For those who can’t handle the scares of the spookier Central Florida Halloween haunts, Walt Disney World offers a sprinkling of pixie dust combined with festive and family-friendly fun without the frights at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. On select nights throughout September, October, and even an evening in November, Disney rolls out a familiar Magic Kingdom event that changes little from year to year but continues to draw big crowds for a little trick-or-treating, some mixing and mingling, and maybe just a small scream or two.
Greeted by strains of Haunted Mansion organ music and freaky fog rolling across the Train Station lined with smiling Jack O’ Lanterns, Disney welcomes Guests into Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party with a spooky tone, but never a scare. The event features a special fireworks show, parade, character meet-and-greets, redressed buildings with enhanced lighting, and plenty of candy to grab.
The Not-So-Scary party is essentially the same event year to year. Looking back at our reports from 2011 and 2010, it’s clear that Disney has fallen into a groove they’re happy with, drawing huge crowds each night, despite essentially repeating entertainment each year. For first-timers to the event, this party is ultimately in Disney Halloween fun. But for locals and repeat Guests, it can get a bit stale seeing the same parade and fireworks show, meeting the same characters. In contrast, other local theme parks try to reinvent their Halloween happenings annually to keep them fresh.
But as fan favorites remain part of the party, they are always enjoyable to watch. And some subtle tweaks found their way into Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in 2012.
Starting in Town Square and Main Street USA, this year’s Mickey Mouse head pumpkins are more vibrant, flickering while hung on lamp posts, adding additional ambiance to these areas.
And Main Street itself looks sufficiently spooky with wild shades of purples, greens, and oranges, transforming the turn-of-the-century look into a slightly foreboding but still inviting entrance to the park.
This year, two new windows on Main Street feature Mickey and Minnie Mouse standing in front of stained glass and wallpaper inspired by The Haunted Mansion.
The best and worst entertainment of the evening happens right here. Before the Boo To You parade, one of Disney’s best, the Headless Horseman, makes his not-quite-midnight ride through the park. It’s always an impressive sight to see and absolutely never gets old. Fortunately, the parade is performed twice each party night, so the Horseman rides twice as well.
Video: The Headless Horseman rides down Main Street the USA
Far less impressive is the only truly new addition to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party for 2012: the Creeper Crew. This hip-hop-inspired group completely breaks the mood set by the Headless Horseman’s ride by launching into a rather loud and abrasive routine in the middle of Main Street, inviting Guests of all ages to join in the Not-So-Scary Street Jam by learning a dance set to the Disney Channel-created song “Calling All the Monsters.” It’s a moment that’s clearly intended to burn off kids’ extra sugar-induced energy but does so in the most obnoxious way possible.
Video: The Creeper Crew invades Main Street for the Not-So-Scary Street Jam
Fortunately, this Street Jam lasts only a few minutes, essentially killing time while Guests on Main Street waiting for the Boo To You parade to arrive, having begun its route in Frontierland. Once it finally does, Halloween is once again in full swing as favorite characters, including many Disney Villains, appear from the darkness to bouncy tunes inspired by classic Disney films and attractions. The highlight of this parade is always the unit based on The Haunted Mansion, with undead ballroom dancers, sparking grave diggers, the famous Caretaker and his dog, and the infamous Hitchhiking Ghosts. This year’s version of Boo To You features some small changes, but nothing most Guests will notice.
Video: Full Boo To You parade in front of Cinderella Castle
In 2012, Phineas and Ferb joined Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party with their own meet-and-greet in Town Square. But during the Boo To You Parade, they were spotted hanging around with the rest of the park Guests, grooving to the music, and even amusingly interacting with (and taunting) a few Villains in the process, all captured in the video below.
Video: Phineas and Ferb dance along to the Boo To You parade
Another evening highlight is Happy HalloWishes, a Halloween spin on the nightly Wishes fireworks show. Though this spectacle in the skies is always entertaining and even a bit interactive (“Everybody SCREAM!”), it has been repeated for many years at Not-So-Scary, and many fans are begging for an update or even an all-new show. In short, fireworks are still fireworks, and Disney does them like no one else, adding interesting visuals projected onto Cinderella Castle. At the same time, bursts of color surround the park using additional perimeter launch locations.
The sights that fill the remainder of an evening at the Not-So-Scary party include meeting with characters, sometimes in designated areas, appearing randomly in the streets, and always directly after the Villains Mix & Mingle show, which once again prominently features Dr. Facilier’s “Friends on the Other Side,” the only time of year this Villain appears in the park.
Video: Dr. Facilier sings at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
This stage show hasn’t changed at all since 2011, so here it is once again, recorded last year:
The most important tip in all of Not-So-Scary is to stake out a spot directly in front of Cinderella Castle just before the Mix & Mingle show ends, as all the Villains from the show come down from the stage and meet and greet with Guests, instantly forming lines of more than 50 people each time. But Guests who figure out which Villain ends up where, which remains the same after each performance, can be among the first to meet and get a photo with their favorite characters.
Over at The Haunted Mansion, Madame Carlotta and Madame Renata alternate entertaining visitors in an ethereal way, seated on the lawn in front of the extra-eerie attraction for the evening. The graveyards are lit with special lighting and filled with fog, making this the best time of the year to descend into the boundless realm of the supernatural.
Then there’s the candy. Lots of it. And it’s the good stuff too. Cast Members along candy stops and trails, like one themed to Alice in Wonderland, hand out tasty treats including Crunch, Kit Kat, Snickers, M&M’s, Reese’s cups, and even gummy “Toy Story” characters. Those trying to avoid the sugary treats can also seek out some healthier options like raisins. (But who really wants that?)
By the end of the night, all Guests leaving Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party should have a heavy bag filled to the brim with candy. If not, visit a station one last time on the way out to receive a generous handful (or scoop).
There’s quite a lot to pack into a single night at the party, leaving no dull moments. And with thousands of Guests departing with full stomachs and smiles on their faces, Disney likely has no reason to reinvent this event any time soon. It’s hugely successful, debuting earlier and earlier each year, with 2012’s first-party night taking place on September 11. Dates continue on select nights at the Magic Kingdom through Halloween, with a bonus event on November 2, for those who can’t let go of the holiday before moving into the Christmas season.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a separately ticketed event from a regular day at the Magic Kingdom. However, it does allow entrance into the park as early as 4 p.m. for some pre-party fun. Tickets and more information are available on Disney’s website.
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