Disneyland Resort celebrates the holiday season in a festive style bursting with holiday cheer. Between the Christmas and holiday décor, holiday fireworks, the Believe…in Holiday Magic light nighttime spectacular, the Christmas fantasy parade, the Festival of Holidays, and ¡Viva Navidad! street party, Disneyland Resort transforms into one of the best, truly enchanted holiday celebrations!  

Don’t miss the popular holiday ride overlays with the Haunted Mansion holiday, it’s a small world holiday, Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl, and Mater’s Jingle Jamboree. All the festivities will run throughout the holiday season from November 10, 2023, through January 7, 2024. 

New this year, Mickey and friends will sport midcentury modern-inspired looks outfits for a holiday makeover, so be on the lookout and check the Disneyland Holidays calendar to see what’s happening during your visit. Here is why a Disneyland Christmas celebration should be on your wishlist during the holiday season.

See also: How to Buy Discounted Disneyland Tickets

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1. Special Disneyland Holiday Desserts

Walking around Disneyland Resort and Downtown Disney all day burns a ton of calories (right?), so go ahead and treat yourself to the many holiday treats you will find during the wintertime enchantment that is Christmas time at Disneyland.

New treats include Christmas-themed candy cane beignets but rest assured that old favorites are returning, too. Park guests can enjoy a  Mickey snowman apple, eggnog latte cheesecake, hot chocolate beignets, gingerbread funnel cake fries, and holiday dinner pizza, to name a few holiday treats from a very long list.

Of course, don’t forget about the classic Gingerbread Shingles if you can find them during this holiday time.

Disneyland's gingerbread shingles recipe

Grab the recipe for Disneyland Resort’s gingerbread shingles.

2. Festive Disneyland Decorations

Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle with holiday decorations reflected on the water.
The Disneyland Resort transforms into the Merriest Place on Earth for the holiday season. Among the merriment at Disneyland Park, Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle shines brightly with the glow of the shimmering icicles and twinkling lights, enchanting guests from day to night. (Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort)

Every year, guests await the thousands upon thousands of holiday lights and festive decorations that make up the Disneyland Christmas decorations and create a wonderfully cozy atmosphere.

The 60-foot tall extra-large Christmas tree at the town square of Main Street, U.S.A. alone boasts nearly 1,800 ornaments and holiday decor and is the perfect spot for jolly family photos. As you walk along  Main Street, you will also experience magical snowfall and colorful projections happening all around you. 

Nearly 10,000 poinsettia and 10,000 cyclamen plants also decorate the Disneyland Resort for the holiday season.

Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle is also illuminated each night with more than 80,000 twinkling lights, wreaths, sparkling icicles, and shimmering snow-capped turrets decorating the front of the castle. 

Every night, all the lights in Downtown Disney will also dazzle complete with holiday shopping, festive musical performances, and plenty of Insta-worthy photo opportunities.

To say they go big during the Christmas season with holiday decorations is an understatement—holiday spirit and Disney magic is real during the holidays at Disneyland!

Hand holding Disneyland park ticket

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3. Favorite Rides With Holiday Overlays

Located in New Orleans Square at Disneyland Park is the Haunted Mansion Holiday.

Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland Resort
Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland

The Haunted Mansion becomes a world where two holidays collide: Christmas and Halloween. It’s inspired by Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, and I thought the haunted mansion holiday overlay was much less “scary” than usual.

"its a small world" is decked out for the holidays!

One of the most classic rides, “it’s a small world”, has children celebrating their own holiday traditions. Three immersive scents fill the air (cherry blossoms from Asia, cinnamon from South America, and coconut in the South Seas) in addition to pine and peppermint candy scents in the European scenes.

Located in Fantasyland at Disneyland Park, this ride is normally a feast for the senses. It incorporates holiday embellishment and music in a manner that pleases all ages during the holiday season at Disneyland.

4. “Believe… In Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular

Fireworks light up the sky over Sleeping Beauty's Castle during Disneyland holiday events.
Among the merriment, in the evening at Disneyland Park, the spectacular “Believe … in Holiday Magic” fireworks spectacular and its magical snowfall finale create lasting holiday memories for guests. (Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort)

The holiday entertainment during Disneyland holidays is top-notch.  End a festive evening at Disneyland with a pyrotechnical spectacle of holiday magic fireworks over Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle at 9 p.m. on select nights from November 11, 2023, to January 8, 2024 (weather permitting).

Catch a little winter wonderland snowfall just before the “Believe…in holiday magic” fireworks show at “it’s a small world” ” for even more seasonal magic while visiting Disneyland at Christmas.

