Disneyland Churro Challenge - Review

Churros are a huge part of Disneyland culture. Some people have the location of every churro cart in the parks committed to memory and, “I was getting churros,” is a perfectly valid excuse to cut the line for The Haunted Mansion and catch up to your friends. For whatever reason, churros are just inherently tied into the very fabric of Disneyland. Recently the sugary sticks were brought to the center of everyone’s attention with their very own Churro Challenge as part of the ongoing Pixar Fest offerings, and Brittany and I went all in for the win on our most recent visit.

In order to take part in the Challenge you had to first buy a map at one of four participating churro carts. Following that it's fairly simple, just get a sticker for trying each churro and then head to the AP Corner and pick up your button to show off that you finished! The Challenge officially ran from May 14 - June 8 and was exclusive to Annual Passholders, but don’t worry, if you want to get your hands on these limited edition churros you still can! All four churros will be available for the duration of Pixar Fest (ending Sept 3, 2018). I have some opinions on the Challenge itself, but since it’s already finished, I’ll save that for the end of this post. For now, let’s just jump into what you’re really here for… Churro rankings!

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Pixar Fest Churros - Ranked

The following rankings are my own opinions of the churros, which I personally tried. Prior to eating the churros I had seen reviews of the best/worst of the bunch and after trying them myself, I ended up disagreeing with much of what I had read. I myself do like churros (Brittany not so much), so I was excited to go on this flavor journey and here are my results.

1. Ants on a Log Churro

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This A Bug’s Life inspired treat is the only one of the four churros that can be found in California Adventure and was the first one we tried. Now I don’t know about you, but when I think of ants on a log I think of peanut butter, celery, and raisins. Don’t worry this churro has nothing to do with celery, definitely no health food inspiration here. This churro starts with the standard cinnamon sugar as the base (the log), but then it’s drizzled with donut icing and rolled in cocoa cereal (the ants). This was my favorite because it’s just a solid upgrade on the classic. It wasn’t trying too hard to be anything else, just an improvement on something I already enjoy.

2. Kevin’s Churro

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This rainbow colored churro is a simple representation of the beautiful multi-colored plumage of Kevin the Snipe from Pixar’s Up. This one very easily could have been number one on our list as well, but I put it in second because while it was just as tasty, it wasn’t as inspiring in its detail as the Ants On A Log. Covered in lemon sugar and finely ground rainbow cereal, this churro is basically a hand-held bowl of Fruity Pebbles. This one is definitely the simplest of the four, but it really stood out. (Side note: I had read some reviews that ranked this as the worst churro by a long shot and we were not at all looking forward to it, so needless to say we were pleasantly surprised.)

3. Presto Rabbit Churro

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“Presto!” was the Pixar Short that originally ran before WALL-E in theaters and is definitely one of the funniest in Pixar’s long line of incredible animations; This carrot cake style churro however, not so much. This one was definitely a bit of a let down for me because a carrot cake churro with a side of cream cheese icing sounded perfect to me when I found out about it. In reality I found the churro to be bland and the icing to be too much. It’s just regular churro dough with carrot cake flavored sugar, not really a good representation of the rich earthy flavor of real carrot cake. On the other hand the icing was just over the top too sweet and fake tasting, not creamy like it should have been.

4. Coco Churro

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Much like the first two could’ve tied for the top spot, it was hard to decide which two were the lowest as well. The Coco Churro get’s the bottom spot though because not only did I not enjoy it, I also think it was advertised incorrectly as well. It was marketed as being dusted with cocoa powder, rolled in salted cinnamon sugar, and served with spiced chocolate dipping sauce. Now to me that sounds like a churro version of Mexican hot chocolate (which I absolutely love), a warm delicious combo of cinnamon/baking spice and creamy chocolate. Turns out they really meant SPICY chocolate, not SPICED chocolate. The dipping sauce is cayenne infused or something along those lines and nothing like the warm fuzzy deliciousness I was expecting from the description. In addition I thought this churro was just really messy, the chocolate sauce was runny and sticky not creamy, it just got all over the place.

