Hall Of Presidents: Under New Management


The Hall of Presidents at Magic Kingdom, an opening day attraction, has been closed since January. This was to be expected, of course, as it always shuts down for a bit when a new president is inaugurated so they can incorporate a newly elected official into the show. However, this time is a little different as the reopening date has been an ongoing question: originally slated for early summer, the attraction is still shut down (as of writing this post). Various reasons have been given, including a huge upgrade to the theater’s technical systems, but there’s still no real indication as to when they’ll be unlocking the doors and letting guests back in.

While there are rumors that suggest it’ll be reopened by this Christmas, others have been indicating that the attraction may be closed permanently and something new will be taking its place. If that latter rumor turns out to have any truth to it, then there’s likely a whole team of Imagineers right now who are brainstorming about what to put into the space.

To assist these hardworking folks, I’ve gone ahead and put together a list of ten concepts here that they’re more than welcome to use. I’m helpful like that.

The Muppets Present

This concept is actually pretty straightforward, as it just takes the show that’s out in front and moves it into the theater. The clever and very entertaining “The Muppets Present Great Moments in American History” show can be seen throughout the day right outside of the Hall of Presidents. Kermit and his friends take on a couple different pivotal moments in the country’s history (with all of the gravity and seriousness you’d expect. Which is to say, very little). There are downsides, though: right now folks have to stand up to watch it, and if it’s raining people are less likely to stop at all. So why convert the theater into something tailored specifically for this show and bring it inside? It could have neat things that happen all around the audience, like MuppetVision 3D in Hollywood Studios, and it’d eliminate the risk of weather hampering the experience.

What better way to introduce folks to American history than with singing chickens and a joke-telling bear?

Great Imperial Moments

In Disneyland, the classic Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction debuted in the park in 1965 (and at the 1964 World’s Fair before that). Focusing on just the one president rather than all of them, the show starts with a biographical movie and then has an animatronic version of Honest Abe talk. Why not go with that same type of attraction for a newly renovated Hall of Presidents… but with a modern twist? Since it seems like Disney’s goal is to put hot intellectual properties wherever they can in the parks, I give you: Great Moments with Emperor Palpatine!

The concept is basically the same thing as what’s in Disneyland, but with an exciting Star Wars overlay! The Emperor will talk about his rise through galactic politics, his clone army, and even give guests a cool behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the Death Star! The film will showcase his younger years, and then an animatronic Palpatine will take the stage and say something about crushing the Rebellion and the power of the Dark Side.

It’ll be a great way to keep the style of the classic attraction, but shoehorn in a popular franchise. Perfect!

Great Moments with Grover

So what if we like the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln concept of just focusing on one president, and we appreciate the entertainment value of adding fun characters, but think that Star Wars may be a bit of a stretch for Liberty Square? This next idea addresses that very thought: Great Moments with Grover Cleveland, starring Grover!

In this fun new attraction, the cheerful blue Muppet from Sesame Street will be the emcee as he narrates a biographical look at the president’s life. He’ll be sure to include tidbits like the color of Cleveland’s shoes, whether he’s wearing a hat or not, and what his favorite number was. There’ll be plenty of serious history and hilarious slapstick as the fuzzy blue monster sings and dances his way through the president’s life. There’ll even be a high-flying segment, right over the heads of the audience, featuring Super Grover!

In the finale of the show, Grover and Grover will sing a song about the Constitution, as well as how important it is to eat all of your vegetables.

The Return of the Future

I mean, they could just build a new Horizons there. Though, to be fair, I think any available spot anywhere in Walt Disney World could potentially be a place to put a new Horizons attraction…

Other concepts in this vein include “Universe of Presidents,” a ride which features a really cool dinosaur part followed by a half hour educational film, “World of Presidents” which delves into the history of different presidential modes of transportation, and also “Journey Into Legislation” in which a whimsical new character sings about making laws

Presidential Meet and Greet

For many guests, meeting their favorite character is a pretty big part of the Disney parks experience. So, in this concept, let’s take the fun of a meet & greet and blend it with the excitement of the highest office in US politics.

That’s right, turn the space into a themed meet & greet area with Rutherford B. Hayes!

