Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

I have more pictures from Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Friday night to share, plus a teensy bit of Disney ranting to do - so let's get to it!!

First, behold the awesome adorableness that is my friends Chris & Christie dressed as little Carl & Ellie from UP:

Behold the adorableness. I said, BEHOLD IT!

(I love this picture, graininess and all. These two are just so fun to photograph.)

Oh, and Christie made that big Adventure Book hollow so just could use it as a purse. How genius is that?! She also made custom bottle cap pins that say "CNC Pop" for their initials. LOVE.

Christie is also the reason we even went to the party at all this weekend. I was in a funk thinking the hurricane had ruined everything, but then Christie convinced me to come out anyway. It was definitely windy, but happily there was no rain!

Now, when you're used to convention-quality costumes, MNSSHP is definitely a bit of a let down. Ninety percent of what you see is straight off the shelves at Party City - and I was mildly horrified to see more than a few "sexy" costumes on young girls, and at least one guy in a giant foam Beer costume. (That disapproval I'm feeling means I'm getting old, doesn't it? Pretty soon I'll be shaking a cane through the window and yelling at imaginary kids to get off my lawn. Heh.)

Still, that just makes the occasional homemade costume so much more special - and especially ones with a twist:
 See what I did there? :)

Feast your eyes on this, Dizgeeks: it's a Dole Whip gal - holding a Dole Whip. WOOT! It was so dark when I took this you couldn't see the stripes in her hat, so I was delighted later on to see that it matched her shirt. (And yes, that's a real Dole Whip - we caught her right outside the window.)

I also spotted a hipster Snow White:

Another convention vs theme park difference: almost no one asks for pictures. The few I did ask seemed mildly shocked, and most people were so timid with John that they'd exclaim and point from a distance rather than ask for a pic.

Believe it or not, I even found an adorable girl Figment! Here she is with John:

Just to be clear: That's not me.  :) I can't tell you how long I looked for lavender pants, though, before giving up and having John make me a dress instead. (Pics are coming! I promise!)

It'd been a few years since our last Halloween party, and I have to say I was disappointed by some of the changes. [PREPARE FOR THE JEN RANT.] To keep my negativity manageable, though, I will sprinkle fun parade photos throughout:

First and foremost, it felt a lot more crowded than our previous years, so I can only guess they've increased the numbers of tickets they sell. It used to be these special parties had attendance caps that kept the park relatively crowd-free, but Friday night felt as crowded as any peak season day. The extra crowds mean you just can't do as much as you'd like, and with only five hours to see it all that adds a lot of extra pressure/stress. I felt like I'd run a marathon by the end of the night, and we barely managed 15 minutes to see the new Fantasyland area!

 Tick tock!

Next they shrunk the candy bags by half (that little bag Figment up there is holding) and were surprisingly stingy with the candy. I know it seems silly to complain about candy, of all things, but I remember being so delighted by the CMs shoveling out treats with both hands in our prior years. Now they carefully give out 4 or 5 pieces at a time, tops. (And they gave out boxes of raisins, y'all. NOT COOL.) With the extra crowds, that means you could wait ten minutes in line for a few Tootsie Rolls and a lollipop, which really doesn't feel worth it. (Yeah, I just dissed Tootsie Rolls. Sorry.)

On top of that, the candy bags had non-Disney coupons in them and were plastered with movie advertisements, which made them feel more like corporate-sponsored giveaways than something that's supposed to be included "for free" with your $65 ticket. ($60 if you pre-order)

We didn't have a spare second to go on any rides, but for those who did, not all the rides were open. Jungle Cruise was blocked off completely with these big black light Tiki heads:

 JC used to be one of my favorite nighttime rides, so that was a shame to see.

Like I said, the five hours you get in the park really zips by, so if you want to get candy and see the parade, stage show, and fireworks then odds are you won't get to go on any rides at all. Photos with characters eat up your precious time, too; we tried queuing up for a pic with the Seven Dwarfs, but after ten minutes only two families had gone through - and there were at least 20 more people in front of us in line. Rather than spend our precious last hour in line, we gave up and left.

