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8 Reasons You Should Visit Disneyland in the Fall

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Running from the Fall Equinox in mid-September through the Winter Solstice in December, autumn makes a fabulous season to visit Disneyland. As summer crowds head back to school and Southern California temperatures begin to cool, holiday festivities take center stage in Anaheim. Check out these eight reasons to visit Disneyland in the fall.

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The Halloween Tree at Disneyland ~ 8 Reasons to Fall in Love with Disneyland in Fall
The Halloween Tree at Disneyland (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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, parkgoers can expect pleasant strolling and line-waiting weather during autumn in California. As a mom who has visited Disneyland many, many, many times throughout all seasons, I can tell you from experience that amusement park meltdowns decrease when temperatures drop.

Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse at Disneyland during Halloween Time ~ 8 Reasons Why You'll Fall in Love with Disneyland in Fall
Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse at Disneyland during Halloween Time (Photo credit: Scott Brinegar/Disneyland Resort)

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 the fall. This is especially true if you 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. Fewer crowds mean shorter wait times and more enjoyment for all!

Halloween decorations at Disneyland in fall
Halloween decorations at Disneyland (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

3. Mickey's Halloween Party.

Disneyland entices fans to visit Disneyland in fall with the popular, separately ticketed Mickey's Halloween Party. It takes place on 14 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.

Haunted Mansion Holiday ~ 8 Reasons to Visit Disneyland in Fall
Haunted Mansion Holiday begins in September and runs through early January (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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.

Day of the Dead decorations in Zocalo Park ~ 8 Reasons to Visit Disneyland in Fall
Day of the Dead decorations in Zocalo Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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.

Starting in September and running 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. Or, savor the Pumpkin Flan and other traditional Mexican treats sold exclusively at the nearby Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante.

Spirit of Dia de los Muertos Celebrations:

  • Musical performances – Miguel, Mateo, and the Mariachi Divas share songs from Coco, accompanied by folk dancers.
  • Life-sized marionettes – Talented puppeteers bring their marionettes to life, dancing with them during the celebration.
  • Dia de los Muertos crafts – Visitors make crafts from a special station.
  • Memory Wall – Guests write down memories of loved ones to be hung on the commemorative wall.
  • Papier mâché figuresCalavera figures appear throughout the park, showcasing how Latin Americans acknowledge and celebrate death.
  • Mexican food – Stop by Paradise Garden Grill for special Dia de los Muertos menu selections, including Mexican street corn, a tres leches parfait, a chicken with mole sauce.
  • Dia de los Muertos altar – In honor of the late Hudson from the Cars movies, this altar can be found at Ramone’s House of Body Art in Cars Land.
  • Frontierland Dia de los Muertos tribute – Look for an exhibit featuring a musical trio of iconic skeleton figurines, brightly colored flowers, and other decorative items in Frontierland in Disneyland.
Top off your Thanksgiving meal at Flo's V8 Cafe in Cars Land with one of their seasonal fruit pies ~ 8 Reasons to Visit Disneyland in Fall
Top off your Thanksgiving meal at Flo's V8 Cafe in Cars Land with one of their seasonal fruit pies (Photo credit: Disneyland Resort)

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.

Christmas festivities commence in the fall at Disneyland ~ 8 Reasons You'll Fall in Love with Disneyland in Fall
Christmas festivities commence in the fall at Disneyland (Photo credit: Disneyland Resort)

8. The Christmas season commences at Disneyland in fall.

Halloween decorations and activities are replaced with Christmassy celebrations at Disneyland in November. 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 is 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!

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8 Reasons to Visit 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 the fall. All opinions are mine, as always. This story originally went live in October 2016 and was updated and reposted in August 2017. This blog post includes affiliate links. Your purchases help keep a free resource for readers like you!

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin, MBA, is the founder and editor-in-chief of the popular travel blog, She is an expert in travel with kids and without. As the author of the book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents how to make the most of traveling with babies and children. Colleen loves sharing tips on hotels, cruises, spas, theme parks, and global lifestyle topics. When she is not traveling the world, she lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. I went to Disneyland on Halloween several years ago. It was so fun to see all the kids in their costumes! Love Disneyland in the fall.

