Friday, June 22, 2018

The Early Debut of the Incredibles Paint the Night Float!

Alright this is going to be a short post, so buckle up!

I happened to be at the Paint the Night parade viewing where Disney unexpectedly debuted the NEW Incredibles themed float!!

I was sitting up front with my aunt's daughters, but my mother and grandmother were further back on a bench, where my mother reported a BUNCH of Disney suits watching the reaction of the crowd.

It's a great, dynamic float that fits into the parade very well.  It's also an excuse to excuse Ana and Elsa for a while...

I'm just sayin', is all...

Now, without further ado.....

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Can I use the Curse Word Now? - Pirates of the Caribbean

Hi, everyone!

Again, sorry for the lack of posting.  The blog is going to shift a little.  We're going to be covering current events still, but with more...philosophical posts. I hope what I have to offer still interests you all.

That being said, I've held my tongue long enough regarding the upcoming refurbishment of Pirates of the Caribbean, which intends to alter the auction scene, making it more "politically correct".

My grandfather loved a saying, "I'd rather be historically accurate than politically correct." He was a history teacher, and understood the value of seeing things as they were, not as we'd like them to be seen.

Here is the original article from last year, informing the public that all versions of Pirates (starting with Paris, then Walt Disney World, and soon Disneyland's original) will be getting this "updated" scene. uproar ensued.  Myself included.

Now, just in case you need a refresher, back in the 1997, Pirates experienced a similar refurbishment, intending to soften the Pirates'...antics.  In the "chasing wenches" scene after the auction, the pirates and women were given food and goods, to imply these women were not being sexually threatened, but robbed.

And then, back in 2006, Jack Sparrow was added to the attraction, but no changes were made regarding the potentially problematic issues with the characters.......

So, now the auction scene is being changed, and the Red Head ("We wants the Red Head!") is no longer a piece of...goods, but will be a Pirate lass assisting her male counterparts in collecting from the townspeople to auction off their possessions.

Now, why, you ask, is the Bride Auction problematic?

The supposed complaint from guests (and seriously, I'd love to see the numbers on this) communicates a discomfort at the concept of sex slavery occurring in a Disney theme park.

Alright.  Let's pull this apart.  I'm just going to list numerically (though in no particular order) why this is just....ridiculous.

1. Mental Gymnastics

One of the main complaints is drawing a parallel to more contemporary instances of sex trafficking and slavery throughout the world. 

Why are you making that far a mental leap into sex trafficking and slavery? Now, I don't have a lot of information on the state of such a trade at the time the attraction was built, but do you really think if the company, and Walt Disney himself, had known this was a problem THEN, they would have made another decision regarding this scene? The answer is yes.

And, hearing that complaint, I wonder (and this is more of a general question) whether people understand how old this attraction is.  It's not recent.  It's not intended to reflect NOW. I get the impression a LOT of the complaints about this scene (assuming the formal complaints exist) come from people with some kind of lack of understanding of the attraction and company's history as a whole.

Disney is not "for kids".  It's for FAMILIES, which includes adults.  It's not a babysitting enterprise, it's a STORYTELLING enterprise. THIS is a story being told.  And you need certain elements for a story. The piece of the story the auction fills is that "Sodom and Gomorrah" phase of the Pirates story, if you will.  We're seeing these characters at their highest indulgence, their arrogance.  They need to rise to certain heights in order to fall into jails and drunken gun fights.

And are we forgetting the portrait of the redhead in the earlier scene with the drinking skelton pirates? That's supposed to be her, not lookin' particularly PC there either because the timeline of the story is technically backwards. So, was she always a slinky pirate? Or just a greedy pirate? That indicated she married a pirate and then, seemingly, became one herself.  How is that an oppressed sex slave?

The changes being made do NOT add to the narrative.  It only diminishes that storyline.

2. Let's Be Real...

On the DIS Unplugged podcast, a host told a story from a Cast member friend at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.  A guest asked after the attraction, "Why would Disney show something like this"?

Uh, because it HAPPENED?

You think these were self-aware Pirates? You think these were nice Pirates? I don't understand what people think pirates were like that this astonishes them.  Yeah, Disney attractions aren't meant to be the whole song and story of a subject, but they are meant to at least excite your interest in study and research on a subject.  How can you do that when you're not telling the truth on the subject?

Partially, this goes back to the complete lack of understanding of what Disney is supposed to be, a storytelling enterprise, not just a sweetness and light factory.

