10 Tips for Mickey’s Halloween Party with Kids at Disneyland

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Disneyland on a regular ol' day is filled with tons of fun for kids and grown-ups. But visiting during Halloween season is sure to be a screaming good time! When family attended our very first Mickey's Halloween Party, 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. This separately ticketed nighttime event that takes place on select nights in September and October. 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.

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Mickey's Halloween Party with kids is a spooktacular time!

Mickey's Halloween Party with kids is a spooktacular time! (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

1. Wear a costume…but pay attention to restrictions.

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. Keep in mind, Mickey's Halloween Party is the only time that adults are permitted to wear Disney costumes within the park.

New costume guidelines for 2017 encourage guests to wear layered costumes over t-shirts so you can remove them if they don't meet Disney guidelines. Keep in mind that costumes should not include any weapons that look like real weapons or that could inadvertently hurt another guest. Masks are not allowed for guests aged 14+ and must not restrict vision for younger guests.

I really wanted my family to dress up as a group in Disney-inspired costumes like The Incredibles. However, my daughter had her heart set on being a devil and my son wanted to be a ninja. As for me, I took the opportunity to dress up as a beloved Disney character, Minnie Mouse. My husband wore a red and black cape so he could be a vampire. (With the new costume restrictions, make sure any capes don't go below the waist!) My 5-year-old refused to let his daddy wear the fangs or put pretend blood on his face because it would be too scary.

You must make it clear that you are a Disney guest and not an approved Disney character. My 8-year-old ran over to get autographs from guests dressed as Snow White, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty. 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.

2. Get to the park early.

Mickey's Halloween Party tickets include a Park Hopper that begins three hours before your party starts. That means, at either 3 pm or 4 pm, your family will be able to get into both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. This is a great chance to see all the Halloween fun that's happening in Disney California Adventure, like the Headless Horseman statue on Buena Vista Street and Radiator Screams in Cars Land. Your Halloween Party ticket also includes PhotoPass during the event, so this is a great time to get a few pictures with your favorite characters. Remember that there will be a dedicated Villains Square in Disneyland during the Halloween Party, so you can wait until then for any pictures with villains.

3. Take advantage of shorter 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.

Trick-or-treating at Mickey's Halloween Party with kids

Trick-or-treating at Mickey's Halloween Party with kids (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

4. Enjoy a few treats, but set limits.

An additional opportunity to go trick-or-treating is part of the allure of Mickey's Halloween Party with kids. But, 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.

5. 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. Expect a mix of Halloween spookiness and Christmas tradition. Lines for both of these attractions, as you might expect, can remain quite long throughout Mickey's Halloween Party.

During Mickey's Halloween Part with kids, we were able to convince my kindergartener to go on the Haunted Mansion ride for the first time ever. Afterwards he said, “Never ever let me ride that ever again, unless I'm a teenager or a grown-up!” Well, a few years later he is still not a teen but he does enjoy the ride. 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. That's something I have done on more than one occasion with my son.

6. Watch a Halloween-themed Disney parade.

Kids love a parade, especially a Halloween-themed Disney one. Parade enthusiasts start lining up along Main Street's curb long before the “Frightfully Fun Parade” cavalcade begins. Since my family isn't big on waiting for anything, we don'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. You'll want to get there about 10 minutes early to watch the Ride of the Headless Horseman as he announces the parade to all down Main Street U.S.A., though.

The headcheese, Mickey Mouse, in a Halloween-themed parade at Disneyland

The headcheese, Mickey Mouse, in a Halloween-themed parade at Disneyland (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

7. 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 Disney World and other Disney parks, on Disney Cruise Line, 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.

8. Know when to call it quits at Mickey's Halloween Party with kids.

The party lasts until 11 pm on weeknight parties or 12 am on weekend parties. If you have young children, I suggest turning in 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 when you attend Mickey's Halloween Party with kids!

9. Buy tickets Mickey's Halloween Party tickets early.

As you can imagine, Mickey's Halloween Party tickets sell out each year. In fact, they are already sold out for 2017. Typically tickets go on sale in July. If you don't already have your tickets, put a reminder in calendar for next year now!

10. Save Money on your Disneyland vacation.

Want to save money on your Disneyland vacation? Of course you do! Use discount code TravelMamas to get $10 off any two-night or longer Southern California package (hotel and two ticket minimum) when you book through Get Away Today. Just want tickets? Buy discounted Disneyland Park tickets now! Consider booking a character meal to add even more magic to your visit. Read our Disneyland character meal reviews to choose the best one for your family. Click here to save up to $11 per adult meal and up to $5 per child meal.

Read more about why to visit Disneyland in fall now!

Have you ever attended Mickey's Halloween Party with kids? Let us know your tips or questions in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: My family received complimentary tickets to Mickey's Halloween Party in 2013. All opinions are mine, as always. This story was updated to reflect changes to the party in 2017. 

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About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

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.

Comments

  1. I have always wanted to visit during Mickey’s Halloween Party – it looks like so much fun! Good advice about taking cues from your kids. We have had the same issue with Haunted Mansion – my older daughter started riding it when she was 7 but my younger (more sensitive) daughter was traumatized by the experience at the same age and I felt horrible for having talked her into riding it!

  2. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

    Lisa – Agreed! I have seen parents force very young children (age 2 or 3?) to ride the Haunted Mansion with heartbreaking results. What’s the point if they are going to be traumatized? Better to focus on the rides you know they’ll enjoy when they’re little because before you know it, Fantasyland isn’t cool any more and you’ll be longing for those days!

  3. You were an awesome Minnie. And those fireworks were spectacular!

  4. Ellen Lanin says:

    I don’t think I will ever be too old to enjoy Disney’s creative genius. I love reading about it almost as much as experiencing it.

  5. Thanks for this post! I just bought our tickets for my little family to go this year.

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