Disneyland does not skimp when it comes to Halloween. From spooky decorations to transformed rides, it should be an experience that every Disneyland enthusiast should experience. Growing up in California, I grew up going to Disneyland, but this was my first Disneyland Halloween experience and it definitely lived up to the hype.
The only downside was the insane crowds. I’ve never seen Disneyland so full. It was hard to ignore the giant masses of people, which seemed to only multiply at night. Props though to Disneyland workers who were directing the crowds with glow sticks to try to maneuver guests around in the best way possible.
Despite the crowds though we still had fun, because it’s hard to go wrong with Disneyland AND Halloween.
So without further ado, here are some highlights and park tips from the Spookiest Place on Earth…
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Disneyland Halloween Dates
Halloween starts at Disneyland on September 7, 2018 and goes until October 31, 2018. Get in the spirit and wear a costume if you want. There were plenty of people (and whole families) that get dressed up at both the park and for Mickey’s Halloween Party. If you are crowd-adverse, avoid the weekends right before Halloween if you want to maintain any of your sanity. If you don’t mind celebrating Halloween a month early, seriously consider going in early September.
Mickey’s Halloween Party, is a separate ticketed event, which takes place on selected Monday through Friday nights and causes the park to close down early for those without tickets. Fridays are the most popular time unsurprisingly, and tends to sell out first.
The Haunted Mansion
This ride is one of the most popular attractions during Halloween, where the entire attraction is transformed with a Nightmare Before Christmas theme. It’s fun to see the Haunted Mansion dressed up for Halloween, but honesty I prefer the original better. Maybe if you’re a Nightmare Before Christmas fan this will be your jam, but I just felt like the animation took away from the scare factor. Make sure to get a FASTPASS for this ride early on, since we got one around noon for a 6:50-7:50 slot no joke.
Space Mountain is the other highly anticipated ride during Disneyland Halloween. The theme is a ghoulishly galaxy where supernatural spirits lurk around every corner. Unlike the regular version, the Halloween one is completely in the dark, which makes the twist and turns even more unexpected. A FASTPASS is a must.
Main Street U.S.A. Decorations
Some of the best decorations are right when you enter the park, with large orange streamers across a majority of the buildings, and a giant illuminated Mickey pumpkin at the entrance. The glowing, carved pumpkins representing each of the lands at the foot of the Walt Disney statue at the end of Main Street are also worth checking out and a great spot for taking a photo with a backdrop of the Sleeping Beauty Castle lit up at night.
Some of the best decorations are tucked away in Frontierland. There’s The Halloween Tree (based off of the 1972 fantasy novel by Ray Bradbury), which is an illuminated tree with mini pumpkins hanging from the branches. Definitely worth checking out. There were also the Dia De Los Muertos decorations, which was a nice nod to Mexican heritage and a large part of Southern California’s population. It was good to see Disney being more inclusive in general, and I noticed that the announcements for rides are now in both English and Spanish, which is awesome.
Characters in Costume
Most of the characters in costume will be at Mickey’s Halloween Party, but you may be able to spot some roaming around in the park. Jack and Sally have been spotted near the Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square. Mickey and Minnie make an appearance in their Halloween costumes at random times around the park. Be sure to check the Disneyland App for scheduled appearances, or check in with a cast member for exact times.
Disneyland Halloween Treats
Disney definitely does not disappoint when it comes to Halloween treats at Disneyland. The ever-popular churros are dusted in orange, black and purple sugar located at the churro carts around the park. There are poison carmel apples and Mickey and Minnie Day of the Dead rice crispy treats (a personal favorite) in places like the Candy Palace on Main Street. There are also a bunch of seasonal treats like pumpkin fudge and the ever-popular pumpkin cheesecake.
Mickey’s Halloween Party
The other major attraction is Mickey’s Halloween Party, which requires a separate ticket. The park is closed to normal guests on the 13 nights that it’s held on. The highlights include the Frightfully Fun Parade, HalloScreams fireworks, costumes (though not mandatory), character meet-and-greets, and unlimited trick or treating. You can get into the park up to three hours earlier before the party starts to ride the rides, and you can also take advantage of the shorter ride lines during the party. If you have any dietary restrictions/allergies look out for the special marked bags. Advanced tickets are $95-$130, and you save if you are an annual pass holder. If you buy tickets day of they are $105-$130.
*Updated August 20, 2018*
Where To Stay Near Disneyland
There is the trio of Disney hotels: the Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier Hotel, and Grand Californian Hotel, but if you are looking for a more moderate price range these are great alternatives that are close by. If you don’t have a rental car, ride shares like Uber and Lyft are great options for zipping to and from the park.
A 15-minute walk to Disneyland (you can see Disney California Adventure across the street), this hotel is a clean, spacious home base. The area is well lit, so you can feel safe coming home from the park late at night. The pool area is a nice retreat with two large pools, two hot tubs, and shaded cabana areas. A hot breakfast is included.
A bit further from the park, this 3-star hotel is modern, clean, and offers spacious suites complete with modern kitchenettes. A reasonably priced option for families or travelers looking to have the convenience of a fridge, microwave, and stove top in their rooms. Walking to the park is a bit far (25 minutes or more), but a blink of an Uber ride takes you straight to the front gates.
A mid-range hotel that is a solid choice with amenities that include an outdoor pool, snack bar, and a complementary hot breakfast buffet. Suite rooms include a separate living room area with a sofa pull-out bed, that is perfect for larger groups. Ask for a back-facing room to avoid highway noise. Disney is a quick 11-minute walk door to door.