I’ve noticed an increase in traffic on the Halloween in Paris article from two years ago, so I know y’all are looking for some great Halloween haunts in Paris this year, too. The good news is that the French version of Halloween just keeps getting better and better each year! Back in the mid-1990s, you had to tour the expat bars to find anyone dressed in costume and pumpkins were only sold for eating. Now the Halloween bug has taken France by storm, and nowhere is free from ghoulish decorations and good ol’ spooky entertainment. So with so many places competing for your attention, where should you head this October 31st? Why, Disneyland Paris, of course!
I first visited the Disneyland Halloween Village three years ago with Mr. Hall (back when I was still a ‘mademoiselle’). It was a cold and wet October day, typical Parisian weather. This year was no different on the particular day I attended. But if you’ve ever lived in a desert or tropical climate (I’m from Arizona), you know how hard it is to enjoy Halloween in warm and sunny weather — there are no fall leaves, no howling winds, no spooky fog, and you practically die of heat exhaustion in any costume. Bad weather is perfect Halloween weather, and it makes it just that much easier to get on the fast rides without the hour-long lines. The only thing I wonder: how DO they keep the palm trees in Adventureland alive in Paris?! (I checked, they’re real.)
So what’s it all about?
It’s about fun, that’s what. From the moment you step off the RER (just 72ff/11€ round-trip from Paris center) you’ll hear the Disneyland theme music. Please leave your cynicism at the gate, GenXers, I saw more of YOU there than any other age group! And why? Because it’s a great escape from the real world (and Paris can get a bit too real at times, too). You’ll see the Disney Village before Disneyland, but don’t go there just yet, that’s for later, when your feet are about to fall off. That reminds me, please dress appropriately: comfy shoes and layered clothes (a jacket you can tie around your waist or shoulders is a good idea). There are lockers you can rent, but a good backpack is just as handy so you can keep your hands free. Don’t bother with an umbrella. Anytime you’re in line you’ll be under a shelter, and if you’re a real wuss you can buy a cool Disney rain poncho. Disneyland Paris is considerably less than the CA or FL versions (probably because it’s smaller) at just 256ff/38.5€. If you need money while there you’ll find a few cash machines inside. Now in you go!
Disney à la Française
Now if you’ve been to the American Disney’s, you may think you already know what to expect, but the French always like to do things their own way. Main Street is pretty true to the original, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything revealing you’re in Paris. But then everything is different. First of all, there is no New Orleans Square. Maybe it’s because the original Orleans is here in France, and would therefore cause too much confusion. If anyone knows the reason it’s gone, do speak up. Of course, that doesn’t mean your favorite rides are gone. They’ve simply moved. Pirates of the Caribbean are in Adventureland (more on that later), and the Haunted Mansion has been relocated to Frontierland, for a limited time converted to Halloweenland (October 1st – November 4th).
Decorated with sneering Jack O’Lanterns, mummies, big spiders, various coffins and caskets, Halloweenland is certainly true to the theme. The Haunted Mansion (actually renamed the Phantom Manor because the French can’t pronounce the ‘H’ sound in ‘haunted’) looks much more like the Bates Hotel than the New Orleans original, but you’ll recognize the ride inside, narrated partially in French, partially in English. The Riverboat Cruise has been transformed into Mummy Cruise Lines, there’s a Trick or Treat Labyrinth for kids, places to get your face painted and hair done for Halloween (and these folks know what they’re doing, I thought one tall kid was a cast member), and various themed stages with dancing and entertainment.
In true Disney spirit, Halloweenland has a theme song, which I first heard when the Halloween Happening (parade) passed through. While it was cute to see Mickey and the gang dressed up in costumes, the song could use a little help from Danny Elfman (of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas), since the one they’ve got is more Brittany Spears than spooky. To give you an idea, there is even a dance that goes with the song, called — if you can believe it — the Macabrena. I tried to get a photo of some kids and their unfortunate parents being led through the moves by a group of scarecrows, but I was laughing too hard to focus. If you’re one of those people who dig these kinds of songs (ie. you enjoy being hypnotized by the It’s A Small World loop), you can buy the Halloweenland Theme Song CD. Moving along…
If you’re looking for a cool Halloween costume, there are plenty to buy. For kids and very short adults, there are very high-quality Winnie the Pooh and Tigger suits that could double as PJs later. There are plenty of props for pirate, princess, fairy, and astronaut costumes. For the unimaginative there are big Disney witch hats that are so thick they’re guaranteed not to droop. If you know someone who collects Disney stuff, there are small stuffed Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy dolls decked out in cute Halloween gear with the Disneyland Paris Haloweenland stamp.
The real Halloween party takes place on two nights, October 27th and October 31st, from 9pm until 2am (note, Disneyland Paris usually closes by 9pm on weekends). Most parts of the park (check web site) will stay open to anyone dressed in costume (better make an effort here, folks, this is a place where the entire staff is always dressed-up) who paid the specially discounted entrance fee of 149ff/22.5€. There will be special concerts and events going on for all ages, so don’t think this is just for kids. When Disneyland closes, or if you just want a change of scenery during the day, get you hand stamped and cross over to the Disney Village. You could entirely skip the park and go straight here if you’re just looking for a good time without having to stand in line for it. The Village is full of bars, clubs, restaurants and shops. Some places include the Hurricane Discotheque (open until dawn), the Rainforest Café, Planet Hollywood (get two-for-one beers during Happy Hour for just 35ff!), Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, outdoor concerts, and a few Disney stores (so you don’t have to waste time shopping in the park instead of going on Space Mountain five times in a row). There’s also a large cinema and a McDonald’s with the largest set of Golden Arches I’ve ever seen abroad. If the weather is nice, you can sail or paddle around Disney Lake behind the Village, or skate on the ice rink starting in November. On Halloween night there’s a costume contest among other events, and considering how packed the bars are on regular weekends, it should be a blast. There’s no entrance fee to the Village normally, but on Halloween night there’s a small charge for the extra events. Check the website for the schedule, and gather up your gang for a great night!
If you’re in Paris with the kids on vacation, consider a few nights at one of the themed hotels. The Disneyland Hotel overlooks the park right at the entrance. It’s convenient, safe, fun, and there are plenty of packages that will get you all sorts of discounts on everything from entrance fees to shopping and golfing. Check out the website for rates and specials and descriptions of the seven hotels. Have a Happy Halloween!!!
Coming next week: The Secrets of Disneyland Paris. Now you know all about Disney’s Halloweenland, but there’s so much more to tell you about this unique year-round Disney experience, so come back next week and I’ll show you more photos, tell you how to skip ahead of the lines with the new Fast Pass, and much, much more!
This article is one of the 78 original “Secrets of Paris” articles published between September 1999 and July 2004. After disappearing into the internet graveyard for almost 15 years, I’ve republished them in autumn 2019 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Secrets of Paris: “1999-2019: Twenty Years of the Secrets of Paris” Broken and dead links have been updated or deactivated, but otherwise the article remains unchanged.
For more insider tips on Disneyland Paris, read Heather’s article “How to Survive Disneyland Paris”