Originally a locals-friendly filler during a normally slow season, Universal Studios Florida’s Halloween celebration has grown so famous that the 27 event nights between 9/20 and 11/2 will provide a sizable percentage of USF’s annual attendance statistics. Much like visiting any of Orlando’s theme parks during a peak holiday season, an evening at HHN can be tremendous fun if you go in with a solid plan and sane expectations; without those things…well, you might be better off eaten by zombies…
Every year, Universal’s creative designers shake up the event, so it’s impossible to predict exactly how things will play out until opening weekend has passed, and even then operational tweaks will continue to be made throughtout October. However, after years of experience with HHN (I’ve attended every edition since 1996) we can make some educated guesses towards a preliminary touring plan for tackling Universal’s elaborate (and infamously long-queued) haunted mazes.
Disney recently announced a call for guests to submit their family’s seasonal holiday cards, which will be digitally scanned and incorporated into new projections for World of Color — Winter Dreams, as the limited-time variation of DCA’s nighttime fountain show will be known. See here for details on the artwork requirement and submission rules; all cards must be postmarked or delivered in person to the Anaheim Downtown Disney’s World of Disney store by September 20, 2013.
Disneyland’s original Hatbox Ghost (photo courtesy Doombuggies)
There haven’t been any blockbuster surprise announcements out of this weekend’s D23 Disney fan expo yet, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t gems to discover inside the Anaheim Convention Center. The “Journey into Imagineering” pavilion, hidden behind a facade recreating WDI Glendale offices, holds one of D23’s most ghoulish delights — a modern Audio Animatronic reincarnating a favorite attraction’s most infamous former resident.
The Hatbox Ghost was one of the original inhabitants of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, but was removed from the ride’s attic scene shortly after opening because of technical problems with his disappearing head effect (not, as the urban legend claims, because he scared a guest to death). Lost to theme-park lore for decades, he’s seen a merchandise revival in recent years, but this is the first time Imagineering has revealed an operating animatronic — based on the same AA100 architecture as PoTC’s Auctioneer and Mr. Lincoln — of the fabled figure.
Are you ready to take your home video game console to infinity…and beyond? Disney Infinity, this seasons’s most eagerly awaited videogame release, promises to integrate “sandbox” style open-world gameplay with Skylanders-style physical toys, creating a universe where characters as diverse as Jack Sparrow and Jack Skellington can virtually coexist.
The game and its associated figurines go on sale to the public on August 18, but Disneyland Annual Passholders can get an early preview tomorrow night (Tuesday, 8/6/2013). From 5pm to 10pm, APs get exclusive access to the Xbox 360 area of Tomorrowland’s Innoventions attraction, which will be devoted to Disney Infinity for the next few months. You’ll also get to meet members of the game’s development team, and maybe find a few other surprises.
No advance registration is required for this Limited Time Magic event, but space is limited so you will need to show your valid AP at the attraction entrance.
Nothing says “summer” like a little beach volleyball. But if you can’t make it to the beach this weekend, the Disneyland Resort is bringing the beach to Anaheim. Now through Sunday, August 4, Downtown Disney is hosting the “Summer Celebration” Sand Volleyball Tournament and Pro Exhibition in a championship-sized sand court constructed near the AMC Theaters and Earl of Sandwich.
On Friday and Saturday (8/2 & 8/3) VolleyOC will play the final championship games of their tournament at Downtown Disney. On Sunday (8/4), Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) players (including Ed Ratledge, Pedro Brazao, Mark Williams and Matt Olson) and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Rich Lambourne will sign autographs and play a pro exhibition.
Admission to Downtown Disney is free; regular parking rates apply.
All of the above appearances are from 1pm to 4pm. In addition, the monthly Pop Fusion event (August 24, 11am to 1pm) will feature Sean D’Anconia, John Coulter, Sam Carter and Noah. The WonderGround Gallery is always free and open to the public.
If you are a Disneyland Annual Passholder who just can’t get enough of Radiator Springs Racers over at Disney California Adventure, head across the Esplanade this Wednesday night (7/31/2013) for a free screening of Pixar’s original Cars film. In addition to a full-length presentation of the original film, attendees at Disneyland’s Main Street Opera House will also enjoy a short preview of the upcoming Planes spinoff.
Screenings are at 5pm and 8pm, and wristbands for the limited seats will be distributed on a first-come/first-served basis beginning at noon. A valid annual pass is required; read here for more details.
If you will be at Disneyland and aren’t interested in the screening, be aware that Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln will close early on Wednesday for the event.
In keeping with Disney’s current “Christmas in July” Limited Time Magic promotion, Disneyland Resort made a surprise announcement today and revealed an all-new “Winter Dreams” version of the uber-popular World of Color nighttime show, coming exclusively to Disney California Adventure this holiday season.
The revamped show will debut on November 15, 2013, and is expected to run nightly through New Year’s 2014. The new show will be hosted by Olaf, a snowman character from the upcoming CGI animated film Frozen, and also feature winter-inspired elements from classic films like Bambi and Toy Story.
All attendees age 3 and older must have a valid Disneyland annual pass, and entry wristbands will be distributed on a first come-first served basis starting at 3pm outside the theater. The screening begins at 8pm, and lasts about 90 minutes. Space is limited, and late arrivals will be denied entry. Season's greeting!
Every serious Disney fan knows that Walt's original Disneyland park celebrates its 58th birthday today (July 17, 2013). But did you know that one of the resort's iconic E-tickets is also marking an anniversary today?
According to Disney historian Jim Korkis, Splash Mountain opened at Disneyland on today's date in 1989, while the Walt Disney World version debuted on this same date, 3 years later. (The official dedication for WDW's version was on October 2, 1989, but today's date marked the start of its “soft opening”).