Kids, as a ghostie girl, clearly, this is the time of year I come alive, as it were. The only thing better than a blustery, rainy day here at the Hotel Del is a blustery, rainy day up at Disneyland. I’ve been on a perpetual Disney mission since good ol’ Walt opened the green gates in 1955, so why not entreat anyone I can, ghost or otherwise, to experience the magnificent transformation of The Happiest Place on Earth into The Spookiest Place on Earth: Disneyland’s Halloween Time?! Poor Dr. Lucy. She’s already my de rigueur recipient of constant, obsessive, pro-Disney blatherings. The Holidays are certainly no easier for her.
Now, I write specifically of the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California; Walt Disney World, well, it’s not the original. Disney California gets a bedeviling, magical, spooky, pumpkin-bedecked makeover, as do all the parks. Nyquil trip-worthy, giant Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy Jack O’Lanterns greet you at the main gate and welcome you into a fall fantasy. ‘Tis best to go at night, as it is still a tad warm here in sunny SoCal to achieve a true autumnal glow. October 1st temp this year? 100 degrees in Anaheim! Of course, maybe that’s why we Disneyland dorks love Halloween Time so very much. Disney is fantasy, after all, and weather fantasy is a beautiful thing.
From Main Street’s straw-adorned gas lampposts to Space Mountain’s surprisingly heart-stopping Ghost Galaxy (I’ve seen more than a few terrifying ghosts in my day and even I screamed with such true terror, without the ability to ever catch my breath in between banshee calls, I exited with a monster headache and a shredded, sore throat. Gnarly, awesome fun!), everything is infused with an orange-and-gold, haystacks-and-scarecrows, SpiderCider n’ pumpkin muffin kind of elan. Even the popcorn boxes are anew with Gothic imagery. You’ll find ghostly and spooky, seasonal offerings from Jack O’Lantern lollipop cakes at the Jolly Holiday Bakery Café on Main Street, to Jack Skellington hoodies and Haunted Mansion home décor throughout New Orleans Square.
The Haunted Mansion, above all, receives a dressing up one simply must see in person. Whilst divine and inspiring on its most average day, the manse brings new awe to the darkly-humoured and sartorially gothic flutterbys whom tend to use the manor less as an amusement park ride and more as an interior design sketchbook. September through January, the Mansion looks like the aftermath of a Tim Burton Army’s coup d’etat. Using “The Nightmare Before Christmas” as its seasonal overlay, the neoclassical Victorian estate recounts the tale of pauvre Jack Skellington and his empirical quest to understand himself and his raison d’etre. ‘Tis a Samhain switch that would make even Kafka proud: creepy crawlies, existential confusion and brooding philosophes.
The chateau has been overtaken and rechristened Haunted Mansion Holiday here in Anna’s House (Anaheim) and Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare at Tokyo Disneyland for my Japanese, Ju-on horror pals, Yoshiko, Akiko and Aii. Konnichiwa, guys!
Jack and Sally, Zero, the mayor of Hallowe’en Town and his loyal citizens, evil Oogie Boogie and his miniature minions Lock, Shock and Barrel and, of course, Sandy Claws have made the palace their own. Doom Buggies carry Nightmare devotees whom will not only spy favourite replications and vignettes from the holiday mainstay film, but whom will search over and over, enduring sadistically long and serpentine lines to get inside, for details and surprises hidden nicely in plain sight for the more obsessive fans. Haven’t had a chance to get inside, yet? No worries. Allow Moi to offer a wee Holiday Haunted Mansion slideshow!
Apropos to those devilish lines, there are plenty of visual stimuli outside the Neoclassical Italianate dwelling to keep one’s creative centers electrified as you shuffle forward at an imperceptible speed: impaled Jack O’Lanterns on an ivy-laden hillside, scores of flickering candles, skull-festooned, black-ribboned Christmas wreaths and a plethora of tombstones, cemetery statuary and goofy epitaph puns. (Crave an archivist’s details about the original architectural impetus for the manse: the 1803 Shipley-Lydecker House in Baltimore? Voila … Disneyland Nomenclature.)
Should you be fortunate enough to live near Disneyland and even more fortunate to be an annual passholder, get thee to The Spookiest Place on Earth forthwith. Plan on long lines, especially at Space Mountain’s Ghost Galaxy and The Haunted Mansion, buy some popcorn to kill time and take some pictures whilst you wait. I do! Pirates of the Caribbean is usually a pretty mellow wait and though it’s not got a Hallowe’en rework, it’s still pirates. You have to do pirates for Hallowe’en!
If you’re not an annual passholder, expect a terrifying ticket price into the park. Of course, you can always put that admission toward said-pass and imbue yourself with the heady incense that is Disney all year long. They’ll apply the ticket-price to your new pass and for just a minor monthly stipend, Disney will own your ass forev … I mean, offer you endless entertainment for years to come, plus parking. (Fair warning: If you plan to have a pass for the long term, it is best to renew your pass every year, prior to the expiration date. You can upgrade easily, with a slightly higher, modified, monthly fee; but there are often renewal discounts. Also, you maintain your monthly debits, keeping cost management of the pass pretty regular, minus upgrade costs. If it expires, even by a day, you will be required to buy anew; that means a one-day ticket price/down payment of about $80.00.)
If you do have a pass, besides the useful 10% to 20% dining and merchandise discounts you’ll receive, depending on the pass, you’ll get a significant discount on advance-purchase tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party, excepting Oct. 30th & 31st. What? You don’t know of Mickey’s Halloween Party?! It’s a special, ticketed event ($57.00-$74.00) throughout the month of October. The park closes early to make way for a fab, private-ish party! You may dress up if you like (within guidelines) and experience a whole different Hallowe’en overlay throughout the place: a spooky, blue, ghostly Mark Twain and Pirate Ship Columbia drift atop the fog-laden Rivers of America; costumed Disney characters pose for pictures; safe and healthy trick-or-treating stations await your little ones; and Halloween Screams Fireworks explode over a multi-hued Sleeping Beauty’s Castle! Dates are plentiful, but tickets sell out fast! Learn more here: Mickey’s Halloween Party!
If you find you cannot get to the Park, you can at least treat yourself to a little bit of Disney dread décor at home. Still, as the spooky squatters of The Haunted Mansion say, ditto for Lucy and Moi here at The Del, “there’s always room for one more”. So, hurry back and don’t forget to bring your, death certificate.
Disney shopping not going to do it for you? My pally JennyPop’s got a great slideshow for you then!
Abyssinia, spooky cats!
Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online?