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  1. #1
    Fun is wherever you find it... olegc's Avatar
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    Just Got Spookier Meetup

    I thought this small and short event was really great. The Parks Blog had a contest. first 50 to sign up would get to come to the parks after they closed to get a sneak peek at how they prep the mansion as well as the park for Halloween - and get a ride on HMH and some dessert. Costumes were encouraged.

    So we arrived around 8pm to check in. Around 845pm we were led in the park by the CMs with green flashing wands to our destination - Club Skellington (normally French Market). there Erin from the DPB got on stage (as a Mousekateer) and introduced herself, told us some of the fun things for the evening, and let us know there would be some neat surprises. She asked a show of hands for who was attending a meetup for the first time. More than half - and I think that's pretty good.

    Then she introduced David Caranci, Manager of Resort Enhancement and Brian Sandahl, Senior Designer for Disney Entertainment Creative Development. Brian started us off with some great insight as to what it takes to build up and tear down Haunted Mansion Holiday. He worked under Steve Davidson for a long time and now is the creative lead on this and SWH. He tends to work with small teams and project artists on designs and show elements. Dave's job is a lot larger. Resort Enhancement is really about ensuring that the guest facing props/show elements/attractions/retail areas are all maintained, plused, and safe for all guests - and put back the way they were found. Brian has worked at Disney for about 17 years he said (maybe more). Dave for about 30 years. (The numbers are vague to me now).

    They went and talked about some neat info which I placed below (some of these are also from the Disneyland twitter account #JustGotSPookierMeetup). Dave mentioned how they always try to come up with fresh ideas - Fortuosity Shop for example is taken over by crows. There was even some competitive banter going on between them as to who has better work done. Kind of fun.

    After the discussion there was a Q&A. Someone asked about any other possible Halloween overlays in the works - and Dave said there would not be one for BVS and Carsland for this year - BUT - for Christmas there will be. Each attraction and store will be themed to that character in Carsland. This will also have a lot of input from the Pixar staff. Also - they said one idea of a Matterhorn Halloween overlay was simply to crazy to implement. They definitely described their blue sky ideals on the creative process. Someone asked about Marvel coming to the parks and how those may work into overlays for events, attractions, etc. Both Brian and David said that it's a touchy thing and its difficult to put Mickey or Buzz Lightyear with Spiderman and try to give it a sense of place and timing correctly in the overall view of how they want characters represented. So for those wishing to see Mickey and the Webslinger, or Iron Man, in the same parade or event - you will probably have a very long wait.

    Brian mentioned that next year is the 13th anniversary of doing the HMH overlay. It will be the year 2013. AND - the attraction will open on Friday, Sep 13th. SO - Brian hinted that it will be a very special opening and that we all should look for a lot of new surprises and things coming for that date. Mark your calendars.

    After the discussion we were allowed to ride the attraction. There are a few new elements in there - so I won't spoil them. You have to look, though. The gingerbread cake house is VERY tall - with a couple of elements on there that make it really fun. We were going to ride again but wanted to grab some dessert back at the patio.

    Dessert included the ubiquitous Mickey rice-krispie treats (chocolate and plain), brownies, chocolate covered strawberries, a raspberry-filled cookie, and hot chocolate chocolate milk shots (very good - almost like syrup). Coffee, tea, chocolate milk. There was also a photo op with Jack and Sally and a brief interaction with them as well (so not just walk up and shoot the photo). At then end of the night we gathered to check out some of the costumes folks came in - some were custom made and very nice. Our take home gift was a candy-corn rice-krispie treat (as Erin said - can't have enough of those ;-) ) and a free ticket to the Oct 2nd Mickey's Halloween Party.

    so here are some tidbits I wrote down. Not too many but maybe something you did not know.
    - they use Funkins plastic carvable pumpkins. One artist designs them all. this year they have them "themed" on the shops on Main St.
    - The loading for HMH takes about 2.5 weeks.
    - Garner Holt Productions in San Bernardino created the Jack AA figure and it was the 1st one designed and built outside of WDI. It created a lot of grumbling within the ranks back then - but now they use a lot of outsourced vendors for bid on designs for attraction elements.
    - 99 percent of the HMH show is stored in mansion all year - they just tuck it where you can't see it.
    -The Haunted Mansion Holidays gingerbread house is the tallest yet at nine feet
    -Brian designed the big pumpkin Mickey on Main Street, U.S.A.

    "[Disneyland] has that thing - the imagination, and the feeling of happy excitement - I knew when I was a kid." - Walt Disney

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  3. #2
    Registered User codewoman's Avatar
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    Wow, that's a lot of pumpkins to design. Don't they have something like 200?
    There are 10 kinds of people in this world... Those who know binary and those who don't.

  4. #3
    Fun is wherever you find it... olegc's Avatar
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    400 on main St alone. about 1000 park wide (though some at the Ranch are real).

    Dave related as to how in the first year they did a Halloween party (remember that one - with the Columbia Pirate Ship - that was awesome) they used real pumpkins. Well - a few days in the sun with water and the smell and flies and mold were not a pretty site. They tried spraying them with acrylic to preserve them but the sun faded those too.

    I don't think they redesign the actual Jack-o-lanterns each year (some new ones crop up - 10 here, 10 there Brian said. Someone always puts more in) but the design changes are more around how they are integrated and reflect the shop on Main St.

    "[Disneyland] has that thing - the imagination, and the feeling of happy excitement - I knew when I was a kid." - Walt Disney

  5. #4
    Registered User codewoman's Avatar
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    Ah, that makes sense. I knew they couldn't be real. Naturally, using them again next year is something I hadn't realized. Duh!

    There are 10 kinds of people in this world... Those who know binary and those who don't.

  6. #5

    That meet up sounds like so much fun. I'm still bummed that we missed it! Thanks for the report. David C. and Brian S. do so much for the parks, and I'm glad they are getting recoginition. We bumped into Brian last year at the Halloween Party while waiting for the fireworks. It was lots of fun to meet him and thank him (!) for all the decorations we enjoy so much. He was floored that anyone had recognized him and excited to be thanked.


  7. #6
    Fun is wherever you find it... olegc's Avatar
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    He seemed like the consummate artist - a little eccentric but loves his work. He did seem to often point out all the stuff that he did (I worked on this, I created this, etc.). I wonder if he lacks some recognition somewhere ;-). What's interesting to note is that all of these key people- Brian, David (who left and came back), Kathy Mangum, Kevin Rafferty - have been around FOR YEARS! It seems though that if someone got their start at Disney in the last 3 or 4 years they would not have the same opportunities - too many other avenues for outsourcing and finding designers and artists for contract work.

    "[Disneyland] has that thing - the imagination, and the feeling of happy excitement - I knew when I was a kid." - Walt Disney

  8. #7
    Fun is wherever you find it... olegc's Avatar
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    one bummer - no group shot like other meetups. I think it was too dark

    "[Disneyland] has that thing - the imagination, and the feeling of happy excitement - I knew when I was a kid." - Walt Disney

  9. #8
    Fun is wherever you find it... olegc's Avatar
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    The blog just posted a summary of the event. CLICK HERE.

    "[Disneyland] has that thing - the imagination, and the feeling of happy excitement - I knew when I was a kid." - Walt Disney

  10. #9

    That was an enjoyable read Olegc. Thanks for the report.


  11. #10

    Very interesting and really enjoyable. Thanks so much for letting us experience it through your eyes.


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