How to Celebrate the Holidays at Disneyland Resort

Posted By Allison on Sep 19, 2017

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Seasons Greetings!

What could possibly make The Happiest Place on Earth even happier? How about Christmas at Disneyland?

Holiday Time at the Disneyland Resort has become an annual tradition for many families, filled with the merriment and magical memories of the season. Each year, the holidays sparkle even brighter with festive decor, extraordinary entertainment and delectable treats.

Here is a list of special activities that you can only enjoy during the holiday season at Disneyland.

it's a small world at Disneyland with Santa hat on clock face. Text: How to celebrate holidays at Disneyland.

A Christmas Fantasy Parade

A Christmas Fantasy Parade is a holiday treasure that presents Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and an array of Disney characters and princesses celebrating the holiday season.

This daytime parade includes appearances from some of your favorite characters like Olaf, Anna and Elsa. They bid you a warm winter welcome from their Frozen float. You can also see Woody and Buzz bringing in holiday cheer from atop of giant wooden building blocks.  You’ll even be able to see the one-and-only Santa Claus ride in on his sleigh straight from the North Pole.

This parade can be popular, so I would recommend finding a spot in advance. However, it’s one you and your family certainly won’t want to miss.

Believe… In Holiday Magic Fireworks

The dazzling, holiday fireworks spectacular “Believe… In Holiday Magic” is returning in 2017 and we couldn’t be more excited. Guests will be surrounded by a display of Christmas colors, timeless holiday music and thousands of twinkling lights. You will see a magical snowfall on Main Street, U.S.A. This show is sure to add some sparkle to your holiday season.

“it’s a small world” Holiday

This classic ride gets a merry 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 traditional holiday tunes as well as the classic “It’s a Small World After All.”

What to expect at Disneyland during the holidays |

Photo credit: Disneyland Resort

Haunted Mansion Holiday

The holiday version of this favorite ride is a spooky, but lighthearted Nightmare Before Christmas mashup of the Halloween and Christmas holidays. You’ll see “ginger-dread” houses, terrifying toys and be wished “Season’s Screamings” as you experience the classic ride, with a holiday twist.


What to expect at Disneyland during the holidays |

Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

World of Color – Season of Light

The holiday-themed show, “World of Color – Season of Light” combines favorite moments from Disney and Pixar films with a mesmerizing light and water show. Season of Light tells a story of friendship, love and light that incorporates classic films like Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast with newer favorites like Frozen and Toy Story. Classic songs such as “Let it Snow” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” combine with favorite movie moments, to create a spectacular show you can only find at Disneyland during the holidays.

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 also join the fun in the lively Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party. Watch for an exciting lineup of bands, comics and storytellers.

Festival of Holidays

Festival of Holidays returns to California Adventure this year and we can’t wait to make this new event a tradition. The Festival of Holidays includes dances, crafts and music inspired by cultural traditions from various countries in an exciting celebration. Different kiosks showcase a variety of foods from around the world, so you can experience the holidays like never before.


Disneyland holiday001

Cars Land and A Bug’s Land

Residents of Radiator Springs 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 others – will feature holiday decorations reflecting the personalities of the Cars character who lives there.

In A Bug’s Land nearby, Flik and his buddies decorate with giant Christmas lights and holiday ornaments, adding to the festive spirit throughout Disney’s California Adventure.

Downtown Disney

Take a break from the park to do enjoy some holiday shopping, quality dining and entertainment in Downtown Disney.  Downtown Disney is certainly special during this time of year, with festively trimmed trees, twinkling lights and jubilant shop windows.

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, so try to plan around those dates if possible.
  • 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 when the park opens, 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. Single Rider lines will often cut your wait to 15 minutes or less, when riding fast is more important than riding together. 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.

What to expect at Disneyland during the holidays |

Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

Planning a Disneyland trip?

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Hi there! I am the founder of Tips for Family Trips. I am a married mom of two children, ages 10 and 12, living near Salt Lake City, Utah. We took our first child on a two-week road trip when she was four weeks old and we have been traveling as a family ever since. We love to get out of the house to see and do fun things, both far away and in our own neighborhood.


  1. Really beautiful images, I wanna visit there. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I’ve been looking into some different holiday parks, and I think that being able to get some tips would be good. I’m glad you mentioned being able to arrive early in the day. I think that being able to get some good holiday park tips would be helpful for me, and help me to be able to make the most of our trip!

    Post a Reply

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