5. Cars Land Holiday Transformation

Cars Land holiday decorations at Disney's California Adventure park
Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

Cars Land gets into the holiday spirit. Christmas decorations like snowflakes hang above Route 66, a “snow car” greets guests at the entrance of Route 66, and holiday attractions are decked out for the season. Mater’s Jingle Jamboree and Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl include some catchy holiday songs sung by both Disney characters.

6. Disney Festival of Holidays

Mickey and Minnie dance with friends during the Mickey's Happy Holidays show.
Among the merriment at Disney California Adventure Park, guests can dance and sing along during the all-new character celebration, “Mickey’s Happy Holidays.” (Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort)

Disney Festival of the Holidays at Disney California Adventure Park involves Christmas music, food, a 50-foot-tall holiday tree, and fun that celebrates meaningful traditions of Christmas, Navidad, Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Three Kings’ Day.

Mickey’s Happy Holidays runs twice daily with show moments at Paradise Gardens Park and Carthay Circle. Favorite Disney and Pixar characters join Mickey Mouse and other Disney friends to dance to the beats of holiday toy drummers. Of course, they’re all decked out in their holiday best of classic red and green for the Christmas festivities and ready to spread holiday cheer.

The Suffragettes will perform holiday hits at the Holiday Sunset Concert series on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays at the Palisades Stage at  Disney’s California adventure.

Festival Foods Marketplace has multiple marketplace locations offering holiday foods, diverse dishes, and seasonal flavors that span cultures and family traditions while you celebrate Christmas and the holiday season at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Follow your stomach to these festive food marketplaces at the stage near Palisades, Sonoma Terrace, and Hollywood Backlot, accompanied by live entertainment and upbeat music.

To get the most out of this event, guests can purchase the Sip and Savor Pass, which includes eight entitlement tabs that can be redeemed for select food and nonalcoholic drinks at the Festival Foods Marketplace. This holiday’s tasting passport can even be shared among friends.

Younger guests can enjoy craft stations and cookie decorating kits to add to their festive fun at Disney California Adventure this special holiday season.

Disney ¡Viva Navidad! is a joyous street party hosted by the Three Caballeros featuring Mexican folklórico dancers, Brazillian Samba dancers, live music, and giant mojiganga puppets. Of course, a dance party isn’t complete without food, so check out the all-new menu at Paradise Garden Grill for select seasonal offerings. Located at Paradise Gardens Park, Disney ¡Viva Navidad! takes place from November 10  – January 7, 2024, and this is one holiday party you don’t want to miss! 

“Encanto” fans will be delighted to visit Mirabel while visiting Disney California adventure during Christmas time.

7. World of Color – Season of Light Spectacular

This fantastic light spectacular returns to California Adventure and will envelop guests in a light show.  This World of Color season nighttime spectacular light show is accompanied by holiday music as a festive beat fills Paradise Bay, and fountains illustrate warm moments from beloved Disney animated films. Let the holiday version of Disneyland light up your world of color this season.

8. Private Guided Tour

If you’re looking for even more holiday magic, you might want to add a Disneyland resort guided tour of both theme parks for an exclusive look at Disneyland Christmas decorations.

This hosted tour includes a selection of seasonal favorites such as the Sleeping Beauty Castle, the Haunted Mansion, and “it’s a small world,” plus reserved seating for prime viewing of the Disneyland Christmas parade.

9. A Christmas Fantasy Parade

Santa Claus on top of a decorated holiday float in the "A Christmas Fantasy" parade.
Among the merriment at Disneyland Park, Mickey, Minnie, Disney Princesses and Santa celebrate the season in “A Christmas Fantasy” parade, a daily procession with floats, music and marching “tin soldiers.” (Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort)

The holiday season at Disneyland isn’t complete without a street parade! Twice a day at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. (but subject to change), everyone’s favorite characters dress for the season and ride floats from “it’s a small world” to Main Street, U.S.A. in the Christmas Fantasy parade.

The 40-minute parade is one of the longest-running parades at Disneyland, featuring over 100 performers and Disney favorites.

The highlight for my daughter when she was younger, was the Frozen float featuring Anna and Elsa. Other floats showcase Mickey and Minnie working with Chip ‘n Dale to get letters to Santa and the Disney Princesses dancing and curtsying at the Candlelight Ball.

The parade ends with everyone’s favorite jolly gift-bearer, Santa Claus, to cap off the magic. 

For the best viewing, be sure to arrive early to claim a seat along the parade route.