Guests can meet the nineteenth president, pose for photos, and even get his autograph! Since he’d be a “face” character, too, he can talk and tell them all about the end of the Civil War and the Great Railroad Strike. Good ol’ Rutherford will be sure to enchant folks of all ages with his witty banter full of mid-1800s colloquialisms, like “lally-cooler” and “shoddyocracy”.

Honestly, almost any president would work well in this new imagining of the attraction, and the space is large enough to even have multiple options available at one time (like in Pete’s Silly Sideshow or Princess Fairytale Hall). I just like saying “Rutherford B. Hayes”.

Cats and Dogs, Living Together

If there’s one thing that Disney–and really almost everybody–loves, it’s cute animals. With that in mind, the Hall of Presidential Pets will be all about the cats and dogs (and other critters) that have resided in the White House.

The Hall of Presidential Pets concept is actually based upon the current model, in that it features a series of figures from throughout history. However, instead of focusing on the presidents themselves, this fun new show will instead showcase their pets! Whether it’s Washington’s donkey, Rutherford B. Hayes’ English Mastiff, Lincoln’s cats, or Harrison’s opossums (seriously. They were named Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection), every pet that’s ever been a part of a presidential family will be included. Even John Quincy Adams’ alligator will be there!

In this exciting show each animal will be highlighted, while a narrator talks a bit about the history of pets in the White House. However, to really give it a fun Disney feel, at the end all of the animals will sing a cheerful tune (in the vein of the Sherman brothers). Guests will laugh at the antics of these furry friends, and be humming the tune for hours afterward!

Gifts for the Patriotic

The Hall of Presidents building would be the perfect place to add in a big new shopping area, and in keeping with the Liberty Square theme all of the items the store sells could be presidential-themed!

Children will love Washington’s chattering wooden teeth and big foam Nixon fingers, and they’ll definitely want to collect the entire set of presidential Tsum Tsum. There’ll even be a special exclusive available just in this shop: Lincoln’s stovepipe hat, with Mickey Mouse ears (and attached chin beard)! There’ll also be a special Photopass spot where guests can get their pictures taken and then turned into Magic Shots featuring a random president (like Rutherford B. Hayes). Plus, for kiddies who love getting their faces painted, there will be a booth right out front that specializes in drawing different presidential facial hair–from the muttonchops of John Quincy Adams to the long beard sported by James Garfield.

Disney loves gift shops, and kids of all ages love products based on presidents, so this is sure to be a hit!

Mr. Taft’s Wild Ride

Take a much-loved (and very much missed) attraction and add some presidential flair, and you’ve got this exciting concept for a new dark ride!

Like J. Thaddeus Toad from Wind in the Willows, William Taft was apparently an automobile enthusiast, so this concept is really a no-brainer. In keeping with the style of the original ride, this new attraction has guests climbing into a car and then going on a crazy adventure. However, rather than careening through the world of Toad and his friends, Mr. Taft’s Wild Ride goes through the different judicial offices in Washington. Riders zoom through the Oval Office, up and down the halls of the Capitol Building, and between the shelves in the Library of Congress (all circa the early 1900s when Taft was president, which is also coincidentally when Wind in the Willows takes place).

Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, Mr. Taft’s Wild Ride inexplicably takes guests through an odd vision of Hell at the end.

Hall of Presidents: Under New Management

This is almost exactly like the current Hall of Presidents. The only real difference is that at some point during the show Iago from Aladdin pops in and starts being obnoxious. Not much else has been fleshed out on this concept, however it’s been suggested that more fire extinguishers than normal be put in the building.

Capitalism, the Ride

So what about going in an entirely different direction and putting in something that would really liven up Liberty Square: an exciting new thrill ride, featuring Disney characters, that also has something to do with the economy? If all of that sounds brilliant (and I think that all of my ideas do), then this last idea will be perfect. Introducing “Uncle Scrooge’s Money Bin Drop!”

In this fascinating attraction, guests board a gantry lift a la Tower of Terror. Scrooge McDuck then takes them through a journey which shows how he became the richest duck in the world. Animated sequences show him earning his very first dime, working hard, and going on to make billions.

