I see this happen every single year. Kids go back to school and there's a bit of a lull until, suddenly, my friends and family come out of the woodwork dreaming of a quick SoCal vacation. They've gotten stir-crazy in the colder parts of the country! The solution, they decide, is Disneyland in October.
In many ways (sights, festivity, great travel deals, pumpkin spice EVERYTHING) this month is one of the best times to see the parks in all their glory before the holiday rush. In other ways (notoriously-hot California weather and a whole lot of people) you might face some hurdles. With a bit of planning and flexibility, though, an autumn jaunt to the land of Walt can be absolutely wonderful.
We've found that October is the best month to explore the lesser-known aspects of Disneyland. Steal away for some family time in hidden spots around the park, nab those FASTPASSES and get yourself a beignet and a latte.
Here's how you, too, can get the most out of a visit to Disneyland in October!
See the Haunted Mansion
The beloved ride is filled with extra-special spooks this time of year. Don't miss out! Space Mountain is also transformed into a ghostly galaxy.
Tricks and treats
There are tasty seasonal specialties to be had all around the park. Don't miss the pumpkin beignets at the Mint Julep Bar!
It is usually very hot in California in October. That's because we're making up for our gloomy, slow summer start! Seasons tend to be a little “off” here on the west coast, so check the forecast and pack layers that are easy-on and easy-off.
Find a happy place
My family likes to escape to Tom Sawyer Island for a little extra space when our kids need a breather away from the lines. The quiet brookside space beyond the exit of Winnie the Pooh is enjoyable, along with Aladdin's Oasis. The back of the lower deck of Hungry Bear Restaurant is another favorite place to take in the scenery, along with the accessible experience room at Sleeping Beauty's Castle. The lobby of the Grand Californian is nestled in Downtown Disney adjacent to California Adventure, but they have a ton of welcoming chairs for guests to hang out on as well. You can also try to very quiet picnic area just outside the park gates.
Check the crowd calendar
Try to visit on an off day if you're still in planning mode. Weekdays are your best bet for Disneyland in October.
Play Pumpkin “I Spy“
There are adorable decorative pumpkins all around the park, and I found that it was a great way to keep the kids engaged and entertained, even when we were waiting or eating or just hanging out.
Visit the Zocalo
Just outside of Rancho Del Zocalo Restaurante, there's a nice spot with sugar skulls and assorted displays celebrating Hispanic culture. It's a good way to show the kids how other people celebrate the festivity this time of year, and it's another calm place to hang out and people-watch.
Catch a show
The hottest hours in the middle of the day can be a great time to see some of Disneyland's famous performances. Watch the stage actors at the Golden Horseshoe, or corral into the Tiki Room and let the birds enchant you.
Hop on a shady ride
The Jungle Cruise – and its covered line – shields weary families from the midday sun. The Disneyland Railroad is another entertaining option without a long wait.
There are so many cute seasonal finds! I could window shop for hours…if only Nate would stop rushing me to get to Autopia.
Go early, stay late
We usually book a hotel like the Grand Californian so we have somewhere to crash for naptime. Head to the parks early and stash your luggage with the bellhop. Then, dash around the park and gather your FASTPASS stubs to you're guaranteed a spot on your favorite rides. Zip through as many lines as you can and time snacks and lunch so that you're wrapping it up around 3pm, check-in time at the hotel. Take an extended nap during the hours when the park is most hectic, and then make your way back out into the cooled-down atmosphere after night falls and when crowds have started to thin out.
What are your tried-and-true tips for Disneyland in October?