How Disney makes Halloween in August work

It was a typical August afternoon in central Florida as we got ready to leave the house—92 degrees, stifling humidity, 80 percent chance of rain.

While it did rain on the first night of the Halloween party it was not enough
to disrupt the evening. 

It was also the first day of Halloween at Disney World, and we were heading off to the season’s first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom.

Yes, Halloween in August. Disney’s effort to capitalize — or cash in — on all things Halloween has brought us to the point when the spooky season starts here before Labor Day. That didn’t stop thousands of people from dressing in costume — face makeup dripping down their jawlines — to join the party.

What’s it like getting into the Halloween spirit more than two months early? Surprisingly easy, once the sun goes down.

We arrived at the Magic Kingdom a little after 4 p.m., when guests who have tickets for the Halloween party are allowed in.

As we got on the Monorail, I admired the people who managed to be in costume without being overdressed for the weather. One pair was dressed as Sully and Mike Wazowski from the Monsters Inc. franchise. Neither costume required much more than a t-shirt and shorts, which is as it should be. Some of the best costume ideas of the day required the least clothing: Tinker Bell, Moana, Pocahantas. (Sorry, guys. May we suggest Gaston, but in shorts? I’m not sure they’d let you in if you arrived as a shirtless Genie.)

The Magic Kingdom is completely decked out for the holiday, with pumpkins and scarecrows lining the streets. Perhaps I was projecting, but they all looked a little wilted and lifeless to me. It wasn’t until after dark that the park really came to life.

The Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular

We took part in the trick or treating, joking that we would save the candy to give out on Halloween. But then we realized the candy could be stale by Halloween — still more than two months away. We also didn’t think about the affect the heat would have on a bag of candy. The milk chocolate in M&Ms doesn’t melt in your hands, it’s true, but it basically turns to liquid inside the candy shell. Suddenly, I became a big fan of Skittles, LifeSavers gummies and Starburst.

What really puts you in the mood for Halloween, though, isn’t the decorations, and it isn’t the trick or treating. It isn’t even the people in costume. It’s the entertainment. The Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, which is only performed during the hard-ticket event, is one of the best castle forecourt shows Disney has ever produced. The parade is packed with fun surprises and characters you won’t find anywhere else. When was the last time you saw Pain and Panic from Hercules? (On my desk at work. But other than that?) The fireworks are still fun, but with the new castle projection technology, there’s all kinds of untapped potential there.

Well past midnight, after the Sanderson sisters took their final bow, I saw a woman dressed head to toe as a dalmatian dog, in what looked very much like fuzzy pajamas. Extremely warm fuzzy pajamas. It was a credit to her that she hadn’t passed out, though how she managed is beyond me. It could be she spent the whole night at Mickey’s Philharmagic.

There is only one more Halloween party scheduled in August (on the 29th), but there’s no guarantee the weather will be any cooler in September. Our tips for going to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in the stifling Florida heat? Unless you have a high tolerance:

  • Bypass the face makeup. You’ll rub it off before the night is over. Two little girls dressed as Chip and Dale had rubbed their painted-on noses off well before parade time. 
  • Dress in light clothing, or a light costume. Think Disney bounding rather than full-on head-to-toe costume. 
  • Bring water. You’ll go broke buying it. You can always ask for a cup of water at counter-service restaurants, but the cups are pretty stingy. 
  • Do your trick-or-treating late at night. Not only is there a better chance for your chocolate to make it home as a solid, not a liquid, but you won’t face massive lines, and the cast members get really generous later at night. 

If starting Halloween in August sends a shiver down your spine, take heart: At least Christmas is hemmed in. Thanks to Halloween, the Christmas season here can’t start any earlier than Nov. 1.