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"|
Pumpkins. Lit. If at all possible.