Fall Comes Early at Disney World

It may still be hot as blazes outside, but Disney's (NYSE: DIS) ready to leave summer behind at the world's most visited theme-park resort. Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party kicks off next weekend. Aug. 25 will be the first of 34 nights between now and the start of November that finds the Magic Kingdom closing early for day guests, reopening at 7 p.m. for visitors paying at least $74 a night for five hours of rides, themed shows, and trick-or-treat stations.

Halloween in August doesn't have the same kind of ring as Christmas in July, but it's still an early jump for costumed revelry, even for a media giant that's been known to stretch the holiday time line. Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party rolled out during the first weekend in September last year, and now it's starting a week earlier, adding two more nights and increasing its ticket prices by a couple of bucks.

Treat or treat

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party isn't the only fall event being pushed into August for the first time. Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is returning on Aug. 31, stretching its record 62-day run last year into a 75-day party of gourmet delicacies, globetrotter libations, and daily concerts. Epcot's foodie fest began in mid-September last year.

It's safe to say that Disney's throwing in the towel on summer this season. With area schools already in session, the peak summer travel season has already come to an end. However, for a summer of high hopes that began with the Memorial Day weekend debut of Pandora -- The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom to rave reviews and gargantuan crowds, it seems as if summer's ending on a bit of a whimper. Disney World also closed a pair of attractions last weekend to make way for future attractions.

Summer has been a bust at Disney, with some industry watchers suggesting that an uptick in attendance at Disney's Animal Kingdom came at the expense of the resort's three other parks. One of the more shocking nuggets in Disney's fiscal third-quarter report was that it experienced fewer occupied room nights despite the favorable timing of the Easter holiday. If June was a dud in the afterglow of May's Avatar-themed expansion, it's easy to see why Disney's pushing the hard-ticket Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and the adult-attracting Food & Wine Festival earlier into the current quarter.

Disney World needs an early seasonal boost. With Disney stock now at levels last seen in late 2016, it's safe to say that shareholders can use the early arrival of its two big fall events.

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Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.