A deviation to show my point:
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling told a story about a woman who wrote to her after Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was released, asking to make the next books "happier". And her response to the women on camera was "you might want to quit now, because it's only going to get worse."

What people don't seem to realize is the need for darkness in stories.  Find me a story that doesn't have darkness in it, and I'll show you a story that has FAILED.  Snow White made children in the theater wet their pants in its initial theatrical run. Did parents complain to this degree then? I doubt it.

So here's my minor point I'd like to ask Disney....WHY are you bowing to those who obviously have no comprehension of how storytelling works? Why? Are you all so spineless, that you couldn't give your Cast Members a nice little blurb explaining that? Stories have bad and good in them. You need to see the dark to appreciate the light.

Which kind of dovetails into yet another point in how people seem to be complaining about the scene.  "You are glorifying this behavior".

Explain to me how portraying a situation is glorifying it? Please, I beg you. Does any horror movie glorify the killer/slasher/villain? How does that even make sense?

Which brings me to my next main point

3. Nothing bad ever happens in the movies....

Yes, the sex trade and kidnappings in sex slavery happen in many places around the world.  That's a horrible and hopefully temporary fact of the world we currently live.  But, again, you're making a big leap from this little scene to the current issue we face in the world.

For example, In Back to the Future, let's face it, Biff attempts to rape Lorraine. Thank God George McFly intervenes.  Point being, because a rape is attempted, and rape is still an issue in our society NOW, does that mean we should never watch that movie ever again?

Of course not, that's ridiculous.

And this goes back to the "glorifying" argument. Biff's attempt is not a glorification, it's a plot point. It has to happen in order for George McFly to come to her rescue and seem like a hero.  It's necessary.  It's STORYTELLING.


4. Enough is too much! 

As previously mentioned, the ride was refurbished in 1997 in order to make the pirates less...less...Pirate-y.

And there was an uproar then.  And here we are again. How long are we going to do this until we are singing "It's a Small World" dressed as pirates? And even THEN people will complain about how the song is somehow racist. (I'm serious, I've heard Small World criticized for being racist. Why are people allowed to talk? Why?!)

Again, we're diminishing the story until there is none.  

And I can already hear some of the other history people telling me, "Yes, but X. Atencio said himself there is no real story!" Yes, I know. It's more of a general portrayal than one singular linear story.  This is how good Disney Imagineering was in the 1960s that they think there is no story here and there totally is. This IS a story of the consequences for these Pirates. Dead on a sandy beach, doomed forever to ride a ship as a skeleton, somehow buried amongst your riches. And to the survivors taking over the town, jailed and drunk, pathetic has beens for their crimes against women and property. 

5. Fat-ism?

Now, in the press releases and official statements from the company, we're worried about the poratrayal of women as objects.... but you weren't at all worried about the auctioneer pirate describing the little chubby bride for sale as a ship? Thanks a bunch, fellas! 

And why is SHE so happy to be sold off anyway? Is there an implication that this is the only way she'd get a husband?

I'm just pointing it out, I wouldn't have any actual problem with it, but let's just put it all out there. 

Adding to that, while the little ladies in the background seem scared, the Red Head and this little lady don't seem upset at all.  There is something to discuss about that portrayal. What was the intention? Do they want to be Pirates? Part of the fun is the ability to figure out the deeper potential contexts. 

6.  Picking and choosing.

So, I'm going to have to pick at that old wound...Tower of Terror's transition to Guardians of the Galaxy....

You didn't care a lick when people expressed (and continue to express) anger at the change to Guardians.  And for many (myself included) the issue wasn't just the "contemporary" IP, and the garishly ugly exterior design, but the "Bye, Felicia" money grabs that were themed t-shirts and food to "celebrate" the removal of the perfectly logical theme.

The uproar was shockingly louder than the nonexistent complaints about the auction scene. And, like I said, they make no sense. So why are you listening to these people and not those with legitimate concerns about the overall theme of your parks? 

Not to mention, in the last few years, there has been a "We wants the Redhead!" shirt for sale in the parks.  So, you were happy to profit off the potentially problematic scene just recently, but NOW you're not? Make up your mind, Iger! 

7. A Better Solution let's say this is a genuine problem that needs to be....addressed.  This was the stupidest way to address it. 

"Oh, we have a piece of artwork from Marc Davis showing female pirates". (See below)

Yeah, I also found a piece IN the D23 Expo exhibit of the females sort of tempting and messing with the Pirates.  You couldn't have used THAT? 

