We attended the first Oogie Boogie Bash of 2021 at Disney California Adventure. This Halloween party features rare character greetings, Mickey’s Frightfully Fun Parade, entertainment, spooky walk-throughs & treat times, lower wait times for popular rides, and more. In this review, we’ll share party photos, what we accomplished, and whether it’s worth the money.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, check out our Ultimate Guide to Oogie Boogie Bash – A Disney Halloween Party. In a nutshell, this event is the spiritual successor to Mickey’s Halloween Party, which is Disneyland’s version of the same event at Walt Disney World with “Not So Scary” in the name. Two years ago, the hard ticket party moved to Disney California Adventure due to anticipated crowds during the opening months of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The event didn’t occur last year due to the ongoing closure of Disneyland Resort, but is back in 2021 for its second year.
As has happened with Disneyland Resort’s Halloween Party for at least the last 3-4 years, the entire season sold out before the first Oogie Boogie Bash even took place at DCA. From a practical perspective, this review/recap thus isn’t particularly useful at this point, unless Disney releases additional tickets.
In prior years, attendance levels and crowd patterns are assessed on the first night and more tickets are sometimes released if the. If you were on the fence about buying Oogie Boogie Bash tickets, you might still have a chance.
We started our night at Oogie Boogie Bash – A Disney Halloween Party by entering the park shortly before the special event began…
Oogie Boogie Bash attendees can enter Disney California Adventure beginning at 3 pm. Normally, we’d aim to be inside at 2 pm or so, avoiding the crush of the crowds at the turnstiles. We had other plans earlier in the day, so that wasn’t possible.
If you can, we’d recommend getting to DCA early and checking in at Blue Sky Cellar. It was pretty chaotic at the front of the park and took us over 30 minutes to get through the turnstiles and obtain our wristbands.
Once inside, we immediately lined up for the Agatha Harkness interactive treat trail in Avengers Campus. She was not present during our first walk-through at 6 pm, so that ended up being a waste of time.
It was more or less smooth sailing after that. Literally no complaints whatsoever about the rest of the night. This is impressive given that it was Disneyland’s first entertainment-centric event in 2 years, and usually even in a normal year this type of thing has some opening night hiccups.
We knocked out several character encounters through Cars Land, Pacific Wharf, Pixar Pier, and Buena Vista Street all in quick succession.
No one had more than a 5 minute wait, and getting this done while the sun was still out proved wise, as the lighting in our night photos from the character encounters rendered a few unusable.
Approximately 30 minutes before the first parade stepped off, we grabbed spots for Frightfully Fun Parade in Carthay Circle.
There likely would’ve been open viewing areas if we wandered back to Paradise Garden where the parade steps off, but I wanted photos with a DCA icon in the background.
In retrospect, the much better choice would’ve been directly in front of the Little Mermaid dark ride facing whatever they’re calling the Fun Wheel these days. That’s what we did for the second Frightfully Fun Parade.
The lighting along the entertainment corridor is far better, and the crowds were lower. That could be a matter of the second parade versus the first, but we’ve often found the area around Carthay busier for parades at DCA.
It’s been almost two years since we’ve seen a full Disney parade, and holy cow have we missed them.
I’m not sure I realized just how big of a void the lack of parades had left until seeing Frightfully Fun Parade again. While my “historical” opinion is that this isn’t quite as good as Mickey’s Boo to You Halloween Parade, after having nothing for so long, this was absolutely incredible and insanely fun to watch. Like that first sip of water after a long hike through the desert, except with lower stakes.
This is not to disparage Frightfully Fun Parade or suggest it’s good only because we’re so parade-starved. (Now, if we’re singing the praises of “A Christmas Fantasy” in another couple of months…that is the reason why!)
To the contrary, Frightfully Fun Parade has its moments, is a much tighter parade, and congeals into a single piece of entertainment really well. By contrast, sometimes Boo to You can feel like a hodgepodge of recycled floats.
In any case, Frightfully Fun Parade is a strong piece of Disney entertainment and the single biggest reason (in our view) to buy tickets to Oogie Boogie Bash (whether that ends up being this year or in 2022).
