Disneyland Halloween Grows, Fantasmic Glows and DCA Slows

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Disney Parks, In the Parks, Southern California Parks

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Published on August 31, 2012 at 12:25 am with 22 Comments

Annual passholders got to see something new at Disneyland this week. A new Glow-With-The-Show version of Fantasmic was presented at a special after-hours party. We have lots of video and photos to share from this nice enhancement to an aging but still wildly popular show.  Meanwhile merchandise in the stores continues to indicate that Disneyland Halloween Time is just around the corner.  We also cover a troubling bit of news from Pirates of the Caribbean, the progress of the Fantasy Faire Village near the Castle, wait times in Cars Land, and the slow march of death for the plant life near Radiator Springs Racers.

As you can see from the wait time board below, things are pretty mellow at the park right now.

Tuesday night, annual pass holders were given the opportunity to see a special Glow-with-the-Show version of Fantasmic after normal park operating hours.  Glow-with-the-Show first launched at World of Color early this Summer and involves interactive light up mickey mouse ear hats which are available for purchase at $23.00 a pair.

The party began at 10pm as Passholders streamed into the west side of the park.  Guests were encouraged to bring their own glow-ears this time around as they weren’t going to be offering complimentary ears as they did with World of Color.   Indy, Pirates, and Big Thunder were open for people to enjoy as they waited for the 11:30pm performance.

Special food
A collection of restaurants were offering specialty items to celebrate the night, most of which were recycled from the Fantasmic 20th Anniversary Show.  Cafe Orleans carried the most tempting items including a panko crusted red snapper and the Fantasmic Cupcake (Note: They have improved on the dragon topper technology. It doesn’t fall as it did during the One More Disney Day event)

The Show
The Rivers of America shimmered in a rainbow of colors as the audience waited for the show to begin.

Once it did, it became apparent that the Glow ears lend themselves even better to Fantasmic than they do with World of Color.  Part of the reason is that Fantasmic is simply a better show, with better pacing and show elements. But this could also be attributed to the fact that imagineers are becoming more adept at using the ear technology as part of a show experience.  Below is a video of highlights.



The party revelers marching down Main Street seemed to have had a nice time.  We know that we did.  The show was expertly done and the synchronization of the hats has certainly gotten better with time.  We do have to commend Disney on the Annual Passholder events that they have been holding lately.  They are a nice gesture to a loyal fan base that includes just enough to make one feel that the price of the passes may not be quite so painful after all.

HalloweenTime runs from September 14th to October 31st this year with the arrival of Haunted Mansion Holiday, Ghost Galaxy, and  a smattering of other offerings to the normal day guest. But little bits of Halloween are already making their way into the park . . .

Here we are back at Disney Showcase.  Last week we saw that Halloween Merchandise has moved in.  They were, apparently, still in the middle of decorating at that time, so we withheld any criticism.  But, we were told that they are now done.  It seems a little weak compared to previous years.

The window displays used to feature lush detail and delightful Victorian inspired decorations.  But this year continues the slow departure from the details with more emphasis on the merchandise over theme.  We get it, it’s a store.  Stores are about merchandise, agreed.  But the charm and art form of the window displays on Main Street have been under attack for years now.  It is even more evident this year as they have only taken a few bits from previous years and shoved t-shirts and costumes in as the only focal points.  Could these elements have been worked in with a little more elegance?

Some of the windows aren’t too bad, like this table of stuff

But then there is this.

Inside the merchandise is piled high. And you’ll note that the highest shelves which in previous years held elaborate displays have been severely demoted this year.

$64.95 and your boy could look like Cap’n Jack Sparrow

So everything you can buy is front and center.  That’s fine.  We then look just above eye level and see that there wasn’t as much care and attention given to the decore as in previous years.

This display above a clothing rack is not much better than a poster this year.

Again, the centerpiece display is paired down. Acceptable, but not as amazing as in previous years by a long shot.

Instead of the lovely retro-Hallow’s Eve art, we are treated to knick-knacks and red paneling.

Let’s hope that more is added before the season begins. And if not, that they note the lackluster decore was not well received and restore the displays next year.

Haunted Mansion Holiday
Don’t go to the Mansion expecting to see the killer bride and Master Gracey.  They are wintering in Boca right now.  Jack is getting ready for his annual housesitting gig that lasts far too long and begins in just a couple of weeks, on September 14th.

