Halloween is my favorite holiday. Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World is probably my favorite Disney thing, and I've attended 10 parties over the years. But when I took a last minute trip to Disneyland during the Halloween season, I wasn't sure if I should attend. I had heard it wasn't anything like Disney World's and that the characters weren't that different than were out during the day. However, things changed this year! There are lots of cool characters, and other characters meet in different Halloween costumes than they do during the day. Since we couldn't find much information about the party before we attended, I thought it would be fun to give a rundown on what to expect, and some tips on how to approach the special parts of the party.
Mickey's Halloween Party is hard ticket event at Disneyland. You need to buy a separate ticket, even if you are an annual passholder or have a ticket to the park. Most party dates tend to sell out in advance, so once you know you want to go, be sure to get tickets! We attended one of the first parties on October 8, and even that sold out. If you are an annual passholder, for many dates, there is a discount, but you need to order your tickets in advance as well.
You can get into the park with your party ticket 3 hours before the party starts. When you arrive for the party, you are given a wristband, and a bag for candy. You will need to show the wristband to meet characters, get on rides, and even get in stores. If you are already in the park during the day, you can get your wristband near the hub 3 hours before the party starts.
Now that the basics are out of the way, let's start with characters!
For 2 hours before the party officially starts, there's a pre-party in Toontown. This is new this year, and was one of our favorite parts of the party! Rare characters and the fab 5 in different outfits are out for these 2 hours. Toontown closes about an hour before this, and you can line up to get into Toontown at that time. We got there about a hour early, and were second in line to get into Toontown. They check your wristbands as you are in line, and it's very organized letting you in.
None of the characters in Toontown had Photopass, though they all sign autographs. Each character is out for 30 minutes at either the top of the hour, or on the half hour, and therefore, have 2 sets each.
The most rare and exciting character in Toontown is Roger Rabbit. This is the first time he has had a real meet and greet at Disneyland in over a decade, and he never meets at Disney World anymore. If you're a character hunter like me, it's worth going to the party just to meet him! He meets by the Gazebo in Toontown. When we met him, he was meeting behind the Gazebo, but for some parties, he met in front of the gazebo. He meets at the top of the hour (for example, at [5:00] and [6:00]), and since Toontown is only open for 2 hours, he only has 2 sets. Once he arrives, the line grows long quickly, so get in line right away! It's all worth it because Roger is incredibly interactive (he told me he loved me, take that Jessica!) and he also signs autographs (even though I was told an an earlier party that he wasn't signing.)
Roger switches out with Mickey & Minnie, who meet on the half hour (for example, at [5:30] and [6:30].) This is the other popular line because they are in the cutest outfits! Mickey is Zorro and Minnie is in a Candy Corn dress. I've met both characters in over 20 different outfits, and I've never even seen pictures of them in these outfits until now! This is another don't miss.
Chip & Dale meet in Sailor outfits in Toon Park, which is the area across from the Gazebo. Their line was never long, and I've heard they sometimes split up and roam around the area as well. They meet at the top of the hour.
Clarabelle Cow is another character that is not often out, though she's more rare at Disneyland than Disney World. She of course meets by Clarabelle's, and never had a line. I actually met her twice because no one was meeting her towards the end of her second set. She was just sitting on the counter & had me join her, so we got a cute picture. She meets at the top of the hour.
Donald & Pluto switch out with Clarabelle and meet on the half hour. They also meet in outfits I've never seen before, Donald as a Wizard, and Pluto in a Candy Corn outfit.
Goofy meets at the top of the hour, in between the exit of Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin and the Gag Factory. He is wearing a Candy outfit, like he wears during the Boo To You parade at Walt Disney World.
As with any character meet & greet, the timing and exact area could change (Goofy was a bit delayed when we met him, and came out during the half hour instead of at the top of the hour), but all these characters will be found in these outfits during the Toontown pre-party.
Once you're ready to leave Toontown, there's lots of other characters to meet!
What's a Halloween party without some villains, right? The villains all meet in Town Square. The main area, where 6 villains meet, is by the train station. You get in one line and get to meet 3 villains! Maleficent (always the most popular, no matter the coast!) and the Queen (from Snow White) switch out with Cruella and Dr. Facilier every 45 minutes. Hades switches out with Jafar every 30 minutes. All Villains sign, except Hades, and there was Photopass in each of the 3 spots for the villains.
Both Frollo and Queen of Hearts roam around Town Square during the party, and you can meet them as well. The Tremaines (Anastasia, Drizella and Lady Tremaine) meet in a great photo spot by the Mad Hatter store. The Tremaines have Photopass, but the roaming characters do not.