Thoughts on the AP Churro Challenge

Overall, I thought the concept and execution of the Challenge was well done, but I do have a few comments I’d like to make as well. First of all, the maps to participate were $5 each and while that’s not an issue on its own, it’s confusing as to how this was presented as an AP exclusive. Now normally the AP food “scavenger hunt” events (ie: Food & Wine Festival or Festival of Holidays) are included in the price of the food itself. Buy the food, collect your stickers, win your buttons, something along those lines. Then there are also the paid scavenger hunts that are open to everyone (ie: Egg-stravaganza) where anyone can buy a map and win the prize. To me this was just a weird combination of the two where they wanted the exclusivity and pay-to-play aspects combined.

Keep in mind too that you still had to pay for all of the churros individually and even weirder still you could just buy the map and get a completion button without eating/buying a single churro. I’m sure there’s some kind of legal “no purchase necessary” aspect to this, but it just seems weird that some people are walking around with completion badges for something they didn’t even attempt. (Full disclosure: Brittany and I each bought maps, but we shared each of the churros. There’s no way we were eating four churros each and keeping our reservations at Cafe Orleans as well.)

Until Next Time

Don’t forget, even though the official challenge is no longer taking place, you can still eat all four churros for the next few months of Pixar Fest. I definitely could see myself getting some of these a second time, but with the whole Pixar Fest Food Checklist recently released, we’ve got plenty more eating to do before we start repeating! Stay tuned for more of our Disney foodie adventures as we sort through the good, the bad, and the delicious. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it!

PS: If you don’t already, you should definitely follow Jeff Granito Designs on Instagram. He created the amazing artwork for the challenge maps/buttons and has an impressive working relationship with Disneyland overall. Definitely worth checking out!

Everything We Know About Pixar Pier

In just a few days, the gates will open to one of the most highly anticipated Disneyland renovations in a long time... Pixar Pier is almost here! Now granted, those gates will open one day earlier for some lucky people who could afford the almost $300 tickets to enjoy the Pixar Pier Premiere and I'm sure we're going to see some amazing content posted in those first few hours, but for now, we're going to dive deep on what we can confirm about the newest land at California Adventure.

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Brittany and I are not only huge Pixar fans, but we are also huge California Adventure fans and since the pier shut down in January we've been eagerly awaiting it's reopening. California Adventure is, for a variety of reasons, the most unloved of all the Disney parks, even internationally. It's always struggled to find its audience, having not only gone through a name change, but also an entire overhaul in 2012. I personally never visited the park pre-2012, but I have an obsession with learning about the Disney parks and I've done a ton of research into the history of the park and I can understand why it put a bad taste in some peoples mouths. 

I won't bore you with too much about the parks past (here is a great article by Tom Bricker which does an amazing job of it though), because we're here to talk about the NOW of the park and what you can expect moving forward. In fact, many people are even referring to recent events at DCA as the "second overhaul" of the park. There's a noticeable turn from the very obviously California themed attractions, to more modern and movie inspired fare. Pixar Pier is only the beginning since we already know that A Bug's Land will be getting a Marvel Super Hero rebranding soon as well.

Man, do I keep getting side-tracked! Ok fine, we're here to talk about PIXAR PIER and now I will do just that...

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We actually don't have to do too much speculating or research to find out what's going on with the pier, because right inside of DCA there's an amazing, and often under looked area, known as Blue Sky Cellars. Blue Sky is actually a showcase area for Walt Disney Imagineering, the developers of all the Disney Resorts and other entities, and for the last few months they've had a spectacular preview of the new offerings coming to the pier.

The Rides

Ok we'll get right to the most asked question... "What is going on with California Screaming?" For the one person who doesn't know yet, it's becoming The Incredicoaster! Now for me personally this is a huge deal for a variety of reasons. I already loved the rollercoaster as it was, but now it's being rebranded to showcase my favorite animated family, The Parrs! 

The Incredicoaster will be so much more than just a rollercoaster. It's not only a great representation of the midcentury modern architecture and style found in the the Incredibles movies, but beyond that it's a ride that will bring us right into the story. The ride will feature several scenes or "moments" where the characters will bring some plot points into the ride and this is what I'm most excited for. In my opinion, this is one of the things Disney does best, I can ride a ride anywhere, but Disney is a place where I can interact with and experience characters and story that I'm already invested in. I am beyond excited to ride this and I'm assuming it will be my new favorite Disney ride, just gonna have to make sure to get Fast Passes early for this one!

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Toy Story Midway Mania will still be a big anchor attraction for the pier, but it will soon be joined by another Toy Story themed attraction, Jessie's Critter Carousel. This will take the place of King Triton's Carousel and will feature characters specifically from the fictional "Woody's Roundup" TV show within the larger Toy Story universe. As far as rides go it is "just" a carousel, but more importantly this ride will serve as an entry way between the themed neighborhoods directing you into the Toy Story area. (As of the writing of this post, the Critter Carousel will be open at a later date, not with the opening of the pier.)

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Mickey's Fun Wheel will now be known as Pixar Pal-A-Round. The ferris wheel cars have been re-themed with some old and new Pixar characters, but don't worry Mickey's smiling face will remain the centerpiece. There had apparently been discussions about removing Mickey, but let's just say that idea quickly faded once the public heard the rumors.

There is one more unannounced attraction that will be coming to the pier (also not for the opening according to reports) and the assumption is it will be inspired by the movie Inside Out. There is a whole neighborhood of the pier themed to Inside Out with shops and restaurants, so that, along with the fact that you can obviously see some sort of ride in the concept photos, has made it pretty clear where it will be.

The Food

Alright I'm sure some of you have just scrolled right past The Rides to have your most burning question answered... "What is going on with Cove Bar?" Cove Bar is gone, along with the adjacent Ariel's Grotto, and in its place will rise The Lamplight Lounge! The story behind the new watering hole is that the owner of the lounge was a friend to many of Pixar's animators over the years and it became their favorite place to hang out. So while the new bar isn't Pixar "themed" per se, it will have many nods to Pixar such as left over doodles and sketches left there by the animators. 

What was formerly two separate restaurants will now be one two-story spot with a pub feel, featuring a menu of small plates intended to be shared. The downstairs restaurant area will feature a full menu and the upstairs bar will only have a subset of that menu. Don't worry, the famous Lobster Nachos aren't going anywhere and if you know about the Not-So-Secret Menu at Cove Bar, you will still be able to order many, if not all, of those drinks as well.

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Pixar Pier will feature many other dining opportunities in the form of "food carts" that are themed to the different areas. Confirmed are Poultry Palace, Angry Dogs, and Señor Buzz Churros. Already open is Adorable Snowman's Frosted treats. And while not confirmed, it can be seen in much of the concept art, that there will be some kind of Jack Jack cookie shop near the Incredicoaster.

I've already gotten some "Don't Worry It's Lemon" soft serve at the Adorable Snowman and I am definitely a fan. This shop serves up lemon Dole Whip in cones or cups and I will say that even not being a fan of white chocolate usually, you have to get your cone "snowcapped". I've also eaten the Pixar Fest corn dog at The Corn Dog Castle (a hot link sausage and Cajun chicken sausage, with pepper jack cheese, all dipped in corn dog batter) and while it is supposed to be inspired by The Incredibles, I think they would be missing a huge opportunity if they didn't add that to the Angry Dog menu.

The Atmosphere

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There's no doubt about it, Pixar Pier is going to feature some amazing rides and food that are all going to be new favorites for some of us, but the best part of it all is just going to be the Pixar-ness of it all... Not a word? Too bad!

Seriously, Pixar movies have been making us laugh, cry, jump out of our seats, and cheer since we first saw Toy Story in 1999. But now we have a whole land that will surround us with our favorite characters and make us part of the action. Aside from character meet and greets, there will be other "moments" such as photo-op billboards and just the theming of the neighborhoods themselves.

A New Beginning

We won't be able to visit the new land ourselves until June 28th, but we've already got our reservations for The Lamplight Lounge and we're almost finished making our outfits (let's just say they're "super"). We could not be more excited for this, alright I may be a little more excited for Galaxy's Edge, but where Galaxy's Edge has been so secretive and closed off, I've literally been watching Pixar Pier being built for months. I'm just ready for it to be open already and like everything else with Disney, I'm sure it will be worth the wait!

Since we can't walk around the pier yet I'll just close with this video I was able to take of the concept model and let you stroll through the new neighborhoods at your own pace. Thanks for reading and you can look forward to our coverage of the pier as soon as we cross through the gate ourselves!

We DIY'd our Disneybounds! | Green Aliens from Toy Story

We DIY'd our Disneybounds! | Green Aliens from Toy Story

So in our last posts you guys saw how Cruise and I created our costumes for Kevin and Russell from up for Disneyland's Pixar Fest. Well, we had plans to head out to the Fest again and this time wanted to change up our costumes so we decided to go with the Green Aliens from Toy Story.

Becoming Kevin for Pixar Fest

Becoming Kevin for Pixar Fest

I would like to point out that yes, I am TOTALLY copying Cruise's post, but hey I got pretty creative myself for Pixar Fest and I want to share too! But quick disclaimer, Cruise's post is far more detailed as I did not document my progress on my outfit. Anywho, Cruise and I knew we wanted to Disney Bound as Pixar Characters and I don't really know how we finally decided on Russell and Kevin for our first outfits for Pixar Fest.

Becoming Russell for Pixar Fest

Hey folks! It has been WAY too long since I've written a formal blog post, but we have been very busy with "life" stuff. Brittany started a new job, we've become much more involved at our church, and you know we still have that whole wedding thing we need to plan... Anyway, we're back and I have so much to talk about!

We've been excited ever since Pixar Fest was announced to be coming to Disneyland earlier in the year and now that we've gone twice, I want you to know, it's even better than we dreamed it would be! I'd love to do a whole write up about Pixar Fest in a later post, but right now I just want to share our outfits with you that we wore to the Fest this last visit.

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Britt had been talking about making a Kevin inspired dress for a long time and she even made me a Wilderness Explorer hat to go along with her outfit. But needless to say, I went a little bit overboard and ended up making a full on Russell cosplay when all was said and done! My favorite thing about putting this costume together was that it's really more of a crafting project than sewing. Aside from the sash,  which Britt so awesomely put together for me, the whole costume just took time and a few trips to the craft store.

So I had the hat to start, which meant all I needed was: 

  • A neckerchief and slide
  • A Wildernes Explorer pin
  • 47 merit badges and the sash
  • Progress towards rank skills beads
  • A Wilderness Explorer Flag
  • A yellow polo
  • Brown shorts with a brown belt
  • White crew socks
  • Brown shoes with Russell's signature orange shoe laces

It seems like a lot, but really that bottom half of the list just took a trip to the mall to buy some clothes. As far as clothing was concerned the hardest part was threading the shoe laces for me. I could not find orange shoe laces anywhere in town and I was on a deadline and couldn't order them online, so I bought orange paracord from the crafts store. I thought it would work great, it ended up looking perfect, but it was just slightly thicker than shoe laces and without the nice rigid ends of the laces it was a royal pain stitching it through both pairs. But you can't argue with those results!

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So with clothes out of the way, that list becomes more manageable:

  • A neckerchief and slide
  • A Wildernes Explorer pin
  • 47 merit badges and the sash
  • Progress towards rank skills beads
  • A Wilderness Explorer Flag

Now with the hat, Britt had purchased a patch off of Etsy and ironed it on to a craft store hat. It looked perfect, but how could I replicate that quickly and without having to buy 50 more patches? Remember Russell only has 47 of his 48 skills badges, since he's working on his "Assisting The Elderly Badge" but then you still need two more for the flag... and one for the progress beads... and one for his polo... and where the heck was I going to get a neckerchief slide? My manageable list seemed like a daunting task once more, but it turns out my answer to all of those things would be just one thing.

With just a small amount of Googling, I found these two articles (here and here) of how to put together some merit badges. Both guides involved printing out the badge designs, sticking the paper to craft foam in some fashion, and then adding some durability with some good old fashioned Mod Podge. While one of the guides used regular paper and glued it to the foam and the other used the more expensive foam sheets that have their own adhesive, I mixed it up and used sticker printer paper so the designs were adhesive on their own. I tried cutting them out in two different ways. First I cut the stickers out, stuck them on the foam sheet, and then cut the circles out again. Then in order to save a step, I tried just sticking the whole sticker sheet on to the foam and cutting out the circles once. This second way made the sticker paper curl up at the edges unattractively, so I recommend taking your time and doing the double cut system. I chose to give everything two coats of Mod Podge for just a bit more rigidity and durability. If you've not used Mod Podge before, make sure you use a foam brush for a job like this and wait at least 5 minutes between each coating.

