Disney Bridges The Cultural Divide: Tokyo And Paris Resorts Create Spectacular Halloween Events This Fall

BURBANK, CA, September 20, 2004 – Bon Sang! Bikkuri! Halloween in Paris? Tokyo? Ask any native of those regions and they will tell you that less than 10 years ago, Halloween was non-existent. But that did not stop the Disney Imagineers and entertainment specialists from producing elaborate Halloween events in those countries that today are one of the biggest drivers of visitation to the Disney resorts.

“Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is committed to bringing the best of our entertainment to new audiences around the world,” said Jay Rasulo, President of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “The phenomenal success of Disney’s Halloween celebrations across the portfolio of worldwide multi-park resorts shows why investment in ‘memory-makers’ beyond the traditional theme park entertainment offerings continues to be a top priority.”

“Creating Halloween celebrations in Tokyo and Paris really gave us an opportunity to push the envelope creatively and offer new reasons for people to celebrate with us in the fall,” says Steve Davison, creative director for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “In Tokyo, where Disneyland is perceived of as a Western park and Americana is celebrated, we introduced elements of a traditional U.S. Halloween with ‘trick-or-treating’ and Guests dressing up in costumes. In Paris, we created a mythology – the Mystery of the Pumpkin Men – and the Guests really love it. It’s humorous and interactive, and was invented completely from the imaginations of the Disneyland Resort Paris entertainment team.”

So why create a holiday where it didn’t exist before? In Japan, the only time Halloween was celebrated was reportedly on the American military bases in the 1970s, and although retailers tried to sell spooky merchandise and candy in the 1980s and 90s, Halloween did not take off in Japan until the Tokyo Disney Resort started to make waves with their celebration. Likewise, in France Halloween was considered “an American tradition” (although the original Celtic holiday was created in France centuries ago), and didn’t really take off in the country until the late 1990s, thanks in part to Disneyland Resort Paris’ efforts to make it popular again.

Despite these barriers, the Resorts were looking for ways to add new entertainment and storylines to delight Guests – which is part of the overall strategy of every Disney theme park. In Paris, the timing for a Halloween celebration worked well as it coincided with a two-week school holiday. In Tokyo, the entertainment team was charged with creating a unique event during the traditionally slower fall season that would resonate with a culture that craved new experiences.

At the time Tokyo and Paris were creating their Halloween line-up in the mid-1990s, the Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida were just beginning to offer their first-ever Halloween festivities. In 1995, Disneyland developed Mickey’s Halloween Treat and since then, the Disney domestic parks have enhanced their Halloween activities with Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion Holiday – a very popular Guest-pleaser now in its fourth year, and Walt Disney World’s coveted Mickey’s Not-So-Scary-Halloween – in its eighth year – which gives parents with young kids a “not-so-scary” alternative to the more edgy Halloween celebrations. In addition, the Disney Cruise Line started to offer their “spirited” activities with ship-board entertainment and ‘trick-or-treating.’

All of the Disney theme parks and resorts are now looking to include Halloween in their fall/holiday activities with more entertainment than ever before – giving Guests another reason to return to the parks.

Tokyo Disneyland: Disney’s Halloween
Six years ago, Halloween was a one-day event at Tokyo Disneyland – today, the holiday is called Disney’s Halloween – a two-month long celebration that will include a whole new element beginning September 15, 2004 – Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare, the popular attraction from Disneyland in Southern California. This attraction transforms the world-famous Haunted Mansion attraction with characters from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and depicts a holiday season that is being taken over by Jack Skellington and his friends. To help create buzz for the new attraction, Buena Vista Home Video will release the Tim Burton film, as well as the Haunted Mansion movie, to coincide with the opening.

In addition, Tokyo Disneyland will feature a special Halloween parade, decorations, “trick or treating,” a stamp rally, special merchandise and much more. The Disney Stores in Japan will support the park’s Halloween efforts with spooky décor and merchandise to help spread the Halloween fun.

In order to create such a successful celebration that resonates with the local culture, the American Disney team worked with their partners at Oriental Land Company (which owns and operates Tokyo Disney Resort) to educate their Japanese counterparts on a traditional U.S. Halloween. Even now, when Guests enter the celebration at the park, they can take a special tour which essentially provides them with a “Halloween 101” course.

