After a nice long post-DAK nap, the kids costumed up for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. (Aside: If you want to help make a 4-year-old very happy, head over to Chip & Company’s Facebook page and “Like” that same picture of Jon to help him win a complete set of “Marvel Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” on DVD). We got to the Magic Kingdom around 4:30 p.m. and got our party wristbands as we entered the theme park.

The weather as we arrived was — odd. It was hot, but drizzling rain. As Miriam put it, it was like the rain was evaporating as it touched your body. We had hoped we were early enough to sneak in an early dinner at Columbia Harbor House, but no such luck. CHH was already closed. Nobody was starving, so we went ahead and hit a few rides, including the scariest ride in the Magic Kingdom. After the earworm attack, we were all ready for dinner and moved on to Pecos Bill’s. The food was good and, as a bonus, the rain stopped while we were eating.

I had read number of complaints about this year’s MNSSHPs online in the week or so before our trip, so I was a bit nervous about how it would go. But I have to say that I thought it was terrific. We had almost no wait for rides, including walking on to Space Mountain. The only disappointment was that Splash Mountain was down, but Mikaela didn’t want to ride it anyway, because she didn’t want to get her costume wet (ironic, given the rain that was falling when we arrived). It was clear that they were still struggling with the candy trails, and how to manage them with the construction in Fantasyland squeezing out the space for the most popular candy trail.

Without room for the extended candy trail between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, instead we got multiple single candy distribution locations. The result was that candy distribution was more chaotic than last year, with more lines. But the quantity and quality of candy distributed was still excellent (and seriously, is collecting candy that can be bought in any grocery store really the best use of hard-ticket party event time)?

And while the candy trails might have been a a small step back from last year, there were many, many more positives. For the second year in a row, the Villains Show was updated. This year, Doctor Facilier took center stage and Jafar was replaced in the show with Frollo (who was replaced in the show by Doctor Facilier last year). The show was fresh and fun and well produced. We continued experiencing attractions in Tomorrowland during the first Boo To You! parade of the night. And then moved to our favorite parade/fireworks spot along Main Street as the crowd thinned out behind the parade. (Left side of Main Street as you face the castle, just up the hill from Casey’s Corner – walk up to where the sidewalk peaks just a bit short of the hub).

HalloWishes are my absolute favorite fireworks in all of Walt Disney World. I love the music, the additional perimeter fireworks, and the subtle additional lighting effects on the castle. I’m excited to see what the Disney Imagineers do with the projection technology developed for the Magic, Memories & You show, as there have already been hints that it would begin to be included in he special fireworks shows. And what I love about our parade spot is that we get a great view of each section of the parade as it round the hub and then moves down Main Street past us. I was a little concerned that the Headless Horseman would not ride because of the rain earlier in the day, but it was clear as the CM’s carefully shooed people’s feet off of the street and up onto the curbs that the horseman would be coming soon.

What we learned from the CM was that the Headless Horseman costume has no eye holes. The horse is trained to run/trot the route. But the CM on the horse’s back has absolutely no way of knowing whether he’s going straight down the middle of the street or veering too close to a curb. The curb itself is a good “warning” for the horse – even if the horse gets offline, it will stay in the street. But by the same token, feet along the edge of the street could be subject to a being stepped on by a horse weighing over 1/2 ton.

Overall, the parade was again excellent. As always, the gravediggers were a highlight. And all of the floats appeared to be operating properly (I’d read some complaints about float breakdowns). By the time Goofy rode by on his oversized candy bike, we’d all had a wonderful time but were exhausted from a long day (especially Jon). There was no question in my mind that the cost of the hard-ticket event was money well-spent. We left the park right after the parade, and ended up near the very front of the second post-parade ferry boat to the TTC. As Jonathan snoozed in his stroller, I started to wonder whether our plan to be at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for an EMH rope drop in the morning was insane or crazy enough that it just might work.

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