Even when it's time for the villains to switch out, they do something really cool! The next set arrives on a carriage, with Haunted Mansion hosts walking along side carrying candelabras. The Tremaines usually walk behind and interact with guests. It's definitely something to catch at least once!
The villains meet until 15 minutes before the party ends. Then they arrive on the carriage and have a villainous send off from the Main Street Train Station platform. The Haunted Mansion hosts stand in front, and the villains dance and sing, and end with telling you to leave. If you've been to Disney World's Halloween party, you'll recognize some of the music from the Villains Mix & Mingle. You can watch an Instagram video of this from Tanya.
Expect to wait about 20-30 minutes for the main villains line. Remember that you may get different villains than when you first get in line, since they switch out. If there is someone you want to meet more than the others, I recommend asking a cast member if they just arrived, and you can determine if they'll still be there when getting to the front of the line. For me, the most important villain to meet was Hades, since the others meet during Disney World's Halloween Party, and the Tremaines are out in Disney World during the day. At Disneyland, Cruella and the Queen of Hearts are often found during the day, and during the Halloween season, many villains can be found in the Conjour a Villain tent in the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree.
Moving on from villains to pirates! Over at the Mark Twain/Columbia Boat Dock, Captain Jack Sparrow switches out with a set of characters from Peter Pan. We met Peter and Wendy, but just after we left, Captain Hook joined them. Mr Smee has been meeting with them as well. We were hoping to meet the set of the 4 Peter Pan characters, and so was everyone behind us! So poor Captain Jack was alone, so they let us meet him first, and still meet Peter and Wendy! This doesn't always happen, but we lucked out (even though we didn't luck out enough to catch Hook & Smee with Peter & Wendy.) Captain Jack is incredibly interactive, and he spent time with us even though he was just about to leave. The line for both sets are usually around 30 minutes throughout the night, but at least there are some fun pirates decorations in the area you can take pictures of. Both sets had Photopass.
At the end of one of the candy trails found at Rancho Del Zocalo is Piratepalooza. Here you can find Pirate Chip, Dale, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald. Sometimes you'll see more than one of these characters, sometimes just one, and sometimes, none at all. It's not a typical meet and greet, with the character sometimes dancing, and always behind a rope, but they do usually stop & pose for pictures. We passed by the area a few times, but the only character we saw (and were able to meet) was Pirate Donald. There is no Photopass for these characters.
Over in Pooh's Corner in Critter Country, you can meet several Pooh characters. Pooh is the only character in a different outfit for the party, and he's wearing a Bee costume. Other than a quick break, he is out all night. Also usually out in Pooh's Corner are Tigger and Rabbit (who is not commonly out at Disneyland, and even harder to find at Disney World), though it's possible Eeyore and Piglet could meet on some nights instead. Pooh and Rabbit had Photopass, but Tigger did not (I don't know if they were short a photographer that night, or if that's always the case.)
Mickey and Minnie meet outside Big Thunder Ranch. Mickey is in an orange magicians outfit, and Minnie in an orange witch outfit. Like many of the outfits at this party, I've never even seen pictures of them in these outfits before. This line was consistently long all night. The good news is they don't switch out with anyone, so other than a quick break for cheese, they are out all night. We actually came back during the fireworks to meet them because earlier in the night, the wait was about an hour, and still waited about 30-45 minutes. Photopass was available for Mickey & Minnie.
We didn't get a chance to meet everyone. None of these characters wear anything special for the party, so I recommend meeting them during the day, other than a few exceptions that are rare for Disneyland. I believe all of these characters had Photopass.
Characters that are out that we didn't meet:
Agent P and Phineas & Ferb meet in Innovations in Tomorrowland. Phineas and Ferb meet on the hour, and they switch out with Agent P who meets on the half hour. Agent P is a very rare character, and if we hadn't met him at the D23 Expo, we would have made sure to meet him during the party. So I definitely recommend trying to meet him if possible! Agent P does not sign autographs, though.
Aladdin, Jasmine, and Genie meet at Aladdin's Oasis in Adventureland. They switch out in various combinations, and when we passed by, there was a short line for Genie. Of the 3, only Genie is not commonly found at Disneyland.
Princesses meet in the Fantasy Faire area. We didn't even make it over here, but I've seen pictures both inside Royal Hall, where they meet during the day, and outside and around the theater. Princesses I've heard meet in this area include Cinderella, Aurora, Rapunzel, Belle, and Pocahontas (who is pretty rare at Disneyland!), but it seems like you may find any princess here.
Jack & Sally meet in New Orleans Square, by the French Market. This is not where they meet during the day, and it also has a nice backdrop (similar to the one they have at Disney World for Jack & Sally during the party.) When we passed by, we saw both Jack meeting alone, and later with Sally. So you may not find them together (though I noticed this during the day as well.)
