Mickey Mouse and all his pals are back for a new stop-motion holiday adventure following the success of last year’s hit special Mickey Saves Christmas. Crafted in the style of the beloved Rankin/Bass films like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Mad Monster Party, this half-hour Halloween special displays a hand-crafted esthetic that will make adult viewers feel nostalgic while still offering content that’s suitable for young Disney Junior viewers. The fun begins on October 1st when Mickey and Friends Trick or Treats premieres on Disney Junior and Disney Channel before streaming on Disney+ and Hulu on October 2nd.
Mickey Mouse, Minnie Muse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, and Goofy are trick-or-treating on Halloween night when they arrive at a spooky old mansion. After a night of treats, they find themselves the targets of tricks by Witch Hazel, who casts a spell that turns them all into real-life versions of the costumes they were wearing. If they don’t gather the right ingredients to break the spell before midnight, they’ll be stuck like this forever!
Like Mickey Saves Christmas, this Halloween special features catchy new songs by one of Disney Junior’s top songwriters, Beau Black (Mickey Mouse Funhouse, The Lion Guard, Firebuds). It also comes from the same director (David Brooks), writer (Kim Duran), and stop-motion animation studio (Stoopid Buddy Stoodios). All of this is to say that if you enjoyed Mickey Saves Christmas, its Halloween counterpart should be right up your alley. And if you somehow missed last winter’s special (available to stream on Disney+), Mickey and Friends Trick or Treats should encourage you to check it out this holiday season.
Diehard Disney fans will recognize Witch Hazel (originally voiced by the late June Foray, replaced here by Misty Lee) from the 1952 Donald Duck short Trick or Treat, which adds a further level of nostalgia to this stop-motion spectacle. The same witch who once aided Huey, Duey, and Louie in tormenting Donald Duck is back at it, this time causing mischief for his best friends. And with Goofy turned into a ghost, fans of Disney shorts should also look for a nod to Lonesome Ghosts. Disney Parks fans aren’t left out either, with several Easter Eggs for fans of The Haunted Mansion. And there are even a few hidden goodies from across the spectrum of Disney’s legacy.
Digital trickery is kept to a minimum in this hand-made masterpiece. While some of the same stop-motion puppets are able to be repurposed from Mickey Saves Christmas, the transformation of the core characters necessitates some significant modifications. Mickey becomes a three-eyed monster, Minnie becomes a Spider, Donald Duck becomes a frog, and Goofy becomes a transparent ghost. But through it all, animated hallmarks of Mickey and Minnie Mouse remain consistent, such as their ears always facing the camera (thanks to the power of magnets). While the medium loses the hand-drawn squash and stretch technique, the presentation feels timeless nonetheless.
I hope this isn’t the end of stop-motion Mickey Mouse holiday specials. Both productions have been fantastic, and in a landscape of quickly-produced, often forgettable CG productions, these legacy approaches feel all the more special. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas continues to be a perennial classic, Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio took home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, and both Mickey Saves Christmas and Mickey and Friends Trick or Treats feel destined to become an annual tradition for Disney fans and families.
I give Mickey and Friends Trick or Treats 5 out of 5 Merlin busts.
Mickey and Friends Trick or Treats premieres Sunday, October 1st, at 7/6c on Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and Disney XD. Stream it on Disney+ and Hulu beginning Monday, October 2nd.