Halloween is hands-down our favorite time to visit Walt Disney World. There’s nowhere better to celebrate the magic of the spookiest season! If, like us, you’re not able to visit WDW in person to celebrate Halloween this year, take heart – there are plenty of Disney movies that will put you in the Halloween spirit. Here are a few of the best movies to watch this October, including decades-old classics, new hits and some obscure gems. So grab a pumpkin-flavored beverage and some Halloween candy, curl up and enjoy!
1. Haunted Mansion
My absolute favorite attraction in all of Walt Disney World is Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion, yet it wasn’t until this year that I finally watched the Disney movie based on the ride (also, appropriately, called Haunted Mansion). The movie captures both the humor and the horror that make the attraction so successful, and for a super fan of the ride, there are countless moments of delight as you meet Madame Leota, Master Gracey, and even the Hitchhiking Ghosts amid gorgeous Gothic sets that take the ride’s iconic settings to a new level.
2. Mr. Boogedy
This made-for-tv movie from the mid-80s is a great Halloween option for the whole family. There’s a lot of silly fun, and just the right dose of scariness – it’s perfect for most kids (although the reveal of Mr. Boogedy himself might be a little frightening for really young ones), plus, the 1980s nostalgia makes it worthwhile for adults. It tells the story of a family that moves into a very haunted house, and befriends the ghosts held hostage in the afterlife by evil spirit Mr. Boogedy.
3. Hocus Pocus
No list of the best Disney Halloween movies would be complete with mentioning Hocus Pocus, easily one of the most beloved films of the season, at least for Disney fans! For the uninitiated, Hocus Pocus is a comedy focusing on the Sanderson sisters, who just happen to be witches from the 1600s. They’re brought back to life on Halloween night (of course), in Salem, Massachusetts (naturally), and wreak havoc on the town as they adjust to the 1990s. It’s up to the new kid in town to rescue everyone from the witches by preventing them from achieving immortality.
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4. Tower of Terror
It’s always fun to watch movies that are based on Walt Disney World attractions! Fans of Hollywood Studios’ The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, rejoice – you can bring the terror of this popular attraction home this Halloween by watching the 1997 movie Tower of Terror. Partially filmed on site at the WDW ride (which in itself is enough reason to watch!), Tower of Terror combines humor, heart and thrills in a family-friendly Halloween romp that will give you a whole new perspective on the ride.
5. Into the Woods
Ok, you got me, Into the Woods is not technically a Halloween movie. But this Disney musical about fairy tales gone horribly wrong has definite dark undertones that make it the perfect disturbingly magical movie to watch, especially if you want a break from standard Halloween fare. The all-star cast is fabulous, and the movie is a great introduction to musicals for the uninitiated, and a treat for those who already love musicals (and Sondheim, in particular!).
6. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
This classic film consists of two parts, the second of which tells the story of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and is voiced by the incomparable Bing Crosby. Created way back in 1949, this spooky Halloween staple was part of my childhood (my mom still watches it every Halloween night). The iconic Headless Horseman is about as Halloween-y as you can get, and once you’ve experienced Ichabod’s terrifying ride through Sleepy Hollow, this classic animated film will be on your Halloween must-watch list every year!
The character Maleficent is one of the scariest, most memorable villains ever created by Disney. First introduced in the film Sleeping Beauty in 1959, you can experience a revamped version of Maleficent in Disney’s 2014 live action film of the same name. This time around, expect a few twists and some stunning special effects as Maleficent tells her side of the story in this fresh, yet delightfully dark, retelling.
8. Mickey’s House of Villains
Can’t get enough of your favorite villains, especially at this time of year? Then Mickey’s House of Villains is the perfect viewing experience for you. This animated comedy went directly to video when it was released in 2002, and takes place in the House of Mouse, where Disney villains, led by Jafar, show up to take over Halloween from Mickey and friends. Villainous hijinks ensue until our heroes save the day, and the house – and Halloween – return to normal.
9. Nightmare Before Christmas
The jury’s still out regarding whether The Nightmare Before Christmas is really a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie, but since it takes place in Halloween Town and is thematically spooky, it gets a spot on our list! Why not judge for yourself? Nightmare before Christmas and its protagonist, Jack Skellington, remain hugely popular, as anyone who has stepped into a Walt Disney World souvenir shop can tell you. Even a couple of decades later, its themes resonate with every generation.