• Jenny Penland

Halloween Coast to Coast Challenge ‣ Disneyland vs. Disney World!

Having been lifelong pass members at Disney World, we're going to compare Boo Nights AND the traditional Not So Scary party (even though it isn't happening this year) with Oogie Boogie Bash and the other celebrations at the Disneyland Resort.


Overview of the Parties

Oogie Boogie Bash is a special ticketed event that takes place on select nights from September 9th to October 31st, from 6:00 to 11:00 p.m., with guests being allowed to mix-in at 3:00 p.m. Tickets range from $116 to $169 per person.




Disney After Hours Boo Bash is a special ticketed event that takes place on select nights from August 10th through October 31st, from 9:00 or 9:30 p.m. to midnight or 12:30 a.m., depending on the date. On select nights, guests may mix in at 7:00 p.m. Tickets range from $129 to $199 per person.




Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party was a special ticketed event that took place from mid August through the first weekend of November. It officially kicked off at 7:00 p.m. and ended at midnight or 1:00 a.m., with guests usually being allowed to enter around 4:00 p.m. Tickets ranged from $74 to $135 per person.





Ranking: (1) Mickey's Not So Scary, (2) Oogie Boogie Bash, (3) Disney After Hours Boo Bash.


Although ticket prices can be expected to increase each year, especially with the high demand and limited capacity brought about by Covid, it's always nice to feel like the extra money spent on special events was worth it. There was a little more to do at MNSSHP than there is at Oogie Boogie, and an extra hour to do it, but given that it's (at least for 2020/2021) a thing of the past, we still have to take OBB over DAHBB.


Frankly, the pricing and time of the Boo Bash is more akin to Villains After Dark than a true Disney Halloween Party, and while we love those too, we feel they cater more towards the older crowd than the traditional events. For families with kiddos that tucker out far before midnight, the ticket price may not be worth it.


Trick or Treat Trails

Oogie Boogie Bash knocked it out of the park this year with their eight immersive trick-or-treating trails! Each one featured a rare character interaction and stage set that rivaled some of the parade floats and shows. Not only that, but they gave you SO much loot! Not just candy, but healthy snacks and temporary tattoos with Nightmare Before Christmas Characters!




Disney After Hours Boo Bash also has eight trick-or-treat stations, offering candy and allergen-free options, which can be redeemed at the Allergy-friendly Center (Liberty Square Ticket Office) next to the Hall of Presidents, using the teal tokens offered in the regular lines. Same as MNSSHP, these are just walk through lines scattered throughout the parks.


Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Mostly the same feel as Boo Bash, but offered fourteen trick-or-treating locations, with a few slightly more interactive options.




Ranking: (1) Oogie Boogie Bash, (2) Mickey's Not So Scary (3) Disney After Hours Boo Bash.


There is just no topping the immersive trick-or-treat trails unveiled this year at Oogie Boogie Bash! I cannot overstate how cool it was. Even though I'm sure part of the quick, walk-by interaction was owed to mask policies and social distancing, it honestly made so much sense, COVID aside. I am not a huge candy person and have only ever gone through the lines to appease Kennedy (and Marissa, and Dallas, and Natalie) but being able to interact with cult-classic characters like Sid and the Mad Hatter made the trails the best part of the party, even for me! Honestly, what more could you ask for than to be insulted by the new Cruella, herself?!


Decor

Oogie Boogie Bash and Disneyland Resort: Both of the parks and Downtown Disney are decked out for all of fall, but there were tons of special party decorations and lighting, exclusive to the nighttime celebrations. For instance, the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail transforms at dusk into "Villains Grove," an enchanted forest featuring mystical lights, sights and sounds. In California Adventure, Radiator Springs becomes Radiator Screams and there are hundreds of hand-carved pumpkins (which get lit each night) down Main Street of Disneyland. There are also special changes to certain rides during Disney Halloween Time - Guardians of the Galaxy becomes Monsters After Dark at Disney California Adventure and Haunted Mansion gets converted to the home of Jack and Sally, from Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas."





