From September 6th through November 3rd, 2019: Frontierland in Disneyland will feature a musical trio of iconic skeleton figurines called Calacas, brightly colored flowers, and other decorative items celebrating the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
Traditionally, the Day of the Dead – known as “All Souls Day” – falls on November 1st, the day after Halloween (All Hallows Eve).
There are special sweet treats out for the celebration, along with a trick-or-treating candy station open nearby during the Halloween Party nights.
We finally got to see it during our last trip to Disneyland. We saw it during the day (above) and then we returned at night to see it after dark (below):
Día de los Muertos at Disneyland
Celebrate Día de los Muertos in Disneyland to honor the art, symbols and traditions of this age-old holiday.
Join the festivities as Frontierland hosts a special tribute to the Day of the Dead. This annual Mexican celebration remembers loved ones that have passed while embracing an eternal connection.
Now through November 3rd, Zocalo Park will feature a musical trio of iconic Calacas—skeleton figurines—as well as brightly colored flowers and other decorative items commemorating the occasion.
Stop by and savor the tasty Orange Pumpkin Flan and other traditional Mexican treats exclusively at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurant while enjoying the authentic décor!
Things You Should Know Before You Go:
Both parks at the Disneyland Resort have Day of the Dead commemorative areas that will be in place until November 3rd. The one at Disney California Adventure is the more extensive.
This event only takes place in Disneyland Resort, not at any of the other Disney parks. The celebration’s origins are based in Latin America, although the popular conception is that it’s a Mexican holiday, Día de Los Muertos is celebrated in many regions.
Celebrating in Disneyland
- Check out the display at Zocalo Park in Frontierland where oversized sculptures, marigolds and paper banners known as papel picado provide some much-needed color to the area. Rancho del Zocalo restaurant next door offers Mexican food, in case you’re in the mood. (By the way, the word zocalo means “town plaza” in Spanish.)
- The female Day of the Dead skeleton you’ll see with the big hat and fancy dress has an important role in Mexican history. When Mexico was fighting for its independence from Spain, a Mexican journalist and printmaker named Jose Guadalupe Posada published a series of etchings around 1910, including one with the skeleton called a calavera. Famed muralist Diego Rivera dubbed her “La Catrina” and put her in one of his murals. She became a Mexican national symbol and is often seen in resplendent costumes during the Day of the Dead festivities.
Celebrating in Disney California Adventure
- The main festivities for the holiday revolve around Paradise Gardens in Disney California Adventure, where they’ve set up a Plaza de la Familia that’s fun and interesting. There’s a craft area where kids can make free masks and a commemorative wall where anyone can write a memory of a loved one and hang it up to create a festoon of memories.
- The small, round “The World of Coco” indoor pavilion explains the meaning of Dia de Los Muertos through the lens of the movie, “Coco.” In the 2017 film, the 12-year-old protagonist, Miguel, builds an altar in honor of his late musical hero. It’s pleasant to see a space like this used for something other than the usual kind of Disney merchandising.
- Several times a day, visitors can see a show in the plaza called “A Musical Celebration of Coco” that cleverly uses life-sized puppets to depict Miguel and his villagers. This colorful show includes folkloric dancers in colorful costumes and the Grammy-award-winning local group, the Mariachi Divas.
- Take a photo in front of some colorful winged paintings or the wall-sized Mexican Tree of Life in the Plaza de la Familia, which is covered with paper mache La Catrina figurines.
- Try some Disney Resort Halloween treats: Coco Conchita – traditional Mexican sweet bread topped with the orange colored sugar, filled with dulce de leche and finished with Miguel chocolate decoration – available at the Paradise Garden Grill at Disney California Adventure.
- Check out the Mexican food menu at the Paradise Garden Grill, including the traditional Día de los Muertos Pan de Muerto, Mole Verde con Pollo, Pan Dulce Conchita and a special “Coco” cake. Note that the Pan de Muerto is a nod to the traditional Mexican bread of the dead, which has special figures baked into it.
