A friend emailed me this week inquiring about Halloween at Disneyland. She said, “I always see advertisements for it but don’t really get it. What’s the difference in seeing Disneyland after closing for Halloween? Is it pretty much the same just that you get to wear scary costumes? Is there something special to it?”
My daughter posing with Goofy in his Halloween garb in 2008
There are two ways to experience Disneyland during Halloween, which may have led to my fellow Travel Mama’s confusion. Mickey’s Halloween Party is a separately ticketed event that takes place on special evenings after the amusement park closes to the public. However, you don’t necessarily need to attend the party to enjoy this holiday at Disneyland because Halloween decorations, special treats, rides, and special touches are available to all park goers.
Mickey’s Halloween Party
Yes, dressing up in costumes is part of the fun of attending Mickey’s Halloween Party. If you plan to go, plan to don a costume! This is a great excuse to act like a kid again. Many attendees choose Disney-themed gear and some go above and beyond to purchase or create elaborate outfits. Families often come in group ensembles, such as the whole clan coming dressed as The Incredibles.
Yes, there IS something special to this party beyond the attire! Trick-or-treating stations are strategically placed throughout Disneyland. (The party moves this year from Disney’s California Adventure to Disneyland.) Treat-seekers are given a map and a treat bag. Finding the booths becomes a scavenger hunt of sorts. Half a million pounds of candy are doled out to party attendees each year! For those seeking healthier treats, alternative snacks like carrots, apple slices, and raisins are also available.
The fun doesn’t end there! Halloween music adds to the party atmosphere. Living Scarecrows that speak directly to guests are a favorite among attendees year after year. The Halloween Screams Fireworks Show is only shown during Mickey’s Halloween Party and features spooky effects and images of Jack Skellington. New this year, Mickey’s Costume Party Calvacade Parade includes surprise interactions with guests and takes place twice per night.
Halloween Screams Fireworks Show
Two dance parties offer family-friendly fun, Club Skellington at the French Market Café and Buzz Lightyear’s Intergalactic Family Party at the Tomorrowland Terrace. The title characters (and friends) make appearances throughout the evening to show off their dance moves and pose for photo opps.
Since Mickey’s Halloween Party is a separately ticketed event, this is a more intimate affair. Ahem! That means shorter lines for the rides and other attractions! All areas of Disneyland Park remain open during the event besides Toontown, which is closed due to the fireworks displays.
The cost to attend Mickey’s Halloween Party is $49 if purchased in advance, $54 at the door, and $59 on October 31. The cost includes entrance to the park up to three hours before the party starts. Parties take place Tuesdays and Fridays throughout October, plus on Halloween. Find out more or purchase tickets for Mickey’s Halloween Party.
Halloween Beyond Mickey’s Party
If the party doesn’t pique your interest, you can enjoy the parks during regular hours for a taste of something spooky instead. Both parks are decked-out with holiday decorations of the jack-o-lantern and semi-scary variety. The bulk of the festive décor can be found along Main Street as part of the Main Street Pumpkin Festival, which features over 300 hundred pumpkins in store windows. Go here for special treats like caramel apples, pumpkin-flavored fudge, and pumpkin spice cupcakes. Themed souvenirs like jack-o-lantern mouse ears can be found in the stores too.
Halloween goodies at Disneyland
The Haunted Mansion becomes the Haunted Holiday thanks to Jack Skellington and friends from The Nightmare Before Christmas. This ride maintains its mixed up Halloween/Christmas makeover through the winter holidays and may actually feel more less frightening to young visitors during this time-frame. (Still, I had to leave the line with my terrified, screaming two-and-a-half-year-old before we were even able to board.)
Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion all dressed up for the holidays
My favorite ride takes a sinister spin, with a haunting soundtrack and a creepy goblin chasing the coaster through the dark in Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. Of course, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, while not transformed for the holiday, is a must-ride during Halloween.
Here I am with the hubs having a screaming good time (with eyes closed, apparently) on Space Mountain’s Ghost Galaxy
Friendly characters like Mickey and Minnie are dolled up in their own Halloween costumes and there is an influx of villain characters available for meet-and-greets. This year, the Evil Queen, Ursula, Captain Hook, Maleficent, Cruella De Vil, and Jafar are campaigning for your vote as your favorite baddy. You can vote online for who you love to hate the most. (I voted for the Queen. Poor thing! No one likes to age! And who needs a talking mirror reminding you that there’s a hotter number in town all the time?!)
The Queen (Snow White’s nemesis) was not impressed with my daughter’s princess pen
I hope that clears up what makes Halloween at Disneyland special! Since having kids, Halloween has become my favorite time of the year. It’s got all of the fun of the winter holidays, without all the stress! A trip to Disneyland is a spooktacular way to celebrate Halloween in a family-friendly, spirited way.
What’s your favorite Disney Halloween activity? Let us know in the comments!
A note from the Travel Mama: This year my family was hosted by Disneyland for our Halloween visit.