For many years, Mickey’s Halloween Party was a staple of the Disneyland Halloween Time season. In 2019, however, Disneyland mixed things up by moving its Halloween party over to Disney California Adventure. The event had a brand new name – Oogie Boogie Bash: A Disney Halloween Party – and added quite a few new entertainment offerings.
***BREAKING (July 8, 2021)!*** Of course, the event was not able to take place in 2020 while Disneyland was closed. But there is great news for 2021 – Oogie Boogie Bash is coming back! Unlike at Walt Disney World where the Halloween Party is taking a new form as more of an After-Hours event, Oogie Boogie Bash in 2021 looks like it will be very similar to the original event launched in 2019, with just a few modifications.
I attended the very first Oogie Boogie Bash ever on September 17, 2019 with my family to check out the new offering. As always, I was on the hunt for the best tips and hacks to dodge the crowds. I also made sure to get the honest opinions of my kids to help advise on what other families with children would enjoy.
If you are considering heading to Disneyland’s Oogie Boogie Bash in 2021, here’s what you need to know from all that we learned in 2019, along with all the updated details that have been released so far for 2021:
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Oogie Boogie Bash Basics
Let’s start with the basics. Oogie Boogie Bash is a special event held several nights a week in Disney California Adventure park from roughly mid-September to the end of October. In 2021, it runs on 25 nights from September 9-October 31 from 6pm-11pm. Generally speaking, the party takes place on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday nights with a couple of Saturdays available in the mix too (see the full list of party dates here).
A separate special ticket is required to enter for the party, but a regular park ticket is not required in addition to that. Oogie Boogie Bash tickets cost $114-$169 (up from $110-$145 in 2019 when there were also modest $10 discounts available to annual passholders on some party nights). Ticket can be purchased only through Disney directly starting no earlier than 9amPT on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 and aren’t transferrable (limit of 8 per purchase). If you are taking a trip to go during regular times to the parks too, it’s always smart to buy any other park tickets you need through Get Away Today to save money off of the full Disney price.
On party nights, regular park visitors must leave Disney California Adventure by the party start time of 6pm. Party guests can enter the park as early as 3pm, so there are a few hours of overlap.
The event includes parades, shows, character meet-and-greets, and more, most of which are exclusive to party nights. All guests, including adults, can wear costumes, subject to a few safety rules and restrictions. And of course trick-or-treating is involved! Party tickets include free Photopass downloads.
In 2021, the entertainment offerings include:
- Frightfully Fun Parade
World of Color: Villainous!
- Mickey’s Trick & Treat show
- Trick-or-Treat Trails
- Villains Grove
- Character Sightings
I’ll talk a bit more in depth about most of these offerings in the tips below so keep reading for more info.
Is Oogie Boogie Bash Worth It?
Before we get into the tips, let me give you some straight talk about value. Disney parks offer a lot of special ticketed events, and some are more worth it than others. The Disneyland Halloween party has always been pricey. Ticket costs keep increasing every year. So it’s only natural that guests scrutinize these kinds of experiences to make sure they are worth it, especially for families where multiple tickets really add up in cost.
I first went to a Mickey’s Halloween Party three years ago when my kids were 7 and 2 (almost 3). To be honest, I didn’t see the value then. My younger child was still free but he quickly got tired and fell asleep in his stroller. The late hour was even too much for my 7 year old daughter. Ever since that time, I rarely recommended the party to families with kids of toddler and preschooler age.
For the ages and stages of my kids in 2019 – 10 and almost 6 – I very much found value in the party. My 10 year old hung in energetically until the 11pm closing. That said, my 5 year old didn’t make it all the way through. He conked out in a stroller after the first World of Color show. But even though he missed the last hour and a half of the event, he was able to enjoy the bulk of the entertainment, collect a lot of candy, and have many memorable experiences.
For our family, the party was very much finally worth it this year. We found the new location of the party in California Adventure and the new theme especially compelling – it’s definitely edgier and bolder without being too scary for younger kids.
Tips for Oogie Boogie Bash at Disneyland
1. Plan costumes that work in variable weather.
One of the most fun parts of a Disney Halloween party is that adults can join in the fun of dressing up! But Anaheim can be very hot in both September and October. Early fall heat waves are not uncommon. Once the sun goes down, however, fall nights can sometimes be very chilly.
