Halloween at Disney: So magical, it’s (not) scary

  • Fri Oct 15th, 2010 10:04pm
  • Life

By Jackson Holtz Herald Writer

ORLANDO, FLA. — My trick-or-treat bag grew heavier between Goofy’s Wiseacre Farm and Tomorrowland.

In Fantasy Land, I scored M&Ms. Near Liberty Square, Sugar Babies made their way into my sack. At the Toontown Fair, candy corn was added to the sugary mix.

Donald Duck was dressed up as a jack-o’-lantern, and Mickey and Minnie as matching vampires, albeit very friendly creatures of the night.

Each year, Disney transforms the Magic Kingdom in Florida and theme parks in Anaheim, Calif., into ghouly, ghastly ghost-filled haunted Halloween spectacles.

It’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and it was a highlight of a recent trip to Walt Disney World. (At Disneyland, the spooky event is called Mickey’s Halloween Party.)

I flew to Florida recently to visit with friends from the East Coast. Walker, Isabel and Tibby Heard, 10, 9 and 6, respectively, all from Cape Cod, were my hosts for the Halloween celebration.

Walker went as a Confederate soldier and the girls donned dresses and bonnets, transforming themselves into Civil War nurses.

Other visitors to the Magic Kingdom, young and old, wore all types of costumes. We saw one boy dressed as a mini Mad Hatter posing for photos with the, er, real Mad Hatter. There was an assortment of Buzz Lightyears, Cinderellas and scores of Mouseketeers.

At 7 p.m., the theme park employees distributed trick-or-treat bags as they rolled out barrels of candy treats. Treasure troves of sweet snacks were positioned strategically all over the theme park. For the cavity conscious, there even was a bucket of raisins.

Despite the thrilling rides, spooky shows, an over-the-top Halloween parade and haunted fireworks above Cinderella’s Castle, Walker, the 10-year-old, was quite clear about his favorite part of the night.

“The trick or treating,” he said. Four adults and three children piled up enough candy to give a dentist a real fright.

The scariest part of the night for me was the ride on Space Mountain. The rest of the haunting was done with Disney-style goofiness, no offense to Goofy. It was good fun meant to bring a smile, not a shiver of fright.

The kids weren’t terribly impressed by the haunted soundtrack that accompanied the fireworks, but they really enjoyed themselves, and it was hard for grown-ups to leave without having a good time too.

The party runs from late September through October. Then Halloween gives way to a Very Merry Christmas Party, another way to enjoy Disney with added, special significance. For kids who have been to Disney’s parks before, the holiday-themed adventures are a good way to create more excitement and help keep their interest.

While it may be too late to plan a trick-or-treating trip this year, there’s always next year’s holiday, and October is a good time to visit the theme parks. The crowds weren’t bad, even at the Halloween Party, and the hot Florida sun was a nice break from the cool Snohomish County fall.

Halloween at Disney

Mickey and friends celebrate Halloween with special events and trick-or-treating at theme parks in Orlando, Fla., and Anaheim, Calif. The events begin in September at Disney World and in October at Disneyland, then continue through the holiday.

Tickets range from $49 to $64.95 depending on the park and which night you attend. For more information, go to www.disneyworld.com/halloween or www.disneyland.com/halloween.

Trick-or-treat tips:

Take a nap: Kids accustomed to an early bedtime should take a nap. The party doesn’t begin until 7.

Bring name tags: Avoid fights over which candy bag belongs to whom by bringing a marker or name tags.

Dress up: While costumes aren’t required, it’s fun to join the festivities. Remember to pack costume attire.

Avoid crowds: The parades wind their way through the parks ending along Main Street, U.S.A. Plan to be near the end of the parade route to avoid jockeying for a view.

Arrive early: Party tickets are less expensive than regular park admission because all the rides aren’t open late. But the party admission allows entrance to the park up to three hours in advance, so take advantage of the savings and the rides.

Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3447; jholtz@heraldnet.com.