Haunted Halloween at Hong Kong Disneyland


Hong Kong Disneyland is the only Disney theme park in the world to have Halloween entertainment that is actually scary and targeted at teens and adults, as opposed to the other parks’ Halloween offerings, which are tame and focus more on costumes and candy than scaring guests. Since first hearing about the intense nature of Hong Kong Disneyland’s “Haunted Halloween” a few years ago, it has been something we have wanted to experience. This year, we got the opportunity to experience it, attending the first weekend of Haunted Halloween.

Unlike the other parks, which begin celebrating Halloween shortly after the Fourth of July, Hong Kong Disneyland starts the first week of October. Its Haunted Halloween offerings occur only on weekends, but are included in the price of normal theme park admission. Haunted Halloween coincides with the debut of Disney Paint the Night Parade this year, and the new parade has stolen a lot of the limelight from Halloween. As a result, there’s no Halloween parade this year, and the decorations on Main Street, which would normally be Halloween-themed, are instead promoting the new nighttime parade.

If you look at the lineup in this post and compare it to previous years, you can see a definite decrease in the Halloween offerings at Hong Kong Disneyland. This isn’t just the case this year, as it appears less and less has been done for each of the last few years. Now, some might say this is Hong Kong Disneyland making cuts, but I think it has more to do with the fact that a few years ago Hong Kong Disneyland was a bit sparse, so the extravagant Halloween entertainment was necessary. Now that the park has grown substantially in the past few years, some justifiable cuts have occurred.

Still, we found Haunted Halloween to be no slouch, with two haunted house-like walk-through attractions in Graves Academy and Revenge of the Headless Horseman, a 20 minute show called “Horrors of the Amazon,” Autumn Festival games in Grizzly Gulch, Halloween meet & greets, and more. The highlights for most guests are clearly the haunted houses, with everything else playing second fiddle. Mystic Manor is also especially popular at Halloween, much like Haunted Mansion in the US sees a slight spike in popularity. While Haunted Halloween at Hong Kong Disneyland might be leaner than it used to be, it’s still a pretty awesome event.

In this post, we will discuss each of the Halloween offerings for Hong Kong Disneyland’s Haunted Halloween, offer our tips, and share some photos from the festivities…



For starters, if you’re visiting for a weekend night during Haunted Halloween at Hong Kong Disneyland, you might consider wearing a costume. As is the case with the US parks, Hong Kong Disneyland encourages guests to wear costumes for Halloween, inviting guests to “explore your dark side.” There are rules for the costumes, but these appear very lax, with signs (see photo below) informing guests that they couldn’t bring wagons or brooms into the houses. Meaning, wagons, swords, brooms, etc., are all allowed, but just not for costumes. (And you know if it’s on a sign, it’s because there has been an issue before. Perhaps a guest reflexively hit an actor in a house with a broom…or wagon?)  (more…)

The Halloween Tree at Disneyland

For me, the highlight of Disneyland at Halloween is Frontierland. Between the Dia de los Muertos decor near Rancho del Zocalo and The Halloween Tree near Golden Horseshoe, there’s a lot of actual meaning behind the decorations in Frontierland. It’s not simply decorating for the sake of decorating. Disneyland fans are probably fairly familiar with The Halloween Tree, but for those of you who are not, this post offers a bit of historical information about it, and the man to whom it pays tribute, Ray Bradbury.

Most Americans probably know literary heavy-weight Ray Bradbury for Fahrenheit 451This has been a curriculum mainstay for countless grade schools around the United States; I fondly recall reading it as a child during “Banned Book Week.” It was one of the first “significant” (save for the seminal Monster Blood title from R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series) books that really captivated me, thanks to its edgy substance and controversial reputation.



Bradbury wrote countless novels, short stories, and other works over the course of a career that spanned decades. One of these was his 1972 novel, titled The Halloween Tree. This is a story about eight boys who set out on a Halloween night to meet their friend, Pipkin, at a haunted house. Like all good Disney stories, “something goes terribly wrong,” and then instead end up encountering a mysterious character named Moundshroud next to a tree filled with jack-o-lanterns (hence the name of the story).

This dude leads the boys through time and space making their way through various death-related scenes–witnessing a funeral procession in ancient Egypt, cavemen discovering fire, Druid rites, the persecution of witches in the Dark Ages, and the gargoyles of Notre Dame–as they try to chase after Pipkin. They finally catch up with their friend and make a sacrifice to save his life. In the story, the Halloween Tree serves as a metaphor representing cultural Halloween traditions. (more…)

Halloween at Tokyo DisneySea

Disney’s Halloween is a big deal at Tokyo Disneyland in September and October, but there’s arguably more to experience at Tokyo DisneySea. This post covers our tips for Halloween at Tokyo DisneySea, and how to enjoy the seasonal entertainment and the general ambiance of the park during the fall festivities.

