24 October 2011

As Halloween arises

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party has one thing going for it over most other autumn festivities, it is filled with candy, costumes, villains, a parade, and a fantastic fireworks display, but by its very nature it is not out to scare you. What this means is that candy trails are filled with light-hearted displays, featuring favorite characters who may not be seen much throughout the rest of the year, and save for the Haunted Mansion, there are no haunted houses of any sort. I think it’s time to turn that thinking, and thinking about haunted houses in general, on its head.For starters, guest who attend this event year after year often complain about the regular price increases for these hard ticket events paired with the diminishing amount of entertainment and entitlements. Add in, let’s say, a pair of haunted houses and the Magic Kingdom makes great strides in creating more smiles. With added entertainment, which would no doubt be met with monstrous lines, you also increase the possibility that guest, particularly locals, would venture back to the event multiple times a year simply to be able to see it all. In this scenario, everybody wins!

Now, I can hear all of you out there bemoaning the possibility of turning a family-friendly event into something geared more towards the teen and young adult set. Let me tell you right now, I think Universal has that niche locked up down the street, and they put on a terrifically terrifying party that does not need competition. Nor is that the type of event you would seek to host at the Magic Kingdom. So, what type of haunted houses would I want to see in Walt Disney World?

Once upon a time there were plans for Disneyland to have a walkthrough attraction known as the Museum of the Weird. As you might have presumed, this was the prelude to what we know and love as the Haunted Mansion. Yet, this walkthrough of artifacts and spooky locales still has some merit to it. What if, instead of scares and gruesome images guests were able to walk through some villainous lairs or spooktacular sites in the Disney canon.

Sticking with the idea of only two haunted house type venues, each year one of the walkthroughs could involve a new villain’s hideout. Who wouldn’t want to stumble upon the secret passageways of Maleficient’s castle, or examine the creepy ingredients stored in Ursula’s potion cupboard? The possibilities are endless: Hook’s ship, the Old Hag’s dungeon, Hades’ underworld, Facilier’s shop… While the villains would have to make an appearance, if only for photographs with the unworthy peasants, the various chambers of the walkthough could highlight the history and actions of their scheming owners. Through in some goofy, non-threatening henchmen and a few interactive elements (orbs that glow brighter as guests sing louder in Ursula’s cavern, the ability to free lost souls from the Underworld, masks that hold spirits from the Other Side that shake about when touched,…) and you have some family-friendly frights that are sure to please.

On the flip side, the second haunted house area could be dedicated to the King of the Pumpkin Patch. No, I’m not talking about Linus or the Great Pumpkin, I’m speaking about the world of The Nightmare Before Christmas. While a walking tour of Halloween Town, complete with over the top ghoulish residents, would be wonderful, that would become monotonous after a few years. Better yet, how about a tour of individual residences? During the course of the film, we get glimpses into the abodes of Jack, Dr. Finkelstein, and Oogie Boogie. An upclose and personal tour of these houses, not to mention the vampires’ house, Mayor’s office, cemetery, and other inhabitants’ homes we didn’t even get glimpses of, is just what Finkelstein ordered!

Adding in an element from The Nightmare Before Christmas does two things. One, it allows for the world of The Nightmare Before Christmas to be fleshed out in even more detail than ever before. Secondly, it would squelch the grumblings of Walt Disney World fans and guests who have been wallowing in woe for years that they are not granted any type of Haunted Mansion Holiday which can be enjoyed for several months a year by our Disneyland brethren.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party has, and continues to be, the marquee family event of the fall in Florida. Yet, it is high time put some boogie in those old bones! There is no need to compete with the blood curdling screams found further on down I-4, but there is a way to bring some more family sized scares to the Magic Kingdom. This may only be a figment of my imagination, but I can only hope that this is one nightmare that finds a way to come to life!


Rich T. said...

Awesome ideas! I'm thinking of the creepier portions of the refurbed Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthrough at Disneyland--particularly the part with the rattling doors and the goons popping up from behind the barred windows...and Maleficent's shadow at the end...

These would be just the right level of scare for Disney Halloween walkthroughs! The possibilities are truly endless, and I love all your examples!

Mr Toad fan said...

I've been lucky to have had the chance to see both Disney World and Disneyland's Halloween parties, both were a hoot, but WDW was the best by far. In either case, well worth the trip is to see the Haunted Mansion updated trip on the wild side, as I like to call it.

A castle walk through would be a great idea! Maybe dress up the carousel horses in costumes??