The most awesome three months of the year are upon us, and I’m so excited! Disney has always been my gold standard for design and attention to detail, and they always always go all out for the holidays! This year is particularly fun because California Adventure is finally getting some Halloween love on Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. My little Disney crew just made our second trip to enjoy the Halloween fun this past weekend, and I’m just going to share our experience with you.
California is still pretty hot during October, and we get sporadic heat waves from time to time. To combat this and to avoid the sweaty misery of a midday adventure, we’ve been heading over to the park in the early evening and staying for about 4-6 hours. It actually works out better during Halloween, because the lights add so much more to the decorations! We went to California Adventure for round 1, eager to see the new decorations. We were not disappointed… they are absolutely adorable!
Buena Vista has a bat theme going on, with scores of those winged animals “flying” out of the tower above the Carthay Circle restaurant. They also have bat-themed desserts at Clarabelle’s ice cream and the candy shop next to it. The main attraction here is the smoke spewing statue of the Headless Horseman. There’s a photopass photographer there, and if you ask for a magic shot they’ll superimpose some bats flying in your photo.
My sister was on a mission to score an Oogie Boogie popcorn bucket, so we stopped at the popcorn stand located at the entrance of Hollywood land. I kid you not …. The line was 45 minutes long and wrapped around the Headless Horseman area and down the main street. If you’re on the hunt for one of these buckets, just know that they have a limit of 2 per customer and they are selling out. We saw some guy walking around with 2 giant bags of popcorn buckets, so you KNOW he spent all day waiting in line so he could sell them on eBay. They retail for about $15 each, so just keep that in mind if you need to buy yours through eBay. Oogie IS pretty awesome though (he glows in the dark!)…. I don’t collect the popcorn buckets, but I ended up buying one and put him on display in my office. We found a Mickey Jack-o-Lantern bucket at Disneyland on our second trip, which is almost as cool because the face lights up.
And now… Cars Land. You guys, it’s so cute! And it’s positively ALIVE at night when the neon turns on. The cars are dressed up. The cozy cones have spooky faces on them. The overhead banners sport ghoulish grins made of tires and cones. My personal favorite is the movie poster parodies. Who doesn’t like a “Hocus Pocus” reference? And there are three PhotoPass areas in Cars Land alone: The entrance near the Cars Land sign, the spider car in front of Flo’s, and the sugar skull car in front of Ramone’s. The lines for the PhotoPass spots moved quickly, and we get fantastic night time pictures that I could never take on a camera phone. I would definitely take advantage of that if you can!
There is a third holiday area in the back of the park next to Paradise Pier’s food court. Disney is promoting the upcoming Pixar movie, Coco, with a Dia de los Muertos theme. There are two giant skeletons flanking the entrance to this small area, which houses a Coco-themed display area and a curtain made of family memories. There’s a table with cards and pens to write your own family memory to add to the curtain, which I thought was sweet. Overall, it was a cute area but nothing to go out of your way for.
Our latest visit was another quick night trip to Disneyland. I don’t have much to write about, unfortunately, because the park was SO CROWDED!! I knew it would be crowded because it was a Saturday night, but it was unreal shoulder to shoulder crowded and we just didn’t want to deal with the lines. I’ve haven’t seen it that crowded in a while, and even had some cast members comment about the unusual crowd size that night!
The good news is we were able to go through the fastpass line for Haunted Mansion, bypassing 150 minutes of waiting in that long, crowded line. If you’ve never seen the Nightmare Before Christmas theme at Haunted Mansion, then you’re probably wondering what the fuss is about. But this ride is THE MUST ride during Halloween… every aspect of the original Haunted Mansion is enhanced by the addition of Jack and his crew of misfits, and the details are stunning. One of my favorite parts is the grand dining hall and ballroom dancing scene. The giant gingerbread Haunted House sits in the middle of the table, and the delicious smell of cookies gets pumped into the room as you glide through it. My daughter was thrilled when the ride got stopped and she got stuck directly in front of the hatbox ghost. She got to watch his head disappear and reappear time and time again. And of course, the grand finale through a festive graveyard full of snow and pumpkins just before you meet Oogie Boogie. So fun!
After experiencing both parks Halloween offerings, I’d have to say I enjoyed California Adventure’s more! The Cars Land theming was too perfect, and much more immersive than Disneyland’s décor. However, Disneyland has the best Halloween ride bar none. It’s kind of a toss-up! Make sure you head over there as soon as you can to experience the magic for youself!
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