The Saturday Six is a weekly look at the most interesting, most fun, and sometimes even the most outrageous things within the theme park world that we all love so much. Whether it’s the top six “secrets” of Marvel Superhero Island, a look a the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, or even the craziest food items at Universal, the Saturday Six will be your personal guide to experiencing the very best Orlando has to offer.
This week’s Saturday Six looks at the Top Six Reasons We Loved Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2013.
# 6 – Characters Who Only Come Out During the Party
If you are a fan of rarely seen characters (and judging by the success of Limited Time Magic’s Long Lost Friends week both in WDW and Disneyland, most of you reading this are) MNSSHP is going to satisfy you and then some. The Dapper Dans are out and about as the Cadaver Dans, complete with creepy make-up. Madame Carlotta can be seen in front of the Haunted Mansion, interacting with passers by. Jack Skellington and Sally from Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas have a special (and popular) meet-and-greet. All your favorite characters, like Mickey Mouse and Minnie, are dressed up in their Halloween costumes.
The MNSSHP will also be your chance to get your picture taken with all of Seven Dwarfs at the same time. This unique photo op is one of the most popular things every year at the party, and the line starts to form around 5:30 PM, well before MNSSHP officially begins. If meeting the Seven Dwarfs is on your character bucket list, it’s recommended you just bite the bullet and get in line around 6 PM so that you give up as little party time as possible. If standing in lines for character photos is your thing, then you’re in luck, because MNSSHP has princesses and their princes (such as Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder) meeting guests together, along with villains such as Dr. Facilier, Maleficent, and the Queen of Hearts, that you never run into during a normal day at the park.
While I would not consider myself a big Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom player, I do enjoy many of the cards and can understand why many guests enjoy playing the interactive game. Distributing exclusive cards available only during the hard ticket parties is a great bonus to the guests. This year’s card took up it up a notch and is the first SOTMK card based upon a park attraction, which opens up the door to some interesting options down the line. And what a perfect tie-in: MNSSHP and the Haunted Mansion? Talk about chocolate and peanut butter!
The featured characters on this year’s SOTMK card are none other than the iconic Hitchhiking Ghosts, a trio of spooks synonymous with the Haunted Mansion who are involved in a show stopping special effect near the end of the attraction. In future years will we see Madame Leota, or will Disney possibly target hardcore fans with cards based on the Hatbox Ghost or Constance Hatchaway? When you think of all the classic attractions that could have cards based on characters within them (Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, and more), you realize the opportunity Disney has with this concept down the road.
#4 – Spiced Pumpkin Waffle Sundae
Here at the SATURDAY SIX we consider ourselves fans of theme park snacks, and nothing whets our appetite more than hearing about special food offerings. At this year’s MNSSHP there is a Candy Corn Soft Serve Ice Cream at Storybook Treats, while over in Sleepy Hollow Refreshments you can find a Spiced Pumpkin Waffle Sundae. Morgan Crutchfield has described the Waffle Sundae best by saying it’s, “like a warm pumpkin hug.”
In our culinary opinion, it’s hard to go wrong with anything waffle based (although Taco Bell’s waffle taco may turn out to the be the exception that proves the rule), and when Morgan describes this treat as a,“crispy, warm pumpkin waffle, perfectly spiced and just a little salty, topped with creamy vanilla soft serve and dusted with powdered sugar, cinnamon, and Disney sprinkles,” our hearts leaped with joy. In 2013 the Orlando theme park world was given the Chicken and Waffle Sandwich (at Cletus’ Chicken Shack in Universal Studios Florida), the Belgian Waffle BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich (at SeaWorld‘s Bands, Brews, and BBQ event), and now the Spiced Pumpkin Waffle Sundae. It’s time to officially mark 2013 as a great year for us “foodies” (previously known as “gluttons”).
# 3 – THE CANDY!!
I’m sure there’s a lot of perfectly valid reasons why you shouldn’t bother spending valuable party time walking around the park collecting candy that you could buy in bulk for less than $10 at your local supermarket. Each of the reasons is logical, reasonable, and sensible. My counterpoint is simply two words: FREE CANDY.
Seriously speaking, though, there is just something fun about walking around a theme park with a treat bag and being given scoops of candy. It reminded me of my youth, walking around on Halloween and going door to door for “trick or treat.” Growing up, Halloween just wasn’t a holiday, it was the greatest day of my entire year. Not only was I being given free stuff (like Christmas), but I also got to dress up. However, to paraphrase a line from the movie Step Brothers, I grew up and forgot how to be a dinosaur. Walking along the candy trails at MNSSHP makes me feel like a dinosaur again.
# 2 – Happy HalloWishes
There are fireworks spectaculars and then there are fireworks spectaculars; this is the latter. Happy HalloWishes is my favorite of all of Disney’s night time shows (including Fantasmic! and IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth) as it combines so many great elements into one show. With narration by The Ghost Host (from The Haunted Mansion) and a soundtrack featuring songs they “dug up,” including remixed versions Grim Grinning Ghosts, Poor Unfortunate Souls from The Little Mermaid, and This is Halloween from The Nightmare Before Christmas, it has my attention from beginning to end.
Meanwhile the fireworks take the awesomeness up to “11″ and feature the 180 degree perimeter fireworks that are impossible to describe if you haven’t seen them in person. I’ve seen countless fireworks shows, from Disney and elsewhere, and nothing had the “wow factor” like HalloWishes for me. I’ve come to the point where I consider my sanity while leaving the Magic Kingdom more important than watching the regular “Wishes” show again, so I’ll make my exit before the sea of humanity leaves at the end of that show, but I wouldn’t want to miss one second of Happy HalloWishes; it’s that good.
I’ll be honest: I’ve never seen the draw of parades. In fact, I was always glad for parades at both Disney and Universal because it meant people would be drawn away from the attractions I wanted to go to. After seeing the Boo To You! parade, I get it.
The floats and the walk-around characters throughout the parade were fantastic to watch, and it has a fun and memorable soundtrack. The standouts to me were the spooky gravediggers with their shovels making sparks on the ground and the creepy dancers that Morgan Crutchfield so wonderfully photographed on the left.
I’ve read about the Headless Horseman starting the parade, but seeing him in person is something else. The horse is huge, and seeing him gallop along the parade route brings back the same chills I got growing up and watching Disney’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow (for me one of the five most terrifying movies I have ever watched, and that list includes Jaws.)
So there you have it: the top six reasons we loved the 2013 Mickey’s No So Scary Halloween Party. If you’re looking for some more MNSSHP reading material, be sure to check out Brian McNichols’s article on the Least Crowded MNSSHP dates or the ubiquitous Scarlett Linton’s report from the very first MNSSHP of 2013.
See you next weekend for the latest edition of the Saturday Six! If you had fun, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories and Merch! articles or head on over to the TouringPlans.com Podcast Network and check out Universal NOW! and Pardon the Pixie Dust.
Special thanks to Scarlett Linton, Morgan Crutchfield, and Brandon Glover for their assistance with this article.