Last night, we attended the inaugural Oogie Boogie Bash – A Disney Halloween Party of the year at DCA. In this event report, we’ll share our photos, observations, and thoughts. We’ll also cover whether the new event is worth the $100 ticket price that we paid. Let’s get started!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Oogie Boogie Bash – A Disney Halloween Party is the spiritual successor to Mickey’s Halloween Party, which has moved from Disneyland to Disney California Adventure and changed pretty significantly. Although Disney has never stated as much publicly, the move was motivated by anticipated crowds to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (irrespective of that, moving the party to DCA was the right thing to do from a fall crowds and congestion perspective.)
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 Disney California Adventure. In that sense, I’m not totally sure why I’m even writing this. If you were on the fence about attending, this post won’t do you any good now. That’s part of why this is a party report rather than a review…
The other part of why I’m hesitant to make this an Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween Party review is because we were guinea pigs for the new event in Disney California Adventure, and it was patently obvious that there were some opening night jitters. Moreover, now that one party is in the books, some strategy will emerge, making experiencing the event easier for everyone who follows.
We started by lining up for the Kingdom Hearts characters. Not because we’re particularly big fans of the series (for me, it’s long been an “I should play that, someday” game) but because they’re rare characters. We lined up around 45 minutes before the start of the event, and were the third party in line. We timed this well, and a huge line formed behind us by the time 6 pm rolled around. Unfortunately, the characters did not come out at 6 pm.
After a lot of confusion, yada yada yada, we met Kingdom Hearts Donald Duck at around 7:10 pm. While I arguably yada yada’d over the best part of the story, I don’t want to begin the report with a rambling complaint.
Suffice to say, this started Oogie Boogie Bash on a sour note for us.
After that, we moved on to the Disney Afternoon area, and found an incredibly short line for those characters. We were informed that we’d be meeting Don Karnage, the villain from TailSpin who we had never seen out before.
Suffice to say (again), this was a quick bounce-back for Oogie Boogie Bash.
Next, 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 Disney California Adventure icon in the background, so I had to take what I could get here.
There’s some debate among Disney fans as to whether Frightfully Fun Parade or Boo to You is the superior Halloween Party parade. While I am firmly on Team Boo to You, I do have to concede that Frightfully Fun has its strong moments, and it’s a much tighter parade.
There are units in Boo to You that just seem tossed in there, floats that are repurposed from other parades, etc. By contrast, everything in Frightfully Fun Parade is expressly Halloween. It all congeals into a single piece of entertainment better, rather than having a montage feel.
Regardless of where you come down in that debate, Frightfully Fun Parade is a strong piece of Disney entertainment. 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 Disneyland Halloween Party.
After Frightfully Fun Parade, we bounced to Grizzly Peak to beat the crowd all racing this same way for 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.
This was interesting. Some of the lighting and visuals gave an ethereal vibe to the trail, completely altering the mood of Redwood Creek. It felt like walking through a haunted forest, but not necessarily in a scary way. More like the wonderful enchanted forest in Princess Mononoke, except minus the majestic/creepy Shishigami.
Villains Grove is all a matter of expectations. If you’re anticipating Disney’s take on a traditional Halloween maze, you will be disappointed. This isn’t that, nor is it up to those standards in terms of detail or design depth.
To put Villains Grove into perspective, the normal Redwood Creek Challenge Trail operates during the day during Halloween season–the entire overlay is accomplished via sound, lighting, and projections.
By and large, we liked Villains Grove. Some of the visuals are really dazzling and wow-inducing, while others fall a bit flat. These photos don’t even begin to do it justice–it’s something that cannot really be conveyed via photo or video.
There are a few short little ‘scenes’ to savor, and those were all nice little touches. As an impressionistic, sensory experience, it’s very engaging and fun. It definitely has room for improvement and could be more elaborate, but hopefully it’s fleshed out as Disney iterates on the concept in the years to come.
After this, we headed to World of Color – Villainous to catch the first showing of that. We also caught the second showing, so I’ll conclude the recap with full thoughts on that.
After the first World of Color, we headed to the trio of interactive treat trails in Hollywood Land…
This is where it’s also probably a good thing that this Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween Party post is a report rather than a review, as I think I’m going to be an outlier here: I loved these, and far prefer them to traditional meet & greets.
These are just like normal treat trails, but with some audio and visual changes, plus a limited amount of set-work enhancements. Disney is referring to them as “immersive” but that’s overselling the concept. They’re not fully transformed, but rather, are a themed walk-through character encounter.
