Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- Disneyland Christmas Dates
- Disneyland Christmas Decorations
- Disneyland Christmas Castle
- Disneyland Christmas Parade
- Festival of Holidays
- !Viva Navidad!
- Disney Merriest Nites
- Disneyland Holiday Ride Overlays
- Disney California Adventure Park Holiday Ride Overlays
- Pictures with Santa Claus
- Snow at Disneyland!
- Downtown Disney and Disneyland Resort Hotels
- Disneyland Christmas Tips
Disneyland Christmas is an even more magical time of year at the Anaheim, California theme park! From the moment you enter the Disney parks, you’re immersed in the Disneyland Christmas magic. Here is everything you need to know about Disneyland Christmas.
The entire Disneyland resort is decorated top to bottom, including the Downtown Disney District, the three resort hotels and both theme parks. There are Christmas trees, swags of evergreen garland and over-sized ornaments everywhere. It will be easy for you to find a fantastic spot to take your family Christmas card photo with all these beautiful seasonally decorated areas during Disneyland Christmas.
The Disneyland Resort celebrates not only Christmas, but Chanukah, Kwanza, New Year’s Eve and Three Kings Day with the kind of holiday magic only Disney can provide!
Disneyland Christmas Dates
This year the merry making and fun holiday festivities will run from November 12, 2021 through January 9, 2022.
These two months are filled with Christmas decorations, celebrations, parades, festive ride overlays and delicious seasonal treats. Enjoy a distinctly Disney holiday experience with beloved traditions that include the breathtaking Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle, “A Christmas Fantasy” Parade, and snow falling on Main Street, U.S.A. At Disney California Adventure Park, the holiday season comes to life with Disney Festival of Holidays, “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” Street Party and the holiday décor on Route 66 in Cars Land.
Disneyland Christmas Decorations
From the moment you pass through the gates and approach Main Street U.S.A., you’ll be immersed in holiday magic. The first thing you’ll see is Disneyland’s magnificent, 60-foot tall Christmas tree, decorated with nearly 1,800 ornaments. The building facades along the street are decked out in poinsettias and holiday wreaths and garland. It is truly a beautiful sight!
TravelingMom Tip: A family photo in front of the tree on Main Street U.S.A. is a holiday must, so plan to do this early in the day before kids get cranky and mom’s hair gets wind-whipped on Space Mountain. Even if there is a line, this classic shot is worth the wait!
Inside the entrance to Disney California Adventure, you’ll find a dazzling, 50-foot Christmas tree in Carthay Circle town square. The tree and surrounding buildings are decorated with vintage-style ornaments in keeping with the theme of Buena Vista Street, inspired by Los Angeles as it appeared in the 1920s when Walt Disney arrived. There is also a Menorah and Chanukah decorations typically on display in the window of Julius Katz & Sons on Buena Vista Street. (At Disneyland, you can also spot a Menorah in a window on Main Street U.S.A.)
Carefully themed throughout many of the different areas of the parks are the amazing holiday decorations. The holiday decor in Cars Land is so unique and fun! The yuletide spirit shifts into high gear, beginning with a snow-covered billboard at the land’s entrance and stretching all the way to the hubcap-studded tree decorating the front of the courthouse, and the white-wall tire garlands that drape over Route 66 in between, Cars Land is positively charming for the holidays!
Disneyland Christmas Castle
Sleeping Beauty Castle is transformed at Christmastime! At the entrance to Fantasyland inside Disneyland, the holiday magic shines brightly each evening when Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle begins to sparkle with light and music fills the air, illuminating the night in an enchanted wintertime spectacle.
The fireworks spectacular “Believe… in Holiday Magic” should not be missed! Set to festive holiday music, the 15-minute fireworks show ends with a magical snowfall finale.
TravelingMom Tip: Watching from in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle on Main Street U.S.A. is always magical. However you’ll still be able to experience the show (and snow!) with slightly smaller crowds if you watch from the area in front of “it’s a small world” or along the Rivers of America.
Disneyland Christmas Parade
A holiday favorite returns for the 2021 holiday season! “A Christmas Fantasy” Parade is the classic Christmas parade featuring Mickey, Minnie, Anna and Elsa, and of course Santa Claus. There are even dancing gingerbread cookies and toy soldiers. The parade typically runs twice a day – at 3:30 and 6:00 – but be sure to the check the Disneyland app or your Entertainment Guide.
