Make the most of Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland - 2016 editionby Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer
Halloween Time has begun at the Disneyland Resort, and Mickey's Halloween Party is back, with new entertainment options for fans of all ages.
We attended the first of the 2016 events at Disneyland this past Friday night, and have some tips and tricks to help you make the most of this popular annual event. Even if you're a Mickey's Halloween Party veteran, there are some changes this year that you'll want to prepare for.
New for 2016
Disneyland debuted a brand-new Halloween parade this year, the Frightfully Fun Parade. This parade is hosted by Jack Skellington and features his Nightmare Before Christmas friends and a cast of Disney's greatest Villains.
The parade runs twice each night, at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. About 10 minutes before each parade, the Headless Horseman makes makes his ride down Main Street. If you're hoping to see both the Headless Horseman and the Frightfully Fun Parade, you'll need to find a spot on along the parade route between Sleeping Beauty Castle and Town Square. The Horseman does not appear on the portion of the parade route between "it's a small world" and the Matterhorn.
Also new this year is an evening edition of the Jedi Training Academy, with three shows each night. Sign-ups begin at 5:00 p.m., before the party officially begins, so make sure to plan ahead if your young Padawan learners want to participate. You can register near the exit of the Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland. These special nighttime shows are still limited to children ages 12 and under, but we can always hope that Disney will open Jedi Training up to adults during these events.
The Frightfully Fun Parade is new for the 2016 Mickey's Halloween Party. MousePlanet video.
Party hours and early entry
While the actual party does not begin until 6 or 7 p.m. (depending on the night you go), your event ticket gets you into Disneyland a full three hours before that. With tickets going for as much as $99 this year, it makes sense to enjoy every minute you've paid for. Take advantage of the early admission period to enjoy some of the decorations, grab a bite to eat before the main events begin, ride some attractions, or attend the Toontown Treat pre-party.
Toontown Treat pre-party
Returning this year is the Toontown Treat pre-party. Toontown closes to day guests at 4:30 p.m. (5:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday), and reopens at 5:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday) exclusively for event guests with wristbands. This special pre-party gives event guests exclusive access to trick-or-treat stations in Toontown for two hours until Mickey's Halloween Party officially begins. An exclusive photo location is also open in Toontown during the pre-party, and many of the Disney characters are available for photos.
This pre-party was not listed on the official event guide in past years, and so it was usually attended only by those in the know. This year, signs posted at the park entrance advertise the offering, and Toontown was noticeable busier as a result. The line to meet Mickey and Minnie was almost an hour long at one point, with only slightly shorter lines for Donald, Daisy, Pluto, and Goofy. By comparison, the lines for treat trails outside of Toontown were refreshingly short during the first half-hour of the party on Friday night.
Since the Toontown Treat pre-party is only open to guests with an event wristband, visitors who are spending the day in the park and have tickets to that night's party, should be sure to collect the wristband and trick-or-treat bag as soon as the early admission period opens—4:00 p.m. for Friday night events, and 3:00 p.m. for all other events. There's no need to go all the way back to the main entrance to collect these items—a distribution center is located at the entrance to Frontierland and is open until the official start time. If available, tickets to that evening's party will also be sold at this location.
Note: Toontown closes for the evening at the end of the pre-party, so this is your only chance of the event to ride Gadget's Go Coaster and Roger Rabbit Cartoon Spin.
With the many changes to Disney's costume policy in the past year, visitors are understandably confused about exactly what is and is not allowed at Mickey's Halloween Party. Last year, Disney's official policy specifically stated that all guests could wear costumes in either park regardless of whether they had event tickets. This year the policy omits any mention of whether the rules apply to everyone or just those with event tickets, which once again leaves people asking if they can wear their costume all day, wear their costume into Disney California Adventure at all on event days, or if they have to wait until the early entry period begins to enter Disneyland in costume.
If you or your child chooses to wear a costume to the event, note the following updated policies for 2016.
All event attendees—including adults—may dress in their favorite Halloween costume and must follow these and other guidelines:
- Costumes should be child-friendly and may not be obstructive, offensive or violent.
- Guests may wear masks. However, masks must not obstruct vision and eyes must be visible at all times.
- Guests who dress like Disney Characters may not pose for pictures or sign autographs for other Guests.
- Costumes should not drag on the ground.
- Costumes should not contain sharp objects, pointed objects or materials that may accidentally strike another Guest.
- Costumes should not contain any weapons which resemble or could easily be mistaken for an actual weapon.
- Guests of all ages may only wear costumes to the Disneyland Resort Halloween event to which they have valid tickets.
- Guests who do not adhere to these guidelines may be refused entry into the event unless his or her costume can be modified to meet the above standards.
There are nine trick-or-treat trails spread throughout the park this year, down from 14 in 2015. Gluten-free and sugar-free candy is available at the first (door) station of each trail. As in years past, some of the trails are sponsored—look for Peeps treats along the Rivers of America.
After learning about the Teal Pumpkin program introduced at Walt Disney World's Halloween event this year, it was a disappointment to see that Disneyland did not follow suit in offering non-food treats for guests with food allergies. At the Florida event, visitors with food allergies can request a special teal-colored trick-or-treat bag. Cast members then give special teal tokens instead of candy to guests who carry the teal bag through the treat trails. Visitors can return to designated allergy-free centers to exchange the tokens for special treats, which include gluten-free, sugar-free, and nut-free options, as well as non-food treats like craft kits. Hopefully Disneyland will add a similar offering in future years.
