Disneyland on a regular ol' day is filled with all sorts of fun for kids and grown-ups of all ages. But visiting during Halloween season is sure to be a screaming good time! Last year my family attended our very first Mickey's Halloween Party, a separately ticketed nighttime event that takes place on 14 select nights in September and October. I was a bit nervous to keep my children up WAY past their bedtime to collect treats, watch parades, ride spooky rides and generally par-tay Disney-style. To keep the tantrums to a minimum and the fun to a maximum, here are my tips for attending Mickey's Halloween Party with kids.
Wear a costume…adults too
Part of the fun of attending Mickey's Halloween Party is dressing up! You might think Halloween costumes are just for kids, but donning a get-up makes the event feel all that more special. I really wanted us all to dress up in Disney inspired family themed costumes like The Incredibles, but my daughter had her heart set on being a devil and my son wanted to be a ninja.
Plus, my husband said he didn't think dressing as Mr. Incredible was a good idea. He said, “Then I'll have to wear Spandex. Nobody wants to see me in Spandex.” Point well taken, my dear. Instead I got him a red and black cape so he could be a vampire. (My 5-year-old refused to let him wear the fangs or put pretend blood on his face because it would be too scary.)
I took the opportunity to dress up as a beloved Disney character, Minnie Mouse. Halloween is the only time of the year that adults are permitted to wear Disney costumes within the park.
You must make it clear that you are a Disney guest and not an approved Disney character. My 8-year-old got so excited when she saw Snow White, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty lined up to buy ice cream that she ran over to them and requested their signatures for her autograph book. The three darling teens demurred, however, telling us that they were instructed by Disney to NOT sign autographs or pretend to be the “real” princesses.
Take advantage of short lines for rides
One of my favorite aspects of attending Mickey's Halloween Party with kids was walking straight on to normally crowded rides. My family often skips the Fantasyland rides because we have little patience for long lines. During this event, however, lines were minimal or nonexistent. Within about a half hour we tackled Peter Pan's Flight, Pinocchio's Daring Adventure, Alice in Wonderland and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
Ride the Halloween-themed rides, if you dare
Two popular Disneyland rides are decked out Halloween-style to celebrate the holiday. Space Mountain becomes Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. Riders zoom through a section of outer space haunted by ghosts and surrounded by spooky music, piercing screams, and creepy sound effects.
The Haunted Mansion is re-imagined a la Jack Skellington from “Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas” with a mix of Halloween spookiness and Christmas tradition. Lines for both of these attractions, as you might expect, can remain quite long during Mickey's Halloween Party.
For the first time ever, we were able to convince my kindergartener to go on the Haunted Mansion ride. Afterwards he said, “Never ever let me ride that ever again, unless I'm a teenager or a grown-up!” Wondering if your children can handle it? Take cues from your kiddos. My daughter has been riding this attraction since she was a toddler with no problems but my son is more cautious when it comes to scary stuff. And…be prepared to duck out of line if your little one gets nervous before boarding (something I have done on more than one occasion with my son).
Enjoy a few treats, but set limits
Sweets are plentiful at this party. Between the Halloween-themed goodies for sale in bakeries and the candies passed out by the handful along the treat trails, kids could easily overload on sugar. Instead, discuss limits BEFORE you enter the park. Make it clear how many candies and/or other goodies each child (and parent!) will eat at Mickey's Halloween Party.
Watch the parade together
Kids love a parade, especially a Halloween-themed Disney one. Parade enthusiasts start lining up along Main Street's curb long before “Mickey’s Costume Party” cavalcade begins. My family, again not big on waiting for anything, doesn't mind watching from behind the crowd instead. People are typically kind about letting little ones up to the front as long as they don't get in the way of anyone's view.
Stay for incredible fireworks
If you can keep your kids up late enough, I highly recommend staying to watch the “Halloween Screams” fireworks spectacular. I have seen a lot of awesome fireworks displays on the 4th of July, at baseball games, at Disney World and other Disney parks, on Disney Cruises, and more. This was the best fireworks display I have ever seen! Set to spooky music and starring the voices of Disney villains, the fireworks are sure to thrill and chill. (Click the image above to see a 15-second video snippet of the Disneyland Halloween fireworks show.)
Know when to call it quits
The party lasts until 12 am but if you have young children, I suggest calling it a night before midnight strikes. We left immediately after the “Halloween Screams” fireworks. After a whiny walk back to the Disneyland Hotel, one of my kids was so exhausted there was screaming and crying and teeth brushed IN bed before immediate pass-out.
The night was not without meltdowns, but we had a great time. You can always sleep in and take it easy the next day. Halloween comes but once a year and the memories of family fun will last a lifetime.
Have you ever visited Disneyland at Halloween time? What tips do you have for making the most of Mickey's Halloween Party with kids? Let us know in the comments below!
A Note from The Travel Mama: My family received complimentary tickets to Mickey's Halloween Party. All opinions are mine, as always. Story originally went live on October 4, 2013. Updated and reposted in 2014.