REVIEW: Oogie Boogie Bash at Disney California Adventure Successfully Moves the Halloween Fun Across the Esplanade
Last Tuesday, we paid to attend the first-ever night of Oogie Boogie Bash at Disney California Adventure. It’s always worth noting that we paid, given that we live in the era of #hosted media coverage. Anyway, the event has existed, for years (in some form or another) over at Disneyland as “Mickey’s Halloween Party”, but this was the first year since the mid-2000’s that the Disneyland Resort held a Halloween party at Disney California Adventure.
It’s also worth noting that the event is completely sold out for the season (unless you are staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel, in which case a select number of tickets are put on sale the same-day as the event to hotel guests). In any case, we’re likely to see Oogie Boogie Bash return next year, and this review should help you get a feel for the event if not prepare you to attend in 2020.
Here’s how Disney describes the event:
Spirit away for a frightfully delightful good time––from costumed Character encounters to themed attractions, creepy eats, bewitching entertainment, and more! This separate-ticket party treats guests to multiple new experiences that are fun for the entire family, from the new “World of Color” spectacular – “Villainous!,” to an interactive “Descendants”-inspired dance party, a stage show with Mickey Mouse, and a mysterious Disney villains walk-through experience.
The spell’s been cast! This September and October, Disney California Adventure Park presents a new, separately ticketed, after-hours event hosted by Oogie Boogie (from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas) and the Disney Villains. Our wonderfully wicked “monster of scare-e-monies” has rallied his pals for a Halloween spooktacular unlike any other, including access to some otherworldly attractions and new entertainment experiences (as well as a few old favorites) sure to wake the dread.
So whether you’re a baby boo, teen werewolf or full-grown ghoul, there’s something fang-tastic for all!
Oogie Boogie Bash – A Disney Halloween Party at Disney California Adventure Park
Select nights September 17 through October 31, 2019
Party 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Park mix-in begins at 2:00 PM on Sundays as well as October 29 and 31, 2019
Park mix-in begins at 3:00 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays
All tickets are sold out
Seize the chance to meet, greet and pose with some of Disney’s most popular Characters decked out in their Halloween costumes.
Hold onto your hats as clouds of black bats coil ‘round Carthay Circle’s Bell Tower while spellbinding effects transform the building.
Tickets are nonrefundable and may not be resold or transferred for a commercial purpose
Tickets are valid only for the specific event date and hours
Tickets not required for Guests younger than 3 years of age
Children must be accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older for the duration of the event
Parking fees are not included in the ticket price, but parking can be purchased at the park on the day of the event or online prior to arrival. Parking is subject to capacity
Event elements including, but not limited to, operation of attractions, experiences, entertainment, characters, special offerings and services are subject to restrictions, change or cancellation without notice
No refunds given for any such changes or cancellations whether due to inclement weather or otherwis
All Guests may dress as their favorite character during the event, but may not pose for pictures or sign autographs for other Guests
Costumes must be family-friendly and may not be obstructive, offensive, objectionable or violent
Costumes may not contain any items that resemble (or could easily be mistaken for) an actual weapon
Costumes may not contain sharp/pointed objects or materials that may accidentally strike another Guest
Layered costumes or costume props that surround the entire body are strongly discouraged and may be subject to additional security screening
Costumes may not reach or drag on the ground (e.g., full-length Princess dresses)
For Guests Ages 13 and Under
Costumes and some masks may be worn as long as the entire face isn’t covered and eyes are visible
For Guests Ages 14 and Older
Capes may be worn if the length does not go below the waist
Themed T-shirts, blouses, sweatshirts and hats are permitted
Acceptable accessories include transparent wings, plastic light sabers, toy swords and tutus
Headwear may be worn as long as it does not cover the face
Masks of any kind may not be worn, except for medical purposes
Guests who do not adhere to these guidelines may be refused entry and/or removed from the event, unless his or her costume can be modified to meet the above standards.
While creativity is encouraged, we also value safety and good judgment. The above rules apply only during event hours—standard theme park attire rules apply during all other times. All rules, regulations and guidelines are subject to change without notice.
Tickets for the event range from as low as $100 on some early-on nights in the season for Passholders ($110 for non-APs) and up to $145 on Halloween night. As stated above, you do get early access to the parks if you aren’t a Passholder.
If you happen to be in the park, you can just head on over to the wristband distribution areas (there were two––one at the entrance gates and at Blue Sky Cellar) for your wristband and starter treat bag. If you’re serious about treats, any Disney Parks Halloween veteran will tell you to bring an extra, larger bag. And if you were excited about an Oogie Boogie Bash-specific treat bag, well too bad. It was the same exact generic design as the ones over at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World.
We had a few issues with the map from the get-go. Descriptions of activities or entertainment were often vague, and there was no times guide anywhere, making this map little more than just a paper souvenir since we had to constantly refer to the Disneyland app for actual times and better location markers. We know that things can change, but vague descriptions like “Friends from Kingdom Hearts” left far too much room for speculation. As you’ll come to read, many guests waited hours in line before fully knowing what exactly they were in line for. “Are we meeting Sora? Mickey? What about Goofy and Donald? Oh wait, just the latter two, but not both?” (More on that later.) Another thing worth noting is that while party-exclusive foods were advertised, they really were just the same items that’d been rolled out for Halloween Time weeks earlier.
While wristband and treat bag distribution went rather smoothly, the same can’t be said for the first few initial hours of the party. Granted, this was the first party of the season, and at Disney California Adventure for the first time, but the sheer confusion revolving basic party offerings, like merchandise or event-specific pins, was frustrating, to say the least. For starters, party-exclusive merchandise was out before and after the party, making it less than exclusive. It was even still on the shelves the next day during regular park hours. We stopped at three different shops ahead of time before inevitably stumbling upon the long line that’d already formed at the one place with pins. If you’re keen on event merchandise, having this experience be the start to your party doesn’t exactly set a great mood.
