Disneyland starts celebrating the holidays at Halloween, with lots of unique decorations and activities for Disney’s Halloween time. What was already a fun time to go is now even busier, but these tips for planning will help you make the most of it.
Not to be left out, the bakeries and eateries also feature seasonal goodies which change every year.
Plan Ahead for Disneyland at Halloween
For a few days after the decorations go up and on Halloween night, the parks are jam-packed. If you can, try to go on a Sunday or weekday, when crowds will be smaller. You can also use the crowd predictor calendar at isitpacked.com to find days when fewer visitors are expected.
The crowds are also more manageable if you plan ahead. These are some things to do:
- Buy your Disneyland tickets online in advance to avoid standing in line for them.
- To avoid standing in line at the rides, use Ridemax to plan your day. And learn about all the other ways you can shorten your wait time.
- Reserve Disneyland tours such as the Happiest Haunts Tour or Walk in Walt's Footsteps 30 days in advance. Call 714-781-8687 to make reservations.
- Make reservations for Disneyland restaurants such as the Blue Bayou at 60 days in advance at 714-781-3463 or reserve online.
- Get tickets for the annual Halloween party as soon as you can after they go on sale. The most desirable dates sell out fast, and all ticket may be sold a month or two ahead of time.
If you plan to visit Disneyland during the Halloween season, check their calendar ahead of time to be sure you know what the hours are. On days when the annual Halloween Party is held, the park hosting it closes earlier than usual (unless you have a separate ticket for the party). When that happens, the other park will get more crowded as non-party-goers move to it.
Halloween decorations appear everywhere in Disneyland, starting at the entrance gates. Town Square at the end of Main Street boasts a 16-foot tall Mickey-Mouse-shaped jack-o-lantern that's very popular for photographs, and Main Street is decked out in orange and yellow bunting, with more than 300 pumpkins peeping from its windows.
California Adventure also puts up decorations, although they are not as extensive as the ones in Disneyland.
The Character Halloween Costumes
Many of the Disney characters will be wearing their Halloween costumes as they greet guests. Young girls especially seem to enjoy wearing their Disney princess outfits while visiting the park, and if you buy them one for their visit, they can wear it for the holiday, too.
The Haunted Mansion Holiday
The Halloween decorations in Haunted Mansion Holiday, based on Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas," are extensive and whimsical, with jack-o-lanterns replacing the hitchhiking ghosts and Jack Skellington's sleigh perched on the roof.
The entire building is redecorated with such attention to detail that you may want to ride it twice to take it all in and be sure to stop by after dark when candles flicker outside.
Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy
Every year in the fall, a bunch of ghosts move into Space Mountain, bringing along a playlist and special effects just for the holiday. Aboard a haunted starship, riders navigate through pitch-black space, dodging past glowing projections. During the ride, a chorus of screams and ghostly music provide the soundtrack. Outside, projections turn the roof into a morphing montage of textures and effects.
On select nights in September and October, the Disneyland Resort hosts family-friendly Halloween parties.
Adults can wear costumes to the party; a privilege restricted to the under-ten set the rest of the year. Separate admission tickets are required to attend these events, but crowd size is limited reducing the time you spend standing in line.
Besides the chance to enjoy the park without so many other people crowding around you, you'll find seasonal things to do and see. They include parades, fireworks, and trick-or-treating stations, along with the chance to snap photos with Disney villains.
The Halloween Souvenirs and Treats
Disneyland comes up with sweet treats for every holiday and season. These candy apples were on sale in the candy shop window on Main Street USA.
You can also pick up an inexpensive souvenir at Halloween, especially if you like popcorn. Disney creates a new popcorn bucket design every year. In the past, it has featured Zero, who is Jack Skellington's faithful ghost dog in Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas," and a cute Cinderella's carriage.
When the Halloween party is at California Adventure, expect a similar seasonal show at World of Color featuring many of Disney's best-known villains.
If the Halloween party is in Disneyland, they produce a fireworks show created just for the season, and only shown on party nights. Jack Skellington greets the crowd, and as the fireworks burst overhead, there are images of famous Disney villains and ghosts projected on Sleeping Beauty's Castle, all set to a medley of Halloween music.
Disney's Happiest Haunts Tour
The two-and-a-half-hour Happiest Haunts Tour takes guests on a journey throughout the park. The guide will share ghost stories as you walk through the park, and will teach you about characters and spirits from The Haunted Mansion and films throughout the decades.
To take the tour, you need a park entrance ticket, and you will pay an additional tour fee. Everyone receives a special treat and a commemorative pin. Call 714-781-8687 to reserve it, up to 30 days in advance.
California Adventure at Halloween
Most of the Halloween-themed rides are in Disneyland.
Cars Land gets a Haul-O-Ween makeover as the citizens of Radiator Springs don Halloween costumes and decorate their respective homes for the season.
Guardians of the Galaxy–Mission Breakout gets a Halloween rescue mission in Guardians of the Galaxy–Monsters After Dark.