Not the Sign You Want to See in Front of Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland


April and I were most disappointed on today’s Disneyland Sabbath. (We received annual passes this year for our birthdays and now try and go at least twice a month, usually first thing on Sunday mornings right when the park opens and lines are nonexistent.) It was the first trip EVER in which we had to miss the best ride in the park.


However, our failure to procure a proper dosage of “Yo ho, Yo ho, a Pirate’s Life for Me!” was offset by the opportunity to see the park and several of our favorite attractions in their Halloween modes.

Seen riding the tram to the park:

And standing in line minutes before the gates opened:

And in the middle of Main Street there was the most peculiar sight…

But a bigger surprise was the first ride of the morning. April and I knew that the Haunted Mansion had gone through a Nightmare Before Christmasfication. However we were stunned to learn that Space Mountain had also been transformed. After grabbing our Fast Passes for Star Tours (at Disneyland they have kiosks where you can get tickets which allow you to reserve a spot for later and cut hour+ waits down to 10 minutes) we headed to Space Mountain:

The actual physical movements of the ride remain unchanged but the experience is now completely different. In its normal mode Space Mountain is an upbeat, futuristic thrill ride. The experience is meant to to stimulate a fun, non-threatening flight through the cosmos. However, for Halloween the indoor roller coaster becomes much more menacing: the red, electrical spooky creature above chases and grabs at the riders. It’s still worth doing and is no better or worse than the original ride. Rather, the difference between the two is a bit like the Cheeseburger vs the Bacon Cheeseburger. The addition of bacon just creates a whole different experience that really isn’t comparable to the non-bacon original. However, as a matter of preference, given the choice I’d probably usually go with the more familiar, cheeseburger (though really I should just get the fruit and yogurt parfait.) So too here with traditional Space Mountain vs Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy.


Next: Does Jack Skellington’s assault on the Haunted Mansion deliver?

Apparently the Haunted Mansion’s transformation draws a crowd. They set up the FastPass system for the ride during this time of year. April and I were able to get a new FastPass at 8:55 (that’s when our Star Tours FastPass became active — always acquire a new FastPass as soon as you’re eligible to do so):

My phone’s camera remains less-than-state-of-the-art when it comes to close-ups. Or maybe I just haven’t figured out how to use it properly yet. Probably the latter. We had 40 minutes to wait before we could do Haunted.

With our fears of Pirates’ closure confirmed (the Disneyland app on our phones had already claimed the ride was closed) we decided to fill the time with:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad remains a thrilling ride, even to an often zealous coaster junky such as myself raised on the 60, 80, and 120 mile per hour rides at Cedar Point. I think it’s the fairly loose lapbar and the sliding around sensation which ups the thrills some.  You know consciously that you’re in no danger of being flung out of the ride, but your mind just feels it at a base level. (Modern coasters with their over-the-shoulders restraints don’t have this.) In that way the ride is the Disneyland equivalent of waterboarding.

Tucked away in Critter Country behind Splash Mountain is one of the best dark rides in the Park:


Really make a point to ride The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It’s such a pleasant, colorful stumble through the most beloved Pooh geography. April and I most like the honey-filled Heffalump and Woozle dream sequence.

By the time we emerged from our giant honeycomb transport on Pooh our FastPasses for Haunted were active.

Down in the belly of the Haunted Mansion after going down the elevator, those little bumps are the “doom buggies” now called Holiday Sleighs, in the background are life-size versions of Nightmare Before Christmas characters:

This really is a completely different ride than the traditional Haunted Mansion. Every single room is transformed — the experience is really like stepping into scenes from The Nightmare Before Christmas. In fact the ride even expands the narrative of the film, taking us around the film’s corners and into up close and personal encounters with minor characters.

Here the difference between the traditional and holiday versions of the ride is more significant. Rather than Cheeseburger vs Bacon Cheeseburger it’s Cheeseburger vs McRib. April and I were mostly indifferent to the Halloween-themed Space Mountain. It won’t be a major loss if next year Disney decides not to go to the trouble to create Space Mountain Ghosts Galaxy. However The Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion is a great treat. (And why the McRib is not a permanent part of the McDonald’s menu remains a mystery.)


Speaking of treats, after a few more rides we ended our day with lunch and this cheesecake dessert over at Paradise Pier in California Adventure:

That’s lemon topping.

During the week April and I try to eat much healthier — perhaps my upcoming PJ blogging during the week will feature grapefruit vs carrot metaphorical constructions instead? I better not.


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