Mickey Mouse is a busy guy during the Halloween season at Disney theme parks. Beginning this year, the Mouse that started it all is throwing two similar, yet notably different, family-friendly parties at Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Florida.
At Walt Disney World, it’s called Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. At Disneyland, it’s simply called Mickey Halloween Party. But what unique elements does Mickey throw into each? Let’s break it down…
Halloween decor lines Main Street USA at both Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom, with an emphasis on clever pumpkins. Nearly identical Mickey-shaped pumpkins and orange banners adorn street lamps as well.
Both parks feature extra-large Mickey-shaped pumpkins, but in different locations and in different sizes. Disneyland’s main Mickey pumpkin is huge, located in Town Square, and double-sided to allow for plenty of easy photo opportunities for guests. Disneyland also features several Disney character pumpkins atop the park’s entrance. Walt Disney World’s largest Mickey pumpkin is near the entrance to Toontown and isn’t nearly as big.
Spiderweb projections add to the Halloween atmosphere at both parks, but Disneyland’s is on the Main Street Train Station, whereas Walt Disney World’s is displayed on Space Mountain.
Both parks surround the Partners statue (of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse) in the Hub with special decorations. At Disneyland, character pumpkins are placed around the statue. At Walt Disney World, large costumed character statues are present.
The streets of the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland are filled with special lighting, music, and occasionally a bit of fog throughout both versions of the parties. Main Street lights up on both coasts with ghostly projections and eerie colors.
The Dapper Dans entertain crowds at both events, but at Walt Disney World they go the extra step by becoming the “Cadaver Dans,” with costumes themed to the event.
Event-exclusive characters show up in both parks, but are very different in each. At Disneyland, a pair of scarecrows offer interaction and a bit of comedy for passing by guests. At Walt Disney World, a ghostly woman sits on the Haunted Mansion‘s lawn, providing much of the same style of schtick.
Special Halloween Shows
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party displays a version of the regular nighttime fireworks show “Wishes,” retitled “HalloWishes.” Despite the name similarity, the show is nothing like the regular daily show, but instead offers exciting fireworks set to fun Halloween-themed music. Disneyland’s Halloween Screams fireworks show is similar, using mostly the same music, but provides event goers even more entertainment by way of The Nightmare Before Christmas characters hosting the show. Jack Skellington’s ghost dog Zero even flies over the castle!
Halloween Screams highlight video
Disneyland may have an edge on Walt Disney World with their Halloween fireworks show due to these additions, but Walt Disney World’s Halloween party features the must-see “Boo To You” parade as a highlight of the evening. The parade is packed with Disney characters from movies and theme park attractions and set to a catchy tune that shifts for each float and parade unit. Disneyland has a small “costume cavalcade” twice nightly, but it’s nowhere near as entertaining as the Boo To You parade.
Both parties offer plenty of attractions to enjoy while having some Halloween fun. At Walt Disney World, the Haunted Mansion is draped with special lighting and food to give an already-spooky attraction an even more foreboding feel. But at Disneyland, the Haunted Mansion is transformed for the season into Haunted Mansion Holiday, a Nightmare Before Christmas-themed overlay featuring Jack Skellington and pals. Nearby, the French Market outdoor eating area becomes a dance party and the Rivers of America is flooded with fog. In addition, Disneyland offers a Space Mountain overlay called Ghost Galaxy that adds screams and scares around every speedy turn in the dark. It should be noted that Haunted Mansion Holiday and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy are not Halloween Party-exclusive, so day guests can enjoy them as well.
Both parties also offer special photo opportunities with characters. Jack Skellington and Sally meet guests in New Orleans Square at Disneyland. All seven dwarves pose for pictures with guests at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Plenty of other characters are available as well, often dressed for the occasion. But be prepared for long lines to meet your favorites.
Guests are encouraged to attend both of Disney’s Halloween parties in costume, the more elaborate, the better. At Walt Disney World, I spotted a pair of guests wearing fun Haunted Mansion-inspired outfits. At Disneyland, I was floored by a row of guests who had dressed themselves up as the entire Main Street Electrical Parade, complete with lights and music. The blurry photo below doesn’t do it justice. Overall, I found guests’ costumes in California to be much more elaborate and exciting than those in Florida. But for whatever reason, I found Waldo (and his girlfriend Wenda) quite often in both parks.
No family-friendly Halloween event would be complete without candy and both Walt Disney World and Disneyland give out plenty. But herein lies a few major differences between the two parties. First, candy is distributed in both locations by Disney’s cast members manning large bins. In Orlando, these cast members wear colorful event-exclusive costumes. In Anaheim, cast members wear fairly ordinary sweaters. Walt Disney World’s candy stations are mostly individual. You wait in a short line, walk up, hold out your bag (they give you one when you enter the park), get your handful of candy, and walk away to find the next spot elsewhere in the park. At Disneyland, each candy station is actually one of a series of stations, one leading to the next, each offering more and more candy. You can easily fill up your bag within a few minutes of trick-or-treating at Disneyland.
Most importantly, the quality of the candy at Disneyland is far superior to that at Walt Disney World. Disneyland’s candy consists of Reese’s peanut butter cups, Crunch bars, M&Ms, Almond Joys, and other recognizable treats. There are even a couple Ghirardelli chocolate stations. Walt Disney World’s candy is mostly small sugary treats, with a little bit of chocolate thrown in here and there.
Cost and Value
Both of Disney’s Halloween parties are separately-ticketed events. Walt Disney World’s version is around $10 more expensive (specific price varies depending on the date), but it also shows off a much more elaborate parade. Both events allow guests to enter the park a few hours before the event begins, giving a chance toe experience some daytime attractions before they close for the night. Select attractions are open during each party, but the focus is on the Halloween entertainment. With roughly 7-8 hours available in each park, attendance to either party is well worth the cost of admission that includes a few rides, great fireworks, lots of candy, and plenty of not-so-scary ambience.
With the 2010 Halloween season reaching its final weekend, there are only a few select nights left to experience Disney’s Halloween parties at either park. But whichever you choose, or even if you return next year, you’ll enjoy a scare-free night of high-quality entertainment.
More Photos from Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland:
More Photos from Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World: