Tokyo Disneyland Halloween
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Happy Haunted Materialize
"It is a no-brainerā?.
I found myself muttering this phrase constantly during our last trip to the Tokyo Disney Resort earlier this month. Our trip involved 4 Disney theme parks on two continents in 10 days (and nearly 25,000 miles trekking across the northern hemisphere). We began at the Disneyland Resort in an attempt to fulfil the first 50% of my Haunted Mansion Holiday fixes.
Wandering around Disneyland, most of it shrouded under tarp for renovation, I found it very odd that once again the Resort had failed to capitalise on Halloween as a theme. Even the billboards littering the highways of the Greater Los Angeles area make no mention of the impending celebration, instead relying on temporarily displaced hitch-hiking ghosts and the tagline "October at Disneyland Parkā?. Now, I suspect that you are a little perplexed as to why this issue bothers me so much. I will guarantee (albeit with no actual reward) that after experiencing Lindsay's photo-essay from the Land of the Rising Sun that you will gain an understanding and appreciation of my frustration.
Ironically, it is the two Magic Kingdoms on foreign soil that have more readily embraced this particular American festival. However, the two Halloween celebrations occupy the extremes of the October 31 spectrum. The European version is macabre and sinister, distinctly lacking in Disneynification whilst its Japanese counterpart places a premium on ensuring that the Fab 5 are at the heart of the experience.
The giant arches that front World Bazaar greet all guests with a warm welcome and a distinct reminder of the seasonal festivities. The stores themselves are packed to the rafters with all manner of Halloween goodies and delicacies and even the store fronts are appropriately dressed. However, the centrepiece of the decorations is just a short walk away in Central Plaza. Tokyo Disneyland benefits immensely from having the largest hub at any Magic Kingdom, which is perfect for larger-than-life sculptures. A giant pumpkin (naturally replete with Mickey ears) has been placed on a pedestal at the heart of the intertwining displays. The park is littered with ghost figures with pale blue accents, akin to those from the classic short, Lonesome Ghosts. In the centre, the ghosts are playing a myriad of musical instruments in a Halloween band. However, the conductor is absent, as he is welcoming guests at the park entrance. Therefore, the grimaces on the band's faces are due to the wincingly painful and unco-ordinated tunes being produced!
Stone-effect sculptures of the Fab 5 complete a circle around the centrepiece, each with their own pose and clutching an oversized pumpkin, carved in a particular fashion. In the outer hub, further ghosts are present, each striking a pose in roles such as sommeliers and waiters.
Wandering through the arch of Cinderella's Castle, it is apparent that the ghosts have even permeated the most venerable structure in any Magic Kingdom. Inside and on the rear balcony, ghosts, dressed as knights are frozen in comical poses, such as slumped over the ramparts or holding their own dismembered head in their outstretched palm. Carved pumpkins are scattered across the store and cafe exteriors, often with iron cut-outs in the shapes of black cats and witches. In addition, banners and bronze-like plaques are on every lampost around the Central Plaza and Fantasyland.
Walking towards the Carrousel, I was immediately drawn to Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Not the sort of attraction one would expect to feature Halloween decorations, but the standard exterior lights have been replaced with groovy orange ones, spookily shaped like those mischievous elephants from the movie's very odd drunken dream.
Now, from here, there are two possible routes to see the rest of the Halloween fun, as both Frontierland and Toontown are the true focus of the festivities.
However, we had plans elsewhere. Trekking back towards the main gate, we had an appointment at the Guest Service Center. Patiently waiting in the traditional riding costume, a Host greeted us with our name tags and we joined the rest of our new group. One concept with which Tokyo Disney Resort is highly organised is that of the special tours. The popularity of the Halloween Tour is evident with guests queuing for hours at the turnstiles before park opening to be first in line for one of the few spots. Thankfully, our close friend from Tokyo, Tetsuya had arrived bright and early to secure his place at the front on his plastic mat. We arrived at the gates at 7am to find him already in place (albeit asleep sitting bolt upright!).