By Deborah Bowen
Several months ago, I was given the opportunity to write blogs for Orbitz, an opportunity I eagerly embraced even with limited prior experience in traveloguing. My challenge? I didn’t know how my blogs should “sound.” Erring on the side of professionalism, I penned posts that were fairly straightforward and factual. But this time, I’m dropping all pretense of objectivity as I introduce you to my favorite hard-ticket event at Walt Disney World: Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
This annual Magic Kingdom bash starts in mid-September and runs through early November, just after Halloween. Peak nights fall during the week prior to Halloween, with the largest crowd attending on Halloween itself. The party is offered several times each week, so be mindful if your visit to the Magic Kingdom occurs during September/October. This event requires a separate admission ticket (many nights offer early purchase discounts), and guests without proper party wrist bands will be escorted from the park after the party begins at 7 p.m.
Where to begin … how about with characters? All of the classic Disney characters come out to haunt the park that night, which is decorated for fall and Halloween, and they’re all dressed up for Trick-or-Treat! A special highlight is the Villains Mix-And-Mingle show on the castle steps, during which many seldom-seen characters make very spooky appearances and take pictures with guests, most of whom are themselves dressed up (costumes are encouraged, provided they are appropriate, safe and non-obstructive).
In between meeting your favorite Disney friends, look around for the big white lanterns. These mark treat spots. You’ll receive a bag when you arrive, and by the end of the evening, it’ll be bursting with candy (fortunately, a variety of large trick-or-treat containers can be purchased at the park!). Don’t forget to grab some raisins, too. You’ll need lots of healthy energy for rides! Because crowds are typically lighter than during the day, you’ll likely find waits to be minimal at popular attractions, and, in some cases, non-existent.
Perhaps my favorite parts of the night are Mickey’s Boo-To-You Parade and the unbelievable 360-degree fireworks. The parade steps off twice each night, and features, among others, a living tribute to the Haunted Mansion (keep an eye out for the gravediggers!).
The fireworks are breathtaking. Narrated by the Ghost Host, they introduce us to villains, princesses, and a wealth of grim, grinning ghosts. Rather than occurring just over the spires of Cinderella Castle, these fireworks encircle the entire park. Viewing is spooktacular from any location in the park, but you’ll want to try to be centrally located for the full circle effect.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is perfect for children of all ages. It’s the friendliness of Disney with a slight nighttime, haunted edge, striking a balance that will keep even the most jaded Halloween celebrant on the lookout for mysterious presences. And it’s just incredibly fun. Spice up your fall with an orange and black extravaganza Disney-style, or a ghost will follow you home!
Deborah Bowen, an English professor at the University of South Florida and member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, has lived the majority of her life less than an hour from Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts.