Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland. Photo: courtesy of Disneyland Parks

Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland. Photo: courtesy of Disneyland Parks

After relocating from the East Coast to the West Coast, it was time to do the same for our annual Disney Halloween trip. Typically, if you are on the East Coast, you visit Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. After attending the Magic Kingdom’s Halloween event the last six years, it was time to visit Disneyland for Mickey’s Halloween Party for the very first time.

The two Halloween-themed events happening on select nights now through October 31, 2013, share the same spirit and ghostly fun but, like the parks themselves, are just a little different. Here are the main pros and cons between this special event happening at both parks.

Mickey’s Halloween Party Disneyland Park vs. Walt Disney World’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Mickey’s Halloween Party Disneyland Park:

The Halloween event and park size is considerably smaller, but don’t let that scare you away.  There are many pluses to Disneyland’s park size. The entrance is easier to get to since you don’t need to hop a ferry, bus or monorail to get in. This also applies to reaching the different Lands and Halloween event activities such as the Trick-or-Treat trail, Mickey’s Costume Party Cavalcade and Monsters U Dance Party.

Cadaver Dans.  Disneyland’s Dapper Dans take spooktacular a step further than the Magic Kingdom’s dead Dapper Dan Cowboy routine. The ghoulish quartet performs aboard Tom Sawyer’s barge as it eerily floats across the fog, while the Magic Kingdom’s Cowboys mingle throughout the park performing and cracking jokes — which we still love.

Ready to trick-or-treat at Disneyland

Ready to trick-or-treat at Disneyland

Haunted Mansion.  I have always thought that the Haunted Mansion at WDW’s Magic Kingdom did not do enough during its Halloween event. For what the Magic Kingdom lacks, Disneyland makes up for — and then some. Outside, hundreds of yellow candles eerily flicker from the railings of the two-story mansion. Inside, your “ghost host” has been evicted by Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas. One bonus? This attraction is open to daytime park guests as well.

Ghost Galaxy.  Disneyland’s Space Mountain attraction is full of additional scares outside of coaster thrills. Ghost Galaxy is open to daytime park guests as well. Roller coasters with extra scares in the dark are probably not going to be a hit for kids under  seven (I’m basing this on the reaction of a five-year-old in our party who was scared off by just the signage.)

Walt Disney World’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party:

Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Party.  The upside to the Magic Kingdom’s park size is that the Halloween parade is also much longer and larger than Disneyland’s Costume Cavalcade parade. The Magic Kingdom really gets it right with elements of the season, combined with plenty of Disney magic and signature villainous characters aboard their own floats. “Boo-to-You” music, and the grave diggers shovel routine really upstage Disneyland’s Halloween parade.

Crowd control.  Now, the upside to the Magic Kingdom’s Halloween event is the size of the park. If the event happens to be sold out, it helps that the Magic Kingdom has extra space for park guests to fan out.

Hallowishes.  Both parks offer pretty impressive fireworks, but WDW’s Hallowishes is still near and dear to my Halloween heart; again, I think it’s really a matter of how you feel about new cult classics such as “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” By the way, Disneyland’s Halloween Screams is a Nightmare Before Christmas-themed display.

In summary, both parks offer festive Halloween decorations featuring Mickey-shaped pumpkins, costumed fun (Disney encourages guests to dress in costume provided they don’t pose any safety concerns or obstruct your vision), and copious amounts of candy while trick-or-treating. It’s a win-win.