Vacation Tips

Christmas Overlays at Disneyland

It’s mid-November and the Disney Parks are already deep into the holidays. Lights, trees and candy canes galore. Unfortunately for Andrew and I, we are both narrowly missing the Christmas season at Disneyland Resort. I will be there January 12th, and he the 17th of the same month. Just because we’re missing out doesn’t mean you have to, so in this post I will be outlining the Christmas joy YOU can experience at Disneyland this holiday season (Andrew and I will live vicariously through you).

As well as having specific Christmas-themed parades and attractions, throughout Disneyland there is an immense amount of Christmas decorations in general. Main Street, U.S.A. is even more lit up than normal, and snow adorns Sleeping Beauty Castle. At night the castle glows an icy blue, and it is spectacular. Also, a note: I’m focusing on Disneyland only in this post, there is too much in both parks to fit in one blog. Rest assured California Adventure will be next! Now, lets get to some CHRISTMAS!

Luckily for me, I visited Disneyland last December. That means I have experienced all the holiday activities the park has to offer. I’m sure they have changed things slightly from last year, Disney is always shaking things up, but the major parts of the overlays are the same. Now, let’s get started with what I’ve have had the pleasure of seeing with my own eyes (so. long. ago. RIP).

Haunted Mansion Holiday

Haunted Mansion Holiday entrance DL

I’m starting off with my favorite Christmas attraction! The Nightmare Before Christmas overlay in the Haunted Mansion is enchanting. The first time I ever went on this ride was last Christmas, and I went in skeptical because the regular Haunted Mansion is already one of my favorite rides, but it exceeded expectations.

From the inclusion of Jack Skellington in the place of the graveyard caretaker, to the holiday bow that adorns the Hatbox Ghost, even if you’re not a fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas I can almost guarantee you’ll be a fan of this ride.

Hatbox Ghost Haunted Mansion Holiday DL

I will say though, that there are so many changes to this ride that it isn’t really the Haunted Mansion anymore, but rather an entirely new ride itself. It’s fantastic, to be sure, but the overlay takes over the Mansion from August to early January, and then there are closures while the ride is being transformed to and from its holiday self. That’s a very long time for a ride to be so different, and if I were a frequent visitor I may start missing the singing busts or the bride while Jack Skellington takes over.

A Christmas Fantasy Parade

This is a Disneyland classic. Who doesn’t love a holly jolly parade with the big man himself at the end? Last year I watched this parade near the back of the park by It’s A Small World, and I have to admit it was a little lack-luster. The toy soldiers were cool (and terrifying) and so were the life-sized gingerbread men (equally terrifying). But, for some reason, the Santa float didn’t appear the night we viewed it.

Tin Soldier drum MVMCP MOUACTP

We waited for an hour and then sat through a Christmas parade and didn’t even see Santa Clause at the end!! What was it all for??? I have seen videos of other viewings of the parade so I do know for a fact that Santa exists, but he didn’t for us. I guess we had been too naughty that year.

With all of that said, it’s still a decent parade, but not up to the likes of The Main Street Electrical Parade or SpectroMagic.

“it’s a small world” Holiday and Lights

I am a member of the pro-Small World squad, I know many who detest the attraction. I am also a big fan of its holiday overlay. Not only does the facade get a nice makeover, but the inside too! Every nation represented goes full-on Ho Ho Ho, and some might enjoy that the Small World theme song is cut up by Christmas jingles throughout the ride.

What stuck out to me most is the giant, and I mean GIANT snowman in one of the show rooms. I was so awe-struck by its size that I took a very bad picture of it. Here it is below for your enjoyment:


Set additions like this are everywhere throughout the ride, and it’s the perfect attraction to get thrown into the holiday spirit of things. It’s not to be missed!

General Notes

A lot of people think that Disneyland needs to be avoided during Christmas because of crowds, but I disagree. We went in the middle of December last year and the longest line we waited in was 25 minutes. We leaned on Fastpasses and completely skipped Peter Pan’s Flight (40 minute wait? No thanks) and had a wonderful time.

Another plus about Christmas in California is that for once the temperatures aren’t blazing. I swapped between a sweatshirt and t-shirt the days we were there and it was never too hot or too cold. I find that walking 10+ miles a day is much more pleasant if you aren’t being melted by the sun.

I personally highly recommend spending a day or two at Disneyland Park during the Christmas season. The holiday overlays are a treat and the decor is spectacular. To prove it to you, here is a picture of all five of my party at the base of the Main Street Christmas tree (I’m the female on the left).


That tree is HUGE! The base is wider than 5 people!! Love it.

Disneyland is a magical place, and it only gets more magical during the holiday season! 9/10 would recommend. It would have been 10/10 but I didn’t SEE SANTA.

Have you ever been to Disneyland during Christmas? Let us know your thoughts, or any questions you might have, in the comments below. Planning a trip to Disneyland Resort? Check out our Disneyland Trip Planning Guide to help you out. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends and like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

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