Mickey’s Halloween Party is an event at Disneyland in California held in September and October 2018. This post previews the parties, with tips to make the most of the event, what you can expect, and whether it’s worth the money in the first place.
The 2018 dates for Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland have not yet been released, but are likely to start around September 18, 2018 and run select nights through October 31, 2018. We will update this post once Disneyland releases more information and tickets, which is likely to occur in July 2018.
Keep in mind that you can enjoy many seasonal offerings at Disneyland Resort without attending this event. For more info on what’s included with standard Disneyland and Disney California Adventure park admission, please read our Ultimate Guide to Halloween Time at Disneyland. Or, you can continue reading this for an idea of what this year’s parties will be like based on our experience at the event last year…
We attended the first Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland, and have updated this post with some changes to the event for this year. The event has improved quite a bit in the last two years, and has definitely grown on us. We’ve also updated this post with some step-by-step strategy for Mickey’s Halloween Party, so keep reading even if you already have tickets, as there’s a lot to do, and you’ll need a good plan to accomplish it all. If you want to read our thoughts on the event, please check out our Photos & Recap: 2017 Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland post.
Mickey’s Halloween Party usually sells out every single night of the event. Note that even when every Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland is sold out online, it is possible that you could have luck by calling. (Here’s the phone number: (714) 781-4636.) Additionally, Guest Services at the three Disneyland Resort hotels might have tickets for guests staying at those resorts.
The big addition to the Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland last year was the Frightfully Fun Parade. This parade runs only during the hard ticket event, and is a really cool. If you’re on the fence about attending, this is a potential game-changer for the party, and we’ll have more on it below. Additionally, the Halloween Screams Fireworks and Ghost Galaxy will return, and the Headless Horseman (a popular feature of the Florida parties) made his debut at Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland.
Although I’ve already typed “Disneyland” several times (and probably will several more times for emphasis), this article is not about the Halloween Party in Florida. For that, see our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Tips & Tricks post. The general public confuses Disneyland and Walt Disney World enough as it is, so I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to have the names for these parties be so similar. To make matters worse, when the Florida party is advertised, it’s often shortened to Mickey’s Halloween Party…I guess because they want people to think it is So Scary?
With that said, let’s take a look at what’s on the schedule for Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland in California…
Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland Info
A lot of people don’t seem to understand how these special event ticket parties work, so I want to break it down in simple and concise terms: a regular park ticket will not grant you admission to Mickey’s Halloween Party. You must purchase the special event tickets to stay in Disneyland once Mickey’s Halloween Party begins. Yes, this means purchasing two tickets for the same day.
On the other hand, a party ticket for Mickey’s Halloween Party does grant you admission to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure 3 hours before the event officially begins. This is a big reason why Mickey’s Halloween Party is so popular with locals in Los Angeles and Orange County who are not Annual Passholders–it’s a less expensive way to see the Halloween offerings in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure with lower crowds and at a cheaper price. Even though it’s not the whole day, it’s a good value if you’re a local who is not an Annual Passholder.
If that still does not make sense, let’s illustrate with a few examples:
- You’re visiting Disneyland on a date when the Halloween Party starts at 6 pm. You arrive at 9 am and want to stay until 10 pm. You must purchase BOTH a regular ticket for Disneyland and a Halloween Party ticket.
- You’re visiting Disneyland on a date when the Halloween Party starts at 7 pm. You arrive at 4 pm and want to stay until midnight. You only need to purchase a Halloween Party ticket (remember, the 3 hour rule).
- You’re visiting Disney California Adventure on a day when the Halloween Party starts at 6 pm. You arrive at 4 pm and want to stay in Disney California Adventure until it closes. You must only purchase a regular park ticket since Mickey’s Halloween Party is in Disneyland, not DCA.
There are a bunch more scenarios that could play out, but hopefully you get the gist of it. If not, feel free to ask about your situation in the comments. Many nights are already sold out and if that’s any indication, more will sell out, so we strongly recommend purchasing tickets in advance if you’re planning to go to Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland.
One of the big plusses of Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland for many guests is the opportunity to dress in costume. There are limits to the costumes you can wear, but it’s basically common sense stuff like ‘no weapons or sharp objects’ and nothing offensive.