The Halloween fireworks are Ok; the soundtrack is all classic Disney tunes reworked into bubblegum pop versions, so it's lacking the grandeur shows like Wishes have. The ending is pretty spectacular, though, so at least they nailed the finale.

The stage show is also Ok. Nothing spectacular, but it's always fun seeing the villains come out and boogie:

The best thing by far at MNSSHP is the parade, and I tell everyone to see it at least once in their lifetime. (The parade runs twice at each Party, and I always try to see both.) It's the only place you'll see the Headless Horseman galloping out on a midnight black steed, or the ghostly ballroom dancers, or the graveyard caretaker walking his big basset hound bloodhound through the streets:

Sorry for the blur.

In fact, it's the whole Haunted Mansion section of the parade that makes it so amazing. After the caretaker comes my personal favorite: the Mansion butlers who draw sparks on the road with their shovels:
Here's another shot from the first parade that shows the sparks a bit better:

After the butlers come the gorgeous and ghoulish ballroom dancers, who stagger and loll their way through a jerky waltz:

Lastly, the three famous hitch-hiking ghosts move with animatronic perfection, to the point it's hard to believe they're actually live actors:

 The back of their float is even prettier than the front:

So, to wrap up my not-so-little rant: I don't think I'll go back to MNSSHP next year. When you consider that a full day's ticket only costs about $15 more, I just don't think these 5 hours and the parade (which hasn't changed in years) are worth the expense. Disney keeps chipping away at the little things - like the free photo they used to include with your ticket - and raising the prices, so until they introduce something more I think I'll just stick with the Christmas Party each year.

I can't wait to head back to the Kingdom later, though, to see more of the new Fantasyland area. (Nice video tour at that link.) The few minutes we managed to get over there were awesome:

 I am definitely coming back here with the tripod.

The new Be Our Guest restaurant closed before we could see it, but we did race into Gaston's Tavern to try the new "LaFou's Brew," Disney's version of Butterbeer.

The brew mostly tastes like an apple juice slushie, although I'm sure there's probably some other fruit juices mixed in, too. The foam on top tastes like a creamy Passion Fruit sorbet, and isn't quite as sweet. I liked it really well mixed in with the apple slush, but our friend Chris made a face and said the foam tasted like soap. Ha!

So there you have it: our night at MNSSHP, a Jen rant, and soapy fruit foam. :D

I'll leave you with my favorite castle shot of the night:

Hope you enjoyed!

UPDATE: A reader asked me to post that last castle shot over on DeviantArt so she could buy a print of it. (And if you ever want to make my head swell, that's how!) So in case anyone else would like a copy, you can see all the different sizes available here!


  1. How do you get your night shots so crisp? Mine end up blurry because I set the shutter speed to be longer so that it picks up more light. Maybe I'm just wobbly!

  2. Lovely pictures! I really like the first one. I feel MNSSHP would be a great event for me because I am definitely not one for scares and gore. Haunted houses? No thank you!

    On a side note, how much did the hurricane hit you guys? I'm in Maryland and we're already getting the rain and are preparing for the full blast tomorrow. Schools have already been canceled for tomorrow.

  3. I wonder of the soapy foam had cilantro in it? It's not uncommon to mix that with certain fruits, and for some unfortunate people, cilantro tastes like dish soap (or so I hear, I love it).

    The photos are lovely, I'm sad to hear that the Party has been scaled down and overcrowded.

  4. @ Anony - our camera & lens have extremely high ISOs (up to 3200, I think), which allows me to get much better night shots. Even then, most of mine were super blurry, too; I just picked out the ones that turned out ok!

    @ Shannon - it was really windy Friday night, but that was it - no rain. Right now it's actually sunny, so I'm not sure when the weather will turn on us. Be safe up there!

  5. We looked for you last night but the party was so crowded we never found you.

    We did get to see the enchanted story time with belle and the little mermaid ride, both were fantastic!

    I totally agree with you about some of your party complaints, this was my family's 5th and maybe final MNSSHP.

  6. Love the pics--the girl as a Dole Whip cracked me up. My world have finally collided with you linking to the DIS. I've never gone to MNSSHP, but I am sad to hear that it's declining. :(
    Can't wait to see Jen's costume!