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The merit badges were all done and Britt put together my sash using this sewing pattern/tutorial (this guide is for a small child, but upon doing some research on the Boy Scouts website we found that an adult sash is approximately 64" long and we just modified the pattern from there.) and I just hot glued the badges to the sash. I still needed to make all the other Wilderness Explorer paraphernalia, but as I mentioned earlier, this foam/Mod Podge strategy would end up working great for everything else! 

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The badge designs I found online were perfect (check them out here), but I wasn't really satisfied with the other Wilderness Explorer design files I found so I just made my own. I formatted it all onto one sticker sheet and threw some extra logos in there as well. I didn't recreate Russell's backpack for this trip, but you could easily get some cheap camping gear and throw the extra stickers on for more authenticity. Or if you're like me and just love stickers, they look awesome on anything!

The flag requires two of the large logo badges, a sheet of felt, and a wood dowel. Throw in some hot glue and scissors and you're all set. The neckerchief and slide were even easier. Orange fabric cut to approx. 32"x45" (once again the sizing came right from the Boy Scouts) and a bit of foam rolled into a tube. I added a bit of extra foam behind the logo for durability being worn around a theme park all day.

For the pin on Russell's shirt I didn't even need foam, I had an extra 1" button from the California Adventure Food and Wine Festival, so I just stuck a sticker on it and Mod Podged it to get a nice glossiness.

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Creating the Progress Beads was only tricky because, it took me three trips to the store to find beads that I thought looked right, but that was just me being picky! Throw in some cord, hot glue, and safety pins and you're all set to be a Senior Wilderness Explorer.

Putting this costume together, was a ton of fun, and running around Disneyland as Russell was even better! Like I said, this costume was not really difficult and the supplies are all very common, it's just a matter of patiently cutting out and sealing all of the pieces. Just gather your supplies, grab some scissors and throw on your favorite Disney playlist!

Brittany and I are already working on our next outfits for Pixar Fest and I can't wait for you to see them. It's going to be some of the most elaborate crafting we've ever done, so I'm both nervous and excited. Pixar Fest will be running until September, so expect a whole bunch of themes from us over the coming months and make sure you follow us on Instagram to follow our most up to date adventures.

Until then, "The wilderness must be explored! Caw caw, ROAR!"

 

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Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland

Let me start off this post by saying, Mickey’s Halloween Party was a blast! This was both Brittany’s and my first time attending the event, but I am certain it will not be our last. For those of you unaware, MHP is a special ticketed event that takes place at Disneyland Resort on select nights in September and October. Simple right? A nice Halloween offering from Disney. Well here’s where it gets tricky… Mickey’s Halloween Party is not the same as Halloweentime at Disney, and even more importantly it’s not Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party either (that event is exclusive to WDW Florida). Why they choose to name all these events so similarly is beyond me, but for the record this review is specifically for Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA.

The Disney Villains own the night at Mickey's Halloween Party!

The Disney Villains own the night at Mickey's Halloween Party!

Now while we both had an amazing time there are a few things that I want to make clear before I spam you with photos of us and Disney Villains. First off I definitely would say this event is not for everyone. Many of the things we did during the party were things that could be done during the day without buying the extra ticket. We saw the value in the exclusives and even now after the event we believe it was money well spent. The focus here is definitely on the atmosphere. If you’re not the type of person to watch the parades and stand in line for character meet-and-greets this probably isn’t for you. More on this later.

Secondly, yes you do need a separate ticket to go to the party, even annual pass holders will be shelling out some extra cash for the festivities, and the extra offerings may not add up for everyone. Now as of this year the ticket allows you to enter both Disneyland and California Adventure three hours before the party starts and it even comes with unlimited Disney PhotoPass as well to make the most of your time. For people like us that value doesn’t make any difference at all (our annual passes would let us in for those three hours anyway and we already have the MaxPass feature as well), but for many people that could be a huge selling point.

Space Mountain takes on an eerie appearance as one of two rides in Disneyland that gets a Halloween overlay.

Space Mountain takes on an eerie appearance as one of two rides in Disneyland that gets a Halloween overlay.

If you’re a local without an annual pass for example, or someone visiting who wasn’t really planning on going to the parks for more than one day anyway, it’s kind of perfect. Since most people at the party are there for the exclusives and the characters, I can say from experience that the rides in Disneyland really don’t get any longer than a 30 min wait during the event. You can enjoy all the added ambience of Halloween at the happiest place on earth, sneak past all the crowds for the rides, and even bring home some nice photos all for one price. 

