Last year, during our visit to Disneyland, our daughter Marvel expressed her disappointment at missing out on the "Halloween" and "Oogie Boogie's Bash" events. She had been eagerly waiting for this year's opportunity to attend the Oogie Boogie Bash, so as loving parents, we made it happen, even bribing her with a trampoline and an entire playground. Little did we know that getting tickets for this highly anticipated Disney event would be such a challenging task.
Disney event tickets are not for the faint of heart. When they went on sale in June, the ticketing system experienced a massive failure, leaving many people ticketless and feeling frustrated. Amidst the chaos and panic, I somehow managed to secure tickets. However, the struggle wasn't over yet. It wasn't until August that the tickets went back on sale, and they sold out in less than 30 minutes. The demand for Oogie Boogie Bash tickets was off the charts.
The Oogie Boogie Bash is one of the few Disney After Hour Events that allows families to attend and even dress up. However, I must admit that it didn't quite live up to its "family-friendly" label. While there were many young kids present, their activities ended by 8 or 9 PM, and the event took on a more adult-oriented vibe.
When we arrived at California Adventure, regular park attendees were still present, enjoying their day at the park. However, they were gradually weeded out by 6 PM, making way for the Oogie Boogie Bash attendees. We were excited to enter the event at 3 PM after obtaining the required wristbands.
As soon as we stepped into the park, it was evident that the Oogie Boogie Bash was going to be a crowded affair. There was a noticeable overlap between regular attendees and Oogie Boogie Bash guests, resulting in an insanely busy atmosphere. Park employees were bustling around, trying to prepare the park for the treat trails and other activities. However, in all honesty, there could have been better organization and preparation.
One of the major organizational issues we encountered was the confusion around the treat trails. Cast members were asking people not to form lines for the treat trails, which is understandable. However, at the same time, other cast members were conducting trivia and drawings in the same area, causing further confusion and hostility among both cast members and park-goers. It was a chaotic scene that could have been better managed.
The treat trails themselves were a hit or miss experience. Some treat trails, like the ones featuring Sid and Oogie Boogie, were exceptionally long, testing the patience of both kids and parents. On the other hand, there were trails that weren't as bad, but unfortunately, some of them were ruined by what we call "Disney Adults." These are adults who are obsessed with Disney in all aspects and love meeting characters. While their enthusiasm is commendable, it started to get a bit weird during the Oogie Boogie Bash. We witnessed multiple Disney Adults holding up the lines and characters, to the point where Disney cast members had to intervene and ask us to keep moving. It was frustrating for us and other parents who were trying to make the most of our time at the event. We tried waiting for a couple of characters, hoping to get their attention for a memorable interaction, but by then, our child was already irritated and wanted to move on. The same went for the photo op lines, which had waits of 60+ minutes. While I understand the desire to get what you paid for and enjoy your time, it's important to consider the presence of other children in the park and parents who also want to make the most of their experience.
Another significant issue we encountered was the excessive alcohol consumption and the presence of intoxicated individuals. Marvel, our daughter, was trampled multiple times by people who had been drinking excessively. The smell of alcohol was permeating everywhere, which was not the atmosphere we expected at a family-friendly event. Disney claims to regulate the drinks and keep the consumption to a minimum, but it was clear that those who weren't drinking were allowing other attendees to use their drink allotments. It became increasingly challenging for us to keep our daughter safe and navigate through the crowded areas. By 9:30 PM, the lines were long, and we were tired of trying to protect Marvel from getting knocked over, so we decided to call it a night.
Despite the challenges we faced, there were some positive aspects of the Oogie Boogie Bash. One of the significant advantages was the significantly reduced wait times for rides. Both my husband and I were able to walk onto the Incredicoaster without waiting in line, which was a pleasant surprise. Marvel also got to enjoy multiple rides in Cars Land and even The Little Mermaid. Additionally, we collected a ton of candy, which was undoubtedly a highlight for our daughter. However, we did notice that the options for those with food allergies were limited. The majority of the treats consisted of Goldfish, M&Ms, chocolates with nuts, and occasionally some carrots. As a parent, I had hoped to see more allergy-friendly, non-toy, or healthy options available for all children to enjoy.
Based on our experience, here are my top 10 tips for attending the Oogie Boogie Bash:
Only go if it's an absolute must for your family. Keep in mind that you're essentially paying a day's ticket price for a 6-hour event.
Despite being advertised as family-friendly, the Oogie Boogie Bash may not be suitable for every family. A regular day at the park during Halloween could be just as exciting, if not more.
Take advantage of the opportunity to dress up in costumes. This is the only time adults are allowed to wear costumes, so embrace it and enjoy the cosplayer's dream!
Arrive early to ensure entry. When they say to be there at 3 PM, make sure you're there on time, as the lines tend to get longer as more people arrive later in the day.
Plan your dinner in advance to avoid getting stuck with a dinner reservation or waiting for mobile orders. With so much going on, you don't want to waste time on dining logistics.
Understand that you won't be able to do everything. The event is jam-packed with activities, and it's essential to prioritize what is most important to you and your family.
Be prepared for the likelihood of being rushed through character meet-ups and photo ops due to the long lines. Have your cameras ready and make the most of the limited time you may have.
The Halloween Parade can involve a long wait, and finding a good spot can be challenging. However, once the parade starts, it moves quickly, so be ready to enjoy the spectacle.
Expect large crowds and long lines. This is a special Disney event that usually sells out within minutes, and Disney often operates the park at near capacity.
Oogie Boogie merchandise is only sold on those event days and at that event, so if you see something you want you need to grab it before it’s sold out!
Despite our mixed experience, Marvel's favorite part of the night was dressing up as Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas and seeing Jack and Sally on the parade float. For her, this event truly kicked off her Disneyland trip on a high note. However, as parents, we must admit that we weren't as thrilled with the Oogie Boogie Bash. Considering the high cost and various challenges we encountered, we wouldn't recommend it for families unless your child is truly obsessed with Nightmare Before Christmas and Oogie Boogie, like ours. We felt that we overpaid for a night at Disney, and in hindsight, we would not choose to attend the Oogie Boogie Bash again.
If you're interested in reading more about our entire Disneyland trip and our thoughts on how Disney has become somewhat overwhelming, you can check out my detailed post on The Game of Nerds here.