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9/16/16 - Thoughts and observations from a Friday trip to the Disneyland Resort including 1st impressions of HalloweenTime and APDays
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Welcome to the disneygeek.com Geek Speaks section. In this section I will post my comments on trips to the parks or other Disney related events.

9/16/16 - Thoughts and observations from a Friday trip to the Disneyland Resort including 1st impressions of HalloweenTime and APDays

Hello everyone,

Friday was the second week of Halloween Time and APDays at the parks. The crowds were moderate in the afternoon but as night fell wait times crept up and to walk around it became more crowded. The 60th Anniversary came to a close on Labor Day and in the nearly two weeks since then a majority of the decorations from the event have been removed. The park is returning to a more traditional look and all the blue is finally gone, replaced with orange for Halloween in many cases.

Thoughts and Observations:

  • Halloween Time kicked off last week, so this was my first visit this year. The festivities are really a shell of their former self in both parks. Main Street has the customary decorations, some characters were out in Halloween costumes in Town Square (I saw Mickey and Minnie but Chip and Dale were not). In Tomorrowland Ghost Galaxy returned and New Orleans Square is once again hosting the Haunted Mansion Holiday. There are an assortment of merchandise add ons for food and drink throughout the park and some special food offerings. But missing this year is any form of live entertainment or activities. Not a mention of Halloween in either time guide. It is disappointing that nothing is available to day guests. No pumpkin carving, live entertainment, arts/crafts, character interaction beyond the photos on Main Street, etc. California Adventure had even less than Disneyland in terms of decorations or festivities.

  • The Haunted Mansion Holiday is back and features a new gingerbread house as well as a new full size Sally figure in the graveyard. The mansion was experiencing a lot of down time on Friday. On a couple of occasions when I stopped by it was closed and guests were being let out. Even with this wait times were not that bad, the longest I saw posted was an hour. FastPass return times were about an hour out too most of the afternoon/evening. So I was able to use FastPass and go through three times with no real effort or delays. They have moved the FastPass merge point to be in the back, so there is more space for a FastPass queue and the switchback for the regular queue was removed to accommodate this. There are also new gravestones on the hill overlooking the queue, but with the relatively new fence up there they are partially obstructed. Being in the Standby line I could not get a really good view and was moving too quickly to really read them.

  • In Tomorrowland the Season of the Force promotion has ended, sort of. The entrance signs and banners were switched to say Tomorrowland, Hyper Space Mountain was switched to Ghost Galaxy, and at night the projection/lighting effects are not on. The other elements all were still present and in use on Friday including the Background music, Galactic Grill signage and menu, Storm Troopers on patrol, Path of the Jedi and Launch Bay.

  • I did not spend that much time in Disney California Adventure this trip due to waiting for FastPasses and trying to see the Disneyland changes. In my quick walk around the park nothing of note really stood out. The most noteworthy thing may be they were passing out full size caramel squares at Ghirardelli again vs minis or others selections.

  • I did walk through the Hollywood Land Backlot area and it is not in the best of shape. The Sunset theater has nothing showing, Stage 17 is for the Frozen up charge event only and the outside has a poor patch job where the old signs were. The sound and light rigging for the previous parties is still up but most of the equipment is removed and cables are just hanging around.

  • Annual Passholder Days have returned. They are taking place exclusively at DCA this time around and have two locations, Stage 12 (the old Hollywood & Dine) area and Paradise Pier Garden Gazebo. Both venues felt really small and cramped this time around. At Stage 12 they have an outdoor area blocked off and are distributing free bottled water, taking PhotoPass Pictures, a couple tables for coloring and a very small food demonstration area. Most of the space was taken up with a queue to meet a character inside Stage 12. Due to the way the queue and position inside is set up you could not really see unless you waiting. I heard Donald Duck was on hand in a Halloween costume, but I did not want to wait in the line to see. You were also able to pick up a button, with a different design each week. Out in Paradise Gardens even less was going on with some activity space, a hand out activity, recipe cards, photo backdrop, pin trading table and a kiosk to renew or ask AP questions. Be sure to check the times guide for times as they do vary from day to day. Overall it is nice to see something going on but this time was not as impressive as the last time.

  • Tower of Terror is in its final months with an announced closure date of January 2nd. To mark this there is some new merchandise, a photo spot in front of the sign, a new nightly experience where you called Late Check Out and the Silver Lake Sisters in the lobby throughout the day. I am not a big thrill ride fan, so the Tower is not an attraction I visit. The change over to be Guardians of the Galaxy vs Twilight Zone is interesting but again I do not see myself visiting so not a big net change. I am disappointed with the concept art for how the Tower will look. It appears it will really stand out in the skyline and not sure how it will work with the site lines throughout the park from Buena Vista Street to Hollywood Land to even Bugs and Paradise Pier it seems like it will appear out of place. It will be interesting to see how the final product looks from around the park. I also found it odd that for the last rides they have a promotion where they are turning off the effects and having you ride in blackness. Seems to me if you are willing to do that just for the drop/g-forces then why not go to an amusement park vs a theme park. Has anyone ridden the Late Check Out version? Curious how they integrate it into the story. During the late afternoon when I walked by the stand by wait was not that bad for the regular version. I saw some tweets of a substantially longer wait time after dark. I was disappointed that the only way to see the Silver Lake Sisters was to wait in line and then no guarentee you would see them and stopping to see them may be awkward with the line moving. The concept of having a performance in the lobby is nice, but in reality it limits the experience vs if they were performing outside where people could stop and enjoy the performance.

  • Elvis, Scot Bruce, was performing at the Tomorrowland Terrace so I stopped by for a couple sets. Having live entertainment back on the stage is great and it brings energy to the area at night. Hopefully they keep it going after the Halloween Season.

  • Space Mountain exterior lighting seemed to be having problems. They had bright flood lights on the mountain so it was white, but off to the side in the shadows you could make out what appeared to be Ghost Galaxy projections, so maybe those projectors were on too. The audio for Ghost Galaxy projections was playing. Then add in Star Wars background music and it was an odd mix.

  • Walked through the park around 8:30 and was surprised by the number of guests roaming around Frontierland and the Rivers of America area. I went out to use a FastPass for Haunted Mansion (which had an hour stand by wait posted) and then circled back to Main Street. The river front had a large number of guests milling around, some sitting, some standing, others walking through like me. Nothing was going on in terms of entertainment.

  • I opted to watch Fantasy in the Sky on Friday. It returned last week as a replacement for the now retired Disneyland Forever. The show will run on non Halloween Party weekend nights through the Christmas season when Believe in Holiday Magic takes over. No announcement has been made for the new year yet but I would guess Fantasy in the Sky will return. The show seemed about the same as the last time it ran, nothing really jumped out to me as new or different. It is short, under 5 minutes, and does not use any of the in park effects. I do not understand why the marketing team thinks everything needs an extra adjective, in this case it is Spectacular. Compared to past fireworks show I do not think that is accurate. It is an ok show but not a spectacular.

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

Geek's Blog Postings Recap – August 31-September 11, 2016

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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