Events & Attractions, Halloween

Exploring Halloween Time at Disney California Adventure

Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort kicked off last week and with it came the return of Halloween at Disney California Adventure Park. As announced at this year’s D23 the transformation comes thanks to a spell cast by Nightmare Before Christmas villain, Oogie Boogie.  The effects of his spell can be felt at the park’s Main Entrance and around Buena Vista Street, but the impact is most noticeable in Cars Land, where Radiator Springs has been completely transformed into “Radiator Screams.”

The Main Entrance

The Main Entrance to Disney’s California Adventure, which can be seen in the image above, features a large silhouette of Oogie Boogie in front of the moon, surrounded by bats.  Based on the description and the promo video released for the event I had anticipated this being a much larger installation than it was, but it’s still a fun little addition to the park entrance.  If you look closley you’ll also notice that the “O” in California has been replaced by a jack-o-lantern.

Buena Vista Street and Carthay Circle

As you make your way down Buena Vista Street the first signs of Halloween are the purple lights that fill the trees lining the street.  As you head toward the bridge your eyes will be drawn to the large bat decoration hanging from the bridge, but don’t let it distract you to the point you miss out on browsing the windows of the shops along Buena Vista Street.  While filled with Halloween Time merchandise the windows also feature a number of vintage Halloween decorations.  More interesting than that though is the window for Atwater Ink & Paint, which has a much more ominous feel featuring darker imagery of a grim reaper, the headless horseman, and an eerie rendering of the Carthay Circle Restaurant.

Photo of the Atwater Ink & Paint window

Interestingly, the above shot was captured on Friday, September 15 when Halloween Time at the resort kicked off.  We captured the below images earlier this week and as you can see the window has since evolved to include additional artwork and some of the artwork from the above photo has been rearanged.

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Atwater Ink & Paint isn’t the only place you’ll encounter The Headless Horseman.  Further down Buena Vista Street, you’ll find a statue of the horseman aboard his horse.  At night the statue is illuminated and his black steed breathes smoke.

Just past the horseman is the now ominous Carthay Circle Bell Tower, which is illuminated with eerie purple and green lights and features swarms of bats exiting the tower.

This pretty much covers the Buena Vista Street and Carthay Circle portions of the park.  The only other thing to be aware of is that at various times during the evening the voice of Oogie Boogie will fill the area along with sounds of thunder.  It felt like something should have been happening during this time that would involve lights or some sort of special effects, however, we never saw anything in the area appear to react to the audio.  So we’re still not totally sure if it’s just for atmosphere or if we missed something during our visit.

Cars Land

While the Main Entrance and Buena Vista Street get you in the Halloween mood, it really feels like the bulk of the resort’s effort was spent in Cars Land.  The land themed after the town of Radiator Springs, which is featured in Disney/Pixar’s Cars, got a full top to bottom Halloween overlay.  If you’re going to visit the park take some time to really explore the nooks in crannies in this land and explore how much effort went into bringing Halloween to the town of Radiator Springs.  We’ve been to the park twice since Halloween Time started and we noticed new things in the land each time we went.

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In addition to the amazing decor, there are also a handful of Halloween themed Cars characters throughout the land, including a spider car, a sugar skull car, a mummified tractor, and a zombie car wrapped around the tree in front of Radiator Springs Curios.  Lightning McQueen and Mater also make appearances at various times in their Haul-o-ween costumes.  Lightning is dressed like a superhero and Mater is dressed like a vampire.

While making your way through Cars Land you’ll also see a number of Cars-themed posters for movies like Hocus Pocus, Escape to Witch Mountain and more.

Two of the attractions in Cars Land have also been made over for Halloween with Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree and Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween

Plaza de la Familia

Another seasonal offering currently in Disney California Adventure can be found in the back corner of Paradise Pier at Paradise Gardens where guests can partake in “A Celebration of Coco and the Everlasting Bonds of Family,” a new experience based on Disney/Pixar’s upcoming film Coco. The experience features a small exhibit about the upcoming film as well as special musical performances, free face painting and more. Below is just a sample of what you can see if you visit this limited time experience.

Overall I would say the return of Halloween to Disney California Adventure is a success and I am looking forward to seeing what they do with this in the coming years. There was a lot of detail put into Cars Land and I would love to see if they could do a similar overlay into other areas of the park. Regardless of what’s to come next, anything will be better than Candy Corn Acres.

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