Disney World Halloween: Fun and fantasy minus the fear

Virtually all theme parks showcase the dark side for their Halloween events, with walk-through haunted houses that go for the jugular – figuratively and literally. But Disney World‘s Magic Kingdom, home of princesses, fairies, pixie dust and the innocuous “It’s a Small World,” foregoes chainsaw-wielding zombies and PG-13 gore and focuses on what it does best: parades, fireworks, shows, and E-Ticket rides. To dispel any ambiguity, The Mouse calls its fall event “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.”

Guests of all ages are encouraged to come in costume, and the park’s streets are teeming with people outfitted in clever garb. On the evening I attended, an utterly convincing Princess Leia, circa 1977’s original “Star Wars,” walked past an entire grim, grinning family that looked like it had escaped from the Haunted Mansion. I questioned the parenting skills of a woman dressed as Cruella de Vil as she assembled her litter of children made up as cute Dalmatians.

Whether they are in costume or not, visitors can go trick-or-treating at locations throughout the Magic Kingdom. The park provides bags, and cast members are generous as they dole out fistfuls of candy treats.

In Frontierland, a character known as Cactus-Flower Cate corrals a posse of costumed kids for an impromptu promenade that serves as a warm-up to Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade. One of the highlights of the party, the main-event procession is packed with 175 performers.

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