WDW Magazine’s Must-Dos for Halloween at Disney World and Disneyland

by | Aug 22, 2023 | Disney California Adventure Park, Disney Springs, Disneyland, Disneyland Parks, Magic Kingdom, WDW Blog

The WDW Magazine team is sharing our absolute favorite attractions, entertainment, snacks, and more during Halloween season at Disney theme parks and resorts.

Halloween is one of the best times of the year to visit a Disney park. Sure, everyone loves the holiday decorations that go up each November – but there’s something magical about fall. And when the gold, brown, and orange leaves start to line Main Street, U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom and the giant Mickey pumpkin appears at Disneyland, it’s a special experience. 

Oh, and you can’t forget the seasonal haunts! From attraction overlays to special spooky parties on both coasts, the Halloween magic extends well beyond the theme park entrances. Below, the WDW Magazine team shares their favorite Halloween happenings and must-dos at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. 

Ride the Haunted Mansion (at Night!)

Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom

Photo by Cliff Wang

The Haunted Mansion is a must-ride attraction year-round for most Disney World and Disneyland visitors, but it’s especially cool to ride during the Halloween season. The 999 happy haunts really come alive – and if you’re looking for an extra fright-filled experience, we highly recommend getting on after the sun sets.

As Abby Richardson, WDW Magazine’s Graphic Designer, explains, “I know you can do it anytime of year, but riding Haunted Mansion at night in the Halloween season just hits different! I MUST do it!”

Plus, if you’re headed to Disneyland Resort for Halloween, you absolutely don’t want to miss your chance to experience the special Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay. The attraction is transformed by Jack Skellington himself into a frightening winter wonderland. It covers both Halloween and Christmas in one ghoulish, seasonally-inspired ride, with familiar faces from The Nightmare Before Christmas throughout. 

See Characters in Their Halloween Costumes

You’re going to want to plan some time for character encounters during your Halloween visit to Disney World or Disneyland! During the fall, characters see some big changes – like fresh Halloween costumes and seasonal outfits. 

As Danny Shuster, WDW Magazine’s Creative Director, says, “I love when the characters get seasonal costumes. Chip and Dale usually get amazing costumes; Pooh and friends getting dressed up is always a treat.” You’ll want to keep an eye out for these characters at Disney World. And don’t overlook the Fab Five, who all typically get Halloween costumes or special seasonal attire.

Additionally, you might be able to spot some “new” characters throughout the theme parks. Danny notes, “Halloween is also the best time of the year for rare characters, as the lesser seen ones usually show up at parties (Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Oogie Boogie Bash). If you’re a character completionist, it’s the season.”

Walk Down Main Street, U.S.A.

A walk down Main Street is a treat any time of the year, but the Halloween decorations throughout the Magic Kingdom’s main thoroughfare make it particularly autumnal and photo-worthy. From fall-inspired banners in bright colors to Mickey’s smiling Jack-o-lantern face to characters all decked out for the season, it’s a must-do for WDW Magazine’s Staff Editor, Morgan Flaherty: “Getting a pumpkin spice latte and walking down Main Street with those decorations just hits differently. The fall decorations are my favorite – I love getting pictures of the pumpkin Mickey wreaths.”

 And there’s another perk to taking your time on a Halloween walk down Main Street at both Disney World and Disneyland: You can check out all the seasonal merchandise in the shops! “Even as someone who is more of a holidays gal vs. Halloween, I have been so tempted by the Starbucks tumbler, the spooky sweater, and fall ears,” Morgan says. 

Can’t make it to the theme parks just yet? You can get a head start and shop some of the Disney Halloween collection online here!

Explore Plaza de la Familia at Disney California Adventure Park

Plaza de la Familia at California Adventure

Photo by Adrienne White

Although Halloween is the autumn holiday that garners the most attention at Disney theme parks, those heading to Disneyland Resort in the fall have the chance to experience another one: Dia de Los Muertos. This holiday, which is widely observed in Mexico and by those of Mexican heritage, takes place on November 1 each year. But at California Adventure, you can celebrate from September through November 1!

