Disneyland is known for going all out at holiday celebrations, and Halloween time at the two California theme parks is no exception. Guests can enjoy cheerful Jack-o’-lanterns lining Main Street U.S.A., Haunted Mansion’s re-emergence as a silver screen joyride, and plenty of festive photo ops — all for the price of a main gate ticket. It’s all delightfully family-friendly, but there’s one addition to the seasonal lineup that might actually have you spooked.
The biggest fright at the Anaheim resort comes not from Oogie Boogie shouting at guests from Disney California Adventure’s front gates or a headless horseman watching over Buena Vista Street. No, the scariest Disney experience you’ll find this fall is on Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy.
With an ever-so-slightly demonic overlay to the out-of-this-world roller coaster proving to be as fun as it is frightening, the seasonal changes to this Tomorrowland favorite will make you scream for reasons beyond its dips and turns. Gone is the funky uptempo soundtrack and star-speckled sky fans know and love, and in its place comes a tense tune and bouts of pitch-black darkness, causing every banked turn and sudden drop to feel faster than usual.
As for that galaxy of ghosts, the fiery undead appear throughout the ride, popping up overhead or with skeletal arms projected to reach out towards your rocket as the eerie sounds leave you out in deep space with nowhere left to turn. This intergalactic thrill ride is still somewhat child-friendly, but be warned. Nothing about the actual attraction changes — the track and queue are all the same — but even the Pumpkin King himself taking helm of Haunted Mansion’s graveyard scene can’t compare to the unexpected spooks on this riveting re-done roller coaster.
It’s not Disneyland’s only ride redux for the season, and in fact, it’s not even the only thrill-stacked one. Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT! completely changes it theme in fall, transforming to become a sequel to the high-energy fortress escape with new music, scenes and story beginning each night at 5pm. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters in Cars Land offer delightfully sweet Halloween updates throughout the fall, a tradition that began last year, and Haunted Mansion twists itself into its very own The Nightmare Before Christmas ride, complete with an enormous gingerbread house on display that changes each year. (2018’s version is a neon green graham cracker mansion covered in spiderwebs and topped with a five foot spider.)
Still, the lighting effects paired with pulsating music and those make for a haunting journey, one that makes a brilliant Halloween-ready effect, as Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy runs until October 31st. You may not have your decorations up, costumes made or candy prepped for trick-or-treaters, but after one ride on this Disneyland bonanza, you’ll be all set for the holiday to arrive.