Cameo appearances by other DuckTales characters are peppered throughout the attraction, and won’t guests be surprised to find out that the hapless Launchpad McQuack is piloting their vehicle! Which, of course, leads to the highlight of the ride as it takes a freefall drop into Scrooge’s money bin!

We may eventually see the Hall of Presidents reopen, and remain the Magic Kingdom classic that it’s been since day one. If Disney does decide to use the space to bring a new attraction to Liberty Square, though, I hope that they find these ideas useful and could see any one of them (or more than one) as a great addition to Liberty Square!

I have plenty of others to share about what to do with Tomorrowland, EPCOT, etc… so if Disney Imagineering needs any more help, I’ll be waiting here for my call!


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Key(blade) To The Kingdom

What if I told you that almost every Disney animated feature, and even some of the live-action films, are connected? That Donald and Goofy, along with a spiky-haired kid wielding a giant key, have met and interacted with Peter Pan, Belle, Mulan–even Tron and Captain Jack Sparrow?

It’s possible that you already know where I’m going with this, but for those who are wondering if I’ve simply lost my mind (and you wouldn’t be the first to think that)… welcome to the weird world of Kingdom Hearts.

Kingdom Hearts is a series of video games created by Square Enix (the company behind the mega-popular Final Fantasy franchise) that takes players through several different Disney worlds over the course of an epic quest. It’s an action/role-playing game: essentially you’re moving a character and battling in real time, and you’ve got experience points, spell casting, and new abilities that you acquire as you progress. As you gain new items–weapons, armor, accessories, etc–you can equip them in order to boost various stats. In most cases you can choose which world to go to when, too, so you’re not bound to a strict linear path. The action is often broken up by animated sequences that further the story.

There are many games featuring Disney characters out there, and most are aimed at a younger audience, so people unfamiliar with the franchise may assume that Kingdom Hearts is also for kids. The series, though, is really geared more for older players. While the games are fairly “family friendly” in that there’s no profanity, revealing costumes, or sexual content, the gameplay can be challenging and the story is deep and complex (and, as I’ll explain soon, gets quite convoluted). If you’re familiar with role-playing games (RPGs) in general, and Japanese role-playing games in particular, you already know that their narratives can get really confusing. Kingdom Hearts is no exception. Over the course of the several-game series things definitely get weird.

I’ll do my best, though, to offer an overview:

At the center of the Kingdom Hearts story is Sora, and he’s the character that the player most often controls throughout the series. Sora is a young boy (an original character created for the game) whose island home is destroyed by creatures known as the Heartless, beings made up of darkness who are determined to snuff out goodness and light. Sora ends up gaining the ability to wield a keyblade–a magical weapon shaped like a big key–and uses it to fight these monsters. His home is destroyed, his childhood friends Kairi and Riku are lost in the chaos, and he finds himself in a strange town where he meets and teams up with Donald Duck and Goofy. They work for Mickey Mouse–the king of Disney Castle–as his court magician and captain of the guard, and they’ve been sent out by Queen Minnie to find him after he mysteriously vanished.

They all board a spaceship, called the Gummi Ship, which allows them to fly between worlds, and over the course of their quest they interact with a bunch of different Disney (and Final Fantasy) characters. They help Aladdin in Agrabah, team up with Jack Skellington in Halloween Town, swim under the sea with Ariel, fight alongside Tron inside a computer, and many more. The Heartless have infested all of these worlds, which means a lot of combat for Sora, Donald, and Goofy in their travels. Additionally, many Disney villains are working with the Heartless under the command of Maleficent, so the heroes face off against the likes of Hades and Ursula during their adventure. There’s also Chip and Dale as mechanics who keep the ship flying, and Daisy Duck is a lady in Disney Castle. Huey, Dewey, and Louie pop up, as does Uncle Scrooge. Pluto happens by every now and again. Pete is a bad guy who teams up with Maleficent to unleash Heartless across the worlds. Sora also gains the ability to summon even more characters to help him in combat, like Stitch and Tinkerbell, making Kingdom Hearts possibly the biggest mash-up of Disney characters outside of the theme parks themselves (and the Disney Infinity video games). Even Winnie the Pooh makes an appearance.

