I have been a witness to several heated discussions on why one would fork out the price of admission (which this year is from $79 – $99 depending on date and time of purchase) for Mickey’s Halloween Party. It is steeply priced and isn’t even a “whole” day at Disneyland and is not included as a part of your annual pass or your regular ticket price. I am going to tell you why it is worth it.
What is Mickey’s Halloween Party? Its a child friendly Trick or Treat Party meant to offer entertainment and a chance for families to enjoy a theme park Halloween Party without the scare factor that Knotts Berry Farm and Magic Mountain have for adults.
Atmosphere – Disneyland’s atmosphere during the days is pretty awesome. No other place has been able to so fully transport people out of the drudge of their daily lives into an almost total immersive atmosphere, but when you walk into one of Disney’s special parties its like walking onto a movie set. The lighting changes to projecting deep oranges and purples. They roll out the fog so that on some nights you can barely see the Rivers of America. The music changes and their are characters everywhere you look. It is 100 percent immersive and at is magical best.
Costumes – During regular park hours you are very limited on who and what kind of costumes you can wear into Disneyland. Its almost always fine to have your little children dress as princesses, Mickey, Minnie and more but as an adult you are limited to Disney Bounding or wearing silly hats. Mickey’s Halloween Party is the one time that everyone can come in full costume ( with the exception of inappropriate costumes which would be considered as too scary, blocks too much of your vision so you are unsafe, or too revealing). There are some very elaborate costumes made by people who are highly skilled in sewing. We’ve seen people dressed up as the Main Street Electrical Parade Vehicles complete with sparkling lights and music, Hitch Hiking Ghosts, and many many Jack Sparrows teetering unsteadily around the Park. Showing off your hard work on a costume to a captive crowd is another great reason to go to Mickey’s Halloween Party. The earlier Halloween Parties ( September dates) didn’t seem to have as many adults dressed up but as you get closer to Halloween the very very elaborate costumes come out so get your cameras ready!
Exclusivity- When you pay for Mickey’s Halloween Party you get a special wrist band that allows you and other wrist band wearers through special checkpoints designated throughout the park. While the party doesn’t usually start until 6:00 pm ( 7 pm on weekends) they usually start letting Mickeys Halloween Party into Disneyland 3 hours before the designated start of the party. There are still regular paying guests in Disneyland at that point so it may seem crowded during those first 3 hours. As they begin to clear the regular day guests out of the park at 6:00pm they will begin several checkpoints throughout the park to make sure that you are actually a Halloween Party Guest. This check is done with wristbands. Checkpoints begin popping up all over Main Street, at every attraction and restaurant and the beginning and middle of every land. After 6 anyone who doesn’t have a wristband are stopped from entering lines to the attractions, thus slowly clearing and pushing out day guests from the park. Then Disneyland puts on 2 exclusive Halloween Party shows. The Frightfully Fun Halloween Parade and the special Halloween Party Fireworks show. 2016 is the first year of the Frightfully Fun Halloween Parade and it is pretty awesome. Led by the headless horseman the parade is a little more spooky and a little less cutesy than past years but it is not scary. There are less people in the park ( because Disneyland has a cap on how many guests are allowed into each party), there are always good places to view the parade. The first parade is always a little more crowded make sure you catch the second viewing of the parade where there is always more room. The Halloween Fireworks show is also pretty great and although you can see the show from outside of the resort, its best to experience it right in front of the castle where you can hear the music, see the projections and get a great view of Jack Skellingtons dog Zero flying by.
Limited Amount of Guests- Sure, Disneyland always has a “maximum capacity” on the amount of guests that can enter the park for fire code ( that limit is A LOT), the limit isn’t for the convenience of the guests. When Disneyland hits its maximum during regular park hours you can also experience maximum wait times, maximum crowds and maximum headaches. During Mickeys Halloween Party they limit the amount of guests to a pretty relaxing amount of people. ( Disney does not share their exact numbers) After they initially clear the park of regular day guests ( about an hour after the official party starts) you start to experience very small wait times for the attractions. During the day Haunted Mansion Holiday has been known to easily have a 90 minute wait time. During the Halloween Party the wait generally isn’t more than 20 minutes ( during the fireworks there is almost no wait time at all). Most attractions wait time averages 10 minutes with the exception of Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy which is usually about a 45 minute wait down from a 120 minute wait during the day. The parade viewing area which can get up to 4 or 5 people deep during the day generally isn’t more than 2 deep. What it boils down to is that if you want to ride attractions you can get on more of them in a smaller amount of time during the Halloween Party than you generally can during the day.
