Mention the words “family holiday” and visions of theme parks and roller-coaster rides spring to mind. And as theme parks go, Disneyland is the grand-daddy of them all, even after all these years. So when we started considering our next holiday with a 9 year old who has recently discovered the joys of theme parks, it seemed like the obvious choice.
Going during the NZ school holidays in October proved to be a serendipitous choice. In the lead up to Halloween, Disneyland has special night-time Halloween themed “Mickey’s Halloween Parties” that feature the park, rides and characters dressed in ‘Halloween’ costumes, there are special parades and fireworks, and to our surprised delight, lots of free candy! For an extra $65 for a few hours (in addition to the usual 3 day pass), it turned out to be the best few hours we had at Disneyland. And because we don’t really have it in New Zealand, this was a great way to get a glimpse into the culture (and mania) of Halloween celebrations.
For us, this was an unforgettable experience for many reasons…..
You’ll see Disneyland like never before
Walking around the park after dark, taking in the spooky characters and atmospheric lighting around the grounds was a wondrous experience. Sleeping Beauty’s Enchanted Castle is covered in spiderweb and other scary lighting, a number of rides and attractions are beautifully lit, and there are carved pumpkins and displays all around. And the Halloween Parade as well as the Fireworks at the end were simply spectacular!
There are no queues for the rides
As first timers, we went on most of the ‘popular’ rides as part of the evening, and we encountered no queues whatsoever. We only realized how lucky we had been on the coming days when we visited the park during daylight hours. The sharpest contrast was walking on to the Indiana Jones ride, and then seeing the humongous queues for it over the next three days. Even if you only visit Disneyland for the rides, this is the easiest way to get more thrills in.
Halloween Costumes everywhere
As you might expect, park employees and Disney Characters, and of course the kids are dressed in special Halloween costumes. But this is the only time when adults are allowed to wear costumes as well. The number of well thought out, elaborate costumes we saw everywhere was incredible. The people watching was as much fun as the ‘organised’ entertainment, and most people made at least some attempt to dress up.
Free Chocolate and Candy!
Our nine year old son had never been trick or treating before, so seeing Trick or Treat candy stations and ‘Candy Trails’ everywhere made his eyes light up! The park thoughtfully provided bags for storage for us, and we had a blast grabbing chocolate between rides and events. Most of these were American chocolates that are uncommon in New Zealand, so we enjoyed trying all the different types and flavours over the next few weeks, and we even brought loads back home.
While Disneyland is fun just about anytime of the year, the buzz and excitement at this event were really special. If I had to do it again, I’d seriously consider just going to a couple of these instead of the all-day visits. Because doors open at 3, you get a decent amount of time in the park in the daytime as well, and the night-time temperatures are so much better in the hot LA region. With all the extra entertainment, lack of crowds and free candy factored in, this event is an absolute MUST DO if you have the opportunity – with or without kids!