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TravelingMom Tip: The parade travels in both directions – from “it’s a small world” in the back of the park to Main Street U.S.A. in the front for the early show, and then vice versa for the later show. I like to catch the earlier parade and sit by “it’s a small world.” Not only is it usually less crowded, but the parade passes through this area first, meaning you’ll be done watching and back on the rides long before all the people lining Main Street!
Festival of Holidays
The Festival of Holidays celebrates holidays from around the world at Disney California Adventure. Much like the popular International Food & Wine Festival at Epcot in Walt Disney World, this seasonal event features festive foods and beverages from across the globe. There is also live entertainment and craft stations for kids. You’ll find multiple cultures and holidays represented – including Christmas, Chanukah, Navidad, Diwali and Kwanzaa.
The Festival of Holidays made its debut at Disney California Adventure Park in 2016 and continues to grow in popularity. We’ve attended a few times in the past and always have fun wandering from booth to booth and sharing bites! One of our favorites was the warm peppermint chocolate float. Other holiday foods available at the Festival of Holidays include tamales, Swedish meatballs, eggnog and gingerbread.
The food is served in small, shareable portions. You can purchase items a la carte or purchase a Sip and Savor Pass, which allows you to choose eight dishes, desserts or non-alcoholic drinks from any of the festival kiosks.
Lines get longer as the day goes on, especially at night when people are more apt to want to try the beers and alcoholic drinks available during Disney Festival of Holidays. If you want to sample lots of different foods and maximize your time, I recommend visiting earlier in the day, perhaps even planning on calling this lunch.
TravelingMom Tip: There are live performances daily at several venues throughout the Festival of Holidays. Be sure to download the Disneyland app and check for show time and locations when planning your visit!
The celebration continues with “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” as Disney characters host a fun street party featuring Mexican folklórico dancers and Mariachis, Brazilian samba dancers and percussionists, giant mojiganga puppets and Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in their fiesta best.
In the Paradise Gardens area of the park, you can enjoy festively themed food and beverages plus live music and performers starting November 12, and later in the Holiday season, the debut of newly-featured Mirabel from the Walt Disney Animation Studios upcoming film “Encanto.”
The Three Caballeros (Donald Duck, Panchito and José Carioca) host !Viva Navidad! This festive celebration includes mariachi and samba music, folklorico dancers and Mickey and Minnie in full Latin-American garb. Be sure to check out the 12-foot-tall Santa and Mrs. Claus mojiganga puppets; they are awesome!
If you are visiting in early January after the New Year, there will also be a Three Kings Day celebration. Disney California Adventure Park will be celebrating with displays, kids’ crafts and traditional sweets for sale.
Disney Merriest Nites
For the first time ever, Mickey Mouse, Goofy and their friends are hosting Disney Merriest Nites, an after-hours holiday party at Disneyland Park. This is a separate-ticket event, much like the Oogie Boogie Bash – A Disney Halloween Party, which takes place at Disney California Adventure during Halloween Time at Disneyland.
For family fun with limited capacity, the all-new Disney Merriest Nites holiday party will be offered as a separate-ticket special event at on five select nights, November 11, 16, 30 and December 7 and 9.
At Disney Merriest Nites, Mickey Mouse has invited his friends to help host six themed parties within one giant celebration throughout Disneyland park. Families and guests of all ages who are attending this event can enjoy enhanced holiday décor, seasonal entertainment and specialty food and beverage offerings themed to each party during the event. The event also includes ‘A Christmas Fantasy’ Parade viewing, unique character sightings and themed photo opportunities.
Disneyland Holiday Ride Overlays
While the entire park gets into the holiday spirit, two rides at Disneyland receive magical holiday overlays.
Haunted Mansion Holiday
First up is the Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square, which actually undergoes its holiday transformation in September to be a part of Halloween celebrations. Jack Skellington and his friends from The Nightmare Before Christmas take over this classic ride, causing Halloween and Christmas to collide!
“it’s a small world” Holiday
The second attraction to receive a seasonal overlay during Disneyland Christmas is “it’s a small world.” Reimagined and called “it’s a small world” Holiday, the ride replaces its standard catchy tune with “Jingle Bells.” Don’t worry; they’re equally guaranteed to get stuck in your head for the rest of the day!
