If you live in Southern California, you’re no doubt already aware that the full spectrum of Disneyland Resort’s Halloween Time and fall festivities are returning in 2022, following two years of pandemic-related constraints on its much-loved, spooky-season celebrations.
The resort-wide seasonal transformations debuted on September 2 and run through October 31, with the exception of Disney California Adventure Park’s ‘Coco’-themed Plaza de Familia celebration, which continues until Día de Los Muertos concludes on November 2.
TravelPulse was on the scene for Friday’s kick-off event to offer our readers an inside look at what’s in store for park visitors this season.
The ‘Halloween Screams’ spooktacular is presented nightly at the castle and in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle and ‘It’s a Small World’, with Jack Skellington (star of the fan-favorite film ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’) serving as “Master of Scare-omonies” and his spectral dog Zero soaring over the castle each night. The show presents a stirring series of villainous visions, brought to life through light projections and a haunting musical score, which is enhanced even further with dazzling fireworks on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
A perennial fan favorite, ‘Haunted Mansion Holiday’ returns at Disneyland Park, with Jack Skellington hijacking Christmas and accidentally turning it into a rather frightful affair. Along with the other residents of Halloween Town, the Pumpkin King has given the estate an eerie makeover that will delight film fans. Festive (if somewhat confused) holiday touches have been overlayed across the entire exterior and throughout the interior of the attraction, making for an unforgettably merry, mixed-up ride.
Over at Avengers Campus, the popular ‘Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!’ attraction transforms after 4:00 p.m. into ‘Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark’. In this special after-hours scenario, Rocket Raccoon recruits guests to help him rescue Baby Groot from within the Collector’s Fortress, where a horde of menacing monsters have escaped their cells and are running amok. “I believe that’s the only Disney attraction in the entire world where guests, in one day, can experience the same attraction in two completely different styles,” William Shandling, Disneyland Resort’s Fireworks Manager, shared on the topic.
In Cars Land, the stars of Pixar Animation Studios’ ‘Cars’ films have temporarily transformed their hometown of Radiator Springs into ‘Radiator Screams’ and can be found out and about greeting guests, dressed in their “Car-stumes”. The audio tracks and fun sounds usually surrounding guests in Cars Land have also been swapped out for Halloween-specific versions. Visitors will find a couple of the area’s standard attractions transformed into ‘Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween’ and Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree.
Also at Disney California Adventure Park, the sensational ‘Plaza de la Familia’ area—which recreates the vibrant world of the Disney Pixar animated film ‘Coco’—currently occupies what would otherwise be known as Paradise Gardens Park. It’s an immersive, limited-time installation inspired by the spirit of Día de Los Muertos, which showcases many traditions that are tied to the Mexican holiday dedicated to honoring the everlasting bonds of family.
There, guests can meet and take photos with Miguel alongside his personal ofrendas, post messages to their own loved ones on the ‘Tree of Life’ Memory Wall, design their own alebrije masks and enjoy performances of ‘A Musical Celebration of Coco’ that feature popular songs from the film, including the Oscar-winning Best Original Song, “Remember Me”.
F&B and Merchandise
Of course, we haven’t even touched upon the special food-and-beverage items and seasonal merchandise that the Disneyland Resort Parks and Hotels put out this time of year. There are literally dozens upon dozens of delicious (and adorable) Halloween-themed eats and drinks on offer at all kinds of venues, from street vendor stands to sit-down dining locations.
Similarly, over at Plaza de la Familia, guests will find an array of special food-and-beverage and merchandise items that reflect Día de Los Muertos themes. Chef Kamila Robinson shared that there’s even a homegrown component to the selection of Mexican comfort foods on offer. “With menus like this, we took ideas from the team, our Cast Members, especially if it’s something they grew up eating or making with their family, and tried to put that out, so they now have a piece in it,” she said.
This year’s tantalizing Plaza de la Familia offerings include a carnitas burrito, chili verde chicken tamales, chicharrónes, mole wings, chorizo quesadilla, carnitas pizza, elotes, las leches cake and the popular, churro-flavored ‘Coco’ cake.
The foodie facet is definitely one of the major reasons that the resort’s Halloween Time celebration is so highly anticipated among Park enthusiasts. But, in addition to the decorations, the music, attractions overlays, seasonal entertainment and specialty snacks, there’s the profusion of limited-time, seasonal merchandise that fans can’t get enough of. You can find almost everything imaginable, from—collectible popcorn buckets to exclusive apparel—featuring favorite characters from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars films.