When you live in California, it’s hard to truly experience the magic of the holidays. The sun and warm weather kind of ruin it. (Just kidding, December at 70 degrees is wonderful!) Luckily, there is one place you can always count on to experience that magic: the Disneyland Resort. The Holidays at Disneyland is truly a magical time with decorations beyond belief, incredible holiday attractions, and tons of tasty treats. Today, I’ll be sharing all the details about the Holidays at Disneyland so you can make it your new go-to holiday destination.
It’s no secret the Mommy Plus Miles household loves Disney. We took our engagement photos at Disneyland, we made our first pregnancy announcement at Disneyland, and we’re planning our first trip to Disney World in the near future.
But the holidays are our (second) favorite time to visit. (Halloween Time is first.) To make the most out of the Holidays at Disneyland, here are some important things you need to know.
The Holidays at Disneyland officially begin on November 10, 2017 and continue through January 07, 2018. That’s nearly two months to be merry and bright! Decorations actually start going up on November 1st so you’ll get a sneak peek if you’re there the first two weeks of November.
Here’s a great tip on when to visit: Go early in November or the first week of January. The actual holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years Eve, and New Years Day) are a circus.
Two rides go all out for the Holidays at Disneyland: It’s A Small World and Haunted Mansion.
Look, I don’t do It’s A Small World as a rule. If you consider that Disney blasphemy, I’m sorry, but I just can’t sit through that song for 15 minutes. However, I have been tempted to check out It’s A Small World Holiday. The children sing Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls in addition to the usual. Regardless of whether you go on the ride, I highly recommend you check out the decorations outside. You can also find some great spots for viewing fireworks (including snow!) near the entrance.
Now, Haunted Mansion Holiday is much more my style. It’s a must see for our family every year. Haunted Mansion Holiday starts in late September when Halloween decorations go up and runs through the holidays. The usual ghosts and ghouls are visited by the creatures we know and love from Nightmare Before Christmas including Jack Skellington, Sally, Oogie Boogie, and the Citizens of Halloweentown.
Holiday Special Attractions
World of Color Season of Light
Whether you’ve seen World of Color 100 times or you’ve never seen it before, you should definitely check out World of Color Season of Light at California Adventure. Special moments from Disney and Pixar films are projected onto a wall of water fountains that dance and change color to holiday music. It’s incredible. It can also be heartbreaking. I’ve literally never watched World of Color without crying so bring tissues. It can get pretty chilly at night so bring a jacket too.
World of Color Season of Light usually runs two times per night at California Adventure. To make sure you get the best view consider the dining package or dessert party package from Disney. You can also get a FASTPASS for one of the reserved viewing areas.
Believe…in Holiday Magic Fireworks
Believe…in Holiday Magic Fireworks is the nightly firework spectacular at Disneyland. It includes a grand finale of snow falling from the skies near It’s a Small World Holiday, Main Street, and the Rivers of America. Check the daily park map for locations where you can catch the snow. The ornately lit Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is a lovely backdrop for fireworks, but my favorite spot is in front of It’s A Small World Holiday. Again, bring a jacket because it gets cold at night.
The fireworks show happens once a night, but it is occasionally cancelled due to weather. When we’ve been there and the fireworks were cancelled, they still turned on the snow machine so stick around for that.
A Christmas Fantasy Parade
The holidays really come to life with your favorite Disney characters and friends for the Christmas Fantasy Parade. Think gingerbread men, snowflakes, and Santa! This is a great attraction for little kids who love Mickey and Minnie. It’s also a daytime event so they won’t be too tired to enjoy it.
The parade usually occurs twice a day and people start staking out spots early. The best places to see the show are along Main Street, but you can also find good (often less crowded) spots near It’s A Small World Holiday and Matterhorn Bobsleds.
Festival of Holidays
At California Adventure, diverse cultural festivities are celebrated with the Festival of Holidays. This event includes the Viva Natividad Holiday Street Party and other live music and dance performances.
Santa makes a number of appearances throughout the Disneyland Resort including in the parks and at the hotels. From November 10th to December 24th, you can find him in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail at California Adventure or in Critter Country near the Many Great Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride at Disneyland. From November 17th to December 24th, you can find him in the Crystal Cove Foyer at the Paradise Pier Hotel, in the Great Hall at the Grand California Hotel & Spa, or near the Grand Ballroom at Disneyland Hotel. We stayed at the Grand California last year for our holiday visit to Disneyland. It’s a spectacular setting to meet Santa. (And there’s an awesome gingerbread house!)
Festive Foods Marketplace
Do not miss the Festive Foods Marketplace at California Adventure. This alone is worth the park hopper ticket or extra day. Booths line the streets of California Adventure serving holiday inspired comfort foods from different cultures. Plus, each booth serves a yummy alcoholic beverage or two that pairs nicely with the food. You can read more about the food offerings here. Make a food game plan or you will be overwhelmed by the selection.
Other Holiday Treats
If you can’t make it to California Adventure and the Festive Foods Marketplace, you can still find plenty of holiday treats throughout Disneyland. Gingerbread men, holiday rice crispies, peppermint mochas (and pumpkin spiced lattes), and snowmen shortbread cookies are just a few of the selections. There’s also no shortage of cakes, cupcakes, and other sweet treats to get your holiday fix especially at the Jolly Holiday Bakery. My favorite is the peppermint ice cream at Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor on Mainstreet. (Yes, ice cream for the holidays!)
The smells of peppermint and gingerbread are piped into various locations throughout the parks so don’t be surprised if you find yourself with a sudden craving.
If you need to find your holiday spirit or if you want to make the holidays last a little longer, make sure to check out the Holidays at Disneyland. I think you’ll find yourself a new holiday tradition. From our family to yours, we hope you have a wonderful (and magical) holiday season.
For more travel inspired holiday ideas, check out my Ultimate Travel Gift Guide.