Inside the boat ride attraction, the animated children are enjoying the distinctive holiday traditions of their cultures. Every setting is adorned with traditional lights and decorations. Outside, more than 50,000 colorful lights, music and video projections add to the holiday magic. The clock that chimes every quarter of an hour wears a giant Santa hat.
Disney California Adventure Park Holiday Ride Overlays
Like Disneyland, Disney California Adventure decks the halls big time during the holiday season! This is especially true in Cars Land.
Cars Land is the one land totally transformed for the Christmas season. Two attractions receive special ride overlays. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree becomes Mater’s Jingle Jamboree and Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters turns into Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl.
The decorations in Cars Land are as clever as they are cute! You’ll find a Christmas tree made with hub caps and white-wall tire garland that drapes overhead across Route 66. The whimsical “Snowcar” greets guests at the entrance to Radiator Springs, and each character also gets a holiday makeover. The shops and restaurants in town are decorated, as well!
Pictures with Santa Claus
No Disneyland Christmas celebration is complete without the chance to meet the big man himself! This year, Santa and his elves can be found at two locations at the Disneyland Resort.
At Disney California Adventure, he’ll be at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. This rustic, woodsy setting is perfect for family photos! At the Disneyland park, Santa can be found in Critter Country.
Snow at Disneyland!
Guests celebrating a Disneyland Christmas in California need not forgo the snowflakes, as “snow” does fall in several locations through the parks! These are the spots to seek out during Christmas at Disneyland if you’re looking for snowfall.
Take an evening or nighttime walk through Grizzly Peak in Disney California Adventure Park to see this magical snowfall. The lights change color, special music plays and snow falls several time each night.
After the Believe. . . in Holiday Magic fireworks show, guests can dance under the snowfall near “it’s a small world – Holiday”, on Main Street U.S.A. as well as along the Rivers of America.
Downtown Disney and Disneyland Resort Hotels
The holiday magic extends beyond the parks! Be sure to visit the Downtown Disney District where the decorations are amazing, and stores offer festive shopping, dining and live entertainment.
The three hotels at the Disneyland Resort – Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotel – are all beautifully decorated.
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel has a giant gingerbread house on display in the lobby. There is also a towering Christmas tree and hot cocoa and treats for sale. This, combined with a roaring fireplace, comfy seating and easy access via a direct entrance from Disney California Adventure Park, makes this hotel the perfect place to stay when you visit Disneyland.
Disneyland Christmas Tips
While the holidays at the Disneyland Resort are spectacular, big crowds are often a major downside. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your time during the holiday season.
1. Make Your Reservations Early
In addition to purchasing Disneyland tickets, you’ll need to make reservations to enter the parks. Be sure to choose your dates as early as possible to ensure you get your chosen dates.
2. Arrive Early to the Parks
The best advice you can get to beat the rush at Disneyland Christmas is to arrive early. The crowds are lightest at opening time. Arrive 15-30 minutes before the parks open to take advantage of lighter crowds.
3. Download an App to Check Wait Times
Download the Disneyland app so you’ll be able to check wait times in real time. The app will give you an overview of posted and predicted wait times for all the rides at both Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure. Otherwise, you have to do it old school — checking the Tip Board on Main Street or just showing up only to find long wait times.
4. Splurge on Some Holiday Treats
Disneyland is known for its delicious and beautiful treats year-round, but during the holidays there are some extra special offerings.
You can save time at many restaurants by using mobile food ordering on the Disneyland app. This feature allows you to view a restaurant’s menu and pricing, place your order, pay, and pick up your meal or snack without ever having to wait in line.
5. Make Dining Reservations Early
If you are planning to dine at a sit-down restaurant – especially on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve – make a reservation as soon as you can! Reservations will fill up early on these holiday dates and really throughout the whole busy season. You don’t want to miss out on a special dining experience this time of year!
6. Don’t Forget to Stop and Shop
Disneyland unveils some amazing merchandise during the holidays! Even though your kids will resist (if they are anything like mine) leave time to poke through some stores. Whether you are buying souvenirs, Christmas gifts or a special commemorative ornament, the stores in the theme parks and at Downtown Disney are an attraction in themselves.