  7. Just as an FYI:Disney usually lets people with MNSSHP tickets in as early as 4:00. We did this and it gave us 3 hours to ride all of our favorites before hitting up the festivities. We missed the parades because we were standing in character lines. After seeing your pics of it, I'm sad we missed it.

  8. Shelley in So. IllinoisOctober 28, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Oh my goodness! That last castle shot is awesome! Really, really, awesome! I agree with the stinginess of Disney. And it isn't a day trip for our family at all. If we don't go and stay for a week, why even bother.

    I can't wait to see your dragon costume!

  9. We went to the party last Thursday, and we have a similar rant to yours. We haven't been to the party for a few years, and were definitely disappointed to find out that it was so scaled down, and that they were SO stingy with the candy.In fact, it was even difficult to FIND the candy stations, and the lines were long when you did. They have doubled the price from what it used to be, and they no longer have the free picture. We were looking forward to that pic and were upset to find out they no longer did it. :( And I agree, there was a much larger crowd than prior years. They totally sell more tickets than before. The waits were rather long for some of the rides. The one nice thing is that my son had fun, he loved the parade and the rides that we did get to go on (including Pirates, when the ride stopped in the dark for 20 minutes with no explanation- another story altogether)I won't go to that event again unless they give you more for your money (I know, a girl can dream!)

  10. I've never lived anywhere near a Disney park so I don't have memories of going as a kid. I really enjoy reading about your enthusiasm for it though and getting to see pictures of the characters and events.

    Also these nighttime shots are fantastic. For really high ISO they aren't too grainy.

  11. I'll have to play with my ISO then a bit. I'm new to this all photography stuff but have a nice camera for convention shots. It's the night stuff that kills me!

    I will use your good shots as inspiration. :)

  12. It looks like fun, but I'm sorry to hear that it didn't measure up to past years. I've also heard other people say that in recent years the quality at Disney has gone downhill, which is sad.

  13. My husband and I just got back from a child-free trip to WDW, and I went back and forth about MNSSHP for weeks. We ended up not going, partly because of all the things you mention about the decline. In fact, Friday night we had dinner at Narcoossee's to celebrate our anniversary, and just as a complimentary champagne toast arrived, they dimmed the lights and piped in the fireworks music. Our table was next to a window, so we got to see the whole show (well, aside from the people standing right in front of me obscuring some of the low ones). It almost made up for the fact that we had to wait for three monorails at the Contemporary to get over to the Grand Flo.

  14. We go to the Disneyland Halloween party every year, and although there are a few things that have changed in the past couple years (they started bunching the treat stations together instead of spreading them throughout the park. Feels alot more like standing in line and less like trick-or-treating) they luckily seem to have avoided the problems you had with WDW's MNSSHP. It's funny, because at DL the fireworks are definitely the highlight and the parade is pretty lame, just costumed characters and the same horrible (HORRIBLE!) song over and over again. The WDW parade looks awesome!

  15. Hurray for you handling those crowds! I don't think I could have managed it, and my anxiety doesn't even run to claustrophobia. I'm dying to see your Figment. I haven't been to Disney since the year Epcot opened, and I have fond memories of her!

  16. I went in early September, I think it was the first Friday. We had a great time! We were told we could get in early and we did, at about 4:30pm. We managed to go on all the rides we wanted, some of them several times, and see everything we wanted to. I thought the parade was meh, but the sense of fun around the whole park was really infectious. And we got tons of candy... So maybe it was just an 'off' night or maybe they were more liberal with it earlier on. Also, we didn't even wear costumes! We were on vacation in Orlando heard about MNSSH and went on a lark. I think, in general, most people wear store bought costumes for Halloween and parties so I wasn't surprised people mostly wore them there. But then again I'm not a hardcore dizgeek, but I would definitely recommend it to people!

  17. Beautiful shots of the castle!

  18. You take the best photos, really. I love the castle and fireworks.

  19. Awesome parade pictures! I went to my first MNSSHP this year. I mainly went because my friend was working as a face character, and I really wanted to see him all decked out. The parade was really cool, but I don't think I'll go again unless, like you say, they add more stuff for your money.
    I really liked the brew! I got it all 3 days I was there that it was open! I also mixed it with the foam. I still prefer Butterbeer :)

  20. This was my first year going to MNSSHP, so I have nothing to compare it to. We went a couple weeks ago, and the crowd wasn't bad at all.

