When the pandemic started and I was trapped in my home out of fear of the virus, I suddenly wanted to immerse myself in a community. Partially because I love Disneyland, and partially because of a psychological rejection of being imprisoned by an unseen virus, I began making my Disney plans for as soon as it felt safe to mingle in a sea of people. I wanted the trip to be joyous, so I invited two people who would love it as much as me: my kid, Kellen and their partner Cameron.*
*As a parent of a transgender person, I have been educated that when someone begins using a new name, it is disrespectful to continue to refer to the previous name. Thus, I will say for anyone who has visited me before and is trying to keep up, that this is my same one and only child, and their same partner of nine years. 🙂
For people who are curious, DisneyLAND is in the Los Angeles, California area. DisneyWORLD is in the Orlando, Florida area. We spent four full days in Disneyland and the adjacent park, Disney California Adventure. I have lots of photos and decided to break them up by categories to make it easier to sort through them. My first topic will be Día de los Muertos because it was timely. Disney sets up their display the end of September, it continues throughout October, and the two big days are November 1 and 2, then overnight it all disappears. Our first day in the park was November 2, so I was eager to find what we could before it all came down.
Día de los Muertos is a multi-day family holiday of joyful celebration that is mostly associated with Mexico. It is to honor and respect friends and family members who have died. Ofrendas (altars) are built for the dead, often including skulls, skeletons, coloured paper cut outs, and marigold flowers. Commonly the living will leave the favourite foods and drinks of the person who is dead, and usually there is a photo of the deceased. Researchers do not agree on whether the holiday is based on traditions among indigenous people or if it’s a modified Spanish tradition. Regardless, today it is embraced as a part of Mexican culture, and it is also celebrated around the world, often by people of Mexican heritage. Naturally, that means the US sees many Día de Muertos celebrations, and California especially.
In front of the restaurant Rancho Del Zócalo is a little area of greenery that they turn annually into a Día de los Muertos area. We spent our entire day in Disneyland that day, so it’s the one we got to see.
A couple days later we were waiting in line for the Thunder Mountain rollercoaster on the other side of this display. I was able to get photos with a different perspective, and also a shot of Miguel, from the movie Coco. If you have not seen the movies Coco or Encanto, they are highly recommended. Coco is better. They are both beautiful, musical, and excellent for the whole family. The movie Coco is in a setting inspired by Guanajuato and Oaxaca in Mexico, and the movie Encanto is in a setting based on the Columbian towns of Quindío and Barichara.
The next day was November 3, which for Disney purposes, is after the official celebration. That day we went to Disney California Adventure Park, where there had previously been more stuff to honor the Día de los Muertos celebration. There was “Arbol de la Vida” or Tree of Life, and a remembrance wall, where visitors can write a message to a lost loved one and leave it there. These were both gone, but some of the decorations remained.
Around the rest of Disney California Adventure park, we found a few more places that honored the tradition.
7 thoughts on “Disney’s Nod to Día de Muertos”
Nicely described and beautifully photographed. If you were trying to look scary you failed
I will try harder next time! 🙂
I enjoyed the movie Coco! Before I saw the movie, I remember being at an event where everyone was getting their faces painted similar to the movie characters. I had no idea what was going on, haha! Great post with colorful photos!
I can completely understand wondering why everyone was getting the creepy makeup, haha! I didn’t know what this was before the movie either. I did a little extra research for this blog post, so now I feel like I understand the basics.
How gorgeous! The costumes and color are a whole lot of fabulous. I loved the movie Coco!
I’m glad you saw Coco. It was not in theatres for long, and so I thought maybe it would not be as beloved as the others, but it has gained a lot of love slowly over time, and that is a good thing.