Another good solution was to further alter the chase scene that occurs next.  You already messed it up once.  Turn the women around to CHASE the Pirates.  Make them fight back! It's an interesting twist.  All you need is Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" and you have a moment, there! 

8. Rubbing More Salt in the Wound

So....there has been fan "feedback". And what is Disney's solution?

Introducing "Redd" as a character to meet in the parks.

Now, read this "interview" the Disney Park Blog did with Redd:

Now, Disney executives? Are you there? Are you listening? Come closer....


I mean, who proofread this? And I don't blame the writer, this poor guy has a terrible job to do, trying to make this idea palatable. But really? This is straight from the interview.

Are you anyone’s bride? 
M’ only love is profits, dear.

Thank you.  Thank you for making it CLEAR she's NOT a bride. So you need to hit the nail on the head THAT hard? I'm sorry, but this could have been an opportunity to make her cheeky and interesting.  No, instead we're doing EXACTLY what I feared, making her bland and boring but TELLING us she's brave and independent. Yeah, no. I'm not buying it, fellas...

That's all I can think of at the moment.  You want to add to the argument? Want to complain? Make your voice heard and add to the comments below. 

Just a reminder, we've got social media coverage. 

Twitter: @MouseShadowBlog
Facebook: Shadow of the Mouse 
Instagram: @TheShadowoftheMouse

The Instagram is fairly new but we'll build it up.

Have a great week! 

Friday, February 23, 2018

My First Marvel Movie: BLACK PANTHER

Hi, everyone!

I know, it's been forever.  I've had an issue resulting in limited...geographic mobility, and then over the holiday season I got sick. I honestly didn't even get to go see the parks at Christmas, which is a first for me in a long time.

But, I'm back because I absolutely have to talk to you all about Black Panther.

Those who know me, know that I'm...anti-Marvel. Generally, not a comic or superhero person overall. OK, a little bit of Batman, but that's about it.

My recent interest in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) is probably a story for another day (and a therapist), but Black Panther was certainly the catalyst.  For one thing, look at this cast! Chadwick Boseman (who has inexplicably been ignored by the Academy for playing Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and Thurgood Marshall), Oscar ® Winners Lupita Nyong'o and Forest Whitaker, Nominees Daniel Kaluuya, and Angela Bassett (how has this woman not won?! I blame Meryl), Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown, and Michael B. Jordan, who also has snubs on his record with Creed and Fruitvale Station.

Now, even while watching, I knew there was no way to cover everything I felt about this film and all thing worthy of discussion about the movie in one post. Plus, again, being a novice to Marvel, I'm sure I'm going to miss something (yes, I stayed for the end credits scenes, I know that much!).

Therefore, I'm just going to sum up a little, and address a couple of things I'd like noted.

OK.....first the obvious part.  This movie is the story of, and populated by, a group/nation, of intelligent, strong BLACK leaders. This is a bit of an anomaly in Hollywood (I know, big piece of news here). And it's making money hand over fist.

I have kind of a mixed perspective on the concept of representation.  As a kid, I didn't really need it, because there wasn't someone who looked like me.  I look white, but I'm Hispanic. I just never really thought about it as much as it seems other do. When I was 8, I was a Ghostbuster for Halloween, not because I saw my race or my gender in these characters, but because I liked them and wanted to be with them. I don't know where or why my own perspective comes from (but just in case, I'll thank my mom) but I'm grateful to have such a healthy lack of concern.

On the other hand, I can understand why those who feel underrepresented feel the way they do about it. Where is your world? Your perspective? I can sympathize with that.  Frankly, a good representation of the neighborhood I grew up in is Stand and Deliver! (I know, old reference. I'm old.)

While I agree representation is a great thing, I don't believe in making it the #1 priority over story.  I'm a screenwriter.  Story is paramount! And you see a lot of movies come and go trying to be a United Colors of Benetton catalog, neglecting the story.  I feel like this sort of thing hurts the cause.  If you can make a great movie with various peoples, you have the potential to do so much more in the long run.

At this point, I'd like to declare this movie a TRIUMPH of representation.  These characters are intelligent, thoughtful, three dimensional, funny, interesting, and will ALL equally kick your ass.  Even Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger has his own sympathetic side. He's not just a straight villain.  The women of this movie aren't just set pieces (though these are the epitome of beautiful strong black women), they drive the story, and they provide the assistance T'Challa needs.  Literally, Black Panther would just be an eccentric king in a lame cat suit if not for his mother, sister, love interest, and general.

