Disneyland is usually known for not-so-scary Halloween Time celebrations, but that certainly wasn’t the case on Oct. 6, 2021, at the after-hours cast-exclusive scare maze, complete with jump scares and plot twists.
The thrilling cast-only event for more than 600 attendees in Disney California Adventure Park has taken place for several years but made an extra elaborate return after last year’s resort closure, taking a team of 40 volunteers two months to plan.
“This event is 100% produced by the cast, for the cast,” said Patrick Finnegan, senior vice president of Operations for Disneyland Resort.
One of the volunteer organizers, Tommy Metzger from Avengers Campus Attractions, developed the storyline, theming, costuming, and other elements that brought the event to life.
“I love that anyone can be a part of this,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where you work or what you do […] you can just come do something fun that you genuinely want to do! “It’s so cool that some of our cast could become guests for a night and have a full-blown Halloween experience right here at work.”
According to Attractions Host Anthony Olivares (who has been helping run the event for four years), organizers tell a different story every year through theatrical elements in the maze.
This year, the story for the cast-exclusive scare maze focused on a mysterious creature haunting the campgrounds and surrounding forests in Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Volunteer actors helped set the scene both inside and outside the maze with professional special effects, gory makeup, and prosthetics (thanks to Main Street Merchandise Host Jonathan Granados, a professional makeup artist).
Entertainment Host Forrest Orta, who has worked on the event for more than five years, helped create this year’s custom logos and packaging used as props.
“It’s important for cast members to get the same immersive, high-quality experience our guests receive each day,” he said. “When we’re just working our same role each day, we might miss the full magic; I wanted cast to once again fall in love with why Disney does what it does.”
Organizers also prioritized inclusion in their plans, so the event was completely wheelchair accessible to allow all to participate and get the same immersive experience.
“There’s really something for everyone,” said Baby-Jo Fernando, an Avengers Campus Attractions host. “Even the cast members who don’t like to be scared could come get treats and spend time with other cast members.”
On the heels of another successful event, volunteers are already talking about how to make next year’s maze better (and scarier) than ever.
“Cast events are what make this job so unique and special,” said Rachel Kahan, Avengers Campus Attractions. “It really speaks to the community we have that so many people just say, ‘hey, let’s all do this together for each other.’ It boosts morale in a way I just can’t describe.”