Oogie Boogie Bash
Time Out says
Well, well, well, what have we here? The Nightmare Before Christmas’s bug-stuffed sack has taken over the Halloween duties at Disneyland, moving the theme park’s annual after-hours, specially ticketed seasonal event across the way for the debut of (the sold-out) Oogie Boogie Bash at California Adventure.
Here’s the gist if you’ve never been to Disneyland’s previous seasonal parties: Halloween spirits begin to materialize around both parks just after Labor Day with glowing decorations and spooky ride overlays, but this five-hour ticketed event throws in a bunch of exclusive Halloween entertainment with the promise of considerably shorter wait times for select rides.
Most of the Disneyland favorites have made the jump to California Adventure: trick-or-treating trails, kid-friendly shows and the Headless Horseman-led Frightfully Fun Parade (which, this year, has added in the Cheshire Cat). But Oogie Boogie Bash also brings two brand new experiences exclusive to the party: the maze-like Villains Grove and the World of Color show “Villanous!”
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Tips for attending Oogie Boogie Bash
Do the trick-or-treat trails, even if you don’t care about candy.
When you’re paying pretty steep prices for a ticket, a small bag of candy may seem like a small perk if you’re an adult. But some of the most festive fun (and familiar characters) is lurking inside of the 10 trails where cast members will dump bite-size treats into your bag. More importantly, these are also where you’ll find some of Disney’s most memorable foes posted up in atmospheric environs, engaging in playful banter with guests. Make sure to hit up the Animation Academy to find Oogie Boogie at the center of his crooked casino, Stage 17 to find Dr. Facilier onstage atop a hidden trove of skulls, in an alleyway next to Soarin’ to see Maleficent cloaked in fog, along a misty pathway behind Grizzly River Run to find the Evil Queen and in the queue of the Frozen live show to encounter the Mad Hatter (the Tim Burton one, for better or worse).
Make sure to time your trip through Villains Grove right.
We thought Villains Grove was a wonderfully atmospheric inclusion; it’s filled with unexpected nods to Disney villains, moody lighting and some really slick effects (of note, though: you won’t find any costumed characters in here). Everyone else seemed to think so, too; though we waltzed in right before the parade, we found a 45 minute wait by the time we left. So while you should absolutely experience the walkthrough, we don’t suggest doing so right after the parade or World of Color.
Photograph: Michael Juliano
Get to the park early.
You’ll only have a few hours to stuff everything in once the event starts, so take advantage of the fact that your party ticket gets you into California Adventure three hours prior to the start time. Outside of some atmospheric lighting, the theming isn’t exclusive to the party, so you can admire the ghoulish decor in Cars Land during the day, too (that’s actually our one major criticism of the event: we wish the meticulous, over-the-top Halloween theming in Cars Land had extended to the rest of the sort-of-festive park). Take that time in the late afternoon to do any shopping, and—even though wait times tick down during the party—to hop on a few rides.
Don’t waste your time staking out spots early for the parade or World of Color.
On the other hand, we think sitting along the parade route or at the World of Color plaza isn’t your wisest use of time. Since this special ticketed event’s visitor cap is way below typical operating hours, we found we were able to stroll up to World of Color about 10 minutes before the early show and find a prime spot with plenty of elbow room. And even though you may see people staking out spots for the parade more than an hour in advance, we think that time is much better spent on other spooky offerings—with the route stretching from one end of the park to the other, decent viewing areas aren’t scarce.
Do your homework if you’re looking for some spooky booze.
The Disneyland app has a helpful guide to all of the Halloween-themed food and drink offerings in the park. But we still found some of the best boozy options to feel a bit hush-hush. If you’re looking for hard cider floats or poison-apple-themed martinis, we’ve tracked down the best Halloween concoctions on offer.
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo
Scroll through for the rest of our thoughts on Oogie Boogie Bash.
Villains Grove has employed some atmospheric lighting wizardry to turn the charming Redwood Creek Challenge Trail into a moody, nighttime walkthrough. You’ll find the trail broken up into sections inspired by Disney villains: a garden from the Queen of Hearts that repaints itself, the elephant graveyard from The Lion King with fog geysers, a lightning storm brought forth by the Evil Queen, ground projections filled with the swirling spirits of Dr. Facilier’s friends on the other side. There are some pretty deep cuts, too: Frollo, the antagonistic archdeacon from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, has inspired an area with stained glass window-like projections, candlelit chandeliers and haunting organ and choral chanting. To be clear, this isn’t your typical horror maze—no jump scares or human characters here. But Villains Grove has brought a still-kid-friendly yet darker take on Halloween entertainment for the park.
“Villainous,” a Halloween edition of the water spectacular World of Color, is filled with musical segments set to a mix of beautiful hand-drawn animation of classic Disney villains alongside some truly out-there CG sequences. Oogie Boogie emcees a 20-minute show that follows Shelley Marie, a new Tim Burton-esque character, in her search for the perfect villain-inspired Halloween costume. And this one goes some places—sometimes in wonderfully bizarre ways, like when Ursula’s shriveled, poor unfortunate souls croak out a gibberish, harmonized version of the villain’s signature song, but oftentimes with a tone that’s all over the place and dotted with some head-scratching lulls. That said, we loved moments like Dr. Facilier’s spirited showstopper and a sky-high fountain of fire.
Both during and outside of party hours, vendors around California Adventure are serving festive twists on merch (like a light-up Oogie Boogie sipper that’s sure to promptly find its way onto eBay) and food: Schmoozies! is selling an absolutely adorable mint-flavored Minnie Mouse witch-inspired shake as well as a caramel apple smoothie, while the Hollywood Lounge has a drink topped with Oogie’s light-up dice. And then there’s Award Wieners’ tastes-like-Halloween funnel cake fries, a formidable pile topped with—deep breath—crushed Oreos, gummy worms, candy corn, a cream cheese sauce and whipped cream; it’s a sweet mess best shared with a friend.
Back at Disneyland (which requires a regular park admission ticket that’s separate from the party), even though the original park won’t be hosting a party this year, you’ll still find familiar traditions: pumpkin decorations, costumed characters and The Nightmare Before Christmas takeover of the Haunted Mansion. Though Space Mountain’s Ghost Galaxy overlay doesn’t seem to be returning, the Halloween Screams fireworks show—which was typically reserved for the ticketed event—will be open to all, with its theatrical elements at the castle every evening, but pyro only on certain nights.
If you’ve made it this far, you’ve already put this together: There’s a lot to see at Oogie Boogie Bash, which should hopefully justify the rather steep price tag ($110–$145, depending on the night, though all tickets are currently sold out). Each ticket includes access to just California Adventure up to three hours prior to the party’s start time.