Passholder treat station
Disneyland Resort annual passholders again have exclusive access to a treat station during Mickey's Halloween Party nights. For the first night, and possibly due to the construction in the Main Street Opera House where the station was hosted last year, the treat station is all the way back along the Big Thunder Trail, beyond the exit from the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attraction. It's possible the station will relocate to Main Street once the Opera House reopens later this week.
Once there, show your event wristband and annual pass to receive your treat: an Annual Passholder tote bag.
The usual Tomorrowland dance party is replaced this year by Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. With so many Villains now participating in the nightly parade, the Villains Cavalcade from past years has ended. Instead, the various baddies—including Maleficent, Cruella, and the Evil Queen—take turns walking to their photo locations on Main Street. The entertainment schedule is the same for all events this year, regardless of night.
- The Ride of the Headless Horseman – 8:20 p.m., 10:20 p.m.
- Frightfully Fun Parade – 8:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m.
- Halloween Screams – A Villainous Surprise in the Skies Fireworks – 9:30 p.m.
- Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple at Galactic Grill – 7:30 p.m., 9:00 p.m., 10:05 p.m.
- Disney Villains in Town Square – event hours.
- Cadaver Dans on the Rivers of America – 7:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m., 10:45 p.m.
One additional note about the parade route: On opening night, there were two large construction walls set up on Main Street, blocking access to a stretch of the viewing area on both sides of the street. Keep in mind that there are two parades each night, and you may find it's worth the wait to attend the second parade.
There are quite a few character locations during this event, each staffed with PhotoPass photographers to help capture a photo of the moment. If you are a Disneyland annual passholder with Photopass entitlement on your pass, be sure to take full advantage of the opportunity to meet some rarely-seen characters:
- Disney Villains – Town Square
- Disney Princesses – Fantasy Faire
- Jack Skellington and Sally – New Orleans Square
- Mickey & Minnie – Behind the giant Mickey pumpkin on Main Street.
- Toy Story Pals – Frontierland
- Disney Pirate Pals – Pirate Wharf (Frontierland Dock) and Piratepalooza (Rancho del Zocalo)
- Friends from Aladdin – Aladdin's Oasis
- Winnie the Pooh and Friends – Critter Country
- Star Wars characters – Star Wars Launch Bay
Most rides are open during the event, though the following are scheduled to be closed during certain parties:
- Splash Mountain – closed for all events after October 2.
- "it's a small world" – closed for all events after October 24.
- Toontown – closed during all events.
Official event merchandise is available at the Main Street Emporium. Additional Halloween merchandise is available at these locations:
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
- Disney Showcase
- Pieces of Eight
- Pioneer Mercantile
- Pooh Corner
- Port Royal
There is no event-specific food for Mickey's Halloween Party this year, but all seasonal offerings will be sold during the event. Most park restaurants are open during the party, with some closing earlier than others. Our advice is not to waste precious event time with a long sit-down meal during party hours, but enjoy some of the seasonal treats from counter-service locations.
If you do want to splurge on a table-service meal during the event, check out the dinner packages at the Blue Bayou. The three-course prix-fix meal also gives you admission to a reserved viewing area on Main Street for the Ride of the Headless Horseman and the Frightfully Fun parade. You also receive a light-up lanyard.
As of publication, all but five of the 2016 events are sold out, and the remaining events will likely sell out before the end of September.
- Sold out – September 23, 30; October 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 21, 29 and 31
- Available – September 26, 28; October 19, 24, 26
Tickets are available via Disneyland.com and at Disneyland ticket booths.
Before you turn to Craigslist, StubHub, or eBay (all of which bring with them the very high risk of being defrauded), here are official ways you may still be able to buy legitimate party tickets directly from Disney:
- Call Disneyland and order tickets by phone – a limited number of tickets may be available by phone for events that are sold out online. Call (714) 781-4636 to purchase by phone. Expect to wait on hold for at least 10 minutes.
- Visit Disneyland and purchase tickets in person – a limited number of tickets may be available at the Disneyland ticket booths for events that are sold out online. However, if you tried to purchase tickets by phone and the night you wanted was sold out, they will not be available at the ticket booths.
- Disneyland Resort Hotels – if you are a guest staying at one of the three Disney-owned hotels (Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier Hotel, or Grand Californian Hotel), check with your hotel desk the morning of the event to see if they have tickets available for purchase. Last year, MousePlanet Community Leader Angela told us that a small number of tickets were reserved for Disneyland Resort Hotel guests, and were released for sale at 5:30 a.m. the morning of each party. Officially these tickets are intended only for concierge-level guests, but we've heard conflicting stories about that, and it seems some guests in standard rooms have been allowed to buy the tickets as well. If you're already staying on property, it does not hurt to ask. Angela warns that these tickets sell out very quickly, so don't wait until the party starts to try to make your purchase.
- Friends or family – if friends/family already have tickets, they may be able to purchase additional tickets the day of the party. Again, a small number of tickets are reserved for same-day sales to help accommodate ticket holders who may have miscounted how many they need, or who had friends/family unexpectedly join them. As with the tickets reserved for hotel guests, these are very limited, and go on sale as soon as the ticket booths open in the morning. If at all possible, get there first thing in the morning to increase your chance of getting tickets. You must have the other event tickets with you—the cast member needs to see them, and cannot just trust your word that "so-and-so already has tickets."
One final note
As in past years, the entire Halloween Party is a no-smoking event. All smoking locations inside Disneyland park are closed during the event. Smoking—including e-cigarettes—is permitted only in the main entrance plaza.