Disney After Hours Boo Bash hosts the same decor we've all grown to love from the last several years of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Fall foliage and garland, Mickey Pumpkins, and even some new ones shaped like Cinderella's Carriage adorn the streets and buildings - it's quaint and traditional, but also pretty much the same as the entrance/"regular areas" of Disneyland, so after seeing how much California goes all out with special parts of both parks, it's leaves us wanting more.





Ranking: (1) Oogie Boogie Bash, (2) Mickey's Not So Scary (3) Disney After Hours Boo Bash.



Attractions

Oogie Boogie Bash Most of the regular attractions stay open for the party (21 total) and there are also seasonal ride updates at Guardians of the Galaxy - Monsters After Dark, as well as Luigi's Honkin' Haul-O-Ween and Mater's Graveyard JamBOOree in Cars Land. Disneyland did such a great job limiting capacity that none of the lines seemed to exceed twenty minutes except for Radiator Springs Racers. BUT Kennedy and I went through as single-riders and were able to walk right on!


Disney After Hours Boo Bash Over twenty rides stay open for Boo Bash, with much shorter wait times than a regular day.




Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Over twenty rides stay open for Boo Bash, with much shorter wait times than a regular day, and certain rides offered special Halloween "twists" (Monster's Inc, Space Mountain, Mad Tea Party, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion) that added to the spooks and thrills.


Ranking: (1) Oogie Boogie Bash, (2) Mickey's Not So Scary (3) Disney After Hours Boo Bash.


I know sometimes seasonal updates dissuade visitors who want the "true" first park experience, but I would LOVE to see Walt Disney World follow its sister's lead and REALLY modify a ride or two during the fall. On the other hand, even though I loved the Monsters After Dark version of the Guardian's of the Galaxy Ride, I am appalled that it permanently replaced Tower of Terror. So WDW, please never do this. (And if for some godforsaken reason you do, totally gut the tower. Do not just slap some Marvel logos and memorabilia on the walls and call it a day. I mean seriously...)


All three parties offer wayyyyyy shorter ride times and it really is worth it to get to do so much in such a short time, during a cool (cooler?) fall night. As always, my suggestion is to keep your eye on the park apps and skip any long lines during prime time, choosing instead to circle back at the end of the night. For us, it's really not about the rides, it's about the party - but I know for guests who don't get to enjoy the parks as frequently, that may not be the case.


Parades

Oogie Boogie Bash: We were also so happy to see the "Frightfully Fun Parade" - which was a long time hit at Mickey's Halloween Party in Disneyland, and found its new home at the Oogie Boogie Bash for the first time this year. It's also the first parade that's returned to Disneyland Resort since the pandemic and I think I can speak for both Kennedy and I when I say it was worth the two year wait. It had a lot of our favorites, like the hitchhiking ghosts and grave diggers, plus a huge float of the Mayor from Nightmare Before Christmas, which we both absolutely went bonkers for!



Disney After Hours Boo Bash Due to the pandemic, Disney World has not been hosting parades and instead offers Halloween-themed cavalcades for the event, which are essentially single parade floats with multiple viewing times, aimed to dissuade a big crowd from forming. This year they include Mickey's Happy Halloween Cavalcade, Disney Villains Halloween Cavalcade, Jack's Nightmare Cavalcade and Maleficent's Fiery Prowl.



Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party: Mickey’s Boo-to-You Parade is one of the most iconic parts of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom, and most years, I opted to watch both routes (even if Kennedy split off with other members of the crew to get more candy and ride time in). I literally get giddy thinking about how much I love this parade and hope so strongly that it will make its return next year.




Ranking: (1) Mickey's Not So Scary (2) Oogie Boogie Bash (3) Disney After Hours Boo Bash.


