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Halloween Isn't Over at Disney World's Biggest Rival

By Rick Munarriz – Nov 1, 2016 at 3:43PM

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Theme parks now turn to the holiday season, but Universal Orlando is betting on one last big Halloween hurrah.

Image source: Universal Orlando.

Halloween has come and gone, and even raiding your kid's candy stash this morning comes down to nothing more than pennies, unwrapped Tootsie Rolls, and cracked lollipops. Seasonal costume shops are closing down, and there are rich markdowns to be had on Halloween decor and other related goodies at local retailers. Everyone seems to be moving on, except for Universal Orlando parent Comcast (CMCSA -2.14%)

Florida's second-largest theme park resort was supposed to end its popular Halloween Horror Nights event last night, but a few days ago, it decided to extend the haunted houses and scare zones for another weekend. Halloween Horror Nights 26 -- yes, Comcast's resort has been at this for 26 years -- had added this upcoming Friday and Saturday night to the hard-ticket event's calendar.

It's only fair, one can argue. Comcast had to nix a pair of event nights last month when Hurricane Matthew danced along Florida's coastline. These two additional nights presumably even the score. 

The houses likely won't be as crowded as they've been in recent weeks with tens of thousands of attendees on any given night. The last-minute addition nullifies out-of-towners who need more lead time to make plans. Locals may have already had their fill. It's still the smart thing to do for Comcast, and after recently opening a year-round The Walking Dead attraction at Universal Hollywood, it may not be long before the Florida resort follows suit with a yearlong spooky attraction. 

Mickey Mouse is hanging up tinsel

A couple of I-4 exits away, Disney's (DIS -1.70%) not playing Universal's extension game. It may have been the first to kick off the season with the initial Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party taking over the Magic Kingdom on select nights starting on Sept. 2, but it's not looking back after sending off the last of its costumed trick-or-treaters last night.

Disney World is already turning its attention to the holidays, and just as it started celebrating Halloween nearly two months early, it's never too early to get into the spirit when big money's at stake. Visitors to Disney's Magic Kingdom were treated to holiday garland instead of the Halloween decor that was taken down last night. The first Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party kicks off in six days, and with folks paying $91 a ticket to enjoy the world's most visited theme park after 7 p.m., it's easy to see why the family-friendly media giant is more than happy to turn the page on Halloween.

Disney's charging more for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party than it did for its Halloween event that started at $72 a night. It's also an area where Comcast has yet to stand out, for now. Like most of Disney's rivals, Universal Orlando simply includes holiday festivities in the typical day-guest experience. After a rough year with attendance down at Disney World through at least the first half of the calendar year, it's easy to see why Disney is moving on from tricks to treats. It's also easy to see why Comcast's resort wants to milk Halloween for as long as it feasibly can. 

Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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