Halloween with a Disney Twist

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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?”

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Goofy dressed up for Halloween at Disneyland

My daughter posing with Goofy in his Halloween garb in 2008

Experience Halloween at Disneyland

There are two ways to experience Halloween and Disneyland, which lead to my fellow Travel Mama’s confusion. Mickey’s Halloween Party is a separately ticketed event. It 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.

Mickey's Halloween Party - Halloween at Disneyland

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 receive 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.

So Much to Do at Mickey’s Halloween Party

The Halloween at Disneyland fun doesn’t end there! Halloween music adds to the party atmosphere. Living Scarecrows speak directly to guests and 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 is Mickey’s Costume Party Calvacade Parade. It includes surprise interactions with guests and takes place twice per night.

Halloween Screams Fireworks Show - Halloween at Disneyland

Halloween Screams Fireworks Show

Dance Party!

Two dance parties offer family-friendly fun during Halloween at Disneyland. Get down at 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. Only Toontown 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 at Disneyland – Beyond Mickey’s Party

If the party doesn’t pique your interest, enjoy Halloween at Disneyland 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 is found along Main Street as part of the Main Street Pumpkin Festival. It 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 are available in the stores, as well.

Halloween goodies at Disneyland - Halloween at Disneyland

Halloween goodies at Disneyland

Haunted Twists for Halloween 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 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 - Halloween at Disneyland

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.

Disneyland's Ghost Galaxy - Halloween at Disneyland

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?!)

Snow White's Queen - Halloween at Disneyland

The Queen (Snow White’s nemesis) was not impressed with my daughter’s princess pen

Halloween at Disneyland – It’s the MOST Special

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.

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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.

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. Halloween at Disney is awesome. The great thing about Disney is the attention to detail and man, when they do it up for Halloween, the detail is amazing.
    Oh, and I love this line: “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?!” 🙂

  2. I soooo want to do this! I have a friend who takes her daughter every year for Halloween. It has become a tradition for them.

  3. YAY!! I love Disneyland at Halloween time. What a fun day. 🙂

  4. Lisa Bergren says

    I think it’s a great time of year to go–fewer crowds. But that Haunted Mansion is something I haven’t ever been able go to–always have a kid in tow to young to brave it, even when it’s not Halloween!

  5. Thanks for the info! We’re taking the kids the week of Halloween – can’t wait!

  6. I didn’t really “get” what was so different about Halloween at Disneyland either, until I went. Great photos! I love the one with your little girl & the Wicked Queen.

  7. OK, so I have to know – are there parents who actually make their children eat carrots and raisins in the midst of all that sugar?

    Love the photos – definitely looks like a fun time. I like that the “bad” characters come out to play.

  8. Just returned from Disney and checked everything that you said! Loved to greet the Cinderella, Snowwhite and Alice whitches! Not so often, except this time of the year, you can see them hanging around, had a geat time! Thanks for your hints!

  9. Genevieve Koesling says

    I am sold on the Disney Halloween party. It may be a few years though. My two year old would not make it that late. We were at Disneyland last week and he was falling asleep at dinner between bites. I have two things to look forward to when he’s older- The Disney Cruise and the Halloween party. I love the baby stage but there’s so many fun things to look forward to when they are older:)

  10. Crystal (Travelers Barista) says

    What a GREAT idea! I love Disney as it is, but combine Disney and the holidays makes me overjoyed. Halloween can be such a grusome holiday, so I’d love to make it more fun with Disneyland…adding that to my bucket list for travel!

  11. I have always wanted to do the after hours Disney party but have yet to check it out. Your post is making me want to hop in the car and go now! You always have the best advice.

  12. Lisa Battista says

    I loved the online Vote-for-your favorite villians videos. What fun!

    Have you been to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party at Walt Disney World? I’m wondering how similar the parade and fireworks are.

  13. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    Mara – I tend to limit how much sugar the kids eat at these events so while I don’t restrict them to ALL healthy treats, I do encourage opting for some of the less sugary items. 🙂

  14. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    Lisa B. – I have never been to the Walt Disney World during Halloween. I’d love to know how they compare too!


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