While the Oogie Boogie Bash parade was great and very similar to the MNSSHP offering, it can't hold a candle to the Boo-to-You parade. For one, Boo-to-You is my favorite Halloween song, and it's visibly absent from not only the Frightfully Fun route but also the party, as a whole! (BOO. Though, they did play it the next day at Disneyland!) Also, Boo-to-You has the Villains-a-Go-Go finally with the skeleton band from Hocus Pocus, which should not, cannot, and will not ever be topped.


Dinner Packages

Oogie Boogie Bash: There are two options for dinner packages offered, the Oogie Boogie Bash Dessert Party at Sonoma Terrace ($84 per person), and the Oogie Boogie Bash Dining Parade Package ($55 for adults and $40 for children ages 3-9) - which both include reserved seating for the Parade. We opted to do the Dessert Party for two reasons. 1) It guaranteed up-front, individually reserved table-seating (versus a dedicated return place to view from) and 2) Because the Dining Parade Package had to be booked in-person. I'm not crazy about sweets, so I basically paid for the table seating - but Kennedy absolutely loved it and given that it had unlimited alcoholic beverages, it certainly was worth the additional costs.



Disney After Hours Boo Bash There are no dinner or dessert parties offered at the Boo Bash, but similar to other After Hours events, it provides unlimited ice cream, popcorn, bottled waters and sodas at no additional cost. In addition, you can purchase select menu items at several of the park's dine-in locations, including a few speciality items - such as the Apple Ginger Dale Frozen Drink (Frozen Apple Cider mixed with Ginger Ale, topped with Whipped Cream and chopped TWIX® Cookie Bars) and the Foolish Mortal Funnel Cake (Funnel Cake topped with Oreo Crumbles, Purple Vanilla Ice Cream, Green Drizzle Icing and M&M'S® Milk Chocolate Candies Ghouls Mix).



Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party: Having gone to MNSSHP every year (sometimes multiple times a year!) since 2008, we've had the opportunity to do a bunch of the add on events, such as Cruella's Halloween Hide-A-Way Party ($99 per person), the Not So Spooky Spectacular Dessert Party ($84 per adult, $50 per child), and the Villain's Sinister Soiree ($99 per person). As mentioned, I'm not a huge dessert person, and the add-on tickets rival (or exceed) that of the Halloween party itself, so I definitely make my selection based on the perks. The usual dessert party on Tomorrowland Terrace has always been meh for me, because I'd rather be closer to the hub for Hallowishes and the parade, but the Sinister Soiree and Cruella's Hide-A-Way were both a blast. The cool thing about Cruella's party, is they allowed us to come back throughout the night to grab additional treats and snacks. It was in Tony's restaurant towards the front of the park, and though it did offer a reserved viewing area for the later parade, we again opted to sit closer to the Castle, so we could watch the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular directly before hand.Of all of the add-on's the Sinister Soiree was definitely my favorite, as it was held inside the castle, provided reserved seating for the parade, fireworks, and show, and came with a slew of commemorative gifts.




Ranking: (1) Mickey's Not So Scary (2) Oogie Boogie Bash (3) Disney After Hours Boo Bash.


While having a dedicated table on the parade route definitely took the cake for VIP conveninence, the parties at WDW offered private character interactions, more food and beverage options, as well as commemorative items. If either of the parks offered a combination of the Disneyland's seating with WDW's commemorative perks, I'd be willing to fork out an additional $150 per person to attend (but please, keep the charcuterie board from Cruella's Hide-a-Way as an option -some of us are never going to want six desserts in one sitting).


Costumes and Crowd

Oogie Boogie Bash: Not as many people were in costumes as I would have expected, but there were a couple of really impressive groups - and a lot of Oogie Boogie's! Most guests wear "comfortable" costume attire, with a little bit of Halloween flair, while a select few (like us!) go all out. You can fit in whether you are in costume or not. (Photos taken by and property of Disneyland PhotoPass)



Disney After Hours Boo Bash As seems to be the case for all the After Hours parties, far less people dress up than at MNSSHP, and opt instead to wear the seasonal ears and spirit jerseys. (This clearly does not include people like us).



Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party: Follow my motto - More is MORE! There are so many impressive individual and group costumes, and the crowd tends to be really familiar. Every year, dozens upon dozens people came up to us, asking to take a picture - and that became the best part of our evening (especially when it was a rule-bending cast member!)



Ranking: (1) Mickey's Not So Scary (2) Oogie Boogie Bash (3) Disney After Hours Boo Bash.


Let's not kid ourselves. Kennedy and I are cosplayers moonlighting as Halloween fans. Half the reason we go to Disney events (even the races) is because we love an opportunity to dress up (medals are an added bonus). And because it's long-since rumored that my ten-foot long Elsa train single-handedly sparked the no-floor length princess gown rule, I must take it upon myself to mention that costumes are subject to Disney guidelines and should not be obstructive, offensive, or so on the money, that a mob forms, stampeding over small children, for their chance to take a picture with what they believed to be "the real deal" without waiting in line (*Cough cough, badge of honor, cough cough, sorry not sorry).


Event Exclusive Entertainment

Oogie Boogie Bash: In year's past, the party also included World of Color: Villainous, but this year only had Mickey's Trick and Treat, and a Descendance Party, very similar to that of MNSSHP.



Disney After Hours Boo Bash Besides the cavalcades, Boo Bash only offers showings of the Cadaver Dans Barbershop Quartet and the usual DJ Dance Party in Tommorowland.



Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party: The last MNSSHP offered the Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular, Monstrous Scream-o-Ween Ball, Storybook Circus Disney Junior Jam, Disney's Not So Spooky Spectacular and the Disney Descendance Party. Our favorite was most certainly the Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular, which like the parade, we often caught more than once in an evening!




Ranking: (1) Mickey's Not So Scary (2) Oogie Boogie Bash (3) Disney After Hours Boo Bash.


Once again, Boo Bash disappoints with its lack of entertainment. At least the other After Hours parties offered an exclusive show on the Castle stage, making the ticket price a little more palpable. And while World of Color is truly breathtaking and I'm open to the idea that the Villains version could tip the my Maleficent-loving scales, what can actually beat the Sanderson Sisters? Nothing. Nothing can. I offer no further explanation of my decision.


Score Card:

With all that in mind, and awarding 2 points for each first place ranking, and one point for each second place ranking, the total ranking was:


Oogie Boogie Bash: 11 points

Boo Bash: 0 points

Mickey's Not So Scary: 13 points


To be fair, going to MNSSHP isn't an option this year (and may never be again - *bone crush*) so I can't say I would suggest against going to Boo Bash, I just also would want everyone to temper their expectations. Undebateably, Boo Bash is a watered-down Halloween party, more akin to a grad-night than MNSSHP. You pay for the shorter wait times (which are surely shorter than those at MNSSHP) and get free snacks, but for die-hard loyalists, it leaves you wanting more.


And although MNSSHP closely beat OBB, now that we live in Boston, I think it will always be a toss up for us; one that just might come down to who offers the better add-on dinner options; as well as the costs for hotel and airfare. One thing I didn't factor above was how convenient it is to stay on Disneyland property! We literally just walked from our hotel! And while we usually stay on Walt Disney World property for the party, it really does not compare. Even waiting in line to take the ferry or monorail back to the Grand Floridian can take upwards of 35 minutes, where as in California, the hotel lobbies practically open up into the parks. In heels and corsets and wigs, that's a perk you just can't put a point system on.


All in all, Halloween at either Disney resort is still our absolute favorite pastime and greatest family tradition - it's a competition of good, great, best! And each year, both parks are sure to churn out new surprises that make it a toss up.
















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