By Jennifer Stuart
Do you love fall or Halloween? Love pumpkins and spooks? Find out all the reasons why fall is fabulous at Disneyland and why this just might be the best time of year to visit.
Fall at Disneyland is officially called Halloweentime. You will find that many of the fall season offerings deftly have a Halloween flair. The official start of Halloweentime changes every year but look for it to be mid to late September and to end Oct 31.
The moment you walk into the entrance plaza you can see the huge pumpkin versions of Mickey and the rest of the fab five above the main gates. These really set the tone for the decorations throughout the park. There are fall leaves and yellow and orange bunting around the Town Square and down Main Street USA. Disneyland is pumpkin-rific! The giant Mickey jack o’ lantern in Town Square is a favourite photo spot.
Take time to check out the fall and Halloween window displays as you wander down Main Street. Many people will walk quickly by, but these little details can add so much atmosphere to your visit.
The partners statue in the hub is ringed with pumpkins carved with images of Disney characters to represent the different lands. In New Orleans Square the decorations are darker and spookier as befits it’s location next to the Haunted Mansion. Thinks black ribbons and garlands and lots of skulls. In Frontierland the decorations are based on Dia de los Muertos - the Mexican Day of the Dead. Near Rancho del Zocalo you will find a colourful area dedicated to this holiday.
If you can’t live without your Pumpkin Spice Latte, fear not! Market House in Disneyland and Fiddler, Fife and Practical Café in California Adventure are Starbucks locations within the parks.
If you are a pumpkin fan, like us, you will be pleased with the seasonal food items that rely heavily on the pumpkin and apple flavours of the season. Recommended are the beignets (Mint Julep Bar, Café Orleans), the pumpkin cheesecake (Jolly HolidayBakery Café) and the always amazing caramel apples. They do some great seasonal decorations, think poison apple, sugar skulls and this year if you can find it the Evil Queen caramel apple has been spotted in the park.
Disneyland has really kicked up their seasonal food and snacks offerings in recent years. Now most restaurants have at least one and usually several special offerings. From the cutest desserts and cookies to specialty mains and other snacks. Look for a foodie guide to be available on the Disney Parks blog and a print version at park entrances. For some of our favourites you can read our post on Must Try Halloween Snacks at Disneyland
Halloween Ride Overlays
Disneyland does 2 special rides for the fall that are overlays of existing rides. Space Mountain becomes Space Mountain – Ghost Galaxy and Haunted Mansion becomes Haunted Mansion Holiday.
Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy
This is essentially the same ride as the regular Space Mountain but the visuals have changed. A ghostly goblin or a disembodied head may flash up during the ride, and think creepy music and screams as a soundtrack.
Haunted Mansion Holiday
The idea behind Haunted Mansion Holiday is that Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas has taken over the Haunted Mansion and has combined the holidays. This is a dramatic re-theming of the classic Haunted Mansion ride. The outside sets the scene as Christmas and Halloween collide - holly and pumpkins, skulls and Sandy Claws. In the stretching room your ghost host has a different dialogue to prepare you for the ride to come. Really, the whole ride is different than the traditional Haunted Mansion. Haunted Mansion Holiday is very popular so Fastpass machines are added to what is normally not a Fastpass ride. Machines are located towards the New Orleans Train Station side of the rear of the Mansion.
There are also several Halloween ride overlays in Carsland. Check out our post on Disney California Adventure at Halloween for more details. (Coming Soon)
The Halloween Tree
As a Disney nerd I love the Halloween Tree in Frontierland. This oak tree is a symbol of the long-time association between the author Ray Bradbury and Disney. The tree was inspired by Ray Bradbury’s story the Halloween Tree.
Insider tip: Check out the tree in both daytime and nighttime. In the day it is easier to see the faces on the jack o’lanterns and at night it is very atmospheric with all of the orange lights.
Characters in Costumes
If you love to meet characters this is the season to find Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Daisy in their Halloween Costumes. Personally I love Goofy in his skeleton costume.
I don’t know what the statistics are but I find that I see more villains available for meet and greets in the park in the fall. A highlight of Mickey’s Halloween Party is definitely meeting all the wonderful villains but even without attending the party I find I can meet a lot of villains. Last fall we met the Evil Queen, Jafar and Claude Frolo walking around the Park. Also, if you like Jack Skellington and Sally this is the only time I know of to meet them.
If you love Halloween and you love souvenirs then this is the time for you! For the best selection of Halloween items check out the Emporium on Main Street – it is huge and always has a big selection of items. If you are looking for fun candy or sweet treats check out the Candy Palace on Main Street, Pooh Corner in Critter Country or Trolley Treats in California Adventure. If you love the Haunted Mansion or Nightmare before Christmas then you will want to look for the cart outside the Haunted Mansion or the larger section in the Bat En Rouge in New Orleans Square.
Pin collectors should note that there are usually several special Halloween pins released every year. We love to get a pin to celebrate each trip and this is a great way to commemorate a fall trip.
While it is entirely possible to enjoy the fall season at Disneyland without attending the Halloween Party at Disneyland, it certainly is a fun special event. In 2019 Mickey's Halloween Party was moved across the esplanade to Disney California Adventure and re-branded at the Oogie Boogie Bash. For more information about the Oogie Boogie Bash you can read our review - Oogie Boogie Bash- Everything You Need to KNow
Fall Fun in the Sun
You may be thinking fall but check the weather before you pack those sweaters. Nights can get a little cooler and if a breeze kicks up I often wear a sweater. Days usually average in the 80s°F (20s C). 90°F (30 C) is not uncommon and last year during the October heatwave we had temperatures averaging over 110 °F (44° Celsius) Check the weather forecasts and pack accordingly. We like using accuweather because you can see well in advance what the historical averages are if you are planning ahead.
Hotel and Airfare Deals
Deals are definitely available for most dates in the fall. Starting in early summer you will usually start to see specials for fall travel as this is not a peak season. Keep an eye out for deals on your own or use an app like Hopper that will keep track of prices for you. Promotions are always subject to change but in the past we have found this time of year to offer good pricing and lower crowds. The exception to this are the Columbus Day weekend (or as we in Canada call it, Thanksgiving) and special event days such as Dapper Days or Run Disney weekends.
Insider Tip: If you do plan to tack on a holiday to the Columbus Day/Canadian Thanksgiving weekend choose to add days before the weekend as that week is typically less busy than the week after the holiday.
If you enjoyed this post you may be interested in some of our other Disneyland Halloween Posts.
Photos by Jennifer Stuart and Kim Stuart
Comments? Questions? We would love to hear from you.
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