Comments for From Halloween to Alien Encounter: Disney theme parks vary scares worldwide as cultures collide

29 Comments

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    OT

    I loved The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter attraction. I screamed from start to finish! It was wonderfull. Now I never visit the attraction anymore. I don´t like what they did with it and will nurture the past.
    On an other note, Disney Studios Paris theme park is always scary, not only at Halloween. It´s scary to see such a lame park carrying the Disney name. It´s 10x worse then the original California adventure!
    Still hope to see a scary Halloween in the Studio park at Disney World, but for now Universal Studios Orlando owns Halloween (and Mardi Gras).

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    Joey

    1) Orlando should get the Haunted Holiday Mansion. I have heard Disney’s reasons for not bringing it here, and they are clearly not fact checking their information. It needs to come here. End of story.
    2) I went to Not So Scary, and it is for little kids, but stays open until midnight. What I saw were parents dragging their winded, crying kids through the park, when clearly the kids were tired and not wanting to be there. So why not have something scary for adults later?
    3) Hollywood studios would be THE PERFECT place for a Halloween event (they even have studio space to make haunted houses, much like Universal does).
    4) Maybe Disney doesn’t want to spend so much money on 2 different Halloween events. How about utilizing Tom Sawyer Island for a haunted jungle type attraction for older people, leaving the the smaller children isolated to Not So Scary off of the island?

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      Ricky Brigante

      1) Agreed!
      2) I see plenty of kids still enjoying themselves late at night at MNSSHP. With that said, you’re right. The late night hour could easily be used for an event targeted toward adults.
      3) Absolutely.
      4) I love this idea. The ambience (lighting, distant sounds, fog) would intrigue guests on the “mainland” and could offer a more extreme experience for those who wish to travel the river.

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    Monty

    Hey Ricky,

    I love your blog, and in the last few weeks i’ve grown to be obsessed with your blog. I’ve found all the video podcast back to april on youtube, and have been watching them after work. I’ve been listening to the original podcast from way back very slowly, but I’ve caught up to the opening of Expedition Everest. Although your podcast is great and the videos you put up are the perfect compliment, probably my favorite part of insidethemagic.net are articles like this one; articles with a point or an argument. I am well aware of how much more AWESOME the international parks’ Halloween overlays and special events are compared to the stateside version (after all I do listen to your show). However, The connection you make to the lack of scares in general is quite profound, and is a connection i’ve never made. I always pined the Tommorowland invasion of Stitch to the late 90’s infatuation of placing characters in attractions (a la the new “management” over in the Tiki Room). Personally, I was scared senseless by the original show (I was 9 in ’95), but I loved it. The Stitch version is close to unbearable in my opinion… but my little cousins (7-10) love it.

    I would just like to extend your analysis of Disney’s “de-scareification” to non-castle parks. In the mid-nineties, I noticed at the EPCOT Center that the refirb of the Universe of Energy changed the scariest part of the ride. About 3/4 though the dark ride section of the original UoE, right after the famous stegosaurus versus tyrannosaurus scene, a long necked, sharp-teethed dino would swing over the cars from the left. IT ALWAYS SCARED ME. It always scared my best friend and other kids in the vehicle as well. I knew it was coming… but when it would swing over, I would always shrink down and grab on to the nearest parental figure. When Ellen was added (literally, they put the animatronic Ellen in the very scene), the scare was ruined. Looking at the two scenes throughly, it can be seen that Imagineers softened the scene in two major ways; The dino didn’t swing over the vehicles anymore and Ellen was making jokes and puns (bad ones) while the rider passes by. I like Ellen’s Energy Adventure, but there’s no scare. After reading your article it made me think that it may have been taken out to make the ride more enjoyable for kids. Story definitely played a part, they had to put Ellen in somewhere, but I miss that dino swinging over to show us his teeth.

    Anyways, keep up the good work, I voted for you nearly every day for both podcast awards (I missed a few days… sorry). Articles like this are refreshing. Along with your weakly podcast, these article are very enjoyable and informative, and most impressively… they make me think differently about some of my favorite things.

    Thank You
    -Monty

    1. Avatar

      Ricky Brigante

      Thanks for the kind words and your votes. And there are likely many more examples of the “de-scareification” of Disney attractions, as you put it. Alien Encounter is the biggest example, but there are definitely more subtle (and not-so-subtle) changes, like the Ellen one you mentioned. It’s a balance Disney has to find in order to appeal to all ages. Kids crying is never a good thing, but adults being bored is just as bad.

