As you’ll have heard me say a number of times, this trip was my first time in Disneyland Paris for the Halloween season in 10 years, and my first time ever there for actual Halloween. I’ll talk about the Halloween Soiree in a separate article as it warrants it, so now let’s break down Halloween 2016 in Disneyland Paris and my thoughts on each part.
Disneyland Paris Halloween 2016: Decorations
Going in I had seen many photos over the past few years, but nothing can quite prepare you for walking out on to Main Street and taking in the sheer number and variety of pumpkins and ghost characters that adorn shop fronts, roofs and any available space in and around that area. It’s not just the fun character inspired decorations that make it, but also the gorgeous autumnal golden brown and orange flowers and drapes on the buildings and lamp posts, and the band stand in Town Square which in particular looks quite stunning. The pumpkin characters are fantastic though, with one for every occasion and themed specifically to the buildings they are on.
I’m not overly keen on the bigger Mickey and Friends pumpkin head models in Central Plaza, but they looks much better lit up at night, as do most things. Just in the day they look a little plastic and tacky. Speaking of things changing at night, the spooky sounds that have been added to the Main Street loop are quite hilarious and fit in well during the day, but in the dark on a deserted Main Street, they can be a bit unnerving. But hey, it’s Halloween, isn’t that the point?
One area I never spent long in is Maleficent’s Court, for whatever reason. I did make it over there one morning and it’s quite the sight in real life, especially when you walk around to the front and can make out the dragon shape in the brambles. It was smoking at one point but this wasn’t a time when Maleficent herself was there, otherwise it would have been a lot busier. It was at this time that I finally got my photo of the Castle from the viewpoint of the Cinderella Fountain, though the sun didn’t play ball and shone straight into the lens. If I’m honest, I didn’t really take much time to compose the shot either – next time I’ll perfect it.
Over in Frontierland it’s not quite the Halloweenland of yesteryear but it still looks great with all the pumpkin head men who continue the harvest theme, and can be found both on buildings and structures as well as in opportune places for a photo. Again the flowers look stunning and along with the carved pumpkin ornaments suit the warm sunny Halloween season that we had. Speaking of carved pumpkins, Cyril who you may have seen sculpting melons in the summer has his own hut in Frontierland for Halloween, and I was lucky enough to see him in action – the guy’s a genius.
While it would be nice to see some more Halloween in other parts of the park, and especially in Walt Disney Studios and the Hotels which skip straight to Christmas, what they did have worked well, and added a great deal to the Halloween atmosphere in Disneyland Paris.
Disneyland Paris Halloween 2016: Cavalcade
This was the big one, that initially split the online community when it debuted a few years ago, but was very quickly accepted and went on to become a firm favourite. I hadn’t watched a video or listened to the Vive La Vie song since its first appearance in Disneyland Paris, so it was pretty much brand new to me, which is the way I like to experience new things. I got there too late to see it on the first day but was in place to see it on day 2 and wow, what an upbeat energy filled few minutes of unadulterated joy and signing. I say signing because Vive La Vie is a song that 3 days after coming back is still dancing around in my head.
As a parade it has a great mix of walk around characters and those who stay on the floats, all who have their set pieces but leave plenty of time for guest interaction, which is what everyone watching wants.The freedom they are given seems to be at unprecedented levels for a parade in Disneyland Paris as they were busting out some crazy moves and having so much fun, which in turn heightened our experience. Just like the Halloween decorations, the colours of the costumes and floats are so warm and especially with the clement weather, they create a very welcoming festival atmosphere.
The Halloween Cavalcade in Disneyland Paris is one that starts off very pleasing, but only gets better with repeated viewings, and by the last day it became essential to see it every time, and so I did. I even got the Hey…Hey Hey bits in the right place, some of the time. What I really want is an official release of this by Disneyland Paris, like we used to get for every new parade or show. You only have to look at the people singing whilst watching to know that this is a license to print money. We have it, you take it Disneyland Paris….please.
Disneyland Paris Halloween 2016: It’s good to be bad with the Disney Villains
Let me caveat this by saying the very first time I saw this it was fully in French, and that combined with the somewhat out of character behaviour of some of the characters on stage made this seem quite a bizarre show. It almost seemed like a spoof, with supposedly evil characters like the Old Hag raving like a teenager – though she was hilarious, and often the highlight. It was more of a throw all the villains on stage because it’s Halloween kind of affair than a show with any sort of flow or story. I’m almost certain a large proportion of the guests would watch the show just to be in the vicinity of the characters when they came off stage for photos afterwards.
I’ve seen some refer to it as the best show ever in Disneyland Paris, and while I raise my eyebrow at this, it’s obviously a matter of taste, and this wasn’t really to mine. I did appreciate the Castle fountains being used in the background and at night with the Castle it up it looked much better – it was just what was going on on the stage that didn’t tick the boxes for me.
Disneyland Paris Halloween 2016: Characters
Cheshire Cat was the big headliner this year, at least among the online community, and stories of multiple hour long queues to meet him circulated soon after his debut. Not being the biggest fan of Alice in Wonderland I was more keen to meet Mickey and Minnie in their fantastic Halloween outfits, and they were top of my list. How lucky then am I that I got to meet them both on day 1, and then Cheshire Cat on day 2, thanks to some early morning queuing from friends I was there with. My only complaint with the Mckey meet location in Frontierland is that the orange light is wonderfully atmospheric for Halloween, but it gave me a TOWIE tan which I will try to remove in Photoshop!
As mentioned above, the villains met after their show, in front of the Castle Stage, and while it was a free for all, most did seem to meet the characters they wanted. I personally prefer proper locations so that my photos don’t have hoards of strangers in them. Mickey’s location, albeit the light, was great with the jack in a box pumpkin behind. Star of the show though was Jack Skellington and his spooky house over the other side of Frontierland near Phantom Manor. Great setting and interactions that were out of this world, and lighting that didn’t discolour my skin – bonus.
I met Chip and Dale during extra magic hours, and while that was a really fun meet, they weren’t decked out in Halloween costumes like they were on the night of the Soiree and at the Halloween Brunch in Inventions. One character I did want to meet, who was all set for Halloween, was Goofy. he looked fantastic stood with his candy machine but I only saw him once and the queue was way too long for the limited amount of time I had.
All in all I found the Halloween Season in Disneyland Paris to be a lot of fun, and visually stunning. Where does it rank in my list of top seasons? Well that’s another discussion for another time, as is the Halloween Soiree. For now Halloween gets a big thumbs up, thanks in part to the lovely weather, which always helps.