For many Disney fans, fall is a favorite time to plan a trip to the parks. Both Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and Disneyland in Anaheim, California, celebrate Halloween with characters in costume, special not-so-spooky ride overlays and more Mickey-shaped pumpkin sculptures than you can possibly count.
Guests planning a trip to Disneyland in 2019 should expect quite a few changes this fall during “Halloween Time,” as the season is officially called. One of the most popular parts of Halloween Time in Disneyland has, for many years, been a separately-ticketed Halloween party held several nights a week from mid-September until the end of October. This event, known as Mickey’s Halloween Party, has traditionally been held in Disneyland Park. In 2019, however, it’s getting a new name, a new location and a lot of new additions.
Introducing the Oogie Boogie Bash
Now known as “Oogie Boogie Bash — a Disney Halloween Party,” Disneyland’s Halloween party will be held in the other park across the esplanade: Disney’s California Adventure. The party is named for the jovially evil character in Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” The party theme is therefore a bit edgy while still in keeping with Disney’s family-friendly PG vibe. Oogie Boogie Bash will be offered 20 nights in September and October. Parties take place on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
So, why the move to California Adventure? Though Disney hasn’t said anything officially, the change is likely due in large part to the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland earlier this year. Disney has been taking steps to try and distribute crowds more efficiently between the two parks.
Guests must purchase a special party ticket, available exclusively from Disney, and regular park tickets are not required in addition to the event ticket — unlike some of the other special events Disney parks offer.
The party festivities officially kick off at 6pm, but the special event ticket also gives guests access to the parks starting three hours earlier (and four hours earlier on Sunday party days as well as the Oct. 29 and 31 parties). The party ends every night at 11pm.
What’s New at Oogie Boogie Bash
The Halloween party may be moving and getting a name change, but is it really all that different from previous years? I had a chance to hear directly from Disney Imagineers who created elements of the event at a media preview a few weeks ago to address that very question.
In short, Oogie Boogie Bash brings back some fan favorites, but the party promises to be a true reimagining of the special event. Expect a lot of original entertainment choices targeted at a wider range of ages than ever before. New entertainment offerings include:
World of Color — Villainous!
The centerpiece of Oogie Boogie Bash is a brand-new World of Color show offered only on party nights. World of Color shows use lights and laser projections on water fountains to create a dynamic screen for animation, all set to music. This special Halloween show features a brand-new character, Shelley Marie, who meets Disney villains as she decides what she will dress up as for Halloween. I previewed the new show in rehearsals and it’s colorful and compelling, with lots of familiar faces as well as new seasonal songs set to beloved melodies.
This new interactive show and dance party features characters from (and inspired by) the popular Disney Channel movie series, “Descendants.” The party will take place in the Backlot area of Hollywood Land and is aimed at older kids and tweens.
Mickey’s Trick and Treat Show
Intended for younger visitors with no spooky elements, this new show features Fab 5 characters. It takes place in the same theater as the Disney Junior Dance Party, so expect lots of dancing, followed by a few candy treats.
Last but certainly not least is a new area known as Villains Grove, set in the maze-like atmosphere of Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. The area will be transformed with lights and special effects to create a variety of wicked scenes. Families of sensitive little ones should expect this to be a bit dark, but it’s sure to be the highlight for older kids and adults.
What’s Returning to Oogie Boogie Bash
Not everything is new at Oogie Boogie Bash, of course. A few much-loved festivities are returning for 2019 from previous incarnations of Mickey’s Halloween Party.
This nighttime parade is led by the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow and features characters such as Mickey Mouse and Jack Skellington. The parade will end this year with a new closing character, the Cheshire Cat.
Character Meet and Greets
Both traditional Disney characters in costumes as well as Disney villains are available for meet and greets, photos and autographs around the park on party nights.
Trick or Treating
One of the most popular things to do at Halloween parties is trick or treat. Disneyland sets up “treat trails” where cast members distribute sweet and salty items (allergy-friendly treats are available upon request). Some treat trails will be more immersive than ever, with characters like the Mad Hatter from Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” taking part.
Is Oogie Boogie Bash Worth It?
Oogie Boogie Bash isn’t a cheap event. Per person ticket prices are between $110 and $145, with small discounts available only to annual passholders. The party’s main appeal is the themed entertainment available no other time of year, as well as usually shorter ride lines. The limited hours of the event, however, mean it can be hard to see and do it all in a single party night.
For families with kids who are old enough for a late night out, the party certainly seems worth it for both Disney fans as well as Halloween lovers. Indeed, it likely promises to be an upgrade from previous years. My oldest child is now a tween, so I considered all the new programming with her in mind. What I saw and heard for 2019 seemed right up her alley, particularly the new DescenDANCE party, Villains Grove and World of Color show. Families with older kids, tweens and teens can experience a lot in a single evening, as will adults-only groups.
For parents of younger children, the biggest concern is the late hour. I attended a Halloween party with my son when he was 3 and he passed out in his stroller before the evening parade even began. It’s hard for a family to get full value with either sleeping or cranky kids. If you are inclined to attend a party with younger kids, it’s vital to get a pre-party afternoon nap and also not to plan to go to the parks the next morning. And be careful with sensitive little ones. While the party isn’t scary, it still might not be the right fit for every child.
Tips for Attending Oogie Boogie Bash
Because Oogie Boogie Bash is a brand-new event this year, strategies for making the most of it won’t be fully evident until the first party happens on Sept. 17. That said, there are a number of tips from previous years’ parties that will likely still apply.
- Book early: Parties do sell out, so it’s vital to secure tickets as soon as your travel plans are set. As of the time this article was published, three event dates — including Halloween night — are already sold out.
- Check the costume policy: One of the best parts of a Disneyland Halloween party is that everyone — adults included — can dress up. There are still some limitations on attire, such as no face coverings and no props resembling weapons. Check the costume policy before you head to the parks to make sure you won’t be turned away.
- Plan for long character lines: While ride lines are often short, the lines to meet the most popular characters certainly won’t be. Pick your must-sees and be strategic. You can often save party time by lining up for the biggest headliner in the hour before the party starts.
- Trick or treat later in the evening: Trick or treat trails are also popular, as many guests seem determined to depart the party with several pounds of candy. However, the lines traditionally dissipate later in the evenings. Saving the trick or treat for last means you don’t have to lug around extra candy weight for hours, and can also deliver shorter lines.
- Study the party map: Even if you are are regular Disneyland visitor, the parks look different on a party night. Check the party map closely to plan your evening most effectively. While Disney doesn’t release these maps in advance, you can often find a copy of the map from a fellow guest in Disneyland planning groups, message boards or even on Instagram.
- Stay nearby. Since this is a nighttime event, we recommend staying nearby at either at an official Disneyland Hotel, or at one of the points-friendly properties available within walking distance to the parks.
This story was originally published on The Points Guy. Sign up for the TPG daily newsletter and wake up to unbeatable flight deals, travel industry news, and credit card bonuses that let you travel first-class to some of the world’s most incredible destinations at a fraction of the price.