Throughout this month and continuing through next week’s haunted holiday, Disneyland is hosting Halloween Time, decorating the park with hues of orange and black amidst an exciting array of new attractions and overlays, each fitting with the spooky season.
Halloween Time is a chance for Disney’s Villains to step forward into the spotlight, commanding as much attention as they desire. But this daily Halloween festival isn’t meant to be scary, only offering an occasional “boo” with some of its more thrilling rides. It’s fun for the whole family, adding even more exciting experiences this year.
To provide an overview of Halloween Time this year, we enlisted the help of local Southern California reporter Audra Stafford (@SDentertainment) to take a closer look at some of its most thrilling experiences:
Stepping inside Disneyland, it’s immediately obvious that Halloween has descended. As Mickey Mouse meets and greets in Town Square, he’s surrounded by pumpkins everywhere.
Main Street’s the same, with every shelf featuring an amusing Jack-O-Lantern fitting each shop’s theme.
A highlight of Halloween Time, Space Mountain becomes Ghost Galaxy, injecting a few startles courtesy of a creepy etherial space monster following the ride’s every twist and turn.
Video: Full ride on Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy
Gamers will find a bonus treat awaiting them in the arcade at the exit of Space Mountain in the form of retro video game machines inherited from Flynn’s Arcade in the much-missed former ElecTRONica event.
Another highlight is Haunted Mansion Holiday, as Jack Skellington has “wrecked the halls” to bring his brand of Christmas into The Haunted Mansion. The attraction is updated for 2013 with new effects and surprises.
Video: Full ride on Haunted Mansion Holiday 2013
The line often looks extremely long with posted wait times upwards of 60 minutes, but thanks to a fast-moving queue (and no FastPass getting in the way) the maximum wait time is often just 30 or less.
Normally sleepy Big Thunder Ranch comes alive for the Halloween Carnival during this time of the year. Adding to the live band, character opportunities, pumpkin carvers, and a petting zoo is the addition of Pirates League makeovers this year.
But the most exciting opportunity is the Conjure a Villain experience in which guests enter a carnival tent to help magically summon a Disney Villain, though it’s a surprise just which one will arrive. There’s always a long line to get in to this mysterious tent, with wait times generally around 30-45 minutes. Fortunately, there is seating available to wait it out while small groups go in at a time. But once inside, the experience is well worth it.
Video: Conjure a Villain during Disneyland’s Halloween Time
There are characters aplenty during Halloween Time, both at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, often seen just out and about in the parks. Even more opportunities are available during Mickey’s Halloween Party, the nighttime separately-ticketed events.
And then there are the many treats scattered throughout the parks, including plenty of sweets, candies, cupcakes, chocolates, cookies, and a whole lot of pumpkin.
We even have a cooking demonstration with one of Disneyland’s chefs, brought to us once again by Audra Stafford, helping to prepare pumpkin beignets:
Here’s the full recipe:
Makes 25 beignets
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons pumpkin purée
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/4 cup warm water
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 teaspoons pumpkin extract (optional)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon dry instant yeast
Vegetable oil, for frying
Powdered sugar, for coating
And some more tasty treats:
(The pumpkin fritters in New Orleans Square are must haves!)
Even the merchandise gets into the sweet spirit with creepy candy apple mouse ear headbands.
There’s most definitely no shortage of entertainment during Disneyland’s Halloween Time, so much so that during my recent two days spent at the parks I did not take part in a single attraction that was not somehow Halloween related. I took multiple spins on Haunted Mansion Holiday, enjoyed Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, and even rode the Sailing Ship Columbia for the first time to get a better view of the Mansion.
I even played a game of “Where’s Jack?” spotting the Pumpkin King in the New Orleans Square crowd.
In fact, the only downside to a Halloween Time visit to Disneyland is seeing the sad state of New Orleans Square’s famed Court of Angels stairway, now walled off from public view on its way to becoming an exclusive part of the Club 33 expansion.
That sad moment aside, Halloween Time is a frightfully fun adventure through Disneyland that gets better with every visit, continuing through October 31 - with Haunted Mansion Holiday sticking around through the end of the year fittingly spanning both Halloween and Christmas seasons.
More photos from Halloween Time 2013 at Disneyland: