As soon as you think you have Disneyland figured out, the theme park throws something new in the mix. The last year or so at the Happiest Place on Earth has been filled with changes galore. I chronicled the new Disneyland additions in spring and summer 2017 in a guide earlier this year. With school back in session and Halloween Time just starting up in the parks, it was definitely time to come out with a fall and winter guide!
If you haven’t been to Disneyland in a few months, here is what you can expect to experience for October, November, and December 2017 as well as in to the early months of 2018.
Late Summer Disneyland Changes You May Have Missed
First things first. If you didn’t go to the parks at the end of the summer, you probably missed a few major changes that took place even before fall quite arrived. In July, several classic attractions that were closed to make space for Star Wars Land construction finally reopened to much fanfare. These included:
This show re-opened on the Rivers of America with new scenes with characters from Aladdin, Tangled, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Lion King. Demand has been very high, making Fastpasses a must to see the show. For better seating and more reasonable waits, consider a dining package which guarantees preferred seating for the shows. In the fall, Fantasmic is only playing on weekends, so plan accordingly!
Rivers of America
Three classic attractions reopened at the end of July on the rerouted Rivers of America. The Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia and Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes are all back in business with new views and a few tips of the hat to the past (like the Indian Village that pays homage to the original).
The end of July marked the return of the beloved Disneyland Railroad. Look for a new route around the back of the park where you might just spy a bit of the Star Wars Land construction in action.
Last but certainly not least, the long awaited debut of MaxPass happened in July as well. MaxPass is a new way to book FASTPASS return times on your smartphone. No more running from kiosk to kiosk, but be prepared to pay for the privilege. MaxPass is an optional $10 per person per day add on. There are a lot of questions still out there about MaxPass, so check out my 21 Question MaxPass FAQ for all the details.
Halloween Time Offerings at Disneyland
Many of the usual Halloween celebrations are taking place again this year at Disneyland. Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy and Haunted Mansion Holiday are back, as well as Dia de los Muertos in Frontierland.
But there’s lots new in the mix as well. Here are all the special new offerings to look out for in September and October.
Cars Land Celebrates Haul-O-Ween
Normally Disney California Adventure doesn’t quite get decorations that Disneyland Park does, but 2017 is an exception. Oogie Boogie adorns the entrance to DCA and the Headless Horsemen stands outside Carthay Circle, but the spookiest holiday decorations are over in Cars Land.
During September and October, Cars Land has gotten a major overhaul for “Haul-O-Ween” (pun intended). The Cars characters are in costume – Lightening McQueen as a super hero and Mater as a vampire. They pose for photo opportunities in front of the Cozy Cone Motel.
Also plan to ride the two Halloween ride overlays in Cars Land. Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters has become Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween with spooky Italian-inspired music. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is similarly transformed into Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree, where riders spin around the graveyard to haunted tunes.
Guardians of the Galaxy Becomes Monsters After Dark
It seems like only yesterday that Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! opened. But it’s already getting a ride overlay all its own. In the evenings from September 15 to October 31, the ride changes into Guardians of the Galaxy Monsters After Dark. Riders are tasked to #SaveGroot who has been left behind after the Guardians escape the Collector’s Fortress. Look for a new intro from everyone’s favorite raccoon, Rocket, as well as a new metal-inspired song for the scary ride.
Mickey’s Halloween Party Expands to DCA
Naturally, with all these changes to Cars Land and Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s only right for Disneyland to want to show DCA off a bit more. As a result, the special ticket event Mickey’s Halloween Party has expanded to DCA in 2017 for the first time.
Guests who purchase these event tickets get access to both parks three hours before the party times start (start time is either 6pm or 7pm depending on the night). Tickets area bit more expensive than in previous years, but with the addition of DCA access as well as included PhotoPass, guests get more for their money as well.
Mickey’s Halloween Party is already officially sold out as of the end of September, but all hope is not lost. Disneyland sometimes has additional tickets available if you call directly, if you are staying in a Disneyland hotel during your visit, or even for a few lucky walk-ups same day. Be persistent!
The Holidays at Disneyland 2017
The Christmas season at Disneyland is always magical, and 2017 promises to be no exception. This year, it runs from November 10, 2017 to January 7, 2018. All the details have not yet been announced, but Disney certainly has a few surprises up its sleeve. I’ll be updating this post when more details are forthcoming.
Here’s what we know so far about the Holidays at Disneyland in 2017:
- “World of Color – Season of Light” returns to DCA as the night time show.
- “Festival of Holidays” returns for it’s second year with its Festive Foods Marketplace and performances of “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!”
- Santa Claus will be meeting and greeting guests at both DCA (Redwood Creek Challenge Trail) and Disneyland park (Critter Country).
- Cars Land is getting a major holiday makeover at every ride and storefront and “a bug’s land” will be sporting oversized lights and ornaments as always.
- Sleeping Beauty’s Castle features winter snow decor.
- The “Believe … in Holiday Magic” fireworks show returns in the evenings along with “A Christmas Fantasy” parade during the day in Disneyland Park.
- BREAKING: Sadly, one of my favorite holiday ride overlays is bidding us farewell and being retired to Yesterland. The Jingle Cruise will not be making a return this year. However, the seasonal ride overlays on both the Haunted Mansion and it’s a small world will be returning.
Check out my Complete Guide to the Holidays at Disneyland for more information.
Disneyland in Early 2018: What We Know
The holiday season wraps up at Disneyland on January 7, 2018. Details of new offerings are scant beyond that point. January and February are usually the months when Disneyland takes several rides down for refurbishment. Crowds can tend to be lower but park hours are often shorter so it’s a tradeoff there too.
There are several announced changes in the pipeline that might make an appearance in early 2018:
- We know that Paint the Night will return to Disneyland at some point in the future – this time to Disney California Adventure. Date is still TBD, but an early 2018 return could make sense to drive crowds after the holiday overlays are done. Stay tuned.
- During D23 this summer, Disney announced that Paradise Pier would be transformed into Pixar Pier. Again, no date has been announced. Since that doesn’t sound like a major construction project, I’d consider an early 2018 date possible.
- Pixar Fest is also planned for Disneyland Park some time in 2018. The Pixar Play parade will leave DCA and head into Disneyland Park as part of this celebration. Whether this will be a change for earlier or later in the year remains to be seen.