10 Halloween Must-Dos at Disney Parks in the USA

From brand-new stage shows and parades to Halloween-themed eats and experiences, there are tons of ways to get into the spooky spirit this year at Disney. Here are the must-dos park by park.

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October 01, 2019

Photo By: Disneyland

Photo By: Walt Disney World

Photo By: Disneyland

Photo By: Walt Disney World

Photo By: Disneyland

Photo By: Disneyland

Photo By: Disneyland

Photo By: Walt Disney World

Photo By: Walt Disney World

Photo By: Disneyland

Halloween at Disney

When the Mickey-shaped pumpkins go up, you know it’s Halloween time at Disney. A stroll down Main Street U.S.A. at both Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park is a must in the fall. There’s just something magical about the decor, from those happy pumpkin lanterns on every lamp post to the giant Mickey jack-o'-lantern that greets you at the entrance. And while these traditional decorations are the same from coast to coast, each resort has its own special way of celebrating the spooky season. Read on to see the best Halloween experiences at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

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Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

While other theme parks--such as Universal and Knott’s Berry Farm--boast terrifying haunted houses and mazes come Halloween, Disney is all treats and no tricks with scare-free entertainment. The Magic Kingdom’s specially-ticketed event, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, is perfect for the whole family. There’s free trick-or-treating (with allergy-friendly options) and character meet-and-greets with classic Disney characters in fun Halloween costumes. The event also includes the “Boo to You” Halloween-themed parade and the all-new fireworks show Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular in front of Cinderella Castle. Kids can always wear costumes in the parks, but, per Disney rules, this event is the only time of year that adults can wear costumes, too. So, plan a fun Disney group costume for the whole family!

Halloween Screams Spectacular

If you want Halloween magic without paying for an additional event, Disneyland’s all-new “Halloween Screams” fireworks show is included in regular park admission. The nighttime spectacular takes place in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle and features popular characters such as Jack Skellington, Ursula and Maleficent. Disney Pro Tip: It seems counterintuitive, but for the best view of the show, don’t get too close to the castle. Try to stand back a bit on Main Street. If you stand right up next to the castle, you’ll miss a lot of the incredible augmented reality projections on the park structures.

Magic Shots

If you’ve been to the parks lately and seen people posing for a photo with their hands out holding nothing or looking at nothing with a super-animated expression, they’re not crazy. They’re posing for a magic shot. These digital photos can be downloaded with Memory Maker (at Walt Disney World) or MaxPass (at Disneyland) and feature fun, themed extras, from holding a Mickey balloon to watching Peter Pan fly overhead. But for Halloween, Disney has rolled out tons of spirited Magic Shots, from peering over the Wicked Witch’s bubbling cauldron to holding a glowing jack-o'-lantern. To find Disney PhotoPass locations in the parks, download the Disneyland app or the My Disney Experience app for Walt Disney World.

Spooky Eats and Treats

One of the best things about Disney is the themed food (Because if you didn’t have a Mickey-shaped snack, did you even go?) and Halloween is no exception. There are tons of Instagrammable sweets, from Mickey-shaped pumpkin spice beignets to the fan-favorite Toy Story alien macarons with a vampire twist for Halloween. And if you love churros, there are nine Halloween-themed churros this year at both Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure. Over at Magic Kingdom, you’ll find lots of spooky treats, too. Some are exclusive to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, but other treats are available daily such as the “Amuck, Amuck, Amuck Cupcake” inspired by Hocus Pocus.

The Haunted Mansion

If there’s one Disney ride you have to do during Halloween, it has to be the Haunted Mansion. And this year, Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion attraction is celebrating its 50th anniversary. If you’ve never been to Disneyland in the fall, you’re in for a treat. From Halloween time through Christmas, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas takes over the ride for a journey through popular scenes from the spooky animated classic. Over at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, you can still ride the classic version during Halloween with all the "grim-grinning ghosts" and "happy haunts."

Haul-O-Ween at Cars Land

Disney’s California Adventure park is home to Cars Land, inspired by the Pixar franchise about Lightning McQueen and his Radiator Springs friends. And during September and October, Cars Land celebrates the season with Haul-O-Ween. The cars dress up in costumes, Flo’s V8 Cafe offers Halloween-themed treats and the puns are next level. In addition to the giant Trunk-or-Treat mural, look out for Disney movie posters with a Cars twist, from “Hocus Spokus” to “Escape to Hitch Mountain.”

Disney's PhotoPass Studio

In addition to magic shots, you may not know that Walt Disney World has several photo studios on property. And they don’t require reservations! If you have the Memory Maker photo pass, these sessions and digital photos are totally free just like any other photo download. While the two main resort studios offer formal portraits on traditional backgrounds, the Disney PhotoPass Studio at Disney Springs offers portraits in front of fun Disney-themed backgrounds. For Halloween, you can pose in front of scenes from The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Haunted Mansion, Coco and more.

Halloween-Themed Souvenirs

If you love shopping down Main Street and want to take some magic home, don’t miss the Halloween collections at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. There are specialty Mickey ears, accessories inspired by Hocus Pocus and poison apple homewares. But the big draw this year are the souvenir sipper cups and popcorn buckets including a Mickey balloon-shaped pumpkin bucket. After your trip, reuse the bucket as a trick-or-treat bag for Halloween.

Day of the Dead Celebrations

In addition to Halloween celebrations, Disneyland celebrates Dia De Los Muertos with Mexican art, entertainment and food. Check out the calacas skeleton art in Frontierland near Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante. And over at Disney’s California Adventure, guests can meet Miguel from Pixar’s Coco at the Plaza de la Familia. Don’t miss the free arts and crafts table where you can make your own alebrije spirit guide mask and the Árbol de la Vida tree of life where you can leave a note of remembrance to honor a loved one.

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