We had an awesome day visiting with family for a baby shower. We were out all day and didn’t get home till almost bedtime. We needed a fast, easy story that wasn’t too scary and wasn’t too long but still fun and spooky. Enter The Halloween Tree!
Released as a TV movie in 1993, this awesome story was directed by Mario Piluso. It was written by Ray Bradbury, based on his book by the same name released in 1972. Now a classic, this awesome story teaches four children the origins of Halloween while they try to save their friend, Pip, from danger.
This dark children’s fantasy is a great addition to any holiday tradition for any age. It’s spooky, sad, suspenseful, educational and even has a few familiar voices. Ray Bradbury himself narrated while Leonard Nimoy was Mr. Mondshroud Eden Gross played Tom. I love this story, as it shows the power of true friendship over the bonds of death while also educating children of Halloween’s many origins across the world and time itself.
Any Disney lover can tell you the significance of The Halloween Tree and its creator. Beyond the book and beyond the movie, the man who wrote it became friends with Walt Disney in the 1960’s and began collaborating with him on creative projects. One was the film adaptation of “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and another was designing an attraction at Epcot in Florida.
In 2007, an oak tree in Frontierland was dedicated as the official “Halloween Tree”, realizing Bradbury’s dream on Halloween Night. He was so excited to be part of the experience and to leave a part of himself at the park. He said “I belong here in Disneyland. Ever since I came here 50 years ago. I’m glad I’m going to be a permanent part of the spirit of Halloween at Disneyland.”
There is a plaque near the tree commemorating the dedication night and once a year, the tree lights glimmers orange, filled with hand-painted jack-o-lanterns all with unique faces.
We visited The Halloween Tree many times during our time as passholders and it was always a highlight of our holiday.
So what did the kiddos think of it?
Dragon thought it was a nice story and liked how it contained so much history and myths about Halloween from all over the world. His favorite part was learning about Egypt’s night of the sprits and thought it was super funny how they “just casually pull bodies out of their coffins to have dinner with them at the table like that’s totally sanitary”. This led into a fantastic conversation about the Wag Festival in ancient Egypt and the Torajan people of the Indonesian mountains whose death rights and practices surrounding loved ones who have passed are thought to have begun as far back as 9 AD. They include washing, feeding and caring for their dead, bringing them out into the light and to the dinner table to honor them.
Lion, after a long day of having to be social around people they didn’t know very well, was exhausted and fell asleep about 35 minutes. When they got up the morning of the 16th, they rewatched it. They said it was really confusing because they didn’t explain what was actually happening. They loved how it went through so many different cultures and festivals and taught them about the monsters they were wearing and not the random fake superstitions people often tell and share with kids to scare them. Like how witches came from Hell and monsters appear out of nowhere for no reason. It was nice, they said, to find a sensible story that told the truth.
Four thumbs up from the Mothership – especially from mom who now has enough history curriculum ideas to carry us through the rest of the month!
Where will we fly next on our journey through mystery, fantasy, horror and suspense? Stay tuned to find out!