HalloweenTime.TMOMA few of the attractions at the Disneyland Resort already have an underlying dark side, but it’s not until the annual Halloween Time event that friendly spooks materialize on certain rides and in the parks through Oct. 31.

What better rides than Space Mountain and the Haunted Mansion for ghoulish special effects to thrill unsuspecting families? Even suspecting families like mine who are frequent park visitors still look forward to the resort’s seasonal events.

When I texted my college-age daughter to ask if she wanted to join us at Halloween Time this year, she quickly replied, “YESSS,” and took a seven-hour bus ride home from San Francisco. Not only was it was a treat to see her, but we all had fun at the tricked out Disneyland Resort.  And no matter how well you know the park, you’ll discover new things on a guided tour.

Disneyland

Halloween TimeThe majority of the festivities take place at Disneyland where hundreds of various-sized pumpkins hang from trees and lampposts and adorn lawns. Costumed Mickey Mouse and Disney villains creep throughout the parks, daring guests to pose with them.

We got into the spirit and took a whacky pose with costumed Mickey and Goofy.

Haunted Attractions

We used free, time-saving FASTPASS tickets to bypass long lines at Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy and Haunted Mansion Holiday. The ghost-themed Space Mountain roller coaster has riders zipping through a haunted part of the universe filled with swirling spirits that seem to reach out to you. The haunting music, piercing screams and creepy sound effects enhance the ride.

Haunted Mansion Holiday.TMOMThe Haunted Mansion is even spookier with Jack Skellington and Christmas and Halloween decorations, inspired by “Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas.” This year, in celebration of Haunted Mansion Holiday’s 13th year, there were 13 new additions to the mansion, which will stay decked out until early Jan. 2014.  New stuff to look for include high-tech animation for the stretching rooms. Walking down the hallway look for Zero the ghost dog that makes appearances in the changing portraits. My favorite was the ballroom’s gingerbread house, which is bigger than ever.

Halloween Carnival

Families with young kids will enjoy pumpkin carvers and children’s activities at Big Thunder Ranch.  Pirates League allows kids ages three and older to transform into pirates with make-up, props and other accessories. For Pirates League reservations call 714-781-7895.

California Adventure

Although not spruced up like Disneyland, Halloween Time spills over into California Adventure with a “Dead Man’s Party” starring Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee at the nighttime Mad T Party in Hollywood Land. Not just for kids, this party features music, fun lighting, decorations, food and adult beverages.

TowerofTerror

We’re the weirdos in the back row

Just down the street is the always thrilling Tower of Terror. Based on a Twilight Zone episode where a supernatural event happened on Halloween evening in1939, the ride takes place in an elevator that swiftly lifts and drops guests, mostly in the dark. My kids love posing for the ride’s camera and told me to join them for a goofy family photo (the flash goes off the first time the elevator doors open to outside views).