We recently found out that Walt Disney World would not be throwing their typical Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party again in 2021 and will instead have a smaller event called Disney After Hours Boo Bash at Magic Kingdom. This decision was obviously made as the theme park industry is still trying to responsibly recover from the pandemic, but what could this mean for other theme park Halloween events?
I must admit that I was a bit surprised when we got this news. It looks like Florida is moving speedily back to “normal,” and I figured by the Halloween season, they would be good to go with possibly a mask requirement. It is fairly ironic, considering that in the past, masks weren’t allowed as part of guests’ Halloween costumes.
As we recently learned, Walt Disney World is stopping temperature checks and going from six to three feet of social distancing. Also, if online rumors can be believed, it’s been said that nighttime spectacular testing at Epcot can be heard after the park closes. If true, that suggests that nighttime spectaculars are on their way back into the parks. All of this news makes me think that end-of-year festivities won’t need to make massive changes.
Part of the issue is that Halloween for Walt Disney World begins in August, which is coming up fairly quickly. What the new event really means is that they believe the parks still won’t be ready for live shows, big parades, fireworks and more by then. Of course, this is a much better scenario than last year’s full cancelation, but it does make you wonder if we’ll ever be able to get back to the big extravaganzas we once had.
Decisions about these things need to be made way in advance, so perhaps they’re just playing it on the safe side, even if there is a scenario in which they might be able to include some additional offerings. Any company would far prefer giving a Halloween treat of some last-minute additional content as opposed to the less popular “trick” of necessary cancelations.
After the announcement of the Disney After Hours Boo Bash, it got me wondering about other Halloween events. I live in Southern California, so my first thought was, to put it bluntly, that we’re screwed. It’s no secret that Florida has been opening things much faster than California in relation to the pandemic. If Walt Disney World in Florida can’t even throw their full-blown Halloween event in 2021, there’s no chance of things getting back to “normal” by Halloween in California.
This goes well beyond the Disney Parks. Although Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort has announced its return for this year, we haven’t received many details beyond that. As for Universal Studios Hollywood, we haven’t heard any official news about the annual haunt event other than surveying guests about possible scenarios for the year. At Knott’s Berry Farm, it appears that passholders have access to purchasing passes for Knott’s Scary Farm, but there’s been no official word from the company about their plans, either.
I believe our regular Halloween events will return this year in Southern California, but it will most certainly be with compromises. Since vaccinations are now available, we should be in a safer place, so I hope we’re beyond the drive-thru experiences. I want my feet on the ground this year, completely worn out by the end of the night.
I assume (at least in California) that there will be limited capacity to these events to continue encouraging social distancing and that face masks will be required. A lot of these businesses most certainly want to bring their Halloween events back as they are big money-makers, but what does limited capacity mean for the event?
Lower capacity means a tighter production budget. That means that they will need to scale back the events with less haunts, shows, etc., or they will need to charge even more for tickets; perhaps both. I’ll be very interested to see what happens with ticket costs. If you’re paying more (or even the same as before), you would expect an equal or greater experience. But with the scarcity of tickets for similar events that often sell out, they may be able to get away with charging even more than they typically would due to demand. I’m excited to see that Halloween festivities are being planned and remain cautiously optimistic for what we’ll get. You can count on one thing though: It’ll have to be better than last Halloween season.
How would you feel about the Halloween events charging the same price as previous years? Would you be willing to pay the same amount for less content, or would you only go if the price was lowered — no matter how few crowds are in the parks? Leave a comment and let me know.
If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com.