Our Frog Family loves going to Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort. It's one of the best times of the year to visit! Both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park are outfitted with decorations, banners, lighting, characters in Halloween costumes, spooky sounds and other treats. (Ask for some Halloween Magic Shots from the PhotoPass photographers for some extra special surprises!)
Halloween Time typically runs mid-September through Halloween every year. In 2021, Disneyland Halloween Time came early (a good thing since we are all anxious to hop back after missing Halloween Time in 2020). The holiday event runs from Sept. 3 through Oct. 31, 2021. In other good news, the Oogie Boogie Bash — A Disneyland Halloween Party returns to Disney California Adventure on select nights, Sept. 9 through Oct. 31, 2021! The sold-out party is a separately ticketed event that runs during Disneyland Halloween Time.
At Disneyland Park, all guests can once again enjoy the Halloween Screams projection show! Fireworks are included on select nights (usually weekends). Hop over to find out the best places to view Disneyland fireworks. Halloween Screams is a Frog Family must-see! It's definitely worth waiting near the castle to see this show up close due to all of the special effects at the castle.
Before you visit, you'll want to check out our Disneyland reopening post for the latest Disneyland Resort news. As you can expect, Halloween Time might look slightly different in 2021 compared to other years, as characters are still greeting guests from a safe distance. But we still love seeing them in their costumes and in new locations!
Overview of Disneyland Halloween Time
September and October are generally better times of the year to visit Disneyland, but Halloween Time brings in visitors, especially on weekends. Visit early in September and on a weekday, if you can. The earlier you go in the season, the lighter the crowds seem to be. Expect early October through Columbus Day and Halloween weekend to be the most crowded. That being said, mid-September (Sept. 17 to 19, 2021) could be a little busier than normal since that is when Gay Days fall this year. It was moved from early October, so it may spread the crowds out more evenly. A new Magic Key pass that launched in August will also bring many locals and frequent visitors back to the parks this fall. However, the Magic Key holders have a different availability pool for making reservations than people who purchase tickets, so we are not seeing crowds or long lines. So, what can you expect at Halloween Time?
Disneyland explodes with Halloween decorations, including fall colors of yellow and orange and pumpkins aplenty, especially on Main Street. As you stroll down Main Street, you will find hundreds of hand-carved pumpkins, which are lit at night. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto and Chip 'n' Dale greet guests in their Halloween costumes. The villains may be stalking about in Main Street, U.S.A., Fantasy Faire and Fantasyland.
In Frontierland, you will find a traditional Día de los Muertos skeleton display and an homage to Disney fan and author Ray Bradbury in the Halloween Tree. The tree, near the Golden Horseshoe Saloon, was inspired by Bradbury's novel, "The Halloween Tree," and features orange glowing lights and jack-o-lanterns hanging from its branches. It's especially beautiful at night!
You can see decorated skeletons for Día de los Muertos in front of the Rancho del Zocalo Mexican restaurant in Frontierland, which hoppens to be one of our favorite quick-service restaurants.
The bewitching Disneyland Halloween Time treats and food accessories available during Disneyland Halloween Time will have you drooling like a ghoul. You can dig into festive caramel apples, Mickey mummy macarons, special churros and themed treats, such as cookies, cupcakes and cake pops.
Carry your food in style with premium popcorn buckets, poison apple steins and glow cubes. The new bucket is a Mickey Mummy! There are special savory snacks on the restaurant menus too. OK, is anyone else's mouth watering? Pick up a food guide in the park so you can find all of the tasty treats!
There's a ton of Halloween merchandise, from spirit jerseys to flannels, to bags and headwear. We are loving the Minnie candy corn witch hat ears.
All Disneyland guests can watch the Halloween Screams fireworks and projection show. Fireworks only enhance the show on select nights (mostly Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with a few exceptions, so check the calendar to find out if fireworks are included). The supernatural projections and special effects show takes place nightly at 9 p.m. during Halloween Time!
Perhaps the biggest surprise of Disneyland Halloween Time 2021 was the Halloween character cavalcade. This mini-parade is short and sweet. It does not appear on a show schedule, but we caught it at 12:15 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. on the parade route. Toadally fun! You can see Mickey, Minnie and pals, princesses, other characters and villains! You can hear it coming, so listen for a Halloween music change to let you know it's on its way.