It is normal to see animatronics suddenly missing every once in a while for maintenance. For instance, right now the pirate that is wallowing with the pigs has gone missing.  No big deal.  But an iconic pirate has been modified inside the ride and we are hoping that this change is only for the interim.

Nope, everything looks fine here.

These prices are reasonable.  All is well.

Wait a minute!  The Hat Pirate hasn’t any hats! And hasn’t since he returned from his refurb.

The pirate stepping on to a boat, head stacked high with hats, was a particular feature that Walt himself referenced often during the development of the attraction.  He is a tricky one to maintain as he has one leg on shore and another in a bobbing boat while a towering stack of hats sits precariously on his head.

After a recent refurbishment of this beloved character, he returned, functioning as he should, but with his trademark hat collection missing.  Instead, he had one hat on and is carrying stolen treasure.  Is a stack of hats that hard to keep up?  We could ask him we suppose.  But why is it gone?  Will they be returning it soon?  Whatever the case is, we hope it returns soon, as it is an iconic gag in the ride.

The Fantasy Faire Village is coming along well.  Today we have a view of one of the spires topping out.

There we are, the highpoint of the update! ;-)

All dressed up and no place to go.
The old Princess Fantasy Faire is all behind walls and being redone for future entertainment offerings.

Meanwhile, the Princesses are sharing meet and greet space with each other on the Small World Mall.  Despite the hot sun, they are still commanding a 50 minute wait.

“I can convince your daughter to give your money away… TO ME!  AHAHAHAA”. Actually, she’s quite lovely isn’t she?!

Another bit of info; Bennie the Cab has been removed from the facade of Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin for maintenance.

Some work on the outside of the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique has walls wrapping around the exterior of the shop.

Work continues on the Coke Corner archway.

Disney California Adventure is now operating at a more reasonable, steady pace.

As the wait time board on Buena Vista Street indicates, if there is enough for people to do, they will spread out.

The wait for Luigi’s was almost as long as Racers.

Over in Cars Land the attractions are holding up like champs.

Mater’s is often a walk on, in-part to its relatively high capacity

Luigi’s currently averages 30 minute wait times throughout the week.

Still no beach balls – they are gone for good.

Radiator Springs Racers
For the first time we’ve noted since the opening of Cars Land, Radiator Springs Racers stayed below a two hour wait time all day on Tuesday.

Despite that, the intricate attraction still falters at times with frequent shut downs (many of them extended). The evergreen trees at the beginning of the attraction are only getting more and more brown. (see dying).  While on the inside of the attraction, there is always at least one show effect bugging out.  On this trip, the Sheriff character was frozen.  Completely stationary, voicing lines, but no movement.

Some of you think the trees are just turning brown because of the heat.

But it seems that it is just the trees in Cars Land dying. The rest of the evergreens in the resort are doing just fine.

“Guys you shouldn’t be speeding, but, well, I’m stuck and can’t pursue you.”

Finally, we have Halloween Time offerings inside Disney California Adventure’s Buena Vista Street.  The things being offered here are pretty much the same as they are over in the other park, so there is no real reason to go shopping in DCA in particular.

There you have it.  A successful addition of the Glow-With-The-Show ears, to the already popular Fantasmic, will certainly drive more sales of the expensive ears.  Disneyland Halloween is on its way but may end up being a bit less detailed this year (at least in the shops and windows on Main Street).  Disney California Adventure is at that point where all of the people that said, “I’m gonna wait till the crowds die down.” should be going now.
Thanks for reading folks. What’s on your agenda for the long Labor Day weekend?

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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  • NashvilleCat

    The best part of the Fantasmic video comes about 3:00 in, when you can hear a little girl exclaim, “I can’t believe it!” as Belle and the Beast float by. THAT’s the magic of Disneyland.

  • donsullivan

    The Sheriff came back to full operation with movement and all animation on Wednesday and was running normally the rest of the week during all of my rides. When I rode on Monday and Tuesday the mouth and eyes were moving but he wasn’t moving forward and backward behind the sign.

  • TheThreeImagineers

    I miss the old DCA entrance. I love WDW, and I love Disneyland, but I love them even more when they’re separate. I like to go back to Disneyland for a more classic Disney experience, and then I like to go to WDW to see what’s new. The DCA entrance resembles the Hollywood Studios entrance just too much. But, oh well, I suppose, since it is more fitting with the Buena Vista renovations. Looovvveee Disneyland all decked out in Halloween decor, by the way. Always one of the best parts of the fall season. ^_^