- In Cars Land, Ramone’s House of Body Art has an altar set up to honor the gone-but-not-forgotten Doc Hudson.
Plaza de la Familia Returns to Disney California Adventure Park
Paradise Gardens Park at Disney California Adventure Park is celebrating the return of one of its most fun and colorful seasonal experiences: Plaza de la Familia!
Video link: Plaza de la Familia
Plaza de la Familia honors the beloved Pixar film, “Coco,” and the everlasting bonds of family with picturesque arts and crafts activities, mouth-watering Mexican food and inspiring live entertainment!
“A Musical Celebration of Coco” also returns this year with its cast of storytellers to entertain guests with beloved songs from the film performed by singing host Mateo and the Grammy Award-winning Mariachi Divas.
Get transported to the land of the dead with appearances of authentic folklórico dancers and townspeople from “Coco” joined by the adventurous Miguel, who is brought to life in a whimsical style inspired by Mexican folk art!
New this year, you can take photos and make new memories with Miguel when he appears between shows at a beautiful artistic mural entitled “Recuérdame” (“Remember Me”). Named after the iconic song from the film, the evocative mural depicts the themes touched on by the Storytellers of Plaza de la Familia in their show and celebrates Miguel’s beloved family in Santa Cecilia and the Land of the Dead.
At Paradise Garden Grill, sample traditional Mexican dishes, including Traditional Tamale Plate with chile red pork tamales with golden rice and black beans, and Tacos de Estilo Callejero: a trio of sirloin beef tacos with pickled vegetables, golden rice and black beans. Another option is Tortitas de Papa – vegan crispy potato cakes with sautéed spinach, ranchero salsa, golden rice and pickled onion salad. For postres, try Pan Dulce, traditional house-made Mexican sweet bread filled with dulce de leche.
Minnie Mouse during Day of the Dead celebration.
Pan de los Muertos (Spanish for: Bread of the Dead) is a sweet roll traditionally baked in Mexico during the week leading up to the Día de Muertos, which is celebrated from October 31st to November 2nd, with November 1st being Dias de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
The sweetened soft bread is shaped like a bun, often decorated with bone-shaped phalanges pieces. Pan de muerto is eaten on Día de Muertos, at the gravesite or, alternatively, at a tribute called an ofrenda. As part of the celebration, loved ones eat pan de muerto as well as the relative’s favorite foods.
Bread of the Dead usually has skulls or crossbones engraved on it. It is believed the spirits do not eat it, but rather absorb its essence, along with water at their ofrenda, after their long journey back to Earth.
The bones represent the deceased one (difuntos or difuntas) and there is normally a baked tear drop on the bread to represent goddess Chimalma’s tears for the living. The bread is represented in a circle to portray the circle of life and is topped with sugar as life is sweet.
This special bread is available at CAL’s Paradise Garden Grill and can also be found in most Mexican grocery stores in the U.S.
We were at Lowes today and they had huge marigolds like out of “Coco” for sale. So pretty!
Mattel is releasing a 2019 ‘Day of the Dead’ Barbie this month!
Mattel is paying tribute to Mexican culture with a 2019 limited-edition Barbie. The new doll is inspired by Catrina to celebrate Día de Los Muertos.
Celebrated from October 21st through November 2nd, the holiday is a joyful time to remember loved ones that have passed, while we embrace our eternal connections.
The Barbie doll is dressed in traditional day of the dead attire including a full face of Catrina makeup, a crown made of Marigold Flowers, and monarch butterflies.
Starting in late September, you can order the special edition Barbie for $75.99.
(She’s going for $180 on ebay right now!)
The doll is stunning. She looks like a quintessential Mexican goddess and is in head-to-toe Day of the Dead attire. Her makeup is spot on and her dress resembles a flamenco dress.
We also love the subtle touch of blue in her hair and a new take on the flower crown, which includes marigold flowers and monarch butterflies.
We’ve written two books about our time working and playing at Disney World.
Both are available on Amazon.com: Two Girls and a Mouse Tale and Adventures in the Animal Kingdom.
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Have a magical day!