Updated October 12, 2016
I attended the first Halloween Party on September 23, 2016. Check these posts for MANY photos and details, including the menu and food details from the Blue Bayou dinner option with reserved viewing for the parade.
So, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and if you combine that with Disneyland, it’s almost too much for my little brain to comprehend.
I look forward to this time of year like most children anticipate Christmas morning and from about September 1 to Thanksgiving……everything in my house is draped in burlap, painted orange and tied with a festive grosgrain ribbon. (Children and guinea pigs included.)
We go several times a year to enjoy the parks with all their Halloween magic, so I have several tips on how to get the most out of your experience:
In this article
- What to Expect at Halloween Time
- The Halloween Party
- The Blue Bayou Dinner with Reserved Viewing for the new Frightfully Fun Parade
- The Frightfully Fun Parade and Headless Horseman
- Maps of the Halloween Party
- What You Will Find that is Exclusive to the Halloween Party
- Characters during Halloween Time
- My Suggestions on Making the Best Use of your time at the Halloween Party
- If You’re Not Planning to Attend the Halloween Party
- Follow My Halloween Time Visits
- Additional Info
What to Expect at Halloween Time
Halloween Time at Disneyland is a special way to enjoy the parks and if you’re a fan of fall and orange and pumpkins, you’ll be in heaven. The park, as always, is decorated to perfection and it keeps getting better every year. 2016 Halloween Time occurs from September 9-October 31, 2016.
Halloween Time is a general term given for how both Disneyland and California Adventure celebrate the fall season. Disneyland includes a bigger Halloween focus compared to California Adventure. At DCA, you’ll find that Buena Vista Street is nicely decorated, but you’ll see entirely more at Disneyland in general. There is no additional fee to enjoy the parks at this time. (The Halloween Party includes an additional fee. More on that later.)
Two rides transform for Halloween Time:
- The Haunted Mansion is turned into a celebration of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and Jack Skellington can often be found around the attraction for autographs and photos. Sally is usually with him for the meet-n-greet. Bring your camera and an autograph book for this.
- Space Mountain is turned into Ghost Galaxy.
Special events and other details are included, too, for this time of year:
- Pumpkins adorn every nook and cranny of Main Street and they’re all carved to perfection, with no two alike!
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is celebrating its last few months in the parks with “Last Check Out” during Halloween Time. There is a cute photo op in front of the attraction so that you can commemorate this special ride. PhotoPass+ photographers are on site to help with photos.
- Disney villains can be found throughout the park, as well. Jack Skellington and Sally can often be found around the Haunted Mansion. Cruella de Vil, Dr. Facilier (from The Princess and the Frog), Maleficent, and the witch from Snow White will often wander Main Street, too. There are no specifics provided on where and when to find them. Ask a cast member upon entering the park if they have any tips for the day you are visiting. Use the new Disneyland app to locate them, too. Visit my character post for how to find the ones you want to see, also, before visiting.
- Pumpkin infused and Halloween designed treats can be found all around the park and in Downtown Disney, too. Check out Marceline’s Confectionery in DTD, Candy Palace on Main Street in Disneyland or Trolley Treats on Buena Vista Street at California Adventure.
- Butterscotch beignets (not pumpkin this year!) can be found at The Mint Julep in New Orleans Square and are divine!
- Dia de los Muertos celebrations will be held in Frontierland. It’s colorful and fun.
- Disney’s Happiest Haunts Tours are available for $85.00 a piece, in addition to your theme park ticket. This year, the tour will focus primarily on the Haunted Mansion, with details about its development and design. Check out my review on this year’s experience.
- The Halloween Tree can be found in Frontierland and it’s a site to see. Check out my Facebook post for more details on it and miscellaneous Halloween fun.
The Halloween Party
The Halloween Party is a separate event from Halloween Time and requires an extra ticket. Ticket prices vary per date and the “advance ticket price” is available up until a day prior to the event. (So, buy ahead of time.) Tickets for this event range from $72-$99. Tickets do sell out for the parties, so if you’re interested, buy soon.