Halloween at Disney California Adventure Park
Disney California Adventure offers a few grim grinning ghouls and ghosts of its own. Oogie Boogie's oversized shadow haunts the main entrance of Disney California Adventure. Listen for his voice to speak out to you from time to time. Head over to the Headless Horseman statue on Buena Vista Street. Boo-tiful purple lights are aglow, and you can hear the faint clip-clop sounds of the horse or Oogie Boogie himself. The Disney characters are happily showing off their Halloween costumes. Last year, Disney Junior star Vampirina greeted guests during Halloween Time in Hollywood Land at Disney California Adventure. We hope she'll be back — we promise she won't bite!
You'll want to check the dates of the Oogie Boogie Bash before you plan your park visits to Disney California Adventure Park this season. The park closes to daytime guests at 6 p.m. on party nights (Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, but also two Saturdays this year). Party guests mix in beginning at 3 p.m., making that park more crowded in the afternoons and unavailable to guests without a party ticket during the evenings after 6 p.m. If you're not attending Oogie Boogie Bash, visit Disney California Adventure on a non-event night to catch this park all aglow for Halloween Time.
Prepare for Cars Land to roll into the Halloween spirit with holiday decor, music and characters dressed in fun "car-tumes." Muffle your screams on Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters and Mater's Junkyard Jamboree as they put a new spin on Halloween Time. Visit "Radiator Screams" at night to take in the "gourd-geous" Halloween scenery, special lighting and backdrop of hills in bewitching Halloween colors. It's quite a treat!
Plaza de la Familia at Disney California Adventure
Any "Coco" fans out there? You won't want to miss visiting the Plaza de la Familia at Paradise Gardens Park. You can meet puppet Miguel!
Take part in activities such as free crafts, including coloring a mask or recording a family memory. Other fun things to do include trying out the special colorful wing photo walls and Tree of Life photo locations. Learn about Día de los Muertos, enjoy mariachi music, sample Mexican dishes or catch a showing of the "A Musical Celebration of Coco" show — Miguel makes an appearance with his guitar. This show does not appear on the schedule but takes place about hourly in the afternoon. The last showing was 5 p.m. the day we visited. The Plaza de la Familia is open until November 2.
Get ready to #SaveGroot at Guardians of the Galaxy — Monsters After Dark. The Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT! attraction gets into the Halloween spirit during Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort. Each evening, the attraction transforms into a new experience that continues the story of the daytime ride, but now guests need to help Rocket Raccoon save Groot. It's a lot scarier than the daytime ride with a heavy metal soundtrack, so consider that if you have tadpoles who are just tall enough to ride the daytime version. They might find Monsters After Dark to be too much.
This is a very popular ride with long wait times! At least in normal years. Wait times are a bit shorter this year, thanks to reduced capacity. You can check hours on the Disneyland site. The Monsters After Dark version kicks off at 3 p.m. daily in 2021. Each afternoon (party or not), the regular version of the ride closes at 2 p.m. and reopens by 3 p.m. for Monsters After Dark. So if you are park hopping from Disneyland and want to ride the OG Guardians of the Galaxy, hop over at 1 p.m. and head straight to Guardians to ride before 2 p.m. Then you can hop back later for the Monsters After Dark version. If you are riding on party nights and do not have a ticket, you'll have from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. to ride this version. If you have a party ticket, you'll have all night to ride Monsters After Dark, but will not have access to the normal version of the ride. Got all that? It's a real headbanger.
Here's the schedule:
- 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT!
- 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. — Closed to switch over
- 3 p.m. to park close — Guardians of the Galaxy — Monsters After Dark (on select nights the park closes at 6 p.m. for the Oogie Boogie Bash)
The other two ride overlays in this park are in Cars Land. Skip to the "Rides at Disneyland Halloween Time" section for the deets.
You can meet Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Chip, Dale and more friends dressed in their Halloween outfits in both parks. In normal years, Jack and Sally can be found in New Orleans Square near the Royal Street Veranda. But in 2021, they are greeting guests from the balcony of the Haunted Mansion or from the balcony above Pirates. Keep your eyes up high to find them.