10 . Disney Merriest Nights

Christmas tree on Disneyland's Main Street U.S.A. lit up at night.
Mickey Mouse and his friends will host Disney Merriest Nites, the first after-hours holiday party at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, on five select nights from Nov. 11-Dec. 9, 2021. Tickets for Disney Merriest Nites go on sale Sept. 14, 2021 on Disneyland.com and the Disneyland app. (Disneyland Resort)

Sadly, this year the Disneyland holidays experience will not include Disney’s merriest nights. The magic that is Disney Merriest Nights with extended park hours is still happening at Walt Disney World but is super popular. Make your holiday fantasy come true, and purchase tickets today.

11. Santa’s Holiday Visit

Beginning on November 10 – December 24, 2023, Santa Claus, along with his secret elves, will drop by at either Critter Country in Disneyland, Disney California Adventure’s Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, Disneyland Hotel, or Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. Check the Disneyland app for all the details on these special appearances.

Redwood Creek Challenge Trail will also include a transformed, holiday-themed playground, seasonal games, and outdoor activities as part of the beat of the holiday at the Disney parks.

Special activity maps will be available to help you locate all of the elfish games on the trail. To meet Santa and take pictures with Santa, make sure to stop by Ahwahnee Camp Circle near the trail’s entrance. Meeting Santa during this magical time will be available until December 24, Christmas Eve.

12. Buena Vista Street Tree Lighting

Visitors of Disney California Adventure can experience the magical Buena Vista Street Holiday Tree lighting every day from November 11, 2023, to January 8, 2024.

Head over to Elias & Co. on Buena Vista Street to watch as the monumental tree twinkles to life with hundreds of ornaments, glistening garlands, Christmas decorations, festive music, and colored lights. The holiday tree lighting will occur every day at 5:30 p.m. and is one of our favorite classical Disney moments.

13. Holiday Gifts

Christmas ornaments on display inside Plaza Point, Disneyland's new holiday store.
Plaza Point is an all-new holiday store on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland Park. (Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort)

While Disney parks are always good places to buy gifts for the Disney fan in your life, the holiday season is particularly remarkable should you want a holiday keepsake when you visit Disneyland, California Adventure, and Downtown Disney during the holiday time. 

Thousands of 2023 Christmas ornaments, holiday-themed Mickey and Minnie Mouse ears, and other options that can only be purchased during the holiday time stock the shelves (though they seem to have some ornaments year-round).

You can also check out their online store, which features many holiday goodies. But there’s a new holiday store on Main Street U.S.A. called Plaza Point. Its merchandise will change seasonally to showcase other holidays like Chinese New Year, Easter, and Halloween, to name a few.

14. The Disneyland Hotels Are Decked Out, Too

Disney's Grand Californian Hotel during the holidays
Disney Grand Californian’s lobby from our last Christmastime visit.

Book a Disneyland Resort hotel during the holiday season. Our top pick is Disney’s Grand Californian Resort and Spa, which has the most beautiful Christmas tree and a 7-foot-tall gingerbread house in the lobby, usually made from 600 lbs of powdered sugar, 250 lbs of fondant, and one pound of pixie dust!

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa was created in a beautiful craftsman style and has its own entrance to Disney California Adventure Park and Downtown Disney. It takes about 5 minutes to walk to Disneyland Park.

Disneyland Hotel’s holiday decorations are themed to “it’s a small world” Holiday, while Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel features an underwater holiday season theme.

Plus, staying at the Disneyland resort hotels means it’s nice to have a nearby place to rest in the late afternoon when kids get tired.

15. You Can Buy Discount Disneyland Tickets

With the Christmas fantasy parade, Sleeping Beauty’s winter castle all decked out with seasonal decorations, holiday shows, towering Christmas trees, a haunted mansion, “it’s a small world holiday,” and more, Christmas at Disneyland will have you believe Christmas magic is alive in southern California—it is the happiest place on earth, after all!

If that’s not enough, head over to Disney California Adventure for Mickey’s Happy Holidays, iViva Navidad!, the Color Season of Light show, the Festival of Holidays, and take a spin on Mater’s jingle jamboree. Both Disney parks will be awash in holiday entertainment and all things holiday-related to add to your favorite moments from Disney! 

While a 1-Day Disneyland theme park ticket during this season is best bought through Disneyland (don’t forget your park reservations!), those considering longer visits to Disneyland at Christmas can save money through authorized ticket sellers like aRes Travel which always has discounted pricing on Park Hopper and 1-Park tickets.

What is your favorite thing about Disneyland Resort during the holidays

Top photo credit: Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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2 Comments

  1. Disneyland during the holidays is awesome! We visited last year for the holidays and were there for Halloween a few weeks ago.

    Now trying to convince my wife we need to go again for the holidays!

  2. Disneyland at Christmas is amazing. This will be our second trip during this season and CAN’T wait. Even the kids said they enjoyed it better than when we went during the summer! All the lights and decorations can’t be beat!!