I’d still like to see another float or two in it, but I’m a fan. Adding this a few years ago was a game-changer for me with regard to the Halloween Parties at Disneyland Resort.
Finally, there are the character encounters during Oogie Boogie Bash – A Disney Halloween Party. The event offered both interactive treat trails with “constantly moving” character encounters as well as physically distanced meet & greets with PhotoPass photographers.
Generally speaking, the interactive treat trails were significantly better, with some seriously talented performers and great look-alikes engaging with and heckling guests as they passed.
I’ve been a vocal proponent of these organic interactions since long before the reopening forced all meet & greets to become distanced, and seeing the creativity Disneyland has put into them in the last few months further reinforces that.
What I love about greetings like these is that they offer actual interactions with characters rather than a standard ‘pose, smile, and move along’ photo op that often treat characters like photo accessories or backdrops. Instead, these encounters are improvised, amusing, and dynamic.
Even if you’re not the one with whom the characters are interacting, they’re still meaningful and enjoyable as an observer. As someone who would rather passively experience character greetings this way, I will take this over meet & greets any day.
Plus, far more guests are able to experience this as compared to a low-capacity meet & greet. I feel like my take here used to be an unpopular opinion, but I’ve noticed more and more fans come around to this perspective during the last year–perhaps after experiencing it themselves?
The most popular interactive treat trail at the 2021 Oogie Boogie Bash was Agatha Harkness from WandaVision. Unsurprising, as Wanda and Vision were the most popular couples costumes, with the former also being the top costume overall.
We did this one a few times, and the Agatha performer was top notch–as you can see in Sarah’s video. She could “carry” the crowd if needed, but she often got a nice assist from Wandas in the line. Would love to see her make regular appearances in Avengers Campus–the characters are the biggest redeeming quality of the land.
Our “favorite” moment of the night came when Sarah asked which character was appearing at one of the trails. This inquiry was for future reference, as we were heading elsewhere and the rest of our party had already moved on.
Sarah was told “Mole” was the featured character, and she confirmed “Mole” was who the Cast Member said. It was a couple of hours later before we’d return to this spot, and the “Mystery of Mole” became a running joke throughout the night. As it turned out, Mole was Maleficent.
It’s hard to choose a favorite among these, as they all were fantastic. Classic characters who appear in the parks regularly, like Evil Queen and Mole, were predictably excellent.
Sid from Toy Story was another that was surprisingly good–I almost wonder if the idea for this character was inspired by a particular performer who could pull it off, as it seems out of left field.
We also really enjoyed Cruella, who really owned the role and did a good job engaging with the crowd. (I’ve been told I’m “bad at identifying people,” but I think the performer is a dead ringer for Emma Stone, too.)
I also enjoyed Mad Hatter a lot, you can see him in Sarah’s video asking about my “costume.” (Those are air quotes as I didn’t exactly break a leg with this look, but it was fairly well received. Kids seemed to like it for some reason.)
Oogie Boogie’s treat trail was another cool one, with the Animation Building transformed thanks to the screens that line the walls in this building.
We waited 5 minutes to get in and see Oogie Boogie up close, as compared to the ~3 hour line this undoubtedly would’ve had if it were a dedicated Oogie Boogie meet & greet. We were able to linger in front of Oogie Boogie, watching him engage with the audience. It worked surprisingly well despite the pre-recorded audio.
With that said, both dynamic character encounters and dedicated meet & greets can exist (I’m not suggesting this is the exclusive way characters should be presented in the parks). In fact, that’s exactly what happened at Oogie Boogie Bash.
To our surprise, none of the physically distanced meet & greets had particularly long lines. Even relatively rare characters sported waits of under 20 minutes, which is a rarity at these events. Perhaps the distancing discouraged some character hunting “purists” from doing the meet & greets? (If so, sign me up for permanently distanced meet & greets. Touching performers arguably causes more problems than it’s worth.)
We ended the night by heading to Grizzly Peak to revisit the “Villains Grove” makeover of Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. For this overlay, Redwood Creek is transformed with lighting, projections, sounds, and various special effects to create an evocative, haunted dreamscape.
It’s sort of like the Enchanted Forest in Frozen II, but mildly creepy rather than majestic. Like walking through a haunted forest, but not the inhabitants have no sinister intentions or ill-will.
Unfortunately, “inclement weather” caused Villains Grove to shut down just before we were able to enter. On the plus side, we saw mother nature put on an absolutely incredibly light show (far better than Villains Grove). I’ve never seen lightning like this in Southern California.
Finally, whether the 2021 Oogie Boogie Bash is worth the money? It almost feels silly to continue addressing this question, given that Disneyland Resort’s Halloween Parties have sold out every single night for as long as I can remember–at least the last 6 years. Perhaps longer.
Value is all a matter of perspective. If you have financial means and won’t feel the sting of the ticket cost, or just really love Halloween and want to splurge on Oogie Boogie Bash, go for it. If the event is not a splurge for you, it’s unlikely that you’ll regret it.
We had an absolute blast at Oogie Boogie Bash and previously have had fun at Disneyland’s other Halloween Parties, never once regretting attending. While I don’t think this is as good as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom, I far prefer it to Disney After Hours Boo Bash. Oogie Boogie Bash is something we’d pay to do annually for personal enjoyment, not just “for the sake of research.”
The parade, interactive treat trails, meet & greets, and atmosphere are all top notch. Disneyland put a lot of effort into making the modified event offer sufficient things to do and value for money, and the entertainment team did a great job with that.
Beyond that, one thing we really appreciated was that nothing consumed an inordinate amount of our time. At other Halloween parties, there’s always a rare character meet and greet or two with multi-hour wait times. These are usually a non-starter for us, since a couple of hours is almost half the event.
Having a lot of characters and making the treat trail interactive encounters more informal really helps with crowd flow, and allows you to accomplish a lot without devoting a huge chunk of time to any one thing. Our longest “waits” were camping out for the parades, and even that ended up being somewhat unnecessary–DCA’s long parade route means there’s plenty of viewing space.
More importantly, we need to get back out to the parks, as we’ve spent a grand total of about 2 hours in Disneyland so far this Halloween Time. I have literally thousands of photos from Oogie Boogie Bash to organize and edit; we’ll have more from the event in the coming weeks once we’re home and I comb through the photos.
Overall, we had a truly spooktacular evening at Oogie Boogie Bash – A Disney Halloween Party. We spent $124 per ticket on this, and walked away feeling fully satisfied despite the high price. Part of that is undoubtedly a matter of expectations–this is markedly better (or at least more to our tastes) than Disney After Hours Boo Bash, which is our most recent frame of reference. Perhaps if we had just done MNSSHP, we’d feel differently.
Even with our effusive praise, Oogie Boogie Bash was not perfect. For the money, it’d definitely be nice if the event had a real stage show or another centerpiece entertainment offering beyond Frightfully Fun Parade. World of Color – Villainous wasn’t our favorite incarnation of that lagoon show, but its return next year would definitely help fill that void. That would also bring it more on par with Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, which is the gold standard for Disney spook season events.
With that said, we love that Disneyland’s Halloween parties are different every year, presumably due to a higher number of locals and repeat visitors. In its second year, there’s a lot that’s different about Oogie Boogie Bash, and we have to give kudos to not simply recycling all of the entertainment from its first year.
The interactive treat trails were top notch, it was great to see a parade again, and we accomplished a ton in 5 hours of the event without any significant wasted time. The totality of all that made Oogie Boogie Bash a winner for us, and something we’ll definitely do again. We’re already looking forward to what Disneyland does with Oogie Boogie Bash – A Disney Halloween Party in 2022!
If you’ve attended the 2021 Oogie Boogie Bash — A Disney Halloween Party, do you disagree with my assessment? Do you have tickets for the special event this year? What are you most excited about seeing or doing? If you’re a Walt Disney World fan, is there anything here you hope makes its way to the 2022 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? Any questions about strategy, tips, or anything else? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts on these questions, or anything else, in the comments!