On July 21, 2016, tickets went on sale for Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members and Disney Rewards Visa Card Holders. Annual Passholders may buy tickets at a discount for specific days of the week. Check this link for a chart on which days include those discounts. (Limit of 8 can be purchased.)
On July 28, 2016, tickets went on sale for the general public.
Adults and kids pay the same price for party tickets.
As of early October, the Halloween parties are completely sold out.
If you did not buy your tickets on time and the party is showing “Sold Out”, call Disney to see if they’ll sell you tickets. Occasionally, they actually do have a few to sell. Their number is 714.781.4565. Also, if you’re staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel during the timing of a party, sometimes the hotels have tickets the night of for hotel guests to purchase. No guarantee on this, but it’s worth asking if you’re at one of the three hotels.
Dates for the Halloween Party include:
- Friday, September 23, 2016: 7pm-midnight
- Monday, September 26, 2016: 6pm-11pm
- Wednesday, September 28, 2016: 6pm-11pm
- Friday, September 30, 2016: 7pm-midnight
- Monday, October 3, 2016: 6pm-11pm
- Wednesday, October 5, 2016: 6pm-11pm
- Friday, October 7, 2016: 7pm-midnight
- Monday, October 10, 2016: 6pm-11pm
- Wednesday, October 12, 2016: 6pm-11pm
- Friday, October 14, 2016: 7pm-midnight
- Monday, October 17, 2016: 6pm-11pm
- Wednesday, October 19, 2016: 6pm-11pm
- Friday, October 21, 2016: 7pm-midnight
- Monday, October 24, 2016; 6pm-11pm
- Wednesday, October 26, 2016; 6pm-11pm
- Saturday, October 29, 2016; 7pm-midnight
- Monday, October 31, 2016; 6pm-11pm
****Because your Halloween Party ticket allows you in 3 hours prior to party time, I recommend not buying a day’s ticket for the day you are attending the party. You will see and do plenty during the 3 hours prior to and during the party.
****Your Halloween Party ticket does not allow you entry into the park for the entire day. You must purchase a day’s admission ticket to enter the park at opening.
****If you are in the park the day of a party and you are attending that party, you don’t have to leave and return. There are stations throughout the park set up so that you can show your Halloween Party ticket (or confirmation) and get your wrist band there.
The Blue Bayou Dinner with Reserved Viewing for the new Frightfully Fun Parade
Blue Bayou is offering a lovely 3 course meal that provides you with a ticket for a reserved viewing spot at the parade. You may dine at Blue Bayou with this pre-fixed menu and specific dining package up until 7:00pm. Then, you’ll have access to the reserved viewing areas on Main Street for the parade. This dining package does not work with the second parade. It’s only offered during the first one at 8:30pm.
I dined at 6:20pm and enjoyed the first parade at 8:30pm. It was a nice meal and the reserved viewing areas were great.
Check out my photos for what you can expect at this dinner. Book your own with Disney if you are interested.
(If you have a child under the age of 3, he or she can join you for the meal and eat off of your plate. He or she will also be permitted into the reserved viewing area. A ticket is not needed for a child under the age of 3.)
I chose the Crab Cake to begin. It was delicious.
Filet Mignon for the Main Course. Also very good.
Molten Cake for Dessert. This was very rich. I’m not a huge fan of sweets, but most people will love this. I could only finish about 1/4 of it.
After your meal, you’ll be given the check:
A Party Lanyard that lights up. These are really cute. I haven’t seen mine since I walked in the door that night after the party. Kids have confiscated.
Your ticket (that looks like a FASTPASS) that allows you into the reserved viewing area on Main Street (near Carnation Cafe):
And, a large bag of candy since you missed out on some trick-or-treating. The dinner lasts about an hour, start to finish. Kids took these, too. They DID, however, leave me all the wrappers. #KindnessCounts
I recommend arriving an hour prior to parade time to grab your spot in the reserved viewing area. You’ll see people lined up in the street about mid-way down. The reserved viewing spot is on both sides of the street, so you can choose which you prefer. I can’t see one being better than the other. Here is what that line will look like as it’s forming:
And, here are the two reserved viewing areas…..
