Cast a spell on your little ghouls and goblins with a visit to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure this Halloween season. The pure magic we all know and love about Disney fills every crevice of the Parks with an eerie Halloween spirit that will enchant your whole family and kids of all ages. From the outrageously delicious treats to the spookily transformed attractions and all your favorite characters dressed-up in costume, here’s how to have the most wickedly grand time on your trip now through Oct. 31st. Read on for the details.

Halloween at Disneyland

Disneyland is decked out in giant jack o’ lanterns for the Main Street Pumpkin Festival and the characters roam the Park dressed to the nines in their finest Halloween costumes, so get ready for plenty of fun photo ops. Check the character schedule here. Carve out some time to visit the Haunted Mansion Holiday, which features Jack Skellington, Sally and Oogie Boogie as it has been made over in the theme of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Older kids and adults can revel in the chilling phantom screams and effects that have possessed Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy (warning: it’s not for the faint of heart and small children may be disturbed by the frightening ghost images, sound effects and darkness).

The Fantasmic! show is not to be missed! Featuring spellbinding pyrotechnics, fireworks, dancing water, a gigantic, life-sized dragon, an enormous pirate ship and Mickey himself, this evening musical under the stars is full of thrills you have to see to believe.

Disney Villains descend upon the Parks to put a chill in the air and make more Halloween-inspired memories… and to leave a spooky impression your camera roll.

Good to know: Be sure to download the Disney Mobile App to your phone before your visit. It offers a wealth of information including showtimes, ride wait times, the ability to order food or reserve dining and it’s a streamlined way to get your FASTPASS with Disney MaxPass and to take advantage of Disney PhotoPass.

Halloween at Disney California Adventure Park

Disney California Adventure takes on an ominous ambiance for Halloween, decorated in frightful decor and spooky sounds as Oogie Boogie lords over the entrance greeting visitors. A sight to behold: a 10-foot tall Headless Horseman statue raising his jack o’ lantern head in the sky rides a horse that emits smoke from his fiery nostrils.

Cars Land has received a total overhaul this Halloween and kids will be revved up at the endless sights and delights of ‘Radiator Screams.’ Ride on Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree and take a spin on Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween. Fans of the films will get a huge hit out of posing for a pic alongside Mater dressed up as a vampire, Red the firetruck in a giggle-worthy clown costume and Lightning McQueen looking dapper in a superhero costume! Cruise in to the Cozy Cone Motel (complete with giant cones with jack o’ lantern faces) to meet and greet these beloved characters.

Older kids and grown-ups will find Guardians of the Galaxy transformed after sunset! The attraction becomes Monsters After Dark, an unforgettable Halloween adventure (it’s scary).

Good to know: Let the littles stay up past their bedtime to experience the magic of Cars Land after dark, which shines in splendor with purple and green tree lights and clever, car-themed Halloween decor from car-achnids dangling from above to jack-oil-lanterns. The details are mind-blowing and super fun.

Halloween Food & Beverages: Spooktacular Treats!

There are so many treats and savory meals and delightful drinks on offer this Halloween that you need to grab a Halloween Time Food Guide at the Park entrance to eat your way through your visit! A seemingly endless variety of churros and dipping sauces dot the scene––from a Sour Apple Churro with caramel dipping sauce to a dark but sweet Maleficent Churro. The Mickey Mummy Macaron (above) is as adorable as it is delicious, the decadent red velvet Sleepy Hollow Cupcake is decorated with a white chocolate Headless Horseman, caramel, chocolate and candy-coated apples including the Evil Queen Apple and a bewitching Minnie Witch apple are a feast for the eyes, Pumpkin Spice Funnel Cake Fries are a dessert your whole clan can share and wash down with a Pumpkin Pie Shake. You can also take home souvenir novelties like a Poison Apple Mug, Cauldron Popcorn Bucket and so much more. Get ready for a real sugar rush because there’s a delightful bite at every turn. Savory dishes like Fire Dragon Tacos and Anti-Vampire Chicken Pizza put a magical spin on mealtime too.

Good to know: You can save time by ordering food via the Disneyland App on your phone (and link it to your annual passport to receive your discount). Skip the lines and simply pick up your food and enjoy!

photo: Disneyland

Dia de los Muertos

Celebrate Dia de los Muertos in true Disney fashion by enjoying the Plaza de la Familia festivity which runs through Nov. 4, 2018 at Disney California Adventure Park. Storytelling, folklórico dancers in vibrant costumes and mariachi musicians are highlights and this year Miguel from Coco joins the fun! There will also be delicious Mexican food and interactive experiences including a new craft where kids can make colorful masks like the ones seen in the film Coco. Be sure to cruise over to Cars Land to see Ramone’s tribute to Day of the Dead at Ramone’s House of Body Art. Ramone celebrates this time when families gather to remember their loved ones with a traditional ofrenda display honoring the great Doc Hudson.

photo: Disneyland

Mickey’s Halloween Party

A ticket to Mickey’s Halloween Party will grant you entrance to both Parks for up to three hours before the Party festivities begin on select nights. This event requires a separate ticket and boasts exclusive entertainment, trick-or-treating at locations throughout Disneyland Park and an opportunity for families to visit the Parks after hours in costumes. The Party features five hours of Halloween themed fun including character greetings, Villain encounters, attractions, pre-parade show of the Headless Horseman Rides Again and “Halloween Screams,” a supernatural firework show hosted by “Master of Scare-omonies,” Jack Skellington. Vampirina will make a special appearance during the “Frightfully Fun Parade” at Mickey’s Halloween Party as well.

Not-So-Spooky-Fun for Preschoolers

Halloween can be too scary for little kids, but Disney ensures even their youngest guests can join in the reverie with age-appropriate experiences at both Parks. You can delight preschoolers with some ghoulish good fun without all the fright. Take tots to meet the spirited Vampirina from the Disney Junior hit series, on San Francisco Street at Disney California Adventure, or treat little ghouls to a magical transformation at Disneyland’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique where they can have hair, nails and make-up done and leave donning a Halloween-inspired Minnie Mouse costume. The vibrant, lively Paint the Night Parade will put a smile on their face as they see their fave, friendly monsters Sulley and Mike dancing and waving to the beat. Preschoolers will also dig grooving to the tunes at the Disney Junior Dance Party (not Halloween themed), where they’ll get to dance and sing along with favorite characters including Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, and Mickey and the gang.

Baby Care Centers

A little known about offering at both Parks are their complimentary Baby Care Centers. Walt Disney himself created these centers as “a place of comfort for my younger guests,” in his own words. These priceless havens of respite are a dream come true for parents with babies and toddlers who need a bit of a break from the action. Here you’ll find caring, helpful Baby Matrons to help tend to your needs in a cozy, quiet environment that offers a private, quiet nursing/pumping room with rockers (they’ll even store your pump for the day), changing tables, family restrooms, kitchen with microwave, a feeding area with high chairs, filtered water and a vending machine filled with baby food, diapers, formula, sunscreen and other necessities. True Disney magic here for moms and dads!

Disneyland & Disney California Adventure
1313 Disneyland Dr.
Anaheim, CA 92802

––Beth Shea


Photos by Beth Shea except where noted.

This trip was paid for by Disneyland, but all opinions here belong to the writer. 


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