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The Characters in Flight tethered helium balloon ride at Downtown Disney was removed for a thorough inspection last Friday night after an incident involving a similar balloon in Hong Kong. [Read more…]
By Andy Guinigundo
There is perhaps no place more magical during the holidays than a Disney park. That is true stateside and internationally. Let’s take a peak a two international holiday celebrations Disney style.
Paris, France – “A Fairytale Christmas Celebration” at Disneyland Paris commenced on Nov. 8 and will continue into the New Year wrapping up on Jan. 6, 2010. As in its American counterparts, Main Street USA is decked out in holiday style complete with artificial snow to complete the mood. Town Square is adorned with a 79-foot Christmas tree that has a nightly lighting ceremony led by Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Santa Goofy will also make appearances this year in Town Square.
The real Santa gets in on the act in Paris too. Guests can meet the big guy in his village in the heart of Disneyland. Children can drop off letters to Santa’s post office. They will get a return letter a few weeks after their visit. Santa takes his place as the guest of honor in the Once Upon a Dream Parade.
Disney has perfected the art of the crystal castle and Disneyland Paris’ Sleeping Beauty Castle is no exception. More than 400,000 twinkling lights give the appearance of sparkling ice. It’s a Small World changes into It’s a Small World Celebration where the traditional Small World scenes are altered to depict Christmas around the world. The Christmas soundtrack is a beautiful arrangement that integrates the familiar Small World music with Christmas tunes.
Be Beauty and the Beast’s guest at Belle’s Christmas Village in Fantasyland. Guests can meet the pair as they stroll through this authentic medieval village. On select evenings, special character dinners take place. A Christmas buffet along with your favorite Disney characters is truly a feast with friends.
Hong Kong, China – Hong Kong Disneyland’s holiday celebration is named “A Sparkling Christmas – A Winter Wonderland”. The festivities started Nov. 18 and will continue until Jan. 3, 2010. It’s a Small World receives a holiday overlay in Hong Kong too. This version is named It’s a Small World Christmas. The scenes receive a similar makeover as Paris which incidentally is the similar to Anaheim, California. Small World Christmas includes a visit to Santa at the North Pole and 38 Disney characters each celebrating Christmas in its own way.
Main Street gets the snowy treatment in Asia too and a 60-foot tree sits in Town Square. The “Let it Snow” parade features all your Disney favorites dressed in grand holiday costumes. The fireworks show, dubbed “A Sparkling Christmas”, is enhanced by a “Hologram Viewer”. The viewer allows guests to see special patterns in the holiday lighting including Sleeping Beauty Castle and the fireworks.
The fun doesn’t stop at a Christmas celebration; at the two Disney Resort hotels, there are non-stop New Year’s Eve celebrations complete with live bands and DJs. The fun is not being limited to those who can afford it. Two-thousand tickets will be donated to charity via the Disney Children’s Fund Christmas Charity Program. Additionally, every ticket to the event sold at the Harbour City ticket booth will be matched by a corresponding ticket donated to charity between Nov. 18 and Dec. 6.
In other Hong Kong news, the official groundbreaking ceremony took place this past Sunday Dec. 13. Disney Parks Chairman, Jay Rasulo officiated the ceremony. Construction will begin immediately. The expansion will include an additional three lands: Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point, and Toy Story Land.
• Andy Guinigundo is the author of the Out of The Loop column in “Orlando Attractions Magazine”. Out of the Loop keeps you up-to-date with attraction news outside of Central Florida. Andy lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and three daughters. He grew up frequenting theme parks around Ohio and making trips to Orlando with his family. While for most of the year, he’s out of the Orlando loop, he tries to visit Florida at least once a year.
By Andy Guinigundo
Halloween is a fun definitely a fun time at the Magic Kingdom in Florida with Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. It’s inevitable that you’ll get caught up visiting the many candy stations around the park. One might assume that Halloween at Disneyland in California, Paris and elsewhere is exactly the same. Actually, Halloween takes on different flavors depending on which Disney park you happen to visit.
The Halloween experience at California’s Disneyland Resort is highlighted by seasonal ride overlays. Space Mountain’s “Ghost Galaxy” features a haunting soundtrack, visual effects and creepy cosmic creatures lurking around every corner. The Haunted Mansion Holiday has a Nightmare Before Christmas feel complete with dead Christmas wreaths, the wicked Oogie Boogie and Jack Skellington himself. Additional attractions for the season include the Main Street Pumpkin Festival and The Big Thunder Ranch Halloween Roundup. Need candy? You can get all you need at Mickey’s Trick or Treat Party at Disney’s California Adventure park next door to Disneyland. The fun runs from Sept. 25 through Nov. 1.
Disneyland Paris celebrates its “Halloween Festival”. The festival runs from Oct. 3 through Nov. 1. The season is highlighted with special parades and of course, decorations. The décor takes on a darker atmosphere, or as they describe it – Halloweenmosphere. Spooky pumpkin-headed creatures roam the park and perform in parades. Jack Skellington plays a big role here too. Even vampire Mickey makes an appearance. On select nights, the Not-So-Scary Party takes place in the evening. This is a new addition to Paris. On Oct. 31, Halloween Party goers are invited to a “moonlit park” and to attend in their “spookiest” outfit. This apparently is not, not-so-scary.
“Disney’s Halloween” has been in full swing for weeks now at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. The celebration that started Sept. 10 continues on until Nov. 3. Like California, The Haunted Mansion gets a Halloween makeover called Holiday Nightmare. Two parades showcase the villains: “Re Villians!” and “Bonzai! Villians!.” The DisneySea park has events dubbed the “Mousequerade”. Characters don beautiful costumes and Venetian masks. The “Night High Halloween” fireworks presentation ends the evening.
Halloween in Hong Kong takes an extra-terrestrial turn as the “dark force takes over.” It is not exactly clear what the dark force is, but it’s apparently responsible for the spookier Hong Kong Disneyland this time of year. Aliens crash land into Tomorrowland lured by the dark force. Guests can even visit the spaceship. I’m completely intrigued by the “Demon Jungle.” I guess I’m trying to imagine the Jungle Cruise skippers’ corny jokes taking on a more macabre tone. Hong Kong gets Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy as well. The experience is complete with Halloween themed food, haunted meet and greets, and a Halloween parade. The invasion started Sept. 18 and continues until Halloween. (Watch the commercial below.)
It seems our Disney counterparts on the left coast and around the world, get a varied Halloween experience. In Orlando, Disney chooses to go completely kid-friendly whereas internationally, that is definitely not the case. This is perhaps to be the polar opposite of the very scary, very adult events at Universal Orlando and Busch Gardens. Even if scary is not your thing, I wish the holiday ride overlays were in Florida. One can hope that some of these changes might make their way to Orlando someday.
• Andy Guinigundo is the author of the Out of The Loop column in “Orlando Attractions Magazine”. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and three daughters. He grew up frequenting theme parks around Ohio and making trips to Orlando with his family. While for most of the year, he’s out of the Orlando loop, he tries to visit Florida at least once a year.