Theme Park Bits: Disneyland Holiday Updates, Halloween Horror Nights 2020, And More

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Salivate over the holiday foods at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
  • Take a look at ride footage of an early iteration of an old Disney thrill ride.
  • Prepare for 2020 Halloween Horror Nights.
  • And more!
  • It's the holiday season officially at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. The Christmas season began anew there on November 8, and that means a whole lot, including food. Of course, both theme parks have you covered — in Anaheim, you can check out the Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure, and in Orlando, there's Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom. The Disney Parks Blog has guides to each event, and the food at each of them looks pretty mouth-watering. I can't say much about the Orlando event, but I've been to the Festival of Holidays before, and can't highly recommend enough the Chorizo Fundido. It's the best.

    At the aforementioned Festival of Holidays, it's not just about trying out food and drink of all kinds. You can also experience lots of live entertainment, from holiday concerts to enjoying a swing-style jazz band, to an all-new character celebration called Mickey's Happy Holidays. This new event happens twice daily throughout the holiday season, and there will plenty of beloved characters dancing to high-energy music. Low-energy dancing would be...well, memorable, but probably not within the holiday spirit.

    But the holiday celebration at the Disneyland Resort doesn't end in Disney California Adventure. Over at Disneyland Park, one of the most memorable sights of the season can be found at It's A Small World; its nighttime display of holiday lights is genuinely unforgettable. But this season, it's not just about the sights — it's also about the smells, three new scents to be exact. In three of the show scenes, you'll be able to smell some country-specific scents that tie into the holidays, from cherry blossom to cinnamon. No better way to spend part of your trip than enjoying this holiday classic (I mean it).

    Let's head over to Walt Disney World for our next couple of stories, and we're steering away from the holiday chatter for now. You may recall that, for a few years in the mid-1990s, one of the hopeful marquee attractions in Tomorrowland was Alien Encounter, a theater-in-the-round attraction in which guests were "unwilling" participants in watching a horrific, bloodthirsty alien attempt to gobble them up. Even though the version that people know was fairly dark, it was originally much darker. You can see that now for yourself in this unearthed video of the earliest iteration of the attraction, where the storyline ended differently. Imagineers retooled the attraction, but it's fascinating to see this finally make its way into the public eye.

    Moving over to Disney's Hollywood Studios, this now-30-year old park is always getting a facelift of some kind. Though it's true that a good Disney theme park is never truly finished, and that revisions are part of the business, DHS has gone through...well, a lot of revisions, much more so than even Epcot or Disney's Animal Kingdom. Though the park's name has been Disney's Hollywood Studios for over a decade, it's just now had an update to its signage, as displayed here. The new signage and font are, as you can see, pretty stripped down and spare. It's effective, even though it's not exactly as striking as other park titles. Maybe this one will stick.

    We'll wrap up today's column in Orlando, but specifically at Universal Studios Orlando. And this, yes, is a holiday-focused bit of news. But don't worry, it's not about Christmas or Thanksgiving or Hanukkah. No, it's about Halloween. I know, Halloween just ended, but Universal is already thinking about next year, which is why they've announced their dates for Halloween Horror Nights 2020. What's more, next year's 39 nights, from September 10 through October 31, are a celebration of the overall event's 30th anniversary. So even if it may not seem like the right time of year yet, get ready for some spooks next year.