How is it that the enterprise that brought us “Hocus Pocus,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and “The Haunted Mansion” is not capable of pulling off a proper Halloween celebration? Disney World’s 2022 Halloween celebration centers around Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. The main attractions include the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, Disney Junior Jam, and Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular. They’ll be performances by villains like Jack SKellington and the Sanderson sisters. However, these events promise to be “not-so-scary” and fun for the whole family. Surely, there is a bit more magic in the Disney Halloween movie catalog?
Sure, it’s nice to have safe Halloween options if you’re a family with babies, toddlers, or preschoolers. Where’s all the entertainment for older children, teens, and adults? Is it too much to ask that there are at least a few eerie events geared toward a more mature audience?Read More »
Disney has opted to play things very safe this October. But their inability to conjure up frightening entertainment feels like a cheap shot toward older, more mature guests. Couldn’t they stir up a little Disney magic? Is Disney incapable of raising the hairs on the back of our necks?
Halloween is the one time of year that adults are permitted to wear costumes to Disney theme parks. Disney’s long list of restrictions makes it seem as though anything remotely scary is off-limits. Guests of all ages are encouraged to do some trick-or-treating. However, there’s only so much thrill to be had from a piece of supermarket candy.
I checked out Disney’s guide to its 2022 Halloween food offerings. Unfortunately, there’s nothing scary about Sweet Almond Corn Cake, Pumpkin Cupcakes, and Sweet Candy Corn Soft-serve Swirl Cones. The most chilling items on the Halloween menu include the Hades Hot Dog, Cold Witches Brew Coffee, and Monster Cookies. Would it be too outlandish for them to add poison apples, potions, or snake and spider stew to the menu?
Of Disney’s four theme parks, Hollywood Studios seems like the obvious pick for a scare-worthy celebration. The Hollywood Tower Hotel would be the perfect backdrop for a haunted house overlay. I can easily imagine ghosts, ghouls, and goblins popping out of the towering building’s turrets and balconies. Why not add some spooky twists to the already tormenting Twilight Zone Tower of Terror? Could they show some holiday spirit when performing the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular?
Halloween is the theme park’s longest-running holiday season. Festivities begin in August and end in late October. That’s a whole month longer than Disney’s Christmas celebration. Even still, September is Disney’s least busy month of the year. Could it be that the majority of older fans are flocking to more thrilling alternatives, like nearby Universal Studios?
If I’m going to go out of my way to visit Disney during the most spooktacular time of year, I’m going to want to see a few eerie characters. Give me the Evil Queen from “Snow White,” the Corned King from the “Black Cauldron,” and Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty.” Some of the most memorable and beloved Disney villains were pulled from the pages of Grimm fairy tales. The Brothers Grimm weren’t ones to hold back. Why does Disney need to constantly pull back on the reigns?
Would it be too off-brand of Disney to spice up their character interactions? I love posed pictures and waves as much as the next fan. However, I’d like to see what would happen if Disney let its costumed characters out for a late-night meet and greet. Disney has enough villains, witches, and bad guys to fill an entire section of the theme park. Let Cruella, Jafar, Madame Leota, and Shan Yu show us their authentic selves. Let them shout, holler, and cackle under the light of the moon.
Disney’s Halloween makeover feels like little more than a decor switch. There are Mickey head pumpkin wreaths on every lamppost in front of Cinderella’s castle, pumpkin-headed scarecrows in Disney’s town square, and Halloween merchandise in every gift shop. It’s all very cutesy and child-friendly. Where’s Disney’s dark side?
Disney’s sister park, Disneyland, has a total of five Halloween overlays. They’ve got Monsters After Dark for the Tower of Terror, “Nightmare Before Christmas” for the Haunted Mansion Holiday, and Ghost Galaxy for Space Mountain. There’s Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree and Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween for younger Halloween fans. A frightful lineup of Halloween-themed activities for the whole family.
Disney World’s overlays are all contained within the Magic Kingdom. There are a few alterations to Space Mountain, Mad Tea Party, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. The moderations are hardly impressive. Just small changes to planned shows and a few aesthetic improvements. Nothing that would agitate your nerves or leave you covered in a cold sweat.
Walt Disney World refuses to do overlays like their West Coast peer. I’m guessing this has something to do with the amount of time and money it takes to install the temporary attractions. Disney World is also a more popular destination for first-timers. Maybe Disney doesn’t want to keep any newbies from seeing Disney attractions as they were originally intended to be seen. That and they probably can’t justify temporary closures. Maybe the customer backlash is just too much to manage.
Still, I cannot help but wonder if Halloween overlays would be profitable in the East. Maybe they’d draw in an older, more local crowd. There’s only one way to find out. I just can’t see Disney World testing the waters. At least, not at any time in the near future.
In previous years, the most mature event on the Halloween schedule was Return to Sleepy Hollow. The event was held at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. The campground-based Halloween celebration included a group viewing of the film Legend of Sleepy Hollow, a meet and greet with the headless horseman, and an after-movie desert party. Unfortunately, Disney has yet to announce whether it will make it onto the 2022 Halloween calendar.
Disney’s Event Guide for Night Owls steers older guests toward Space Mountain, a later performance of Mickey’s Boo-to-You Parade, and late-night dance parties. Surely, they could offer a spicier lineup of events between 7:00 PM and midnight. Younger children are usually tuckered out by this time. Couldn’t Disney let older guests get their thrill on while the little ones rest?
With Disney’s 50th Anniversary celebration just around the corner, you’d think the company might be willing to do a little soul searching. Older audiences, including adults and teens, are eager to revisit their classics. However, in a world of ever-improving entertainment, Disney’s old-fashioned, watered-down Halloween festivities and run-of-the-mill decorations just aren’t cutting it.
Are you a fan of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party? Would you rather see some fan favorites decked out in cobwebs and spiders? Under the current conditions, park visitors can expect spooky décor and playful food choices, but they won’t see or experience anything too scary. Maybe it is time for Disney to revamp their Halloween program and throw in some spine-tingling shows and overlays.
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