With party guests able to enter the parks as early at 3pm (2pm on Sundays), it’s so vital to choose costumes that can work in a wide variety of temperatures. We knew that with a mid-September party, temperatures were likely to be a bit toasty. I purposefully opted for costumes for all of us with short sleeves and either shorts or capri pants. I packed hoodies for everyone in a small backpack just in case, but we never found we needed them.
2. Have a plan before you arrive.
Any day at Disney is better if you have a rough plan to avoid crowds and not waste time making decisions on the fly. Oogie Boogie Bash is no different. Study the party map and the entertainment schedule beforehand. Map out a plan. As an attendee of the first party, I was flying a bit more blind with some of the information only being released to me the very same day, but later party attendees can piggyback off of that experience.
Here’s a fully downloadable PDF copy of the party map from 2019 to help in your planning.
3. Be ready to prioritize and compromise.
Speaking of having a plan, be aware that it’s impossible to do everything available during Oogie Boogie Bash during the allotted party hours. There is just too much! You must sacrifice some activities in favor of others. Make a list of your 3 or 4 must-sees and set a schedule accordingly.
For example, if you want to ride several of the attractions (which thankfully do have much shorter lines than on regular park days), you probably won’t have time for the unique character meet-and-greets. Similarly, if you are determined to hit every treat trail to collect as much candy as possible, it might be hard to see all the live shows and parades.
4. Skip the parks on party mornings.
With so much to do at Oogie Boogie Bash, I really advise arriving well-rested, especially when traveling with kids. It’s smart to take the morning off from the parks (and save on a day of park ticket costs!) before the event. Sleep in, relax at your hotel’s pool, or have a leisurely meal at Downtown Disney. If you drive your kids too hard earlier in the day, they are going to be cranky and unable to take full advantage of the party offerings. Yes, that goes for tweens and teens too!
5. Enter Oogie Boogie Bash through the Grand Californian.
At the very first party at least, the entrance to DCA was a madhouse at 3pm when party guests were first able to enter the parks. My friend and co-owner of the Disneyland with Kids Facebook group, Becca Robins, lost a lot of time waiting at this entrance.
I was luckily staying at the Grand Californian and found that entrance completely empty at 3:15pm. I left the parks and later re-entered through that same entrance at about 5:45pm. Even minutes before the official party start time, it had only about a 3-5 minute wait.
Sometimes Disney does restrict access to the Grand Californian entrance to hotel guests only (and may do that more consistently in 2021, so stay tuned).
Just be aware that you’ll need to pick up a party wristband separately if you enter through the Grand. Wait until closer to party start time and head to Blue Sky Cellar to do this.
6. Eat an early dinner.
Once the party officially starts, you are not going to want to waste valuable party time getting a meal. Plan for an early dinner before party start time to fill up on something a bit healthier before the candy smorgasbord begins. I’d recommend grabbing something portable maybe around 5:00 or 5:30 and then lining up for your first treat trail or character meet-and-greet while you eat in line.
7. Hit the immersive treat trails, skip the rest.
Disneyland has always featured treat trails in its Halloween parties. These meandering pathways are strategically lined with cast members who fill up guests’ trick-or-treat bags with an absurdly voluminous quantity of candy. It’s not really my thing, but for anyone who has kids who are competitive trick-or-treaters, you know these are a hit!
Brand new in 2019 are special trick-or-treat trails that Disneyland is calling “immersive.” These trails have a theme and each feature a live villain interacting with guests as they pass by. These trails were unexpectedly the highlight of our family’s Oogie Boogie Bash experience. They have the candy and the entertainment all rolled into one!
There are 5 more regular treat trails where you can gather a lot of candy, but you’ll honestly get more than enough if you just hit the 5 immersive ones. Skip the 5 non-immersive trails and save yourself that time for other special party offerings.
The 5 immersive trails and their locations are:
- Dr. Facilier (Stage 17)
- Mad Hatter (Hyperion Theater)
- Oogie Boogie (Animation Academy)
- Maleficent (Soarin’)
- Evil Queen (Grizzly River Run)
Note that there is also an Annual Passholder treat trail over by Goofy’s Sky School where you can get a special AP party magnet. I got one, but it’s definitely not a must-do, especially tucked away in a more remote corner of the park.
8. Skip the very first Mickey’s Trick and Treat show.
Mickey’s Trick and Treat show is held in the Disney Junior Dance Party theater in Hollywood Land. It’s undoubtedly one of the top picks for families with young kids at Oogie Boogie Bash. Because young kids have earlier bedtimes, a lot of families rush to the very first show at 6:25pm.
