The age old question that has divided Disneyland Paris fans for quite some time now is “Christmas or Halloween?”. This reviewer will try to avoid angering either camp but one of the highlights on the Disneyland Paris events calendar each year is the Halloween party that takes place annually on October 31.
- This year saw several changes including increased prices for guests as well as tickets being available right up to the day of the event.
- General improvements were made to the logisitics of the event starting at wristband distribution. Guests had the opportunity to pick up wristbands for the event from Main Street station, ticketing or hotel reception depending on the guests’ individual situation. Even better still, guests arriving just for the party were given their wristband directly after scanning their tickets at the turnstiles. This provided for a hassle free entry to the party and it is excellent to see that Disneyland Paris is learning from the mistakes of the past.
- Park entry began at 5pm despite the party beginning at 8.30pm, thus allowing party guests to enjoy the park including an earlier than usual showing of Disney Illuminations! Although this is unchanged from previous years this brings extra added value to party goers that do not have an annual pass or a day ticket for the park.
- Once ushered through the backstage of Main Street USA and having arrived in Discoveryland guests were able to roam the park freely. Guest flow was organised and helpful further adding to the relaxed atmosphere of the party. After the 6.40pm showing of Disney Illuminations! Guests were required to show their bracelets to gain entry to any of the lands.
- The park’s attractions remained open during the transition from park day to party night which was also a big plus. It may seem like a simple task but in reality it is quite complicated to ensure a prompt transition between the two different types of guests in the park. This was carried out in a quick and painless manner and the only complaint that could be made would be in the less accurate than usual indication of wait times at the entrance to attractions (reports of Big Thunder Mountain showing 55 minutes wait when it was 15 minutes in reality at park closing and later in the night showing 20 minutes when it was really 45 in reality).
- The highlights of the evening included a special version of the Halloween cavalcade featuring the Disney villains. Notable additions included King Richard, the sheriff of Nottingham, Gideon and Foulfellow to name but a few. In the year of Mickeys 90th birthday it felt right to have Mickey and friends on the lead float guided out by the bride and the spooky phantom on the new-for-2018 float “Mickey’s Illusion Manor”. There may not be a whole new selection of floats for this version of the parade but there is enough new choreography, characters and atmosphere for this to feel like a whole new experience.
- The general atmosphere of the evening is really the strongest point of the party. From spooky projections on the castle, to an epic reworking of the villains show, to spooky music around every corner the whole park transformed in the blink of an eye. More surprises were to be had with some awesome projections onto Big Thunder Mountain itself which may not indicate anything special coming in the future but allowed Disneyland Paris fans to dream of a fantasy scenario where a Fantasmic-like show graces the Parisian resort.
- Buildling on the success of last year the laser show returned this year but this time instead of Buzz Lightyear taking to the stage the cast of Big Hero 6 finally made their first appearance as an ensemble cast. The story starts out well with Hiro presenting Baymax to everyone and then takes a bit of an unexplained twist by cutting to Yokai playing with lasers who is then replaced by two samurai who play with lasers themselves. A simple voice-over here would have helped tie this into a coherent story but it finally came back on track when Yokai traps all of Baymax’s friends leaving it up to Hiro and (flying) Baymax to save the day. The show was very good showing great promise to be something truly great with a bit more work fitting perfectly into the futuristic setting of the Videopolis theatre.
You can watch the full Big hero 6 show here:
- Castle Stage hosted a fun special Disney Villains show, « Rock on with the Disney Villains », with special mention to Dr. Facilier and his flaming Guitar and a special appearance by Mickey – in his classic outfit.Also watch the full show here:
- Adventure Isle hosted some spooky inhabitants for the evening which provided more laughs than frights. It is understandable that this may not be to younger guests tastes but it was clearly marked in the programme as a spooky event with Cast Members warning younger guests at the entrance. There is potential here but it was quite possible to walk around Adventure Isle and not be spooked at all. In fact it was highly likely to be following some of the scary characters in order for them to notice you. This attraction proved to be incredibly popular and this may provide an explanation as to why the general atmosphere felt slightly underwhelming. Too many guests waiting to be scared by a handful of ghostly inhabitants.
The party was not without its criticisms, character fans may feel let down by the lack of unique opportunities to strike a pose with some more unique characters or even have beloved characters don new outfits or the incredibly long lines to meet villains present almost all year round.
Attractions fans may feel irked by the long wait times despite being a hard-ticketed event. If guests were not ready to take to the dance floor the three dance parties organized would not tickle guests fancies although it was interesting to see the characters take to the DJ box for two of these parties which gave character fans a bit more interest into this sort of event.
All in all Disneyland Paris has shown that it is able to hold its own in a season where attention seems to be concentrated on the American parks who put all their Halloween offerings behind a paywall. There was more than enough here to see and do to merit the 2am closing time. Disneyland Paris has some really solid ideas to build on and I for one cannot wait to see what they will come up with next year!