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28 September 2013 @ 11:26 pm
Disney's Happiest Haunts Tour  
Last year, when we had our Annual Passes, Jeans and I really wanted to go on Disney's "Happiest Haunts" tour - but when we tried to sign up for it, the tour was sold out.  This year, we had to do it, so we made sure to sign up for it as early as possible.

I'm glad that we did.  It's an awesome tour!

The tour starts on Main Street, where our tour guide Aaron introduced himself and talked about the Halloween decorations in Disneyland.  He then took us out of the park and across the main plaza to the entrance of California Adventure, still talking about the decorations.  He was leading us over to the Tower of Terror, the first ride of the tour.  As we walked through the queue, Aaron shared some of the scarier stories that were featured on The Twilight Zone - the ride is themed as if visitors are in an episode of the show, in which people disappear mysteriously inside an old Hollywood hotel.  It's a ride I have long avoided because it is basically a drop ride - and nothing terrifies me more than falling a long distance.  But it was part of the Halloween tour, so I didn't want to miss it!  I had to brave it out.  I darn nearly squeezed Jeannie's arm off though.

When we finally "landed" and the ride car opened, a strange man in an old-fashioned cape and bowler hat stared back at us.  At first, Jeans thought he was just a random employee who wanted to say hi to Aaron, but when I spotted his employee badge - "Gracey, New Orleans Square" - I knew he was a part of the tour.   "Master Gracey" is an established character of Haunted Mansion lore, though he's more strongly associated with Walt Disney World's mansion.  It was explained that Gracey, a resident of the Haunted Mansion, would be joining us for the tour.  He was a fantastic balance to Aaron - whose name Gracey could never quite get right! - because Gracey would chime in and explain Halloween traditions and folklore.  He was very dramatic and entertaining; he would make some sort of off-handed remark, like "Oh, this reminds me of what the Celts would do at this time of year..." and then he would pause while we all leaned in eagerly.  He would then ask, "Do you want to hear the story?" - as if he had to ask! - and proceed.  It played well with the enthusiastic, slighty awkward Disney nerd character played by Aaron.

While we were in California Adventure, we were taken in the candy shop to pick up a sweet treat - a marshmallow dipped in caramel dipped in chocolate and coated in sprinkles.   Love it!

Once we went back over to Disneyland, they tried to take us onto Space Mountain, which is themed with a "Ghost Galaxy" overlay during Halloweentime.  As we were approaching, though, the ride went down, so we were re-routed to the Matterhorn.  It was my first time riding the Matterhorn at night, and it was really cool - I love looking down at the park and seeing all the lights shining below!  But the dark tunnels are pitch black, and my scaredy-cat self hates being enclosed in small, dark spaces, so I think I'll stick to daytime rides going forward.

Aaron kept claiming he was taking us to Toontown, but Gracey squirmed and huffed and made it clear that we were not going to Toontown, because that would be dreadfully dull.  (What would we do in Toontown, I wonder?  Not much Halloween up there!  Tho' it is scary...)  Instead, they took us through Frontierland (outside of the Halloween carnival, which closes in the early evening) and by the Halloween tree and the Day of the Dead display.  At one point, Gracey wandered off and we thought he was going to do something cool, but after a while he reappeared with little drama.

Of course, one cannot do a "Happiest Haunts" tour without riding on the Haunted Mansion, so that was the last attraction of the night.  It currently has a Nightmare Before Christmas overlay, and it's the 13th year that the Park has been doing "Haunted Mansion Holiday" so it was jazzed up extra nice.  A new animation of Jack Skellington was added to the Stretching Gallery and Zero is now projected in the Portrait Hall in the changing paintings.  Every year, there's a different gingerbread house in the ballroom, and the one they built this year was an enormous advent calender - it looked like it nearly touched the ceiling chandelier!  As we rode past, the smell of the gingerbread was overpowering and made my mouth water.

At the end of the tour, cast members gave each of us a candy corn-shaped cookie and a commemorative pin.  It was AWESOME - a key (to the Haunted Mansion?) with the face of the Hatbox Ghost on it.  I know that pin traders will  be all over it - Haunted Mansion collectors are legion, and the Hatbox Ghost is a particular fan favorite.  They also gave us a fast pass for Space Mountain, so that we could do the ride once it was back online.



Aaron and "Ghost Host" Gracey