October – it used to be the classic “off season” vacation time. Everyone’s in school, weather is nicer, and parks were quiet. This may still be true in some Resorts and destinations throughout the world, but it’s certainly not the case at major theme parks around the country, such as Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Orlando or Hollywood, or even Legoland or Sea World. Disney Cruise Line has also jumped into the mix, offering special Halloween on the High Seas cruises with special entertainment and trick-or-treating. A big part of this is the expansion of “Fall Breaks” throughout the country, with many more school age kids getting long weekends or even weeks off during October. The main reason is the explosion of Halloween, now almost as big as the holiday season when it comes to decorations and promotions. All theme parks do at least some kind of a makeover or layover to their traditional attractions for Halloween, and offer a large amount of seasonal decor, shows, parades, new attractions, and special ticketed party events for visitors. As a result, October is off-season-no-more – it’s one of the most popular times to visit the park, with crowds reaching peak levels beyond those seen in the summer time, and competitive with the winter holiday season.
Halloween Decor is up at Disneyland Resort. The season officially runs from September 15-October 31st
So, do you go for theme park travel in October? It’s still a blast for many. The parties are extremely popular, with exclusive firework shows at Disney Parks and haunted nights at Universal and Knott’s. The haunted layover industry has gotten more intense every year, and some of the spooky walk throughs and attractions are pretty impressive! The limited time to these layovers is what drives in the seasonal crowds, as you cannot ride Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, or experience the thrills of Knott’s Scary Farm in February. 🙂 Some return year after year during this popular season in spite of the crowds. Let’s be honest, trick or treating at Disneyland is a pretty special event, and older kids can’t resist a good scare.
Sally is one of the favorite additions in the annual Haunted Mansion attraction layover – Haunted Mansion Holiday (based on Nightmare before Christmas)
This year Disney has expanded Halloween’s presence at DCA dramatically
If you’re going to visit during the season, much like any other busy tourist season, a few tips –
-If possible, use a good travel agent. Not just me of course 😉 But while you don’t always need an agent for every reservation, going to Resorts in a busy time is the time to call in the pros to help park planning, maximizing your time, and making for a relaxing not stressful vacation. Besides, their services are free, so you might as well, right?
-Book Early – there’s few sales and promos during this month because of the demand, and rooms fill up quickly and can get top dollar at the last minute. Reserve any special dining as early as allowed as well. If there are sales that come up after you book, a good travel agent should be able to get those rates applied for you after the fact while you keep the room of your choice.
-Go early – when it comes to theme parks, beating crowds goes to the early birds – if you get there at park opening, you’re going to do a lot more than if you arrive at 10 or 11 am with the local scene (who also pours in for Halloween).
-Plan out accordingly with breaks to keep your sanity – it can be quite hot in Southern California in October! Pool breaks from the crowds and to rest go a long way.
-Utilize Fast Pass and Quick Queue systems from the theme parks as much as possible to avoid long lines and maximize park time.
-Pack lots of water and snacks – this allows you stay hydrated and eat on the go, without having to deal with long food lines and costs.
-When doing ticketed Halloween party events, take advantage of going in early before the actual party starts when allowed – this is an economical way of getting a “one day ticket” into the parks. There are often “pre party” events as well, such as Toontown’s special events at Disneyland Park before their Mickey’s Halloween Party nights.
-Best of all, have fun! Know it will be busy, but with the right attitude you’ll still have a blast!
Mickey’s Toontown offers a little known Pre Party