    I liked the fireworks, but redoing the songs irritated the heck out of me.

    As for the costumes - I think word has gotten around that Disney actively asks that folks in costume *not* take photos with other people. I had no idea, and it seemed to be enforced only sporadically. But I went as The Red Head, and one guy noticed and asked to take a picture with me. I agreed only to have a cast member walk up and say no, that was allowed. It was pretty odd, so we just walked off a little ways and took it anyway.

    I wish I'd taken a tripod with me for the parade. I didn't expect to have enough room for it, but even standing right against the rope, there was enough to spare. This poor kid near me was scared to death of the guys scraping the shovels against the ground. They get extremely close to the crowd, and he just about lost it when they got to us.

    The candy thing was ridiculous, though, I agree. Again, we went a couple weeks ago and it wasn't crowded. We waited until after the second parade to make our rounds, and there was never more than two people ahead of us. They still had huge amounts of candy left, and I think we got two or three pieces at each station. Mind you, it wasn't just us, either. We had our three year old with us. She was thrilled to be just be there, but still.

    If it were just me, I don't think we'd do it again next year. But my kid had a great time, so we likely will.

  21. The caretaker's makeup is amazing! The caretaker's "big basset hound" = actually a bloodhound. There's one just like him curled up in bed with me right now :) (a bloodhound, not a caretaker!)

  22. Bummer they scaled back, but the parade looked really cool. Oh, and I'm pretty sure that's a bloodhound.

  23. Amazing final picture! It looks like it's a dark and stormy night, but in a spark-filled Fantasia sort of way.

  24. I went to MNSSHP again this year and I think the secret to going is attending in September (I went on the 14th). Drawback is there are not as many people in costumes, but there were hardly any crowds and they were uber generous with the candy! So much our bags were almost overflowing. No raisins either, although we did get bananas at one stop which was kinda nice if not a little weird.

  25. "...I was mildly horrified to see more than a few 'sexy' costumes on young girls..."

    I was also mildly horrified to see more that a few "sexy" costumes on some old broads that shoulda known better. My husband and I were giggling at more than one AARP Alices.

    I concur with your assessment of the MNSSHP - Too crowded, stingy candy, all around "Meh." We are annual passholders, and while it was our first experience with this event, and while my 9yo daughter did enjoy herself, I don't think we will shell out such a large amount on top of our passes again.

  26. Jen, I love every post on your blog! Thank you for all you do.

  27. For pants in unusual colors, try nurse's scrubs. They are almost never figure flattering, but they come in a huge variety of colors.

  28. Jen, I'm sorry it didn't live up to your expectations. But as others have said, the key is to get there at 4, do the stuff like Jungle Cruise and the other rides you MUST ride, and then you can enjoy the party stuff. Then you can get away with one fewer day on your park hopper pass. We went earlier in the season (in September) and the crowds weren't so bad. I hope you have better luck another year. Amazing photos!

  29. That last shot of the castle? OMG...I want to print it and frame it! It doesn't even look real, but it is so gorgeous and I WANT! I also want to be able to take amazing pictures like you do. =)

  30. Omg!! We went in June and I teared up when my daughter got to meet Belle, she is my absolute favorite!! And now I have to go back so I can see her village.

  31. I'm going to have to agree with the previous poster that mentioned going in September. Most of my family (alas, myself not included), went to Disney the week of September 23rd. They had been to the Halloween party before and loved it again. They had no problem getting around. I think they hit every candy station there and still got to go on rides and see the parade and fireworks show. They got TONS of candy, and yes, bananas near the Jungle Cruise.

  32. Will you pretty please with Dole Whip on top put that last castle picture on your DeviantArt so I can buy it?? It's AMAZING! And, it would look so awesome next to the print of Tinker Bell I got this year...

