Christmas is our favorite time of year. We love it more than any other holiday combined, and start decorating on Halloween (no exaggeration – we’re those crazy people). We make yearly trips to Disney World every Christmas, but this was our first year going to DisneyLAND for the holidays. We’ve heard rumors, stories, and tall tales of how amazing it was. People told us that it was the best and most decorated of all the parks for the holidays, that it had the most holiday food, and that it was bursting with the cheer at every corner. They said that Santa’s Elves themselves put up the decorations, commanded by Mickey Mouse, while he lounged on a plush throne, munching on gingerbread. We are pleased to announce that ALL OF THIS IS TRUE. Today, we’re putting together a guide to Christmas at Disneyland so you can better plan your time there (and squeeze the most Holiday magic from the parks that you can).
The park truly is decked to the nines. Main Street is covered in ornaments, garlands, wreaths, and swags, as well as the trees being covered in lights. A huge tree towers from the front of Main Street (and it happens to be our favorite tree at any Disney park!), while Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is adorned with icicles, garlands of ornaments, and wreaths. At night, the castle glows with light. If you head over to New Orleans Square, you’ll find it decked out in true Louisiana style, with oversized mardi-gras inspired wreaths, masks, and moons hanging from trees.
We aren’t going to lie to you, or sugarcoat it – this is the busiest time of the year. This is the kind of crowds that people have kicking, screaming nightmares about. We got EXTREMELY lucky when we were there, in the fact that it was raining and cold during our trip. These are two things that most people in Southern California are not used to, but WE ARE TOUGH, so we grabbed an umbrella and a jacket and enjoyed an empty park.
The Christmas Fireworks show is called ‘Believe…In Holiday Magic’ – it’s a show dedicated to remembering the joy that the holiday season brings. We found it enchanting, and recommending trying to grab a spot near the very front of the castle. You might miss a few of the bursts that are shot off, but you’ll catch the majority of them, and have a primo-view of the projections on the castle, which is one of the best parts of the show.
Paint The Night is back for the Holiday season (WEEPING TEARS OF JOY OVER HERE), which is something we should all be very excited about. It’s an incredibly popular parade, so we highly recommend trying to see the second showing if possible, as it will be far less crowded. Disneyland’s Christmas Parade is called a ‘A Christmas Fantasy’ – many people say that it’s not as good as ‘Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime’ Parade from WDW, but we think that it’s charming in its own way (an definitely should not be missed).
To be honest, the whole reason you’re going to Disneyland at Christmas is Small World Holiday. It’s whimsical, funny, quirky, and COVERED IN CHRISTMAS LIGHTS on the outside. It truly is everything I love about everything. The Jingle Cruise takes over The Jungle Cruise and is the superior version of the two stateside parks – so even if you’ve seen WDW’s, make sure to catch it. Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion Holiday has a cult following, and is very well done – it’s relevant for both Christmas and Halloween, and if we were bigger Nightmare Before Christmas fans, we probably would be raving fans.
Holiday food at Disneyland is truly like no other. From the famous Yule Log at The Plaza Inn (which should have it’s own refrigerator magnet), to the handmade candy canes on Main Street, to the crushed candy cane ice cream cones at Gibson Girl – you’ll want a budget just for Holiday food. The creme de la creme, in our opinion, is the candy cane beignets at Cafe Orleans. Even if you skip everything else, these should be on your ‘not to be missed’ list.
Let’s talk about the real reason you’re going to Disneyland at Christmas – CHARACTERS IN CHRISTMAS SWEATERS. Unless you’re Zac Efron carrying a basket of golden retriever puppies, I don’t know of many things cuter than Disney characters in Christmas sweaters. You can find them on Main Street U.S.A, near the entrance of Disneyland.
Christmas at Disneyland is magical. We love being there – and we know that you and your family will too! We hope our guide helps make your time at Disneyland during the holidays a little easier, and less stressful, so you can focus on what matters (like eating all the holiday food!).