Parade Party At Disneyland, Halloween Tree's Return, Haunted Happenings In The Parks
by, 10-13-2011 at 06:42 PM
In the parks is here with lots of Disneyland and So Cal theme park news! It was another interesting week at the Disneyland Resort - including an annual pass holder parade viewing event on Wednesday, the Halloween Tree's return and a newly revised Winnie the Pooh Meet and greet. Six Flags Magic Mountain steps up to the plate with a bigger Halloween event; Fright Fest. Did they improve the event as they had promised? We'll show you. We round out the column by docking at the Queen Mary for this year's Dark Harbor haunt. We'll let you know if it sinks or swims? All this plus news, photos and construction updates in this edition of In the Parks. . .
But before we gets into today's update we have a special contest to announce.
Best Scare Caught On Video or Camera at Knott's Scary Farm in 2011
Being a monster is a REALLY hard job, let's reward the best of the best by celebrating their accomplishments here. We are trying to document the best Knott's Halloween Haunt scares caught on video and/or camera at this year's Scary Farm.
We also want to know what you think of haunt this year. Tell us who you think the single best scare-actors in a maze or scare zone are, what your favorite maze was in this MiceChat Halloween Haunt Survey. It's quick, it's easy, the monsters will love you for it and you could win an Amazon gift card up to $50 in value.
POST YOUR VIDEOS HERE/TAKE THE SURVEY HERE
Sarah takes us to Disneyland and into the reopened
Main Street Emporium. Let's see what she uncovers...
In The Parks was invited out to Six Flags Magic Mountain last weekend to get a walk-through of some of their Fright Fest mazes. We were eager to experience the event that was being touted as "Bigger and Better" than in years past.
Note: Six Flags Magic Mountain does not allow photo's or video to be taken inside mazes, we were given special access and were escorted through the mazes for this purpose. Please follow all park rules regarding photo's and video.
The park entrance is all decked out in Halloween goodness.
Unlike other parks, Six Flags does not close prior to Fright Fest starting, so warnings are posted for families to beware.
You can enjoy the Halloween atmosphere without paying extra, but access to the mazes is just an additional $10 ($8 for Season Passholders or if you purchase in advance online) in addition to park admission. I think all of you would agree that's an amazing deal. Fright Fest Starts at 7pm so there is plenty of time during the day to see your favorite attractions in the park before going into haunt mode.
The annual treat of Colossus is backward trains.
Due to the recent re-tracking done on the ride, it's much better than in years past
The spider is in its rightful Hallo-place.
The "area 51" style theme of crashed UFO's and aliens returns near X2 with Area 19. The tongue in cheek atmosphere is fun with morbid humor running throughout. What's more, they even changed the soundtrack of X2 to fit the area theme. Six Flags deserves some real credit for this. Some might even say they put more effort and theme into the Halloween overlay of this coaster than Disneyland did with Ghost Galaxy.
Paul! What happened?!? Unfortunately this Alien has seen better days
Those poor aliens look stuck here for good.
Also new this year is "Fright Feast", this is the parks answer to the Pre-Scare dinner at Knott's. The All You Can Eat Buffet in Mooseburger Lodge is good, but the highlight are the monsters walking around and the singers from "Off with your head" serenading you while you eat. Fright Feast is $25 if you purchase at the park, or $20 if you purchase online before your visit.
The Monsters are very interactive and will actually come and join you for dinner - even if their teeth make you lose your appetite.
The singers from "Off With Your Head" were lots of fun
Fright fest begins as the sun goes down. There are 5 scare-zones and 6 mazes. The scare zones range in size from small too massive, the largest of which is City Under Siege in the D.C. Universe area of the park.
A few brief shots of the D.C. Scare zone.
The evening starts off with a show in front of DC Universe with some interesting characters. All of the shows that we experienced at Fright Fest had fantastic singers.
This maze utilizes the "Action Sports Theater" and all it's available effects. The Maze starts off with a very disorienting dark hallway filled with fog which sets the tone. Once inside the maze, the scare-actors have a LOT of room to work their magic.
To say that The Aftermath is the biggest and best maze that Fright Fest has ever done would be an understatement. If this is the path that Fright Fest will be taking in the future, they are heading in the right direction to be sure.
Yes, there are fire effects inside the maze ... something no other maze in So-Cal can claim
Who knows where this prop came from?
One thing that Magic Mountain does better than the other Haunt events in Southern California is crowd control. There are no endless lines inside the maze. They let no more than 10-15 people into a maze at any given time, with generally a minute or more between groups. True, this can make the lines outside the mazes quite long, but it makes your scare time inside so much more exciting.
One of the other new mazes for this year is "Cursed". This is the same spot where the Zombie maze was last year. it's really more of a "walk-through" scare zone in a defined path than an actual maze. That being said, I did think the theme worked better than last year.
