Halloween at Disney Parks gets longer every year and Disneyland is no exception. This year, Halloween season officially started on September 2nd and will last through October. There are a number of differences in the parks during these autumn months including decorations, ride overlays, entertainment and specialty food items. In this post, we’ll cover Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort.
Before getting into the specific offerings, I’ll start with a few broader thoughts on visiting Disneyland during this season. While there’s no beating Christmas season at the Disney Parks, Halloween Time has grown in popularity on both coasts. That makes sense, especially at Disneyland Resort. With a broad local base, guests are always looking for things out of the norm and Halloween Time offers plenty of that.
For the last decade, Disney Parks have offered more and more add-on events that people have to pay extra for. Credit to Disneyland Resort for offering nearly everything on this guide during normal park hours. There is the Oogie Boogie Bash at California Adventure, which is a hard ticket event, on select nights throughout September and October. We won’t cover that in this post, but the event does offer a parade, treat trails and special character meet & greets. On nights with the party, California Adventure closes at 6 PM to day guests and Disneyland is typically more crowded. With that in mind, we recommend Park Hopper tickets during this season!
Overall, Disneyland during September and October is an excellent time to visit. There are extra things to see and do in both parks along with all of the classics. I’d put the changes made at this resort higher than any done at the Walt Disney World Parks. Let’s get to the specifics!
The biggest difference in the resort that is impossible not to notice is all of the decorations throughout the parks. Starting in Disneyland, you’ll walk into the crown jewel of Halloween decorations – Pumpkin Mickey! He sits in the middle of Town Square on Main Street and is surprisingly large. There are orange flowers around the area to make him fit in even more! Don’t miss out on seeing Pumpkin Mickey at night when he’s lit up in all of his glory.
There are pumpkins all down Main Street and more character pumpkins on Disneyland’s gate. This is the most decorated area in Disneyland with orange bunting and a number of jack-o-lanterns carved with different faces to make them fit into their respective storefronts. Spending some time in the area and enjoying the decorations is a lovely way to spend half an hour or so. There’s plenty of special Halloween merchandise available in those shops!
Elsewhere in Disneyland, the Haunted Mansion is decorated for its overlay which we will get to later in this post. Near Rancho del Zocalo, there’s a celebration of Dia de los Muertos with skeletons dressed up as a mariachi trio to go along with colorful flowers. It’s a nice area to explore and the colors are especially vibrant at night.
In California Adventure, Buena Vista Street is decked out with purple lit trees, Oogie Boogie projections on Carthay Circle and Halloween inspired décor down the street. All of it is spookily beautiful, especially the trees. Don’t miss the windows going down the street depicting Mickey Mouse in some eerie situations.
Cars Land also gets into the fun with its Haul-O-Ween celebration. While the decorations are up during the day, they’re augmented by the usual nighttime neon. The cones have faces, there are car spiders and other visual treats throughout the land. All of those special decorations completely fit in with the goofy yet enveloping atmosphere that Cars Land already emits.
Finally, in Paradise Gardens Park there is the Plaza de la Familia. This area celebrates the Pixar film, Coco. This area has a number of decorations including the Tree of Life where guests can design their own paper alebrije masks of Dante and Pepita, spirit guides from Coco.
The giant bear at Grizzly River Run has a trick-or-treat bucket and that’s worthy of having its own paragraph.
Downtown Disney also has a few decorations, including some trees with pumpkins in them. Compared to the parks, there isn’t a lot going on here but it’s nice for the festivities to continue even while outside the gates.
One of the most exciting aspects of Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort are the ride overlays! There are four in total, with one at Disneyland and three in Disney California Adventure. The best of these, in my humble opinion, is Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion Holiday. While we adore the classic Haunted Mansion, this overlay puts the characters from Nightmare Before Christmas inside of the hallowed walls. The entire ride is a romp and an absolute blast to go on. The colors are more vibrant than the usual attraction and who doesn’t want to see Jack Skellington, Oogie Boogie and the rest of the gang hanging out with some pumpkin ghosts. I don’t want to give too much away but this is the best ride overlay Disney has ever done, making it a favorite among locals.
Moving over to DCA, Cars Land sees two attractions transformed for Halloween. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is transformed to Mater’s Graveyard Jamboree. The décor is the main thing to change around the ride but there’s also a Halloween song sung by the lovable character himself! Similarly, Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween changes out its song and adds some special décor. No, these aren’t big changes but a nice change of pace. Also, if you were expecting something crazy from Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters then you need to get your priorities checked.
Lastly, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! is transformed every night into Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark. This overlay has guests helping the Guardians rescuing Groot from crazed creatures. Unlike the other overlays, this one is only available in the evening. It appears to start at 3 PM every day in California Adventure with the regular attraction going before that.
Character Meets & Entertainment
As 2021 has always been a little bit strange, the character meet & greets as well as the entertainment is a little bit limited. Special characters will be out but guests will be meeting them at a distance. Personally, I prefer this as it allows for more interesting interactions but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. The real downside is that the only special characters out and about are Jack Skellington and Sally (Nightmare Before Christmas), meeting guests from the second level of the Haunted Mansion. They do look great up there! Over in DCA, Miguel (Coco) is meeting guests in the Plaza de la Familia.
Other typical characters are out and about but wearing their own Halloween costumes! So far, we’ve noticed all of the Fab Five in Disneyland wearing costumes on Main Street. Donald is especially looking good! In California Adventure, Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater are in their own Halloween gear. All in all, these make for some fun character greetings!
While we don’t have as much entertainment as usual, both parks are offering a special show. In Disneyland, that’s Halloween Screams, a nighttime spectacular that’s played on and above the castle at night. The pyro only happens on the weekends but the projections alone are worth seeing if you don’t end up there on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Back in DCA’s Plaza de la Familia, A Musical Celebration of Coco is performed multiple times a day and is exactly what the name says it is! Both entertainment options are well worth checking out!
There’s a number of specialty food items offered throughout Disneyland, California Adventure and Downtown Disney. In fact, there’s so much that we can’t even make a dent in all that’s offered. Disney hasn’t released the Halloween specialty items yet but we will update this post when they do!
We highly recommend Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort, it’s an excellent time to visit with some very exciting and fun additions to the park!
Have you been to Disneyland Resort during Halloween season? Let us know your thoughts, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below! If you are planning a trip to Disneyland, then check out our planning guide. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. You can do all of that on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!