Halloween At Disneyland: Back On The Grounds
By: Chris Darkes - October 15, 2016
Category : Uncategorized
I stepped away from the blog for quite some time now. The days turning to a few months. It was unintentional, and for that I profusely apologize. The radio silence was due to a combination of professional and personal commitments, and generally not finding the time to sit and write. A lot of exciting things have happened, and I’m hoping to remember to feature them on these posts. For the time being, I’m able to once again get back into the swing of writing, and just in time for the seasons to change into arguably my favorite time of year (next to 4th of July)!
Ah yes we’re back in fall, and more specifically October, which has so much going for it. Hoodies, pumpkins, leaves changing, and Halloween.
The hot summer has only mildly tapered off in Southern California, but in the rest of the U.S. the temperatures have given us a taste of what to expect in the next couple of weeks. The weather here has given us the opportunity to explore various hiking trails. I’ll post some pictures at a later date. Let’s dive into the nature of this post. Last week, we squeezed in a trip to Disneyland just as place gets a Halloween-themed make-over.
This time we did it smarter — by that I mean we left the night before and chowed down on some Portillo’s as soon as we entered Orange County.
After that, we settled on a quaint motel that was about 3 minutes from the park. The usual routine of getting up at 5 A.M. and trying to beat traffic, only to realize that the park doesn’t open for another two hours didn’t sound too appealing this time, so we opted for convenience.
We originally planned to attend the rope drop ceremony, but decided last minute it might be better to let the crowd thin out, and go at a slightly later time. So with that we left the motel, and drove the 3 and a half minutes to the entrance.
Bright and early, we made our way to the gates…
From the entrance you can hear the chimes of the trolley, the horse’s hooves walking along the brick veneer, and see the overwhelming smiles from children and adults alike. I stressed this in an earlier post, but one of my favorite things about Disney is the attention to detail. That’s what sells the experience. Keep that in mind as I walk you through my day in pictures.
Upon entering Main Street, we stood there and just watched. Everything around us is dressed in oranges and yellows. The euphoria of excitement buzzing through the street. The gigantic Pumpkin Mickey awaiting your arrival.The ambiance and spirit is electric.
As we made our way through, we devised a plan of attack. My girlfriend is a rockstar when it comes to timing the Fast Passes. We agreed that we would grab an Indiana Jones Adventure Fast Pass (which usually takes almost an hour without it) before waiting in line for Haunted Mansion.
Since Indiana Jones was dealing with a mechanical issue, we opted for grabbing a quick snack before heading towards the Haunted Mansion.
While we were in line, which was surprisingly moving pretty fast, Sara grabbed two Fast Passes for Haunted Mansion again.
The Haunted Mansion is one of the best attractions Disneyland has to offer. It’s history and magic make it one of the top spots to be. Even while you wait, you can get caught absorbed by detail around the mansion.
The ride (Disney purists hate that word) was redecorated to reflect the season. Since it’s loaded with ghosts, graveyards, and ghouls normally, they went the extra length to make it pop even moreso.
We doubled back to check on Indiana Jones. It was up and running, so we hustled back to Haunted Mansion once again (since you can only do one Fast Pass at a time), before grabbing our Fast Pass for Indiana Jones.
After that, we made our way for a bite to eat at Jolly Holiday. The place is smack in the middle of the park, but is slightly tucked away. Don’t let that stop you, as there are some really great finds there!
The time aligned up perfectly with finishing our meal as the Fast Passes were ready to be used for Indiana Jones’ Adventure.
Now I’m really biased because Indiana Jones is one of my favorite series to watch. But this thing is definitely worth it for anyone who likes the thrill of a high speed mine car chase with a fun little story arc. It has nods to all the films. To give you the proper magnitude of the scale, it reportedly cost Disney around $100 million to construct it back in 1995. That gives you a bit of insight as to how immensely entertaining it is.
Afterwards, we made our way to the other side of the park. The weather was perfect and the pictures reflect that.
While waiting in line for Peter Pan’s flight to begin, my girlfriend pointed out behind us you can catch a glimpse of the Evil Queen from Snow While if you’re patient. She’s in the top window of one of the cottages in Fantasyland.
I finally get a picture of this place I had been trying to research for quite some time. It wasn’t on the map, and details were scarce online. If you get a chance, check it out as they have the last names of almost every person and where the last name originates.
Later, we rode on Pirates, Small World, and Roger Rabbit. All of which were awesome. I wish they updated Roger Rabbit as the story doesn’t translate as well on the attraction. That and the line took forever! Those are my only two grievances. Moving along…
A spot that is under development but had a few highlights was Star Wars land. Like many others, I am extremely excited to see the finished build. I’ll wait a bit though, as the crowds will be unruly. I’m hoping they keep it as pure to the original as possible.
Next we had to check out parts of the park that would only appeal to my inner nerd. But he already mentioned Star Wars… so what could it be?
For this part we meandered back towards Main Street. Well I have an obsession with the following things at Disneyland: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, anything personal about Walt Disney, and Coca-Cola. Every time I see any of those things I need to grab as many photos and continually talk about it. It’s annoying and a character-flaw I’m working on. With that said…
I had to stop by the Coca-Cola Refreshment Center. 1) It has everything I love about Coca-Cola. The old bottles throughout the years, the classic artwork gracing the walls, and throwback vibes. 2) It also has delicious taffy apples.
We grabbed an apple and sat down by this nifty little spot where they had a gentleman playing these ragtime tunes and little kids were dancing to it.
Upon finishing up the giant apple, we made our way over to Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln. We don’t get too excited about that, but the hidden part in the same building is really worth seeing.
That’s where all the blueprints, the artwork, and sketches are from Walt Disney. His bench and a ton of historical pieces. As a kid, I probably wouldn’t even understand why that’s in the park — but seeing it now I really appreciate the vision this man had for what would ultimately be universally enjoyed.
Outside we witnessed the flag ceremony where they take it down before it gets dark out. Next we explored the Fire Department. Before this trip, I never actually saw it up close and personal. The center window has one lamp they keep on at all times. It was Walt’s apartment, so he could view the people’s faces as they entered.
We finished the evening by stopping at the French Market for dinner. That is by far my favorite place for counter service. They have these corn chowder bread bowls, spicy Jambalaya, and really nice atmosphere.
Took a few more pics before grabbing a final Dole Whip and headed out to Downtown Disney. That’s worthy of it’s own separate section as I’ve rambled a bit too long now. Hope you enjoyed the trip as much as I have. We’ll be back soon!
Also published on Medium.