Running from the Fall Equinox in mid-September through the Winter Solstice in December, fall makes a fabulous season to visit Disneyland. As summer crowds head back to school and Southern California temperatures begin to cool, holiday festivities of all sorts take center stage. Check out these eight reasons to fall in love with Disneyland in fall.
1. Cooler fall weather.
Summertime temps in Anaheim reach 89 degrees Fahrenheit on an average day in August. By November, however, the average high is a comfy 76. For the most part, park goers can expect pleasant strolling and line-waiting weather during autumn. As a mom who has visited Disneyland many, many, many times throughout all seasons, I can tell you from experience that amusement park meltdowns seem to decrease when temperatures drop.
2. Lighter crowds…mostly.
With the exception of holidays (Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving week, and the two weeks leading up to Christmas), crowds are relatively light at Disneyland in fall. This is especially true if you can visit mid-week when most travelers are at work or in school. Both early November and early December are wondrously uncrowded times to visit Disneyland, typically. Less crowds means shorter wait times and more enjoyment for all!
3. Mickey's Halloween Party.
Disneyland entices fans to visit in September and October with the popular, separately ticketed Mickey's Halloween Party. It takes place on 17 select nights leading up to the holiday. (Make reservations early!) Party goers enjoy the ooh-and-ahh-inducing “Halloween Screams” fireworks spectacular and the “Frightfully Fun Parade.” All attendees can wander the park’s trick-or-treat trails to gather up candies or healthier goodies like carrot sticks and crackers. The best part about Mickey’s Halloween Party? Everyone can dress up in Halloween costumes for the event. The party presents the only time adults are allowed to dress as Disney characters within the park each year. (Read Disneyland Halloween costume guidelines here.)
4. Even more Halloween fun.
You need not attend Mickey's Halloween Party to get in on the Halloween fun at Disneyland. The park celebrates this fall holiday with Halloween-themed decor, specialty treats, and other touches. Even Mickey Mouse and the gang get into the Halloween spirit by dressing up in costumes. Be on the lookout for the Halloween Tree in Frontierland near Golden Horseshoe Saloon. It was inspired by Ray Bradbury's novel, The Halloween Tree.
5. Special fall rides.
Both Space Mountain and the Haunted Mansion transform at Disneyland in fall. The roller coaster becomes Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy through October 31. Expect eerie screams, sound effects, and ghostly music plus phantoms popping out to scare riders.
The Haunted Mansion converts to Haunted Mansion Holiday each autumn. The attraction blends Halloween and Christmas à la Jack Skellington from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. If you visit after Halloween, you can still experience Haunted Mansion Holiday through the first week of January.
6. Day of the Dead festivities.
Join the Día de los Muertos festivities when Frontierland hosts a special tribute to Day of the Dead, or All Souls' Day. This annual Mexican celebration focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for, and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey.
Through November 2, Zocalo Park features a musical trio of skeleton figurines as well as brightly colored flowers and other decorative items commemorating the occasion. Stop by for Calaveras-style face paintings, offered daily from 10 am to 6 pm. Or, savor the Pumpkin Flan and other traditional Mexican treats sold exclusively at the nearby Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante.
7. Thanksgiving at Disneyland.
Thanksgiving is all about family togetherness, so why not gather up your family for a feast Disney-style? If you don't mind the crowds, this holiday can be magical indeed at Disneyland. Several Disney restaurants offer special Thanksgiving treats and meals. From turkey-shaped sourdough bread to a full-on turkey fest with all the fixings, here's what you can expect in terms of T-Day eats at Disneyland.
8. The Christmas season commences at Disneyland in fall.
Halloween decorations and activities are replaced with Christmassy glitz and celebrations at Disneyland in fall (starting on November 10 in 2016). It's the most wonderful time of the year…especially when you go in early December before the throngs of holiday visitors.
In addition to a bounty of twinkling trees and sparkling Christmas decorations, you'll be treated to special holiday shows and rides. Haunted Mansion Holiday continues and you'll find “it’s a small world” Holiday, featuring children from around the world enjoying the distinctive holiday traditions of their countries. Meanwhile Jungle Cruise will be transformed into Jingle Cruise, with the captains gathering up holiday gifts and decorations from their riverboats. Especially memorable is the daily “A Christmas Fantasy” Parade, topped off with the magic of “snow” on Main Street USA. Even Santa can't resist Disneyland in fall!
What appeals to you most about visiting Disneyland in fall? Let us know in the comments below!
A Note from The Travel Mama: My family and I were hosted during a recent visit to Disneyland in fall. All opinions are mine, as always. This story includes affiliate links. Your purchases help keep TravelMamas.com a free resource for readers like you!