Finally, I should probably let you know that whether or not you are interested in going to the party, it is all sold out for 2017! The dates sold out insanely fast this year, rumor has it that while the prices were raised they did lower the number of tickets sold for the event as well. I was in fact very happy with the crowds and wait time, so I think this may be true. We were able to snag tickets over the phone directly from Disney as tickets were selling out. I personally wouldn’t recommend buying them aftermarket (eBay has plenty of tickets for sale still). I don’t trust that every ticket posted there is real to begin with and while I was happy to pay the regular price, I don’t know if the value is really there to pay double the price. 

Oh no, Brittany is the Evil Queen!

So if you’re still intrigued about our adventures, already have tickets to the party, or just want to live vicariously through us please keep reading, because I can’t wait to share our amazing evening with you! But if you’re bummed the event is sold out feel free to leave us here and I wish you luck in grabbing your tickets next year (I am definitely gonna grab them sooner myself next time as well). For those of you continuing with me feel free to snag a bowl of candy and turn on the Hocus Pocus soundtrack, because it’s time to party!

Our Experience

If you don't take a selfie, did it really happen?

Brittany and I actually spent the day enjoying the regular Halloween festivities before the party, but for a look into that feel free to check out our Instagram feed, I won't be focusing on "non-party" activities in this post. So for all intents and purposes our Mickey’s Halloween Party experience began with us changing into our costumes in the parking lot. For us personally, being able to wear a costume in the park was the absolute biggest selling point of MHP. Of course young children can always dress up as Jedi and princesses in the disney parks, but for those of us 14 years or older it’s usually not allowed. The only thing that is more fun than taking pictures with your favorite villains is doing it in costume. 

Yer a wizard, Donald!

Once we got in the park we headed straight for the back. The event didn’t start until 7pm, but we entered around 5:30pm so we could go to the “pre-party” in Mickey’s Toontown. Toontown closes for regular park goers around 5pm and they basically use it as a staging area for the event. So while most people are filtering out of the park for the day you can meet Mickey, Minnie, and friends all dressed up in their own Halloween costumes!

Two goofs and a gal!

We missed out on Mickey in his Zorro costume, but Brittany was excited to meet Donald because they matched so well. In the hour before the official start time of the event we got to do three character meet-and-greets which is pretty good for a large event like this. We were able to meet Pluto and Goofy back to back really quick because we were basically the last in line for Pluto so as soon as we were done with him, we just had to get back in the same line. Mickey, Donald, Minnie, and Daisy are staged by the main center of Toontown so we lined up for that early, but really if you want to be in and out real fast, Goofy and Pluto are sort of off to the side and generally draw a much smaller crowd. Lucky for me Goofy is my favorite of the Sensational Six!

As the pre-party was winding down we headed for New Orleans Square because we wanted to show Jack and Sally our costumes. Now this is what made the Halloween Party so important to us. The Jack and Sally meet-and-greet and many others are not exclusive to the party, you can do them during the regular park hours this time of year. But for us dressing up was a huge part of it and we wanted to get the most out of our MaxPass photos and meet as many characters as we could in costume. We didn’t plan it, but our purple/black theme matched incredibly well with most of the characters!

We can live like Jack and Sally if you want...

New Orleans Square also had an annual pass holder exclusive Magic Shot with Zero so we did that as well. I would say stopping at the AP photo was really the only mistake we made during the event. The line was crazy long since it was only an hour into the event. When we passed by later there was literally no one waiting so if you’re going to be attending I would definitely recommend holding off until the end for that.

The Headless Horseman rides again!

The Headless Horseman rides again!

The Frightfully Fun Parade is one of the things exclusive to the party and it is really spectacular. I think it probably could do with one or two more floats to compete some of the other Disney parades, but a parade that starts with the Headless Horseman chasing townsfolk down Main Street and ends with Maleficent in dragon form is definitely a step in the right direction. While Mickey and Minnie start the parade off the villains quickly steal the show. Everyone from Dr. Facilier to Hades shows up to bring a little wickedness to the festivities and it is a real treat to watch.