  2. Carrick | Along for the Trip says

    Hi Colleen,

    We had such a great time over Thanksgiving at Disneyland we wish we could do it every year! I totally agree with everything you’ve listed – perfect weather, festive atmosphere, and extra special treats make this a trip to remember. The Haunted Mansion is just the best, isn’t it? We also loved the ‘snow’ that gets sprayed during the nighttime parade. Just a little extra Disney magic that makes this a trip to remember.

    Great Post!


    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Carrick – I’m glad you enjoyed Disneyland in the fall! I teared up when my kids were little and it started “snowing” on Main Street!

  3. christina aliperti says

    I never went to Disneyland in the fall, but I can see why it’s a good idea. I think the weather would be perfect also.

  4. Kita Bryant says

    Lighter crowds for sure. It’s why my kids and I visit later in the year.

  5. Camesha | Mama Motivator says

    I agree. All great reasons to visit in the Fall. We went in November a few years ago and it was perfect.

  6. OurFamilyWorld says

    I never been in Disneyland, This is a magical place for everyone and I want to go there especially this fall season

  7. #1 is enough for me. I love the cooler temperatures! It makes for a more pleasant atmosphere, especially since I don’t like to sweat- something you do A LOT of during the summer in Florida. My family visited the last weekend in November one year and I absolutely loved it.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Summers aren’t quite as humid and hot in California, on average. Still, fall is more pleasant for both destinations if you ask me!

  8. I never thought about visiting in the Fall but i have went in the Winter. FL is never cold really so I am sure its perfect weather!

  9. Reesa Lewandowski says

    I have been wanting to visit Disney in the fall so bad! It looks so pretty!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Fall decorations at Disneyland are really fab. I hope you can visit in fall someday soon!

  10. Sounds like Fall would be such a great time to head to Disney. I wouldn’t want to be super hot while out in lines, etc so the Fall would be perfect to go!

  11. Annemarie LeBlanc says

    I think you are right. We’ve never tried visiting Disneyland in the Fall, but I guess this would be the best option to avoid those long lines. We’re sure to enjoy the trip and the park more.

  12. Even though Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth, it seems like everyone is just a bit more cheery when the temperatures drop. We love watching the candy makers making candy canes in the windows on Main Street during the Christmas season.

  13. It sounds like Disney in the fall is exactly the kind of family vacation I would love-less crowds, and all the Halloween festivities sound like such fun!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      I think I may enjoy Halloween more now that I have kids. It’s less stress for me but I love all of the costumes and family activities!

  14. Tabitha Black says

    Visiting Disneyland in the Fall is definitely top on my bucket list!! It looks so magical and fun!

  15. We’ve done most seasons at Disneyland, but I can’t remember any Thanksgiving. I need to plan a trip to check out the November fun.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      I haven’t done Thanksgiving yet, either. In fact, writing this story I thought, “Hmm…I might need to make that happen!”

  16. Great points! I’d be super happy to visit Disneyland this fall. The Halloween festivities alone would draw me in!

  17. We’ve done Disney World twice in the fall and loved it both times. I was hoping to get to Disneyland next fall to see The Haunted Mansion all decked out. Fingers crossed we can make it happen!

  18. It sounds like fall is the perfect time to visit Disney. Mickeys Halloween Party is supposed to be spectacular.

  19. Rach Ferrucci says

    I would love to go to Disneyland in the fall! The summer is so hot and makes you want to spend less time in the park and more time at the pool. I would love to see the fall decorations too!

  20. My son would love this as he is a huge fan of Jack Skellington.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Meagan – My kids used to find Jack Skellington scary but now that they are a little older, they love him and “The Nightmare Before Christmas”!

  21. Oh God I am an adult but still can’t wait to visit Disneyland one day! Fall there looks amazing! I bet all this halloween decorations look fabulous !

  22. Catherine Sargent says

    I would love to visit Disneyland in the fall. I would prefer to go when it is cooler and less crowded. I need to plan on going the next time I am in California.

  23. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says

    The weather is absolutely the best part of Disneyland in the fall for me. In the summer time, all of that concrete and sunshine will bake you like a tourist cake!

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