Vacation Tips

The Most Wonderful Time of Year at the Happiest Place on Earth: Christmas at Disneyland

It is beyond belief that the magic of Disney could be surpassed, however during the holiday season, the magic reaches new heights. Disney and Christmas go together like Mickey and Minnie, they are meant to be together. When entering the parks the smell of peppermint fills the streets, the sound of classic Christmas songs fill your ears, and the sight of the marvelous Christmas decorations places you in a joyous holiday coma.

Disneyland Christmal

When going at this time of year, timing and planning your Disney trip is more important than ever. For example, last year my family and I decided to spend Christmas in Disneyland. We had the naïve perception that if we went to Disneyland during the week of Christmas, it wouldn’t be as crowded because most people would be home with their families. Of course, to our unprepared surprise, we completely underestimated the crowds. It was definitely a learning experience for us. Let me clarify, Christmas TIME at Disneyland if absolutely fabulous, the week of Christmas or spending actual Christmas Day at Disneyland is a whole other story. In a way, it takes away from Christmas and the magic gets lost in the sea of crowds. If you do decide to visit the parks the week of Christmas, make sure to have a detailed plan and itinerary. Even the most seasoned Disney Parks goers need to have a set strategy to pull off Christmas at Disneyland.


Luckily, Disney celebrates Christmas for 60 days from November 13th- January 6th so you have a variety of dates to choose from. In my experience, the golden window of opportunity for visiting the parks during Christmastime is right after Thanksgiving break through the first two weeks of December. This is problematic for those of you with school aged children, however if you can coordinate your trip with the Thanksgiving break it is the ideal time to go to experience Disneyland at Christmastime.

I believe that one of the things that makes Disney so magical is their meticulous attention to detail. There is no one in the industry that can do what Disney does, and that also rings true with the incredible spectacle they put on for Christmastime.

It's A Small World Christmas - day

Disneyland transforms a few of their attractions for the most wonderful time of the year. It’s A Small World is by far my favorite holiday transformation. Both inside and out are transformed into a wondrous Christmas display. At night there are 300,000 multicolored lights that illuminate It’s A Small World and represent everything that is joyful and merry about the holiday season. There is truly no way to describe it and is a definite must see when visiting during the holidays. Especially at this time of year, it is a great reminder to us all that it really is “a small world after all” no matter where we are in the world or how we celebrate.

It's A Small World Christmas

Another holiday overlay that Disneyland does is The Nightmare Before Christmas at the Haunted Mansion. I am not a huge Jack Skellington fan, but my husband is and I know there are many others that are. Even though it is not one of my favorite movies, I must say the transformation they do to this classic ride is amazing. Unlike “It’s A Small World’ where the ride is very similar just spruced up with Christmas decorations, The Haunted Mansion is completely taken over by the Nightmare Before Christmas and it seems as though you are on a completely different ride.

The newest addition to the attraction holiday makeovers is the Jungle Cruise, or Jingle Cruise as it is the dubbed at this time of year. Jingle Cruise passengers help the skippers find their missing holiday cargo and sit back and enjoy their new set of cheesy holiday jokes and newly decorated boathouse.

Kelsee and fam IASWAA

After you are done with your holiday ride experience, hop on over to the Jingle Jangle Jamboree at the Big Thunder Ranch. Holiday games and crafts are available just when you need a break from the lines and crowds. There is also an opportunity to meet the big cheese himself, and I’m not talking about Mickey. Santa Claus is available to meet the kids and lend an ear to hear their Christmas wishes. 

Speaking of Christmas wishes, what is a holiday without a parade? Personally, a parade is always on my Christmas wish list especially when at Disneyland. Just like everything else, no one does anything like Disney, and this includes their parades. Throw in some Christmas magic and you have an extra special holiday masterpiece being unveiled before your eyes. The spectacular parade that is featured at this time of year is “A Christmas Fantasy Parade” and it does not disappoint in the least. If you want to get a good seat, I recommend staking your ground at least 45 minutes prior to the parade and that does not guarantee a great spot especially during the holidays. There is something for everyone in this parade but I must say that the princess spotlight is my favorite out of all the parades. Also, exciting news for Frozen fans (let’s be honest is there really anyone that is not) Anna and Elsa have their own exclusive float starting this holiday season.

Christmas Parad

In the spirit of saving the best for last, “Believe…..In Holiday Magic” fireworks is the number one priority in my book as far as must haves during Christmas at Disneyland. This show is the icing on the Christmas-Disney magic union. This fireworks display is wonderful for kids but also makes us adults remember what is means to believe in something magical, and what better place to have this epiphany than Disneyland. It reminds us of everything what makes the holiday season wonderful and what it is like to be a child again, very similar to what Disney brings out in us. At the end of the show you are showered with “snow” or the closest form that Disney can bring to you in Southern California. This is the most magical Disney moment for me out of the whole Disneyland holiday experience. The show ends these touching words “cherish the holidays forever and always believe.”

Christmas DL Castle lights

As a Disney fan, going during the holidays at any of the parks should be high on your list. The experience cannot be beat and you will encounter even more magic. It is unimaginable that Disney could have any more to offer, but they do during Christmastime.

– Kelsee

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