Guide to Halloween Time at Disneyland


Halloween Time at Disneyland occurs in 2014 from September 12 until October 31, 2014. During HalloweenTime, the hard ticket Mickey’s Halloween Party will be held most Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays in October, and two dates in September. Mickey’s Halloween Party tickets range in price from $56 to $77, depending upon the night and whether you qualify for an Annual Passholder discount. Click here for the full party schedule for 2014. Besides this party, entertainment during the Halloween Time at Disneyland season is included in the cost of regular theme park admission.

For those considering visiting during Halloween Time at Disneyland, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the standard offerings during the Halloween season in Disneyland are superior to those in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. The decorations are better, the entertainment is superior, the seasonal snacks are more plentiful (and most are absolutely delicious), and there are two attractions at Disneyland that receive Halloween overlays (plus extra entertainment in Big Thunder Ranch), versus zero at Walt Disney World.

The bad news is that hard ticket Disneyland’s Mickey’s Halloween Party is inferior to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, crowds are not light (still better than summer) during Halloween Time at Disneyland like they are in the fall at Walt Disney World, and there are no other fall offerings justifying a visit to Disneyland Resort specifically during the Halloween season, versus Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, which is also a big draw during the fall at Walt Disney World.

With all of that said, we think Halloween Time at Disneyland is an incredible time to visit Disneyland. In fact, after Christmas at Disneyland, Halloween Time at Disneyland is our absolute favorite time of the year to visit. The only reason Christmas gets the edge is because all of its entertainment is included with the normal cost of admission, and Disney California Adventure gets into the fun during the Christmas season, too.

We attended the first weekend of Halloween Time at Disneyland 2014 (September 12-15), and had an awesome time. We’ve updated this post with some new photos and thoughts from this year’s festivities, so let’s take a look at Halloween Time at Disneyland, sharing some of our tips and reviews for the various offerings… (more…)

When To Visit Disney World

People often ask, “when is the best time to visit Disney World?” Some days and times of year are better to plan your trip to Walt Disney World. The least crowded times of the year are typically after Labor Day until the week before Thanksgiving, early December, the entire month of January and early February, and late April. That said, nowadays especially in 2014 now that New Fantasyland is complete and ‘Frozen Frenzy’ is at its peak, there really is no “slow season” at Walt Disney World.

Crowds should not be your only consideration when planning when to visit Walt Disney World. There are some great seasonal events, such as the Halloween and Christmas seasons, Food & Wine Festival, runDisney, and other fun events. You may also be constrained as to when you can visit by school schedules, vacation time, and other factors. Add to that weather and various other considerations, and when to visit Walt Disney World isn’t as cut and dry as visiting in late September, early December, or February when crowds are low.

Of course, choosing which days to visit Walt Disney World is just one aspect of planning a trip. To make sure you tackle everything, make sure you read our Guide to Planning a Walt Disney World Trip, which covers all of the essentials.

With that said, let’s take a look at when you should and shouldn’t visit Walt Disney World… (more…)

Frozen at Walt Disney World

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Any parent taking their kids on vacation probably wants to know where to find Anna, Elsa, and the rest of the Frozen characters at Walt Disney World. Currently, Frozen Summer Fun Live! is the main offering being held at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and consisting of a variety of things, with the Princess Anna & Elsa Meet & Greet taking place in the Magic Kingdom. Oh, and you practically cannot turn around in a gift shop without seeing something Frozen. 

What is looming on the horizon remains to be seen, current popular speculation suggests that Frozen will replace Maelstrom in Norway at Epcot, perhaps with Imagineering going as far as taking out Norway and adding Arendelle. Beyond that, it’s almost certain that the Frozen Summer Fun Live! special entertainment that’s running at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and is slated to conclude on September 28, 2014 will be extended at least until the beginning of 2015. Walt Disney World frequently extends popular offerings “by guest demand” (see Main Street Electrical Parade, which was slated to run only for Summer Nightastic…that was 4 years ago) and the Frozen Celebration has redefined popular, giving Disney’s Hollywood Studios an incredible shot in the arm in the process.

With the American Idol Experience having closed on August 30, 2014 and located on prime real estate, there’s heavy speculation that the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration will be relocated from its current soundstage to a less-temporary set-up in the former home of the American Idol Experience, “Superstar Television Theater.” There’s also new speculation that Anna & Elsa are having their meet & greet return to Norway in Epcot’s World Showcase. There are rumors of an Olaf meet & greet during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. About the only park that doesn’t have any strong rumors concerning Frozen is Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and we want to remedy that by starting the (fake) rumor of Sven the Reindeer’s Wild Ride (featuring real reindeer!) coming soon to that park. It’s like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, except different every time you ride…and you’ll have to sign a waiver!

The flurry of rumor activity concerning Frozen should come as no surprise. Disney likely wants to strike while the iron is hot, and there’s nothing hotter than Frozen. It’s so popular that in July analysts were already predicting one of the “it” Christmas toys would be a Frozen Snow Glow Singing Elsa Doll. There are about a zillion covers of “Let It Go” on YouTube. You can’t visit Tumblr without seeing Frozen fan art. Frozen has its own popular subreddit. It’s a cultural phenomenon, just about every child in the country is absolutely entranced by it. Even more impressive, it’s showing no signs of slowing down. I didn’t realize just how big of a deal it was until attending the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, and hearing a chorus of children singing the words to every song, even when the words weren’t displayed on the screen! It was like a cult chant…except cheerful children singing upbeat music.