Stormtroopers meet by Star Tours in Tomorrowland. We didn’t make it over there, but I heard their line can get long. They are also in front of a cool backdrop. Thanks to Jon for the picture
Woody and Jessie meet at the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue. When we passed by, it was only Jessie, so they may switch out. But I've also heard they meet together, so it may depend on the party. The line was short both times we passed by.
Fairies meet in Pixie Hollow. As is the case during the day, it's Tinker Bell and another fairy, who switches out. We never made it over here, so I'm not sure what the line is like, but I would guess it's long like it is during the day.
Merida meets by Small World, in her usual spot during the day.
There is also a Monsters University Dance Party at the Tomorrowland Terrace, where you can dance and meet Mike & Sulley.
Along with characters, the best part of the party is the special fireworks that you can only see during the party, Halloween Screams, which take place at 9:30. This is a fantastic fireworks show, with special projections on the castle, lasers, and Zero flying over the castle. This is a must see, and because of all the fun stuff they do on and around the castle, you should watch it somewhere in front of the castle. High winds canceled the fireworks during an earlier party, so they showed them during a regular park day. We were lucky enough to catch this, so we were able to skip the fireworks during the party and wait for characters. But this is rare and I highly recommend you catch them. I've seen a ton of fireworks at Disney on both parks, and this is one of my favorites…though I still like Disney World's Halloween party fireworks, Hallowishes, better (sorry Steph!) Being a huge fan of Hallowishes, I was happy that Halloween Screams uses pretty much the same soundtrack as Hallowishes! Check out Steph's Halloween party blog post to watch her video of Halloween Screams.
There's also a parade, Mickey's Costume Party Cavalcade. I had heard there wasn't much to this parade, but I was pleasantly surprised, and thought it was cute! There are lots of characters in different costumes in the parade (such as Stormtrooper Donald), and I was shocked to see Miss Piggy on the float at the end of the parade! The [8:30] parade starts at Small World and ends at Town Square, and the [10:30] parade starts at Town Square and ends at Small World. The second parade is less crowded than the first, and we were able to find spots at the start of Main Street just minutes before the second parade. I think as long as you look about 15 minutes before hand, you should be able to find a spot in front. This isn't a parade I would recommend waiting a long time for, even though it is cute. There is so much else to do at the party, and I'm someone that hates wasting time at a hard ticket event.
One of the fun things at the party we didn't get a chance to see were the Cadaver Dans, singing on Rivers of America, which is filled with fog. Anytime we walked by, they weren't out. Tanya got to see them at a blog meetup the night before, check out her video on Instagram.
And there's still more to photograph! The castle is lit beautiful colors, and also has projections on it throughout the night.
Small world has pumpkins projected into it, though we never got a chance to see this. There are large Mickey ghosts throughout the park (I wish there were Photopass near one of these ghosts.) In front of the hub, there are lit up Mickey pumpkins. You will spot dragon eyes next to the Casey Jr Train, where the old Fantasyland Skyway station is. There are also projections around the park.
When the Tremaines aren't meeting in their area in Town Square, including just before the party, it's a cute photo spot. We got some Photopass pictures here, but when Steph went at the end of the night, Photopass was no longer there.
The backdrop even matches our shirts and ears. 🙂
You can get pictures in front of the large Mickey pumpkin on Main Street anytime, but we found a good time to get one during the party was immediately before the fireworks. Everyone was close to the castle, so there was no one waiting for a picture!
We found a Photopass photographer by the Dia de los Muertos display in Zocalo Park, and Tanya said that's the only time she's ever seen one there. And there was no one else in the area, so we made sure to get a quick picture at night.
Of course during the party, there are plenty of spots where you can get candy. The lines for most of these were crazy, so I highly recommend only trick or treating if the line is short, or wait until the end of the night. You usually will get more candy at this point in the party anyway!
Most rides are open during the party, and are usually walk-ons. Of course the Halloween versions of Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain may have a longer wait than the rest. I recommend skipping rides, and doing things that are special to the party, since you can do the rest anytime. But if you want to do rides, you probably won't find shorter lines than you will during a party. Many food places are open during the party, but some start closing before the party ends. The special party park map lists which rides and food places are open during the party.
Finally, there are special pins and shirts that you can only buy during the party. Make sure to get these before the night ends!
Heather is an annual passholder that loves coming up with excuses to take a trip to the World. Follow her adventures at Disney on twitter, instagram, and facebook. Visit her website, I Love Characters, to see pictures of the almost 200 characters she's met at Disney World and Disneyland.