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Making the Case for Seasonal Attraction Overlays

It is after Halloween, so obviously, that means Christmas at Walt Disney World. One thing that has become a tradition over the last several years is the World Famous Jungle Jingle Cruise! They add holiday decorations and put a festive spin on the jokes.

I love the Jungle Cruise. It is a must-do for us every time we are in the Magic Kingdom. And I really like the holiday version. It makes it a special experience that makes it more unique than the run-of-the-mill cruise.

I get that a large chunk of guests to WDW are not regulars and may be on their once in a lifetime trip. Because of this, the argument against temporary seasonal overlays is that if they are traveling during the time when an overlay is in place they aren’t getting the traditional experience. I have 2 arguments to counter to with. First, what if they are traveling when an attraction is being refurbished? It seems that no matter when you go, there is an attraction that is out of commission. Second, it is built-in incentive for another trip.

They don’t all have to be all that involved, with a new script, set pieces, and music. An easy example would be found with Space Mountain. It would be easy to change the soundtrack and add a light display (√† la Hyper Space Mountain). It would be easy to do a Halloween or Christmas overlay or even a patriotic 4th of July ‘fireworks’ display. But they wouldn’t have to be limited to holidays.

This is different than the ‘plussed’ experiences that have been done during special events like the Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or the Villains After Hours events when they add live pirates to Pirates of the Caribbean or Madame Carlotta outside of the Haunted Mansion enhanced by a smoke machine. Those are fun, but not practical for anything other than those hard ticketed events that are only a couple nights a week.

Also not covered by this are the decorations that don’t really impact the experience. Things like the Christmas trees and lights along the Tomorrowland Speedway and in Living with the Land.

The sky is the limit for possibilities, but you wouldn’t want to overdo it. One or two of them per park at a time would be about all you would want to do. More than that would be overkill, and not more than one overlay per year for any given attraction (no doing Halloween and Christmas on the same ride in the same year). If I were in charge of the House of Mouse, what overlays would I like to see?

Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion

The first one that comes to mind is the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay that Disneyland does for the Haunted Mansion. I know I just said you can’t do Halloween and Christmas on the same ride in the same year, but this exception to the rule makes sense. It can run from September through December. I think that would be an obvious option. I have never been to Disneyland, but I have watched a ride-through video, and it looks amazing! It adds a new flair to a timeless classic. And I’m not even a huge fan of the movie!

Haunted’ Big Thunder Mountain

How fun would it be to have a spooky soundtrack and lighting with projections and a few set pieces and props to set the mood. The theming would run through the queue as well as along the ride. In fact, due to the speed of the ride, it would probably be a better experience if a bulk of the additions were incorporated into the queue with mainly lighting effects and music on the actual ride part of the attraction.

Stage Shows

Any of the stage shows (if/when they return) would make a natural option for a temporary overlay. Updated costumes, songs, choreography can be done and undone relatively without much (if any) downtime. This could even extend to Mickey’s PhilharMagic and the Circle-Vision shows in the China, France and Canada pavilions at EPCOT showing holiday traditions in those cultures.

What do you think? Am I way off base? What didn’t I think of?

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