To start, although both parks generally celebrate “Disney’s Halloween,” the tone of each park’s Halloween entertainment is dramatically different. Tokyo Disneyland has everything you’d expect out of a Disney castle park for its Halloween entertainment: there’s a parade, decorations, and fireworks (among other things). In general, it leans heavily on the Disney characters for a cheerful Halloween carnival.

Tokyo DisneySea does not go the “scary” route for Halloween (like Hong Kong Disneyland or Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights), but it definitely has a more adult feel, much like the park itself. The Disney characters still play their part, too, but the entertainment feels decidedly more refined, and works on both an adult level and a child level. Disney does this masterfully in all of its best entertainment (and I’m not just talking theme parks) so to see it in the Tokyo DisneySea shows was pretty cool.

This post covers my thoughts on these pieces of Halloween entertainment at Tokyo DisneySea, plus lots of photos from the “Disney’s Halloween 2014″ event. Although this information is specific to my 2014 visit, Tokyo DisneySea presents its Halloween entertainment every year (although specific offerings do change yearly), so this should be useful for future years. Just don’t expect to see exactly what’s pictured here if you visit in 2015, 2016, or beyond.

All entertainment for Disney’s Halloween at Tokyo DisneySea that’s discussed here is included in regular park admission, and at just under $60 for a 1-day Tokyo DisneySea ticket, a full day of both normal attractions and the Halloween stuff at Tokyo DisneySea is actually cheaper than the hard ticket Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World!

Enough chatter–let’s take a look at what’s happening at Tokyo DisneySea for Halloween! (more…)

Halloween at Tokyo Disneyland

Disney’s Halloween is the seasonal event at Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea during September and October. The Japan parks definitely get into the Halloween spirit, with a special parade, fireworks, stage shows, and even special foods. At Tokyo Disneyland, some guests also get into the spirit, wearing elaborate costumes during certain weeks.

This post takes a look at Tokyo Disneyland’s Halloween celebration in 2014, with photos plus my thoughts about the “Disney’s Halloween 2014″ event. While Tokyo Disneyland celebrates Halloween every fall, making the general information here useful for future visits, it is worth noting that their entertainment, parades, and other things sometimes change yearly, so don’t expect to see exactly what’s pictured here if you visit in 2015, 2016, or beyond.

Halloween offerings at Tokyo Disneyland are included in regular park admission, and at just under $60 for a 1-day Tokyo Disneyland ticket, a full day at Tokyo Disneyland is actually cheaper than the hard ticket Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World! Of course, you will have to get to Japan in the first place, which is not exactly a cheap proposition, but as I’ve been stressing here for some time, these are the two best Disney theme parks in the world.

With that said, let’s take a look at what’s happening at Tokyo Disneyland for Halloween! (more…)

Top 5 Bakeries at Disney World

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Fans of baked goods and desserts rejoice, as here’s our top 5 best bakeries at Walt Disney World! All participate in the Disney Dining Plan with both snacks and counter service meals offered. Notable about this list is that every single location here is located in the Crescent Lake Resort Area (or Epcot Resort Area), with no locations being in the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or any of the resort hotels in the area.

While the Magic Kingdom used to have one of the best bakeries in the Main Street Bakery, since it converted to a Starbucks location, its menu has been a subpar and generic mix of Starbucks desserts, and options like Gaston’s Tavern and Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery simply have too thin of menus to really compete with the other entries on this list. In fact, outside of the locations on this list, there are few spots at Walt Disney World with enough menu options to really qualify as standout bakeries. There are many spots with a couple of standout items, but few locations with heavy-hitting bakery menus.

As big fans of desserts and sweets, this is a bit disappointing, although probably a good thing for both our wallets and our waistlines, as it’s probably for the best that we can’t do a daily “Walt Disney World Bakery Hop” on our trips. As much as we might lobby for cupcakes being made their own food group at the top of the food pyramid, you’re still only “supposed” to have 4 servings of cupcake per day, and we would definitely exceed that amount if more bakeries would around Walt Disney World. ;)

With that said, here is our list of the top bakeries at Walt Disney World. Below each pick is a brief synopsis as to why it makes the list… (more…)

Tear Down That Sorcerer’s Hat!

