Holiday time at the Disneyland Resort has become an annual tradition for many guests, filled with the merriment and magical memories of the season. This year, the sparkling excitement of Diamond Celebration décor and entertainment adds to the holiday excitement throughout the resort. Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland and Carthay Circle Theatre in Disney California Adventure bring extra glitter to the season with diamond highlights on their facades.
We had the chance to visit Disneyland and check out this year’s holiday festivities in person. Here is a list of holiday activities you can enjoy.
Holidays at Disneyland
“A Christmas Fantasy” parade
This Disneyland holiday treasure, presents Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and an array of Disney characters celebrating the holiday season. The daytime parade features 100-plus performers including Santa Claus, who brings jolly holiday wishes from the North Pole. After dark, the Diamond Celebration Paint the Night parade will bring its own brand of glittering magic to Disneyland, with dazzling special effects, unforgettable music, energetic performances and spectacular floats. The luminescent parade creates a river of color flowing down Main Street, U.S.A., with an array of Disney characters and more than 1.5 million brilliant LED lights.
The dazzling, new fireworks spectacular “Disneyland Forever” is a street-to-sky, immersive experience like nothing seen before at the Disneyland Resort, with pyrotechnics, original music and viewing locations throughout Disneyland Park. Guests will be surrounded by the worlds of timeless Disney tales, from the tips of their toes to the sky high above, thanks to the largest installation of projection mapping technology in a Disney park and surprising special effects. The best place to see this is anywhere with a full view of the castle after Paint the Night.
“it’s a small world” Holiday
This classic ride gets a holiday makeover in celebration of the season, with more than 300,000 twinkling lights on the attraction’s façade. Inside, animated dolls representing children of many nations are dressed in holiday attire, singing holiday songs as well as the classic “It’s a Small World After All.”
Haunted Mansion Holiday
The holiday version of this favorite ride is a spooky but lighthearted mashup of the Halloween and Christmas holidays as imagined by Jack Skellington from the Walt Disney Pictures animated classic Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Continuing an annual tradition, a new gingerbread house is created each year for the Mansion, adding a humorous touch to the ballroom scene. This year, the gingerbread house design features gingerbread men constructing a teetering “house of cards.”
New in 2014, this popular holiday addition returns to take adventurous guests on a fun-filled expedition. They discover a cargo of holiday gifts and decorations that have been jettisoned over the jungles of the celebrated Jungle Cruise attraction in Adventureland.
Holidays at California Adventure
World of Color
For the first time, two splendid versions of the “World of Color” spectacular will be presented most nights during the Holiday season, on Paradise Bay. The nighttime water show with animation, film, music, fountains and special effects is fully programmable, allowing guests to enjoy different experiences.
The holiday-themed show, “World of Color − Winter Dreams,” features Olaf the snowman along with classic winter scenes from beloved Disney and Disney●Pixar films such as “Bambi,” “Toy Story” and “Frozen,” the blockbuster Disney film.
For the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, “World of Color – Celebrate” pays a fun, colorful, surprise-filled tribute to Walt Disney, whose fertile imagination led to the creation of Disneyland and so many beloved characters. Guests may check the park schedule for show times.
Disney ¡Viva Navidad!
Disney ¡Viva Navidad! is a daily celebration of Latino culture and holiday traditions with music, dancing, vibrant colors and delicious food. Disney characters join the fun in the lively Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party.
Olaf’s Snow Fest
Olaf’s Snow Fest celebrates its return to Hollywood Land with Olaf, the comical snowman from “Frozen.” Stage 17 is transformed into a charming castle courtyard inspired by the “Frozen” kingdom of Arendelle. Kids of all ages have fun in a giant wintry play area with real snow where they are encouraged to build snow creations and zip down a snow slide. Guests who wish to observe the icy fun will have a nearby viewing area. Music and storytelling entertainment will be presented throughout the day.
The residents of Radiator Springs will welcome guests with a “snowcar” at the entrance of Cars Land. Each address along the roadway into the land – Flo’s V8 Café, Fillmore’s Taste-In, Cozy Cone Motel and more – will feature holiday decorations reflecting the personalities of the “Cars” character who lives there.
A Bug’s Land
Flik and his buddies decorate “a bug’s land” with giant Christmas lights and holiday ornaments, adding to the festive spirit.
In the Downtown Disney District, guests may take a break from their holiday shopping and dining to go skating on “Olaf’s Frozen Ice Rink.” The Downtown Disney Winter Village around the ice rink will offer shoppers holiday gift items sold from the windows of the charming village houses.
Tips for success
Planning a holiday trip to Disneyland? Now that you know what’s happening, here are a few tips to help you make the most of it.
- Visit early in the season – The holiday season at Disneyland begins in mid-November. The earlier you can go, the less crowded it should be. Expect school holidays to be especially crowded.
- Arrive early in the day – Lines for the holiday versions of Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise and it’s a small world will be longer than usual. If you get in line before 10:00 a.m., wait times are much shorter. We like to arrive at rope drop, enjoy short lines all morning, and then see the parade in the afternoon.
- Download the Disneyland Mobile App – The official Disneyland Mobile App will show you wait times for every ride in the park, as well as dining, bathrooms and more on the map. We’ve used it on two trips and have found it to be fairly accurate.
- Use FastPASS, Single Rider, Child Swap – FastPASS assigns you a return time in a shorter line. When riding fast is more important than riding together, Single Rider lines will often cut your wait to 15 minutes or less. For families with young children, child swap allows one parent to ride while the other waits with the baby, and then lets the other parent go without having to wait in line again. Older kids get to ride twice in a row!
- Prioritize. The nice thing about a crowded season is that Disneyland has a lot going on to keep everyone happy. You can choose between rides, parades, shows, character greetings, dining and more. It’s difficult to do it all, so pick your favorite activities in advance and plan your day around them.
Disclosure: We received complimentary admission, lodging and travel assistance from Disneyland for the purpose of review. As always, all opinions are our own.
Planning a Disneyland trip?
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