Yours truly had the pleasure of visiting TDL on sept 20th to check out this year's totally new (like every year past for that matter) lineup of Halloween entertainment. For TDL, this is a golden opportunity to shine, and impress yet again, as the folks at OLC know they own this franchise in Japan, but with conciderable competition brewing over in Osaka at Universal Studios Japan, which is also amidts it's own 5th anniversary Halloween event (an event I will sadly miss this year). In short words..TDL re-invents Halloween year after year with unique themes and totally new feel, parades, decor, so the event never feels old as is the case with the MK's ever popular (for a lack of a better alternative) MNSSHP. Even better, no extra admission is necesary to enjoy TDL's Halloween offerings as it is all included in regular park admission. Concidering TDL truly has no competition in the Tokyo market.. that fact is truly remarkable and shows how much OLC cares about their Disney franchise.
I arrived at TDL a bit late around 4pm and was lucky to have caught a space in the already crowded parade corridor around the Hub. The parade was due to start at 4:10pm (the parade performed three times on this day) After a short dance teaching lesson, where the fabulous crowd control and skating custodial CM's have their moment to shine as they not only teach, but entertain the crowd in what has become a tradition for most special event parades at TDL, the parade finally is visible coming around the corner.
This year.. the parade is called "Scream and Shout Halloween Parade" (cd on sale at the park) and even though I didn't care much for the name, and the fact that there is indeed a lot of screming during the parade's show mode, the spectacular procession brings out an entirely new experience for this year's celebration. While keeping current with the marketing push for that stupid POTC2 movie, they also managed to pay tribute to Halloween icons with the right combination of Disney characters to keep the feel "at home" so to speak. Stand out moments during this VERY frenetic parade are Mickey in his huge Pirate ship, Cruella deVille in a swing high above the crowd, Clarabelle Cow riding an oversized broomstick, and on floor level.. some very sensual female dancers in quite revealing outfits.. (manly men would love this parade) ..outfits that no performer would dare use (or fit in) in the "Boo-to-you!" parade at the MK. For the ladies.. there are manly pirate men who look way too Depp for my taste.
Anyway... the parade does not disappoint with it's color and varied themes (Goofy dressed up as Don Quijote in shinning armor...Hmmm?), and the rousing and hysterically screamy audience participation moment has guests up on their feet dancing and screaming along. FUN for everyone.
Around the park, the Halloween decor is found everywhere..in Westernland, Fantasyland and Toontown. The Hub's brand new displays are in "toon" with the parade and this year's themes, with a slight tribute to the Haunted Mansion in the "dead" center of the Hub. At night, these displays of art are lit up to add yet another feel and elegance to the decor, and worthy of yet another look at them when the sun has gone down.
New this year is a *massive* Rock and Roll Halloween night party at Cinderella Castle's forecourt. Think "Universal Monsters Rock show" but in a much bigger scale, and with totally new soundtrack. One negative comment here.. the show is performed at floor level since there is no castle stage built for the show, so for most guests sitting in the central seating area, some of that floor action is lost and impossible to see. But fear NOT, as I caught a very good portion of the show from my seat towards the back of the central viewing area.
This night time show is called "Spooky Kooky Halloween Night" and performs twice every evening. To watch the show from the central viewing area (which affords great views of rolling stages and the action on the castle itself) you have to participate in the seating lotto and win a spot. Good luck with that.... BUT... I was fortunate enough to win a seat (YEAH!!), and yet, I was in the very back of the seating area, 3rd row from the back, and given TDL's huge hub...that is not a great place to be, but it sure was better than having to stand for hours in a good spot outside the viewing area to catch the show.
Here, some of the floats used in the daytime parade do double duty as rolling stages. Thing is.. these floats have been designed with their own lighting system so they come alive at night for this show. Five floats are used and when the show gets going, it feels like a wide screen rock and roll extravaganza.
The highlight of the show is when Maleficent crashes the party, amidts huge fireballs and some animated projections that have the castle look like it's on fire, or with bats flying off, or covered with creepy crawlers and other stunning imagery. Mickey saves the day (in a Fantasmic!-like moment) and the party goes into full gear. A small pyro display closes the show, then the characters do a lap around the hub on their floats and the show ends, as the music goes into a catchy "lalalalalalala...." melody and floats/characters exit towards Toontown. The Halloween Cd also includes the soundtrack to this show. BUY IT!!
My final thoughts on this... TDL has definitely claimed Halloween to themselves, and turned it into an extravagant Disney romp for the past 6 years or so. While the likes of DLP continue to do Halloween in their generic ways (althought I hear that will change this year and TDLFAN will visit DLP on Oct 6th to check that out), TDL continues to excel expectations with a well thought out and totally fun approach to a Disney's Halloween. Go check it out if you can.
TDLFAN gives it 4 and a half ****1/2 out of 5.
Here are the photos. Please note that due to my late arrival into TDL, I was not in a great spot to capture the many wonderful moments the parade has to offer, so the shots are oddly framed. Also, due to being in the very back of the audience area for the nightime castle show, the shots turned out dark or blurry or a bit grainy due to the use of telelense settings and open lense shots... Still, I think you would enjoy seeing them, and reading the captions to bask in the glory of it all... ENJOY!!