Note: This post was originally published two years ago as an editorial concerning why the Sorcerer’s Hat should be removed as part of the rumored overhaul of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Two years later, that overhaul still remains a strong rumor, but there has been confirmation that the Sorcerer’s Hat finally will be removed in early 2015. As such, we thought it appropriate to republish this post. It’s as timely now as it was in 2012. 

With a lot of rumors that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is set for a massive overhaul and expansion presently floating around, I thought it would be a good time to weigh in. No, not on the substance of what will be added specifically. I don’t pretend to have any “insider” information, although I am hopeful that Kathy Mangum’s relocation to Florida means something other than Cars Land coming to Florida (my preference would be for it to remain exclusive to Disney California Adventure so that park can have its own unique draw). I’m referring to something far more important–something that needs to be removed as part of any overhaul at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The Big Sorcerer Hat (also known as the BAH–I’ll let you mull over that acronym in your head). Over the years, the number of people who like the Big Sorcerer Hat exactly where it stands has surprised me. To be clear, I have absolutely no issue with the Big Sorcerer Hat, I just think it’s not thematically appropriate for its present location in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and should be removed on that basis.

For years, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre had acted as a thematically appropriate “weenie” at the intersection of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards (not necessarily the park’s main icon–by most accounts Earful Tower was meant to be that) drawing guests down Hollywood Boulevard, which was themed, unsurprisingly, to various design styles of old Hollywood. Grauman’s itself similarly represented old Hollywood, being a re-creation of one of the most iconic theaters in Hollywood. It similarly fit the theme of Sunset Boulevard and transitioned nicely into the surrounding area. While the architecture down the Boulevards might seem like a random mish-mash, it is far from that. In fact, close inspection reveals that the Imagineers went to painstaking lengths to model the buildings after period locations in Hollywood. All of these buildings are representative of an idealized old Hollywood (“the Hollywood that never was and will always be”), and create a clear visual motif and theme to this portion of the park. (more…)

Scenes from Disney Parks: Disneyland Halloween

I’m back with the second installment of “Scenes from Disney Parks,” with a set of new photos that I recently shot during the start of Halloween Time at Disneyland. Every photo in this set is from Disneyland and features Halloween as a motif (be it prominent or in the background, etc.).

Disneyland is always a gorgeous park, but I especially like how it looks during Halloween Time at night, when it has a slightly ominous vibe in Frontierland and Main Street has some of my favorite flowers of the year. Seasonal decorations are very well done at Disneyland, and I love how they make familiar scenes “new” with changes in color schemes or by incorporating elements of the holidays into existing displays.

Halloween Time at Disneyland still doesn’t top Christmas at Disneyland for me, but it is a beautiful time to visit. If you want to know more about what to expect when visiting this time of year, check out our Guide to Halloween Time at Disneyland.

As for these photos, after each photo I’ll share some technical stuff like which lens I used for the photo. All photos in this post were captured with my Nikon D600. (Unfortunately, I had to send in my Nikon D810 DSLR for repair before this trip, so it was out of commission). You can click on each photo to view it larger in my gallery and to see EXIF data on it. Hopefully other photographers out there find this info useful.

If you’re a casual reader not interested in photo jargon, hopefully you still enjoy this new set of photos from Halloween Time at Disneyland!

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B Resort – Downtown Disney Hotel Review

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B Resort & Spa is a hotel located in Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney Area. This review covers my recent stay at the newly-opened hotel, featuring photos of rooms and hotel amenities. A little too large and standardized to be described accurately as a boutique hotel, B Resort is like a mix of boutique and trendy, minimalist hotels. The hotel recently reopened after an extensive top to bottom overhaul, and more or less looks brand new.

This is apparent as soon as you step foot in the lobby, which conveys both a minimalist and luxurious tone. This is where the hotel really shines. The walls are a crisp white, which looks striking juxtaposed against blue accents and other features of the area. Here, there are also lounge-ish areas with comfortable chairs and large, touch-screen kiosks where guests can access a variety of information (including the ability to print boarding passes). Next to these lounges is American Q, where the smell of smoked meats beckons carnivores inside. There’s also a small display of artwork hanging on the walls in this area, which is promised to be rotated out, gallery style.

This entire main entrance area of the hotel looks really nice and is very ambitious. It’s a common area with a lot to see and do, and that is just plain enjoyable. It didn’t feel at all chaotic with arrivals and departures, instead more like a place where people (many of them well-dressed and looking like they were ready for a night on the town) were hanging out and mingling. I’ve noticed this type of atmosphere in other hotels at which we’ve stayed, but this was a first for a hotel at Walt Disney World.

Actually, B Resort & Spa seems like a bit of an outlier for Walt Disney World hotels in a number of ways, both good and bad… (more…)