The Cursed Maze contains a lot of fog, which is always a good thing
The last new maze of the year is Chupacabra, located (fittingly) in Baja Ridge. For those of you familiar with the park, the maze utilizes the old Revolution Queue. There isn't a whole lot of room to work with, but they have done a great job here.
Beware the Chupacabra
The maze is sponsored by Fanta
Inside the maze, the talent were really working their hearts out.
A returning maze is Lecter's Slaughterhouse. This maze seemed much longer and much improved over last year.
Heading up the hill to Samurai Summit are the two permanent mazes, Willoughby's Haunted Mansion and Bite II ... as well as the Exile Hill scare zone.
Willoughby's Haunted Mansion is now the 2nd best maze at Fright Fest, but still a Six Flags classic walk-through.
The Butler greets you
Also up on the hill is Bite II, which seemed a bit shorter this year, but was still a lot of fun.
Overall, Magic Mountain has really upped their game with Fright Fest this year, and the added mazes and scarezones are worth the price increase for the bracelets ($10 bucks is a bargain folks). The park also offers a "Premium" bracelet for $25 which will give you front of the line access to the mazes. In addition, they are offering a special deal for those of you without Season Passes.
For $99 you get park admission, Premium Maze Bracelet, Fear Feast and Free Parking. You can find all of the information regarding the mazes, scare-zones, ticket prices and more at the Fright Fest website. Fright Fest 2011 at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
This is a great "Starter Haunt" for those unsure if they can make it through Knott's or Universal and you really can't beat the value.
Walt's original Magic Kingdom has recently been host to a variety of special, after hours events. Halloween Time is being held after normal park hours on select nights until the 31st and there are several invitation only annual pass holder events. Meanwhile, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Blue Bayou are still being refurbished and the Halloween Tree has returned to Frontierland. Let's take a walk around the park.
No more "Celebrate" at the Disneyland resort. The colorful, balloon-ladden archways and signs around the resort have been stripped of the distinctive "Celebrate" decorations and now simply serve as an entrance marker. Looks good from here.
MAIN STREET EMPORIUM:
The Main Street Emporium is finally a fully opened shop once again. The architectural influence from Orlando is obvious, with all of the cash registers being pushed up against walls and supports. But it really looks great and will make crowded days and the nightly last minute gift rush much easier on guests and cast alike.
The newest area to open. This is the part of the shop closest to the fire station.
Another project that just finished up on Wednesday is the Adventureland bathrooms. The thatch roof and overhead passageway are fully renovated. But what's up with the rocks? Have they turned to jade for a reason?
The Halloween Tree:
The lovely little tribute to the classic Ray Bradbury story, "The Halloween Tree" has returned after a delay due to Golden Horseshoe refurbishment. They could have just neglected to put this out, but they made the effort. Nice touch.
WINNIE THE POOH MEET AND GREET:
The refurbished Winnie the Pooh meet and greet has finally re-opened in Critter Country. The small meet and greet has been moved slightly closer towards the gift shop that it backs up against creating a more fixed presence. There are two greeting spaces here with revitalized decorations that shine and sparkle. They have also figured out how to hide the line better. So, before you tell little Johnny or Susie that they can see Tigger, take a second look at the line (closer to the shops) first.
The first greeting area.
The Pooh greeting area.
This right here makes the 45 minute wait worth it. Almost.
PIRATES AND BLUE BAYOU REFURBISHMENT:
The exterior of the show buildings for Pirates, Blue Bayou and Club 33 continues its extensive refurbishment.
ANNUAL PASSHOLDER EVENT FOR MICKEY'S SOUNDSATIONAL PARADE:
The first of two Annual Passholder Soundsational Parade events was met with mostly positive feedback from the few thousand who attended on Oct. 12. (A second event of the same nature is scheduled for Oct. 17). After the park closed at 8 p.m., Annual Passholders who were sent a free ticket for the event enjoyed a private-party atmosphere of no wait (or very minimal at most) to ride attractions in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland from 8 p.m.-midnight.
Select rides, shops and restaurants were open.
Attendees received this PhotoPass coupon — a great deal!
Coke Corner offered this special hot dog for the event - we think they should offer a yummy macaroni and cheese dog every day!
There was ample space for almost everyone who wanted to watch from the curb.
Minnie and a drumming Mickey lead off the parade.
The Princess and the Frog float's lighting is rarely seen when the parade is run in the daytime. It's wonderful to see what they look like at night.
Rapunzel's tower on the princesses float is especially beautiful at night.
Mary Poppins float lights up the end of the parade.
After the parade, there was an announcement about a discussion panel with the creators of the parade (not on the Times Guide) at Tomorrowland Terrace. The panel was fun and we learned some new and interesting things about the show.
The parade's art directors, Jody Daily and Kevin Kidney, along with Senior Show Director John Addis gave a lot of insights into the creation of the parade during the panel discussion.