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    robert padilla

    i wish there was more scarier stuff in disney parks. space mountain ghost galaxy is an amazing ride that i wish stayed around longer than a month and half. BRING ALIEN ENCOUNTER BACK! this time just outright restrict anyone under 10 or height to go in and keep those warning sign up. i never got a chance to ride it

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      Dawn Piche'

      I agree, they should bring alien encounter back! My husband and I went to Disney for our honeymoon,in 1999. We went to the Alien Encounter. We loved every minute of it! It was awesome!
      They should bring it back since the “Stitch” thing isn’t doing so well, and place warning signs and only 12 and over should be allowed in. It really isn’t a ride actually, since it doesn’t move, but it was one of the most remembered things to do at Disney! We were contimplating going back for out 13th anniversary, and the first thing we said we wanted to do was go to the Alien Encounter. We are so sad to see that it is no longer there! I wonder if we could get a a petition going if anyone else that loved the Alien Encounter would sign it and maybe Disney would put The Alien Encounter back where it belongs!!
      Signed: mr&mrs truly saddened!

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    Claen

    “a culture where the vocal minority is often heard louder than the pleased general public.”

    This is what keeps scares from coming into the park. You couldn’t have said it better.

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    Alex

    I think Disney should do a scarier event in the United States. One idea could be putting it in a seperate park from the Magic Kingdom. Leave MK for the Not So Scary party, but “dress up” another one of the parks for a scarier event. That way, no one has to worry about bumping into something too frightening. The nights for the even could alternate, days 1,3,5 and 7 could be at MK for the not so scary party, and days 2, 4, and 6 could be reserved for the scary event at another one of the parks. Disneyland could hold the even at CA Adventure and I think it would fit nicely into Hollywood Studios in Florida.

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    Kelsey

    I would love to see some more scarier Halloween themes added to the United States Disney Parks. What I’ve noticed was that Walt Disney World only uses Magic Kingdom for their Halloween events. Why can’t they do a scarier one over at Hollywood Studios then? That park is more dedicated to the teens and adults anyways so why not add a bit of scary to it? If they do it over in Paris why not in Walt Disney World?

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    Livi

    I’m going to Terrorific Night at Paris on Sunday night (30th)!! Really looking forward to it, I also have tickets for Not-So-Scary tomorrow night (28th)! It will be an amazing Halloween!

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    Chris Brune

    Its good to hear this news. I started a facebook group to Bring Disney Terrorific Nights Party to Disney Hollywood Studios.. We have almost 200 people already..

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    Tyr4n02r

    Very nice (and LONG OVERDUE) article, even greater responses. Here’s my two cents. Hear me out…

    US Scares: I am with the mass population on this one I guess, DL and WDW needs some scares. This is the time of year where Universal (Both US parks) and Busch Gardens (Tampa and FINALLY a legit Halloween for Williamsburg, W00T!) really drop bombshells and leave Disney in the dust. And, mind you, because Disney’s current celebration is “trick-‘r-treater” friendly, they capitalize on a large percentage of theme park goers during this time of year. But, there really is not a reason why they can not bring some competition in the scare department. Since Eisner originally proposed DCA to be the thrill-seeker’s alternative, so that seems like a great way to create some scares. I only really see two issues; theming (be it additional backstory or temporary overlays & retiming, but this could be fixed somewhat easily, right…?) and, more importantly, World of Color. The nighttime spectacular is a beautiful marvel, and (finally) brings international crowds to the second park, but… can you really justify either bringing the family crowd around a scarezone just to see waterworks? Or, potentially worse, having a haunted overlay for the show? Just saying…

    Haunted Mansion Holiday: I actually take a stand AGAINST having the overlay come over to WDW, and for only one reason, It’s already available during this time of year. This statement sounds a lot more asinine than it truly is, let me explain. While I am well aware that most family’s go to WDW over DL because it appears to have more (4 parks vs 2) or because it is more accessible (to the east coast anyway,) but think about theming for a sec. Year round, Anaheim, Orlando and Tokyo have the classic Haunted Mansion, while Paris has there own Phantom Manor. Hong Kong will be getting Mystic Manor, a dark ride of similar fashion, but an original concept. During Halloween, Anaheim AND Tokyo convert over to Jack Skellington, and that’s cool. Jack is my favorite Disney character, and the ride itself is great. But, the Haunted Mansion, whose whole premise is a haunted house, loses it’s presense (not including mercy of course…) So, at at least ONE park should remain the original rendition. Hey here’s a great idea! DL and WDW can alternate who has what during the Halloween (through Christmas) season! This of course is purely the opinion of one fan.

    TOKYO DISNEY: Hey Ricky, you forgot about someone…TOKYO… We’re talking about HALLOWEEN and we ignore (or just forgot) the two great celebrations at TDL and TDS. I’ve been to all parks except Paris during Halloween at least once, and personally, Tokyo has been the most impressive. I love HKDL for the scares (trust me, been to two of them, it’s great) but Japan holds my heart for “not so scary” spooky celebrations. The only real “Pumpkin Perks” are the Haunted Mansion Holiday, the parades and the stage shows, but they really are awesome. Tokyo tries to keep one event each year to cement a holiday classic, but changes the parade up enough to provide a new experience. And why not, as Ricky said, they have partners to fund it (OLC in this case) but more importantly, the numbers (and dollars) rack up, so for them it’s worth it. I invite you to pick up some resources to see what Tokyo has to offer. Tokyo DisneySea is not celebrating Halloween this year, but instead, celebrating their 10th anniversary “Be Magical!,” which to my understanding, is ALSO racking in the dollars.

