I was told that Fall is a special time at the Disneyland Resort, and now I know first-hand that it's true. Disney works their magic on Disneyland to transform it into a pumpkin-filled, haunted paradise, with special decor and attractions themed to the season. You can click here for a detailed description of the decorations, events and attractions that the Disneyland Resort offers during the fall -- but if you'd rather not read a press release and find out what I saw and heard, keep reading!
* Even before you enter the park, you know it's Halloween Time at Disneyland. Check out this gigantic pumpkin Mickey!
* Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland is all dressed up for fall, with over 300 pumpkins displayed in shop windows and on balconies. Look closely, because no two are the same. The buildings are festooned in orange and yellow bunting, and each lamp post has a Mickey pumpkin arrangement. It's absolutely gorgeous!
* Big Thunder Ranch looks like an autumn wonderland, all decked out in all the beautiful colors of fall. The stage is filled with pumpkins, vines and fall leaves, and there are scarecrows and jack-o-lanterns galore.
* Special Halloween characters and Disney villains have come out for Halloween! There was a mob around Jack Skellington and Sally at New Orleans Square, and we saw guests lining up near It's a Small World in Fantasyland for Malificent and Jafar. And at the mom blogger event we had a special treat: we got to meet Cruela de Vil and Snow White's Evil Stepmother!
* Rancho del Zocalo in Frontierland is decorated with traditional skeleton figures in honor of Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead; they'll be on display until Nov. 2.
* Look for Halloween treats around the park, including Zero's Ghostly Ghoulash and Halloween-themed rice krispie treats! I was hoping there would be Halloween-themed napkins similar to the holiday ones, but I'll have to be content with paper popcorn boxes with Halloween prints.
* Shops throughout the Disneyland Resort are selling Halloween-themed merchandise, from jack-o-lantern mouse ears to Halloween costumes to trick-or-treat bags to Halloween-themed pins, shirts and hats.
* The Twilight Zone™ Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure (DCA) park offers spooky fun any time of the year. We had an unexpected surprise when our family was chosen to open DCA on Sept. 19, which meant we got an elevator ride on the Tower of Terror all to ourselves!
* The Haunted Mansion has been decorated for Halloween/Christmas, inspired by The Nightmare before Christmas (where the 2 holidays collide). I haven't been to the Haunted Mansion in about 15 years, and I've never experienced Haunted Mansion Holiday, and the rest of my family has never been to the Haunted Mansion at all --so it was an amazing experience. The decorations outside the mansion are gorgeous. Every aspect of the Haunted Mansion ride has been redone, from the ghostly holiday portraits to the Santa hats on all the ghosts to the music to the gingerbread haunted house display in the haunted party ballroom to the holiday ghouls that travel home with you on the way out. I think we might be spoiled now for the regular Haunted Mansion. How can anything be as spectacular as this?
* Space Mountain has been themed for Halloween with images of spooky ghosts projected alongside the stars and comets that you see on the ride. My favorite one is the 3D-like projection of a ghostly hand that reaches out to grab you, just before the track dips down, so it feels like the hand just missed you. And there's a creepy eyeball that seems to follow your every move. It's so much fun! Parents of younger kids, beware -- this one really might be scary to them. Jammy has ridden Space Mountain many times, but after 1 ride on Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, he freaked out at the ghosts and refused to ride it again (he says he'll go back when the ghosts are taken out of the ride).
Halloween Time at Disney is truly a remarkable experience, and with the cool weather and smaller crowds, it just might be the best time of the year to visit. Catch the magic now before it goes away!
For more photos of the Disneyland Resort in the fall, go to my Halloween Time Flickr photo set!
Disclosure: Disney covered travel expenses for me and my family to experience Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.