Walt Disney World’s newest show is Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Fireworks presented on select nights at Magic Kingdom during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. In this post, we’ll review the fireworks, share photos, and offer viewing tips for the best spots and photos.
First, a quick overview of Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks. This all-new nighttime spectacular replaces the aging Happy HalloWishes and features projections, lasers, lighting, and a cool cameo appearance. (Fair warning: we’ll reveal that cool cameo in this post, so if you want to avoid spoilers, exit now–although without them, you won’t know where to stand to best see the surprise, so it’s sort of a catch-22.)
Serving as host of Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks is Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack’s ghost dog, Zero, flies off to lead Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy on a trick-or-treating adventure as they’re drawn into a mysterious haunted house. The journey takes them from one room of the house to another, encountering dancing skeletons, waltzing ghosts, and a series of troublemaking Disney villains.
For both of us, Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks is a case of the sum of the parts being more than the whole. Which is to say that there are some novel ideas here, cool uses of technology, and just generally things Disney does not normally do with a fireworks show. However, all of this isolated coolness doesn’t coalesce into a strong show.
Utilizing Jack Skellington and Zero is a great idea, and so too is featuring Mickey and friends. But not together. These are totally different universes of characters, and as fun of an idea it is that Mickey would meet the adorable Zero, there’s incongruity between the two.
The jarring nature of Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks doesn’t stop there. There are multiple scenes where the projected visuals don’t match up with the soundtrack, at least in terms of what you would expect to see. The result is an odd one, especially with pyro that also doesn’t always line up.
It’s almost as if the team working on the projections assumed certain songs were going to be used, and the team working on the soundtrack thought it was actually a Valentine’s Day show (at least, for a couple of scenes). In reality, I wouldn’t be surprised if at the last minute the intended song choices were nixed due to licensing fees–and the projections remained the same.
There are a few other ways the fireworks are really just all over the place. The result of this is a chaotic, frenetic experience. It is, in a word, weird.
We’re not complaining that the narrative is thin or tenuous–that’s true of pretty much every Disney nighttime spectacular and we’ve come to accept it. We’re saying there’s a lot going on, in sometimes odd ways.
That’s my take on Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks if I’m critiquing the show as a professional reviewer (or whatever it is that I do here).
If I’m viewing this solely as a longtime Walt Disney World fan who has seen a lot of fireworks shows, I think it’s an absolute blast, a breath of fresh air, and something to be a future piece of Weird Disney World lore.
So, why the discrepancy? In large part because Not-So-Spooky Spectacular swings for the fences and tries to be fun, rather than taking a paint-by-numbers approach that has resulted in way too many formulaic nighttime spectaculars. It’s almost as if this show was designed by a team of people that have literally never seen a Disney fireworks show, and I mean that in a mostly positive way.
Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks does things that are totally different and unprecedented, and it has fun in the process. At no point is the obligatory [insert popular movie] song crammed into the show, and even Halloween staples that you might guess would be present are eschewed for obscure choices. When it works, it really works. When it doesn’t, hey at least they tried.
Putting this in comparative terms, I’d liken this to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (except not that good) or Venom (except not that bad) as compared to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the MCU–but there’s an undeniable formula that those films, even ones in different genres, follow.
It’s almost like they’re written by an algorithm that knows just when to insert a comedic pause, big explosion, or callback. They’re engineered to perfection.
By contrast, Spider-Verse, Venom, and Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks are more ambitious and riskier, doing original things to varying degrees of success.
While I think both approaches have their place, when it comes to Disney nighttime spectaculars, I welcome moments of failure if it means something totally fresh.
As for the technology in Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks, it’s very impressive.
Most of what’s here utilizes the Happily Ever After tech, which is why we’re seeing Happy HalloWishes replaced to begin with. As could be expected, the projections are very good, as are the other effects.
The show stopper, however, is the Jack Skellington puppet that takes the stage. When Walt Disney World announced that the fireworks would be hosted by Jack, I assumed that meant narration–not a giant puppet on stage.
This is incredibly cool up close, in person, and as pyro explodes overhead. Watching on video or from a distance does not do it justice. Words don’t do it justice, either. Between this and Donald’s Hot Jungle Summer at Tokyo Disneyland, now I really want to see a stage-driven nighttime spectacular in Magic Kingdom!
This Jack Skellington puppet is a brilliant example of taking old school tech and doing something timeless with it that will wow audiences for years to come.
This Jack Skellington puppet is cooler than anything introduced in Happily Ever After, and I really look forward to what the new Christmas fireworks feature, because now they’ll have to do something interesting to live up to this show.
The biggest disappointment with Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks is not its disjointed nature, internal inconsistency, or perplexing music choices–it’s the reduced perimeter bursts. Before you go pounding the table deriding the curse of budget cuts, it’s worth nothing a couple of things here.
First, there’s just as much pyro–if not more–here than in Happy HalloWishes. It’s not spaced out as much, but it’s still there. Second, when it comes to the perimeter bursts, you can blame TRON Lightcycle Power Run construction, not budget cuts. The perimeter bursts are still there, we’ve just lost a launch site and the others are now tighter around Cinderella Castle. Finally, the finale is far less impactful, lacking the grandness you’d expect of such a thing.
In terms of viewing Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks, your best option is going to be grabbing a front row seat for the first Boo to You Parade facing Cinderella Castle. This is my second-favorite location for watching the parade; unfortunately, my favorite Boo to You spot will preclude you from getting a good spot for the fireworks.
Be warned: the front row of this Hub seating fills up early. Sometimes an hour or more in advance of the parade. That’s likely to be a regular occurrence this year as word gets out that the best viewing location for Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks is directly in front of Cinderella Castle, something that was not true for Happy HalloWishes.
Anyway, once the Boo to You Parade is over, you’ll actually want to back up about 15 feet, putting you almost exactly in between the Partners statue and Cinderella Castle. The reason for this is because the area behind Partners slops downwards before bottoming out at the curb and slopping back up as it heads towards Cinderella Castle.
The halfway point is roughly the best spot for elevation. It’s also best in terms of perspective distortion and scale between the pyro and Cinderella Castle. Even if you don’t totally understand what I’m saying here, just trust me on this.
Generally speaking, those will also apply to Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks, too. Our top picks from that list are #2. Partners and #4. The Hump. Avoid anything that is farther from Cinderella Castle than the Hump. (Unless you’ve purchased the Party Pass, in which case Main Street is also an interesting option.)
Overall, judging by our own semi-perplexed reactions to Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks, we think guest reviews will be mixed. There will be people who will (fairly) mourn the lack of tried and true favorites, and express frustration about the show being all over the place. Others, like us, will embrace the nighttime spectacular for being something different, trying unique things, and succeeding in “enough” of them.
For me, this has a quality of old school Walt Disney World quirkiness to it, and I respect what they tried to achieve here. Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks is the kind of ‘warts and all’ show that will grow on Walt Disney World fans over time, and the things we now view as awkward or out of place will become fond eccentricities. It’s pretty far from perfect, but I think it’s destined to become a cult classic.
Would you rather have an innovative, but flaw fireworks show, or a solid but ho-hum offering? If you’ve seen it in person, what did you think of Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Are you excited to see this new fireworks show, or does it sound too disjointed for you? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!