LAKE BUENA VISTA — Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party opened earlier than ever at Walt Disney World this year, bringing more “bang” for your buck with a new fireworks show that fills the sky in a panoramic light display.
It was only mid-August, but the Magic Kingdom was packed on Friday for the launch of the annual after-hours celebration. It continues for a record 36 nights through Nov. 1, and it’s the one time of year you can dress in costume at the theme park. Partygoers arrive as early as 4 p.m. to play at the Magic Kingdom before it shuts down at 7 for the Halloween-themed party, which takes place through midnight with trick-or-treat stations, a special parade and fireworks.
The new Not-So-Spooky Spectacular fireworks show presents nonstop 180-degree bursts spanning from Adventureland to Tomorrowland. The display is set to a castle projection show in which Zero from The Nightmare Before Christmas plays the hero when Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy run into trouble while trick-or-treating in a haunted house. Zero swoops in and uses his nose to illuminate their escape. Jack Skellington tells the story for the 12-minute show with appearances by Oogie Boogie, Hades, Ursula, Queen of Hearts, the Haunted Mansion ride’s dancers and Cinderella’s Court.
Mortals, beware. Sparks fly as roaming undead gravediggers drag their shovels through Liberty Square. These popular drifters aren’t a new addition — they’re a highlight of the parade — but it is new to have them wandering the park.
Also new, the glowing, floating blue bride from the Haunted Mansion escapes the creepy manor to appear in the Boo to You Parade. Set to an earworm of nonstop “boo to you and you and you” singing, this year’s procession features Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story’s little green aliens and Mr. and Mrs. Incredible as well. But an old favorite is still around: The Headless Horseman gallops through the streets to kick off the parade.
The Sanderson Sisters are at it again in the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. The trio summon their “frightful friends” — Disney villains Dr. Facilier, Captain Hook, Maleficent, Jafar and Cruella De Vil — to help them gather the ingredients for the Hocus Pocus Party Potion to “put a spell on you.” The show contains corny humor that amused the adults more than the children, and it uses castle projections, dark lighting, low pyrotechnics and smoke effects.
Kids are encouraged to make noise and boogie as Mike Wazowski, James P. Sullivan and their Monsters Inc. pals take over Tomorrowland for a Monstrous Scream-o-Ween Ball. The monsters interact with grooving costumed children to “learn about Halloween.”
Three attractions take on a fresh look for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. For a second year, real characters instead of animatronic pirates are sprinkled around the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. You hear tales of treasure and find your own gold coins at the end of the attraction. Space Mountain runs in total darkness for a second year, too, set to a rocking horror soundtrack. And the Mad Tea Party lights up Fantasyland with a laser light production showcasing chaotic horror music.
Cruella hosts her own bash this year with a dog-themed meet-and-greet dinner. At $99 per person, the experience includes sweet and savory Italian food, unlimited beer and wine, reserved seating for the Boo to You Parade and private photo sessions with the queen of spots. Admission to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is required.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party tickets are separate from regular park admission. They range from $79 to $135 for adults and $74 to $130 for kids at disneyworld.disney.go.com.