By Diane Ako
I can't believe it was already a year ago that my family and I were reveling in the magic of Disneyland at Halloween. We loved how Disney decorates the theme parks for the holiday. I had hoped to return this year, but with my daughter starting school, we feel we have more things to pack into a limited amount of energy and time.
My coworker is headed there, though, and so I told her about what she can do with her family:
Disneyland Resort guests can join Mickey Mouse and the Disney villains for some new treats and family fun at Halloween Time when the annual celebration returns to The Happiest Place on Earth through Monday, Oct. 31. The fun gets even spookier this year with the new Disney's Halloween Time Carnival featuring "The Astounding Cauldron of Magic" at Big Thunder Ranch, plus new pirate makeovers at Pirates League and, at Disney California Adventure Park, "The Art of Frankenweenie" exhibit with a peek behind the scenes of Tim Burton's new film.
The after-hours Mickey's Halloween Party, which has become an annual highlight of Halloween Time for trick-or-treating families, takes place in Disneyland Park on 11 special Monday, Tuesday and Friday nights. This is a separate-ticket event* and tickets are available at www.Disneyland.com/Halloween.
At Disney California Adventure Park "The Art of Frankenweenie," a special exhibit in Disney Animation, Hollywood Land, features some of the actual sets, props and puppets used to create the "Frankenweenie" film, which opens in theaters Oct. 5. The exhibit explores the stop-motion animation process used to make the movie, from Tim Burton's early character designs to finished shots, and offers visitors a fascinating demonstration of the film's creation. "The Art of Frankenweenie," which includes an extended sneak peek of the movie, will be on view in Disney California Adventure Sept. 14 through Nov. 5. For spine-tingling fun, drop in at The Twilight Zone™ Tower of Terror, where a "supernatural" event happened on Halloween evening, 1939, forever haunting the building.
For Halloween Time 2012, Disney's Halloween Time Carnival in Big Thunder Ranch takes its place beside such Disneyland favorites as the Haunted Mansion Holiday and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy attractions. A highlight of the Halloween Time Carnival may be found inside a mysterious sideshow tent where guests are invited to help conjure one of the Disney villains - Maleficent, Jafar, Cruella, Captain Hook or the Evil Queen from "Snow White" - with a magic spell in "The Astounding Cauldron of Magic." When the villain appears, guests may join him or her to pose for photos.
Elsewhere in Big Thunder Ranch, Billy Hill & The Hillbillies perform special Halloween-themed tunes as part of Big Thunder Ranch Halloween Jamboree. As in past years, visitors to Big Thunder Ranch also will find ranch animals, pumpkin carvers, Halloween décor and activities for youngsters.
At Pirates League in New Orleans Square, guests age three and up can live their pirate dreams and learn the ways of the seven seas by choosing one of three pirate transformation options: Jake and the Never Land Pirates, First Mate and Empress (created especially for all the pirate princesses). Pirates League is at Disneyland for a limited time only this fall. For Pirates League reservations call (714) 781-STYLE/(714) 781-7895.
Halloween Time is an opportunity for favorite Disney characters to dress up in festive, fall costumes and welcome guests into a park specially decorated for the holiday. Halloween Time offers additional frightful fun for guests of all ages.
Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy in Tomorrowland begins as a typical Space Mountain adventure, but suddenly launches voyagers into a haunted section of the universe. Ghosts appear out of the starry darkness and swirling galaxies of Space Mountain, reaching out as if to grab guests as they speed through space.
Haunted Mansion Holiday, in New Orleans Square, is transformed to a mix of Halloween spookiness and Christmas tradition, inspired by the classic animated film "Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas." As Jack Skellington returns to take over the Haunted Mansion, the traditional Halloween/Christmas gingerbread house rises to a new height in the Mansion Ballroom; it's nine feet tall, with special spooky surprises in this year's design.
Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland is transformed for the Pumpkin Festival. More than 300 pumpkins will be on display and no two are the same.
The after-hours Mickey's Halloween Party is offered as a separate-ticket event* on these nights: Sept. 28 and Oct. 2, 5, 9, 12, 15, 19, 23, 26, 29 and 31.
Mickey's Halloween Party invites adults and children to dress up in costume and trick-or-treat - candy and healthy treats - at Disneyland. These party participants can also arrive before the party to "mix in" with regular Disneyland guests for three hours prior to the start of Mickey's private bash.
Additional highlights of Mickey's Halloween Party include the "Halloween Screams" fireworks spectacular, hosted by "Master of Scare-omonies" Jack Skellington and presented exclusively for guests of Mickey's Halloween Party; "Mickey's Costume Party" cavalcade; dozens of Disney Characters dressed up for Halloween fun; and DJ dance parties. Just for Halloween, those mischievous Disney villains are plotting to take over Town Square on Main Street, U.S.A. Nearly all of the favorite Disneyland rides and attractions will be open to make the night a real scream.
Tickets purchased in advance for Mickey's Halloween Party are $54 most days, while tickets purchased on the event days are $64. All tickets to Mickey's Halloween Party on Monday, Oct. 29, and Halloween Night, Wednesday, Oct. 31, are $69.
For more information about Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort, see www.disneyland.com/halloween. This site will be updated with frightfully fun details.
The Twilight Zone® is a registered trademark of CBS, Inc., and is used with permission pursuant to a license from CBS, Inc. ©Disney/CBS, Inc.
*Space is limited, and tickets are available while supplies last. Online purchases unavailable on day of event. Limit eight (8) tickets per person, per event date. Each ticket is valid for admission to the event and parking for one (1) vehicle (larger vehicles may require an additional fee) on the specified event date. Tickets are nonrefundable and may not be sold or transferred for commercial use. Tickets are valid for admission to the designated party and to the Theme Park beginning at a specified time prior to party commencement. All costumes must adhere to any guidelines as determined solely by Disney. Please choose costumes that are not obstructive, offensive or violent. Guests' eyes must be visible at all times. Offer and event information and activities are subject to restrictions and change without notice. Days and times of operation and all other elements including, but not limited to, operation of attractions, entertainment, services, stores and restaurants, and appearances of Disney Characters are subject to change without notice. Subject to capacity and other restrictions.