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Disneyland Article
How Disney Parks Use Halloween To Update Their Classic Attractions

ID:TMS-3199
Source:Forbes
Author:Seth Porges
Dateline:October 22, 2015
Posted:October 26, 2015
Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy
Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy
 
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Candy! Costumes! Calacas! Halloween has always been a fan-favorite holiday. Without much in the way of religion or tradition to take priority, this is a day of pure fun. A time for kids to indulge in way too much sugar, and for adults to dress up in otherwise-socially-unacceptable costumes before hitting the town.

It's also a time of year that theme parks are increasingly using as excuses to step up their game, and offer holiday-themed rides and events as ways of luring in guests during the traditional slow season between Summer and Christmas. In case you're headed to Disney parks in Florida or California, here's what you can expect them to do differently during the Halloween season.

Disneyland Resort - Anaheim, CA

Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy

Fun fact: Although Space Mountain feels fast, it's actually surprisingly sedate, with a top speed of just 35 mph (the Florida version goes even slower: Just 28 mph). The long-running (and often long-lined) coaster's fun comes in the way it uses near-total darkness to create the illusion of speed.

For the Halloween season, Disneyland gives the ride a ghostly makeover. As riders traverse the darkness, projected images of a demonic alien appear to be chasing their car. By Disney standards, the overlay is pretty PG-13 (the ride comes with a warning sign that it may be too intense for younger visitors), with its effects compounded by the ride's speed and the clever use of sound effects that add to the immersion.

Haunted Mansion Holiday

Inspiring fan sites and even fan fiction (seriously), the Haunted Mansion has a cult following that is utterly unique amongst theme park rides. Maybe it's the iconic characters, or the ride's remarkably morbid sense of humor, or the top-notch special effects (which hold up remarkably well for an attraction that first opened in 1969). Point being: This is a beloved beast, and even minor alterations run the risk of upsetting fans.

Fortunately, The Nightmare Before Christmas-inspired holiday overlay-which uses the movie's mixture of Halloween and Christmas imagery to justify a run until after New Year's-remains respectful of its host ride, while offering a few treats for younger fans who may not be as steeped in the ride's storied history. Characters from the movie are seamlessly woven into ride's rooms, while an upbeat soundtrack changes the attraction's overall tone. And while hardcore Haunted Mansion fans may miss the original, they can take solace in the knowledge that the ride they remember and love isn't going anywhere, and will return to its usual form in January.

Dia de los Muertos Celebration

One of the best things about Disney parks are the way they mix small-scale, even handmade, touches in with big blowout rides. For Halloween, the Frontierland section of Disneyland features a detail-heavy tribute to the Mexican Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. There are crafted calacas skeleton figurines (including a striking trio of musical skeletons characters playing instruments), a face-painting station, and displays where visitors can learn about this Mexican tradition.

A Disney Villainous Halloween

If you're staying at one of the on-site Disneyland hotels, this seasonal add-on transforms your room into a miniature haunted house. Guests are welcomed by a pair of "creepy candelabras", a souvenir woven blanket, a holiday-themed Monopoly game, and a large mystery gift box. While the $399.95 add-on isn't cheap, it's still sold out for the season.

Walt Disney World Resort - Florida

Over in Orlando, Walt Disney World Resorts mostly eschews ride-specific Halloween enhancements in favor of a large, almost-nightly event: Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. The separately ticketed event takes place at The Magic Kingdom on select nights through November 1, and features a park-wide Halloween overlay. Spooky lighting and smoke effects permeate through the park, there are Halloween-themed parades, and trick-or-treating stations give kids periodic places to keep their sugar levels from dipping too low. Attendees are also encouraged to show up in costume, giving the park an interesting atmosphere.

But never mind all that. Here's the real reason to drop by this event: You can walk onto almost any ride without waiting. This is because the event requires a separate ticket, and runs late into the evening (its hours are 7pm to midnight). By the time 10pm rolls around, even the most candy-crushed children will be on their way to bed-making it possible for survivors to hop between the park's most popular rides in record time.
 

 
 
Attractions Referenced

Haunted Mansion
Haunted Mansion Holiday
Space Mountain
Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy
 
Restaurants Referenced

 
Parades Referenced

 
 
 
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