Following the great panel, the floats were towed back on to Main Street so guests could take pictures in front of them with the performers (including face and fuzzy characters) for almost 2 hours. The performers looked genuinely happy to be there and take photos with the pass holders. This was their moment in the spotlight.
Overall, despite a few hiccups here and there, the night was a lot of fun. Lines were small to nonexistent (5 minute Star Tours) and people were really excited to be there.
Meet the characters and performers.
Bert and Mary Poppins take photos with guests from the back of their float.
PhotoPass photographers were positioned at many of the floats.
Three Caballeros were especially popular at the event.
A rare sight: The wait for Star Tours was 5 minutes or less. Most of the attractions were walk-ons during the evening. Attendees had Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street to themselves.
Here's an updated look at subtle but progressing construction on Buena Vista Street and Cars Land.
BUENA VISTA STREET:
The tile work on Carthay Circle Theatre's cupola is a thing of beauty.
"Carthay Circle" signage has been added to the pump house.
A back view of the recently installed wigwag crossing signal for a Red Car Trolley stop.
The new street lamps are ornately detailed.
Lighting has been added on top of some of the new lamp posts.
Former Greetings from California store.
Expanded steel-framing work continues on the former shops by the California Zephyr train.
Current state of the Cadillac Mountain Range. Just a few more levels of scaffold to remove.
Flo's V8 Café is going to offer amazing views while dining.
Upclose look at progress on one of the Cozy Cone Motel's cones.
Mater's Junkyard Jamboree
Rock work progresses on the base of Radiator Springs Racers.
Work contiunues on the Courthouse's exterior walls.
Last year, when the Queen Mary unveiled its new Dark Harbor, many folks didn't know what to expect. We were shocked by the quality of this haunt and couldn't wait to share it with the MiceChat readers. The question loomed for 2011; Would they be able to make lightning strike twice?
Let us answer that question by taking you back to the MiceChat Dark Harbor event that was held last week. A group of 55 MiceChatters hopped aboard the Queen Mary for a night of food, fun, and scares.
The group began the night at the Prom Cafe for dinner with an ocean view.
Talent Director David Wally came by to say hello to the group.
Dark Harbor Haunted Attraction:
After dinner the intrepid group left the ship to make their way to the entrance of the event. Plumes of fire erupted from the shipping crate structures that made up the entrance. We made our way into the foggy entrance tunnel leading to Dark Harbor.
According to the legend, Dark Harbor is a haunted community populated by the souls ripped from the earth by "Bundara" – the all-powerful sadistic She-demon who controls the sea and the land. This year she is joined by her sisters (Searer and Mattenoot) and their hatchet men, the Barkers. ALL of Dark Harbor’s monsters take great joy in taunting and tormenting the mere mortals – their guests – who dare to wander into the dominion of Dark Harbor.
The Dark Harbor haunt is made up of 5 separate mazes and two central scare zones. Guests enter the event on land, in the parking lot area, through a series of fog shrouded shipping crates. Once inside, you can visit either Hellfire, Submerged or Containment on the ship, or Village of the Damned and The Cage on land.
The Cage (in the Dome) and Village of the Damned (Shopping Center)
Each maze has its own unique story to tell. The walk-throughs on board make great use of the long, spooky passageways of the ship. It is a unique experience to be slowly making your way through the dimly lit hallways of the lower decks, fearing that a monster will strike.
The entrance to The Cage (Again, our favorite maze of the event.)
What really sets this venue apart from the others is the marriage of spectacular theatrics with a historic location. The iconic ship, with its own stories of actual hauntings, the seaside, and mind-bending experiences offer something that none of the other haunts can.
Location, location, location
The mutants are coming (Containment)
Another thing to be admired is the level of professionalism the actors show. They are always in character and fully invested in their part and what/who they are playing. You can tell the passion is there and it raises this event to the level of Knott's and Universal. Yes, it's that good.
Fishing for trouble. (Hellfire)
The maze features sets with real water effects. (Submerged)
The scariest thing in the world . . . ghost children. (Submerged)
The monster residents of the town are after you. (Village of the Damned)
Bundara laughs at her sisters
Searer and Mattenoot return and they are NOT happy at missing out on last year’s feast!!!
There are problems, but nothing overwhelming. Key elements that provided a real WOW factor in two of the mazes on the ship, Hellfire and Submerged, were strangely absent. Some digital projections in Hellfire and an animatronic in Submerged were glaringly absent to those who had experienced them the year before. We are being vague here to avoid spoilers. Suffice it to say they took an already good moment and pushed it far over the edge into brilliance. Hopefully those will find their way back onto the ship soon. Too, the lighting design doesn't feel as focused as the previous year. It is good, with The Cage and the entrance being particularly striking. But things seem to have been done in broad strokes without the attention to subtle nuance.
