Review & Viewing Tips: Not So Spooky Spectacular Halloween Fireworks
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.
If you’d prefer to watch the first Boo to You Parade from a different location, we’d recommend consulting our Best Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Spots for alternative recommendations.
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.
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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!
Do you have a map that shows exactly where you are writing about? Showing the parade spot and then the move to the fireworks spot?
Thanks in advance!
Would you be able to watch the parade in Frontier Land and then immediately follow the last float to the front of the castle? Do you think this strategy would allow me save time “saving a spot” but still have a front and center view of the fireworks?
We have the dessert party with plaza garden viewing booked for our MNSSHP night. Do you think that’s going to be a good spot to see this show?
Hi all, we’re planning our first trip to Disney World, and are a bit overwhelmed by all the hotels, restaurants, etc, and I’m hoping someone can help. We’re thinking of staying at the Wilderness Lodge, and eating dinners at other hotels. How difficult is it to get to other hotels? I know the boat goes to Contemporary resort, then you have to take a monorail to Polynesian and Grand Floridian. Sounds cumbersome and time consuming for a family.
Is it difficult to navigate between the hotels? About how much time would it realistically take to get from Wilderness Lodge to a restaurant at another hotel?
Has a blog post been written about general navigation around these hotels? That may be very helpful.
Thanks in advance for any thoughts!
Disney says to allow 90 minutes to get between locations. We’ve never used the boats so unsure exactly though.
We always drive or Uber to eat at other resorts. The Disney transportation system just takes way too long because you have to take more than one mode of transportation. In WDW, I always value time more than money when I can realistically do so.
I agree with Leslie on driving or Uber. It is so time consuming and unreliable to use WDW transportation from resort to resort. Even though WL is close to the monorail resorts, you have to factor in security checkpoint when you enter monorail station plus the MK crowds. I believe the boat to Contemporary from WL stops at Fort Wilderness so it maybe faster to take boat directly to MK and hop on monorail. From my experiences plus avoid rushing, transportation times from WL to other resorts: 30-45 min to monorail resorts, 45-60 min to Epcot deluxe resort (assuming walk from Future World to Boardwalk, Beach or Yacht Club), and 60-90 min to any resort requiring transfer bus.
Sarah, there are so many factors to consider regarding what what makes the most sense. The fact that this is your first trip is probably going to slow you down the most! In nearly any case, I would always recommend renting a car from the airport ( in most cases it’s cheaper than you think it might be) or if you have the money in your budget Using a minie-van. Also it really depends on how many days you are going to be there, how many parks you are going to visit as well as the ages involved. One of the biggest disasters you might encounter is a short trip with a large family. Most people who do this plan to do way too much and too short of a period of time. If you answer these questions, I would be glad to give you my opinion.
We just stayed at WL. Taking the boat is one if the things we love about that resort. It is so relaxing. You can take the Ft. Wilderness/Contemporary boat. That will get you to the restaurants at those resorts in not too much time. Catching the monorail can also be part of the fun. Getting to the Poly or GF doesn’t take too long. You can also take the MK boat (which would require a bag check after getting off boat). From there get on monorail or take the boat launch to GF/Poly. We chose to take boat to Contemporary to monorail to Poly for breakfast. As for other non MK resorts, if you’re not already going to be at a park near that hotel, car is best.
You can google a Disney Halloween map but it really does not show either of the mentioned landmarks!
Great review. I totally get the swing for the fences outlook. Thanks for sharing. How do you think the fireworks would appear from the Contemporary Resort: i.e. the California Grill or Club Level in Contemporary? We are not wanting to buy tix for the party, because some of our party had a negative take on a previous party visit, but we are pretty interested in the fireworks. Do you have any thoughts about viewing outside the actual park?
Amazing pictures. Jack Skellington is my favorite Disney character of all time. Wish it wasn’t 1 year & 3 days till we visit again……….. not that I am counting.
Can you include a map? I have no idea what things like the Hump, partners statue, etc are or where they are 🙂 Very Excited for this show. We will probably love it because it’s our first Halloween fireworks show and only our 2nd Disney fireworks show. We only saw the fireworks once at Disneyland despite our 50 something days at DL as an AP.
Yes, a map of this would be very helpful to me as well as I will be there in a few days and have tickets to this show. thanks.
I believe there is a map in the Best Magic Kingdom Fireworks Spots article linked above.
Great pictures. I’m excited for a different kind of show- look forward to checking out something fresh in September.
Thanks for the beautiful pictures! The new show looks awesome. Every time I read more about it I want to go more. (Like a little kid), So here’s my dilemma I have only reserved two table service dinners and I would have to cancel one to go! What would you do?
Only point I have is for the “gaming” Disney fans Mickey and friends HAVE interacted with Jack….in The Kingdom Hearts games. Through that game series they cross realms. Granted I only know this through obsessed children, but that being said Mickey and friends also aren’t part of the Princess realms in stories but have interacted before both in KH and other areas.