In a recent post, I mentioned that there was something special I wanted to share with you all concerning the Haunted Mansion’s 50th anniversary. Well, Mother Duck and I recently took a trip to Disneyland! We originally had no intention of going this year, but once I heard they were having a special event planned celebrating the Haunted Mansion turning half a century old, I couldn’t resist! We had a two-day trip, and I’m going to be talking about both of our days in a 3-part post, after which I’ll discuss food and rides, just as I did last year and the year before that!
Before I continue with all the spooky details, I do want to mention that something really creepy happened during our bus ride to the hotel. If you’re curious, I’ll be writing a separate post letting everyone know what happened. If you’re considering a trip of your own to Disneyland, this post might also be helpful in providing a valuable safety warning.
To start off, how about a little background info? The Haunted Mansion anniversary party was on August 8 and 9 from midnight to 4 AM. Tickets were $300 per person. Very expensive, yes, but you only live once. One perk of the event was early access to Haunted Mansion merchandise. What happens is you submit a form telling Disney which items you want from their catalog, some of which are limited edition. Then there is a raffle to make sure everyone gets an equal chance. I ended up getting everything I wanted, a Madame Leota Funko, a painting called The Disembodied by Disney artist Joel Payne, and a limited edition pin for the event, of which only 999 were made. (All of these things are now being sold on eBay for significantly more than I paid.)
We chose the second night, August 9, as it’s the official 50th anniversary. As we awaited our flight early August 8, we met a fellow Haunted Mansion fan (this fact evident based on her Madame Leota t-shirt). She talked about how she attends all sorts of Disney events like this and also informed us that they would start selling limited time, Haunted Mansion-inspired foods on August 9 all throughout the park.
The plane taking us to SNA was old and rickety and made weird banging noises from time to time, so I was pretty glad when we arrived at the airport intact. Though we were staying at the far cheaper Tropicana Inn, we took the bus to the Disneyland Hotel to check in to the event and pick up our items. We were instructed to enter a part of the hotel we had never been in before, going upstairs where we entered a large, dimly lit room with the stretching portraits on the back wall and a room with photo ops beyond. Rather, we had to go left to a recreation of the Mansion’s front exterior, where a rather serious woman stood. She had us pass through a long ominous hallway before we entered the room to check in, where a Cast Member put purple wristbands on us and gave us other various goodies, including a brochure about the event, a badge to wear around our necks, a Haunted Mansion tote bag, and a Madame Leota paperweight (also now being sold on eBay for exorbitant prices).
Now, to be honest, this whole process, more to be explained soon, was very disorganized, and there was no apparent rhyme or reason to where we needed to go. Fortunately, Cast Members were always available to guide us, but it was confusing, nonetheless. We entered the room where you could purchase last-minute merchandise, where we aimlessly wandered until we found the line to pick up what we had pre-purchased. Then small groups were brought to stand in a corner of the previous room. Then we were brought to another corner, before eventually being brought into a large room filled with long tables and surrounded by huge black curtains from floor to ceiling.
After receiving my items, we decided to get my picture signed by the artist. Once we had located our next location, we spent about 20 minutes waiting in line until 11, after which people started being let into the room a few at a time to get a maximum of two items signed for free. The guy who brought me into the room made a joke about my Crocs, saying they were Captain Hook’s favorite type of shoes. (Come to think of it, wouldn’t they be his least favorite type of shoe….)
It was here that we met Joel Payne, who was a super nice guy. He signed both the front and the back of my picture, and we got to have several photos taken with him. Definitely one of the biggest highlights of the event. After this, we headed back to the room with the photo ops. Though we are not normally the kind of people who like having our picture taken at these sorts of things, the event provided us with a free MaxPass to enjoy that day, so every picture the camera people took, we got to download later for free. My favorite was our picture in front of the Haunted Mansion attraction poster where we mimicked the pose of the Hitchhiking Ghosts.
Finally, it was time to check in to the Tropicana Inn, so we made the trek through Downtown Disney, stopping once to get a few treats at my favorite macaroon place, Kayla’s Cakes. They didn’t have strawberry shortcake today, but I did get Belgian chocolate and s’mores. We also saw the artist who signed my picture at one point running through Downtown Disney. Not sure where he was headed in such a hurry, but he waved at us as he went by.
Now, in past trips, we always stayed at the Disneyland Hotel because they were offering discounts for Dapper Day. This was our first time in over ten years staying in a hotel on Harbor Boulevard outside of Disney property. The first thing that shocked us after passing through security was the sheer number of security guards and police dogs patrolling the span of walkway between Downtown Disney and the main road. The second surprise came in the form of a man shouting profanities at several women at a bus stop just before reaching our hotel. Just gonna say now…though the Tropicana Inn is a perfectly nice hotel, I don’t think I’ll ever stay at a hotel outside of Disney property ever again. It might cost more, but it’s a lot safer.
Our day at Disneyland was otherwise uneventful. Our first ride was Peter Pan, in the queue of which I ate my now very melted macaroons. They were delicious, as usual, even if I regret not eating them sooner when they were still chilled and relatively mess-free. After that, we headed to the recently opened Galaxy’s Edge. I wasn’t sure what to expect because people online either say it’s great or disappointing. Well, now that I’ve been there, I would have to agree with the former group, as it really does feel like you’re on another planet. My biggest complaint would be how big it is because there are some areas where there isn’t much to see. We didn’t even go in the left half of the land because there doesn’t seem to be much there at the moment, considering the second ride is not yet open.
There were several highlights of Galaxy’s Edge, one being the Storm Troopers walking around and another being the huge Millennium Falcon, clearly one of the most iconic things from the Star Wars franchise. And yes, we did try the blue milk everyone talks so much about. At first, we thought it was kind of weird, but we quickly got used to it and found it to be a refreshing beverage indeed. After that, we ended up eating at Docking Bay 7, which seemed to be the best place for food.
We never ended up getting to check out the new ride, Smuggler’s Run, however, because the wait times stayed at 45 minutes and longer. (We’re usually pretty good about never having to wait for more than 30 minutes in line at Disneyland. We’ve got a pretty solid strategy down at this point.) We also heard that Smuggler’s Run was rougher than Star Tours, which also made us less willing to wait in line for too long.
After eating lunch at Docking Bay 7, we tried to keep our activities generally to a minimum, as we wanted to save certain rides for our upcoming event and day two of our trip. We did, however, check out two new things that we had never done before, the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough and the Casey Jr. Circus Train, where we sat in the cage labelled Monkeys.
The other says Wild Animals, but aren’t monkeys wild animals, too?
Our last order of business was checking out the Haunted Mansion exhibit that evening (in the same building as Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln), after which we ended up leaving the park to get some rest before the event. And this, foolish mortals, is where I must leave you, as that won’t be until part two….
Hurry back… Hurry back…