Now, this is incredible for Black Cinema. I think (and hope) this signals a turn of the tide, although I also get the feeling an up tick in "ethnic themes and characters" in mainstream film and television has previously come and gone in waves.  Let's hope this tide is here to stay.  And I'll tell you why....

This is a victory for Black culture.  No doubt. And in what I'm about to say, I am not in any way intending to take that away from anybody.

But this is a victory for ALL people of color.

I've long felt like black representation in film and television is, in a way, a representation of ALL people of color in film and television.  I can only speak from my own experience, but I've always kind of perceived it that way. Any person of color represents ALL people of color.

There is a great flip side to the concept of a black superhero.  Yes, it goes without saying how awesome it is that a black child can go to this movie and take their pick of role models.  But even before the movie was released, star Chadwick Boseman mentioned in an interview that (white) executives in Hollywood told him how excited their kids were to be Black Panther for Halloween.  And he was delighted at that response.  Yes, he's gratified to be a role model to young black people, but the idea we live in a world where white kids can look at a black man as a hero was just as exciting to him. I've seen comments online from people insisting that white people restrict their potential costumes to the white characters, but these people are obviously missing the point. And I have even more respect for Boseman that he can see the forest for the trees.

In the days running up to the release of the movie, it was getting rave reviews.  But there were also concerns that the reviews were so glowing just because it was a black cast and a black superhero.  I can tell you, as a skeptical non-Marvel person who hates representation with lazy story, that wasn't the case.  And to those on social media who insisted anyone critical of the movie is racist, shame on you (though I doubt you're reading this). This film deserves to be viewed on its own merits, and comments like that reinforce the idea that this movie was well-reviewed for reasons other than its filmmaking and storytelling.

That being said, it's a great movie.  Full of action, interesting characters, snappy dialogue, a multi-layered story.  If I got the impression the MCU movies were like this, I'd be more inclined to see them.

At the moment, I think that's all I have to cover at the moment.  Again, if I missed something, I'm sorry. I'm new at this! Please, if you haven't, go see this movie.  It is proof Hollywood can make a movie with people of color in front and behind the camera that is engaging and smart.

P.S. To all the people who went to the theater dressed as characters from Coming to America, you are fabulous!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Life's Like a Movie: Coco (and Olaf's Frozen Adventure)

Hi, Everyone!

Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving.

Let's talk Coco....

Immediately, I'm going to tell you I LOVED it. Loved, loved, LOVED it.  See it, see it twice.

Wait, I have to say more? Seriously?

Ok...well, I can try...

The storyline is fairly simple, little Miguel living with his shoe making family in Mexico wants to be like his musician great-great-grandfather, Ernesto de la Cruz.  He accidentally lands in the Land of the Dead on Dia de los Muertos, as souls are crossing over to see their living families.  In order to get back to his family (his living family) he needs his dead family's blessing.  And I will say not another thing until you get to see it.

The film is steeped in Mexican culture in the best sense.  I cannot stress this enough.  Mexican culture is....a tricky business.  We either look really good or...not so good. And I think Pixar captured the best without overly sugar coating Mexican culture or patronizing it, either.

I read reviews noting that the storyline was typical and you saw the twist coming.  In some ways, yes, but I don't see that as a criticism.  For one thing, I think a lot of reviewers tend to forget they watch movies for a living.  Whether they've studied story structure or not, you get the sense of story structure in a vague sense after awhile and can anticipate certain parts of the story.  So, personally, I think the story was in good Pixar levels of shape.  There was a fair amount of juggling characters and storylines and you didn't feel the pull of one person's journey over another's.  Pixar always manages to intertwine all that nicely.

I think the sign of a good piece of cinema (as opposed to a good movie) is not just a theme, but shading of theme.  What I mean by that, is when a movie is so good, people bring their own themes to it.  Whatever the individual audience member saw, or sometimes what they really needed to learn, fits into the movie.  Coco's theme is definitely about family remembering your ancestors, but there are also themes of the price of ambition, determination, forgiveness, death and faith (in an abstract sense, not in a religious sense).

