Kristen Nowicki of the Mousetalgia podcast (www.mousetalgia.com) attended one of this year's Mickey's Halloween Parties at Disneyland and shares her experience in this guest blog.
It's been over 20 years since I last went trick or treating. This all changed last Friday night as my boyfriend and I attended Mickey's Halloween Party in Disneyland. It was my first time at what has recently become an annual event in Anaheim and was the perfect way to kick off the Halloween season.
A $59 ticket purchased five hours of Halloween themed entertainment and decor, lots of treats and luckily no tricks - this is Disneyland after all! The party ran from 7pm to midnight, and while I had anticipated a two-hour tour (how much could a 34-year-old, childless adult have to do at Halloween party, right?) we practically shut down the park, arriving shortly before 7:00 and leaving a few minutes before midnight.
While Disneyland is always beautiful, especially after dark, the extra Halloween plussing really made the evening magical. From the moment we stepped through the front gates, we were immersed in Disney Halloween goodness. Versions of Grim Grinning Ghosts, covers from the Nightmare Before Christmas and other original Disney Halloween tunes played throughout the evening and were accompanied by corresponding projections on the buildings down Main Street.
Throughout the park, Disney brought out special spooky décor just for the party. Our favorite was the Golden Horseshoe, which just earlier that day had been its usual charming frontier self, but transformed into a Halloween fan's delight for the evening. There were pumpkins throughout the main floor and even a special spooky guest musician at the player piano.
The Halloween décor wasn't limited to just the interiors, but outside as well including the sparkling Bradbury Halloween tree, a bevy of carved pumpkins at the Big Thunder Ranch with Mickey and Minnie nearby at a special Halloween photo-op. (Other characters including Jack Skellington, Winnie the Pooh, Phineas and Ferb and Storm Troopers were stationed at elaborate backgrounds throughout the park for photos.)
In addition to the special Halloween décor, there were a number of other events exclusive to the party including the Halloween Screams fireworks display, Mickey's Costume Party Cavalcade and two dance parties - Piratepalooza and Buzz Lightyear's Intergalactic Space Jam. The dance parties seemed targeted at a younger audience, with Goofy, Donald, Buzz and the Green Army Men actually getting down on the dance floor with costumed kids of all ages. While we chose to sit this one out, the kids who were there seemed thrilled to dance the night away with some of their favorite characters. These events were also less crowded than other areas of the park, though it did seem to be a little odd having a mix of the Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls and other 90's pop artists blaring throughout Walt's park.
The biggest crowd pleaser of the night was the Halloween Screams fireworks show. The hub was filled with costumed attendees of all ages, screaming with delight at the spectacular of orange and yellow fireworks. We had seen this show in previous years when it was available to regular park goers and this year's show was the same as years prior. The inclusion of villains and a heavy emphasis on Nightmare Before Christmas characters was nice, but the cheesy soundtrack puts this show at the bottom of my list. Just 30 minutes prior to the show, it was easy to get a coveted spot in front of the Castle, which did help ease the pain of the canned, calypso beat soundtrack. Not quite as flashy as some of the other firework shows, there were a number of interesting projections on the front of the Castle, and the inclusion of a flying Zero made for an extra Halloween treat.
Mickey's Costume Party Cavalcade was a bit short, but overall very entertaining. The Country Bears made a rare appearance, and on the back of the last float sat a somewhat jerky, audio-animatronic Miss Piggy. We caught the first and second showings of the parade (the second by accident as we were trapped, trying to get to the Pixie Hollow Candy Trail) and both viewings, one from Main Street and the other from the entrance to Tomorrowland, were equally enjoyable.
Amid the decked out décor and special entertainment were a number of Candy Trails, each consisting of anywhere from two to five trick or treat stations. We were given a medium sized bag upon entering the park, and an hour into the party, both of our bags were overflowing with a variety of chocolate candies, suckers and healthier treats like raisins, Craisins and apple slices. Our favorite Candy Trails were near the Matterhorn and the Innoventions Queue - both had five candy stations and short lines.
Speaking of lines, if you hate queuing up, Mickey's Halloween Party is not for you. While the numbers of attendees versus a regular day was significantly lower, the lines for the photo-ops and Candy Trails were quite long. Every photo queue had an average of 45 people and the Candy Trail starting next to Pirates of the Caribbean, wrapped all the way back to the Big Thunder Railroad. Halloween themed attractions like the Haunted Mansion and Ghost Galaxy (Space Mountain) also had really long lines. Most of the park attractions were open, and the average wait for non-Halloween themed rides was reasonable, but those attractions weren't the reason we came. We came for candy, characters and photo-ops and paid the price dearly by standing in a number of lengthy queues.
One of our favorite parts of the evening was being dressed up as Alice and the Mad Hatter. While this did prove to be somewhat awkward as we walked through the parking garage with the masses of un-costumed teens headed to DCA, as soon as we entered the gates of Disneyland, we were right at home. Themeing our costumes in a Disney way proved to be especially fun as we took photo after photo in the wonderful Wonderland setting of Fantasyland.
Mickey's Halloween Party not only gave us an excuse to dress up as our favorite characters, but to go back in time and celebrate a child's holiday as adults in the Happiest Place on Earth. Our first trip definitely won't be our last and if you're looking for a Halloween event for the whole family, childless-couple or even single adult, Mickey's Halloween Party is a place for anyone and everyone who loves Disney and Halloween.
About the author: Kristen Nowicki first visited Disneyland at the age of six and has been a regular park attendee and annual pass holder ever since. Drawn to the history and nostalgia of Disneyland, Kristen and her three friends, Jeff, Dave and Becky, host a Disneyland podcast, Mousetalgia. Mousetalgia is a show dedicated to the exploration of Disney's past, present and future, emphasizing the theme park culture and the people who have imagined Walt's happy place into existence. Check out their weekly podcast at www.mousetalgia.com. Let's go "Carpe Kingdom!"
The previous post in this blog was Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2.
The next post in this blog is Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 10/28/11.