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Halloween Magic at the Disneyland Resort
Fall has always been my favorite time to visit the Disneyland Resort in California. The weather’s still good, most kids are back in school (read: smaller crowds, shorter queues), and the parks do Halloween up right.
Mid-September through Oct. 31, Disney’s no-tricks-all-treats approach to the holiday includes Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, an overlay of scary effects and sinister sounds and images that enhance the always-thrilling coaster ride; a lavish redecoration of The Haunted Mansion with Jack Skellington and his Halloween Town friends from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas movie; the Dia de los Muertos display (a terrific photo op) in Frontierland; and the annual Pumpkin Festival along Main Street, U.S.A. (Note: The Haunted Mansion’s decorations bridge both the Halloween and Christmas holidays, remaining in place through early January.)
This year, we took our 13-year-old niece and 11-year-old nephew to experience Disney’s Halloween magic — and also to check out the newly revamped, 3-D-enhanced Star Tours -- The Adventures Continue ride (the nephew’s a huge Star Wars fan). Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, which might be a little too spooky for kids under the age of 8, got an enthusiastic thumbs up from both kids. The nephew called it “totally cool” and couldn’t wait to ride again. The niece pronounced it “epic,” which, apparently, is the new “awesome.”
The Haunted Mansion was our group favorite. We foolish mortals rode at least six times, seeing something new during each pass through the dazzling Halloween décor. My favorite scene was Disney’s dramatic re-do of the graveyard, complete with 15-foot-tall, pumpkin-headed angels. Our niece liked the séance room, where giant Tarot cards featuring Jack and his pals floated overhead.
The only downside to a fall visit to Disneyland is the assemblage of villains who suddenly appear in the park. If you’re not careful, you’re sure to find yourself being photographed arm-in-arm with the likes of Captain Hook, Snow White’s Evil Queen, Cruella de Vil, the sorceress Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, or some other wicked scoundrel.