Here's another interesting thing about Mexican people...being related to a few myself, we're all into humor, and a morbid people (hence a holiday celebrating our deceased ancestors).  Being Mexican and Irish, I feel like I've had an abundance of morbid and funny in my life.  And Pixar movies are always funny, no doubt about that, but I felt it a little more in Coco. And very much that sense of humor that comes with being kind of morbid.  Yes, it's how you make a movie set in the land of the Dead work, but there was also such a range of humor.  Even in moments where the story was really ramping up, things would happen or a character would say something that wasn't laugh out loud funny, but funny in such a real and organic way, I'm not even 100% sure it's the cultural humor that got infused into the story or just a side effect of trying to keep death light...

Pixar, while a top rate animation company, has never been as focused on music.  They've never had a musical film, per se, but this movie is pretty close to it.  Music is, obviously, the focus of the story, and of Mexican culture, so Pixar had to really get this aspect right.  Which....they did. Not only was the music great (despite entries from the Lopez's of Frozen fame- I just think they tend to be a little too "Broadway" for my taste) but also diverse.  The diegetic music (the music within the story, not score) hit a broad range, and the score by Pixar favorite Michael Giacchino, just from my listening, was beautifully authentic.

A few last things I'd like to say about Coco, but I don't know if I can put it into words.  Another thing that made this movie magical lies in its ability to take the traditions of Dia de los Muertos, and MAKE them magical. But at the same time, I don't know that anyone could accuse it of being exclusionary in any way. I read an article by an Asian author who wondered how Coco managed to invoke her own family while she had no prior knowledge of Dia de los Muertos traditions. There is something to be said for that. I'm Hispanic, yes, and while I didn't grow up in Mexico quite this steeped in the culture, there were definitely aspects of the movie I inherently understood by proxy. Certainly, Abuela's use of her chancla (her shoe) as a weapon cracked me up.

And it may be that connectedness that made this movie so special to me, but that's what makes it so special on the whole.

Olaf's Frozen Adventure

Before I forget, the movie was accompanied, not by a Pixar short as usual, but the highly anticipated "Olaf's Frozen Adventure", a 30-minute short taking us back to Arendelle and our friends from Frozen.....if you aren't so sick of Anna and Elsa yet.

In the short, Anna and Elsa realize they don't have family traditions to celebrate the season, so Olaf takes it upon himself to ask ALL the citizens of Arendelle about their own, so he can offer the girls options.  This goes predictably wrong, but with a nice ending.

One thing you should know about me as an audience, I'm an easy movie crier.  I had NO expectation that this was going to make me misty, I just like Olaf. And.....big baby over here got misty. I think focusing on Olaf in this way was the best idea.  He's a great mix of sincere and mentally blank without being stupid and cloying.

The music in the short was just ok.  I felt like it was lip service to the concept of Frozen.  I could almost hear the executives complaining, "But it's Frozen, so there must be songs!"
It's ok.
You can tone it down.

One of my main criticisms of Frozen is that the songs are mainly in the first half of the movie, bloating the first and second acts. in a half hour short, they really could have done with...maybe one song that had verses and themes.  Save it for the sequel, which incidentally, should just be about Anna and Elsa going to therapy for all the trauma their separation has cause because YEESH!

So, in conclusion....see Coco.  See it 20 times and bring tissue.  ALSO, stay until the end of the credits! You should anyway, but you should this time.

See you all soon!

If you have any comments or questions, PLEASE feel free to leave them at the bottom of the page!


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Pixar's Coco in the Parks

Hi, everyone!

With the frost on the pumpkins and the Halloween pumpkin spice lattes now pumpkin pie spiced lattes, I thought we'd take a look at what DCA did for Pixar's upcoming Coco.  What we saw is just so special, it needed its own post.

The preview for Coco is apparently moving to the Bug's Life Theater for the actual preview of the movie starting this past Friday.  I believe, with Christmas (the season at least) upon us, the ¡Viva Navidad! mini-parade will most likely take its place. I hope that Disney decides to integrate Coco into that celebration, they've put such loving care into the props and decorations they have now.

All of the decorations related to Coco were so specific to the film's art, and it was just fantastic.

Besides face painting, Disney had the beautiful Árbol de la Vida, or Tree of Life, where you could leave a remembrance of a family member who has passed. To see all the names and memories, not just in English and Spanish but Asian languages, nicknames and memories.  It's really a simple "activity" that, if you go about it with the right intention, can be absolutely meaningful. 

To see that in a theme park is exactly what does and should set Disney apart. 

Someone make me these....please.

And, further into the Plaza, there is a recreation of the ofrenda Miguel has made for singer Ernesto de la Cruz.

Please note, I'm trying to give accurate information while remaining as spoiler free as possible. I want to see this with as much of a blank slate as I can.