That first show is very crowded, and some guests who don’t arrive early to line up may be turned away. I’d recommend waiting until the second or third show (which are still before most little kid bedtimes at 7:10 and 7:55, respectively) for a lower key experience.
9. Bring a stroller for little ones.
Speaking of younger kids, plan to bring a stroller to Oogie Boogie Bash if you have little ones. Even if your kids go without a stroller during the day, you might want to consider one for a party night. We definitely found that one came in handy for my 5 (almost 6 year old) son when he passed out as soon as the first World of Color show was over.
10. Ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Monsters After Dark early in the party.
A highlight of the Halloween season for thrill ride lovers is the special ride overlay for Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! called “Monsters After Dark.” While the posted wait time was 13 minutes during the entire party, we found the wait really did fluctuate a bit.
When is the best time to ride? Earlier in the party. You want to leave just enough time for the regular non-party guests to clear out, so don’t ride this attraction right at 6pm when some of them may just have gotten in line before official park close. Instead, wait until about 6:45 or 7pm. At that hour, regular guests have left but a lot of the Oogie Boogie Bash party guests are in their first treat trail or character line and not yet thinking about rides.
11. Watch the later World of Color – Villainous! Show.
Editor’s Note: World of Color isn’t returning for the 2021 party.
There are two showings of World of Color: Villainous! at Oogie Boogie Bash. The first is at 9:00pm and the second is at 10:45 just before the party ends. Not surprisingly, the second show is much less crowded as families with younger kids clear out and head home before the party ends. If you have older kids who can wait, definitely do! You won’t need to spend as much time camping out for a prime spot either.
12. Skip Villains Grove with kids.
Before I attended Oogie Boogie Bash, I thought I might have to recommend that families skip Villains Grove because it would turn out to be too scary. Luckily, that is not the case. Disney has kept things little kid friendly even in this mystical villain-inspired maze set in Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.
Here’s where my recommendation might get a bit controversial. I think you should still ultimately skip this offering with kids. Why? It’s just not that engaging or interactive. My 10 year old daughter and a friend’s 7 year old son were not particularly impressed. After the character-driven treat trails, it just didn’t rate with them. If there were Photopass photographers or characters in the experiences, it might be more of a highlight.
During the middle of the party, the queue for this experience was also insanely long so it has the potential to waste a lot of party time. If you are curious and must see it, at least wait until the very end of the party when lines have dissipated. It was a walk on when we ran to it in the last few minutes of the party before 11pm.
To be sure, some media and adult attendees are raving about the beauty and detail of Villains Grove. But as someone who actually walked through it with kids, it didn’t quite deliver.
13. Don’t sweat the ideal Frightfully Fun Parade viewing spot.
With only one showing of the Frightfully Fun Parade (compared to two showings of World of Color), you might be stressing the parade viewing situation. Don’t be. The parade route in California Adventure is very long. That means there are a lot of places to sit and even more places where you can get an unobstructed view, even if you only walk up a few minutes before parade start time.
14. Go easy the next day.
After a late party night, go easy on your kids and yourself the next morning. The morning after Oogie Boogie Bash is NOT the time to try to make Extra Magic Hour or Magic Morning early entry. I also wouldn’t recommend booking a super early flight home that day.
15. Buy Oogie Boogie Bash tickets early.
Last but certainly not least, it’s so vital to buy tickets for Oogie Boogie Bash early. The parties totally sold out in 2019 as the Halloween Time season was just getting started. In fact, the first party to sell out happened at the very end of July!
So if you are thinking about 2021, be prepared to plan way ahead – as in now, while you are reading this post! I hear from dozens of disappointed readers and followers every season who miss the boat on the Halloween party. Don’t be one of them!
Note that Disney has usually held some tickets in reserve for same day purchase for guests staying in one of the three on-property hotels. The tickets are limited in quantity so there are no guarantees! (H/T to Karen Heffren of Desert Chica for testing this in action in 2019 – check out her awesome DIY Forky costume tutorial that inspired my son’s costume in this post!)
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Are you headed to Oogie Boogie Bash? Leave your questions in the comments below!
Disclosure: Truth in travel blogging matters to me, so you’ll always know any potential sources of bias in my stories. I initially paid for Oogie Boogie Bash tickets for myself and my two kids. I later received a media invitation from Disney, and was given some additional benefits for our trip, including a single night’s hotel room, food vouchers, and an additional party ticket. I do the vast majority of my Disney travels on my own dime. Disney sometimes helps offset my costs so that I can bring more content to all of you, but I never give positive reviews just because I’ve been comped.