Screams in the Sky and in Space

Happy Halloween everyone! Today is the first day of Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort, and we have some more pictures and information on the new additions to Halloween Time this year, Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy and Halloween Screams. Firstly, more information on Ghost Galaxy from the OC Register’s Around Disney blog:

Space Mountain visitors will know something’s gone awry right after they begin their ascent in the Disneyland ride.

The climb through a tunnel starts normally with stars drifting past the rocket and a swirling galaxy awaiting at the top. But about half way through the tunnel, white stars turn orange and red, swirling into a skull-like face and skeletal arms extend. Spiny hands grab out, shooting crackling lightning past riders. The creature roars.

This is just the beginning of the new Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy that debuts to the public today at Disneyland.

The seasonal makeover of the roller-coaster marks the first time that Disneyland has redone Space Mountain for Halloween Time, which begins today.

“It’s classic Space Mountain with a whole new look,” said Steve Roach, the ride’s show producer.

Disneyland Resort usually tries to keep the mood light for the Halloween season, but this ride is slightly different.

“For the first time, it’s something actually very frightening for Halloween,” Roach said. “I don’t think we’ve done anything this scary before.”

A sign will warn guests that the ride may be too scary for young children, Roach said.

Ghost Galaxy’s back story is that Disney wants recruits to explore unknown phenomena during a deep-space research trip, but then something goes wrong. Guests are detoured into an unknown galaxy with cosmic phenomena at every turn, Roach said.

Throughout the ride, guests can see morphing ghosts reaching out toward guests. One arm grabs above riders. Another ghost chases riders alongside the carriage. A creepy eye blinks in front. And one final surprise ghost pops out at the very end. (We know because we got to ride it early.)

Roach said upgrades completed on the ride four years ago made it easier for workers to transform the attraction into a Halloween spectacle. With the new additions, workers were able to swap out projection images that go on screens inside the dome. New lighting was added, especially at the entrance and exit.

Also, a sound system was built into every seat with the 2005 upgrades. The new soundtrack of creepy music, wailing and occasional roars was put in for the occasion. It was composed by Ed Kalnins, who also did the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage ride.

About 12 workers, called Imagineers, have been installing the overlay since the ride was temporarily closed about two and a half weeks ago. But workers will be able to turn the ride back to its original form overnight when the Halloween season is over in about five weeks, Roach said.

Ghost Galaxy was originally done at the Hong Kong park in 2007, said Ric Turner, a show designer who also worked on the Hong Kong attraction. There, Imagineers added the features in a short period with low expectations, but it “blew everybody away,” Turner said.

Anaheim’s Ghost Galaxy has more scenes, including the chasing ghosts, he said. Also, Imagineers were able to create more of a 3D effect with the grabbing monsters.

Both Roach and Turner have worked at lower-level jobs in Disneyland, so they were excited to work on Space Mountain. Roach, who lives in Rancho Santa Margarita, used to be a ride operator on Space Mountain itself, while Turner worked in food service.

Disneyland invited employees to ride Ghost Galaxy on Thursday, a day before the public is allowed in. Some employees gave the ride high marks.

“It was amazing,” said Tory Asher, 33, a manager for Adventureland attractions. “That’s definitely my favorite holiday offering we’ve ever had.”

Kelly Murphy, 26, also an Adventureland manager, said she was worried about the fright factor.

“I’m a little chicken,” Murphy said. “I think Disney does a good job of just the right level of scary.”

Secondly, Disney released some photos from a test performance Tuesday night of the new Halloween Screams fireworks show:

Pumpkins are projected onto Sleeping Beauty Castle

An inflatable Jack Skellington head

Jack’s “head” is also used to cast Oogie Boogie’s shadow

Spider webs on Sleeping Beauty Castle

Using the same system as Dumbo did in Magical, Zero takes flight during Halloween Screams

Stay tuned to Disneyland News Today for more coverage on both Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy and Halloween Screams.