In front of the Fortuosity Shop:
And, in front of the Market House (Starbucks):
The Frightfully Fun Parade and Headless Horseman
Totally new this year – both the Headless Horseman and the Frightfully Fun Parade. I’ve heard this parade is similar to WDW’s Boo to You Parade. This parade is only shown on party nights, so you can’t see it unless you buy a Halloween Party ticket.
(On non-party nights, Fantasy in the Sky, Disneyland’s very first fireworks show is typically scheduled. This is a 4.5 minute show without projections. The history for this show is cool, but it’s not worth setting up for. Watch it from wherever you are in the park when it happens. Mickey’s Soundsational Parade at DLR and Pixar Parade at DCA are daytime parades that should be on the schedule, too. Check the free Disneyland app for more info on the entertainment for each day, or grab a schedule when you pick up a map as you enter the park.)
On the Disneyland website, they describe the Horseman and Parade as such:
“Before the parade begins, the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow appears on his ghostly black steed, carrying a flickering jack-o-lantern and warning you about the mischievous forces that will soon follow.
And then they come marching down the street—spooky spirits from the deepest bayous of New Orleans to Halloweentown and beyond!
At the head of the parade is Jack Skellington—the Pumpkin King from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas—who brings greetings from Halloweentown where residents are celebrating their favorite time of year. Then be awestruck by the Haunted Mansion’s grim, grinning ghosts including swirling ballroom dancers, ominous gravediggers and a trio of hitchhikers.
Next along the parade route comes Dr. Facilier—from the Disney animated movie The Princess and the Frog—who left his Voodoo lair and uses his mystical powers to summon his Shadow Men from the bayou. Then, stand by as Hades, the Evil Queen, Jafar, Cruella and other notorious Disney Villains take over!”
If you are not dining at Blue Bayou and don’t have a ticket to the reserved viewing section, don’t fret. There is plenty of viewing for everyone at both parades. I recommend setting up camp about an hour prior to the beginning of the parade you wish to see. Two hours will do if you’re die hard and want front row.
Seating can be found along the usual parade route and performers do a good job of showing attention to both sides of the route equally, so I wouldn’t recommend one side over the other. Main is always most crowded. it’s a small world will have the least crowded viewing spots (as with most parades). The first parade starts at the back of the park near it’s a small world and the second starts at the front in Town Square.
I always recommend the parade route near it’s a small world because there is a lesser crowded, easily accessible restroom nearby, room for small children to run around pre-parade (as opposed to closer quarters on Main Street or elsewhere), and because it’s typically the least crowded area to watch a parade. My only issue with it for this season is that you will want a view of the castle for fireworks. So, if you watch this parade, follow it along once it’s finished to the castle area or all the way to Main Street. After the last float goes by, you can literally follow the parade along and then stop once you find a good spot to watch fireworks.
The Headless Horseman rides through before the parade and then about 20 minutes later – maybe longer – the parade finally arrives. The parade lasts about 15 minutes total. I don’t think the parade is “scary”, but it’s definitely a departure from the usual happy, life-is-perfect shows. Watch the video below to determine if it’s a fit for your family. It’s NOTHING like Knotts Berry Farm or such (no disrespect – I love their Halloween celebrations), but it’s a little spooky.
The Headless Horseman was awesome for me to see because as a kid, my brother tormented me with stories of Ichabod Crane. For many – especially young children – this part will likely prove uneventful. He does not make a mad dash through the park. It’s a slow trot, so have your camera ready for photos.
Here is the parade recorded by Inside the Magic:
Maps of the Halloween Party
Zoom in to find Trick-or-Treat stations and so much more.
