August has arrived, which, of course, means it’s time to start celebrating the Halloween season… Hold up. What?! According to Disney anyway, it’s time to start celebrating, as this week was the beginning of the Disney After Hours Boo Bash. You won’t meet many people who love Halloween more than me, it’s literally my favorite day of the year. But even I can’t picture myself starting the Halloween season quite this early.
I’m one of those Halloween and horror fans that certainly enjoys finding ways to celebrate throughout the entire year, but it’s quite different recognizing that those are off-season events filling the void until the real thing comes around. Starting a run of Halloween parties in August and going through the holiday seems like a bit of overkill (pun intended) to me. But it certainly isn’t too soon for a lot of people, as the parties do sell out.
As someone who grew up in New England, I relate dark nights and chilly evenings to Halloween. They’re nowhere to be found in August, especially where I spend the holiday mostly in Southern California and a bit in Orlando. It’s certainly a different feel than my childhood years in Massachusetts, but there is quite a difference typically between the August and October nighttime air in these two locations. The closer you get to October, you can sometimes sense the autumnal breeze in the air. But Orlando in August? There’s no faking that, no matter how many stars you wish upon.
In August, I’m still enjoying evenings at the beach, nights at the drive-in, and late-night sunsets. We’re still in the middle of summer, not even close to the beginning of fall. I understand why the Disney Halloween parties begin so early, there’s clearly a demand for it. People are attending in droves, and it makes business sense to do it. It does make me wonder how early Disney would begin the end-of-year holiday festivities if Halloween wasn’t in the way, considering Christmas is an even bigger moneymaker than Halloween.
Since so many tourists are visiting the Orlando area to celebrate Halloween, we often see the festivities beginning sooner there than anywhere else. Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort begins on Sept. 3 this year, while it opens in Hollywood a bit later on Sept. 9. With SeaWorld’s Howl-O-Scream event, it opens on Sept. 10 in Florida versus Sept. 17 at the California park. Southern California has one of the biggest groups of Halloween fanatics around, but the norm is that a lot of locals attend instead of tourists, allowing for the later start dates.
I especially find it crazy when I think about how the Halloween and horror convention Midsummer Scream was created to be a lead-up to the Halloween season (Full disclosure: I am part of the Midsummer Scream team). The Southern California convention takes place in July or August depending on the year. This used to be a weekend of what to look forward to; yet, as each year passes, the haunts being promoted at the event seem to get closer and closer to the convention date. In Disney’s case, the Florida event is sometimes already running.
One of my favorite Halloween events is Knott’s Scary Farm and they tend to open in what I consider to be the Halloween haunt sweet spot. This year, they’re opening on Sept. 16. Mid-September feels perfect to me, as it’s close enough to the first day of fall, yet also allows for a good, long run of the event. Early September is pushing it in my book, and August is just nuts.
Overall, I love Halloween and all events associated with Halloween, but you won’t catch me at a proper Halloween event before September — especially not in the Florida heat, dripping sweat in costume. I am very curious to hear from any of you who do attend the August parties. Do you attend mostly for the discount, or do you truly want to start celebrating the spooky season as early as possible? What do you consider to be the perfect time to start celebrating the creepiest season of them all? Let me know in the comments.
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Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles, California. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” a Disney fan podcast. He is offering the free gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com. DePaoli’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent Attractions Magazine.