Disneyland, Disney California Adventure celebrate Day of the Dead
Disney-Pixar’s “Coco” stands out as a movie that tugs at both guitar strings and heart strings.
It also represents the love and importance of family, as exemplified by Dia de los Muertos. And Disney California Adventure is taking that to heart as it again presents its special Plaza de la Familia now through Nov. 2.
The special plaza is in the back of the Anaheim park, at Paradise Gardens. There you’ll be greeted by Day of the Dead figures, large and small.
And fans can take photos of the Tree of Love, which branches out with images, colors, symbols, animals and “calacas” (skeletons).
You can also design your alebrije (spirit guide) mask in a craft activity.
And there’s a special Memory Wall where you can write notes in honor of your departed loved ones. When the News-Press visited earlier this month, the notes quickly accumulated throughout the day on the wall.
The plaza also features performances of “A Musical Celebration of Coco,” in which storyteller Mateo recounts Miguel’s journey into the Land of the Dead. During the show, Miguel appears as a full-size, hand-animated figure. This writer was impressed when he saw this version of Miguel a couple years ago, walking around with the performer operating him.
The celebration features singers and folklorico dancers in authentic costumes, and they’re accompanied by the Grammy-winning Mariachi Divas.
The colorful assortment of figures and art bring color and emotion. You could also imagine the iconic song “Recuérdame” (“Remember Me”) from “Coco” being played. Well, Miguel and the performer operating the figure stand behind a mural named after the song. The mural also shows Miguel’s family in Santa Cecilia and the Land of the Dead.
And there’s food to go with the art and music. Paradise Garden Grill features everything from traditional tamales to a “Coco” cake filled with churro-flavored mousse.
By the way, if you get a chance, watch “Coco” again on disney+. The animated 2017 movie is a great story, with memorable music and a love of life that transcends this world. It’s co-directed by Lee Unrich and Adrian Molina.
Down back toward the center of DCA, Day of the Dead is celebrated further in Cars Land and its Ramone’s House of Body Art.
And over at Disneyland, the traditional Dia de los Muertos display is impressive at Zocalo Park, next to Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante and its Mexican cuisine. The display, which shows skeletons in a band on stage, seems bigger than those in years past.
One suggestion: Try to visit the two Disney parks on a weekday — the earlier, the better. The News-Press stopped by on a Friday morning, when wait times for rides were typically 10 minutes to a half-hour. Imagine getting on Space Mountain in less than an hour, let alone a half-hour. Now, that’s out of this world!
By the way, for Space Mountain purists, the attraction is in its original state, no added ghosts flying in the galaxy for Halloween. (Disneyland offered that version during some seasons.)
At Disneyland, the ghosts are simply where they belong: at the Haunted Mansion, along with Jack Skellington and his friends from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” More about that in Sunday’s News-Press.