The concept of light and darkness plays heavily into the tale, and as the series progresses we learn that there were once many keyblade wielders until a big “Keyblade War” wiped most of them out. After that there were only a select few who could wield the weapons, charged with maintaining the balance between darkness and light. There’s also a place called Kingdom Hearts in the games, which is the heart of all the worlds. It kind of looks like a big heart-shaped moon in the sky when it appears, and the villains are trying to get there because it’ll give them untold power. There’s also the Princesses of Heart (Disney princesses, plus original Kingdom Hearts character Kairi), and there’s a trio of keyblade wielders who sort of got the ball rolling when Sora was just a small child (you play as all three in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, which is a prequel to Sora’s adventure). Then there’s a group of powerful enemies known as Organization XIII who have their own sinister agenda. Not to mention Maleficent running around trying to gain control of Kingdom Hearts to conquer everything, Mickey occasionally showing up to kick butt with his own keyblade, and Sora’s doppleganger Roxas. That’s not even taking into account the memory-altering witch, or the evil guy who possesses someone and then proceeds to take on the name of someone else.

Like I said, things get weird.

The game is made by Square Enix, though most of the characters (aside from the Final Fantasy ones) belong to Disney. That includes any originals–like Sora, Kairi, and Riku–that are made specifically for the series. A couple of Kingdom Hearts trading pins have been made available in the parks at different times, one for a special event and one (Mickey wearing a black cloak) as a general release. At a cast member appreciation party in Walt Disney World earlier this year, Donald and Goofy appeared in their Kingdom Hearts outfits for a meet & greet. Donald, Goofy, and Sora all appeared at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in 2004 for the release of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. At the D23 Expo 2017, during a panel about Disney video games, a new trailer was shown for Kingdom Hearts 3. It was revealed there that a Toy Story world would be a part of the upcoming game, joining the Big Hero 6 and Tangled worlds that had already been announced.


The games (so far) are: Union CrossBirth By SleepKingdom HeartsChain of Memories358/2 DaysKingdom Hearts 2Re: Coded, and Dream Drop Distance. Some of them have been remade and/or re-released over the years, and collection discs can be found for the Playstation 3 and Playstation 4. Not pictured here is Kingdom Hearts 2.8 for the Playstation 4, which ties together some loose ends in the story in anticipation of the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3.

So how did this all happen? Well, there was this elevator in Tokyo…

The birth of Kingdom Hearts actually started with a conversation between a couple of producers at Square. They were talking about making a new action game, which led them to mention Nintendo’s Super Mario 64 and how popular the Mario character was worldwide. Only Disney, they felt, had properties even more well known around the globe, so they spitballed an idea for a game that included some of those characters. At the time, both Square and Disney had offices in the same Japanese office building, and when one of those producers found himself riding an elevator with a Disney executive he went ahead and pitched the concept. As the idea was further fleshed out, the original plan was for it to be aimed at children. However, Hironobu Sakaguchi–the creator of Final Fantasy–stressed that if the game were to succeed it would need a deep story. Given how crazy popular the Final Fantasy games are, the man probably knows what he’s talking about. So, the project evolved.

When work on the game got underway in early 2000, Disney offered Square unprecedented access to their franchises, and didn’t put too many restrictions on how they were incorporated into the game. The writers were sure to keep the characters true to their film representations, though, and in most cases also kept them within their own settings. So you’d never see Tron running around Pride Rock, for example. I have heard (though I can’t find the source now, so this may or may not be accurate) that one issue Disney did have was with the suggestion that Sora wield a sword. They felt that it was just too violent to have him hacking up enemies, so the designers came up with the (now quite iconic) keyblade.

Animal Kingdom had opened at Walt Disney World shortly before work on the game got underway, and the producers were inspired by that and the idea of Disney theme park “kingdoms”. Plus, there was the story’s focus on the light and darkness within peoples’ hearts. Thus, Kingdom Hearts.

