, in the cutest, most adorable manner possible. 🙂
Finally, we capped off our evening with a midnight viewing of the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular Show, featuring the Sanderson Sisters, The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Mr. Oogie Boogie Man and about a half dozen other killer villains – Cruella again, Dr. Facilier, Hades. The show itself was a ton of fun, just a tiny bit raunchy (by Disney standards, of course, so still very family friendly, even at the late, late hour), with some great songs (shoutout to the ultra fun version of I’ve Put a Spell on You.) And I don’t believe I’ve ever seen Cinderella Castle look so beautiful; the projection technology they’re using now is real world design and tech magic. 🙂 Just another day at the office, I believe the Disney Imagineers would call it. 🙂
Then, having been awake and on our feet for 23 out of the last 24 hours, we left the Kingdom and threw ourselves onto a resort bus back to Coronado Springs, where we rested and rejuvenated for the grand total of three hours and 45 minutes, before we got up and returned to the Magic Kingdom to start it up all over again. No rest for the wicked, you know – just ask the Sanderson Sisters! Also, there might be something wrong with us? 😉