- Entry into the park at up to 3 hours prior to your party time. As you enter, grab a map (as shared above) so you can locate trick-or-treat stations around the park if you wish. Also, grab a treat bag if you didn’t bring one of your own. (Most people use the park’s free bag.)
- Parking is not included with your ticket this year, unlike previous years. Parking is $18 per car. If you have an annual pass that includes parking, this will suffice for the party, regardless of what time you arrive to the parks.
- Trick-or-treating at dozens of stations throughout the park. Bring your cute plastic pumpkin or bag to collect the candy. (Healthy options are available, too….like apple slices and dried fruit.) If you don’t bring your own bag, one will be given to you.
- Halloween Screams fireworks only seen at the Halloween Party and they go off at 9:30pm. The fireworks are super popular. Do not miss this show and be sure to have a view of the castle for it. After the first parade, grab a spot facing the castle. Jack Skellington rises nearby – as you can see in this photo – and Zero flies across the castle like Tinker Bell. It’s really cute. The show lasts 10 minutes.
- The Ride of the Headless Horseman, which is new this year and previously exclusive to WDW. Excited to see this!
- The all new Frightfully Fun Parade happens each evening at 8:30pm and 10:30pm.
- Cadaver Dans, a spooky version of our beloved Dapper Dans, who sing and perform throughout the party.
- An optional dinner at Blue Bayou with reserved viewing for the Frightfully Fun Parade, mentioned earlier. We discussed on Facebook earlier. To book this event, go directly to Disney.
- Disney Villains will take over Villains Square during the party, allowing you to meet several at once. Great photo ops here in Town Square! Maleficent, The Evil Queen, Queen of Hearts and Cruella were out when I attended the party this year. These lines are LONG – 30-45 minutes each. Prepare to wait and know that whomever you see in line when you get in line may not be who you meet once you arrive to the front. The villains are not out to terrify young children. If you don’t want to encounter them, simply don’t get in line. The villains are not out to see guests during the parade or fireworks.
- A “Pre-Party” in Toontown begins an hour prior to official party start time and you can kick off your night there by trick-or-treating at a few stations or by meeting Mickey and Minnie if they’re out.
- An Annual Passholder exclusive treat trail is set up at The Opera House.
- One of my favorites, The Scarecrow, is set up in Frontierland near The Halloween Tree. He tells improv-style jokes (kind natured) as party guests walk up to greet him.
- Lower lines for all attractions with most open for the party.
- PhotoPass+ in use.
Costumes are encouraged for this event with Disney’s guidelines here:
“While we encourage creativity, we also value safety and good judgement. Please take a moment to read over our latest rules and regulations:
- Costumes must be family-friendly and may not be obstructive, offensive, objectionable or violent.
- Guests who dress like characters may not pose for pictures or sign autographs for other Guests.
- Costumes may not contain any weapons that resemble or could easily be mistaken for an actual weapon.
- Costumes may not contain sharp objects, pointed objects or materials that may accidentally strike another Guest.
- Layered costumes or costume props that surround the entire body are strongly discouraged and may be subject to additional security screening.
- Costumes may not reach or drag on the ground. (e.g. full-length Princess dresses).
For Guests Ages 13 and Under
Costumes and some masks may be worn, as long the mask does not cover the entire face and eyes are visible.
For Guests Ages 14 and Older
- Capes may be worn if the length does not go below the waist.
- Themed T-shirts, blouses, sweatshirts and hats are acceptable.
- Acceptable accessories include: transparent wings, plastic light sabers, toy swords and tutus. Headwear may be worn as long as it does not cover the face.
- Masks of any kind may not be worn.
Guests who do not adhere to these guidelines may be refused entry into, and/or removed from, unless his or her costume can be modified to meet the above standards.”
Characters during Halloween Time
Characters can be found throughout Disneyland park in full Halloween gear during the day and at the parties, too. As always, your best option is to use the free Disneyland app to locate characters. Find out more on the app, how to use it, which cast members to find for help, and more before you visit for Halloween Time or The Halloween Party.
