Sunday, August 21, 2011

I don't think I like Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

I mean, if images are anything to go by, I don't think I'd enjoy it.
And I am saying this as a Disney World fan.
I'm not saying that it has to be scary, although I do like the scary parks, I am saying it needs to feel "Halloweeny".  Disney, which is known for its attention to detail, industry lauded level of effort, and branding is just too bright.
I love the Haunted Mansion and find its particular blend of macabre humor, shocks, chills, and amusements to be the ideal for Disney spooking.  Yet all the photos can find online, on blogs, the Disney website, the Wikipedia and so forth paint a picture that is brightly lit and saturated with a rainbow of color; the Disney way of course.  Which is fine and dandy, but I prefer my Halloween events to be decorated in little less brightly.  It seems, and this is said without direct experience, that Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween party is built around the happy aspects of the ideal, which is like the funny ending bit of Haunted Mansion, but without the tongue-in-cheek humor.
It's for kids, so I respect the notion of a safe, happy and un-spooky holiday.  I'm just not interested in it is all.
So stacks of happy Jack O'Lanterns and smiling scarecrows abound and the pumpkins are almost electric orange they are so brilliantly colored.  It is everything I could want in a safe, warm, happy moment.  Which is to say it has value but my mood for Halloween demands both smiling Jack O'Lantern totem poles AND werewolves that do not want to lick me in a friendly Saint Bernard-like manner, but indeed desire to tear out my throat!
Not the best example of my point, really

When I was a boy, however, they didn't do these sorts of things.  I was a teen when Six Flags over Georgia did their first Fright Fest and I remember it being...adequate.  Memory is not perfect here (it has been awhile) but I remember liking the decorations.  I don't recall if I went into one of the 'haunted houses' they set up.  I kept thinking it was so cool to have a theme park based around Halloween, but thinking also it should be more than it was.  That is to say that there were decorations, but the park didn't feel transformed, just decorated.  Modern theme parks really feel like they transform into the holiday event, rather than simply wearing a hat.  I didn't really get to do seasonal Halloween event theme parks for awhile after that (although I did go to an Autumn Renaissance Faire one year, but that's another story entirely).  Now that I am an adult I love that theme parks stay open longer in the season and put on seasonal events.  They sell fantasy. They sell entertainment.  I'm just glad that they received enough positive test results to make seasonal events a reality for suckers like me.  This is why just looking at the websites for the upcoming fright events makes me happy.  Rather than a simply decoration scheme and extended operating hours, these parks go out of their way to brings you costumed characters walking the streets (absent at my first Fright Fest in Georgia, the characters were at the haunted house only), new sounds piped into the soundtrack system, modified rides, and event snacks and souvenirs.  Believe me, if Six Flags had sold a Fright Fest t-shirt that first year I was there, I'd have bought it.  I'm a sucker for that stuff.

Last year I did reports on my first ever Howl-O-Scream (after nearly almost a decade of living in Virginia I finally made it to Howl-O-Scream) and I talked about Haunted Hunt Club Farms.  To me those are good Halloween set-ups.  I'd love to see the some of the West Coast stuff, like Knott's Scary Farm, but I think I can give Mickey a miss with no regrets.  I do like the silly, fun and childish side of Halloween, but even as a child I remember a sense of Halloween being scary, or at least spooky, and there was a sense of the mythic to it that a bright, shiny, WDW event just won't capture if the reviews and photos I've found online tell the truth.  Ultimately the spirit of Halloween town in The Nightmare Before Christmas (which is part of the winter season at Disney, I believe) and the Haunted portion of the Haunted Mansion should be the style of such an event, and I don't see that happening when Donald Duck, Goofy and Dopey are passing out hugs and pumpkin hats.  And I love pumpkin hats.
I might feel differently if I had kids...
"No, son, he's not just sleeping...he's a blood sucking fiend of the undead and it is our duty to destroy him"
Nah.  I remember being a kid and I'd want my kid to enjoy it like I do.

Pumpkins.  Lit.  If at all possible.


  1. I've not been. However, a guy I worked with went and he's never read or seen a single Harry Potter book/movie. Based upon his descriptions I think I'd like to see it. He came back with 2 wands, brought them to work, failed to be able to answer my adroit questioning concerning his wands (no idea what wood/core they were). I heard that later that day, after I left work, he broke one of his wands due to his Tomfoolery (how old am I that I just said Tomfoolery, sheesh). A fitting punishment, I believe.

  2. Interesting post. And since I have pretty much grew up at Disney World, I would say your assessment is fairly spot on. We always had seasonal passes, yet last year was the 1st time that we'd ever gone to the MNSSHalloweenParty! And we only went because someone gave us free tickets...ha! And yes, it was very KID friendly. In fact, that's pretty much the whole focus. Although die hard Disney fans never really grow Peter Pan! So the adults there were in full costume too, trick or treating for candy and riding the rides with their offspring....the next generation of Disney Fanatics!

    And it is colorful and clean and not scary....all true! I didn't mind that it wasn't scary....but that's probably because it was free...ha! But more than that...the crowd was SO MUCH smaller than usual, so it allowed us to ride all the good rides and my favorite Haunted Mansion, back to back to back with no we got free candy. In just 4 hours...we did all that we wanted to do there and decided that we wouldn't renew our passes this year....we'll just go back to that 'halloween party' instead! We got our Disney fix at a great time of year in FL, and the place was decked out for Halloween too.

    Can't see it being something many adults without kids would go to though...although there were some Halloween/Disney loving couples there as well. Harry Potter though....we love it. But if you really want SCAREY....then it has to be Halloween Horror Nights. As for me....I'm still too chicken to go!

  3. Wendy,
    Quite the good time then? I think that Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is great, and a good time to get to ride POTC and HM a million times, so that aspect of MNSSHP certainly has appeal. I think it was the colors that put me off the most. I like the Autumnal colors to be vibrant like nature, which suggests muted vibrancy, if such a thing exists. We have Haunted Hunt Club Farms here in VA and it is a picturesque event with a carnival atmosphere. Too many clowns though.