The Holiday Season is an amazing time at Disneyland! Decorations abound, special entertainment is throughout the park, there’s several ride layovers and plenty of food to try. In this post, we’ll cover all of Disneyland’s Christmas offerings, giving a brief summary of each!
We won’t get to the entire resort today, opting for a few park specific posts that are easier to sift through instead of one massive guide. Instead, we’ll stick to just Disneyland Park in this one. Here’s our California Adventure Christmas Guide and here’s a review of last year’s hard ticket event, Disney Merriest Nights. It has not been announced if that event will return. If you have pressing questions about something that’s not covered in this guide, let us know in the comments!
In 2022, the holiday season will begin on November 11th and run until January 8th of 2023. All of the options will be available through that time while some things, like Haunted Mansion Holiday, will begin much earlier. We’ll have more information on the upcoming holiday season as it draws closer but so far nothing new is announced.
The Christmas season is one of the best times to visit Disney Parks and Disneyland is no exception to that. Most of the park is decked out and absolutely gorgeous. Yes, there are plenty of special offerings that we’ll cover in this post but the decorations, especially at night, are worth a visit alone. Let’s start with those!
While there are plenty of events to watch or do, the decorations take center stage at Disneyland. They are unavoidable, from the giant Christmas tree in Town Square to the iconic castle lights. The most noticeable of the décor is on Main Street, garlands rise above guests down the street and gold lights and green wreaths hang above all of the shops. All of this sits between the two most striking decoration pieces – the tree and castle.
I do think the tree is impressive anytime of day but the castle looks far better at night than during the day. There are so many things hanging off of it in the daylight that, to me, it looks a little funny. That’s nothing more than a minor nitpick though as Main Street is perfectly decorated. Be sure to spend some time there in the evening.
Throughout the rest of the park, it’s a small world has holiday lighting on it and is very impressive. The lights are all over the facade and embody the zany spirit of the attraction. Even the walkway to Small World has some lights leading up to the display. If you’re a Christmas lights fan (and if you aren’t, do you have a soul?) then you’ll definitely want to spend some time here.
Those are the most obvious selections of Christmas decorations throughout Disneyland but there’s plenty elsewhere. Notably, New Orleans Square, Toontown and Critter Country all have varying degrees of decorations. The former two have colorful garlands on most of the buildings. New Orleans Square is especially vibrant! Critter Country, as usual, is cute with little changes. Splash Mountains facade is very rural Christmas-y and the Winnie the Pooh sections have some great additions.
Everywhere you go in the park has little changes. There are Christmas trees in many of the shops and each land has, at the very least, a special item or two. Take the time to look around at the smaller details in addition to the showstoppers!
Disneyland has two ride overlays during the Christmas season, one being Haunted Mansion Holiday which starts for the Halloween season and goes through Christmas. Characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas take over Haunted Mansion and mix in with a few of the usual ghosts. It’s an excellent overlay, one of Disney’s best!
It’s a Small World Holiday is the other layover, although it has not opened yet as of November 13th. Like the lighting on the outside, this overlay is just adding a Christmas feel to an already festive attraction. This is another overlay that’s well worth doing although the lighting on the outside might be the best part of the attraction. That’s no knock, the holiday lighting is spectacular.
Entertainment & Character Meets
There’s a variety of special entertainment and character meet & greets for the holiday season. We’ll start with the latter, as many of the usual characters are in their Christmas best. Santa Claus is out for everyone to meet in Critter Country, you may even get a candy cane after you tell St. Nick what you want! I really like both Mickey and Minnie’s costumes and seeing all of the Pooh characters in Santa hats is great.
As for the entertainment, the big additions are a parade and fireworks show. The parade is the first daily parade running since Disneyland reopened. A Christmas Fantasy Parade is fun and has some excellent floats, including a great Toy Story piece and Santa Claus as a finale. While it doesn’t live up to Magic Happens or other excellent parades, it’s well worth seeing and a good addition. The parade runs at 3 and 5:30 on most park days.
Believe… In Holiday Magic is the nighttime spectacular and is a good but not great show. Fireworks set to Christmas songs is what the show amounts to. The first half is a little bit slow but the second half has a nice blend of heartfelt moments and upbeat songs. Overall, it’s a good show but nothing that will blow guests away. It’s worth seeing and there’s ‘snow’ during the show to give even more of a holiday feeling.
There are other small entertainment options that pop up throughout the park including a projection show on Small World once it gets dark. All of the usuals, like the Dapper Dans and Disneyland Band, will play a few holiday favorites to fit the mood. I enjoyed all of the entertainment and would recommend seeing all that you can squeeze into your itinerary.
Finally, we come to the most important part… Food! Not really but I digress. We’ve already covered all of the menus and specialty items in this post. So far, we’ve tried the Peppermint Beignets (Mint Julep Bar), Pork Broth Noodles (Docking Bay 7) and Holiday Sandwich (Jolly Holiday Bakery). We enjoyed all of those options but the clear winner so far was the Pork Broth Noodles at Docking Bay. Those aren’t even on the listed specialty items but they were at the restaurant and were a strange but delicious mix of a pesto pasta and pork ramen. I’m hoping they become a permanent fixture at the restaurant.
As a whole, we love Disneyland during the holidays. Main Street alone is one of the prettiest scenes any Disney Park has to offer. Mix in some more décor, stellar entertainment and exciting food and this is a wonderful time to visit. If you’re looking for Disneyland tickets to visit during this time, we recommend getting them here. We’ll have more holiday reviews and guides coming soon!
What do you think of Disneyland at Christmas time? Let us know in the comments below! Planning a trip to Disneyland? Check out our Planning Guide here. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as 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!
Categories: Attraction Reviews, Vacation Tips
I was lucky enough to visit Disneyland in November 2016 when a lot of the holiday decorations were up; they were spectacular! I love the holiday music mixed in with “It’s a Small World” and the building looks beautiful with all of the lights! Mickey and his friends look so adorable in their Christmas sweaters. Ugh, I can’t wait to visit Disneyland again during the holidays one day! I wish Disney World did a holiday overlay for their ‘It’s a Small World’ too, that’d be awesome!
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