Here are some baselines: don’t wear anything offensive or grotesque, don’t wear anything that completely obscures your face, and don’t form a line signing autographs and taking photos with other guests if you’re dressed as a Disney character. If you lack common sense and wouldn’t have intuitively realized these things without me telling you, I’d recommend carefully reading Disneyland’s rules for the party.
You also should keep in mind that unlike Florida, Southern California can get cool at night this time of year. Above are our costumes from this year, and as you can see, Sarah wore a heavy Mrs. Potts costume, whereas I wore a t-shirt and shorts for my Donald Duck costume. Last year when I attended the event, it was incredibly hot.
Just be mindful of the weather forecast and plan in advance. We have a Tips for Disney Parks Halloween Costumes post that covers some ideas for what to wear…and what not to wear.
If you look at the Mickey’s Halloween Party page on Disneyland.com, you’ll notice it has a lot of entertainment and stuff listed. This Halloween Party sounds great, you’re thinking! Not so fast, cowboy.
Disneyland has a lot of stuff during the Halloween season, and most of what’s listed is included in regular park admission on any ordinary day. Haunted Mansion Holiday and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy are standard this time of year. Same goes for character meet & greets, although you can expect more characters out than normal during Mickey’s Halloween Party.
A new Mickey’s Halloween Party Dinner Package at Blue Bayou replaces the Mystical Spirits dinner show. This Blue Bayou Dinner Package includes a 3-course, prix-fixe dinner at Blue Bayou Restaurant, and a voucher that provides access to the Frightfully Fun Parade reserved viewing area at a cost of $69 per adult and $29 per child, plus tax and gratuity.
This is significantly cheaper than the previous Mystical Spirits event hosted by Dr. Facilier, and this definitely makes more sense. It’s not for us, but if you’re already planning a meal at Blue Bayou (an expensive restaurant), the surcharge is not all that much. We saw the reserved seating area (in the Central Plaza) and it offered a nice view of the Frightfully Fun Parade. Not my ideal view, but it had chairs and would require no camping out in advance, so at least there’s that!
Here’s a quick description of the Frightfully Fun Parade:
- Jack Skellington the Pumpkin King brings greetings from Halloweentown, as characters from “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” appear to celebrate Halloween.
- Grim, grinning ghosts come out to socialize when Disney’s iconic Haunted Mansion attraction comes to “afterlife,” with swirling ballroom dancers, ominous gravediggers and a trio of hitchhiking ghosts.
- Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog, uses his mystical powers to summon the Shadow Men from the bayou to loom large over his strange and twisted Voodoo parlor, and the mischievous Disney Villains appear out of the darkness, ready to stir up some trouble. A dark and dungeon-like lair takes over the parade route, bringing with it a wicked gathering of villainy from Hades and the Evil Queen to Jafar, Cruella and more!
Each of the bullet points is a single parade unit, featuring at least one float and performers. This is a very significant addition that really alters our take on Mickey’s Halloween Party.
While this parade is not on par with the Boo to You Parade, we really liked it. The floats are cool, the music is really catchy, there are some talented performers, and great costuming. We highly recommend watching the parade twice during Mickey’s Halloween Party!
Disneyland has added a bit to the Frightfully Fun Parade, most notably, Minnie and Mickey Mouse now lead the parade. The parade could use another couple of floats, and we hope that happens next year.
Frightfully Fun Parade is the kind of entertainment that could definitely benefit from new floats every year for the next several years–until it’s of the same caliber as Boo to You at Walt Disney World.
Beyond the parade, the other things unique to Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland are the Halloween Screams fireworks, dance party, and trick or treating.
There’s also a bunch of atmospheric entertainment throughout the park, most notably the Cadaver Dans who float along the Rivers of America. Hearing them sing is one of my favorite aspects of Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland. They are so talented, and their presentation during the part is appropriately spooky.
Mickey’s Halloween Party Strategy
Now that we’ve attended Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland a couple of times, we thought we’d share some step-by-step strategy with you for maximizing your time at the special event. It’s truly impossible to do everything there is during the party, and that’s just the special entertainment, let alone the regular attractions like Haunted Mansion Holiday and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy.
With that in mind, here’s our Mickey’s Halloween Party Itinerary…
- Enter Disneyland or Disney California Adventure 3 hours before the event, and do attractions at your leisure (note that MaxPass is included with party tickets–read our tips to use MaxPass to your advantage!)