Dark Harbor is just as good as last year with a few new surprises for those who have visited before. But as this event grows, and it will, they will need to get creative and change things up a bit. As much as we loved the mazes from the last two years, something new will be needed next time around. There is certainly room for a few more mazes on the ship and on land. We hope that Queen Mary will invest in Dark Harbor's future and expand next year.
We at MiceChat thought that Queen Mary's Dark Harbor has avoided the sophomore slump and really maintained the momentum they built from last year. A hearty congratulations to the entire creative team involved. You should be very proud.
Did you attend the Queen Mary event with MiceChat (or on any other night really)? What did you think about it? Post your comments! They'd love to hear what you thought.
The general admission tickets are anywhere from $24-$34 and the front of the line add-on (which we highly recommend on the weekends) ranges from $20-$30. It is a good idea to visit the Queen Mary website and take a look at the wide range of options available for the event. There are packages available that include dinners, front of the line access or souvenir t-shirts. CHECK OUT PRICES HERE
GO TO DARK HARBOR NOW!
This week there were movie premiers, haunted events and progress on Transformers. Oh, and let's not forget some interesting activity on the backlot. Here's what went down this week.
Citywalk played host to the premier of The Thing this week. The red carpet was being set up when we made our walk through the property.
At the upper lot, Halloween Horror nights maintains a strong presence even during the day. The main Studio gift shop is chock full of horror goodness.
Here is the lattest from the Transformers construction on the lower lot. The surrounding area is slowly being, well, transformed, into a more high-tech looking area.
Some work is being done on the Mummy gift shop.
On the Studio Tour there is a lot of activity. Not the least of which are the brand new bathrooms that are sure to relieve a tremendous amount of pressure from the restrooms on the upper lot . . . as well as provide comfort to guests waiting in super long lines on the weekends.
There were several projects going on in the backlot. For starters there was Call of Duty filming in the metro sets.
Spike is currently using Falls Lake to construct a massive stage for its Scream Awards
Nearby CSI: Las Vegas was filming inside of the log cabin in front of Falls Lake
We'd like to invite you to join us as we tour two of Orange County's top independent haunts TONIGHT - October 14th:
TONIGHT (October 14th,) Join us at Anaheim GardenWalk's Bar Louie at 5pm for dinner and then a trip through The Empty Grave at 7pm.
- Special $7 price at The Empty Grave (regular price $13) for those who join up with the MiceChat group between 7 and 8pm.
- Later that night come to Sinister Pointe in Brea at 8:30pm and take advantage of special savings if you buy with the MiceChat group between 8:30pm-9pm. (Look for the Glowing Haunted Sword of Destiny near the Box office).Come join us for two of the best haunted houses in Southern California. We will start the night off at Anaheim Garden Walk for a little food at the Bar Louie Tavern & Grill at 5pm. We will then experience the Empty Grave at 7pm. Once finished there, we will venture over to Brea for the wildly inventive Sinister Pointe Haunted Attraction. No tickets are sold in advance for this event as we will buy them at the Box Office at a special MiceChat Rate on the evening of the event. To join us, you'll find More information HERE.
THE SCREAM ZONE:
The Scream Zone at the San Diego County Fairgrounds (2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, CA) is San Diego County's largest haunted attraction. It features three haunt zones in one location: House of Horror with rooms filled with terrifying scenes and scares lurking at every turn, a Haunted Hayride through the haunted barns on the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club's race track, and The Chamber with the largest spinning tunnel in San Diego.
Entrance and Parking:
Free in the designated Scream Zone parking lot. Enter the San Diego County Fairgrounds at the Solana Gate, which is on the south side of Via de la Valle (between the Coast Highway and Jimmy Durante Blvd.)
• Friday, Sept. 30; Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 1-2
• Thursday to Sunday, Oct. 6-9
• Thursday to Sunday, Oct. 13-16
• Every night, Oct. 20-31
Fridays and Saturdays: 7 p.m.-midnight
Other days: 7 p.m.-11 p.m.
• Triple (Combo) Haunt: House of Horror, Haunted Hayride and The Chamber - $27.99
• Double Haunt: The Chamber plus House of Horror or Haunted Hayride — $18.99
• Single Haunt: House of Horror or Haunted Hayride — $14.99
Get front-of-the-line privileges by purchasing an additional $10 Fast Track for the House, or an extra $10 Fast Track for the Hayride.
There is no cost to enter The Scream Zone complex. Parents who are not touring one of the attactions can have something to eat or drink while waiting for their kids. No refunds or exchanges.
Today's update was edited by Daniel K. Lew (DisneyDaniel) and brought to you by the following members of our fantastic and talented crew of photographers and news contributors: F!an, Sir Clinksalot, Fishbulb, and Dustysage. (If you've got breaking news or photos to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact Dusty today.)
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