Walt Disney World’s risqué display in Oogie Boogie’s Freaky Funhouse show was a polarizing but welcome change to add theme park acts for adults

Posted on August 25, 2014
Topics: Disney, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Entertainment, Special Events, Theme Parks, Walt Disney WorldTags: , , ,

When has Disney ever described one of their theme park shows as containing content “too intense for young children?”

That’s exactly the disclaimer they attached to Oogie Boogie’s Freaky Funhouse Show, a performance prominently featured in this past weekend’s Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World.

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

The show included provocative fire dancing, wild sword swallowing, horror themed crossbow shooting, and even a bit of sexual innuendo. Oogie Boogie’s Freaky Funhouse definitely wasn’t your average Walt Disney World show – and Disney should be applauded for that.

Just what was so outrageous to prompt Disney to add such a disclaimer? Watch the show in its entirety in the video below to see what all the talk was about.


Video: Full Oogie Boogie’s Freaky Funhouse Show in Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

(Note the video above has some music swapped out for royalty-free tracks due to YouTube copyright issues. A complete unedited version is available here, but may not be viewable in all countries or on mobile devices.)


Sitting in the audience during this 30-minute performance, it was clear that the crowd was divided on whether or not it was appropriate to be included at a Disney park. Throughout the presentation, it was easy to overhear a few quiet whispers of disgust. “I can’t believe this is Disney!” said more than one audience member. Reactions online afterward ranged from calling the show “awkward” to “disturbing” to… well, this tweet:

Admittedly, Disney did step way outside the comfort zone for some conservative fans with visuals like these:

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Yes, every one of those photos was taken in a Disney theme park during a Disney event featuring Disney characters. Surprised?

Even the balloon artist that performed before Oogie Boogie’s show began delivered some hilariously adult jokes coupled with some crazy visual moments like these:

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Some Disney bloggers dismissed the show, calling it “one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen at Disney” and “more appropriate for Universal,” adding that “it did live up to the name Freaky.”

But that was exactly the point.

For every one shocked fan there were many more who were thrilled to see Disney pushing their boundaries beyond content aimed at preschoolers. In response to one reaction online that noted the show wasn’t appropriate for kids, another fan succinctly replied, “that’s a bad thing?”

Glowing reviews on Twitter seemed to far outweigh the negative:

Others on instagram called the show “pretty rad” and even fangirl-squealed over the sight of Oogie Boogie, exclaiming “HE’S SO CUTE.”

Bringing out the popular villain from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” to sing and dance and display his own freak show just a week before Walt Disney World’s first Halloween party of the year was a brilliant decision for all fans who enjoy that darker side of Disney. “Nightmare” naturally has its own cult following.

And considering this show took place at an after-hours, late night event themed to Disney’s villains that served plenty of alcohol, it was the perfect place for Disney to finally push that envelope and enter the previously forbidden zone of actually presenting some entertainment catering to adult fans.

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

Such fans (myself included) have been calling for Disney to come up with a compliment to Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights for many years – to create an event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that showcases the spookier side of the characters today’s adults grew up with. One popular suggestion has been to create an entire event featuring nothing but entertainment based on “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Oogie Boogie’s Freaky Funhouse Show felt like the beginning of just that.

In an event that was advertised to feature 50 of Disney’s Villains, many attendees left complaining about how long the lines were to meet and take a picture with these characters, sometimes stretching longer than 3 hours. So those who were happy just seeing the characters on stage or from a distance were left with plenty of time during the 5-hour event to take in the rest of the available entertainment. I ended up watching Oogie Boogie’s Freaky Funhouse Show twice because I enjoyed it so much as a welcome change to the usual softening of sinister characters at the Magic Kingdom’s annual “not-so-scary” shindig.

Villains Unleashed event at Walt Disney World

There is no reason why Disney cannot not continue down this path. With proper expectations set, Disney can and should offer entertainment aimed squarely at adults.

Walt Disney World is filled with family friendly entertainment day in and day out. And as Pleasure Island and its fan favorite Adventurers Club are now closed, many adult fans are left wondering what’s in a Disney trip for them. Sure, everyone can be a kid at heart and enjoy meeting princesses and seeing Mickey Mouse, but does absolutely everything at Disney have to be aimed at 3 year olds? Absolutely not.

With all the many complaints that Disney has received about Villains Unleashed, Oogie Boogie’s Freaky Funhouse Show stood out as a highlight of the evening, offering older fans some unique entertainment decidedly different than the typical pixie dust sprinkled across everything else on Disney property.

