As you walk through Walt Disney
World's Magic Kingdom these days and encounter all of those construction
fences for the Fantasyland expansion project it's kind of hard to imagine what
this part of the theme park will look like in just a few years.
But me? I can't help but look at the attractions that
Fantasyland already has and wonder what this place would have been like if the
Imagineers had been allowed to build the dark rides that they had originally
designed for this section of the Magic Kingdom.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
You see, WED's original plan for "The Florida Project" was
that Disney World's theme park shouldn't just be filled with clones of popular
Disneyland rides but instead the Magic Kingdom should feature significant
improved versions of Anaheim favorites (EX: "The Hall of Presidents" versus
"Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln") or - when possible -- entirely new
attractions (EX: "Western River Expedition" instead of "Pirates of the
And as for the Fantasyland portion of the Magic Kingdom, the
Imagineers had originally wanted this land to have three brand-new dark rides.
With a "Mary Poppins" -themed attraction serving as a substitute for "Peter
Pan's Flight," a thrilling "Sleeping Beauty" ride-thru replacing "Snow White's
Scary Adventures" and a "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" dark ride standing in for
"Mr. Toad's Wild Ride."
Unfortunately, as the cost of turning 43 square miles of Central
Florida swampland into "The Vacation Kingdom of the World" began to escalate
(Executives back in Burbank had originally budgeted $100 million for the
construction of Walt Disney World. By the time construction of Phase One of
this project was completed, the Company would have spent over $400 million) Disney
ordered across-the-board cost cutting in the late 1960s. This meant - wherever
possible - the Imagineers had to reuse ride ideas & technologies that had
previously been used at Disneyland.
And that is how those "Mary Poppins," "Sleeping Beauty" and
"Legend of Sleepy Hollow" rides wound up getting junked. Though a wee bit of
Washington Irving did eventually manage to make it into the Magic Kingdom,
thanks to that Sleepy Hollow quick-service dining location in Liberty Square
(which - FYI - is actually modeled after Irving's estate in Tarrytown, NY).
But even so, I've always wondered what that "Legend of
Sleepy Hollow" dark ride would have been like. How it would have felt to be
pursued through those dark & twisty forest by the Headless Horseman.
Well, if you're like me and have a fondness for this Disney
Villain who doesn't have a good head on his shoulders ... you can actually get to
see the Headless Horsemen ride through the Magic Kingdom on select nights
September through November if you purchase a ticket to Mickey's Not-So-Scary
Photo by Kent Phillips. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Now it's important to stress here that if you're thinking
about attending this seasonal Walt Disney World favorite that admission to Mickey's
Not-So-Scary Halloween Party does require a separate ticket. So if you've only
got a standard Disney World Park Ticket and/or Annual Pass, you won't be
allowed to stay inside of the Magic Kingdom after 7 p.m. Which - thanks to special
lighting, music and effects - is completely transformed into this not-so-Sleepy
Hollow that's then loaded with all sorts of kid-friendly Halloween-themed
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party features all sorts of
special entertainment. With one of the real high points being Happy
HalloWishes, the seasonal fireworks spectacular where some of Disney's greatest
villains appear to go trick-or-treating in the sky.
Photo by Gene Duncan. Copyright Disney Enterprises,Inc. All rights reserved
Better yet, because only a limited number of Guests are
allowed to attend each presentation of Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, you'll
almost be guaranteed a curbside seat for Mickey's "Boo-to-You" Halloween Parade.
The party features some of those 999 ghosts & ghouls from The Haunted
Mansion as well as many of your favorite Disney characters clad in special
And did I mention that "Boo-to-You" kicks off with a
spectral appearance by the Headless
Horseman? Who charges through that theme park while riding on this nightmarishly
big black steed?
Which - admittedly - isn't as cool as the Magic Kingdom having its very own
"Legend of Sleepy Hollow" dark ride. But you have to admit that an actual appearance
by the Headless Horseman is still pretty cool.
Anyway, if you'd like to stay a-head of the competition and
make sure that you score tickets to the 2010 edition of Mickey's Not-So-Scary
Halloween Party, know this: this super-popular seasonal event does sell out
annually, especially for those dates that are closest to October 31st.
So, if you want to get in on all the after-hours fun, purchasing a ticket now
for Not-So-Scary would be a very bright idea.
Photo by Kent Phillips. Copyright Disney Enterprises,Inc. All rights reserved
The 2010 series of parties officially gets underway next
Tuesday night , September 14th and will be presented on the
And if you're looking for a bargain when it
comes to tickets to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Orlando Fun Tickets is now
offering admission for 10% off of what you'll pay at the main gate for select
dates in September. If you'd like more information about this discounted
admission material, please click here.
I agree ... the Headless Horsemen riding throught Magic Kingdom is one of my all time favorites in WDW. It's really so impressive to see him thundering through the park, Ride of the Valkyries blasting in the background ... and the parade itself is a must-see. The soundtrack and floats are just out of this world. A total must-do if you're in town at the right time.
Completely agree, Ian!
I brought my wife (then my girlfriend) to Orlando in October 2006 with the express purpose of visiting Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights event; we thought we'd go to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party because it was going on at the time, but it was really more of an afterthought. We've since been back to Orlando in October in '08 and '09 (and would be there this year, too, if we didn't have an 8 1/2-month old), and the roles were completely reversed: MNSSHP is the "must do" event, while we consider Halloween Horror Nights if there's enough time!