Unlimited Trick or Treating-Disneyland sets up several Trick or Treating paths throughout the park that let the little ones and the big ones fill up their bags with lots of treats. Each Trick or Treat path has several stations that you can stop and get candy or even healthy treats like bags of apples and carrots ( I can see you rolling your eyes but at least its not raisins) at. You are not limited on how many of times you go through each line. One year my brother and his family were visiting from Arizona. They had 7 of their children with them. They brought pillowcases with them and spent the whole night trick or treating. Each one of them came back with 3/4 of their pillowcases full of candy. My sister in law figured that each one of them had about $40 worth of candy in their pillow cases ( I think they all had King pillows). The little kids were dragging their pillowcases because they were so full. If you want to trick or treat this is the place. Most people trick or treat during the first hour and a half at the party and then eat dinner and start doing other things like the parade and fireworks. If you don’t want to wait in long trick or treat lines, don’t start trick or treating until after that hour and a half. The wait is less because people begin to fall to the wayside and little ones get tired.
Get Tickets Early – Buy your tickets online in advance. Day of prices can be a lot more expensive when you buy at the door than if you planned ahead. Remember that some of the dates sell out very quickly so if you don’t plan ahead you may not get in.
Don’t go on Halloween if you don’t like it crowded – Everyone wants to go on Halloween. It is the most expensive day to go and it will be at is maximum capacity for the party.
Avoid the Weekend – If at all possible avoid going on the weekend. If you aren’t bringing any children or are giving your child a day off of school the next day then go during one of the week night parties. The week night parties don’t sell out as quickly as the weekend especially the dates that are in September.
Figure Out What Your Goal Is – Are you there to maximize the amount of rides you go on? Are you there to trick or treat? Are you there to see the Halloween themed shows? Do you want to do a little bit of everything? Do you have toddlers or other young children with you? After you figure out what you want from the party then you can start your planning from there.
Those Little Feet Get Tired – Taking your young children is fun but remember that the party doesn’t start until a lot of children are eating dinner and getting ready for bed. If you have an unlimited budget this won’t be a problem. You can take them until they pass out and then just book a room at one of the Disneyland Resort Hotels. If you are on a budget, this may not be the wisest decision. Your young child may only have a couple of good hours in them because the party generally starts at 6 pm. If you pay $84 for 2 hours of trick or treating with your child you will probably leave very upset and feeling like it was a waste. This may be a case of wait until they are a little older and will enjoy the treat of staying up late. I have noticed that the kids that seem to be having the best time are the ones that fall into the 7-12 age range. They are old enough to handle the later hours and enjoy parading around in their costumes. Every family is different so take sleep times into consideration.
Villains Don’t Like to Stay Up Late – Get your pictures with the Villains early in the party. As the party goes into full swing the line for pictures with the villains seem to get longer and longer. Look at your map and schedule and figure out where they are going to be and get their early so you can enjoy the rest of your night doing other things.
Prioritize the Rides – My rule here is pick the attractions that you love with the longest lines and go on them during the Halloween Party. Haunted Mansion Holiday, Space Mt Ghost Galaxy ( the last hour of the party the wait was 15 mins on the night we went), Big Thunder Mt, Matterhorn, Peter Pan, and Splash Mt. all have super long lines during regular park hours so if you want to maximize your time pick a few of your favorites. Wait times on all rides tend to die down during the parades, fireworks and near the party’s end.
Stay a While – People with young children tend to leave after the fireworks so you will notice that a lot of places start to clear out after that. The fireworks almost always end before 10 pm (Anaheim has a strict disturbing the peace curfew that they heavily enforce) so if the party ends at 11 then you have an hour of happy time to cruise around the park.
Eat before the party starts – Disneyland will let you in a couple hours before the party starts. Take that time to sit down and have a meal with your friends or family. Once the party starts you will be busy enjoying all the unique things it has to offer. An exception to this is if you book the special Blue Bayou Halloween Party dinner. The dinner strictly starts at the beginning of the Halloween party and expect the dinner to last about an hour. Your dinner comes with a special bag of candy to make up for the hour of time lost ( that you could’ve been trick or treating). Also check out the special “seasonal” offerings. Some of the restaurants will have special Halloween desserts and a few will offer a special seasonal entree. These are offered throughout the whole resort outside of the Halloween Party so if you decide that the party does not fit into your budget then you can participate in the Halloween holiday by getting a seasonal offering.