    Alien Encounter: Scared the crap out of me when I was 12, then I rode it 3 more times that trip. AWESOME. And more importantly, it perfectly fit the theming. However, it kinda makes since why it’s gone from WDW. If you want to capture a family market, aim for thrills, which does not necessessarily mean scary (ie. Expedition Everest, Space Mountain, Stunt Shows.) But a couple years back, I had an awesome idea. Send it to Hong Kong! Sure, it sucks for those of us stateside, but at least we get to watch the legacy continue, right? Here’s how it works: HKDL can covert their current “Talk with Stitch” thingamabob into Stitch Encounter, that way he doesn’t lose presence. But during Halloween, the only darker scare in Tomorrowland is Ghost Galaxy (although it has already had it’s day; the had an Alien Invasion once; 2008?) So during that time, convert Stitch Encounter into ExtraTERRORestial for a month (they are practically the same ride with different theming…)

    So there you have it, one guy’s ramblings about his love for Halloween and his love for Disney. Just opinions, but if anyone has any objections, feel free. I think I can defend my argument. Love your blog btw.

    1. Avatar

      Tyr4n02r

      *TYPO:
      But, the Haunted Mansion, whose whole premise is a haunted house, loses it’s presense (not including *merch* of course…)

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      Ricky Brigante

      I didn’t forget about Tokyo, but I had to draw the line somewhere when writing the article. It was already long enough! 🙂 But yes, Tokyo’s Halloween is certainly a big deal!

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    I remember my first time on Alien Encounter. My dad got me on it when I was six, and at that age I wasn’t used to scary rides. Boy did it scare me white! To this day, I still have a minor fear at the thought of teleportation due to the show scarring my mind forever. But you know what, I miss Alien Encounter. I would go back and visit that ride again just to relive those memories! It would also get me away from the always happy Disney theme when I’m in the park.

    I remember my experience on Stitch’s Great Escape too. Nothing like what it used to be! I can tolerate seeing that show again, but I can fully agree that some things need to be altered for everyone to want to enjoy it (or at least teenagers like me) because I can see the crude humor being disliked by many.

    I can totally agree with what Joey (another comment poster) said about having a Halloween event in Hollywood Studios. That would be perfect.

    I enjoyed reading your blog Ricky, I look forward to more of your work!

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    Jackie

    Though I’m not a fan of the gore of some of the HHN houses, I think Disney really does need some more scare to their Halloween events. I’ve never ridden Ghost Galaxy, but it sounds AMAZING, and like something that’s possible for the MK. Also, I completely agree with Joey’s idea of having a “haunted jungle type attraction” on Tom Sawyer’s island. This would be the perfect way to isolate the scares for older guests to enjoy, since obviously scare zones (like HHN) would DEFINITELY not work for younger guests.

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    Diana richmond

    I live in the Uk, so our Halloween isn’t the same at all it’s very much for little ones who just trick or treat but that is not often, no decorating as such so being in Disney and doing Halloween party in magic kingdom was so fantastic and a lot of fun, love Disney any way, just got back from Disney and in 57 days we will be back for Christmas in Disneyworld can’t wait, will be our 22nd time.

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    Mike McGowan

    Great article! My favorite part of ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter was the alien eating the head of the person a few rows from you… CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP

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    Meg

    My friend who seasonally works at Disney World was telling me about how they took out the Villain float in the Dreams Come True parade because it was too scary for kids. Such a bummer :[

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    Greg

    Just curious…how many of you calling for scarier experiences at WDW and DL are parents of young children?

    Just to be clear, I am honestly not a fan of the notion that everything in the world has to be kid-friendly or kid-safe. Far from it! However, as the parent of a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old, I am thrilled that Disney Parks offer not-so-scary Halloween events…since that’s the opposite of what is widely available this time of year.

    I think both options are great, but I for one am thankful that Disney keeps their Halloween events kid-friendly. They can’t be all things to all people all the time. Plus, it seems to be successful for them year after year.

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    Nathan

    I think the problem is namely Disney is aimed at bringing the inner child out in all of us, and in the US it is taken literally. The problem Disney have is more the fact that Universal do an amazing job at scaring everybody and get away with it because they were the first. Over in Hong Kong and Paris, its very different. These things have not been tried by anybody else, and therefore Disney can lead the way.
    However, I do agree, Aneheim and WDW do need to add something a bit more mature. The average guest isnt always going to be a child. I took my grandfather and he loved every second of it, but even at 82 and never experiencing a theme park in his life, he preferred Universal. I myself am a Disney and I get what they are trying to do, but my fear is maybe, whilst they are at the forefront of technology and scientific discovery etc, maybe they are looking a bit old fashioned and might need to bring it into what we all know as present day. Yes, keep the stories, keep the magic, but kids don’t need patronizing and wrapping up in cotton wool, kids today are far more informed, intelligent, braver and adventurous than kids say 20 years ago

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