Our family was treated to a preview of Disneyland's Halloween Time festivities a few weeks ago by the Disney PR team. I've been so busy with school plays, two jobs, and refilling the soap dispensers in our house that I haven't had a chance to share some of our photos and some of the fun things that lie in store for October Disneyland visitors. Ok, that last part is a lie, because the hand soap dispensers are still empty, but you get the drift. Love Disney. Busy life. No blog time.
We drove down to LA from the San Francisco Bay Area this time around, and arrived at the Disney Grand Californian just in time for...a scheduled power outage. We arrived at the witching hour (midnight) and were greeted by spooky bellmen carrying flashlights. I guess they weren't realy that spooky, but when you drive up to that big hotel and almost all the lights are out, it's a little scary. The bellmen assured us that there was nothing to be alarmed about, but that every year they check all the circuits in the hotel (to avoid a real power outage. Surprise! we happened to arrive just as it was starting.
The hotel was dark, lit only by the ghostly chartreuse glow sticks positioned around the huge lobby. The computers and elevators were working, so we were able to check in, but it was a little unnerving. I couldn't help thinking that they might consider making this part of the Halloween package, a sort of haunted hotel deal. Alex thought that brushing his teeth by the light of the glowsticks was big fun. The only part I didn't like was being awakened when the lights and radio came on at 3:30 in the morning, signaling the end of the blackout. Of course, Frank and Alex slept throught the whole thing, so I got up to turn out the lights.
Grandma Chris flew in from Indiana to join us, and she was the perfect test case for Disney's Halloween efforts, since I think of her as the Queen of Halloween. She goes all out each year with decorations, pumpkins, and treats for the kids. When Frank and I were first married and his younger brother and sister were still living at home, we would travel each year to Terre Haute to join in the fun. Here, Alex does his best imitation of a choking victim to get into the spirit of the event.
As part of the event, we were paired up with another momblogger, Irene, from Parent Click, and her twins, Seth and Ethan. Our two families were escorted around the park by the lovely Breana from Guest Relations, who helped us get around, showing us all the things the kids wanted to see. The kids weren't interested in the Space Mountain Ghost Ride, but all wanted to go on Soarin' Over California. Talk about spooky...this was Frank's worst nightmare, since he suffers from vertigo. He kept his eyes closes the entire time, and decided to sit out the Indiana Jones ride.
Breana was a great guide, very knowledgeable about the park and seemed to truly enjoy her job. I asked her if she had any tips to share on getting the most out of your Disneyland visit, and she advised everyone to "come early." She said that they have many, many season pass holders who tend to come out for the nighttime festivities, so it is less crowded in the morning and afternoon. Our experience matched that, and it seemed like the lines for the attractions were much shorter in the morning, and just getting from place to place was easier. At night, it seemed to take forever to get from one section to another.
Grandma Chris, Alex, Frank & I were duly impressed with the Disney magic, transforming both Disneyland into a place of pumpkins, ghosts, and skeletons. Jack Skellington of Nightmare Before Christmas fame seems to be the official MC of the Halloween activities, and his visage can be found in balloons, ornaments, and trinkets all over Disneyland.
The most amazing transformation, however, was in the Haunted Mansion, transformed into scenes from The Nightmare Before Christmas, with special ghoulish music, displays, and thrills. I especially liked the snow scenes and the banquet scene, which featured a giant gingerbread house (though some thought it was actually a tombstone).
At a special blogger presentation, we got to hear about Mickey's Halloween Party, which is being held at Disneyland this year, instead of Disney's California Adventure. Every Tuesday and Friday night, you can buy special tickets to attend the party for $49 in advance (or $54 at the door). The park shuts down to the general public, and partygoers are treated to a special disco party hosted by Jack Skellington and special rows of stands where kids can collect treats (both healthy and sugary). Families come in costume, and the party looks like a ton of fun. If we lived in Southern California, we'd be all over it.
One of the coolest night-time attractions was a display honoring the Mexican Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday, celebrated on November 2. There was a mariachi trio of skeletons and a shrine to walk through tha was all lit up at night.
After our day of roaming the park, meeting villains, and generally having fun, we met up with the group of mombloggers at the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue, where we were treated to a live cowboy show. The Cowgirl in Charge asked the kids to come up on stage and sing and dance to some Halloween-ified cowboy tunes, and Alex and the twins gladly obliged. The restaurant offers all-you-can-eat barbecue, served family style, and hearty sides of beans, corn, and cole slaw.
After dinner, we trekked over to Disney's California Adventure to see the World of Color. I have to say that of all the Disney attractions I've ever seen, this is my favorite. It was even more beautiful and impressive the second time around. It was particularly magical to share it with my family. World of Color is shown nightly, but during the winter months, there won't be quite as many shows. This is a must-see for anyone visiting Disneyland at any time of the year.
Disclosure: We received a complimentary one-night stay at the Disney Grand Californian, some meals, goodies, and four park passes to attend this event. I did not receive any monetary compensation or incentive to write this post. The views expressed in this post are my own, and do not reflect the policies or opinions of the Walt Disney Corporation or its affiliates.