Disneyland Resort celebrates the holidays in a festive style that is nothing short of magical. Guests experienced the winter wonderland in 2019, but as you know, all celebrations were canceled in 2020 due to the park’s closure. I will update this with 2021 information as soon as it is released!
Be sure to check the Disneyland Resort calendar to see what’s happening during your visit. Here is why you need to go during the holidays.
See also: How to Buy Discounted Disneyland Tickets
You can save on tickets, tours, and hotels through my affiliations. If you make purchases through the links in this post, I may be compensated.
1. Special Holiday Desserts
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 a sugar cookie churro but rest assured that old favorites are returning, too. Look out toe Micky snowman apple, eggnog latte cheesecake, hot chocolate beignets, gingerbread funnel cake fries, and holiday dinner pizza, to name a few treats off of a very long list.
Of course, don’t forget about the classic Gingerbread Shingles if you can find them.
Grab the recipe for Disneyland Resort’s gingerbread shingles.
2. Festive Decorations
The newly refurbished Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is decorated with 126,000 twinkling LED lights, icicles and snow.
The mood is even more elevated at Disneyland Resort during the holiday season with the thousands upon thousands of festive decorations.
The 60-foot tall Christmas tree on Main Street, U.S.A. alone boasts over 1500 Victorian-inspired ornaments. 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 126,000 twinkling LED lights, sparkling “icicles” and shimmering snow-capped turrets.
To say they go big is an understatement.
3. Favorite Rides Change Themes
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.
The children of “it’s a small world” Holiday celebrate their own holiday traditions throughout the ride where 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.
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 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 including some catchy holiday tunes sung by both characters.
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.
Mickey’s Happy Holidays is new this year and runs twice-daily with show moments at Paradise Gardens Park and Carthay Circle. Favorite Disney and Pixar characters join Micky to dance along to the beats of toy drummers. Of course, they’re all decked out in their holiday best.
The Suffragettes will perform holiday hits at Holiday Sunset Concerts in the evenings at the Palisades Stage.
Festival Foods Marketplace has eight marketplace locations offering holiday comfort dishes that span cultures and family traditions. Pick up a Disney Festival of Holidays Tasting Passport to taste them all.
Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party includes folklorico and samba dancers, live musicians, and much more.
6. A Christmas Fantasy Parade
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 40-minute parade is one of the longest-running parades at the Disneyland Resort, featuring over 100 performers.
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 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
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.
10. The Hotels Are Decked Out, Too
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 made from 600 lbs of powdered sugar, 250 lbs of fondant, and one pound of pixie dust!
This luxury hotel 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 them.
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 who always has discounted pricing on Park Hopper and 1-Park tickets. Save now.
What is your favorite thing about Disneyland Resort during the holidays
Top photo credit: Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort