Dis­ney­land gets spooky

The Hap­pi­est Place on Earth goes all out for Hal­loween, and then Christ­mas

Medicine Hat News - - TRAVEL - STEVE MAC­NAULL

Shortly af­ter we’re star­tled by the Head­less Horse­man gal­lop­ing by, we en­ter The Haunted Man­sion.

Then we hurl our­selves through a mostly-dark galaxy, get in an el­e­va­tor with dodgy wiring, per­ilously hang up­side down and ride a rail­way with sketchy tracks.

It seems we can’t get enough of de­lib­er­ately scaring our­selves. But, it’s all good, safe spook­i­ness. We are, af­ter all, at Dis­ney­land Cal­i­for­nia where Hal­loween mock-hor­ror co-ex­ists with the Hap­pi­est Place on Earth.

My wife, Kerry, and I have made the trip to the theme park with our 15-yearold daugh­ter, Grace, and our Span­ish ex­change stu­dent, Pa­tri, also 15.

While Pa­tri came to Canada and our fam­ily for a truly Great White North ex­pe­ri­ence, the global al­lure of Dis­ney and the pull of sunny Cal­i­for­nia can’t be de­nied.

Thus, we find our­selves tak­ing a break from in­doc­tri­nat­ing Pa­tri with ‘eh’ ver­nac­u­lar and dou­ble-dou­ble runs to Tim Hor­tons to put on Mickey Mouse ears and revel in the Cali life­style for three days.

We fly to LAX, check into the mod­ernist, palm-treed Dis­ney­land Ho­tel, have a swim in the pool com­plex and hit the theme parks – the orig­i­nal Dis­ney­land and sis­ter Cal­i­for­nia Ad­ven­ture.

The afore­men­tioned Head­less Horse­man is the lead player in the spe­cial, sea­sonal Mickey’s Fright­fully Fun Pa­rade down Dis­ney­land’s Main Street U.S.A.

While The Haunted Man­sion is a year-round at­trac­tion at Dis­ney­land, it re­ally is tailor-made for Hal­loween.

Dis­ney has even de­vel­oped a cus­tom black gar­lands and rib­bons to dec­o­rate the man­sion for All Hal­lows’ Eve and Christ­mas.

That mostly-dark galaxy is Space Moun­tain, the roller coaster that sends you screech­ing through the pitch black with the oc­ca­sional starry burst and Hal­loween graphic.

The dodgy el­e­va­tor refers to the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride where you lurch up and down a shaft chas­ing mon­sters and try­ing to keep your stom­ach in check.

Hang up­side down, al­beit only for a mo­ment, on the theme park’s corkscrew, and most ag­gres­sive, roller coaster, Cal­i­for­nia Screamin’.

Yes, scream­ing loud and of­ten is not just en­cour­aged, but in­evitable.

No one would usu­ally board a train des­tined for tracks as rick­ety as those at Big Thunder Moun­tain Rail­road, but we do and relish the ride.

Of course, with teenagers in tow, we have to also lurch, spin and speed on every other thrill ride from Pi­rates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones Ad­ven­ture, Mat­ter­horn Bob­sleds and Star Tours to Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Jun­gle Cruise, Au­topia, Ra­di­a­tor Springs Rac­ers and Griz­zly River Run.

To min­i­mize our wait times and max­i­mize our ride time, we uti­lized the front-of-the­line Fast­Pass sys­tem and the new Max­Pass app to the fullest.

Full dis­clo­sure, my wife and I did opt out of a few rides af­ter we dis­cov­ered Dis­ney has its own win­ery in the Cal­i­for­nia Ad­ven­ture Park.

Ad­mit­tedly, there are only a few rows of vines, but it was the per­fect set­ting for lo­cal wine flights and ap­pe­tiz­ers.

Once Hal­loween is over, Dis­ney­land will cel­e­brate Christ­mas like never be­fore.

The decor will in­clude 10,000 poin­set­tias; 150 Christ­mas trees; hun­dreds of thou­sands of lights; miles of gar­land and rib­bon; a gin­ger­bread house in the lobby of the Grand Cal­i­for­nian Ho­tel mea­sur­ing nine feet by 12 feet; and snow that doesn’t melt in the Cal­i­for­nia sun on the iconic Sleep­ing Beauty Cas­tle.

See www.dis­ney­land.com.

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