"Roar!"

"Roar!"

Many people will tell you to line up for the Frightfully Fun Parade an hour in advance, but personally I see no reason to do that. Not only does the parade run twice during the event, but it’s genuinely not that crowded. I really believe they did a great job of not over selling the event. We had a whole game plan going into the night because we weren’t sure if we would get to do everything we wanted, but we ended up doing even more than we planned and never stood in a line longer than we expected. We were actually able to sit down and eat dinner and still grab street-side spots only 20 min before the parade started.

As soon as the parade ended we booked it down towards the castle to grab a good spot for the Halloween SCREAMS fireworks show. Calling it a fireworks show is definitely an understatement. Not only are there fireworks and straight up pyrotechnics, the entire castle is masked with 3D projection and becomes the real star of the show, along with Zero and his glowing nose flying through the air. Both the parade and the fireworks are a big selling point for the exclusive ticket, and we were super impressed by both.

The Evil Queen wasn't opposed to taking photos with us peasants!

Maleficent signing autographs and cracking jokes!

As the lights came back on after the fireworks we headed for the front of the park where a rotating cast of villains take their turns for photos and autographs. There’re two areas where the villains have official meet-and-greets with a Disney photographer, but the rest of them will just be wandering around the area and you can very easily stop them and chat and get photos as well. We only stood in line for Maleficent for about 5 mins, but we were also able to hang out with Dr. Facilier and the Evil Queen. The way the villains interact with not only the guests, but each other is so awesome. They flawlessly intertwine movie references and jokes into their dialogue and they never rush you. They spend plenty of time making each and every person feel like a part of the action. I’ve always been impressed by the disney character actors, but the villains really took it to a whole other level for me.

Monster Mashing with Frozone!

By this point in the night we had accomplished all of the “must-do” activities on our list. We even ate some Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake and picked up one of the exclusive Mickey’s Halloween Party Pins. We knew we wanted to ride Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy and Haunted Mansion: Holiday, but since neither ride is exclusive to MHP we weren’t super stressed to get them, but in the end we managed to have plenty of time to add them to our festivities. On the way to Space Mountain we somehow ended up in the middle of the Pixar Pals Dance Party! We promptly danced the night away with some Supers and helped Mike and Sully out with their conga line, but most importantly we found out where Frozone’s supersuit was!

The intro for Haunted Mansion Holiday

The intro for Haunted Mansion Holiday

The Ghost Galaxy version of Space Mountain is much scarier than I expected. Not like terrifying, but gruesome is definitely a word that comes to mind. It’s a blast like usual, but the Haunted Mansion Holiday steals the show as far as the Halloween themed rides are concerned. It’s not just like they add a few decorations to the existing ride, it’s a full overhaul of the ride and even changes the plot to align with The Nightmare Before Christmas. Dozens of animatronics are added to the experience and everything from the famous elevator paintings to the hitchhiking ghosts feels new. Well actually the hitchhiking ghosts aren’t present Oogie Boogie and his sinister presents bring the ride to a close instead. 

We still had about an hour of party time left, but by then we had legitimately done everything we wanted to do and more. So after grabbing a final snack (according to Brittany, the S’mores churro is definitely worth trying) and some last minute photos with “Mickey” we were on our way home with big smiles on our faces. Well I think Brittany was mostly happy with being able to take her Rapunzel wig off.

 

Final Thoughts

Our final picture of the night and we can't wait until next year!

Brittany and I can not recommend checking out Mickey’s Halloween Party high enough. It was the absolute perfect way to spend our first Halloween in California together. We love Disney wholeheartedly and we don’t just go to run around and get on as many rides as possible. We take in the atmosphere, we meet characters, we trade pins, and we just love being there. We also LOVE Halloween and love making costumes so for us getting tickets to MHP was a no brainer and we are already looking forward to next year. If you’re the type of person who just wants to hit all the rides as fast as possible and doesn’t like when Main street is blocked off for a parade, then this probably isn’t the best event for you. While we felt the ticket price was well worth it, for some people, especially if you have a big family, there are many other ways to enjoy Disney and its fall offerings without the extra cost.

Stay tuned for our article on the regular Halloweentime offerings at Disneyland and California Adventure. We’ve already experienced some of them, but we’ll be back in the park again soon to gather even more info!

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