Friday, October 16, 2009

Ride Review - Hallowishes

(Note: Yes, I realize its not really a ride but I’m not getting into separating these things by “ride,” “show,” “parade,” “streetmosphere,” etc.)

It's that time of year again. Trick-or-treating, scary movies, haunted hayrides, stores putting up Christmas decorations, the Magic Kingdom randomly closing at 7pm for everyone but those in colorful wristbands...yep, it's HALLOWEEN! We'll be celebrating with different Halloween themed reviews every Friday leading up to the big day.

Intro: Exclusive to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, an autumn tradition at Walt Disney World, Hallowishes replaces the usual Wishes fireworks show for the hard ticket special event.

Show: The familiar but eerie opening organ music of “Grim Grinning Ghosts” begins as a voice, who I later realize is Madame Leota from the Haunted Mansion, calls in the spirits to the Magic Kingdom. Wolves howl as the lyrics to the song begin. “Grim, grinning ghosts come out to socialize…” The first set of fireworks hit as the song breaks down from its usual form into a more upbeat, almost techno, number.

We are then joined by the GHOST HOST from the Haunted Mansion who, along with the 999 happy haunts, is going to materialize. “You never know who might show up, after all, it’s Halloween.” This is the cue for “This Is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas to begin as more orange and purple fireworks shoot off to the tune of the music.

The ghost host, using every Halloween pun imaginable, cues some “scareoke” for the next set of fireworks. We get “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” “Cruella di Vil,” “Trust in Me” (!!!), “Heffalumps and Woozles,” “Pink Elephants On Parade,” “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” and a few others.

Then the doorbell rings! Awesomely the Ghost Host answers it and it’s Ursula (identified here for whatever wacky legal reason as “the sea witch.”) I love how Halloween for all the villains and spooky characters is like Christmas for everyone else: they drop in and visit each other. The fireworks kick in again as she sings a spell for us. This leads to a Motown-sounding reprise of “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” This leads to a version of “Be Prepared” and another ring of the doorbell. It’s Jafar!

Jafar decides to treat everyone to some “sorcery in the sky” (I’m marking out at that reference.) Oogie Boogie (from “Nightmare Before Christmas”) doesn’t think Jafar’s magic is that great, so he lights off some fireworks and sings a song about himself. This was probably the best part from a pure fireworks standpoint. Maleficent finally shows up to set off some more fireworks as the Ghost Host invites us to join in a “scream-a-long” (and asks “any volunteers?”) We get a reprise of “This Is Halloween” with people screaming along to the “everybody scream” line as fireworks blast in unison. The song continues as the grand finale shoots off, including the 360 fireworks.

On behalf of the happy haunts, the Ghost Host thanks us for joining in and wishes us “happy Hallowishes.” (Awesomely a cover of “I Put A Spell on You” by CCR serves as exit music.)

Thoughts: Well that certainly is a delightful little fireworks show and a great treat for anyone attending MNSSHP. If you’ve never attended the party, Disney does a really great job separating it from the usual Halloween stuff aimed at scares and gore. The whole event, with this show as a centerpiece, is presented in much the same way as the Haunted Mansion, where everything is done in such a way as to make light of usually scary stuff.

Plus it’s always great to see a Disney show with different characters, in this case the villains, as the centerpiece. The thing that separates this show from, say, Fantasmic is that here when the villains are presented it’s done in a light hearted manner. In Fantasmic they invade your nightmares, in Hallowishes they invite you to their house for a party. Plus the villains chosen here are more of the comical variety like Kaa and the Big Bad Wolf. And hearing the Ghost Host from the Haunted Mansion in the Jiminy Cricket role as master of ceremonies for the show is really awesome.

In another really great touch, the colors used in the fireworks are really perfect in setting the theme as we got lots of orange, purple, dark blue, and green: colors that not only keep things “dark” for Halloween but also reflect well off the smoke from the fireworks to keep things looking very eerie.

All in all this show is way better than it has any right to be.

Overall Rating: **** ¼

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