Event Recap: Walt Disney Imagineers Discuss Oogie Boogie Bash at “An Oogie Boogie Afternoon” in Santa Ana

Yesterday at the Frida Cinema in Santa Ana, California, friend of Laughing Place Jeff DePaoli (host of the Dizney Coast to Coast podcast) hosted a unique event combining a panel discussion of the popular Oogie Boogie Bash after-hours Disneyland Resort Halloween party with a screening of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.

“An Oogie Boogie Afternoon” saw Orange County Disney fans gathered to watch Jeff chat with Walt Disney Imagineers Jordan Peterson (Oogie Boogie Bash creator and show director), KC Wilkerson (media and lighting director), and Jennifer Magill (producer) about the memorable annual ticketed event at Disney California Adventure.

I arrived at the Frida Cinema at 3:00 PM yesterday afternoon to find a The Nightmare Before Christmas photo op backdrop set up outside. Inside the theater, two enormous inflatables from the Midsummer Scream horror and Halloween convention surrounded the proscenium, while Oogie Boogie Bash and Nightmare trivia was projected on the screen.

Jeff DePaoli started off the panel conversation about Oogie Boogie Bash by welcoming the three Imagineers to the stage. They talked about the origins and inspirations for the party before beginning to go through the event area by area, starting with Buena Vista Street’s decorations and Carthay Circle Restaurant’s projection effects.

The next topic of conversation was the many characters that guests can encounter and interact with at Oogie Boogie Bash. The panelists touched on this year’s smash-hit new additions like Bruno from Encanto and Ernesto de la Cruz from Coco, while also mentioning enduring favorites like Sid from Toy Story, Agatha Harkness from WandaVision, and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.

The two most newsworthy moments in the conversation came when Jennifer Magill mentioned that she’s been trying to get the villainous character of Doc Hopper from The Muppet Movie included in Oogie Boogie Bash, but she doesn’t think it will ever happen. Jordan Peterson followed that up by saying that a different Disney character (not Doc Hopper) who “will absolutely break everybody’s brain” is in development for the 2023 event, but they couldn’t reveal who it is just yet.

The discussion moved on to the design and execution of the Frightfully Fun Parade and the fan-favorite Villains Grove walkthrough in DCA’s Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, the latter of which seems to have been a real labor of love for those who helped put together Oogie Boogie Bash.

At one point Peterson told a story about how one night he found out that a candy distribution station had been added to Villians Grove, so he called the vice president of Disney California Adventure in tears to explain how it completely ruined the mood of the experience. The station was immediately removed and Villains Grove remains intact without candy or characters as the designers intended. Magill also related a very touching story about a blind guest who felt moved by Villains Grove despite not being able to physically see it.

The panelists also touched on a few other topics like the Halloween Time decorations and atmosphere for DCA’s Cars Land area, but it was soon time to begin the movie so the conversation unfortunately had to be cut short at that point. I personally feel like this conversation could have gone on for hours, as the Imagineers involved were unusually candid and I really felt like I learned a lot about Oogie Boogie Bash beyond the usual press-release materials on the event. I told Jeff DePaoli this myself, but I really hope he turns this conversation into a regular series of public chats with the creative minds behind theme park experiences.

The audio from “An Oogie Boogie Afternoon” will be included in the October 26th episode of the Dizney Coast to Coast podcast.

Mike Celestino
Mike serves as Laughing Place's lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly "Who's the Bossk?" Star Wars podcast. He's been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general all his life and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.