No, “Oogie Boogie Bash” isn’t a ‘60s novelty song about shimmying Frankensteins and drag-racing Draculas. As awesome as that song would absolutely be, it’d be hard-pressed to match the charm and fun of the real Oogie Boogie Bash, the Halloween festivities currently happening at Disney’s California Adventure at Disneyland Resort. Disney’s seasonal events often cast their beloved theme parks in new and sometimes surprising lights, and Oogie Boogie Bash is no exception.
Disneyland’s neighbor park dons its Halloween costume on certain nights between now and Oct. 31, treating guests to special holiday-themed food, music and events. Expect a family-friendly night of new sweets, beloved attractions, and encounters with some of your favorite Disney villains, including some making their Disneyland debut. And if you’re the kind of Disney fan who loves to dress up as your favorite character, Oogie Boogie Bash is one of the rare occasions when adults are allowed to wear costumes in a Disney park, so feel free to bring your Mr. Toad cosplay outfit.
Since trick-or-treating is the heart of Halloween, let’s start with Disney’s Treat Trails. You’ll find them set up throughout California Adventure during Oogie Boogie Bash, each one featuring candy from Mars Wrigley (two iconic American companies who apparently teamed up 13 years ago without me even realizing it) and special appearances from some of Disney’s creepiest villains. Different trails will bring you close to the Evil Queen, Cruella de Vil, Dr. Facilier, and more, each one played by a real human who will taunt and tease you from their themed stage. Newcomers to the parks include Agatha Harkness from Wandavision and Sid from Toy Story (is he really a villain, though, or just a kid going through some stuff?) On the night I went Agatha wonderfully channelled the snark and sinister spark of Kathryn Hahn, bringing some life to the park’s new Avengers Campus addition. Other Treat Trails will bring you close to Maleficent, the live action Mad Hatter, and A Nightmare Before Christmas’ Oogie Boogie himself. Even if your little one is easily scared, they’ll get a hefty helping of some candy out of it, so you should have little to worry about when lining up for a Treat Trail.
If you want something a little more immersive, visit Villains Grove, in the park’s Grizzly Peak area. Gone is the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail you’ll find the rest of the year, and in its place is a creepy copse that uses light, sound, smell, and other tricks and effects to recreate the frightful domains of Disney’s biggest baddies. It’s best to hit this up after dark, which accentuates not just the power of the set design but also makes everything just a little more macabre. Expect a long line, but don’t hesitate to hop in; Villains Grove is worth it.
The centerpiece of the night, unsurprisingly, is Cars Land. Already the most beautiful part of California Adventure, and one of the best environments ever built in a Disney park, Cars Land turns into a goofy, campy Halloween delight this time of year. Everything in Radiator Springs gets into the spirit. Spooky jack o’lantern faces now gaze down from the Cozy Cone Motel, a series of snack stands made to look like oversized traffic cones that’s based on the real chain of wigwam motels that used to be popular on Route 66. Two of the land’s rides have gotten temporary Halloween makeovers, with Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween featuring a fleet of line-dancing cars boogieing to Halloween music, and Mater’s Graveyard Jam-BOO-ree replacing its regular soundtrack with some monstrous country mash-ups. Mater himself will make an appearance throughout the night, decked out in his best vampire costume. If you’ve never seen a talking tow truck dressed up like Dracula, have you ever truly lived? And as with every other day of the year, this Halloween-ized take on Cars Land grows even more vibrant and full of life at night, when all of its neon lights up in glorious color. Whatever you do, if you buy a ticket for Oogie Boogie Bash, make sure you make time for Cars Land.
Cars Land’s rides aren’t the only ones with a new Halloween spin. Guardians of the Galaxy—Monsters After Dark adds a new element to the Marvel-themed rebrand of the classic Tower of Terror. In something of a sequel to the standard Guardians of the Galaxy—Mission: Breakout ride, you have to help Rocket Raccoon rescue an accidentally abandoned Groot from a Collector’s fortress overrun by alien monsters. Yes, you’ll rescue the living tree by sitting in an elevator that shoots up and down the fortress as an original Halloween song blasts out all around you. If you like the pop music-fueled chaos of the standard Guardians ride, or the relationship between Rocket and Groot, or simply the physical sensation of getting dropped and shot up through an elevator shaft again and again, you’ll probably dig this holiday take on a popular attraction.
Live entertainment has always been a popular part of any Disney theme park visit, and although the ongoing Covid pandemic has changed the calculus on it a bit, Oogie Boogie Bash has still found a way to incorporate both a parade and a show. Mickey’s Frightfully Fun parade sees a large host of classic Disney characters proceed through the park, from the Headless Horsemen and some of the happy haunts from the Haunted Mansion, to the cast of Nightmare Before Christmas. And if you want to see Mickey Mouse and friends in their Halloween costumes, and even party with them, you can check out Mickey’s Trick & Treat, an interactive show full of music and various show biz tricks. These proudly not-so-scary productions are ideal for families with younger children.
Honestly, that’s the case with Oogie Boogie Bash overall. Like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party at Walt Disney World, which I wrote about in 2019, Oogie Boogie Bash isn’t about scaring anybody. It celebrates the lighter, sillier, and more gleeful side of Halloween, the fun of dressing up and going on a sugar rush, and leaves the scares and shocks for other theme parks appealing to older audiences. That doesn’t mean Oogie Boogie Bash is only fit for children; like Disney in general, anybody who loves the beautiful art and architecture of something as immaculately designed as Cars Land will find themselves enamored with Oogie Boogie Bash. From the unique Halloween soundtrack that plays throughout the park, to the seasonal decorations found throughout, Oogie Boogie Bash turns these familiar surroundings into something new and exciting, without spoiling their fundamental beauty. That’s most apparent at Carthay Circle, the restaurant that looks like a classic Hollywood movie theater from the 1920s, and the heart of California Adventure; through projections it turns into Oogie Boogie himself, menacingly looming over the park’s main hub, and capturing that combination of light-hearted mischief and jovial spookiness that defines Halloween itself. If you want to tap into that unmistakable Halloween joy while also experiencing a wonderful theme park, Oogie Boogie Bash might be the treat you need.
Oogie Boogie Bash is a separately ticketed event that runs on select nights throughout September and October. It officially starts at 6 p.m. and runs to 11 p.m., although a ticket will get you access to Disney’s California Adventure starting at 3 p.m. Tickets sell out quickly—2021 is sold out for the season—so plan on buying them early in 2022.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s also on Twitter @grmartin.