One aspect in many video games, particularly role-playing games, is that the voice acting can be pretty bad (sometimes hilariously so). Kingdom Hearts has more or less bucked that trend by having consistently decent voice work, and the games have even had a fair number of big-name voice performers play characters: Mark Hamill, Christopher Lee, and Leonard Nimoy have all taken on roles in various Kingdom Hearts games. While some of the characters from Disney movies are played by sound-alike performers (with varying degrees of success), many iconic voices also reprised their roles, including Jodi Benson as Ariel, Tony Anselmo as Donald Duck, and more. This has helped bring the characters to life, and really given the games a cinematic feel.

The first game quickly became a hit when it was released in 2002, and since then Kingdom Hearts has become a phenomenon with countless fans around the globe. The series has grown to include several best-selling games across a handful of different consoles, and there’s a mobile game available on iPhone and Android smartphones. There’s also a lot of merchandise out there, including books, clothing, action figures, and even Halloween costumes.

kh merch

You can find Kingdom Hearts merchandise in a variety of places, and this year Spirit Halloween stores had their own line of cool items. I bought socks, and this hat based on a Shadow–one of the creatures you fight in the games.

I discovered the first game about a year after it launched. I didn’t really know anything about it other than that it was an action/RPG that featured Disney characters, but that was enough to pique my interest. I picked up a copy, gave it a try, and was instantly hooked. I thought the way it presented the Disney worlds was neat, and the story and the original aspects (like the keyblade) were really cool. I’ve played a lot of Disney games over the years, and many of them are fun in their own ways, but at the same time the bulk of them are designed for younger players. There are exceptions–Lion King and Aladdin for the old Sega Genesis were brutally difficult even for experienced gamers–but in general there’s a perceived “audience” for Disney and game publishers will aim their products for that demographic. One of the things that sets Kingdom Hearts apart is that it doesn’t simplify anything, and therefore appeals to older Disney fans. It takes Disney characters and puts them into an epic adventure, combining both the rich stories of Disney movies and the intense depth of role-playing video games.

I considered myself a pretty big fan, but hadn’t really thought much about the games in a while. Then, in early 2016, the mobile game Kingdom Hearts Unchained x (now Kingdom Hearts Union Cross, which I wrote a bit about here) was released in the US. I downloaded it, got addicted to it, and it brought back how much I really enjoyed the world of Kingdom Hearts. So I went online, purchased the entire series, and dove back in. As the game release order and the storyline order do not match, I played them all in the proper order of the story this time and not when each game hit shelves. I immersed myself in Kingdom Hearts, playing through each game and falling in love with the series all over again (even with Chain of Memories, which foregoes the usual gameplay for a weird card-based system). As each game can be pretty long–it’s easy to sink 40 hours or more into each one–it’s taken a considerable chunk of time.

I adopted a stray kitten shortly after I started playing the first Kingdom Hearts, and I was so into the game at the time that I named her Kairi. I have yet to adopt a Sora or a Riku, though.

OK, so why am I writing about all of this? Well, there are a couple of reasons:

The first is, as I’ve said, I’m a huge fan of the Kingdom Hearts series. I’ve played the games, I own some merchandise, and I can name all of the members of Organization XIII. So, I wanted to share this obsession with my readers (even if it meant taking a break from playing in order to write about it).

The second reason is that sometimes it’s fun to explore beyond the theme parks and movies. You may have heard of the games but had no idea what they were, or perhaps this is the first mention of them you’ve ever come across, but Kingdom Hearts is a part of the larger Disney universe (in its way) so I wanted to introduce people to it. The series is huge, complex, and not necessarily for everyone. There’s also a bit of financial investment to buy consoles and games. So I don’t expect everyone to rush out and play it (though I think you’d dig it, and I certainly suggest checking it out if any of this piqued your interest). Either way, though, the next time you’re out and about and you see an action figure of Mickey Mouse holding a giant key or you see pics of Donald and Goofy with a spiky-haired kid, you’ll know what’s up.

Now, if you’ll excuse me–Pete teamed up with Maleficent to unleash monsters everywhere, a guy in a black cloak just tried to kidnap Belle, and I’m late for a musical rehearsal with Sebastian. Gotta go save the kingdom!

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Halloween, Done Disney Style

If you’re like me, you’re sadly not spending this spooky season at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in Magic Kingdom. In fact, if you’re like me, you’re not even going out and you’ll most likely be spending October 31st sitting on the couch watching movies.

