There’s no doubt about it, the holidays at Disney parks are absolutely magical! Whether you’re more of a Halloween person or the Christmas fanatic, there is something for everyone at the Disneyland Resort. Unlike the other theme parks that surround it, the Walt Disney Company stays true to their image of keeping this season as family friendly as possible. That means no crazy monsters screaming at you from around the corner or corpse-style decorations. The characters and treats have just the right amount of spooky added, giving it that holiday feeling without going overboard. Recently, we had the pleasure of staying at our favorite hotel, the Howard Johnson Hotel in Anaheim. With its close distance to the theme parks and family friendly amenities, the HOJO, as it’s known,is the only place we choose to stay when enjoying a Disney trip. We were asked by them to cover our experience at the parks and all things spooky, and of course we were happy to do so.
Disneyland Parks is not the ONLY part of the parks that are decorated for the Halloween season. Downtown Disney always does an incredible job of adding an extra dose of festive to all of their centerpieces down their walkway. Each year they change the look, so when it is revealed, it’s a total surprise to the guests. This year, they had the “Fab Five” as they call them (Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Daisy, and Minnie) depicted in an artsy way, along with painted pumpkins. Even the light post displays get festive where they color and shape the floral fixtures like candy corn! If you have an extra second to look at more of the displays in the Downtown Disney Disctrict, head to the Grand Californian Hotel. There they have a giant Oogie Boogie cake that is quite a sight to see! This cake is over four feet tall and contains 260 pounds of powdered sugar, 380 eggs, 110 pounds of rice cereal, and 480 pounds of fondant! Obviously there are more ingredients to add to the mix, I just thought those numbers were insane! Definitely a sight to see!
You can honestly have the Disney Halloween experience without even setting foot into the parks! Take a nice stroll from the hotel, but dont forget your coffee for the walk over. Howard Johnson has the best coffee in every room and portable cups to take it with you! My favorite little treat for this small stroll. After you reach the parks and make it through security, enjoy walking through the shops and take in all the sights. Marceline’s Confectionery has all of the festive treats as the parks do, so you can satisfy that sweet tooth of yours. After you snag your treat, head back to the esplanade to enjoy the fireworks, or your hotel room for one of the best views of the fireworks around!
If you’re heading to enjoy a day at Disneyland, there are so many activties and treats for you to enjoy! From Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy to meeting villains like Maleficent and the Queen Of Hearts, evil has certainly taken over the parks. The Dapper Dans have switched out their colorful vests for a festive all orange and black look. My favorite part of the Halloween season is that cute Mickey winking pumpkin that shows up on Main Street. Because if you dont take a picture with winking Mickey, did you even go to Disneyland during Halloween? haha.
Both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park during the day are very family friendly. You can experience all the park has to offer without avoiding any particular area. I do think that both Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy After Dark are more adult style experiences, so if your loved one has a fear of the dark, it’s best to avoid. In Ghost Galaxy, the stars and space effects are replaced with the ride being in complete darkness with a ghost character chasing you. Kind of scary if you ask me. Guardians of the Galaxy: After Dark is still the same level of fun as the original ride, but the lights are more spooky and there is a fire monster chasing after you! If your little ones have a fear of the Disney villains, you may want to avoid them too. They get very into character and make the experience quite authentic. Kensey loves them in the movies, but wouldn’t go near them in the parks. Mickey Mouse and the gang always dress up in their Halloween best, and they meet on Main Street U.S.A all throughout the day. Check the Disneyland app for timing if you want to snag pictures with all of them. You can always meet them in their regular outfits over in Toontown. On your way over to DCA, be sure to stop in the stores for all of the seasonal merchandise and yummy treats! The ears and Disney merch gets cuter and cuter every year and the treats get more delicious! My favorite treat of the season is the cauldron cake pop! A dark chocolate cake pop with a surprise sour rainbow belt inside. The poison apple face on the side and candy crisp balls add the right amount of spooky and beautiful. The color of the season is all things purple, after all. From the poison apple mugs to the cauldron annual passholder popcorn bucket, Disney is obsessed with purple this year! And that Mickey pumpkin? Yep, he is everywhere too. From the ever so popular Loungefly pumpkin backpack, to sequin flip shirts and more, he is running this Halloween season.
