Disneyland has always been my family's special place. My mom and dad were married in August, 1955 -- just a few weeks after the park opened its castle gates for the first time. They visited on their honeymoon -- and as they were still kids themselves (19 and 21), it was a magical spot. They brought me there for the first time when I was four... which means I've been visiting the park now for 50 years.
We've celebrated many an anniversary there... as well as birthdays, Christmas, and Halloween.
My family and I were guests of Disneyland on Saturday for "Family Media Day," which gave us an opportunity to enjoy this year's Halloween-themed fun.
I suppose it's not surprising that Walt Disney first made his mark as an animator and film producer. In a way, Disneyland is just one big Hollywood movie set and it employs scores of designers, performers and technicians - who work year-round to make the Happiest Place on Earth the most festive one, too.
They begin setting the mood when you enter the park at Main Street, which is festooned with autumn flowers and pumpkins and Mickey-themed Halloween decor. I love the orange and butternut colored banners and bunting and all the "pumpkins" displayed in the shop windows.
The fun continues on the rides themselves, many of which are re-engineered for Halloween: Space Mountain riders are menaced by a fiery "ghost" which seems to chase their cars through the even darker-than-usual roller coaster. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (over at California Adventure) is ALWAYS frightening - and is also decorated for Halloween. And of course, the Haunted Mansion is once again re-configured with characters from Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas (and will remain in that mode into the New Year).
And, of course, you can commune with all the Disney Villains, as I did during the Media Family Day reception:
Guests with young children may prefer to visit the park for "Mickey's Halloween Party," which began on Friday and will be running every Tuesday and Friday through the end of the month (culminating one last time on the 31st). According to Disney's own parks website, guests can explore eight "hide-and-go-treat trails," where they be able to pick up goodies at about 50 different stations (both candy and healthy treats). I definitely would have been there if they had held this when my daughter was little.
I was disappointed that California Adventure did not display similar Halloween decor this year (some of my favorite photos from last year's visit were taken there). Instead, there was a big electronic billboard touting the new ElecTRONica party that will be held there in conjunction with the opening of Tron: Legacy. As one who really loved the original Tron movie when it first opened, I'm looking forward to this. Maybe on my next trip to the park...
DISCLOSURE: I was comped tickets to attend Family Media Day at Disneyland. I have no business affiliation with the Walt Disney Company. I received no monetary compensation for this post, nor did I promise that it would be positive.