Lyndsay is a huge fan of all things Disney, and she enjoys finding ways to incorporate its magic in everything from crafts to recipes.
When Does Disneyland Decorate for Halloween?
The weather has started to cool down, and the leaves have begun to change. Well, maybe not the leaves so much here in Southern California (or the weather, for that matter), but if you are like me and love fall and don't get that gorgeous back-east weather, I have the perfect solution: Take a trip to Disneyland!
A Great Time of Year to Visit
Now, you are probably thinking that the park doesn't really change that much before Halloween/October, but that is where you are wrong, my friends. As you stroll around the park, you will notice how magical it is during this time of year. There are pumpkins everywhere, yellow and orange everywhere you look, and—most importantly—very few people!
During the month of September, the park is practically empty compared to all the busy seasons! I love going this time of year not only because of the cuteness that is in store but mainly because it is not crowded.
The Tram Ride
As soon as you get on the tram at the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure, you will see some adorable setups for Halloween with some of your favorite classic Disney characters. There may also be a few friendly ghosts along the way, too. At night, everything lights up, and these adorable scenes become even more magical!
A Walk Through Main Street
As soon as you walk to the gates, you will start to see the magical decorations! There are huge jack-o-lanterns shaped as famous Disney characters. As you walk along Main Street, you will notice that practically every window has a jack-o-lantern in it. Each pumpkin is hand-carved by Disney Imagineers. You can see over 300 pumpkins decorating the windows and shops, and each one is different.
There are also lanterns all along Main Street that are decorated with yellow and orange banners with, of course, a Mickey pumpkin! The foliage also changes in the park this time of year, too. You will notice mums in orange and yellow and all types of fall colors. You will also find leaves in all colors throughout Main Street. If you ask me, there is nothing better than walking down Main Street holding a pumpkin spice latte and looking at all the beautiful decorations and little details.
The Walt Disney Statue
One thing that is always on my to-do list is visiting the famous Walt Disney statue in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle. It is surrounded by character-carved jack-o-lanterns, and each character represents a land in the park. For example, Buzz represents Tomorrowland, and Tarzan represents Adventureland.
This is a really cool thing to check out at night because they light up, and it is easier to see the carvings on them! Also, look at the back of the pumpkins. There is a special surprise carved into the back of each and every one that you will not want to miss.
Haunted Mansion Takeover
Jack Skellington has made his way to Disneyland and has decided to take over the Haunted Mansion! Inspired by the movie A Nightmare Before Christmas, the Haunted Mansion is transformed into one of Tim Burton's most beloved films. Take a ride in this ever-popular transformation and see how Jack has wrecked the halls!
Even if the line is long, there is much to look at, and it's definitely worth the wait. The entire outside of the mansion is decorated from top to bottom. If you decide to ride during the day, it is easier to look at the pet cemetery, where some years you can spot Sparky's tombstone from Frankenweenie. At night, you get to see the mansion lit up and get a spectacular view of all the jack-o-lanterns on the hill in the back.
The Haunted Mansion takeover started in 2000. To mark special anniversary years, Disney Imagineers come up with some special surprises inside as well as an encounter with Zero!
Ready to be launched into a haunted uncharted part of space? This thrilling ride features haunting music that corresponds to the movement of the coaster, as well as ghosts that chase you and try to capture you on your voyage. Be warned that this is not your normal Space Mountain. The inside reflects a darker, scarier version of space.
If the line is long and you find yourself getting a little bored, take a look around! The changes inside are not the only changes that were made. Once you are inside, before you get on the ride, you will walk past a big screen that plays some footage of space. Pay attention, and you will see something peculiar happen. Too scared to go on? No worries! You can watch the structure of Ghost Galaxy as a light overlay and listen to the creepy music from outside at night.
Happy Haunts Tour
The Happiest Haunts Tour is fun for all ages! You, your tour guide, and your ghost host will travel through the night and experience eerie sights, Halloween tales, and a few attractions! On the tour, you also get to learn about Halloween traditions. The tour is offered every night from September 13th–October 31st.
Want the ultimate experience? Take your tour on the night of Mickey's Halloween Party! You get to experience everything on the tour, plus you will have a meet and greet with a Disney Villain while enjoying all the fun of the party!
Dia de los Muertos
Located outside of Thunder Mountain, there is a wonderful display celebrating the Mexican holiday of the dead, Dias de los Muertos. The display includes skeleton statues decorated to the nines, alters with their favorite foods, and colorful decorations. There is also an explanation of the Mexican holiday and traditions.
