Photos & Recap: 2017 Disneyland Halloween Party

All told, the parade was delayed by a good 30 minutes, causing the fireworks to be delayed, too. Well, that’s assuming the Halloween Screams fireworks would even go off in the first place. During the party I attended last year, the fireworks couldn’t run due to the wind. Earlier this evening, there was a bit of a breeze, and we were guessing that the show would be cancelled again.

Nevertheless, we claimed spots about halfway up Main Street immediately after the parade, and an announcement played almost as soon as we did that the Halloween Screams fireworks would start in a few minutes. The turnaround time here was impressive, with the fireworks starting almost simultaneously with the end of the parade making it backstage.

This was out of necessity: an Anaheim ordinance prohibits the discharge of fireworks after 10 p.m., and Disneyland would risk a large fine if found in violation of the ordinance. Even with this quick turnaround time, it was down to the wire as to whether Halloween Screams would finish in time.

It was our first time ever seeing Halloween Screams, and I was really impressed. Jack Skellington emerging in the trees and Zero flying around Sleeping Beauty Castle…wow. That was really, really cool.

Here are some of my photos of Halloween Screams:

The Sleeping Beauty Castle projections were also a nice touch, and something that was added to the show last year (I believe) utilizing the technology from Disneyland Forever. These projections were not as dynamic–more akin to what you’d see in Remember… Dreams Come True, but they were a definite enhancement.

With Jack & Zero, projections, fire effects, and pyro, the experience of Halloween Screams is exceptional. The audio main show borrows heavily from HalloWishes, with the key difference being that this is hosted by Jack Skellington, and utilizes less pyro.

Unfortunately, right as the grand finale of Halloween Screams started, the clock struck 10 p.m., and the pyro turned into a pumpkin…in a manner of speaking. The pyro simply stopped, as the finale went on. This was a bit of a bummer, but Halloween Screams was still an incredible fireworks show.

I no doubt have Walt Disney World bias when it comes to the Halloween Parties, but even without the finale pyro, I’d put Halloween Screams above HalloWishes. The other additional elements–especially Zero and Jack Skellington–really elevated the show, and it felt like a nighttime spectacular, and not just a fireworks show. Seeing this reinforces what I said in our MNSSHP 2017 Recap–that HalloWishes really needs to be enhanced. Halloween Screams was the highlight of the night for us.

After the fireworks, Sarah and I raced back to Frontierland to see what the character meet & greet situation was like. On the way, we stopped to watch the Cadaver Dans perform a set on the Rivers of America. This was our second time watching them during the party, and their performances are one of the event’s unheralded gems.

They are one of several atmospheric elements that really enhance Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland, and give it a spooky vibe. The fog on the Rivers of America is another nice touch, as are projections and background music.

Following that, we met Pooh and friends back in Critter Country. The line for these characters was minimal, but only Pooh had a costume, and the lighting back here for photos was awful. Even though we only waited 10 minutes, I probably wouldn’t do this again if we had the chance to do it over.

At this point, we decided to return to Main Street to see if any spots were available for the second Frightfully Fun Parade. We weren’t too optimistic, given that we were arriving 5 minutes before the “running” of the Headless Horseman.

We figured that if we couldn’t find a spot, we’d continue on to Tomorrowland to check out the dance party. While walking through the hub, we noticed that there was still ample seating right there, with a straight-on view down Main Street!

Photos from the second Frightfully Fun Parade:

This pretty much underscores just how uncrowded Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland was last night. Aside from the meet & greets (which are so low capacity/high demand that they’d have long waits even if the party were totally dead), the event didn’t have any real crowds at any point.

Initially, I thought this might be because a chunk of guests were locals using the party ticket as a de facto Park Hopper, and were over at Disney California Adventure, checking out its new Halloween offerings. However, DCA closed at 8 p.m., and there was no spike in crowds in Disneyland, then.

To the contrary, after the fireworks, Disneyland was a veritable ghost town. It’s impossible to estimate attendance, especially with attractions absorbing people, but I’d say this Mickey’s Halloween Party felt about half as crowded as the one I attended last year. That party was downright unpleasant from a crowd perspective, and I’ve heard that all of the other parties were the same way.

My guess would be that Disneyland management capped attendance at a lower number this year; I don’t really know how else you’d explain the lower crowds? This party night was sold out, so unless a bunch of people who bought tickets just simply didn’t come (doubtful), it would seem a lower attendance cap would have to be the case.

I do wonder whether management was watching the crowds at this first party, and will quietly release more tickets for subsequent nights.

In the past, there have been times when Mickey’s Halloween Party tickets have been sold via the phone, at the hotels, and even at ticket kiosks in the Esplanade even for “sold out” dates, so maybe that’s the case here…and the other parties (and last night’s) are not really sold out? I guess we shall see what happens with crowds at future parties this season.

After the second Frightfully Fun Parade, Mickey’s Halloween Party was over, and Disneyland was closed. We lingered for a bit, soaking up the ambiance on Main Street and taking photos. Security actually allowed this to continue for a long time, likely because the PhotoPass photographer on Main Street was still taking photos of guests in front of Pumpkin Mickey until around midnight.

Rather than waiting in that long line for the (in my opinion) worse side of Pumpkin Mickey, I set up my tripod behind Pumpkin Mickey, and got a quick shot of us with Sleeping Beauty Castle in the background. A good way to end the night.

Overall, we had an excellent time at Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland. Thanks to lighter crowds, enhancements here and there, and finally getting to see Halloween Screams, it was a really fun night. (Temperatures in the 60s didn’t hurt, either.) With all of that said, the event is really expensive, and it’s tough to justify the event as someone who is an Annual Passholder…and also as someone who does the Florida version of the event annually.

Part of my ‘struggle’ with Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland is because I think East Coast version is substantively better. Hocus Pocus Villains Spelltacular is a big selling point, as is the superior Boo to You Parade. Part of this is, admittedly, nostalgia. We’ve been doing MNSSHP for years, and it’s become fall tradition. There’s a certain something that I can’t quite articulate about the atmosphere of Walt Disney World’s party that I love, and even though Disneyland’s version has a ton of great added atmospheric elements, I still prefer the vibe of the event in Florida. If forced to, I know I couldn’t defend my opinion as to which party has the better atmosphere with any type of evidence, but it’s nonetheless how I feel.

If you’re a Los Angeles or Orange County local without a Disneyland Annual Pass, I can see Mickey’s Halloween Party offering a good way to get a taste of the Halloween season. It’s certainly a better value than a 1-day Park Hopper ticket. You get 8 hours in the parks with light crowds, special entertainment, and a chance to do the attractions with Halloween overlays with minimal waits. Even though it’s “only” a partial day, you can accomplish more in that partial day than you could a full normal day, and the Halloween Party ticket is cheaper than a Park Hopper. Likewise, tourists who have never done Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in Florida are likely to really enjoy this event. I still think Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland could use one more flagship piece of entertainment and a few more parade floats, but it has definitely improved over the course of the last few years.

By the way, if you’re planning on doing Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland and are looking for strategy, I’m currently revising our Tips for Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland post. Check back later today for revisions to that (the “Last updated” date will change to today once I’m done with it).

Your Thoughts

Have you attended Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland? Did you think it was worth the money? What did you think of the Frightfully Fun Parade? What about Halloween Screams? Any tips of your own to add? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!

29 Responses to “Photos & Recap: 2017 Disneyland Halloween Party”
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