If any readers have considered visiting the Magic Kingdom to attend the party but haven't gotten to do it for whatever reason, you have to give it a shot. The fireworks are great, the parade is arguably their best, the character access is terrific (when else can you get a picture with Snow White and all 7 Dwarves?) and the theming is wonderful. Plus, there's candy...lots & lots of candy.
PS -- I hope no one gets the idea that I'm bad-mouthing Halloween Horror Nights, which I think is spectacular (though expensive -- have to buy the Express Pass or else you'll miss a lot). It's obviously for a much different audience than is MNSSHP (definitely not for kids or, as it turns out, my wife!), but if you're looking for a more hardcore horror experience on Halloween, you'd be hard pressed to find better than Universal.
I would go even farther on the parade ... I think it IS their best. I absolutely adore Spectromagic and Main Street Electrical Parade (nostalgia city!), but the MNSSHP parade beats them both. I have the soundtrack and I'll tell you I probably listen to it once or twice a week at least.
Funny that you mention listening to the parade's soundtrack -- I filmed the 2009 "Boo To You!" parade and put the three clips (1 of the Headless Horseman, 1 of the beginning of the parade up to the Haunted Mansion grave diggers, and 1 of the parade's finale) on YouTube, and I find myself watching them from time-to-time, especially now with the event scheduled to start up again next week.
I am definitely going to miss it this year!
(minor plug, my YouTube ID is "GroteABot", in case anyone is interested in checking out the footage)
Also, one other thing: in my original post, I wrote, "I brought my wife (then my girlfriend) to Orlando in October 2006...". That should probably have read, "I brought my wife (who was, at the time, my girlfriend) to Orlando in October 2006..." -- people could have taken that the wrong way, lol!
Headless horsemen and candy too. Not only is the Halloween party a great place to see the headless horseman ride, kids can actually trick or treat in the park. Guests can get a whole bunch of great candy. Disney even provides the bags (there kinda small though).
It's a great way to spend an evening.
The event is so good I wrote a travel guide that has a 1/3 devoted just to Not so Scary!
Where would you recommend sitting for the Halloween parade and fireworks?
Actually, if you can only go to WDW for one day (for money or other reasons) the Halloween Party is a great idea (and it is cheaper than a single day admission). We have been to the party on a Saturday four separate times over three different years and have never had to wait for more than 5 minutes for anything. They allow party guests to mix in with regular guests at 4pm so this year we did every attraction that would be closed during the party. During the party, we made it on Space, Thunder, and Mansion multiple times without any wait at all. Even Peter Pan is nearly empty and that is a good indicator of wait times. Even when it is a bit more busy, 8 hours at the park is a good amount of time.
The rest of the event is excellent as well. The atmosphere is festive and the lighting is nice. Like all Magic Kingdom fireworks, HalloWishes is good and ends with in-the-round shots. The free candy everywhere is awesome and lots of people young and old dress up.
Boo to You is absolutely one of my favorite Disney parades. The floats and characters are great. In addition, the soundtrack is absolutely infectious. It is equal to or perhaps even more infectious than "it's a small world" or Main Street Electrical Parade. Nearly every guest and cast member along the parade route dances to the parade (sometimes without even noticing they are bopping up and down!) And as noted, the Headless Horseman riding through is impressive and even slightly intimidating.
I have been to all of the theme park Halloween events in Florida (Universal's, Busch Gardens', SeaWorld's, and Cypress Gardens when it was around) and would give this the win hands down. I do enjoy Howl-o-Scream for the scare events but Mickey's Halloween Party is true fun for everyone. You will never find a time at the Magic Kingdom that is less stressful and more fun.
We went last night, 26 October 2010. It was bad. Nothing like last year's. We have a 4 y.o. boy and a 23 month old girl and attendants, excuse me, cast members, were actually mean to them on several occasions. That, plus the huge crowds, and many 50 - 60-ish attendees with no costume or children adults being surly and even rude was a bad let down for our family. The children were so looking forward to this and instead just asked to go home.
Speaking of the park's cast members two incidents stand out:
1) While leaving the Pirates of the Caribbean ride the exit attendant handed my 23 month old (toddler) daughter a piece of candy and said "Say thank you..." 3 times to her. When my (tired and bewildered) daughter didn't answer the attendant snapped "Fine, no more candy for you!". It was 2 hr.s past my daughter's bedtime and she did not know where the candy came from as the cast member was in a booth. All my daughter saw was a wooden wall with a hand come down with a lollipop in it.
2) My son and daughter spent 30 minutes dancing at the Woody's Happy Harvest Roundup, Diamond Horseshoe Review, Liberty Square. It was great and we took many good photos. Upon leaving there were two portly female cast members handing out candy from a barrel. Children were coming in from outside, collecting large handfuls of candy and leaving. My son had not brought his candy bag in with him and went outside to retrieve it from our stroller. When he came back in and went in line one of the attendants said "you have to dance for the candy first" to him. Well, he'd been in there for the last 30 minutes dancing, so they had to have seen him. So mommy, not wanting him to be disappointed told him to dance if he wanted candy, which he did. Whereupon the attendant aka cast member dropped one lollipop into his bag. My son was made to dance for candy, as if performing for two Einsatzgruppen candy matrons.
I'll sum it up with this comparison. There was a local carnival last week. All day rid armbands were $15. During the carnival my son said he liked the carnival better than the Magic Kingdom. When asked why he said "because they have rides here". All he remembers from the Magic Kingdom is long lines, short rides and mean adults (both "cast members" and attendees).
I think were don't with Disney and their Teamster thugs for a while.