- Line up for Toontown pre-party ~30 minutes before it begins
- Immediately head for Mickey & Minnie line once Toowntown pre-party starts
- Do whatever character meet & greets you can in Toontown following that, finishing 15 minutes prior to official Mickey’s Halloween Party start time
- Head to Pirate Pals (Frontierland), where Pirate Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse meet
- Finish character meet & greets at least 1 hour before the Frightfully Fun Parade
- Grab parade spot in Hub facing Sleeping Beauty Castle, roughly an hour before first parade
- Watch Frightfully Fun Parade
- Immediately after Frightfully Fun Parade, rush upstream against the crowd as far as you can, and claim a spot for Halloween Screams Fireworks. An ideal location for these fireworks is at the end of Main Street between Refreshment Corner and Photo Supply Co.
- Following Halloween Screams, wander around and enjoy the ambiance; catch the final performance of the Cadaver Dans in New Orleans Square/Frontierland
- Either watch the second Frightfully Fun Parade from the backside of the hub (the second parade goes in the reverse direction of the first) or do meet & greets/attractions
Now, a few notes about that strategy…
While the second Frightfully Fun Parade will be less crowded than the first parade, so too will everything else. Meet and greets are busiest at the start of the party, and will have significantly shorter lines by the end of the evening.
We do not recommend doing the Sally and Jack Skellington meet & greet during Mickey’s Halloween Party since it tends to have significantly longer lines during the event than on a regular day (it’s not a party-exclusive), if you aren’t visiting Disneyland on a regular day, you might opt to do that.
Attractions will have short waits throughout the party. Once regular day guests cycle through, you can expect peak wait times to be around 30 minutes, and that’s for popular options such as Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, Peter Pan’s Flight, Indiana Jones Adventure, and Haunted Mansion Holiday. If you’re going to do attractions, consider doing them during the first parade, and watching the second–you’ll have an easier time finding a spot at the last minute for the second parade.
If you have other strategy-related questions, let us know in the comments. We’ll do our best to help!
Now, if you’re still wondering whether you should you do the party, we’ll try to help you answer that question.
Is It Worth It?
In our Ultimate Guide to Halloween Time at Disneyland, I suggested that Mickey’s Halloween Party is probably not worth it. That was based on previous years when the primary draw was trick or treating and the fireworks (which are prone to be cancelled if there’s wind). It was before this year’s price increase–but also before the addition of the Frightfully Fun Parade.
Keep in mind that value is all a matter of perspective. If you have significant financial means and won’t feel the sting of the ticket cost, or just really love Halloween and want to splurge on this, it very well might be worth it for you.
I come at Disneyland’s Halloween Party and its value with the baseline of its cousin in Florida. Disneyland fans claim superiority to the parks in the swamps in a number of ways, but Mickey’s Halloween Party is not one of those ways. The Florida Halloween Party is superior to the California Halloween Party in several ways.
For starters, there’s the main entertainment: parade, stage show, and fireworks. The Boo to You Parade is arguably the best parade running in Florida, and is so good I make a point to watch both runnings of it on any given party night. In the past, Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland only has had a cavalcade, which was a joke as compared to the Boo to You Parade.
This is a huge upgrade over the previous Mickey’s Costume Cavalcade, but not quite on par with the Boo to You Parade. It is shorter, but still very good. Regardless, we view this parade as a game-changer for Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland, as it finally has a near-complete roster of exclusive party offerings.
Then there’s the other entertainment. The Florida version has a new “Hocus Pocus” stage show that is seriously awesome, plus roaming entertainment, dance parties, and more.
Disneyland’s Halloween Party has the Cadaver Dans and a dance party. The Cadaver Dans are pretty awesome, but not enough (plus the dance parties) to compete with what Florida’s version offers.
The Halloween Screams fireworks are another strong selling point of Disneyland’s Halloween Party. These fireworks received an upgrade last year with new projections and seeing (spoiler alert) Zero fly around Sleeping Beauty Castle is pretty cool.
Even though Halloween Screams doesn’t use the same amount of pyro as the HalloWishes fireworks in Florida (no Disneyland fireworks show does), the whole package is superior. Seeing Zero fly around Sleeping Beauty Castle and Jack Skellington rise next to him is awesome, as are the fire and projection effects. All things considered, Halloween Screams is one of Disney’s absolute best fireworks shows.