And according to Stephanie Shuster, WDW Magazine’s CEO, “Plaza de la Familia is not to be missed, I love all the activities themed to celebrating Día de Los Muertos – it’s a colorful, family-centered way to celebrate the season.”

During the fall, you can stop by Plaza de la Familia to try special foods, learn more about the traditions of Dia de Los Muertos, and even see characters from Coco in California Adventure’s Paradise Garden Park.

Snack on a Candy Apple

Is there anything more fall than freshly picked apples and all kinds of sweet and savory apple treats? Well, we think the candy apples you’ll find at Disney theme parks during the Halloween season take apples to a whole new level!

Regina Varolli, DLR Magazine’s Managing Editor, can’t skip these treats when she visits Disneyland: “One simply MUST eat a candy apple of any kind during Halloween Time!”

While you can find an array of different candy apple concoctions inside the theme parks year-round, spooky season introduces specialty options that are both delicious and fun. From Jack Skellington-themed apples to frightful villain-inspired versions, you can try limited-time apples in the parks only. You can see all the Halloween treats coming to Disneyland in our guide!

Spend Some Time in Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square

Cathy Salustri, WDW Magazine’s Copy Editor, loves heading to one land in particular each year: “I’m a HUGE Headless Horseman fan (born in Sleepy Hollow!), so I’m happy to hang at Liberty Square. And, of course, we all learned in a recent WDW Magazine issue that the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World is based on the Hudson River Valley, so it’s fitting for me to ride that during the season, too.”

Liberty Square is a wonderfully spooky place to hang out during the Halloween season, whether you’re all about the Haunted Mansion or catching rare characters out and about. The Headless Horseman is always a seasonal favorite, so you won’t want to miss the chance to catch this ghostly figure – and in a land that’s true to his frightening back story!

If you’re visiting Disneyland Resort instead of Walt Disney World Resort, you won’t find the Headless Horseman hanging around… unless you attend Oogie Boogie Bash, that is! Party Guests can spot the haunting horseback rider galloping through California Adventure during the event’s Frightfully Fun Parade, which takes place on all Oogie Boogie Bash dates (weather permitting). 

Visit Gideon’s Bakehouse at Disney Springs

Gideons Bakehouse at Disney Springs

Photo by Jeff Chiu

Lastly, don’t overlook Disney Springs for some Halloween fun! WDW Magazine Staff Editor Morgan Flaherty recommends popping into Gideon’s Bakehouse. Here, you’ll find delicious bites that are made for autumn (and Halloween). 

“They always have seasonal flavors, and their pumpkin cookies and cold brew (when available) are out of this world,” she notes. Gideon’s Bakehouse also offers a special menu of treats for the “Fall Into Magic” seasonal event at Disney Springs, with options like the Frankenstein Cookie and the Frankencake.

And of course, with haunting decor that feels like Halloween all year long, Gideon’s Bakehouse is a great spot to grab a snack during the fall. The black and red color scheme will feel particularly frightful when Halloween rolls around, and the seasonally-inspired cookies and cake slices will get anyone ready for some festive fun!

For more on Disney must-dos for the Halloween season, keep reading:

The History of Halloween in the Disney Parks

The Best Halloween Movies to Stream on Disney+

 

 

Posts by Heather Adams

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Heather is a lifelong Disney fan who grew up at Disneyland and loves spending as much time as possible in the parks. As WDW Magazine’s Content Operations Manager, Heather is a content creator and strategist with experience at a wide variety of different outlets. She’s written for publications including Clean Eating Magazine, Fatherly, The Drive, Task and Purpose, Healthversed, Nation.com, and Car Bibles. Heather also authored the book Fidget!: 101 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Decrease Stress.
epcot-clothing_creations-shop_chiu

Authored by
Heather Adams

Heather is a lifelong Disney fan who grew up at Disneyland and loves spending as much time as possible in the parks. As WDW Magazine’s Content Operations Manager, Heather is a content creator and strategist with experience at a wide variety of different outlets. She’s written for publications including Clean Eating Magazine, Fatherly, The Drive, Task and Purpose, Healthversed, Nation.com, and Car Bibles. Heather also authored the book Fidget!: 101 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Decrease Stress.
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