by Richie McNanna
I’ve always dreamed of walking up an orange, yellow, and black-colored Main Street, U.S.A., trick or treating in the many shops and stops that line the magical thoroughfare of our dreams while spooky howls and sinister cackles echo through the storefronts I admire.
Yes, Labor Day is such a fresh memory in most of our minds that we can probably still smell the telltale charcoal waft of a backyard barbeque if we set our minds to the task, but soon – if not already — the sweet smells of late August cookouts and ice cream stands will be replaced by the delights derived of the orchard and pumpkin patch; yes, autumn is upon us. And with it, the Magic Kingdom – heck, the whole of Walt Disney World – will transform into a postcard of hayride fantasies and candy corn dreams.
Now, I live in New Jersey, and as I sit here and pen this post, fall has decided to make an auspiciously early visit; and while the leaves have not yet changed, and pro football has yet to begin Week #2, this past weekend we have had pristine weather with clear blue skies and cool, dry conditions. In any given year, when this climatic turn occurs, I am reminded yet again that I have yet to experience one of my most coveted “To-do” experiences in all of the World: Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. And as if the change in weather weren’t enough of a reminder of what I’m missing, I inevitably receive the obligatory e-mail from Disney Destinations “formally inviting” me to the party! Listen, while I welcome any correspondence from my friends in Orlando, these particular messages seem more trick than treat since getting down to Disney at this time of year is very difficult for me.
So, what’s a fellah to do? Well, as was the case with creating my own private D23 convention last month, I improvise.
Very near my home, there is a little old train station –active and in service for New Jersey Transit – that shares that turn-of-the-century charm we love of Main Street, U.S.A, and the quaintness of films like Pollyanna and Summer Magic.
Meet the Fanwood, New Jersey, commuter train station.
In this beautiful Victorian building lies a spirit not directly tied to Disney, per se, but reminiscent nonetheless of the small-town beauty of a Main Street, U.S.A. Listening the classic iron bell of an approaching train, smelling the ovens of a nearby pizza joint — this is a great place to sit and just enjoy the peaceful atmosphere if not using it for its main purpose: shuttling business people to the antithesis of this spot, New York City.
In any event, this is what I like to do on fall days in which I pine for some seasonal Disney magic: I drive on over to this train station, cozy up on a wrought iron bench — right next to the ol’ tracks and in the sleepy reach of the vintage train station’s shadow — with a pumpkin latte from the café across the street and just “people watch” in the perfect upper 60 degree temperatures. Now this alone may not seem entirely Disney-esque, but if one imagines a family in character hats here and a couple holding hands under a massive Mickey balloon there, the mere commuters I actually see take on a magical aura — accentuated, of course, by the loop of Main Street music I have playing in my earbuds. Rustling leaves, warm sweatshirts, pockets full of candy corn – all of these add to my experience as I close my eyes and imagine the sights and sounds of the Boo to You holiday parade lumbering by on this humble New Jersey drag.
Now, the setting I’ve chosen truly is beautiful and appropriate for my purposes, but isn’t it true that it’s the food that really makes the fall? The pumpkin latte makes it for me, but I love anything fall-ish. Apple pies, maple cookies – man, oh man! I wish they still sold those terrific maple cookies in Epcot, Canada – and candy by the bucket full.
Yet, being that I never truly have been the Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, I asked Christy if there were any Halloween-specific foods in the World that I could have back at home for vicarious purposes…she bounced a few ideas back to me, but then we decided to ask you all: are there any foods you love in Walt Disney World during the fall that could help a sad Disney Halloween lover feel closer to an event that he’s never actually attended?
Your thoughts are greatly appreciated…loads more appreciated than those naughty little “tricks” I receive from Disney Destinations in my Inbox.
Hodos, Laura. 2013. Photograph. “Autumn Mickey”n.p. Web. 12 Sep 2013.
Rich McNanna is a seventh grade language arts teacher and avid Disney, baseball, and food fan from Westfield, New Jersey. He is a regular columnist sharing his passion for Disney food experiences and an avid listener and reader of the WDW Radio world. He and his wife dream of one day purchasing a Disney Vacation Club membership so that they can take their baby boy to the greatest place on Earth at least once a year…just for the churros.