Fans have been and continue to call for more of this type of offering:

It’s common in today’s society for people who are upset to complain, expecting compensation. Many attendees leaving Villains Unleashed stopped by Guest Relations to receive refunds after spending most of the night waiting in excessively long character lines.

But it’s not nearly as common for praise to be sent for a job well done – and it should be. If you enjoyed Oogie Boogie’s Freaky Funhouse Show, send an e-mail to [email protected] and let them know that adults want to see more of this type of entertainment in the future at Walt Disney World. Then perhaps an even bigger and badder Villains event will find its way into the parks for even more demented Disney fun.

More photos from Villains Unleashed at Walt Disney World:


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10 Comments

  1. Chrysty

    Watched the whole video and I can kiiiiinda see why parents of little ones might be upset, but as far as this being considered “great adult entertainment”, I don’t see the appeal. Aside from a few funny quips from Oogie here & there, it was long and boring.

    • Ricky Brigante

      It was definitely more enjoyable in person than on video, as acts like this tend to be. It’s like watching World of Color on video (rather boring) versus in person (huge and stunning). With that said, the most important takeaway is that Disney was actively telling its audience that one of their acts was not suitable for young kids. That’s certainly a rarity. It makes you wonder what their plans are for the future of this sort of entertainment… if anything.

  2. Warren

    I watched the video last night and thought the show was good. What exactly was so inappropriate for children or “adult” besides women dancing? Sure it was creepy, but I fail to see why this would upset a small child (or their parents) more than other shows with loud noises and other SFX (note: I have a 2 year old and might have skipped this due to length, etc, but content seemed fine).

    • Ricky Brigante

      On a personal level, I agree completely. This was fairly tame in the grand scheme of the world.

      But for the more traditional Disney fan, since this didn’t feature the usual assortment of Disney characters being happy happy friendly, it came off as unusual and shocking. Some parents are VERY protective of what their kids see and even seeing a woman with her legs and stomach exposed dancing with fire could be considered inappropriate for them. There were moments of darkness and flashes of light that could be unsettling for sensitive kids. And even the wild motions of the sword swallower could be too “crazy” for some to handle. (Yeah, I know…)

      I personally don’t see much of a fuss with any this and would gladly have taken a 10 year old to see it. I was watching R rated movies when I was that age (younger, actually) so I would have loved this. But everyone’s situation is different and Disney does have to be sensitive to that. But that DOESN’T mean they shouldn’t offer this type of entertainment!

  3. Doris

    Ricky,
    Ugh! Wish I was there!!!! It looks amazing!!! Thanks for posting all the pics and videos.
    And can’t agree with your comment more “Doesn’t mean they shouldn’t offer this type of entertainment!” My boyfriend and I go to Disney once a year and a Disney cruise every other year, we looove Disney (add Halloween obsession to that), and have no children. I completely understand and love Disney’s brand as being all about family, but having events geared towards adults and/or older ages, is not only great, but makes complete business sense as the competing parks have some pretty insane events that attract older age groups. I mean, it’s not like they are inspired by the Walking Dead and are having a Mickey Zombie Walk!

  4. Patrick

    This looks great. There should be more events like this… And the disclaimer was THERE… so I am wondering why parents would be freaked out other than they did not read? If you are too prudish, there are 3 other parks to visit…

  5. Olly

    I came to take a look after hearing your description on the podcast and I really hope that doesn’t end up being deemed too risqué for Disney. If I hadn’t been told that some people had complained, I’d never have guessed anyone would have had a problem with it – apart from very young children who might be scared of the dark and the like, there’s nothing in there I’d have a problem showing a child.

  6. Marc Morini

    This looks like a pretty cool show. I can see why maybe some parents may have been a bit surprised or caught of guard by it since it is pretty far out by Disney standards. I wish I had seen it in person myself, although I cant help but feel no one would be making such a fuss over this show if they saw it in any other theme park that wasn’t Disney. I give the show an A for being different and of course having Mr. Oogie Boogie.

  7. Okay, someone has to make the joke.

    The fire dancing girl was hot.

    I feel better now.

  8. Brandy

    Wow are you SURE this happened at a Disney park? I really liked it, but I am amazed Disney went there. I thought the last fire dance act was very well timed and choreographed, and honestly the dancer has on WAY more clothes than the little mermaid or Jasmine, so I fail to see the issue. My 8 year old boy would have loved that show- swords, cross bows, fire, and Oogie- what’s not to love! thanks for posting

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