I can't lie, I teared up.  Not just because I'm a big baby who cries at everything (because I am), but it was just so moving to see, for something temporary, the care taken by Disney.

Like in Carsland, the Papel Picados are specific to the film. Those are the strings of flags you see up there.

Flameless candles, both safe and pretty!

Not real marigolds, I checked.

In the gazebo, the two Mariachi groups come to perform at various times in the day.

I didn't get to see the Coco celebration mini-parade, but I got to see the performers head out there!

Also, I'm including the videos I Periscope'd of both Grammy-Award winning Mariachi Divas, a female group (in case the name didn't make that clear), and Mariachi Espectacular, a wonderful men's group.

The Mariachi Espectacular performance was quite long, so YouTube made me post it in two parts, by the way.

So, how did Disney portray Hispanic culture? 

Well, as an American of Hispanic was incredibly moving.  If Coco is half as good as this display makes it look, it will be huge in so many ways.  It will really shine such a positive light on Hispanic culture.  While sitting for both Mariachi groups on two different days, I was amazed at a few things....

  • Hispanic people enjoying the music of their own culture,
  • Children of all colors stopping, and enjoying the music,
  • Adults of all races stopping to take pictures and video as they passed by the performers. 
The response people of all stripes had to the music and the performers was astonishing, and a beautiful picture of what the world is, people being interested and entranced by another group's culture, or their own group, for that matter.  in my opinion, this is what Disney can do and be. THIS is what Epcot Center was meant to do, not just educate people, but to excite their interest. Coco has already succeeded as an ambassador of a culture, and if I could thank directors Lee Unrich and Adrian Molina for this, I'd be thrilled. 

Pixar is known for their research and attention to detail.  The French, wary of outside depictions of their culture, actually embrace Ratatouille to the point where a land dedicated to the film had to be built in Disneyland Paris.  I have always had faith in Coco, but to see it actually coming to fruition has excited more than I even thought it would. 

And I sincerely hope this movie does well enough to warrant a land. I don't think that's asking too much.....

I will criticize Disney where I need to, but here, they've knocked it out of the park. Thank you to ALL those involved in putting the Celebration of Coco together and I'm so looking forward to the film.

And before you ask, yes, I will review the film once I get to see it.  

Have you also gone to Plaza de Familia? Did you enjoy it? Please let us know in the comments.  If you like this post or the blog, PLEASE share it on the social media platform of your choice. 

I'll be back soon, depending on what I can get done in the meantime.  Any suggestions? Questions? Again, head over to the comments here at the bottom. 

Have a great week! 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Trip Report: Halloween

Thought I was gone for good, huh?

Hello, Everyone.

Sorry for the absence.  There have been a series of unfortunate events which led to an unexpected hiatus.  Nothing requiring a stay with Witness Protection, I assure you. 

I know it's a little late in the season, but I'm sure no one would hate a stroll through the Disneyland Resort at Halloween.

Mickey's Halloween Party

This post will mostly cover DCA.  My family and I went to Mickey's Halloween Party early on in September, but I didn't get many pictures.  Disneyland's holiday offerings haven't changed much, and I was there mostly to heard cats....cats being my aunt's three kids. We had the teenager in a wheelchair as Rey, a magpie of a Snowtrooper, and a little Leia who refused to say her line....I went to keep the ratio of adults to children even. 

Like I said, the decor in Disneyland was typical, always nice.  It seems the attempt to step things up mostly went to DCA. And with the Halloween party moving there next year, it was smart to get prepared early. 

And if you think you're getting me on Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy, y'all are crazy. 
It's scary. 
And the 7 year old threatened to ask me to take her on it......

But I did get half decent pictures of the parade! 

Seriously, when it comes to parades, I don't do so well.  Partially because I'm short and people have NO worries standing in front of me. 

Now, the Headless Horseman isn't new, but not pictured (because I'm short) was an added Ichabod Crane himself coming down the street just ahead of the Horseman, seemingly unaware of his nightmare following behind. This was accompanied by a nice little narration. 

Now, I'm going to pause a quick second because I want to talk about Disney using less well known IPs (intellectual properties) in the parks.  In this day and age, when you can just open up your phone and find out what something is, if you're unfamiliar, using Ichabod Crane in the parks (because the Horseman will pop up again later in the post) is a smart idea, and I encourage Disney to continue. 

