The Christmas season is a beautiful time of year and no better place in my opinion, to celebrate it than at Disneyland! From the dazzling holiday decor, spectacular entertainment, special holiday rides and attractions, wow! Christmas at Disneyland is pure magic. And you can still have all the usual Christmas fun, from presents to Santa!
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Practical Pre-Vacation Christmas at Disneyland Advice
Planning a visit to Disneyland during the holiday season requires a certain amount of preparation that you might not need other times of the year. Normally you can just “wing it” at Disneyland but during the holidays you’ll definitely need to plan a bit more in regards to full-service dining, FastPasses and viewing shows.
Please read my post on TravelingMom, 11 Tips for Navigating Holiday Crowds at Disneyland. You’ll learn lots of holiday hacks on having the best visit despite the extra crowds.
Park and Resort Decor for Christmas at Disneyland
My most favorite part of visiting the Disneyland Resort during Christmas is seeing the detailed decorations that cover every corner! The resort hotels have special decor that’s worth checking out, including themed Christmas trees inside each of the Disneyland Hotel towers.
As you walk from your Disneyland resort hotel through the Downtown Disney District, there are more holiday decorations to get you in the mood.
Inside Disney’s Grand California Hotel & Spa, the lobby is totally decked out for the holidays. On our Christmas at Disneyland vacation last year, we were in awe of the larger-than-life gingerbread replica of the hotel! You can even purchase a small version right there in the lobby to nibble on yourself.
Christmas at Disneyland Park
Start off the day at Disneyland Park by posing in front of the huge Christmas tree in the Main Street U.S.A. square. Each Land has its own holiday themed decor, from rustic in Frontierland to tropical in Adventureland. Even Toontown gets an appropriate holiday splash of color that’s bright and festive, with lots of large ornaments and over-sized bows!
My favorite seasonal attraction is it’s a small world Holiday, when the facade is bejeweled with tiny colorful lights and our favorite clock dons a Santa hat! Even the ride inside receives an amazing holiday makeover with songs of the season and an entirely new look that celebrates the holidays in each country represented.
Be sure to return after dark: More than 300,000 lights glitter and every 15-minutes, the façade of the attraction is transformed with advanced 3D-projection technology.
Grab a FASTPASS for Haunted Mansion Holiday which receives new effects every year! It’s a holiday season can’t-miss and you should grab a FASTPASS early in the day. Be sure to look for the gingerbread design inside the ballroom scene. It changes every year (and you can smell the gingerbread!)
2017 Editor’s note: Jingle Cruise is not available this year: Another Christmas at Disneyland overlay is the transformation of the Jungle Cruise into the Jingle Cruise. Story goes that a shipment of Christmas decorations was mistakenly dropped over the jungle. You just have to see what the animals and natives have done with the plethora of garland, ugly Christmas sweaters, ornaments and fruitcakes!
Christmas at Disney California Adventure Park
At Disney California Adventure Park, the buildings around Buena Vista Street are decorated with 1920s-approprate garland and vintage-style ornaments. “a bug’s land” is decorated with giant Christmas lights and over-sized ornaments. This is a fun area any time of year but even more whimsical with the wildly-large decor!
Festival of Holidays offers flavors of the season at a variety of kiosks in the Park. Southern Home Holidays served up sweet potato pie, Mistletoe Morsels offered Swedish dishes and Treats for Santa had traditional cookies and punch. There is also beer and non-alcoholic drinks. We found the lines to be reasonable mid-day and very crowded in the evening. Get your fill of these appetizer-sized dishes during lunch to maximize your time.
Cars Land is amazing during the holidays with auto filter garlands, white-wall tire wreaths and a Christmas tree decked out in shiny hubcaps! Be sure have your picture taken with the “snowcar” complete with top hat and pylon nose!
Several times a day The Three Caballeros (Donald Duck, Panchito and José Carioca host a dance party and Latin celebration. I’d suggest watching during the day time hours when it’s still light enough to see clearly. We arrived after dark and the area was poorly lit so it was hard to see the action.
Send Your Holiday Presents & Gifts Ahead of Your Trip
Save space in your luggage by having gifts sent ahead to your hotel. Pre-order presents on Amazon and have them sent to you so they’re waiting at the hotel! Just make sure the address includes the word “Guest” on the front and the date of your arrival at the resort hotel. You’ll be able to pick up your boxes at mail services upon arrival.
While staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel, you can also have packages delivered back to your hotel so you don’t have to tote them around the parks all day.
If you have family that will be at Disneyland and you want to send them a special something, contact Disney Floral & Gifts to order stockings stuffed with Disney goodies, delicious treats, or even a full “in-room celebration” with a bounty of gifts and delights. It’s a great way to show the kids that Santa didn’t forget them, even when they’re away from home!
Christmas at Disneyland Entertainment & Shows
Be sure to check out the beautiful Disney California Adventure Park World of Color – Season of Light! This nighttime water show features classic Disney movie moments and holiday favorites.
The ever popular “A Christmas Fantasy” parade will return to Disneyland, with 100+ performers in the parade including Mickey, Minnie and a special guest from the North Pole…Santa Claus!
Stay in the parks until dark and be rewarded with entertainment that lights up the night! Believe…In Holiday Magic, the fireworks spectacular will include more than 80,000 twinkling lights illuminating Sleeping Beauty Castle and a magical snowfall as well!
Meeting Santa and Other Characters
Greet the characters dressed up in their holiday finest on Main Street U.S.A. We always make a point to take pictures with our favorites first thing in the morning because this is a very popular feature during the holidays.
Meeting Santa is a magical part of Christmas and no more so than at Disneyland! This year Santa Claus will be meeting children at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail at Disney California Adventure Park and in Critter Country at Disneyland Park. My son even had the opportunity to sign Santa’s “Nice List” guest book!
Save Money on a DISNEYLAND Vacation!
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