We’re still waiting for the Kingdom Hearts meet and greet to start by Grizzly Peak. Event started 33 minutes ago. pic.twitter.com/dFxFhEmvAo
Which leads us to our next “first-party” phenomenon: the Kingdom Hearts meet and greet. Hardly advertised (we didn’t even realize it was a thing until we noticed it by chance on the guide map), Oogie Boogie Bash played with fire in bringing ultra-rare characters to the West Coast. The video game franchise has an extremely devoted following, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that many people came to the party pretty much just to see the Kingdom Hearts characters. Again, we didn’t know who exactly was on the roster, so we all just queued up and waited, and waited––and then the queue was shifted over to another side––and then we waited some more. We spent nearly two hours of precious party time just to watch Donald walk away (just like in the game) and meet with Goofy:
It was worth it, though.
Even as the event progressed, we still saw a line-up by Grizzly Falls near the end of the party, so if these obscure character meets are your thing, make sure you plan accordingly and allot time to waiting in line. Other character meets we saw or otherwise stumbled upon included Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable, as well as a slew of rare villains, like Judge Claude Frollo, Shan Yu, and Don Karnage.
So far, we’ve covered party logistics, touched upon merchandise, event food (or lack thereof) and the daunting dynamics of ultra-rare character meets. Now, let’s move onto some of the party’s more “standard” offerings, namely the Villains Grove walkthrough experience, the DescenDANCE Party, themed Treat Trails, the returning Frightfully Fun Parade, and the all-new World of Color––Villainous! nighttime spectacular.
The wait for this experience seemed long at first, and when we got in line, Cast Members informed us the wait time would be an hour and 45 minutes. We were actually in within 20 minutes, so don’t let the appearance of long lines scare you any more than the creepy settings. For our full walkthrough, we really recommend going through our Villains Grove post. We should also reiterate that there are no actual characters in this, and besides the Dr. Facilier and Scar projections, everything is very subtle, but that’s what makes it feel special.
Each section spans a different Disney movie: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, The Lion King, Princess and The Frog, Snow White, and Brave. It’s the unexpected hit of the entire event.
Three treat trails in Hollywood Land offer close encounters with Disney Villains characters. You can’t get a picture with them like at a meet and greet, but you can stop to take a pic of them (and maybe even a selfie). On the way to the characters, you’ll find tons of treat stops too, making the sometime lengthy wait at least feel worth it for the tons of candy one can amass.
Even better than getting a picture with them was stopping for a while to actually watch them perform. Mad Hatter would pester people over what their favorite tea was, Facilier would offer up his conjures, and Oogie Boogie was taking bets. You can catch videos of all three in our post here.
The Frightfully Fun Parade is back, now at Disney California Adventure! Not much has changed this year, but the finale float was shortened to fit under the Red Car Trolley lines and the Cheshire Cat makes an appearance. It’s still a great little parade and worth your time to camp out for a spot. We grabbed ours about an hour before and chose to sit front row on the ground right near the World of Color viewing area. We did this so we could then get up and run to a perfect view of the first “Villainous!” show. Note that the parade starts back in Paradise Garden Park and concludes in Hollywood Land.
We dropped in to the DescenDANCE Party just to check it out, and it was surprisingly well themed with great Cast and guest interactions. Tons of families were dancing and enjoying the music, and the set and poison apple disco ball were pretty over the top for a dance party. If you’re here with kids or even teens who are into the Descendants, definitely make time to check this out.
I was pleasantly surprised with how much I loved the new World of Color – Villainous! show. We have had a number of bad versions of World of Color come our way the last few years, with the only two I have ever really loved being the classic show and the latest Christmas version called Season of Light. Both of those are grand and remarkable. While Villainous isn’t quite the emotional powerhouse those are, it is a particularly fun take on the DCA fountain spectacular. There are unexpected musical moments, a cute story woven throughout, and some dazzling special effects that make for a must-see nighttime event. We liked it so much that we saw both showings during the party, but you may just want to catch the 10:45pm one if you’re looking to make the most of your time.
You’ll notice that we didn’t include Mickey’s Trick & Treat show, and that’s mainly because between losing two hours over Kingdom Hearts characters, as well as covering virtually every other offering in an otherwise sprawling park, it’s virtually impossible to take in everything the event has to offer. The most important tip we can provide is to prioritize: sit down with everyone in your group, go over what there is to do, and make a plan. Make sure you have time for the most important things to you and look at anything you do above that as a bonus.
A note on treats. I was surprised at the sheer variety of candy. Do you like Skittles? Good, there’s like four or more varieties of them being distributed. Same goes for Snickers, Starburst, and every other type of candy out there. At each station (and I didn’t learn this until I overheard someone else ask), you can also request “healthy treats”, and depending on the trail, and availability, you can score baby carrots, apple slices, grapes, and even these nifty freeze-dried fuji apple crisps with Franken-Mickey on the front. These are sold in larger bags throughout the day at most snack stands around the park, and they aren’t cheap, so if you like these, stocking up not only gives you more value for your party ticket, but also snacks to munch on the next day.
For the price, even considering the hiccups we experienced, Oogie Boogie Bash is probably as good of a time as the Disneyland version was last year. Moving a party to another park is a Herculean effort, and the team at Disneyland Resort did a great job making it happen. I expect more from next year since they can really settle in to it by then, but it was a tremendous amount of fun for being a first attempt. Consider the spell cast.