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09/15/17 - Thoughts and observations from Friday & the start of Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort.
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09/15/17 - Thoughts and observations from Friday & the start of Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort.
Halloween Time 2017 kicked off Friday at the Disneyland Resort. This year the festivities have been expanded to include more at Disney California Adventure. Unfortunately Candy Corn Acres has not returned.. but they have decorated Buena Vista Street and Cars Land this year. Plus expanded the Paradise Gardens celebration to include the upcoming film Coco. Summer of Heroes still has some elements around too. As you would expect for this time of year the crowds were on the heavy side, especially after dark as locals arrived in droves to check out the Halloween Time festivities. This is one of the few non party Fridays of the season. Wait times swelled with the Haunted Mansion over the two hour mark. Even FastPass returns were taking over 20 minutes.

Thoughts and Observations:

  • I was pleasantly surprised to arrive and find the overpass and Mickey & Friends Parking structure both open and no waits. I pulled right up to a toll booth and then was directed up to the third floor. Later in the evening the structure did fill up and from what I saw on Twitter driving around was really bad. Disney also warned of longer than usual bus trips from Toy Story. This went on all weekend, for example on Sunday they filled both the structure and Toy Story lots at one point. So bring your patience as Halloween Time feels more crowded now a days than Christmas thanks to the block outs around Christmas and the parties for Halloween.

  • First stop for me was to check out the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge construction. The big news this week is you can see wire mesh going onto the steel supports for the mountains/rock work. Other than that just incremental changes are visible as the view continues to disappear as the buildings are closed in. From the park side the same can be said, you could see the rock work and that was about it at this point.

  • Downtown Disney has some fall harvest/pumpkin displays. I only took a quick glimpse at one near the tram stop. On a future visit will take a more in depth look to see what is out for Halloween. Nice to see them putting more seasonal displays out.

  • This trip MaxPass worked as it should, unlike last trip. As soon as I walked into my first park, Disney California Adventure in this case, I was able to book a FastPass. I did for Haunted Mansion Holiday from 6:40-7:40 and it was around 1:30 so a long return time. Later in the afternoon I booked a second for another attraction and it went down during my window so I was able to get a multi-experience pass which I used for a second Haunted Mansion Holiday later in the day.

  • Buena Vista Street is decorated this year. It features an awkward mix of decorations. Oogie Boogie has come to town and decorated the entrance as well as the Carthay Circle with bats. I am guessing the purple banners are his too. Carthay Circle features a statue of the Headless Horseman where the Christmas tree usually goes. The characters are have added elements to their costumes to dress up for Halloween. The window displays appear more classic and fitting with the time period. At night Oogie takes over with purple lights in the trees, music and voice over throughout the evening. I was a disappointed with Buena Vista Street. I think the way they decorate for Christmas fits the theme of the street so well and this mix did not have the same sense of place to me. At night it felt more like an after hour party vibe than Buena Vista Street which I am not a fan of during regular park hours. The statue is a nice photo op but quite a few people were asking why.. it just seemed to be there. The character costume additions were a nice touch for a fun way to fit into the street and they work. I would have liked to have seen the News Boys and Five & Dime to feature something for the season. Maybe next year.

  • The residents of Radiator Springs have decorated Cars Land to celebrate Haul-O-Ween. This celebration is similar to Christmas with decorations throughout. In addition to that the music for both Mater's and Luigi's attractions feature Haul-O-Ween tunes. Overall I found this to be a fun way to celebrate the holiday. There is a lot of detail throughout the area with signs, props and other decorations. For more details here is the full press release. One of the highlights for me was the wrecked car in front of Radiator Springs Curious. In addition to be an interesting prop it puts on a small show with sound, lights, and a little smoke even. I also enjoyed finding the little details throughout such as the Brakes Hotel model in the lobby of the Cozy Cone. I found it odd though they put this display on the side of the lobby by the meet and greet so you cannot get a good view most of the time. It seems it should have been on the other side where you could see it.

  • For a first year offering I thought the queue props and music changes for Maters Graveyard JamBOOree and Luigi's Honkin' Haul-O-Ween were fun, but would have liked to have seen more done to the attractions themselves. Not sure what but something.

  • The lighting moment/event has taken on a new song and feel for the season too. I thought this changed worked, but unfortunately due to some delays and issues the presentation was a bit off on Friday night. Assuming that will smooth out as the season goes along. It appeared as if several of the lights, for example overhead and at Sarges, did not seem to come on as planned. I am not sure what I think of the lighting of Ornament Valley. I will have to take a second look.. on first glance it just seemed different to me but not that interesting.

  • DJ sports a punk rocker look and his dance party has been slightly altered for the season with some references. I would have liked to have seen Halloween inspired songs played.

  • The residents themselves dressed up for the season. I only got to see Van-pire Mater and Super Hero Lightning. I missed Cruz and Red, hopefully next trip.

  • Paradise Gardens has become Plaza de la Familia, A Celebration of Coco. For full details here is the press release. I thought the World of Coco display was nice, but felt weird outside.. it seems like something that should be inside. The Musical Celebration of Coco was entertaining and highlights several of the songs from the film and a little of the plot line. The challenge with it is the location. The viewing area is really tight and not being elevated at all makes it hard for many to see.

  • The last major offering at DCA is Guardians of the Galaxy - Monsters After Dark. They have changed the story of the attraction and now the monsters in the Collectors Fortress are free and you need to help Rocket save Baby Groot. This runs only after dark and FastPasses are distributed mid afternoon and go really quickly. I spoke to several who experienced it and they all had a similar reaction to the original saying it was a fun trip. The introduction of a holiday overlay on a first year attraction seems a little too soon for me. The original attraction already had long waits and high demand still. Adding this to it is a recipe for even longer waits. With it being after dark it means you have a very limited number of guests that can cycle through any given evening due to the capacity of the attraction. The exterior also received a new lighting package and projections which add to the area.

  • Walking around both parks this year it seemed there was more special Halloween Time food offerings. Almost every location seems to have an item or two.

  • Over at Disneyland the Halloween Time Festivities are on par with previous years. I noticed no major changes in the offerings. The Haunted Mansion Holiday features a new gingerbread house as always and beyond that and some of the food offerings nothing stood out to me as changed.

  • Speaking of the Haunted Mansion. I visited in the early evening and as is usual this time of year there was near gridlock in front of the mansion with guests trying to find the appropriate queue and others just trying to get through the area to reach their next destination. This visit the FastPass return queue was really backed up. It took over 20 minutes each time I went just to reach the building. The standby was posted at two hours.

Here are some recent posts to the Geek's Blog:

Geek’s Blog Postings Recap – Aug 15-September 5, 2017

Disney Related Press Releases

Be sure to check out the picture update that goes with this Geekspeak column, it can be found in our Disneyland Resort Pictorial Update section

Trip logs and mileage reports are in the Park Miles section.

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