• Heather Anne

Disney's Happiest Haunts Tour is Spooky Family Fun

Updated: Apr 10


Disney's Happiest Haunts Tour at Disneyland in California is a 2 hour guided Halloween themed tour that takes you around the entire park . You start at Tour Gardens at the beginning of Main Street next to City Hall. Then you head to the Opera House and the Main Street Cinema. From there you travel through Adventureland, New Orleans Square, Frontierland, Fantasyland and again back down Main Street.


This article is ©2017 Heather Anne at Heather Anne Art and Soul. All rights reserved. See my copyright notice here.

Our "Plaid" (as Disneyland tour guides are affectionately called) took us on a mesmerizing journey with tales of Disney history such as the creation of the Haunted Mansion, scrapped projects such as the Museum of the Weird designed by Rolly Crump and Yale Gracey and the story behind the Ray Bradbury Tree named after author and Disney legend Ray Bradbury. (I bet some of you didn't know that Ray Bradbury is a Disney legend. That would be a good research project!)

You get this super cool V.I.P. lanyard to wear so you feel important and make people wonder why you're being escorted by a Plaid. I could see the gears in their minds turning as guests stared hard at us walking by, scanning our group, hoping to see a famous person in our entourage. I had never taken a tour in the park before and I didn't realize that we would be gawked at so much.

Look at my clever use of filters and frames to distract you from the fact that a big lock of hair had been blown over my eye by the wind. Of course it was the only photo I took with my super cool V.I.P. lanyard, so I had to include it. MUST. CHECK. PHOTOS. AS. I. GO.

See how I centered the word "Tour" right in the middle of my head so it looks like a princess crown? Yeah, that was totally by accident but I love the effect!

These are my amazing friends who bring loads of pixie dust into my life. My friend Javier Soto here is a Guest Artist for Disney theme parks. You can see his work in the vault inside the Disneyana art gallery on Main Street quite often. If only the staring people knew...

Going on tours like this with him is fun because he knows his Disney history and his geekery surpasses mine. Hard to believe it but, it does. That's his adorable wife Johana next to him, and in the back are my friends Nicole and Dani. Javier has the longest arms of all of us, so he is our dedicated group Selfie King.

You can check out his website jjsotodesigns.com He does appearances at Disney events like D23 and artist signings at Disneyana and Off the Page. He also does signings at Comic Con. And ya know... he hangs out with me and fills in the gaps in my Disney geek knowledge. Gives me homework assignments... and quizzes.

Even though the tour is a bit over two hours long, our Plaid Katrina was so engaging and in character, it felt like only half an hour had gone by when we were finished.

Disney uses technology really well in this guided tour. Every guest wears an ear piece connected to a listening device so your guide's voice is projected straight to your ear. Katrina did not have to yell over the noise from crowds and everyone was able to hear her comfortably.

They also incorporate music, so while you walk from place to place you hear themes from the Nightmare Before Christmas movie, songs from the Haunted Mansion and songs from classic Disney animated features.

At some stops, you get to hear Walt himself and famous Imagineers like Rolly Crump talking about the formation of attractions.

This the Ray Bradbury tree, a Halloween favorite for serious Disney geeks. Ray Bradbury is of course an important American author who wrote classic novels such as "Something Wicked This Way Comes" and "Fahrenheit 451." He was a personal friend of Walt Disney and he wrote the storyline for what would become the Spaceship Earth attraction at Epcot. This tree was based on Bradbury's fantasy novel "The Halloween Tree." It was dedicated to Ray Bradbury in 2007, and fans like myself affectionately call it the Ray Bradbury Tree.

Our guide shared some in depth history of Ray Bradbury's relationship with Walt and his influence on Epcot.

About halfway through the tour, they give you what Disney calls a "comfort break." Their clever euphemism for letting people go to the bathroom and eat before they get "hangry" cracked me up. (Hangry= angry because you're hungry and want to bite someone.)

Jack showed up with black rose cake pops for the group (included with your tour.) Since I have celiac and would shrivel up into a black rose myself if I eat that gluten filled cake, I received a voucher to get a gluten free candy at the candy shop later. Did I take a photo of the actual cake pops? No, because I too busy thinking about my annoyance that I cannot eat the gluten filled cake pop, but isn't the purple lined basket pretty?

In this little corner near Big Thunder Railroad and what will be one of the entrances to Galaxy's Edge (which I will forever call Star Wars Land because I like that name better and I called it that for such a long time before they released the actual name), Katrina told us the legend of the Headless Horseman, which is based on the 1820 short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving. She was so animated, she captured everyone's attention in the group and we were spellbound by her expert story telling. Isn't so adorable? Katrina was Disney magic personified.

The Happiest Haunts tour ends back where you started, at the Tour Gardens. When we arriived these lamps had been set out for us and we were told a fun spooky story about Hitchhiking Ghosts.

Then you get to enter a secret chamber that says "Cast Members Only" on the door. Inside that chamber were Hitchhiking Ghosts from the Haunted Mansion attraction. We got to take these funny pictures that made my hair glow, but not in a pretty singing Rapunzel way. This was more like a siren coming up from the depths of a black lagoon creepy Halloween glow.

Look at my eyes! When we entered the room, everyone's eyes looked so evil and scary!

See... it's not just me who looks like a creepy glowing creature. My friends look creepy, too! Look at our Cheshire Cat grins! No need for teeth whiteners.

The last thing on the tour is the parting gift. We were given this beautiful pin shaped like a key.

For this picture my hair wasn't crazy so I did not have to employ the clever use of filters and frames to hide wind blown nutty hair. Sometimes I get it right on the first try.

Disney's Happiest Haunts Tour was one of the most memorable things I've done at the parks. I think that our guide Katrina was a huge part of that because she was so in character and such a crafted story teller, but the way the tour is organized, I think even with a less skilled Plaid, it would still be a great experience.

I think they are all booked up for this season. We scheduled way in advance. If you don't make it this year, see you next year because this is one Disney experience I will be repeating!

To book a tour, go to Disneyland's website. Look here, I even put the link for you!

https://disneyland.disney.go.com/au/tours/


This article is ©2017 Heather Anne at Heather Anne Art and Soul. All rights reserved. See my copyright notice here.


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