Here is what the characters look like in their Halloween gear. The “fab five” can be found in Town Square throughout the day. (The same characters at California Adventure are out visiting guests in regular attire.)
Jack and Sally can be found in New Orleans Square next to Pieces of Eight (the pirate store):
Cruella can be spotted harassing guests all around Town Square. She despises me and I respect that about her.
The characters are fun year round, but I totally enjoy them in their Halloween attire.
My Suggestions on Making the Best Use of your time at the Halloween Party
- Put less effort into trick-or-treating if lines are long. As I always tell my children, you can buy candy outside of the park. Don’t spend lots of time in these lines. About an hour before the party ends is the best time to trick-or-treat if you insist on gathering candy.
- Take advantage of low lines for attractions and ride, ride, ride. The crowds are low and it’s a nice time to get a lot done.
- Don’t miss the fireworks and secure a place near the castle for good viewing. Select one person to sit on a sheet or blanket an hour or so prior to save your spot. The fireworks are phenomenal and reserved only for Halloween Party guests. Be sure you can see the front of the castle for the show.
- Don’t lose your bracelet. Party guests will be given a bracelet upon entry to the park and those without bracelets will be ushered out at party time.
- If you don’t want to bring in your own candy bag, one will be provided for you and it’s a cute little souvenir to take home.
- Parties earlier in the week are typically less crowded then Fridays. Attend the parties in September for less crowds, too. The closer we get to Halloween, the more crowded the parties become.
- Most children are in costume, but it’s not necessary to participate.
If You’re Not Planning to Attend the Halloween Party
Here are some things to think about if you choose not to attend the party.
- Consider visiting the parks on a day that the Halloween Party is not happening. If you do not have a ticket for the party, you will be ushered out at 6pm or 7pm (depending on when the party begins that evening) and that’s a tough walk down Main Street, watching the others brimming with excitement for their night ahead. I’ve done it. It’s not fun.
- However, the day of the Halloween party usually includes lower attendance at the parks due to people not wanting to leave at Halloween Party time. So, check the calendar for closing times at California Adventure and consider visiting during the daytime and leaving Disneyland for California Adventure at party time.
- California Adventure will be more crowded than usual due to those leaving Disneyland for it, however, you can still enjoy the park if you utilize what I suggest doing when the parks are crowded.
- You can still enjoy a wonderful Halloween experience at Disneyland without the party. Decor is up, characters are in Halloween gear and there’s an overall fun spirit at the park during this time. Don’t fret if you don’t want to spend the extra money on the ticket. Enjoy the decor and the park itself. Halloween Time is magical, with or without the party.
Follow My Halloween Time Visits
I’m in the parks at least once a week. Take a look at what all you can see this time of year.
September 10, 2016 – LOTS of characters in Halloween attire – Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto…..plus Jack and Sally……butterscotch beignets……..and the coveted poison apple mugs
September 10, 2016 – AP Days, Halloween Tree, Lunch at Flo’s, Dinner at The Plaza Inn
For any show or parade, consider packing a sheet or blanket to reserve your spot. As previously mentioned in this post, I recommend asking one person in your group to secure your viewing space for the fireworks show about an hour prior to showtime. The Matador blanket is an awesome purchase for your visit and to use elsewhere. It folds up to pocket size, but can seat up to 4 people.
People often lose their manners during shows and parades and will sit anywhere to get a good view. Having a sheet or blanket to block off your spot might give you a bit of peace. You cannot leave it unattended, however, because cast members will remove it if you do.
One of my favorite parts of Halloween Time is the Halloween Tree in Frontierland, which was dedicated to the park by Ray Bradbury, who wrote The Halloween Tree book. Find out how to make your own tree, tips on preparing pumpkins at home and more.
***I visit the parks weekly and have reported on many seasonal finds like the candy apple mugs, Halloween popcorn buckets, Halloween treats and more. Find me on Facebook for daily updates and check out this page for my park visit posts.
***Visiting WDW for Halloween? Check out WDW Prep School for more info.
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