La Jolla Mom

10 Reasons to Visit Disneyland Resort During the Holidays (2018)

Disneyland Resort celebrates the holidays in a festive style that is nothing short of magical.

Your chance to experience this winter wonderland is between November 28, 2018 and January 6, 2019. Some events continue to January 8, 2019, so check the Disneyland Resort calendar to see what’s happening during your visit.

Here is why you need to go.

See also: How to Buy Discounted Disneyland Tickets

1. Special Holiday Desserts

Gingerbread funnel cake fries
Disneyland Resort – Gingerbread funnel cake fries.

Walking around Disneyland Resort all day burns a ton of calories (right?) so go ahead and treat yourself to the many seasonal desserts.

New treats include Stocking Stuffer funnel cake fries. Holiday favorites with new twists, like the Chocolate Mint Yule Log, will please those with sweet tooths. Of course, don’t forget about the classic Gingerbread Shingles if you can find them.

Disneyland's gingerbread shingles recipe
Grab the recipe for Disneyland Resort’s gingerbread shingles.

2. Festive Decorations

Holiday decor is one reason to visit Disneyland Resort during the holiday season.
Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort

The mood is even more elevated at Disneyland Resort during the holiday season with the thousands upon thousands of festive decorations.

The Christmas tree on Main Street, U.S.A. alone boasts over 1500 Victorian-inspired ornaments. Nearly 10,000 poinsettia and 10,000 cyclamen plants decorate the Disneyland Resort for the holiday season.

"it's a small world" Holiday at Disneyland Resort
Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

“it’s a small world” Holiday and its surrounding plaza illuminates with more than 400,000 twinkling lights.

Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle is also illuminated each night with more than 126,000 twinkling LED lights, sparkling “icicles” and shimmering snow-capped turrets.

Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle at Disneyland Resort
Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort

To say they go big is an understatement.

3. Favorite Rides Change Themes

Jungle Cruise becomes Jingle Cruise during the holidays at Disneyland Park

Love the Jungle Cruise? Well, you’ll really love the Jingle Cruise. The animals you know and love get a holiday makeover, and the skippers have a new roster of jokes to “sleigh” you.

Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland Resort
Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland

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

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

But, “it’s a small world” takes the cake. Normally a feast for the senses, the ride incorporates holiday tunes and décor in a manner that pleases all ages.

4. “Believe…In Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular

End a festive evening at Disneyland with a pyrotechnical spectacle over Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle at 9:30 p.m. daily (weather permitting). Catch a little snowfall just prior at “it’s a small world.”

4. 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. 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 including Mater’s Jingle Jamboree and Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl.

5. Disney’s Festival of Holidays

Disney Festival of the Holidays at Disney’s California Adventure park involves music, food, and fun that celebrates meaningful traditions of Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Kwanzaa and Three Kings’ Day.

Disneyland Viva Navidad
Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

Festival Marketplace has twelve marketplace locations offering holiday comfort dishes that span cultures and family tradition. Pick up a Disney Festival of Holidays Tasting Passport to taste them all.

Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party includes 12-foot tall mojiganga puppets of Santa and Sra. Claus. Other Street Party entertainment includes mariachi and samba musicians, folklorico dancers and much more.

The grand finale of the season here is a five-day celebration of Three Kings Day from January 3 – January 8, 2019.

6. A Christmas Fantasy Parade

Christmas Fantasy Parade and more during the holidays at Disneyland Resort in California.
Matt Petit/Disneyland Resort

Twice a day (3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.), everyone’s favorite characters dress for the season and ride floats from “it’s a small world” to Main Street, U.S.A.

The parade is one of the longest-running parades at the Disneyland Resort, featuring over 100 performers.

The highlight for my daughter 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 Dance and Curtsy at the Candlelight Ball.

The parade ends with everyone’s favorite jolly gift-bearer, Santa Claus. 

For best viewing, be sure to arrive early.

9. Holiday Gifts

Go holiday shopping for gifts at Disneyland Resort.
Joshua Sudock/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. Thousands of Christmas ornaments, holiday-themed Mickey and Minnie Mouse ears and some other options that can only be purchased during the holiday season stock the shelves (though they do seem to have some ornaments year-round).

More than 150 new holiday items are available this year including“ugly sweater”-themed apparel and headwear so that you can bundle up with Disney style.

10. The Hotels Are Decked Out, Too

Disney's Grand Californian Hotel during the holidays

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 600+ lb. Gingerbread house in the lobby.

This luxury hotel was created in 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.

As a guest of the hotel, you have access to Extra Magic Hour which means that you can enjoy one park per day (check the calendar to see which park is offering Extra Magic Hour on your dates) an hour earlier than other guests.

Plus, it’s nice to have a nearby place to rest in the late afternoon when kids get tired.

10. You Can Buy Discount Disneyland Tickets

While 1-Day Disneyland tickets are best bought through Disneyland Resort, those considering longer visits can save through authorized ticket sellers like aRes Travel. They’re offering several limited-time offers on 3, 4, and 5 Day tickets that save up to $90!

Save on Disneyland Tickets

What is your favorite thing about Disneyland Resort during the holidays


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2 thoughts on “10 Reasons to Visit Disneyland Resort During the Holidays (2018)

  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!!

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