Central Florida Horror Vacation, Part 1: Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, 10/28/04

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From October 28 to November 1, 2004, I decided to take a "Horror Vacation." I'd visit the major Halloween events in Central Florida -- Magic Kingdom's Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay's Howl-O-Scream, and SeaWorld's Halloween Spooktacular. Read all about my adventures...

Horror Vacation, Part 1: Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom

Thursday, October 28, 2004

I must admit -- I'm not a Disney fan. When people say they want to me to visit Walt Disney World with them, I get a look in my face like I bit into a lemon. Can we visit Universal Orlando, Sea World, or even Gatorland -- PLEASE? I'm more of a non-Disney theme park fan. I'd rather visit Universal Orlando above all else, in all honesty. The idea of visiting Disney is kind of revolting to me. However, I will visit Disney when friends or family force me to, or when they open something neat and new (a visit to Animal Kingdom is planned when Expedition: Everest opens in 2006). However, to experience the major Central Florida Halloween events, I had to visit a big one: Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.

I had bought my tickets ahead of time for around $35 and booked a room at All-Star Music at a Florida resident rate of $69. I checked in at around 3:45 pm and was in the room by 4:00. I got a room in Building 9, Jazz ("The home of the Blues," the Cast Member who checked me in said). It was a room with a king sized bed, but it was also a handicapped room. The bathroom had no tub, just a shower. It even had a bench to sit down while you bathed! No more standing for me! I'm going to be lazy this time!

After a quick shower I was at the bus stop for the Magic Kingdom at 4:30, on the bus 15 minutes later, and at the Magic Kingdom 30 minutes later. It took some time to load the bus, as the Cast Member bus driver was loading a handicapped guest. I picked up my tickets at Guest Services and was in the Magic Kingdom at around 5:30. A steady stream of people were leaving and entering the park. As I entered, I got a wristband so they knew I was here for the Halloween party and a small bag for trick or treating. I wonder if I could fill up this bag. We will see!

People were wandering around in costume. This event and Sea World's Halloween party are the only two events at theme parks where you can visit the parks in costume. I came in costume-less. I wanted to come in as the Microsoft Borg. I would have had the Microsoft logo on my eyepiece and wandered around saying, "Resistance to Windows is futile. You will be assimilated." However, my costume-making skills and my imagination didn't work hand in hand. Maybe next year...

I headed to Tomorrowland and rode Space Mountain first. The wait was 5 minutes. I don't think I've ever seen a 5-minute wait, beyond E-Nights. Usually, I have to grab a Fastpass for Space Mountain because the line is usually over 30 minutes. After a spin around the universe and past the chocolate chip cookies, I headed to Buzz Lightyear's Space Spin, which had a 5-minute wait too. I defeated the cardboard cutouts and scored 550,000 points. My thumb hurt at the end of the ride. Before the main party began, I decided to get something to eat. It started to rain too, so I needed somewhere to hide until it stopped. I couldn't waste my time eating when 7 pm rolled around and the good stuff started happening! I had a cheeseburger at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. While I was eating, some kid in a Batman costume kept on running up to me, started at me for a few seconds, and ran away. The real Batman would not be so intimidated!

It was getting close to 7 pm and Tomorrowland was having a costume parade. I did some trick or treating around Tomorrowland and then headed to the parade. The costume parade area was in a quiet area in the back of Tomorrowland. The MC's for this event were two aliens from a far-away planet (France, I suppose). Kids were paraded in front of the crowd so the MC's could oooohhh and aaahhh at them. There were a lot of kids in Disney costumers (obviously, considering where we're at!), but there were a lot of other non-Disney characters in the mix. Two kids dressed up like the Boston Red Sox, which was timely considering the Red Sox won the World Series the night before. Another kid dressed up in his Karate outfit. One of the MC's pointed out that it was not a costume, but an actual Karate outfit with a real belt. After the parade, the kids started doing a dance called "The Martian Hop." Now this became sickenly sweet and I was wasting valuable ride time by watching this, so I left for Fantasyland.

I went through three Fantasyland rides in 15 minutes, which is pretty much unheard of on a regular Magic Kingdom day (unless you arrive at opening). First up was The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which had a few minutes wait. After experiencing a blustery day and Winnie the Pooh trip out on some "wacky Honey," it was time for Snow White's Scary Adventures. It had a few minutes wait too. The ride seemed a lot darker than I recall. The Nightshot on my camcorder had a hard time seeing anything on this dark dark ride. The last ride in Fantasyland was Peter Pan's Flight and it had a five-minute wait. Oh, the humanity! Lines are getting too long! Dogs and cats will be living together soon! I rode it and swooped over London and Neverland (but I did not see Michael Jackson).

During my Fantasyland rides, I kept on encountering a guest who was dressed up as a deviled egg. His costume was a big sunny side up egg with horns. It was a neat costume, but he said that he had trouble hearing since part of his outfit covered his ears. He would not have been able to escape assimilation from the Microsoft Borg, though!

I did some trick or treating at the Small World Treats in front of It’s a Small World. Too bad it was down for rehab…or maybe not. The song won’t be stuck in my head all night!

