Disneyland does not skimp when it comes to Halloween. From spooky decorations to transformed rides, it should be an event that every Disneyland enthusiast should experience. Growing up in California, I grew up going to Disneyland, but this was my first Disneyland Halloween 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 tips on how to make the most of your time at the Spookiest Place on Earth…
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Disneyland Halloween Dates
Halloween starts at Disneyland on September 6, 2019 and goes until October 31, 2019. If you are crowd-adverse, avoid the weekends right before Halloween if you want to maintain your sanity. If you don’t mind celebrating Halloween a month early, seriously consider going in early September. The only downside is that the weather in early to mid-September can be pretty warm, whereas weather in October tends to be more mild. During these early autumn months there is hardly any rain, with clear sunny days that make for a perfect Disney day.
Here’s a month-by-month guide from Magic Guides on the best times to go to Disneyland during the Halloween festivities.
Can I wear a costume?
There were plenty of people (and whole families) that get dressed up at both parks and for Oogie Boogie Bash. Get in the spirit and wear a costume if you want, but remember that there are some rules on what you can and cannot bring, including the following:
- be child-friendly – no be obscene, offensive, or violent (leave your gory masks at home)
- masks are fine, but they must show your eyes
- must not drag on the ground
- no sharp parts that could injure other guests or yourself
- no items that mimic real weapons (guns, swords, knifes)
Basically remember this is not Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights, keep it classy.
The Holiday 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 my favorite ride dressed up, even though I’ll always be partial to the regular decor just because of nostalgia’s sake.
If you’re a Nightmare Before Christmas fan you’ll especially enjoy the complete ride makeover with guest appearances from Jack Skellington, Sally, Oogie Boogie and crew. Keep your eye out for the huge handmade gingerbread house that is the centerpiece in the Haunted Mansion’s ballroom, which takes over 200 hours to construct.
This version of the Haunted Mansion is a bit tamer than the regular one, since it has a more animated feel and can be better for little kids, especially if they know the movie. 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. The Haunted Mansion Holiday is up from September 6, 2019 to January, 6, 2020.
Main Street Pumpkin Festival
Some of the best decorations are right when you enter the park, with colorful orange and yellow banners across a majority of the buildings, and a giant Mickey pumpkin, which is illuminated at night right at the beginning of Main Street. There are also hundreds of pumpkins tucked into corners and ledges on Main Street.
At the foot of the Walt Disney’s statue, carved pumpkins representing each of the lands are also worth checking out and a great spot for taking a photo with the backdrop of the Sleeping Beauty Castle lit up at night. Make sure to also catch the Dapper Dans, a barbershop quartet decked out in their orange Halloween vests, and singing seasonal tunes.
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 is also the Dia De Los Muertos decorations, which is a 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 Oogie Boogie Bash, 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 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.
There are also savory options to balance all that sugar, such as a Halloween hot dog at Refreshment Corner and spice ham musubi from Bengal Barbecue. For a complete list, check out this extensive Disneyland Halloween food guide from Mickey Visit.
Travel tip: make sure to download the Disneyland app and take advantage of mobile ordering at quick service spots like Bengal Barbecue that will cut down significantly on your wait time.
Disney California Adventure Park
Oogie Boogie Bash
The other major attraction is Oogie Boogie Bash in neighboring Disney California Adventure Park, and requires a separate ticket. This party is replacing Mickey’s Halloween Party that took place in prior years in Disneyland. The park is closed to normal guests on the 20 nights that it’s held on starting on September 17, 2019 and running until October 31, 2019. The highlights include Halloween-themed entertainment, costumes (though not mandatory), and character meet-and-greets.
You can get into Disney California Adventure Park up to four hours before the party starts to ride the rides, and you can also take advantage of the shorter ride lines during the party. The party lasts 6:00-11:00pm. Passholder tickets are $100-$145, and regular tickets are $110-$145.
Halloween at Cars Land
One of the most festive spots in Disney California Adventure is Cars Land, which is transformed with Haul-o-Ween decorations. Halloween ride overlays with seasonal soundtracks and decorations includes: Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree into Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree and Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters into Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween. Grab a Halloween treats at the Cozy Cone Inn and Flo’s V-8 Cafe with Car-achnid Pot Pie and the uber-Instagramable Spoke-y Cone Macaron. Costumed Cars characters make appearances throughout “Radiator Screams” to add to the fun.
Buena Vista Street Decorations
Stop by this part of DCA at night to witness all the elaborate decorations, including the trees decked out with purple lights, the Headless Horseman statue bathed in fog, and bats coming out of the Carthay Circle Theatre’s bell tower. Keep your eye out for Mickey, and Minnie in their costumes wandering around this main avenue.
Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark
Guardians of the Galaxy gets a Halloween makeover where the storyline is that you are trying to rescue Baby Groot from the monsters within the tower. Team up with Rocket to battle the evil forces and experience a few thrilling drops along the way. Note that this ride is not for those who get motion sickness easily, or for little kids who are spooked by loud noises or things that pop out at you. The height requirement is 40”.
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 share companies 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.
Are you a fan of Halloween Time at Disneyland?
Updated August 25, 2019