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.