I was doing some research for one of our Brief History of Disney articles a few weeks back. I found an interesting fact about one of the attractions coming to life thanks to a push intended to attract a teen / young adult audience. Reading this got me thinking about some of the seasonal events that Disney celebrate during the year, like Halloween, and wondering if perhaps there is a missed opportunity here.
We’ve all heard of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios; even if it’s not your jam, most of us know what it is. For those that don’t, it’s a nighttime festival that runs throughout the Halloween season that caters to a slightly more mature audience featuring live shows, haunted houses, and scare zones. The after-hours event is unapologetically geared towards mid-teens and above, openly not recommended for anyone under 13 years of age.
On the other hand, Disney takes things to the other extreme, focusing on a family-friendly approach that can appeal to all ages. Aside from the potential unsuitability of the late-night timing, the Magic Kingdom event goes by Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. It’s cute more than anything and leaves the scary stuff to its theme park rival, Universal.
Those are your two main options if you are looking for a spooky season event in Florida, but I can’t help but see a hole in the market that Disney is missing out on and failing to service.
Why exactly hasn’t Disney attempted to hit a more mature audience with something a little more intense? I’m not thinking blood and gore, but the Disney character catalog is filled with villains and bad guys; surely there has to be something there that can create an enticing evening for teens and adults?
Perhaps there could be a session split of some kind, the earlier shift is a little more lighthearted for families with younger ones, and the second is where the wolves begin to howl, and evil starts to seep in with an eery mist.
Can you picture it? When the villains take back the night and theming from the Haunted Mansion spills out onto Main Street U.S.A? You might be welcomed at the gate by the ushers from the Hollywood Tower of Terror in one of the first park crossovers we have seen. Stern faces and old-world Hollywood attire set the uneasy scene ahead.
Ghosts and supernatural ghouls escape the Haunted Mansion and create mischievous chaos throughout Liberty Square as they scare guests and evil delight. A few of the E-Ticket attractions might even see a mini makeover, with a transformation to a darker setting with an off-putting soundtrack. Just to add the unique flavor of an experience you can’t otherwise enjoy.
And watch out for those Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus playing tricks on guests for their enjoyment.
Paint The Night-style lighting effects could transform the likes of Fantasyland into an intense playground for the more intimidating villains and their sidekicks (like the Nightmare Before Christmas characters) as they playfully torment guests along their way. Throw in an optional upgrade of a signature restaurant or two offering a unique dinner service with a themed menu and stand-offish servers. I could see this thing coming together!
Let me know what you would add to a secondary Halloween experience aimed at an older audience. Could it work? Is Disney seemingly handing Universal their more mature Halloween market share? Let me know your thoughts. Does anyone else think this would be the perfect excuse to add an east-coast Nightmare Before Christmas overlay on The Haunted Mansion? I’m just sayin’.