Halloween season has basically expanded to include summer, fall, and winter. Home Depot sold out of its first batch of monster decor in August, and pop-up attractions like Halloween Road at Heritage Square sell out immediately. Sixty days worth of spooks and spirits began materializing at Disneyland this weekend with the launch of new shows, food, and merch at the Happiest Place on Earth.
The biggest party—more than two dozen performances of the “Oogie Boogie Bash”—filled up immediately. However, Oogie and the rest of the Nightmare Before Christmas bunch are all over Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. We even spotted superfans dressed as Lock, Shock, and Barrel hanging out nearby.
The 20th season of Haunted Mansion Holiday transforms the iconic Disneyland estate once again with new scares, loads of new merchandise (check out those SHAG shirts), and a 13-foot-tall gingerbread cake, the largest ever. Speaking of cake, they’ve baked up an uncharacteristically gory blood-spattered wedding cake to go with the enhanced homicidal bride theme. A new Victorian-style tombstone with a mourning wreath has also appeared. “They would be marked Memento Mori, which means ‘remember you too shall die,’” said Disney art director Tim Wollweber. “But that’s a little dark for the holidays, so ours says Memento Merry—remember to be merry.”
Aside from a band of skeletal mariachi calacas hanging around Frontierland for Day of the Dead, a gigantic new two-faced pumpkin and decorations on Main Street U.S.A., and Halloween-themed mini parades (called cavalcades), most of the spooky action is across the way at Disney’s California Adventure. An eerie new soundtrack permeates the dark paths and purple lights twinkle in the trees there. An epic statue of the Headless Horseman stands next to the bronze Walt Disney. The Guardians of the Galaxy ride has added “Monsters After Dark.” There’s even a rumor about a “nighttime supernatural experience,” but we must not have believed hard enough to make it visible.
Cars Land is once again transformed for “Haul-O-Ween,” utilizing the language of car art and bad puns. Spiders made from oversized distributor caps and spark plug wires, and goofy fun posters for Hokus Spokus and Escape to Hitch Mountain hang on the walls. The lowrider shop has an ofrenda and giant calavera skull.
Dia de los Muertos is the theme at Plaza de la Familia, a de facto Coco Land in the former Paradise Gardens. The Pixar instant classic has inspired décor and food here, but also craft booths and a wonderful life-sized interactive Miguel puppet happy to meet-and-greet, and you can leave messages for departed loved ones on a spectacular tree of life. Mariachis perform songs from the film with a singing narrator, and the Mariachi Divas will be making special appearances through October. The whole revamp of the gardens is an immersive dip into the world of the Mexican afterlife and wholly moving. The film Coco had a team of consultants to hit the right notes on such a sensitive subject and the new offerings are just as thoughtful. “It’s culturally authentic,” offers creative director Susana Tubert. “And uniquely Disney.”
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