Oogie Boogie’s treat trail in the Animation Building was my favorite of these, even though it’s the least interactive due to his dialogue being pre-recorded. The difference is that this space actually is 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 (which worked surprisingly well despite the pre-recorded audio).
Other characters, such as Mad Hatter and Dr. Facilier, had less impressive environments but were more interactive. Mad Hatter singled out Sarah for her tiny hat, and also had fun with other members of the audience dressed as him. Dr. Facilier was likewise good.
This is totally a personal thing, but I found these interactions meaningful and enjoyable as an observer, and as someone who would personally experience characters this way (rather than firsthand interactions), I would take this over meet & greets any day. Plus, far more guests are able to experience this as compared to a low-capacity meet & greet. Of course, I realize I’m in the minority on this–it’s nice to have the option for both.
Speaking of meet & greets, we also wandered by and watched several of these. I was surprised and pleased to see that none of the lines (except Kingdom Hearts later in the night) were particularly long. The average wait for party-exclusive meet & greets was probably under 30 minutes, which is good by special event and rare character standards.
For the Disney Afternoon characters, the line was even shorter than that at various times, which is downright appalling to me as a child of the 90s. I remember when an appearance of rare characters from Disney Afternoon would lead to pandemonium, mass hysteria, fainting, plus 7-hour lines. (Citation needed.)
Now all the kids these days care about is characters from their favorite video game, and people pass right on by the glorious Disney Afternoon legends.
Are Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween Party attendees too young to recognize these characters? Will these shows being available Disney+ reignite passion for the greatness that is Disney Afternoon? Am I getting old?!
Finally, the flagship entertainment offering at the Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween Party is World of Color – Villainous. While the parade only runs once now, World of Color – Villainous is shown twice, and played to large crowds for both showtimes. We actually caught this twice, grabbing spots both times fairly last minute.
In World of Color – Villainous, Oogie Boogie is host and the plot revolves around a new character named Shelley Marie. World of Color – Villainous is…interesting. It alternates between a storyline about Shelley Marie’s ‘journey’ amongst various villains, and some weird musical interludes.
When talking with others at Oogie Boogie Bash, the prevailing sentiment used to describe World of Color – Villainous was bewilderment. It undulates between dark moments (that are potentially scary for kids) and cheery, laugh-inducing ones. Nevertheless, this all generally coalesces well, and I thought the show transitioned from scene to scene nicely.
Then there’s the ending. You know how there was all that debate about whether Daenerys “earned” her character development? Well, I think the same applies here…at least to the extent that there can be debate over whether a water jet montage show ‘earns’ the message it opts to deliver.
The moral of the story is one that’s good for kids to hear (never mind that this show doesn’t otherwise seem to be aimed at children), but I was nonetheless a bit taken aback by its insertion at the end of Villainous.
“Oh, so I guess this is a show with a message” was my reaction, not realizing World of Color Villainous was building to that. Thankfully, this happens before the actual finale, which still delivers a fitting conclusion to World of Color Villainous.
Ultimately, World of Color Villainous is a mixed bag. Neither of us actively disliked it, but we also didn’t love it, either. We actually appreciate its approach, risk-taking, and willingness to get weird, but we’re “good on it” having seen it twice.
This is probably for the best, as I could watch World of Color – Season of Light night in and night out, and it could be an expensive proposition if World of Color Villainous were that good.
More importantly, we need to get back out to the parks, as we’ve spent a grand total of about 45 minutes in Disneyland so far this Halloween Time!
Overall, we enjoyed Oogie Boogie Bash – A Disney Halloween Party. This is despite some opening night hiccups and the flagship entertainment being a bit more ‘wobbly’ than I would’ve liked. We dropped $100 per ticket on this, and walked away fairly satisfied but not blown away. If it were an hour longer and/or an hour of our night hadn’t been wasted by the character meet not starting on time, perhaps we’d feel a bit more enthusiastically about Oogie Boogie Bash.
The upside is that Oogie Boogie Bash tries new things, and we have to give kudos to not simply recycling the same concept from Mickey’s Halloween Party. (And again, moving the event to Disney California Adventure was absolutely the right move.) There are some strong ideas here, but some of the entertainment has room for improvement. In the end, Oogie Boogie Bash was good enough that we’re willing to give it another shot next year. Here’s hoping that Disney feels incentivized to improve in year two, knowing in reality that the party will sell out either way.
If you’ve attended the event, do you disagree with my assessment of Oogie Boogie Bash – A Disney Halloween Party? Are you planning to attend the event this year? Any questions about strategy, tips, or anything else? Are you disappointed that it’s not being held at Disneyland, or are you ready for something different? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts on these questions, or anything else, in the comments!