Disney’s Halloween was produced to allow the mostly Japanese Guests who frequent the Resort to participate in the activities. With this in mind, the entertainment team at the Tokyo Disney Resort created a concept that not only provides great shows, but also gives Guests an opportunity to dress-up as their favorite Disney character. Today, some of the Guests wear such elaborate creations, “They have to wear a sticker explaining they are Guests and not actual characters,” said Forrest Bahruth, director of Entertainment at the Tokyo Disney Resort.

Painting the Town Orange in Disneyland Paris
The Mystery of the Pumpkin Men at Disneyland Paris plunges Guests into a storyline filled with orange-hued Pumpkin Men invading HalloweenLand inside the Disneyland park. “The Pumpkin Men are not scary at all, they are very funny,” says Davison. “As a matter of fact they appeal very well to parents with young children.”

This year, from October 1 through 31, 2004, new elements will be added as Guests come face to face with the Pumpkin Police, Pumpkin Postmen, and even discover the secret of their Pumpkin Men’s orange pigment.

The Pumpkin Men were created to spur the imagination (and laughter) and give the mostly European Guests something completely different from what they were used to seeing at the popular Disney theme park and resort.

In addition to delighting Guests with these weird characters, Disneyland Resort Paris also will offer more traditional Halloween elements and beloved Disney characters such as pumpkins displayed playfully everywhere one looks, face painting sessions at Cinderella’s Castle and a special parade featuring Disney villains wreaking havoc.

Celebrating Halloween at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resorts and On the High Seas
As the Halloween holiday gains more popularity in America, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida has expanded its eight-year old Mickey’s-Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom. Over the years, the celebration has emerged from a one-night party with ‘trick-or- treating’ to a full-blown, park-wide celebration that is now nearly two weeks long.

Linda Warren, executive vice president of marketing at Walt Disney World, says the Guest satisfaction ratings for the event have been excellent. “Guests are so excited to experience the event that many start booking their tickets in May so they don’t miss out on the festivities,” said Warren.

The night-time, special-ticketed Halloween party, which begins October 1, 2004, is geared to families with young children and comes complete with “Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade,” Mickey’s Mouse-Ka-Rade costume parties, Halloween storytelling, live shows, unique merchandise and a special Halloween-themed fireworks display lighting up the sky above Cinderella’s Castle.

At the Disneyland Resort in Southern California, Halloween season is an inviting time to be scared and entertained – Disney-style. And that should be the case, since two popular attractions, Haunted Mansion Holiday and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, will both humor and scare Guests – with a wry Disney twist. The Resort also will launch a Halloween specific advertising campaign.

Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland delights guests by showing what happens when the traditions of Halloween and Christmas collide, resulting in holiday mayhem. Haunted Mansion Holiday has been a tremendous hit since it debuted in 2001 and its popularity stretches across the Halloween and Christmas seasons, October 1 through January 2, 2005.

Adding to the fun, the nearby French Market Restaurant is cleverly decorated to reflect the theme of Haunted Mansion Holiday, and this venue and others serve an array of Nightmare-inspired desserts. The Le Bat en Rouge shop offers Haunted Mansion Holiday items, along with keepsakes and collectibles tied to Disney villains and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.

At Disney’s California Adventure, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, a thrilling journey into another dimension based on “a lost episode” of the classic Twilight Zone® television series, will mark its first Halloween since opening in May 2004. Halloween plays a role in the attraction’s storyline, since it was on the night of October 31, 1939, that a mysterious occurrence forever transformed the Hollywood Tower Hotel into the attraction’s eerie namesake.

Sailing along the Caribbean aboard the Disney Cruise Line, Guests get into the “spirit” of Halloween with a costume parade for adults and children alike, special Halloween activities and a decorated atrium that may make Guests wonder whether they are actually on a ghost ship.

For more information on all the Disney Halloween activities as well as on general resort information:

Walt Disney World Resort
Guest Information: www.disneyworld.com
Media Information: www.wdwnews.com (user name: Disney; password: magic)

Disneyland Resort
Guest Information: www.disneyland.com
Media Information: www.dlrnews.com

Tokyo Disney Resort
Guest and media information: www.tokyodisneyresort.co.jp

Disneyland Resort Paris
Guest and media information: www.disneylandparis.com

Disney Cruise Line
Guest information: www.disneycruise.com
Media Information: www.wdwnews.com (user name: Disney; password: magic)