You can find all of these adorable things and more in the shops down Main Street U.S.A. There is a store right next to the Magic Shop that is dedicated to all things Halloween, as well as a section of Frozen 2 merchandise. The goodies are also scattered throughout the park, and available online at shopdisney.com. Just click the link below to shop it all without having to buy a ticket into the parks!https://www.shopdisney.com/halloween-shop/more-ways-to-shop/disney-parks-halloween/
After you have had some fun at Disneyland, it’s time to head Disney’s California Adventure, or DCA as we all call it. DCA has a bit more to offer this year for its Halloween season, be it that is the home of the trick-or-treat party they call the “Oogie Boogie Bash.” The bash is only available by purchasing tickets ahead of time, and sadly, we were not able to snag some this year. They sometimes have tickets for sale the day of, but this year was completely sold out months in advance. Your best bet is to keep an eye out next season around August when the tickets go on sale initially, as it is easily Disneyland Resort’s most popular event.
As you walk into the park, you are already greeted by a giant Oogie Boogie display hanging on the Disney California Adventure sign. And bonus: he talks! He is so entertaining to listen to as you are waiting in line to enter. Once you have entered the parks, purple banners and bats scatter all over as decor, almost as if Oogie Boogie himself decorated. There is a statue of the headless horseman in the center of Buena Vista Street as you head towards Hollywood Studios. Mickey and his friends have dressed up a bit too on Buena Vista Street, wearing cosumes they made themselves out of “clothes and pieces they found in the attic.” The shops of course are decorated with the latest Halloween merchandise and the treats are spooky too! Even the outside vendors carry spooky merchandise like pumpkin hats and ears, and things that glow for the nightime, like the Oogie Boogie lanyard. The cotton candy now tastes like candy corn and is shaped like the sweet treat, but only for a limited time!
My favorite treat of all is the spiked hard apple float, available at Clarabelle’s hand scooped ice cream, next to Starbucks. This delicious alcoholic drink is hard apple cider topped with a scoop of delicious apple sorbet, and drizzled with caramel. The sorbet comes scooped and stuck onto a long toothpick and put on top, so you can enjoy alone, or dip it into your cider. I let the sorbet melt into my drink for that extra sweetness. So delicious and festive, and perfect for these oddly hot Fall days at Disney.
The best place to spend time at DCA to get that Halloween feel has to be Cars Land. They go ALL OUT with the decor, and not one corner is missed. They transform the cones into scary monster looking guys, the car parts like oil cans into spiders, and chains into spiderwebs. They decorate the cars into their Halloween best, rocking their favorite costumes, which makes for great photo opportunties. The snacks and treats in Cars Land have gotten a spooky upgrade, like their “Spooky Cone” macaron and the “Slow burnin’ Mac and Cheese Cone,” a spicy take on their original bread cone options.
Whether you’re headed to the parks for a fun family experience, or just a great day with your friends or loved ones, Disneyland Resort is a grand spooky time! You can eat your weight in yummy seasonal food, and feel the festive atmosphere all around! The spell is cast from September 4th and will end on Halloween night, so be sure to head to the parks soon to experience it all!
We had such a great time experiencing this season as a family, and we can’t say enough great things about our time at the Howard Johnson Hotel in Anaheim! They made our trip one to remember! The rooms are so cute and comfortable, the amentites are endless, and the staff are the most friendly and professional people Ive had the pleasure of meeting! If you are looking for a place to stay on your trip, book at the Howard Johnson! You wont regret it, and like our family, keep coming back again and again! Click the link below to book your stay today!https://bit.ly/2UJEqRa
Photography for this wonderful experience was available by the following talented photographers:http://www.jonandjessstudio.com http://www.nicolelongsphotography.com
Both of these photographers we’re incredible to work with and I would strongly recommend booking them for your next park visit or shoots outside the parks! Be sure to follow them on Instagram at @jonandjessstudio and @nicolelongphotography