I think there should be a quota, for every Guardians or Frozen thing you permanently (or semi-permanently) put in the parks, you need to incorporate something like this, or the Three Caballeros, etc. Hopefully, on a similar scale, but let's take this step by step....

The Frightfully Fun Parade is a neat little parade.

Gotta love these vampires.

The man himself, good old Jack Skellington!

The Party did have, as its only offering for Annual Passholders, a special meet and greet with Jack and Sally, which is nice, but so much less than previous years.  Kind of a disappointment.

Baroque Thriller.

Again, couldn't get a good shot, but the gravediggers making sparks with their shovels, just awesome.  
I think one of the strengths of the ...Halloween people in Disney, is their ability to look at what Disney World is doing and incorporate it in a way that works for us.  You're not just copying and pasting a parade, but taking some of the show stopper elements (i.e. the gravediggers and the Horseman) and making them seem organic to the west coast celebrations.

One thing I love about Halloween is the use of Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog.  He might be my favorite villain.  He's got an interesting motivation, he's smart, and doesn't have dumb minions working for him. Plus, he'd voiced by Keith David, so, that makes him perfect right there. 

And the "Friends of Dr. Facilier" are always SO talented! 

Another new addition is Ursula.

Halloween is also fun because it gets the Villains together. There is just such a range in personalities with the Villains, it's an interesting mixed bag.

(Hey, Imagineering, when y'all gonna get on that Villains Village thing in Magic Kingdom? Or a Villains park? Get on that, you have my blessing.)

OK, I'm not a fan of Hercules. I've seen it several times and i just can't get into it. If y'all want, I'll do an entire blog post on it, but let's not get off the subject too much.

However, Hades is kind of cool. I won't deny that.

This large Maleficent dragon is...imposing. 

Look, it's my grandmother!

(Yes, my grandmother looks like the Wicked Queen. And that's the look she's going for...)

With Gaston as a nice little piece of eye candy for the end of the parade.

Cadaver Dans

I won't talk too much about the party (logistics, etc.) since it's kind of late in the season, but the party was fun as always. My aunt's kids loved it.  For the two little ones (Olivia, 7, and Reuben, 9), it was their first time and while they ran out of gas after the parade and fireworks, we figured it would be a one time thing and they're planning next year amongst themselves!

One other thing I'll add, the Cadaver Dans (usually the Dapper Dans) usually perform on the Rivers of America during the show.  They were on a Tom Sawyer Island raft as usual, but were closer to the water.  As we were in line for the Treat Trail, the two little ones  were absolutely entranced.  Olivia asked my mother "How do they have such beautiful voices?!".  Olivia is...hard to impress.

So, that's kind of it. Let's move over to DCA and look at their Halloween festivities.

Buena Vista Screams

Ok, moving onto the main event...ish.

Wait wait....this is Downtown Disney.

OK, this is kind of a prelude.  Even outside the parks, there were nice pumpkin displays like this.  I often do, but we should all continuously sing the praises of Disney Horticulture.

Mickey, Minnie and the gang have adopted a semi-Dia de los Muertos theme this year in their Halloween dress and merch all reflect this cute as heck look. this cultural appropriation? What, they don't have a Mice culture costume? I'm outraged! 


Here is the Oogie Boogie marquee, as shown in the concept art Disney shared at the D23 Expo. And he talks too, which is awesome.

(It's a miracle I got this shot, it was so sunny!)

I kept hearing some mechanical whirring sound though, and not getting the opportunity to see things at night, I was wondering if it was some kind of fog machine. fog. So why noise?

Me confused.... 😖

I wonder what Halloween offerings they have.....

Buena Vista Street looks really nice with plenty of bats and purple banners that coordinated with the bats. I mean, I think it coordinates with the bats.  Prove me wrong.

It's nice, I'm just not sure how period accurate it is.

Mortimer's Market even got some pumpkins.

And this is my usual call to Disney Merchandise.  Can I have these little stain glass banners?
I'll pay! That's a good $30-40 set.

Now, this has to be the smartest thing.....


Whoever said this in a meeting, Mr. Iger, give them a gosh darn raise.

And, they got the Headless Horseman in the plaza.
Again, it's nice to see Disney utilizing their older IPs. And this fits kind of closely into the time period of Buena Vista Street  (like the cartoons in the windows of Elias & Company, but it was hard to get pictures of them).

It's a really nicely put together piece. Is that fiberglass or what?
Can we get an engineer to comment?

Carsland Haul-O-Ween

Now, the big deal since it was announced at the Expo, was Carland's Haul-O-Ween.