We have been to three Mickey’s Halloween Treats at Disneyland. The first one held at Disneyland in 2010 (previously were held at DCA) had quite a few differences than the one in 2016. In 2010 and in 2012 we attended and the Trick or Treat lines were randomly put around the park mostly in the walkways and open spaces. For example in Tomorrowland the Trick or Treat line was right in front of Innoventions (Star Wars Launch Bay), where as this year ( it may have changed to this in previous years but we hadn’t attended in 4 years) they expertly wound the line through the Star Wars Launch Bay with about 6 or 7 trick or treat stations to get candy at. You were able to experience the attraction at the same time you were getting your candy and that was kind of awesome. Also in Toontown one of the Trick or Treat lines wound through Minnie’s house and Mickey’s Barn. This was fantastic because my son doesn’t like to meet the characters we never go into the photo locations in ToonTown. This was the first time he experienced the atmosphere of Mickey and Minnie’s house without the fear of having to meet the oversized mice. Because we have access to all the attractions during non Halloween party days, we limited how many attractions we went on because we wanted to experience the Halloween Party exclusive activities, but it was pretty great that the wait time on the attractions were between 5-15 mins. Now you will read this and go in on a busier Halloween Party night and come back and say the wait for Ghost Galaxy ( Space Mt) was an hour long, and that is true on the sold out parties at the beginning of the night, but even the sold out party lines lighten up during the parades and fireworks and during the last hour. Definitely save Haunted Mansion Holiday and Ghost Galaxy for during the parade times or the last hour of the night. Generally the lines then for the most popular rides hover around 20 mins.
Parking is not included with your Halloween ticket. After you pay the premium price for the party ticket you will still have to fork over $18 for the parking. We look at this party as a treat and we save accordingly. We do not go every year but are more likely to go once every few years.
Trick or Treating: If you dedicate yourself to the Trick or Treating you can easily get a pillowcase full of candy and other treats. Take this into consideration if you flew into the area from far away. If you have 2 kids and 2 adults and you all have a pillowcase full of candy and other treats, are you going to attempt to put it all in a suitcase and bring it home? If this is a case make sure you bring an extra empty bag or suitcase.
Peanut Allergies: You have to specifically ask each trick or treat station that you would like a peanut free option. Then you need to suggest what your child can have.( The cast members do not always know what peanut free means). In the video my son stated that M&M’s are peanut free. M&M’s (plain) however are made in the same facility as peanut M&M’s which does not make them peanut free. There is a definite risk of cross contamination and although we and other parents may allow our children to eat some M&M’s under our supervision we mostly only allow him to eat candy that is made in a nut free facility. Typically these are candies that do no have chocolate in them such as skittles, nerds etc… Most of the chips and crackers were made in nut free facilities but watch out for the kids Cliff bars because they may contain pieces of peanut. If you have a child that needs an Epi if in close proximity of peanuts ( I consider that ultra severe), the Mickeys Halloween Party is not for you. There are kids and adult snacking out of their trick or treat bags everywhere. If your child needs an Epi if only ingesting peanuts ( or other nuts) then with close attention to those around you, your child should be able to enjoy the evening without issue. Note that if your child has a severe reaction and you do not have your Epi ( or other Epi alternatives) the nurses station in Disneyland carries one.
Tickets: If you weren’t able to purchase tickets for this years Halloween party then plan for next year. Tickets go on sale in August and the weekend dates sell out fast. This being said, the more popular it is the more dates Disney will open up, after all this is a cash cow and Disney has never been known to turn down an opportunity to bring in more $$. Plan ahead and you should have no problems booking tickets for the date that you want ( make sure you have a second and third choice of dates in case your date is sold out).
Costumes: Make sure you read Disney’s costume guidelines before you go and plan for the weather. The worst things we saw were babies and toddlers dressed in very warm costumes and it was 103 degrees when we were there. Please don’t torture your children by doing this to them. Southern California is still very warm in Sept and most of Oct. Don’t put them in a costume that was meant for 40 degrees and make them wear it in 100 degrees. Also, we saw several adults suffering to show off their costumes and we also saw several nurses pushing wheelchairs out to locations. My guess, heat exhaustion. Prepare according to the weather.
We believe Mickey’s Halloween Party is worth the extra money even if you are a frequent Disneyland visitor or Annual Passholder. For some its a once in a lifetime experience but if you get a chance to go you won’t regret it. Just follow some of our tips and let them entertain you!