Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort is a frightfully good season, but on one fateful night each year, cast members wander the wooded area of Grizzly Peak in Disney California Adventure park … fearful of the next creature to jump out at them.
Each October, after park hours in the heart of Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, a dedicated volunteer team gears up to create a thrilling, exclusive scare maze experience just for their fellow cast members. It’s part of the “Grizzly Peak Halloween Carnival,” a beloved cast recognition event filled with food and late-night fun. (For those unable to attend the ghoulishly good time, watch the Disneyland Ambassadors’ video below to see their thrilling first-person reactions.)
Thanasi Halfhill, a first-time scarer participating in this 13-year tradition, grew up as a haunter. “I used to be in Boy Scouts and the church that sponsored our meeting location would hold a haunted house every Halloween, so we would dress up and paint our faces. We transformed the whole classroom area into a big scare maze,” he shared.
Thanasi gets into prime position to scare fellow cast
Now an attractions cast member, Thanasi stumbled upon an opportunity to become part of the cast scare maze. Before he knew it, he was attending “Scare School,” part of the training and preparation for the one-night event created by the carnival’s show directors. Leaning on his past experience with scare-acting, he was confident in his chilling role.
But for Thanasi, the opportunity to participate in cast-exclusive events like the scare maze is more than just a chance to have fun. “This is an event just for cast members. It’s something that’s made specifically for us, to show us that we’re appreciated,” he said.
Forrest Orta (left) gives creative direction to scare maze volunteers
The creative minds behind this spine-tingling spectacle are Forrest Orta, an entertainment host at the resort, alongside attractions host Anthony Olivares and former cast member Ross Woods. “Every cast member deserves to be celebrated for all the hard work they put in day in and day out,” said Forrest. “I’m a haunter, and this has been one of the best ways for me to demonstrate that.”
This year’s scare maze volunteers gather with the Disney Ambassadors
The Grizzly Peak Halloween Carnival has evolved into an experience that generates excitement and anticipation among cast members across the resort, embodying the spirit of creativity and camaraderie of its imaginative, dedicated volunteers. The event’s exceptional reputation is built on positive word-of-mouth from attendees, both returning and new—and this year’s edition delivered yet another ghostly good time.
Thanasi and Forrest after a successful night of scaring
While the journey to this cherished resort tradition has been extraordinary, Forrest has his sights set on the future, aspiring to incorporate more cutting-edge show elements and effects to elevate the maze’s immersion and fear factor. “I know we can plus everything, just as Imagineering does,” he said.