The concepts of Halloween and Disneyland, respectively, used to be two very different, unconnected points of happiness on the timeline of my childhood. Sure, they had a lot in common, whether it be magic, awe, or memories — not to mention more sweets than you can shake a tooth at, but the idea of combining the two was so much bigger than the proverbial chocolate in peanut butter (or vice versa) that such a meeting existed well beyond the confines of my imagination. And I had a great imagination.
Harness the lightning, channel it into the Flux Capacitor, and boom, welcome to the here and now. Don’t touch anything. It is October, 2012, and the idea of celebrating Halloween with Disneyland is well-established. In fact, my kids have rarely known one without the other. Sure, there were a couple of years in the Norman Rockwellesque suburbs of Seattle where the treats were still homemade and every porch offered refills of wine and conversation, but those days faded with the move and left us sitting in our car on a crowded street in an affluent Los Angeles neighborhood with a large mob of drunk and hormonal teenagers shaking the vehicle and cursing at my crying children with demands for their candy. That shiz happened, and the only reason I am alive to write about it is because my wife sped off before I could get out the door and surely die fighting.
Halloween at Disneyland (and California Adventure!) is a lot more fun that that. The park is transformed into a spectacular wonderland (not to be confused with the spectacular wonderland for winter holidays) filled with ghosts, pumpkins, and other family-friendly spookiness of the season. For instance:
Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy takes riders of Space Mountain on a wrong turn into a haunted section of the universe (they must have been using Apple Maps). Along the ride a series of creepy ghosts appear out of the starry, starry night as if to grab guests as they speed through space. Note to parents: The ghosts look like skinless zombies and are kind of gross. My family agreed that they are the scariest thing in the entire park, and therefore my 9-year-old loved it. The 6-year-old? Not so much.
The Haunted Mansion Holiday, in New Orleans Square, is transformed into a mix of Halloween spookiness and Christmas tradition, based on Tim Burton’s classic film The Nightmare Before Christmas. This is always a family favorite and should not be missed.
However, the real magic of Disney meets Halloween comes after the park closes (early hours on specific nights so plan accordingly). Mickey’s Halloween Party is a separate-ticket event that allows guests to have three hours of regular park time before the lights fade and the frights take over. Also, candy.
The “Halloween Screams” fireworks spectacular, hosted by Jack Skellington and presented exclusively for guests of Mickey’s Halloween Party, are among the best fireworks I have ever seen, and I’ve seen me some fireworks.
There is also “Mickey’s Costume Party” cavalcade, DJ dance parties, and dozens of Disney Characters dressed up for Halloween fun — not to mention a plethora of Disney villains filling Town Square for mischief and photo opportunities. Most of the Disneyland rides and attractions remain open throughout the night (although some, like Indiana Jones, are currently closed for regular maintenance).
My family and I attended the event as guests of Disney and it was everything we hoped it would be, and then some. Now for a little something I like to call “Where’s the Jedi?” from our visit to Mickey’s Halloween Party:
And then there is the candy that I alluded to earlier. The park is filled with “treat trails” that let guests wind through a series of candy stands and make out like bandits. The candy is available during the entirety of the event, but I suggest waiting until you are winding down before undertaking the task of trick-or-treating. Yes, it is a lot of walking and ground to cover (start with the trail furthest from the gate and work your way around the hub before turning down Main St.), and it will a) take some time, and b) wear your kid(s) out, but it is better than trying to ride roller coasters with 12 pounds of candy in your lap. Trust me on this.
Mickey’s Halloween Party runs on the following nights: Oct. 2, 5, 9, 12, 15, 19, 23, 26, 29 and 31. Tickets purchased in advance are $54 most days, while tickets purchased on the event days are $64. All tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party on Monday, Oct. 29, and Halloween Night, Wednesday, Oct. 31, are $69.
If you live in SoCal and would like to enter to win two (2) tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party on Oct. 9, then please visit my giveaway on The Disney Blog. Contest ends tomorrow (10/3) at 5 p.m. PST.
Special thanks to the good people at Disneyland for hosting my family and making two little boys very, very happy. Obviously the views are my own, but they were greatly influenced by the smiles of my children. I’m a sucker for that stuff.
Top photo courtesy of Disney/Other Photos
Read more from Whit Honea at his site Honea Express and the popular group blog DadCentric. You can follow Whit on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).
Also from Whit: