13 Frightfully Fun Facts About Disney’s Halloween History
Halloween is a time for spooks and spirits, for things that go bump in the night, and all other manner of happy haunts. Creepy creeps with eerie eyes lurk around every corner of Disney history, delighting fans with friendly frights. To celebrate the Halloween season, here are 13 haunted happenings in Disney history.
1. The Skeleton Dance
In 1929, Disney Cartoons released the first of their legendary Silly Symphony series. The film, The Skeleton Dance, was a black and white cartoon directed by Walt Disney and animated by Ub Iwerks. Composer Carl Stalling, who later composed for Warner Brother’s Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, wrote the soundtrack, writing a fox trot in a minor key and adapting a portion of composer Edvard Grieg’s “The March of the Trolls” for the film.
2. Lonesome Ghosts
Shortly after the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Disney released the animated short film Lonesome Ghosts. Walt Disney provided the voice for Mickey Mouse in the film, a role he retained until 1946. The film follows Mickey, Donald Duck, and Goofy as the Ajax Ghost Exterminators. The trio investigate the haunting of an old house, unaware that they have been hired by the ghosts, who have grown bored because no one visits them.
3. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Washington Irving’s classic tale of Ichabod Crane, Brom Bones, and the Headless Horseman came to life in Disney’s 1949 feature film, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Crooner Bing Crosby narrated the Sleepy Hollow portion of the film.
4. Trick or Treat
Donald Duck starred in 1952’s animated short Trick or Treat. Directed by Jack Hannah, later of Hannah Barbera, the film follows the cantankerous Donald as he gets his comeuppance for pranking nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Legendary voice actress June Foray provided the voice for Witch Hazel, the old hag who takes up the boys’ cause. Among her many credits, Foray voiced Cinderella’s Lucifer, Grammi Gummi from Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bear, and Magica De Spell.
5. Museum of the Weird
The Haunted Mansion has been a guest favorite since its 1969 opening in Disneyland. Variations on the original Attraction exist in Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland.
Before the Attraction opened, Walt gave viewers a preview of the Attraction on the Wonderful World of Color television program. The preview included a segment on the Museum of the Weird, a Madame Tussaud like walk through designed by Imagineers Rolly Crump and Yale Gracey. The museum was to feature items like a melting candle man, a haunted gypsy wagon, and other oddities. However, the idea was abandoned after Walt’s death the following year.
6. Village Halloween Party
The Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village (now known as Disney Springs) opened in 1975. To promote business traffic in the shopping area, Disney began hosting an annual Halloween party and costume contest in the district.
7. The Contemporary Resort
In 1976, Disney hosted a special event for guests at its Contemporary Resort, hosting a Halloween Party in the Ballroom of the Americas.
8. Halloween Hysteria
Halloween Hysteria was a one night, ticketed event held after hours at the Magic Kingdom. The event took place on October 27, 1979 and ran from 9 p.m.- 1:30 a.m. It featured the music of bands like Dr. Hook and The Police. Tickets for the event cost $8.95.
9. The CBS Halloween Specials
In 1982, CBS broadcast Disney’s Halloween Treat, a sixty minute special narrated by Hal Douglas as a jack-o-lantern puppet. The film featured a variety of clips from Disney’s classic feature films and shorts, using characters like Mad Madam Mim, Cruella de Vil and Snow White’s Evil Queen. The following year brought A Disney Halloween, once again using Hal Davis to narrate. Clips of Snow White’s Magic Mirror were re-edited and used in the film as well. Some versions included a cameo by Disney chairman Michael Eisner.
10. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Despite Disney’s long history with Halloween, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party did not make its appearance in Walt Disney World until 1995. The first party was held on one night and cost $16.95 a ticket. By comparison, the 2017 version of the Not-So-Scary party ran 32 nights from August through October.
11. The Happy Haunted Horseshoe
In 2013, The Diamond Horseshoe Saloon in Walt Disney World held a limited time event known as the Happy Haunted Horseshoe. Performers included the Cadaver Dans (the Dapper Dans in spooky Halloween makeup), Miss Betty Blue, the Ghostly Magic of Abner Cadaver, and Dearly Departed Stan on the piano. The show ran for a single week.
12. The Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular & The Villain Mix and Mingle.
Released in 1993, Hocus Pocus (starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy) had long been a cult favorite when Disney added the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party. The show, introduced in 2015, features the Sanderson Sisters and an army of Disney villains, including Maleficent, Dr. Facilier, and Oogie Boogie from The Nightmare Before Christmas. The show replaced the Villains Mix and Mingle, which ran from 2005-2014 and featured a host of Disney villains celebrating Halloween.
13. Return to Sleepy Hollow
The Headless Horseman, whose specter begins the Boo-To-You parade, became part of the Ft. Wilderness Halloween experience in 2017. The “Return to Sleepy Hollow” event featured viewings of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow film and close up photo opportunities with the Horseman.