From a Kraken-inspired experience in Dublin to a party at Dracula’s castle to a theme park’s horror-night programming, Halloween can be a tricky, terrifying time. But let’s not overlook the “treats” part of the equation. Sure, there’s always the door-to-door candy grab, but for those who like their goodies with a side of rides, parades, and professionally-costumed characters, Disneyland is the place to be. 

Across the board, there some scarily delicious seasonal offerings available, so we turned to Ian Ford, CEO of the family-oriented online travel agency Undercover Tourist, to get the full scoop. 

Mickey Mouse jack-o-lantern at Disneyland
Disneyland's Halloween Time is up and running through 31 October, with a pumpkin festival on Main Street and costumed characters in disguise. Image © Undercover Tourist

The good stuff

First things first: the treats themselves. The popcorn vendors and their souvenir buckets are fairly popular, but the macarons are not to be missed, the Mummy and the Vampire Green Alien versions in particular. “Disneyland makes the best macarons, and these do not disappoint in size and flavor,” Ian says. “We also can never turn down a Disneyland caramel apple, so the seasonal Jack Skellington caramel apple with white chocolate really hits the spot.” 

To snag his favorites and avoid the crowds at the same time, the theme-park expert recommends heading off the beaten path. The Studio Catering Co., for example, has shorter lines for the popular Monster 129 Tacos, filled with pork belly, kimchi slaw, Korean BBQ sauce, and sriracha crema, and Eerie Elixirs, a green-apple slush bobbing with a “Poison Purple” glow cube (reminiscent of the poisoned apple delivered to Snow White from the Evil Queen – you remember the one). “Grab that pumpkin spice churro in Tomorrowland, and get your treats from the candy shops, which rarely have lines, and Jolly Holiday Bakery Café,” he suggests. 

Pick up a pan dulce ice cream sandwich at Rancho del Zocalo, then stop by another under-the-radar locale: the lobby of the Grand Californian. “You can purchase gourmet delectable Halloween treats and baked goods while ogling the giant Oogie Boogie cake,” Ian says. “Hop in using the hotel entrance from Disney California Adventure. It’s a great air-conditioned spot to cool off and relax during the day.”

Snake Eyes - midori-limeade slush, gummy worms and dice glow cubes available at the Hollywood Land Lounge inside California Adventure in Anaheim, CA
The Hollywood Land Lounge slings concoctions like the Snake Eyes, a Midori-limeade slushy with gummy worms and glow cubes. Image © Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Add value to your character interactions

Plenty of villains are out doing meet-and-greets during Halloween Time – Maleficent, the Queen of Hearts, Cruella de Vil, Jack Skellington, and more – and they’re highly entertaining. “If you have treats or food accessories that are in theme with their movies, you can take the interaction to the next level by showing them to the characters or talking about them,” Ian says. We shared a purple-poison apple glow cube with the Queen, and she was very pleased and turned it into a whole prop for interacting with us and other guests. It doubled the fun!”

Have a plan of attack

To make the most of your visit, consider scheduling your indulgences around those occasions when you’ll already be killing time. “Be sure to grab some Halloween treats before getting in place to watch the Halloween Screams fireworks show,” Ian says. “If you want to watch in front of the castle (the most ideal location to see the show), we recommend getting in place at least two hours early. You’ll be glad to have those treats while you wait!” 

But beware the sugar crash. The excitement of Disney can have even the most level-headed tyke on the brink of over-stimulation, so try to squeeze in a savory Halloween-themed item or two between all the sweets (think: pizza, hotdogs, corndogs, the aforementioned tacos, and the full Mexican menu at Paradise Garden Grill). That’s not to say you should abstain entirely, though. “Identify any treats you can pick up later in the day to take home and enjoy later, such as caramel apples, baked treats, crispy treats or macarons,” Ian says. “Other foods, such as pumpkin-spice beignets and the blackberry midnight julep from Mint Julep Bar, need to be enjoyed in the park.”

Mexican food available at Paradise Garden Grill during Halloween Time at California Adventure in Anaheim, CA
Ian recommends squeezing in some non-sugary items as well, like the full Mexican menu on offer at Paradise Garden Grill this season. Image © Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Make use of the tools at your disposal

Disneyland’s MaxPass app lets visitors skip the ride lines for a small fee, and Mobile Order lets them skip the food lines for free. “First, identify your must-eat treats and where to find them, then pick up a Halloween Time food guide once you enter the park,” he says. “Overall, we have not experienced long lines for food and drink because we take advantage of Mobile Order whenever possible. 

But even with the app working in your favor, you might still see a queue or two, especially if you’re hitting a hotspot like the Hollywood Lounge for the fun alcoholic glow-cube drinks. As an alternative, check out the light-filled beverages at Carthay Circle: the Poison Apple-Tini comes with a four-pack of apple glow cubes, but “we have heard reports that guests who want only the glow cubes can skip the line and the drink by instead purchasing just the glow cubes at the bar while supplies last,” Ian says. 

Halloween cupcake with Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters topper
Cupcakes – even ones adorned with evil stepmothers – are only the tip of the iceberg. Image © Undercover Tourist

Back to basics

On the whole, the middle of the week is a great time to visit if you’re looking for a less crowded experience, but special in-park events and holidays resulting in school closures can bring people out in droves, so double-check your calendar before you head out – and you should be heading out earlier than you think. “No matter when you visit, arrive before park opening for the lowest crowds,” Ian says – that way you’re at the front of the line when the gates open. Plus, he adds, “food lines tend to be shorter earlier in the day than in the afternoon and evening.”

For more on managing your time at Disneyland, and plus a full rundown of the treats available during the Halloween Time event, visit

Explore related stories



Offbeat boozing: 8 of the best cities for bar crawls

Oct 14, 2019 • 6 min read