the only bummer was that it was the night before my birthday - which we probably would have otherwise spent at a family dinner out to celebrate the most awesome day of the year. oh, well. the hub is well aware of my love for all things disney, especially when there's an air of exclusivity. and free. had we not already had our annual passes, admission to the meetup included a ticket to disneyland valid three whole hours before the scheduled start of the event.
we got there with an hour-ish to kill before we could check in. there were really only two options: hop into a line for a ride, or grab something to eat? hmmmm...what to do, what to do? well, duh.
and because the line went faster than we'd expected, we even got to sneak in a stop for some grub. remember the cone-shaped cup i'd been so happy to pick up, and then promptly lost somewhere in the ballroom of the disneyland hotel? we replaced it. yay!
munching on our "chili-cone-carne" as we scurried along, we ended up being among the very last folks to get in line and check in. and although the e-mail i'd gotten encouraged us to come in costume, i really hadn't considered it as an actual possibility. but plenty of others did, and some of them went all out.
a cast member opened a side gate for us, and we all marched up main street towards new orleans square in a single-file line. it was funny to watch the expressions of the tired folks who were exiting the now-closed parks as they tried to figure out why we were going in as they were being ushered out.
even though i know she was just as stoked to be there as i was, the teen tried to play it off like it was no big deal.
our group was led to the outdoor seating area of the french market, which had been transformed for the evening into "club skellington."
there were lots of fun-looking props and displays out for us to look at as we waited for the discussion panel to begin.
we were greeted by disney's social media guru, who came dressed as one of the original mousketeers. she gave a nice little welcome speech and then introduced a couple of the disneyland art department's head honchos. one was a senior designer who'd been involved in the creation of the original haunted mansion holiday display, and the other held the title of "manager of resort enhancement." they were fun to listen to, as they bantered back and forth and gave us lots of insider info on all that goes into halloween-ifying disneyland. from designing and carving the faux pumpkins to bringing a 9-foot gingerbread house to life inside the ride, these guys were in charge of the whole shebang. they called it a "show," and used the term "overlay" when referring to the makeovers that the park undergoes during the holidays.
with the park now closed to the public, we were dismissed to walk over to the haunted mansion and see for ourselves all of the art department's efforts that we'd just learned about. it was open to us for about an hour, and we were encouraged to ride it as many times as we wanted.
it was fun to go through the ride, although we weren't really interested in multiple rounds. i guess now's a good time to share that a free dessert buffet was waiting for us back at club skellington, right?
shots! shots! shots! shotsshotsshots! hot chocolate shots, that is. super duper rich, and pretty stinking delicious.
more treats than you can shake a stick at.
and what do you wash all that down with? ice cold chocolate milk, of course.
check out these costumes. here's ursula from "the little mermaid."
if you've ridden the haunted mansion ride before, you'll recognize this lady as the "ballerina" in one of the stretchy pictures in the elevator.
this dude brought his homemade kermit the frog puppet. yeah.
mice from "cinderella."
and this hardcore fan sewed up her very own "disneyland tour guide" uniform, with the hidden plaid kickpleats in the skirt and everything.
when we finally called it quits on the massive amounts of sugar available to us, we headed out to take a picture with a couple of visitors. i probably should've fixed the red-eye issue in this picture, but it just adds to the whole theme of the evening.
oh, and as for our parting gift? yet more sugar...and a free ticket to mickey's halloween party - a $54 value.
i love seeing disneyland like this, devoid of strollers and fanny pack-wearing tourists.
pretty sweet event, right? oh, how i love disney. and here's their official blog recap of the evening. you can't see us in any of the photos, but that's okay. we know we were there.
after an easy drive home, we dragged our tired asses into the house to find that the hub and the bean had been very busy bees indeed.
i'm never going to forget how awesome all of this made me feel. i am such a lucky mofo.