Tag Archives: USA

Why Mickey’s Halloween Party is a must do!

Mention the words “family holiday” and visions of theme parks and roller-coaster rides spring to mind. And as theme parks go, Disneyland is the grand-daddy of them all, even after all these years. So when we started considering our next holiday with a 9 year old who has recently discovered the joys of theme parks, it seemed like the obvious choice.

Going during the NZ school holidays in October proved to be a serendipitous choice. In the lead up to Halloween, Disneyland has special night-time Halloween themed “Mickey’s Halloween Parties” that feature the park, rides and characters dressed in ‘Halloween’ costumes, there are special parades and fireworks, and to our surprised delight, lots of free candy! For an extra $65 for a few hours (in addition to the usual 3 day pass), it turned out to be the best few hours we had at Disneyland. And because we don’t really have it in New Zealand, this was a great way to get a glimpse into the culture (and mania) of Halloween celebrations.

For us, this was an unforgettable experience for many reasons…..

You’ll see Disneyland like never before

Walking around the park after dark, taking in the spooky characters and atmospheric lighting around the grounds was a wondrous experience. Sleeping Beauty’s Enchanted Castle is covered in spiderweb and other scary lighting, a number of rides and attractions are beautifully lit, and there are carved pumpkins and displays all around. And the Halloween Parade as well as the Fireworks at the end were simply spectacular!

There are no queues for the rides

As first timers, we went on most of the ‘popular’ rides as part of the evening, and we encountered no queues whatsoever. We only realized how lucky we had been on the coming days when we visited the park during daylight hours. The sharpest contrast was walking on to the Indiana Jones ride, and then seeing the humongous queues for it over the next three days. Even if you only visit Disneyland for the rides, this is the easiest way to get more thrills in.

Halloween Costumes everywhere

As you might expect, park employees and Disney Characters, and of course the kids are dressed in special Halloween costumes. But this is the only time when adults are allowed to wear costumes as well. The number of well thought out, elaborate costumes we saw everywhere was incredible. The people watching was as much fun as the ‘organised’ entertainment, and most people made at least some attempt to dress up.

Free Chocolate and Candy!

Our nine year old son had never been trick or treating before, so seeing Trick or Treat candy stations and ‘Candy Trails’ everywhere made his eyes light up! The park thoughtfully provided bags for storage for us, and we had a blast grabbing chocolate between rides and events. Most of these were American chocolates that are uncommon in New Zealand, so we enjoyed trying all the different types and flavours over the next few weeks, and we even brought loads back home.

CANDY

Final Thoughts

While Disneyland is fun just about anytime of the year, the buzz and excitement at this event were really special. If I had to do it again, I’d seriously consider just going to a couple of these instead of the all-day visits. Because doors open at 3, you get a decent amount of time in the park in the daytime as well, and the night-time temperatures are so much better in the hot LA region. With all the extra entertainment, lack of crowds and free candy factored in, this event is an absolute MUST DO if you have the opportunity – with or without kids!

LA is awesome – the overview edition

Out of the blue!

A couple of months ago, we were in LA. I’m not sure how we ended up in LA, we were saving hard and planning a 6 week trip to India. Cue Indian elections, the odd riot and suddenly, Mummy Paranoia Mode kicked in – we could go to India another time. Next thing you know, Virgin Airlines is having a sale, and even though we can’t get sale fares for our dates, hey, LA sounds like a great idea. Now we’d never even CONSIDERED the idea of going to the USA – I’d always thought I’d want to go back to Malaysia or perhaps Vietnam. But before I could stop to think, I’d booked the family onto a flight to LA staying 2 weeks!

Anyway, once the booking was done, I was super excited. I LOVE the anticipation of planning a trip, and here was a part of the world I knew absolutely nothing about. I was in absolute trip planning heaven for the next few weeks.

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Here’s a quick overview of what we did.

Week 1 – LA and it’s ‘cities’

I was determined not to do the usual Star Homes and Madame Tussaud’s type touristy stuff. Of course we did touristy stuff, but not THOSE particular ones. And we were all astonished at how much fun we had in LA – hubby was expecting tackiness and crime perhaps, but he was blown away.

We went to museums, discovered some amazing food and shopping, saw our favourite band (ok, MY favourite band) at the Hollywood bowl, went to the beach, discovered downtown LA and had a close encounter with the Walking Dead, our second favourite TV show. We also managed to fit in Hollywood (and the Walk of Fame), Rodeo Drive and Universal Studios – wouldn’t want to miss out on the classics!

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Week 2 – Disneyland

The entire reason that this trip was planned in the school holidays was so that our favourite little person could enjoy it too, and we thought perhaps he might enjoy Disneyland. Unexpectedly, the adults (ok, at least in age if not maturity) loved it too, and we managed to pick a really great time to visit.

We not only enjoyed 3 whole days in Disneyland, we also managed to fit in Mickey’s Halloween Party (so so amazing. Just Do It). We also came away with a massive respect for the time, effort, quality and detail put into every aspect of the Disney experience. The shops are amazing. Not the shopping – the SHOPS.

We were also pleasantly surprised by Anaheim – away from the Disneyfied madness, we found a lovely town centre with great coffee and cafes, a great time at the Packing District and some excellent Outlet shopping.

So if you are wondering if you should go to LA, especially while the prices are low and the kids are young… Go! Now. Just vaccinate your kids first.

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