As soon as the clock strikes midnight on Halloween, Disneyland begins gearing up for the winter holiday season, transforming the park and resort with its own special brand of magic that’s made it such a beloved place to visit over the years.
And this year is no different at the Merriest Place on Earth.
The holiday season at Disneyland officially kicked off November 11 with festive foods, sparkling holiday decor, new musical performances, Christmas parades and even fireworks featuring magical snowfall. And those are just a few of the ways the season is being brought to life through January 8.
Whether you’re exploring Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland, or Downtown Disney there are surprises around every turn.
“If you’ve been to Disneyland, you know how special it is to walk through Main Street—you hear bells chiming, you see the garland, you see this beautiful 60-foot Christmas tree, and you can’t but help but feel in the spirit,” Disneyland cast member Ariel Harris said on the opening day of the resort’s holiday season.
There’s so much new and exciting at Disneyland Resort, if you’re planning a visit over the holidays, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to see and do it all. Here are just a few of the highlights and holiday happenings you won’t want to miss.
Disney California Adventure Park
Disney Festival of Holidays: Foodies will want to spend some time visiting the nine food kiosks that are part of the Festival of Holidays in Disney California Adventure Park. The food and drink kiosks, each of which has its own theme, are spread around the park and offer everything from non-alcoholic beverages to sweet treats and savory bites.
The best way to experience it all is to purchase a “Sip and Savor” pass, which allows for sampling each of the diverse holiday food traditions featured as part of this special food event for one price.
“My personal favorite is the Winter Sliderland food booth, where we have two brand new sliders for our guests to try,” said William Shandling, entertainment manager for Disneyland Adventure Park. “The first is a brisket slider celebrating Hanukah and the second is a holiday ham slider celebrating Christmas. Both of these are new and I think this year, they’re going to be guest favorites.”
And while you’re busy hopping from kiosk to kiosk sampling treats, don’t miss the many new live musical performances that add to the cheerful holiday atmosphere at the park, including Tina and The Sounds of Celebration, whose performances feature an upbeat mix of salsa, merengue and rock Latino.
Additional musical performances throughout Disney California Adventure Park include Mariachi Divas, Mostly Kosher, Blue13 Dance Company, Phat Cat Swinger and The Mistletoes.
“This is a multicultural celebration of food and entertainment featuring items from Christmas, Hanukkah, Navidad, Kwanzaa, Diwali, and Three Kings Day,” added Harris. “We have an incredible, overwhelming amount of new items coming in this year.”
And what would the holidays be without over-the-top holiday decor? Disney hasn’t missed a beat here either. There’s towering and dazzling Christmas trees along Buena Vista Street and toy soldiers regularly parading around with their drums. And if you’re lucky, you may also spot one of the Cars characters driving by in holiday attire.
Not to be outdone, Disneyland Park is also featuring over-the-top magic, holiday sparkle and fun.
A Christmas Fantasy Parade: Easily the highlight at Disneyland, the iconic Christmas Fantasy Parade features Anna, Elsa and Olaf from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Frozen,” along with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and even Santa Claus. The crowds line the streets three and four rows deep for this wildly popular event, so be sure to find out what the parade schedule is and get your spot early.
The Haunted Mansion Holiday: Another uniquely Disney attraction you won’t want to miss is the Haunted Mansion Holiday—a perfectly spooky attraction to put on your list as night falls. Located in New Orleans Square, the mansion features a mash-up of Christmas and Halloween based on the popular 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas. The film’s feature character, Jack Skellington, along with many of the other popular characters, loom large in the Haunted Mansion display.
It’s a small world holiday: Another iconic part of Disneyland, the “It’s a small world” attraction is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and to do so has incorporated dolls and toys representing children from around the world, each enjoying the holiday traditions of their countries.
Holiday decor: Not to be outdone by Disney California Adventure Park in the holiday decorations department, Disneyland features its own 60-foot-tall Christmas tree at the park entrance. Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle meanwhile is adorned in simmering icicles and twinkling lights.
“Believe…in Holiday Magic” One last highlight you won’t want to miss during the holiday season is the Believe…in Holiday Magic fireworks, which is taking place on select nights at Disneyland. The show features magical snowfall and colorful projections on Main Street, making it the perfect way to end a fun-filled day at Disneyland resort.