The characters tend to make more appearances as Halloween gets closer. Cruella de Vil, Queen of Hearts, Jafar and others sometimes stomp around near the entrance to the park by the train station or the area next to the Mad Hatter in Town Square. We have caught sight of Frollo, Governor Ratcliffe and others in past years. You never know which villains may appear during Halloween Time!
Maleficent, who used to only make appearances at the Halloween parties, is now making appearances on the balcony in Fantasy Faire. The Queen could be lurking there as well.
For the most unusual villain sightings, visit the new Halloween party, the Oogie Boogie Bash, at Disney California Adventure.
Speaking of California Adventure, Carthay Circle fountain is the place to locate several Disney characters in their Halloween costumes. The Cars Land characters also dress up in "cartumes" for Halloween. Even though most character interactions are from a safe distance in 2021, you can still have a lot of fun meeting them. They love to show off their costumes and pose for the camera. Face characters will talk to you. The villains are delightfully bad and so much fun.
Rides at Disneyland Halloween Time
There are special changes to certain rides during Disney Halloween Time. We already mentioned Guardians of the Galaxy — Monsters After Dark at Disney California Adventure. One of the most popular rides is Haunted Mansion, which is converted to Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas." The Mansion lights up at night — try to be there for the lighting. There is no specific time but if you are in the area (or in line) between 7 and 7:30 p.m. the Ghost Host will give you a treat by lighting the mansion.
Wait times for Haunted Mansion Holiday are significantly longer than at other times of the year, so we recommend you make this one of your priorities before 10 a.m. The ballroom always has a large gingerbread house on the table (with yummy gingerbread smells wafting up). In fact, 2021 marks the 20th year of Haunted Mansion Holiday! To celebrate, the gingerbread house pays homage to past gingerbread houses by featuring an element from each year's house from 2001 through 2019. The result will be a visually chaotic mashup!
In "Radiator Screams," Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters are parading as Luigi's Honkin' Haul-O-Ween. Mater's Junkyard Jamboree has been transformed into Mater's Graveyard JamBOOree. Both rides have several Halloween-themed songs and decorations throughout the Halloween season. Radiator Screams lights up each night around sunset, with a special lighting song at Halloween Time.
Oogie Boogie Bash — A Disney Halloween Party
There is so much to look forward to during Disneyland Halloween Time. It's such a treat that Oogie Boogie Bash returns to Disney California Adventure. Hop over to our Oogie Boogie Bash Disneyland Halloween Party post for the full scoop and all of the scary details.
This after-hours party runs on select nights from Sept. 9 to Oct. 31 and requires a separate ticket (but no reservation). Tickets sold out at a freakishly fast pace, so hop to it once they are on sale to attend in 2022! The party is one of the rare times guests 14 and up can wear costumes to Disneyland. Guests of all ages can go trick-or-treating and enjoy special entertainment, dance parties and unique character meet-and-greets with classic Disney characters in costumes and many Disney villains. The ride wait times tend to be shorter during the Disneyland Halloween Parties — what a treat!
Halloween Fun at Downtown Disney
The fall fun returns to Downtown Disney in 2021 with Pluto's Pumpkin Pursuit, Sept. 9 through Oct. 31 (or while supplies last). You may have heard of the Egg-stravaganza egg hunt in springtime at Disneyland Resort. Well, this is a decorated pumpkin hunt! You can purchase a game board and stickers at select merchandise locations. Have fun hunting for Disney character-themed pumpkins and placing the corresponding stickers on your game board. Return the game board to the redemption location at World of Disney or Disney's Pin Traders for a spooky surprise (we think it's the best prize yet!! Celebrate with Halloween treats from Marceline's Confectionery and Halloween merchandise at various shopping locations.
Don't miss the SCAREolers in Downtown Disney. The ghostly a cappella group emerges from the grave on Friday through Sunday evenings to perform haunting Halloween and spooky Disney tunes.
There's so much to do and see during Disneyland Halloween Time! It's really one of our favorite times to visit! Have a question about Halloween Time or the Oogie Boogie Bash? Let us know in the comments below!
Related: Best Time to Visit Disneyland
Related: Guide to Oogie Boogie Bash