There’s also trick or treating, but you can grab a bag of candy from the CVS on Harbor Boulevard for like $5 and bring it to the park if you’re so keen on candy. Now, if you’re looking for a pretext for gorging yourself on Reese’s Pieces, attending the Halloween Party and having to eat a lot of candy in the name of getting more value out of your party ticket sounds legit.
I’ve heard some people say they think Mickey’s Halloween Party is worth it solely so they have a safe environment to take their kids trick or treating. No offense, but this is ridiculous. Yeah, there are some areas of Anaheim where I wouldn’t want to be out at night…but Southern California is a big place, with a lot of affluent areas.
Drive less than 30 minutes from Disneyland and you can be in a safe, ritzy neighborhood for trick or treating. You know, the kind where every house is giving out King Size candy bars. These type of places were like dragons or unicorns when I was growing up–you assumed they were mythical but really hoped they were real. Well, children of the world, I’m pleased to report that we have dragons and unicorns in California. (That really ought to be the next “Visit California” ad.)
With that said, there are a lot of scenarios where Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland might be appealing. I already mentioned the locals from Los Angeles and Orange County who do not have Annual Passes. Mickey’s Halloween Party makes complete sense for this group, especially those who love Halloween.
Beyond that, tourists who only have a single day to spend in the two parks could get a lot accomplished during the 8 hours that the Mickey’s Halloween Party ticket provides access to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. You won’t be able to do everything, but those 8 hours are going to have lower than normal crowds in Disneyland, allowing you to accomplish more attractions (if that’s your priority) than you could do in a normal full day in the parks. Plus, this is cheaper than a 1-day ticket.
Note that starting last year, the Mickey’s Halloween Party ticket did not include parking. It once again does not include parking. This is a change from previous years, so make sure you factor in this (potential) cost before purchasing your tickets. (So, if you see “free parking” listed on another blog as a perk, that post is out-of-date.)
If you’re visiting Disneyland and Disney California Adventure for multiple days, you might be able to justify Mickey’s Halloween Party from the perspective of one less day on a multi-day ticket, doing something else in the morning (Downtown Disney or the beach, perhaps) and then heading to Disneyland for the Halloween Party. In this scenario, you’re not paying much of a premium for the party ticket, either.
If you are dead-set on going, do something else in the morning of Mickey’s Halloween Party and only visiting Disneyland in the evening on a party night and saving your regular park tickets for other days. While the party itself only runs for 5 hours, guests may enter Disneyland 3 hours before the party starts, which means 8 hours of entertainment total.
In an ideal world, we’d recommend getting a 3-day Park Hopper ticket and spending at least 4 days at Disneyland Resort, with the morning of the Halloween Party spent doing the Goofy’s Kitchen character breakfast at Disneyland Hotel followed by a couple of hours in Downtown Disney, before heading in the park that afternoon and using only your Mickey’s Halloween Party ticket that day. It’s a good way to stretch your vacation dollars and make the cost of the Halloween Party a little more palatable.
With all of that said, we have to admit that all of the above is a look at whether Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland is worth it on paper. As I have learned over the years from attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, a big draw is the atmosphere and different vibe the park takes on. There’s special background music, unique lighting & effects, and other guests dressed in costumes give the Halloween Party a palpable energy. This is a true X factor.
A ton of people absolutely love this about the party. I also have to admit that most people are not going to be able to choose between the California and Florida versions of the party, so it doesn’t matter if the Florida version is better. If you live in Southern California or are vacationing to Disneyland for Halloween, this is probably a moot point for you. The good news is that, regardless of the party’s quality, Halloween Time at Disneyland is excellent.
If you’ve read this post in the past, you might recall it having been a lot more harsh, as I stated that Mickey’s Halloween Party was not worth it. As I’ve mentioned, the Frightfully Fun Parade is a game-changer. While ticket prices have increased, the prospect of a good, unique Halloween parade gives the party a lot more appeal for us. I’m still not sure Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland is worth the money for everyone, but it’s definitely a much closer call now!
If you’re heading to Disneyland for Halloween Time at Disneyland, we have tons of posts to help you plan, including our Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets, a look at Disneyland Area Hotel Reviews & Rankings, our Unique Packing List for Disney Trips, an index of our Disneyland Resort Restaurant Reviews, and a number of other things in our comprehensive Disneyland Trip Planning Guide!
Do you disagree with my assessment of Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland? Are you a fan of the party? Will you be attending this year? Already have your costume made for it? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts on these questions, or anything else, in the comments!