While there’s never a bad time to go to a theme park, the best time may very well be right now. The Halloween season starts early at places like Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood. Halloween decorations are already up at Disney World, and Universal’s famed Halloween Horror Nights get started this week. But while nearly every major theme park resort celebrates Halloween over the next two months, they all do it in very different ways.
Being the two biggest theme park companies, Disney and Universal are by and far the leaders and the two companies certainly come at Halloween from two very different directions. A viral video going around Twitter from Christopher Ripley explains it just about as well as I possibly could, pulling a clip of Aubrey Plaza and Chris Pratt from Parks & Recreation to show the difference between one resort’s fun and games Halloween, and the other’s dark and violent horror night. Check it out.
#HHN32 pic.twitter.com/o4TLBlPBgRAugust 27, 2023
I’ll be honest, I never watched Parks & Recreation so this clip was new to me, but I absolutely love it because there’s no better way to show just how differently Disney and Universal approach Halloween. One of them goes hard into the horror aspects of the holiday, trying to make you scream, while the only fear that comes from the other is clearly a fear that somebody might actually be scared.
That isn’t necessarily a knock against either one, it’s actually great that we have both. If you like dressing up in costume and going trick or treating and seeing characters that are scary, but without them trying to scare you, you can go to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom or to Oogie Boogie Bash at Disney California Adventure.
Disney, being the “family-friendly” company is obviously not looking to truly scare their guests. Not everybody loves being scared, especially kids. It’s the reason Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion was made just as funny as it was scary because there was a fear that fans wouldn't embrace it if it really scared them
If you don’t mind a bit more (fake) blood and guts, something that could legitimately make you jump out and scream in terror, then there’s Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios in both Hollywood and Florida. Instead of Mickey and Minnie in costume, they'll have Chucky trying to kill you and the infected monsters of The Last of Us hunting for you
All over the country will see a variety of special Halloween events that run the gamut when it comes to how much they try to terrify. There is sure to be something pretty close to perfect for everyone, but it also allows the different parks to differentiate themselves and offer things a little different to the potential guests.