Being like me is, apparently, pretty boring.

Even if you’re not getting the chance to spend it at a park, though, there are still some neat ways to combine Disney fandom with Halloween spookiness!

I absolutely love Halloween, so even if I don’t have any big plans I still try to find ways to celebrate during the season. Movies, costumes, pumpkin carving, and even musical selections can all be a part of getting lots of Disney and Halloween into my life throughout October. Here’s my recipe for some frightful fun:

Tunes of Terror

What’s the Halloween season without some appropriately spooky music?

I’ve got a huge collection of Disney tunes, from the movies and the parks, so it’s not tough for me to put together a Halloween-themed playlist that includes songs like “Grim Grinning Ghosts” from the Haunted Mansion and “I’ve Got Friends on the Other Side” from Princess and the Frog. So one way to be sure you’re listening to the spookiest possible selections is to just make your own Disney Halloween playlist.

Maybe you don’t have all of these songs, though, or just don’t have access to your playlist when you’re out and about? Check out the offerings on music streaming service Spotify. They’ve got pre-made playlists such as “Disney Halloween” and “Disney Villains” to get you into the holiday spirit, and you can access the service from a computer or a smartphone. There’s a free version as well as a paid premium one (I use the free version at the moment). The Halloween playlist has the songs you’d expect–like selections from The Nightmare Before Christmas, but there are also a few neat oddities like “Monster Mash” sung by Goofy.


I recently reorganized my Disney music on iTunes (I’m up to seven different playlists) and discovered that I have a lot more Haunted Mansion music than I thought I did.

Freaky Films

My wife and I have a tradition in which we watch a bunch of “seasonally appropriate” movies and cartoons during October. We have a few standards that we’ll make time for, and we try to toss in some new things into the mix each year as well.

First up, the cartoon shorts. This year’s list:

Skeleton Dance (1929): A quartet of skeletons getting their groove on in a graveyard one spooky night. This is one that I’ll watch every Halloween (and sometimes other times of the year just because it’s awesome), and it’s a lot of fun. Also, it was the very first Silly Symphony!

Haunted House (1929): Another Silly Symphony from the early days of Disney animation, this one features Mickey Mouse and a spooky mansion. During his adventure he encounters a grim reaper, and there are more skeletons dancing (it looks like this and Skeleton Dance shared some animation). This is another of my “must see classics” that I’ll watch every year.

Mad Doctor (1933): I threw this into the rotation this year for the first time. In this, Mickey enters a creepy castle to rescue Pluto from a mad scientist who’s intent on mixing the hapless pooch with a chicken (like you do). During Mickey’s quest he encounters skeletons (who are, unsurprisingly, dancing) as well as some other terrors.

Egyptian Melodies (1931): This one I had never even heard of, until it came up as a suggestion on YouTube while I was seeking out other spooky-themed Disney shorts. In this, some mummies pop out of their sarcophagi to do some dancing in an ancient tomb.

Side note, before I continue: Walt Disney and his animators seem to have really liked the concept of epic undead dance parties.

Lonesome Ghosts (1937): A Halloween mainstay. This short stars Mickey, Donald, and Goofy as a trio of hapless ghost hunters who end up being called to a house that’s haunted by a group of mischievous spirits. This is probably my favorite of all the old Disney cartoons. Also, at one point Goofy states “I ain’t scared of no ghost” several decades before a Ghostbuster ever uttered the phrase.

Trick or Treat (1952): I love Donald Duck, and I love Halloween, so watching this one is a no-brainer (mmmm… braaaainnssss). Donald is more focused on tricks than treats when his nephews come to the door, but then they team up with a witch and things get weird. This one has a great song, “Trick or Treat on Halloween”, that’ll most likely haunt your mind long after the cartoon has ended.

Ghoul Friend (2013): In this fairly new cartoon, Mickey encounters a zombified Goofy while out for a pleasant drive. Hijinks, as one would expect, ensue. I had seen this somewhere at some point (in all honesty, I think it was playing in the Disney Store when I was in there one day) and wanted to add it into the Halloween rotation.