The Boo to You Halloween parade was going to start at 8:00 and it was already 7:45, so I staked out a spot for the parade in front of Cinderella's Castle. The parade didn't start until 8:10. To keep themselves entertained, kids and Cast Members were dancing in the streets. I heard that the Headless Horseman was going to make a run through the parade route, but no one galloped down the street. The evil characters like Cruella De Ville and the Big Bad Wolf were having a meet and greet in front of the castle.

I must admit that Disney knows how to do parades. There were many spectacular floats, like the Villains float and Hades' float. The best part of the parade was the dancing Haunted Mansion butlers. They had these shovels that they would scrape against the ground and make big sparks. The worst part was the "Home on the Range" float. I endured the movie's suckiness when I watched it as a rental. Why do you punish me again, Disney?

Cinderella's Surprise Celebration was going to begin at 8:50, so I claimed my spot in front of the castle for it. The celebration was basically Cinderella and her friends opening up gifts. This was sickenly sweet to me until the villains came. I wished that they would defeat the good guys, but the good guys prevailed in the end. Boo!

Next up were the fireworks at 9:15. I claimed my space in the middle of the street in Main Street, USA. This was the only fireworks show of the night, so I couldn't miss it. Another thing that Disney does well are fireworks. Although the show was a short 5 minutes, what a 5 minutes it was. I especially liked the “CircleVision fireworks,” where they shot several fireworks that surrounded the castle.

I headed to Adventureland after the fireworks. I went to the Jungle Cruise. The queue was pretty deserted and I waited a few minutes for my ride. The ride is interesting in the dark, since the only illumination comes from the boat. It seems like the show scenes have no special lighting. I haven’t ridden the Jungle Cruise in a long time, yet I still know most of the skipper’s jokes. On cue, most of the guests groaned at these jokes.

I hit the trick or treat stand in Adventureland and then headed to Pirates of the Caribbean. This ride, too, had a few minutes wait. It was a fun ride, but at the end, the boats stacked up and I saw the jail scene over and over again. I’ll take being stuck at the jail scene rather than being stuck at any scene at It’s a Small World any day!

I entered Frontierland and rode Splash Mountain. The second Boo to You Halloween parade was about to start. The posted wait was 5 minutes, but that was the time just to walk through the empty queue. The ride was nearly void of guests. In fact, they were sending out a lot of empty logs. I even got a whole log to myself! I suppose the queue was practically empty because everyone else was watching the parade. It was pretty amazing to watch part of the parade from Splash Mountain. The drop in the dark seemed more intense because you couldn’t see where you were falling -- you just felt that you were falling.

I went to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which had a few minutes wait. They were running both sides, but it seemed only one train was running. No matter – there was hardly any line! This coaster seems more intense in the dark because, like Splash Mountain, you couldn’t really see where you were going, but you could feel it.

Surviving the wildest ride in the wilderness requires a treat…trick or treating, that is! I went to the trick or treat booth at the Tom Sawyer Island boat station. This was the longest line for trick or treating I’ve been in all night. It took me about 5 minutes to get through the line. At other trick or treat stations, I would only wait less than a minute, even if the line were long. Maybe these Cast Members need a lesson in efficiency!

It isn’t a Halloween party until you ride the Haunted Mansion. Sure, you can watch the fireworks or see the parade, but nothing at this Halloween celebration is scary besides the Haunted Mansion. OK, so the Haunted Mansion is more of a fun scary rather than a Halloween Horror Nights scary, but it’s still scary. The Haunted Mansion had the longest wait all night long – 10 minutes. The outside queue area was very foggy. I think it was too foggy because I had trouble seeing where I was going. The inside queue area was pretty packed. The ride also stopped several times during the ride. Still, the Haunted Mansion is a fun and spooky ride.

I went into Mickey’s Toontown Fair for some more trick or treating. Toontown Fair had the most trick or treat stations in the whole park. Other lands had one or two station. Toontown had four (or at least that’s how many I encountered there). While in Mickey’s Toontown Fair, I had to ride the only ride there – the Barnstormer. I had no wait for this ride. I walked right on, strapped myself in, and took a wild ride on this kiddie coaster.

I went back into Tomorrowland to double dip at the two trick or treat stations there. My feet were feeling very tired, so I decided to take a ride on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. This ride isn’t the fastest, most crowded, or even the best ride in the park, but I’m game for anything that will get me off my feet for 10 minutes. The Hall of Presidents wasn’t open. If it were, I’d be taking a nap in there!

It was approaching midnight, so it was time to leave. I walked to the bus for All Star Music and took a nap on my ride back to the hotel. My candy bag was half full. I was quite surprised about the bounty that I collected!

I must say that for someone who doesn’t like Disney, I had the most fun I’ve ever had at a Disney park during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party. I think I had fun because I hardly waited in line and it was pretty fun collecting candy around the park. The candy was all free too! It’s about time I got something free from Disney!

I crawled into bed in my All Stars Music room, wondering how I will survive Halloween Horror Nights tomorrow night.

In part 2, I experience the R.I.P. tour of Halloween Horror Nights.

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