Let’s not fixate on what might happen with Frozen at Walt Disney World, let’s take a look at what is happening, along with our tips and advice for how to approach it… (more…)

Visiting Disney World in September 2014

September is a great month to visit Walt Disney World thanks to improved weather, lower crowds, and fun seasonal events. It’s the first full month of school being back in session, and crowds essentially drop off a cliff after the Labor Day holiday and stay low the duration of the month. In our experience, it’s arguably the best month of the year in terms of crowds (check out our When To Visit Walt Disney World post for the best and worst months of the year) and while every park isn’t going to be “dead” every day of the week, if you plan well, you can really avoid crowds during a September Walt Disney World visit. That also means shorter September park hours, but you can’t really argue with accomplishing more in less time.

In terms of weather, September is better than the July and August, but early in the month it can still be pretty hot and humid. It’s also the height of hurricane and storm season, so you may want to consult our Visiting Walt Disney World During Storm Season article to navigate the afternoon showers (or worse) without them putting too much of a damper on your trip. Things get better towards the end of the month both in terms of humidity and storms, so your best bet is definitely to hold off on visiting until later in the month if you can. Just remember to pack accordingly, bringing the Frogg Toggs for the humidity…and ponchos for the rain so you don’t spend $179 on them at Walt Disney World. You can view day-by-day temperature and weather forecasts plus historical averages for Walt Disney World weather in September here.

September is also great for special events. To answer a common question: yes, you will see Halloween decorations if you visit Walt Disney World in September. Any day in September (this year decorations started going up August 24). Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is offered throughout September, and most of the best dates for attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party are in September. It’s a really fun hard-ticketed event that we fully believe is worth doing at least once. If you’re considering attending and want to know whether it’s worth it or you’ve already decided to attend and want some tips and strategy for the party, read our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Guide.

The end of the month also brings with it Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, which is a great way to graze and sample different cuisines, or attend instructive seminars, or other foodie special events. It’s also a great way to lighten your wallet, as it is very easy to spend a lot of money at Food & Wine Festival on these small samples. Especially if you buy booze: not only can you spend a lot on the drinks, but the drinks might cause you to relax your credit card swiping hand and use it more freely on snacks. Not that we know from experience or anything. Check out our Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival Guide for more tips and tricks for this event.

But wait, that’s not all! (more…)

Walt Disney World v. Universal Orlando

Walt Disney World. Universal Orlando Resort. Mickey Mouse. Harry Potter. The debate has raged since both entered the studios theme park scene in Orlando, and is hotter than ever with both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida having opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter sections that have captured the attention of theme park fans and vacationers alike. In this battle royale between Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort, TWO THEME PARK RESORT COMPLEXES ENTER, ONLY ONE WILL LEAVE.

Okay, actually, not really. The point of this post is not to engage in the typical fanboy arguing over which is better. That would be a fool’s errand. Chances are that you already have your favorite (and based on the skew of this site, I’m guessing I know which one that is for most of you), and no amount of impassioned text here is going to change anyone’s mind who is already entrenched in their belief. I will say that any supposed rivalry is mostly an artificial creation of theme park fans, and not something that actually exists between the parks themselves. Disney’s public position has been that “that a rising tide lifts all boats” and that a stronger Universal is beneficial to Disney. In other words, if you’ve ever thought that a visit to Universal Orlando would be tantamount to “betraying” Walt Disney World, banish the thought from your mind. Besides, these are for-profit, publicly-traded companies, not family members. You can’t “betray” them.

None of this changes the fact that a bit of a rivalry does exist among theme park fans, and given that this post is on an unofficial Disney fan blog, you might very well be able to guess where our preferences lie. It would be nearly impossible for me to write an unbiased post pitting the two resort complexes in some kind of head to head battle. Instead, this post is written to compare and contrast Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, to give those of you who haven’t recently visited both an idea of how you might want to allocate your vacation time in Orlando. Hopefully it’s reasonably fair in doing that. Ultimately, I think the two resort complexes are better as complementary destinations rather than competitive ones, so I don’t have much interest in that “battle,” anyway.

Since returning from my first visit to Universal Orlando Resort in over a decade, I’ve already received a number of questions about whether Universal is “worth it?” That’s an incredibly loaded and subjective question, but I feel like this type of comparison post (with Walt Disney World as a baseline of sorts) is probably the best way to go about answering it. Given the sources of these questions, this post is going to assume some knowledge of Walt Disney World, so if you’re a first-time visitor planning your Orlando theme park vacation, you might need to supplement this post with our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.

The fact is, each complex brings a lot to the table, and has its strengths and weaknesses. For many of you, Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando might work well in tandem, and it might make a lot of sense for you to spend some time at each resort complex. For others of you, only one may hold any appeal due to your party’s demographics, advantages of staying on-site at one or the other, cost, or for a variety of other reasons.

We will cover all of that in this post, as we take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each… (more…)