Disney 'Fun-kins' stay fresh throughout season

Jack-o-lanterns are creative with a nod to tradition

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - It's become a Disney tradition. For 16 years, every fall, the Magic Kingdom is transformed into "Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. 

And what would a Halloween party be without pumpkins?

David Hartmann, Art Director for Walt Disney Parks Creative Entertainment is responsible for designing the special holiday decorations.

He says the look is planned a year in advance.

"We spend roughly a week decorating the park to put all the pumpkins and all the fabric up, all the scarecrows and all the decorations that we use for this event." Hartmann says there are 181 hand carved pumpkins used on Main Street alone.

He says the first few years of the event, artists were using real pumpkins.

"It became real interesting," he says with a laugh. "The pumpkins started to rot and people were putting their hands through them."

Turns out they just couldn't handle the Florida heat. "They were really just not happy." 

They came up with the "Fun-kin," each one individually shaped and hand carved with Hartmann's designs.

He says he draws inspiration from the shops and locations along Main Street. He says he keeps them simple to reflect the turn of the century feel.

Designs range from peanuts, popcorn and baseballs on Casey's Corner to pumpkins with film strips on them over the Main Street Cinema. 

Each year new designs are added but returning guests like to look for their favorites from years past. They notice when one is missing or in a different location.

"They are huge fans of Disney," Hartmann says. "They will photo document everything."

It seems that Disney super fans get as excited about tradition as they do about new rides and park expansion.

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