All of these can be easily found on YouTube, and Lonesome Ghosts is also an extra on some versions of the The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad DVD.

Next, some Halloween-themed movies:

Nightmare Before Christmas: I mean, obviously.

Hocus Pocus: It’s funny how this one sort of vanished into obscurity/cult status and then suddenly got a big shove back into popularity and now has a presence in the parks. It’s silly and really cheesy, but it has witches in Salem on Halloween so it’s another obvious choice to watch.

Under Wraps: OK, I’m going to spend a bit more time on this one. We discovered Under Wraps, a Disney Channel original movie from 1997, recently while searching for new things to add to our watch list. It’s available to rent or buy via download on iTunes and other services (getting a physical copy is a very difficult and expensive undertaking), and it was amazing in both its campiness and entertainment value. The story revolves around three pre-teens who happen to come across an Egyptian mummy (whom they name Harold), who gets reanimated, and then there’s a zany adventure while they try to hide him and help him. It’s ridiculous, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Based on our enjoyment of Under Wraps, we then watched the 1998 Disney Channel original movie Halloweentown, about a family of witches and a town populated by all sorts of Halloween creatures. We were… less than impressed with it, but it had its entertaining moments.

Haunted Mansion: This Eddie Murphy family comedy, loosely based on the attraction, is admittedly one of my guilty pleasures. I know it’s a bad movie, but I own a copy and feel it’s a suitable addition to a Halloween film fest (my wife, however, requested that I watch it when she’s at work)I mean, I have to stress that it’s terrible and has virtually no redeeming features other than a few fun nods to the ride, but for some reason I just enjoy watching it now and again. I’m a little ashamed by this.

Ghoulish Gourds

For the past handful of years, our jack-o-lanterns have had a definite Disney theme.


One of our first attempts at carving a Disney-themed pumpkin. We created the pattern from some Leota images we found online to create a Madame Leota-lantern!


Being (slightly) obsessed with Star Wars as I am, and particularly the Clone Wars and Rebels shows, I went a little different one year and created a jack-o-lantern based on Captain Rex. Finding a white pumpkin to represent his clone helmet really made this one work. The rest was paint and Sharpie, with a bit of carving.


One year, my wife and I got really elaborate with our jack-o-lanterns. I recreated Walt Disney World’s Electrical Water Pageant on mine, poking lots of holes (and using blue paint for the water) and putting three of the floats around the pumpkin. She carved the three fairies from Sleeping Beauty–Flora, Fauna, and Meriweather–in hers and then separated it with cardboard inside so each one could be lit a different color.


My recreation of the Tomorrowland pin from the movie (which is one of my absolute faves), I call this one my Tomorr-o-lantern. This was my first attempt with “shaving” off parts of the outer rind and leaving the yellow part exposed.


I’ll sometimes get super elaborate (i.e: bite off more than I can chew) when it comes to design, whereas my wife prefers somewhat easier pumpkin projects. She found this Jack Skellington jack-o-lantern pattern online and it really came out great! She was also done with her carving and relaxing in front of the TV while I was still slowly shaving off orange bits on my Tomorr-o-lantern, so there may be something to be said for the simpler option…



It’s not hard to find a lot of great Disney-themed pumpkin patterns online, like this Oogie Boogie that my wife discovered this year. The project was fairly quick and easy, and the results are fantastic.


I wanted to go a bit simpler and spookier this time, after the elaborate (and fairly niche) Tomorr-o-lantern from last year. So we pulled a screenshot from The Black Cauldron of the villain–the Horned King–and then traced the relevant lines on the computer to create the pattern. Of course, I needed horns to really sell this one, and I’m super happy with how it came out!

Creepy Costuming

A few years back, for a Halloween party, we put together Captain Hook and Mr. Smee costumes.


We’ve reused these a couple times now, because they’re a lot of fun.

So even if I can’t spend time at Magic Kingdom during Halloween, I’ve still found ways to celebrate the season at home and incorporate my love of Disney into the mix. We’ll hopefully get to Mickeys Not-So-Scary Halloween Party someday, but until then we’ll keep getting our “spooky” on at home and do it with some pixie dusted style!

Happy Halloween!


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