How to Have the Best Halloween Ever at Disney

It may be back-to-school season everywhere else, but at Disney Parks, the end of summer means it's time for Halloween.

Disneyland Halloween
Photo: Mariah Tyler

If you’ve never visited a Disney theme park between August and October, you may not realize that Disneyland and Walt Disney World take this spook-tacular holiday as seriously as they do Christmas. Oversized pumpkins decorate Main Street, USA, Disney Villains appear en mass and certain rides are overhauled to better fit the season.

It’s not just the ability to wear costumes and nab quick-to-sell-out seasonal merchandise that makes Disneyland and Walt Disney World worth visiting around Halloween. Both parks have spectacularly themed parties, which bring with them eerie entertainment and more Disney villains than you’ve ever seen in one night.

Whether or not you’re planning to attend the ticketed festivities — which, in our opinion, you should — here’s what spooks are in store from now until November at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts.

Celebrations that will outshine other park visits

Disney’s Halloween parties are five-hour spectacles with themed entertainment including meet-and-greets with rare Disney characters, haunted parades and performances, fireworks, and other spooky surprises you won’t find at Disneyland Park or Magic Kingdom any other time. There are no gruesome sights or haunted houses (besides The Haunted Mansion) to deter young ones, either. Instead, it’s all about the theme and embracing kid-friendly fun. The parks, too, are closed to daily guests during each party, allowing for an immersive experience with the added bonus of shorter wait times for popular attractions.

New in 2019 is Oogie Boogie Bash — A Disney Halloween Party, which replaces Disneyland’s popular Mickey’s Halloween Party and moves from Disneyland Park to Disney California Adventure. Here, guests can find new offerings including a walk-through Villains Grove maze, enhanced treat trails and a new World of Color show exclusive to party guests.

Party tickets and park tickets are not the same thing

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is offered on select evenings through Nov. 1. Party admission, which starts at $79 per person, increases gradually in price as dates get closer to Halloween night, reaching $135 per adult. (A discount is available: attendees save $10 by purchasing tickets at least one day in advance for all party nights except Oct. 31.) Ticket holders can enter the park three hours before the party begins to maximize their Halloween fun inside Magic Kingdom. For those who want to enjoy Disney Halloween as much as possible, Magic Kingdom is now offering a “party pass” to attend multiple Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween parties throughout the season. Move quickly, as there are limited quantities available.

Disneyland Resort’s Oogie Boogie Bash — A Disney Halloween Party has sold out for the 2019 season.

If you are visiting Disney World in late August, September, or October, keep in mind that both California’s Disneyland and Florida’s Magic Kingdom closes early on park nights to daily guests — i.e. no fireworks — and party admission is an entirely separate fee from multi-day ticket admission, so plan your vacation accordingly.

Even adults can wear costumes

Disney Parks famously don’t allow guests over the age of 14 to dress in costume, but an exception is made during Halloween Party nights at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Attendees of all ages are allowed to arrive as any character or princess they prefer, and families often attend Mickey’s Halloween Parties in elaborate Disney-themed costumes.

There are very specific rules on what can and cannot be worn, however, so be sure to check Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort websites for restrictions prior to arriving in that Cinderella ball gown, which better not touch the ground.

Trick-or-treating for Park Guests of All Ages

Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Disney World are known for their unlimited “treat trails," which off-load more sweets and surprises than you’ve ever gotten going door-to-door back home. Regular attendees know to bring their own bag (preferably pillowcase sized or larger) because adults and children alike take home piles of chocolate, candy, and allergy-friendly snacks with the only limit to one’s haul being how much you can carry.

In California, Oogie Boogie Bash treat trails have dedicated character appearances, while party-specific indulgences like themed cupcakes, graveyard sweets and spicy nachos will be for sale during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party dates in Florida. Have a sweet tooth that can’t be tamed by candy bars? Magic Kingdom also offers dessert parties with reserved viewing areas for nighttime shows and Cruella’s Halloween Hide-A-Way for themed snacks and interactions with the devilish outlaw, while Disney California Adventure’s Wine Country Trattoria offers a dining package with views of the Frightfully Fun Parade on a first-come, first-served basis.

