“When the air is filled with the chill of fall, he’s the one who leads them all. From witch’s laughter and ghoulish crowds, to ghosts and monsters all around. With a glowing pumpkin to light the way, he’s lurking to find his perfect prey. He’s the greeter of Halloween fear, beware, the headless horseman is here!” If you’ve heard these words, then you’ve been privileged enough to experience the Boo-To-You Parade at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. There is much to love about this special event — the stage show, trick-or-treating, food, costumes, fireworks, decorations, and, of course, the Boo-To-You Parade. Today we will explore why the parade alone is one experience you DON’T want to miss!
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and because I love all things Disney, mashing the two together was just an explosive idea for me. I have traveled to Walt Disney World many times in my life but had never been to the parks to see fall decorations or experience Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. I didn’t even know the party existed until I married Doug (way behind on the times here).
You can imagine my delight when I was told we would be going to WDW in the fall of 2016 to experience those very things. It was a Christmas surprise (miracle), from the hubs the year before that we would be going. I had to wait a long time once I found out, but it was so worth it! I can’t even tell you. Well, yes, I can and it’s why you are reading this now.
There are certain stories that come to mind when the Halloween season begins. I admit, I grew up on books like “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” (let the screaming ensue). Although I have fond memories of hearing such stories on camping trips and sleepovers, one of the stories I always remembered was “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
This tale was written in 1820 by Washington Irving with the famous character we all know as the Headless Horseman stealing the show. Disney took on its own rendition of this European folklore in its 1949 release of the animated mini classic, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” featuring Bing Crosby (as the narrator) and Ichabod Crane (their version was a bit more playful).
During Halloween season, I am known to watch the Johnny Depp “Sleepy Hollow” film more than probably should be allowed (Doug will tell you he can’t stand Christopher Walken’s version of the Horseman in it, but I can overlook that). With it’s somewhat grim undertones, it was only natural for WDW to incorporate their animated version into their infamous Halloween spectacular event.
Now, in my opinion, one simply cannot just imagine what the Headless Horseman looks like in person; you must experience it. Disney made a way, you guys! In fact, it’s my absolute favorite part of the Boo-To-You Parade experience. Before the actual parade begins, the lights go dim and a deep, somber voice arrives introducing you to the famous character (see intro above).
When you hear the sound of horse hooves hitting what sounds like cobblestone streets, you know something spooky is about to happen. The Headless Horseman makes his ride to begin the parade. I don’t know about you, but I immediately got goosebumps. We all know Disney doesn’t tend to skimp on anything (costume and real horses included), and this is no different. I will tell you a little secret, my favorite place to watch the Horseman ride is the dark corridor near Sleepy Hollow when he crosses the Liberty Square bridge. This is a great place to see the whole parade as well!
As the Headless Horseman passes by, you know the ghoulish delight is just beginning. You will start to hear the not-so-scary sounds of the Boo-to-You Parade (the song gets stuck in your head, you will see). I can’t say enough about this parade. When I first experienced it, I didn’t know what to expect. I had seen pictures online so I knew the costumes would be amazing, but it was so much more!
Something so special about this event is getting to see what I call bonus characters. There are some characters you just won’t see walking around Disney. Not only does the Halloween Party itself offer some limited edition character meet and greets, the parade has even more. Some of these characters include Pain and Panic from Hercules, Captain Barbossa, The Hitchhiking Ghosts from the Haunted Mansion, and even Clarabelle (throwback). To add to the hype, other characters we see more often, are decked out in Halloween costumes.
As each float went by, I was reminded of watching Disney movies growing up. I remember being scared straight by some of the villains in Disney’s animated films. Others, not so much. During the parade, you get to see things like Captain Hook duel Peter Pan on his pirate ship, pirates from “Pirates of the Caribbean,” the Hitchhiking Ghosts, and the gravediggers from the Haunted Mansion (my personal favorites — those shovels). Every small portion of the parade has something to offer and I think it is a perfect marriage of Disney villains and Halloween fun!
A definite perk of attending the MNSSHP is having multiple chances to experience certain aspects of the event. What I mean by this is that if you miss the Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular or the BTYP, you will have multiple chances to see them (Disney is smart like). I think that is something they have done well and it’s what makes them stand out among other theme parks. I would recommend securing your parade spot 30-45 minutes before the Headless Horseman rides and weighing your pros and cons in deciding which parade you want to watch.
While I definitely understand wanting to ride attractions during the party to avoid long lines, there are so many exclusive things to do during the party and I certainly wouldn’t miss the parade! My advice is to take advantage of these incredible experiences and let us know what you think!