And they did NOT disappoint.

First of all, new holiday themed marquee with a scare-car witch. Cute. do hippies feel about Halloween? Because it appears Filmore is down with it. 

He's even got demons on his own sign at the Taste-In.

A lot of the barrels had these nice demonic disintegration barrels.

Even the tops of the light poles have traffic cone/witches hats. I mean, who's looking up there?


Sarge has a nice crop of scary pumpkins.

By the way, I love that Sarge's lawn is just so tidy.

First, wasn't the Hall supposed to open at some point to show Mater's Tall Tales? Or just the Tall Tale that discusses Stanley's founding of Radiator Springs? What happened to that? With the outbreak of heat, that would be a great little AC moment.

Anyway, while I'm rambling, they had these great movie posters.

Deep cut with Escape to Hitch Mountain there...

Got some Hocus Pocus in there.

I don't know what this reference is.  Help.

Love the little scary faces up here.

The not-so-Cozy Cone Motel.

Flo's went with a spider theme. So....I'm steppin' away from that.

Dracula Mater. Lookin' fly...

Dude...Mater...your rust is showin'.

Also, because of the white wall tires, I'm picturing mater as a human, dressed as Dracula with that wrong or hilarious?

Even Luigi's got in the spirit.  He's got orange reverse jack o'lanterns on his leaning tower....

...and pumpkins in his window....

Nice banners in harvest colors.....

And a lovely little Horn-O-Plenty. Or Car-nucopia. 
Is there a pun department at Disney? 

Tin Lizzy got herself a willow and creepy claws on her shop...

Got to catch Lightning McQueen in his super hero costume.

Now, what I really think of as the triumph of Haul-O-Ween is Ramone's House of Body Art.

Full disclosure, I'm Hispanic.

I know, shocker!

Anyway, between this and the Coco display (which is getting its own separate post), Dia de los Muertos is getting such a great representation in the park. Not to mention, they have a display in Frontierland as well!

And Ramone is hooked UP for the holiday!

He's got great little flag thingies (I don't know what they're called. I'm not that Mexican, I guess...)

And this cute as heck car-davera (pun on cadavera) out front was a popular picture spot.  Disney even designated a PhotoPass person.

The car hoods in the windows were changed to reflect the holiday. I seriously would use each one on my own car. The best might have been either this or the Magnolia pattern, but that one was REALLY hard to get a shot with no glare.

Ramone apparently made an ofrenda (altar) to Doc Hudson in his shop. During the holiday, people build little altars like this to their deceased loved ones, and Ramone did an awesome job.

Again, with the nice custom Cars themed flags. 

The details of Doc's life portrayed here are simply astounding.

John Lasseter (or most likely LasseTIRE) signed Doc's degree to practice...medicine? mechanics?

I know it's a Cars themed alter, but it really touched my heart to see the detail and care taken by Imagineering.

Good job, Disney. Good job.

Even Stanley got into the spirit!

OK, the Cozy Cone Motel.  I didn't get to try any of the treats (also, there's only so much pumpkin in the world....let's try to keep it special, people), but the area is also pretty well detailed.

Inside the motel lobby there's an additional little surprise, if you're smart enough to go look...

An homage to Psycho! In a motel! LOVE IT!

Norman Brakes up there in the house..., it wouldn't be Janet Leigh, Marion Crane.....hmm, how do we pun that up? I'll take suggestions. 

And, over at Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, the waiting tractor/cow is now a Mummy cow.

Look into those soulful, murderous eyes...

Both Mater's and Luigi's have additional music tailored to the holiday.

And back in the pass towards A Bug's Land, Red is hiding taking meet and greets as a clown!

Though, I imagine, if you're scared of clowns, a HUGE ass firetruck clown isn't your cup of tea.

Last few notes...

Again, I just had to give another shoutout to Horticulture.  Just look at these flowers! 

Look at 'em! 

Getting ahead of yourself

Ok, I love Christmas.  I really do....but walking through Redwood Creek down towards Soarin', I spy Christmas decorations...

Reportin' for work early, huh there, little paddle?

The lovely bottles are up in the trees.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love these decorations....but I love them AFTER Halloween.

And I get why they start Christmas early. People have Christmas cards to do, sometimes they use the park as a canvas. Some people can't come in December, so it works.

But this? c'mon, y'all!!!

In Conclusion...

Thanks for hangin' in with me while I work out some stuff.  I promise to have more content for you in the coming weeks.  

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