Villainous Parades, Fireworks, and Entertainment

Fireworks feature evil beings, performances recall 90s witchy favorites, and parades get bone-chilling additions during Disney’s Halloween parties. Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, for example, is an annual stage show at Walt Disney World helmed by the Sanderson Sisters and starring a handful of nefarious favorites like Maleficent and Dr. Facilier. Disney California Adventure offers Mickey’s Trick & Treat, a new stage show on party nights that’s perfect for kids, and a “Descendants”-themed dance party at both coasts’ celebrations.

And though Mickey, Minnie, and the rest of the gang don delightful costumes, Disney villains also come out en mass at both coasts’ events. This is when you'll have a chance to face Jack Skellington, The Queen of Hearts, and Cruella de Vil at all-night meet-and-greets, while a special Halloween parade is kicked off on both coasts with a spellbinding ride by the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

Don’t leave these parties early, because you won't want to miss the haunting rendition of the parks' nightly fireworks. Halloween Screams at Disneyland and Happy HalloWishes at Disney World summon Oogie Boogie, Ursula, Jafar, and others to torment the skies above Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella Castle. It's an exclusive treat for party-goers only.

Don’t leave these parties early, because you won't want to miss the haunting rendition of each park’s nightly performances. New to Disney World in 2019 is Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular, a riveting extravaganza hosted by “The Nightmare Before Christmas’” Jack Skellington with sky-high explosions and castle projections that replaces Happy HalloWishes. Villainous! World of Color, the all-new show, debuts in 2019 as well as part of California’s Oogie Boogie Bash.

Season-long Halloween Decorations and Merchandise

Both Walt Disney World as well as Disneyland are transformed by decorations, themed food (think: Haunted Mansion cakes and chocolate Mickey Halloween Cupcakes with purple marshmallow fluff), and drink specials in the weeks leading up to Halloween — not to mention some of the best souvenirs you’ll find all year. And you don't even need to pay extra admission to the parties to experience the chilling fun.

There are Hocus Pocus-themed T-shirts and trinkets featuring the dysfunctional sisters, a limited-edition Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Magic Band that comes in a chocolate-scented box, and Jack-o’-lantern Mickey Mouse mugs that are an Instagram favorite. (It’s no surprise Halloween must-haves are known to sell out quickly.)

There are themed “spirit jersey” shirts, limited-edition Magic Bands, trick-or-treat bags and stuffed animals with characters like Pluto and Minnie Mouse in costume, as well as collectible Jack Skellington sippers and Oogie Boogie popcorn buckets that are known to sell out quickly.

All of the seasonal food at Disneyland Resort is offered all day at both theme parks, and due to Mickey’s Halloween Party switching parks to become Oogie Boogie Bash, Disneyland’s Halloween Screams nighttime show is available to all guests, with the addition of fireworks on select evenings.

Ghoulishly Redone Rides

Four attractions celebrate the Halloween season during Magic Kingdom’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Mad Tea Party has special lighting effects and spooky music, Space Mountain boasts a Halloween soundtrack, Pirates of the Caribbean adds actual live pirates inside the attraction and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor cracks autumnal jokes, exclusively on party nights.

At Disney California Adventure, all of Cars Land’s festive theming will be available to both day guests and party attendees. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters will add a holiday spin, as Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT! transforms into a “Monsters After Dark” version with new music and a fresh storyline every afternoon this fall and all day on Halloween. Redwood Creek Challenge Trail attraction will also embrace the lore of famed Disney villains this year as well with a walk-through experience exclusively offered at Oogie Boogie Bash.

And as always, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” lands at Disneyland Park with Jack Skellington’s annual full-fledged takeover of Haunted Mansion. With a new gingerbread house each year that fills the attraction with a sugar-tinged scent in the air, 2019’s creation honors Haunted Mansion’s 50th anniversary, complete with a gingerbread hatbox ghost, “stretching room” tightrope walker and a full detailed recreation of the mysterious house. Even if you can’t make it to Disneyland in the fall, you can enjoy the Tim Burton masterpiece all winter long, as Haunted Mansion Holiday remains open until early 2020.

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