  33. Jen: Did you happen to get a picture of the Headless Horseman? I went to the MNSSHP earlier in the month. It rained out one parade, and they did not have the headless horseman in the parade due to safety issues. I was quite disappointed as that was one of the things that I wanted to see the most. The parade (Haunted Mansion section) made the tickets to the party worth it which is a good thing as thunderstorms postponed the fireworks until 10pm and the parade to 10:45pm. Thanks for sharing all of the great pictures! John's costume was amazing. I can't wait to see your Figment costume!

  34. My mom and I were actually at the party the night before you were. It was very windy, but mostly mild. It was our 4th? (no maybe 3rd) Halloween party, and hands down the LEAST crowded one we had been to. We spent most of the night hunting down characters. We only rode Haunted Mansion and the new Under the Sea (twice because we literally walked on). The longest line we waited in was to take pictures with Maleficent. We had a great time, and if we can afford it we'll probably go again next year.

  35. Thank you so much for posting pictures! I went on October 4th amd there were horrible thunderstorms all night. Everything but the fireworks were cancelled and we didn't get to see a single character. We were also told that the new Fantaseyland parts would be open but it was still behind construction walls. Disappointing all around.

  36. One bonus was the awesome pictures my sister got of the huge black clouds rolling up behind the castle.

  37. @ Joelle - DONE! You can see the print on DeviantArt here, and it looks like they're even offering free shipping until 11/2!

  38. Jen ~ YOU ROCK!! Thanks so much!

  39. I haven't been to MNSSHP since 2010, and we totally ignored the candy stations in order to do things unique to Disney, so I don't know how much candy they gave away back then, but near the exit they did have some big bins of candy and gave away a couple of handfuls to each person as they exited. My little guy appreciated that!

    My favorite part was seeing the costumes. I saw the whole Scooby Doo gang, and a big group of Mouseketeers. The parade, fireworks show and live actors around the Haunted Mansion were fun too. I don't remember getting a free photo, but we did get shots we added to our Photopass.

    Thank you for making your photo available on Deviantart!

  40. I have read a lot of great feedback about Disneyland's Halloween Party, including that people are netting around 40lbs of candy. I would love love love to go to the Disneyland Halloween Party but they didn't do that when I lived there, so I've been attending vicariously through others blogs and photos, etc, so thank you for sharing. And for making me jealous that I'll probably never get to see the Halloween parade in WDW.

  41. Sorry for the delayed comment, but I've been swamped with making my girls Steam-punk Princess costumes (thank you Jen for the inspiration to make something different for Princess. We had a blast and I even went as Maleficent!)
    We went to MNSSSHP last year on our week long trip to Florida. I have to say I LOVED it, but mostly because I didn't know any better. The park was so crowded it took 4 adults to keep track of 3 kids and make sure we were able to stay together. We skipped some candy lines because it just wasn't worth waiting 30 minutes for candy. We went on rides and people watched for the most part and it was a fun way to ring in the Halloween spirit (ha ha). When we go back we are definitely going to have to hit the parade, it looks amazing!

  42. Jen, I love your blog. It truly makes my day. I know I'm a little late to the party (I live in the northeast and haven't had power for 6 days), but I just wanted to let you in on a secret. You mentioned looking for lavender pants. Had you ever thought to look at a hospital supply/scrub company? Most uniform pants are dirt cheap and come in every color of the rainbow. You can get plain ones or cargo ones if you like pockets. Just saying...
    Thanks for making the Internet a better place!

  43. the la fou's brew is frozen apple juice with a bit of toasted marshmallow syrup with a mango passion friut foam i went to MNSSHP like a week before u . i wish i could have met u (: we left from a cruise the day b4 the hurricane hit! yikes !

  44. I'm pretty sure that, deep inside my soul somewhere, I'm that Cruella de Vil. She comes out during grading, wide-eyed, twirling a cape.

  45. I love your blogs. I took my family to MNSSHP in 2011, but we went the very last day on Nov. 1st. It wasn't very crowded, AND we got a ton of candy (maybe they were trying to get rid of it all?). We had a great time at it.

    Maybe Nov 1 would work for you?

  46. Where did your friends get the Up goggle hats?

  47. Hey! How did your friend make the up goggle hats?


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