How This Disney Halloween Classic Influenced The Parks

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Disney’s adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has left more than a pumpkin-shaped mark on popular culture since its premier 73 years ago, but its haunting influence has affected more than just the fans.

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The film continues to be aired, watched, and streamed every October to set the mood for the spooky season. While many Disney fans will be quick to run for their copy of The Nightmare Before Christmas, a large portion of viewers will whet their appetites with The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad before they even think about opening that door to Halloween Town. As beloved as the movie is, the story and its characters can’t be contained to a film alone.

Related:The Spirit of 73: Disney’s Sleepy Hollow Remains A Halloween Classic

While a ride inspired by the iconic chase scene between Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman is more of an urban legend and hearsay amongst Disney fans, the classic ghost story definitely has had more than a few winks and nods scattered throughout the parks. From set pieces and character references to full-on Meet-and-Greets and seasonal attractions, Disney fans don’t have to venture all the way up the Hudson to get a taste of Sleepy Hollow.

Starting out simple, references to Sleepy Hollow and Ichabod Crane can be found in the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square at Walt Disney World. The most notable reference to the 1949 film is the popular Sleepy Hollow Inn, a quick-service restaurant home to several tasty treats such as their waffle sandwiches. However, Guests don’t have to look very far to find another connection, namely to a certain itinerant schoolmaster. If Guests venture to Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe, they will notice a sign above one of the doors that reads “Music & Voice Lessons by Appointment – Ichabod Crane, Instructor.” This is a clear reference to Ichabod’s vocal prowess demonstrated in one of the scenes in the animated feature. Sadly, it is not accompanied by the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby.

Halloween Night

Of course, no trip to Sleepy Hollow would be complete without an encounter with the infamous Headless Horseman. As one of the most prolific villains of literature and film, the Horseman has also had a ghostly influence on the Parks. Along with appearing on pins and merchandise, his most well-known contribution to the Disney Parks is his yearly appearance during the Halloween seasonal events. The Boo To You Parade would simply be incomplete without the triumphant ride of the Headless Horseman leading the charge into the night’s festivities.  The Horseman has also been seen overseas at Hong Kong Disneyland’s more frightening celebrations, appearing in parades and even his own long-running haunted attraction dubbed “Revenge of the Headless Horseman.

73 years have certainly treated the film particularly well, especially when October rolls around. The film remains a time-honored tradition and perhaps the most famous adaptation of Washington Irving’s story, and it’s influence is still being utilized by Disney decades later. It simply isn’t Halloween until Ichabod and the Headless Horseman make their famous midnight ride through the haunted hills of Sleepy Hollow.

Have you seen these nods to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow? Tell us in the comments below!

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