Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, CA
Happy spooky time season, folks! It may be that part of fall when it’s actually still summer, and Southern California is heating up, because it’s the week of Halloween Horror Nights opening, but in SoCal, that means time for Halloween season to really begin!
Today, we start off, as we typically do, with a look at Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort. This festive autumn overlay covers both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, and though decorations-wise, you’re pretty much going to see what has been featured the past few years (and more, in Disneyland’s case), there are a few new items—mostly in the way of merchandise—and the return of a beloved Halloween favorite. So what does this all mean? Well, keep reading as we cover this year’s updates and then transition into a general Halloween Time photo blog. Enjoy!
New Halloween Merch
Half a decade ago, Disney struggled with balancing profitability with a huge stable of local Annual Passholders who would visit the park for short periods of time and often not spend anything within the park—no souvenirs, no dining. And then the Mouse execs figured out that if you start putting out merchandise branded as “AP Exclusive” or promoted as seasonal, guests will be a lot more eager to investigate and indulge.
These days, any Disney park seasonal event has its own set of souvenirs and mementos to buy—be it recurring overlays like the Lunar New Year or Food and Wine Festival or Christmas Time to one-off happenings like the Haunted Mansion 50th Anniversary and this summer’s Lion King live action cross-promotion. Halloween Time is no different, as Disney has come out with a variety of… actually rather cute wardrobe, toys, accessories, and toys for guests to purchase.
The biggest rush has been the Halloween popcorn buckets, which have attracted huge lines that extend even past closing hours. In addition to the Mickey pumpkin bucket and the cauldron bucket, there’s also an Oogie Boogie head popcorn bucket that has been flying off the shelves. A general Halloween-themed popcorn bucket is also available with artwork of Mickey and friends in costumed garb. Plus, the 50th Anniversary Haunted Mansion bucket trio of Gus, Ezra, and Phineas are still available.
Halloween Screams Returns
Way back in 2009, Halloween Screams debuted as a brand new Halloween-themed fireworks show as part of the nightly Halloween Time programming schedule. It was a smash hit, as Jack Skellington led a chorus of villains through a celebration of all things Halloween and spooky, ending with the Scream-Along. Well, park executives took notice, and the following year, the pyrotechnics were shifted into the rebranded Mickey’s Halloween Party. How exclusive.
Well, a decade later, with the Halloween Party shifting to California Adventure this year as the Oogie Boogie Bash, Halloween Screams is once again part of the regular guest public domain, as the fireworks show has returned to ignite the nighttime sky during Halloween Time. Well, sort of. It’s a fireworks show during the weekends—Fridays through Sundays. During the rest of the week, it runs in a “B-mode” setting, featuring the soundtrack and projection mapping along Main Street, Sleeping Beauty Castle, It’s a Small World, and the Rivers of America. The configuration is similar to how Mickey’s Mix Magic ran earlier this year.
Still, full show or not, it’s great to see Halloween Screams back. It’s one of my favorite Disney fireworks shows, and I’m thrilled that it can once again be enjoyed by any general park ticket-holding guest!
Haunted Mansion Holiday
Of course, it isn’t Halloween Time without the return of The Nightmare Before Christmas at the Haunted Mansion. Jack Skellington has once again wrecked the halls—his 19th time doing so. The overlay has the same components as last year, with the exception of the annual unique gingerbread house in the ballroom scene. This year, the central sculpture celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Haunted Mansion by recreating the fabled house in confectionary form. A “50” logo adorns the front, and sugar cookie creations of some of the Mansion’s famous residents and haunts can be seen beside the building. It’s yet another towering and crowning achievement by the Disney baking team, and it’s a fantastic way to celebrate the Mansion’s big milestone this year!
Elsewhere, the park is once again adorned in familiar autumn theming. In Frontierland, at Zocalo Park, there is once again a Día de los Muertos display with sugar skull figures and offends and colorful banners.
And one of our favorite things, the Halloween Tree, is also back. This tribute to Ray Bradbury—who wrote the short story of the same name—celebrates the spooky spirit of the season and illuminates the immediate area with the warm glow of Halloween’s red, orange, and yellow.
Main Street, U.S.A.
The jack-o-lanterns are once again out on Main Street, adorning the charming, nostalgic facades with whimsical expressions. Bunting drapes the gas lamps as well, spreading the Halloween aura up Disneyland’s entrance land. Around the Partners Statue, the character pumpkins surround Walt and Mickey. And don’t forget to look into the storefronts too! Many have been decorated in the classical style, and some even harbor some macabre surprises if you look closely enough!
As a note, over in Tomorrowland, Space Mountain will not be Ghost Galaxy this season. It’s a bit of a bummer, though that overlay certainly could have used a technological and visual upgrade. Perhaps something better will come next year?
Buena Vista Street
Jumping across the Esplanade, Buena Vista Street at California Adventure has once again come under the spell of Oogie Boogie. His villainous laughter pierces the cool air, and the deep, purple color palette of the nighttime ambiance reinforces a vibe that is most eerie and most tense. Off to the side, behind the Storytellers Statue, the figure of the Headless Horseman rises up in a dramatic pose. At night, the fog and glowing eyes signal that this rider will not be the friendliest.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Monsters After Dark
Over in Hollywood Land, Guardians of the Galaxy has received its nighttime Halloween overlay. By day, guests ride Mission: Breakout! to join Rocket Racoon and the gang as they try to escape the Collector’s Fortress. In the Halloween version, the Guardians of the Galaxy have realized that they left Groot inside Tivian’s structure, and they must go back in to save him.
Coco at Paradise Park
Over by Plaza de la Familia (Paradise Park, by Goofy’s Sky School), Coco has once again returned with regular performances throughout the day retelling the tale of the popular Pixar movie. Headlined by A Musical Celebration of Coco, there is plenty of excitement and entertainment to be seen here, in addition to the musicians already performing in the Paradise Garden Grill bandstand.
The Coco exhibit has also returned, telling the story of Miguel and his descent into the underworld but also providing information about the celebration of Día de los Muertos. This remains a richly lavish photo op, but it looks great, and it’s very photogenic!
Cars Land’s Haul-O-Ween
Finally, we have Cars Land’s autumn visual puniest, Haul-O-Ween. Similar to Christmas time, the decorations in Cars land contain countless witty displays, and each resident in town has decorated their abode in a different way. Sarge’s Surplus hut has been overrun with spiders, while Ramone shows off a sugar skull vibe. Flo’s V8 Cafe has gone a little spider-y, while Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree has gotten a little mummified. There’s so much to take in at Cars Land during the Halloween season. It’s definitely worth casual strolling and plain soaking up.
If you enjoyed that Halloween eye candy, consider checking out my Disney park photo blog, Disney Photoblography, for a “picture a day” (or so; I cut the schedule back to about 5 posts a week) experience. The Disneyland Resort will continue Halloween Time through the end of next month. Fans who want a deeper Halloween experience should grab tickets to the Oogie Boogie Party before the whole thing sells out. As of last night, all dates other than Oct. 28 have been completely sold.
This is just the beginning for yet another Halloween season for us. We’ll be hitting a lot of haunts, from the usual suspects to new attractions we’ve been unable to experience beforehand. If you’re looking to see which one to explore, check out our 2019 Southern California Haunted Attractions Guide. There are a ton of haunts and haunted attractions listed, and there’s bound to be something for your taste, no matter what that is!
In the meantime, stay spoopy! Boo-ba!
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.