You can also have your picture taken in front of the festive statues by a Disney cast member. This area is beautifully lit with orange and red lights and is not to be missed! Even if you don't celebrate or even know too much about the holiday, it is beautifully decorated.
The Halloween Tree
As you walk into Frontierland, you will notice one tree that stands out from all the rest. Disneyland's Halloween Tree is based on the novel by Ray Bradbury called The Halloween Tree, published in 1972.
The tree debuted in October of 2007 with the attendance of Ray Bradbury. The tree has returned every year as part of the Halloween decorations and will come back every year! The tree is decorated with orange lights and small pumpkins with many different faces. It is really fun to look at and is very festive!
I love going to look at the tree both at night and during the day. There are so many details that you will notice something new every time you look at it. It can get crowded, so don't be too discouraged if there is a crowd around it.
Big Thunder Ranch Halloween Carnival
At the Big Thunder Ranch Halloween Carnival, you will find characters dressed in their Halloween costumes as well as other types of entertainment, such as live music. There is a petting zoo you can go to as well! There is also a magic cauldron show, and don't forget to check out the turkey pardoned by the President located in the pen just outside of the Thunder Ranch. This area really comes to life during the Fall/Halloween season and is sure to please everyone of all ages.
You can walk around and watch pumpkin carvers as well as their unique creations that decorate the ranch.
Want to get involved and get those hands dirty? Try making your very own Halloween mask or play some carnival games!
There are many spots set up inside Disneyland for you to take pictures. The best part is that they are all Halloween-themed! Locations include Main Street, Big Thunder Ranch, the store located next to Thunder Mountain, and New Orleans Square. Some of the Halloween-themed rides, such as Ghost Galaxy and Tower of Terror, take pictures of you on the ride, which are especially festive this time of year. Don't forget that you can take pictures with your favorite characters and villains as well throughout the park.
There are lots of cute things you can purchase in the park as well. You can find everything from shirts to mugs, trick-or-treat buckets to candelabras. There are also costumes for children you can buy throughout the park. Looking for something to decorate your home? There are home décor options as well to make your home very festive! Also, there are special edition mouse ears designed after villains that you can wear on your Disney trips!
Fall at Disneyland doesn't just mean cute decorations and fun ride transformations; it also means lots of seasonal treats! Get yourself a cute cupcake or a Halloween-inspired candy apple! Besides the candy and baked goods, you can also find special popcorn containers and travel mugs!
Disneyland has lots of Halloween-themed treats for your enjoyment! No matter what you decide to get, you will not be disappointed. If you want to learn how to make the pumpkin muffins that are available in the park this time of year, check out my recipe article on Disneyland's Pumpkin Holiday Muffin!
Halloween Time Commercials
Disney does a great job of promoting Halloween Time! They are always family oriented with a good sense of humor. I always enjoy seeing what they come up with. Here are some commercials from past years.
Lyndsay Gamber (author) from California on March 13, 2014:
It isn't too crowded in the Fall which is why I love it so much! You should definitely try to go during the month of September to avoid the Halloween crowds that happen toward the middle of October! Thanks so much for commenting!
Bernie Ment from Syracuse, NY on March 13, 2014:
I have always wanted to visit Disney during the various holidays, but since I don't like crowds, I tend to go elsewhere. One of these decades, though, I might make the trip for the fun of it. Thanks again for the interesting information. Voted Up.
Lyndsay Gamber (author) from California on October 29, 2013:
Hello Paul Edmondson!
I do too! Christmas is always a great time to go but Halloween is my favorite! They really go all out! You should check it out sometime! =)
Paul Edmondson from Burlingame, CA on October 29, 2013:
I really like how Disneyland does the seasons. I've been there at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but not halloween. I imagine it is spectacular.
Lyndsay Gamber (author) from California on September 19, 2013:
I am so happy to hear that you are enjoying my Hubs! Disneyland is a great place to take pictures and create memories. I hope if you decide to go that you have a lot of fun!
Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on September 15, 2013:
Wow- every time I read one of your hubs about Disney, I want to go there so bad! I'm going to have to cave in and stop there one weekend. It's only a few hours away. I don't like amusement park rides like rollercoasters, but I love the theme there and what a fantastic photo op. So much fun. Thanks for posting.