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As a ruthless and predatory corporate entity Disney certainly has some problems, but it’s hard to argue against their place at the forefront of family entertainment, and their lineup of kid-friendly Halloween viewing is second to none.
With plenty of both classic and brand new spooky fare on their streaming menu, it’s a veritable Halloween smorgasboard — here are some of my favorite picks.
Muppets Haunted Mansion (2021)
Leading off with the newest Muppets adventure, Muppets Haunted Mansion finds Gonzo and Pepe challenged to stay the night at a haunted house (inspired by the Disney Haunted Mansion attraction). Other members of the Muppet gang also show up in the form of various ghosts and ghoulies that occupy the manor. Will Arnett plays a wily host, and Taraji P. Henson provides some delicious villainy as a black widow killer who sets her sights on Pepe as her next matrimonial victim, while elsewhere Gonzo tackles a more existential threat.
And of course it has The Muppets’ usual fun celebrity cameos, both obvious and subtle. It would’ve been easy for this to be some crappy, cynical Disney IP mashup thing, but instead it’s a spirited romp that’s likely to become a seasonal staple.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Jack Skellington is the king of Halloween (and of the land in which the holiday makes its home), but in his heart longs for something more. His fascination at discovering Christmas — a colorful, cheerful, and wholesome holiday so different from his own — becomes an obsession, leading him on a journey of appropriation that ultimately threatens both holidays.
It’s inarguably a masterpiece of creator, producer, designer, and writer Tim Burton, and also of its sorely under-appreciated director, animator Henry Selick, and songwriter and composer Danny Elfman, each doing some of the best work of their careers. Its uniquely gothic and creepy stop-motion aesthetic and melancholy themes remain timeless. This one also happens to be my 6-year old daughter’s favorite movie, guaranteeing it a prominent spot on this list.
Lonesome Ghosts (1937)
Lonesome Ghosts has been one of my all-time favorite cartoon shorts since childhood. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy star as a trio of ghostbusters who tackle a haunted house packed with mischievous ghoulies.
Attacked pretty much immediately as they enter the premises, the three are split off and mercilessly harassed with supernatural slapstick and paranormal pranks. This is pure, classic Disney at its very best and most iconic.
The Scariest Story Ever: A Mickey Mouse Halloween Spooktacular (2017)
Disney’s new era Mickey Mouse shorts are an absolute blast, loaded to the brim with hilarious gags and utilizing a style that combines the old-school cartooning with a modern flair.
To put the cap on a Halloween night of Trick or Treating with the gang, Mickey tells a series of (not so) scary stories for an unimpressed assortment of nephews of both rodentian and avian persuasion.
The Scariest Story Ever is a 22-minute anthology special, lengthy for the series when compared to the usual 3–8 minute episodes.
The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror Collection
The Simpsons’ annual non-canonical Halloween anthology specials have become an iconic tradition, and remain a perpetual highlight even in the latter, waning years of the long-running show. Disney+ has wisely collected these episodes for seasonal viewing so you don’t need to comb through decades’ worth of seasons to find them.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949)
from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
The Wind in the Willows is a terrific tale, but let’s be clear: it’s the “Ichabod” half of the classic double bill The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad that specifically pertains to the Halloween season. Bing Crosby narrates the chilling story of gangly Ichabod Crane and his terrifying encounter with the Headless Horseman in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
As a kid, it was a frightful tale. As an adult, it entertains differently as the hilariously churlish introspective narration reveals what a lousy creep Ichabod actually is.
Those are some of my favorites but there are certainly plenty more great options on the platform to explore! Lego Star Wars: Terrifying Tales and a remake of Under Wraps are new this year, while the platform’s vast back catalog includes Hocus Pocus, Mr. Boogedy and Bride of Boogedy, Trick or Treat, and both the 1984 short and 2012 animated feature versions of Frankenweenie, to list some of the best and most promising!
There are countless services to explore and great things to watch on all of them. Which ones did we miss that you would suggest to us? Tell us what we’re missing out on or what new services we should check out by leaving a comment below or emailing us.