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TOURISM : Disneyland Will Be Transformed for 4-Day, Nighttime Halloween Fest

August 15, 1995

In a move that could put a scare into Knott's Berry Farm, Disneyland officials said Monday that they plan to start their own four-night Halloween nighttime attraction for the first time this year.

Until now, the Halloween Haunt has been a Knott's exclusive--a huge late-October success that sells out almost every night it is presented. Universal Studios Hollywood tried to imitate Knott's success a couple of years ago but gave up the idea after a single year.

Disneyland says that its "Mickey's Halloween Treat!" event will be oriented toward children age 10 and under and will not compete with the annual blood-letting at Knott's that attracts teen-agers. Knott's also has a "Camp Spooky" for kids, but it's during the day.

"We are thinking this is a complementary attraction" to Knott's, "not competing," said Disneyland producer Charlie Messerly. The Disneyland version will "not [have] the frightening aspects, but the fun aspects" of Halloween.

A Knott's spokeswoman had no comment.

The event, which begins after the park's normal autumn 6 p.m. closing time, will require a separate admission ticket of $25 for adults and $20 for children ages 3-11, although sponsor McDonald's Restaurants is offering a $5 discount coupon. Tickets will be available at Disneyland and Disneyland Hotel ticket booths and Ticketron starting Sept. 24.

From 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. on four nights beginning Oct. 26, Disneyland technicians will transform the park. Frontierland will become "Lonesome Ghost Town." Sleeping Beauty's Castle will be lighted in orange and a big, scary tree will be in the town square. Disneyland will trot out some of the scarier characters from its own stable of villains.

Children are encouraged to wear costumes, though no masks are allowed, and will be given a bag for trick-or-treating at any of 50 locations inside the park.

The notion of turning the entire Disneyland park into something other than its classic self has caused staff uprisings in the past. When former Disneyland President Jack Lindquist proposed turning the park over to the Muppets characters for a few days several years ago, longtime workers raised such a stink that the idea was killed.

But Messerly said he thinks that this time there won't be any backlash against current Disneyland President Paul Pressler, who gave the go-ahead for the Halloween event. "We have a lot of experience with the Halloween imagery," Messerly said. "We are not making the park into anything it isn't."

--Compiled by Times staff writer Chris Woodyard

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