The holidays are such a fun time, but they can get busy and cluttered quickly in a hurry. Many families have begun to give the gift of a holiday vacation instead of the usual gifts under the tree. Giving the gift of experiences for Christmas is a great way to reduce clutter and focus on time together. And Disneyland is certainly a VERY fun experience gift that the whole family can get behind. If you’re planning on celebrating the holidays at Disneyland, we’ve got everything you need to know… including a promo code to help you save a little on the trip! Disneyland is one of our favorite places anytime of the year, but it’s extra magical during the holidays. Holiday time at the Disneyland Resort typically runs mid-November through the first week of January, so there is usually about a 2-month span to enjoy some holiday magic! Visiting Disneyland during the holidays means you’re going to see some of the best holiday decorations you can imagine. From a Christmas tree that’s 60 feet tall to evergreen wreaths and glistening lights, the holiday decorations glitter in grand fashion here! And, in addition to all the fun decor, you can plan on yummy holiday-themed treats! The candy cane beignets from Café Orleans, peppermint ice cream from Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, Pineapple Upside-down Funnel Cake from the Hungry Bear Restaurant, Pumpkin Twist from the Cozy Cone Motel, and Santa Mickey Krispy Treats are just a few of the highlights! While you can see spectacular decorations, eat delicious treats, and buy fun holiday-themed items at both parks, there are some holiday surprises unique to each park. So, check out the lists below to see what’s in store:
Holiday Fun at Disneyland Park
The first you will notice in Disneyland (besides the giant tree that has more than 70,000 lights on it) is the beautiful winter transformation of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. It’s covered in glistening lights and dusted with snow. It’s amazing in the daytime, but even more spectacular at night and during the “Believe…in Holiday Magic” fireworks show. You may think that all Disney fireworks are the same, but the celebration of the holidays at Disneyland really takes the cake. After a year off for the Diamond Celebration show, the holiday spectacular is back! Try to get a spot on Main Street for a magical surprise at the end of the show. But there is plenty of magic during the day too – like with the “A Christmas Fantasy Parade.”Your family will find some favorite characters dressed for season as well as new festive friends welcoming Santa Claus to the park. Plus, it’s a great chance to snack on some of those yummy holiday treats! You also don’t want to miss some of the classic attractions are dressed up for season festivities.
- The Haunted Mansion Holiday features The Nightmare Before Christmas characters to wish you ghoulish season’s greetings. You’ll want to keep your eyes open on this haunted ride to see just how many of the spooky characters you can find. And don’t miss the gingerbread house inside – you’ll even notice the smell too!
- The Jungle Cruise also gets a holiday makeover and becomes the Jingle Cruise. You can still expect the bad jokes and endless puns, just with a jolly twist and lots of tinsel.
- The iconic It’s a Small World also undergoes a festive transformation. The outside facade is amazing – especially at night. Then, you’ll find some seasonal changes inside as well. You’ll want to be laughing all the way as you listen to the Jingle Bells and original song mash-up. Just make sure to keep your eyes open for any Disney characters that may have slipped into the scenery.
But that’s not all – don’t forget that Disneyland Resort has TWO parks! So, once you’ve experienced all the holiday magic at Disneyland, you’ll want to head across the path to Disney California Adventure for even more.
Disney California Adventure has its fair share of dazzling decor as well! Make sure to spend some extra time in Cars Land, though. I LOVE the themed decor there – so well done and you may just notice some odd items being used to spread holiday cheer. Head to Paradise Pier past Cars Land and you’ll find some new additions to the walkway. There are fourteen festive food marketplace kiosks as part of the Festival of the Holidays, which is new at California Adventure this year (2016). You can find seasonal food inspired by several different cultures with lots of different goodies to sample. Adding more fun to the Festival of the Holidays are the entertainment experiences that explore all the season’s holidays like Diwali, Hanukkah and Three Kings Day. Your family will be amazed by the traditional Indian dances, Latin-fused jazz and a cappella voice groups. It’s not only fun, but a great opportunity to teach your kids about the different holidays celebrated around the world. Festival of Holidays is also Princess Elena of Avalor’s Disneyland Resort debut. If you have fans of the new Disney Channel show, make sure to watch the Crown Princess and her magical friend Skylar celebrate their arrival with fun holiday music.
(Photo credit: Scott Brinegar/Disneyland Resort)
Once you have your fill of the fun food and new characters, you can experience Viva Navidad! This portion of the Festival of Holidays combines Disney magic with a Latin-American flair.It’s an exciting celebration that combines so many different sounds and sights – you’ll see musicians, dancers and puppets on top of the usual festive Disney characters in the daily street party.
And finally, World of Color – Season of Light is the perfect way to end your family’s day at Disney California Adventure. The all new holiday show brings the joy of the season to life, combining holiday classics with your favorite Disney characters. You can’t truly celebrate the holidays at Disneyland without seeing this spectacular display. And last but certainly not least, celebrating the holidays at Disneyland Resort isn’t complete without a visit with Santa. We loved taking pictures with him last year! This year, you can find the jolly old St. Nick and his elves near Grizzly Peak through December 24th. Bring your camera and don’t forget to sign the nice list – you may just discover your secret elf name there. If your family is planning on visiting after Christmas Day, Santa Goofy will be available for photos and autographs throughout the rest of the holiday season.
Choosing when to go:
So, clearly you really can’t go wrong with celebrating the season at Disneyland – all the fun festive twists will make it a trip your family won’t soon forget!!
You should know that if you want to visit Disneyland during the holidays, it is definitely a popular time at the parks. For fewer crowds, you can visit in the beginning of December or after the New Year for fewer crowds. If you go later in December, particularly over the holidays, it will be busy. But it is manageable with a few tricks:
- Be sure to make reservations for any table service restaurants, including Character Dining.
- Get to the parks at least half an hour before they open to get a good head start on your day, and be sure to get at least a 3-day ticket so you can get one Magic Morning early entry during your vacation.
- If you really want to splurge and surprise your family, stay at one of the Disneyland Hotels (you can read our Disneyland Hotel Review and Grand Californian Hotel Review here) and you can get early entry every day.
- Also, be sure to always have an active Fastpass (and use the Rider Switch and Single Rider line options when possible). You’re sure to have a great time!
Book Your Holidays at Disneyland Resort Trip (with a discount)!
If you’re planning a Disneyland Holidays trip, consider booking through Get Away Today! That’s who we use to book our trips and so we’re thrilled to partner with them as an affiliate! They really make the whole thing so easy & are great about getting you the best deal!o You can even start planning for next year’s holiday season with their great layaway plan! Plus, use our exclusive Get Away Today coupon code: MOMENDEAVORS to save even more. You can book online or call their agents at 855-GET-AWAY.