All Hallows’ Eve is fast approaching, but there is still some time to enjoy the not-so-scary Halloween celebration at the Happiest Place on Earth. After years of hosting hard ticket events inside Anaheim’s original theme park each fall, Disney introduced their all-new Oogie Boogie Bash at Disney California Adventure, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a bounty of boos to be found across the Esplanade. If you really want to dive into the spooky season at Disneyland Park, here are some can’t-miss 2019 Halloween treats that will really do the trick.
Haunted Mansion Holiday
Let’s get this one out of the way up front: the annual transformation of the Haunted Mansion into a tribute to Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas is a huge crowd favorite—and arguably the headliner attraction of Disneyland Park’s Halloween celebration now that Space Mountai’’s Ghost Galaxy has given up the ghost.
Animatronic figures of Jack Skellington, Sally, and Oogie Boogie have temporarily invaded the classic dark ride, bringing with them a revamped soundtrack that cleverly interweaves Danny Elfman’s film score with the Haunted Mansion’s iconic theme song. And for 2019, the climactic ballroom scene features a massive custom-made gingerbread sculpture that pays tribute to the ride’s 50th anniversary.
During most of the year, the Haunted Mansion typically sees relatively short standby waits, but Haunted Mansion Holiday is a whole ’nother story. Visit before 10 a.m. or secure a FastPass for your visit to Halloween Town; otherwise, you’re likely to wait 45 minutes or more.
Dia de los Muertos at Zocalo Park
Years ago, the petting zoo at Big Thunder Ranch was our favorite spot inside Disneyland during Halloween, with its old-fashioned decorations and amazing pumpkin carvings. But ever since Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge evicted our beloved goats, the Dia de los Muertos displays outside Rancho del Zocalo have seized the crown as Disneyland’s GOAT decorations.
Despite recent menu improvements, Rancho del Zocalo is rarely our preferred restaurant destination inside Disneyland. However, during Halloween its courtyard becomes a mandatory destination on every visit, thanks to these elaborate and authentic dioramas honoring Mexico’s Day of the Dead.
Disneyland Halloween Snacks
After the creeps and costumes, the key ingredient to a Halloween celebration is candy. No matter how big your sweet tooth, it’s hard to go hungry at Disneyland during Halloween, although you may very well go broke buying up all the sweet specialty snacks offered exclusively during the season.
Here are two of our favorite Halloween treats that we sampled this year:
The Bride Churro, available from the cart near the Haunted Mansion, is dusted in a ghostly white coating of vanilla sugar and wrapped in a delicate lace doily. Unlike some other specialty churros, this one is light enough to enhance the churro’s familiar cinnamon flavor without completely overwhelming it.
The Mickey Mummy Macaron, available at Jolly Holiday Bakery, is delicately airy, delightfully crisp, and almost too cute to eat—almost! Just don’t confuse this creme-filled cookie with the delicious dense coconut Matterhorn Macaroons.
Halloween Screams Fireworks
Halloween Screams used to be the centerpiece of the extra-cost Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween events that were held after regular hours in Disneyland Park. Now that the party has moved to Disney California Adventure, this frightfully fantastic show is available to be enjoyed by all regular Disneyland guests.
The show is hosted by Jack Skellington (incarnated as an animated skull projected onto a giant balloon next to the castle) and his flying ghost-dog Zero, along with a rogue’s gallery of Disney villains. The same projection mapping technology used in Disneyland’s other nighttime shows is used here to bring Sleeping Beauty Castle and the facades along Main Street U.S.A. to life with dancing skeletons, cavorting ghouls on parade, and other animated spooks.
Watch this full video of a Halloween Screams performance to get a taste of the show:
As you’ll notice in the above video, trees along the west side of the park’s central hub have grown large enough to obscure certain pyrotechnics launched to the left side of the castle. For the best view of the show, try to position yourself on the east side of Main Street, so that you can see both the castle and the spherical screen beside it.
Bonus: Downtown Disney Decor
On your way in or out of Disneyland Park, be sure to spend a few minutes admiring the Halloween decorations around the Downtown Disney shopping district.
We love these Dali-esque surrealist sculptures, which magically coalesce into the forms of the Fab Five when viewed from the correct perspective.
Even more amazing are the natural wonders of these ginormous arrangements of pumpkins in every conceivable shape and shade.
Can you imagine trying to arrange these enormous piles of pre-jack-o’-lanterns? It could drive you out of your gourd!
For all there is to see and do at Disneyland, check out The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland by Seth Kubersky with Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa. All Disneyland fans should also check out The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of Walt Disney’s Dream by Sam Gennawey.