Disneyland starts celebrating the holidays at Halloween, with lots of special decorations and activities for Disney’s HalloweenTime. What was already a fun time to go is now even more busy, but our tips for planning ahead will help you make the most of it.
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 Mickey's Halloween Party is held, the park closes earlier than normal (unless you have a separate ticket for the party).
See It Now: Photo Tour
Disneyland at Halloween
Halloween Decorations: 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.
Character Costumes: Many of the Disney characters will be wearing their own 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.
Haunted Mansion: The special 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. This is Disneyland's best Halloween spot. 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 sound track and special effects just for the holiday. The creepy, projected character that cast members call Dolores shows up during the ride, sometimes seeming so much in your face that you feel like she's going to get into the car with you. Outside, projections turn the roof into a morphing montage of textures and effects.
Halloween Screams Fireworks: It's a special show just for the season, but only during Mickey's Halloween Party.
Mickey's Halloween Party: This event happens on October Tuesdays, Fridays and Halloween night and requires a special ticket purchase, which gives access to attractions, exclusive seating for the fireworks and other activities. Adults can wear costumes to the party, a privilege normally restricted to the under-ten set. Read more about it here.
- Disney's Happiest Haunts Tour: A special version of the behind-the-scenes tour, visiting all the special holiday attractions and with reserved seating for the fireworks. Call 714-781-4565 to reserve it, up to one month in advance. Read a detailed review of the tour at MousePlanet.
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California Adventure at Halloween
Most of the Halloween-themed rides are in Disneyland, but at California Adventure's Tower of Terror, Hollywood Tower Hotel staff members greet guests and relate their own creepy tales.
Plan Ahead for Disneyland at Halloween
2014 dates have not been announced yet. For a few days after the decorations go up and on Halloween night, the place gets jam-packed. If you can, try to go on a Sunday or weekday, when crowds will be smaller.
The crowds are also more manageable if you plan ahead. These are some things to do:
- If you're going for more than one day, buy your Disneyland tickets online in advance to avoid standing in line for them.
- Use Ridemax to avoid standing in line at the rides.
- Reserve Disneyland tours such as the Happiest Haunts Tour or Walk in Walt's Footsteps a month in advance. Call 714-781-4585.
- Make reservations for Disneyland restaurants such as the Blue Bayou at least two weeks in advance at 714-781-3463.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary admission for the purpose of researching this story. While it has not influenced this article, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.