If you've ever visited Disney World during the Halloween season for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, you've been dazzled by the creatively carved pumpkins that line Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom park.
Want to learn to carve a pumpkin just like a Disney pro? Lon Smart, an artist for Disney Parks who designed and carved many of those pumpkins, recently shared some of his go-to pumpkin-carving tricks in a Disney how-to video. Some of his top tips include:
- Plan on paper. Sketch some design ideas on paper before you begin and experiment with different emotions, such as angry, surprised, or frightened.
- Use a dry erase marker. Before you start carving, draw your design on your pumpkin with a dry erase marker so you can easily erase mistakes.
- Get a good knife. Use a good kitchen knife instead of the lower-quality knives that typically come with carving kits. Kids should never carve a pumpkin without adult supervision.
- Shuck the top off. Instead of a sawing motion, use a shucking motion to remove the top of your pumpkin. Create an entry point for the knife tip and then pull firmly in short bursts.
- Undercut the shapes. "It's easier to take away than add," said Lon, who advises undercutting a shape and then going back if necessary and making it larger.
- Be careful. Always move the knife away from you, never toward you.
- Get creative with lighting. Instead of candles—which can be a fire hazard—use blinking battery-operated bike lights, electric tea lights, or colorful glowing light sticks to brighten up your Jack O'Lantern.
- Add personality. Give your pumpkin extra character by adding acrylic paint, glue-on googly eyes, or accessories, such as hats or scarves.
- Use a template. The team at Disney have created some great pumpkin-carving templates that can be downloaded: Angry Donald, Dracula Mickey, Happy Minnie, and Scared Mickey. Three additional templates can be downloaded here. Each varies in level of difficulty, from an easy Skeleton Mickey, to a moderate Princess Anna from "Frozen," to a complex Dr. Facilier from "The Princess and the Frog."
More Pumpkin Carving Tips
- How to Carve a Halloween Pumpkin
- Ready-to-Use Pumpkin-Carving Patterns
Pumpkin (available at grocery stores and farmers markets)
Dry erase marker
Kitchen paring knife
Blinking bicycle light