The holiday season is upon us. One magical Christmas, our family decided to pack up and make the drive to California to see what Disneyland is all about during the holidays. It was the highlight of the
month year for all of us. Our daughter loved the characters in their winter outfits. My husband and I loved watching her eyes light up around every corner. The extra-special Christmas decorations were a nice touch as well.
Disneyland is already in the middle of their holiday season. Decorations went up November 9 and will remain until January 6, 2019.
Seasonal Things to See & Do
Celebrating Christmas at Disneyland was incredible. Here are a few of our family’s favorite things to do and see with a toddler:
- Christmas Decorations
- Sleeping Beauty’s Castle – a must see during the day and at night!
- Pooh & Piglet “snowmen” in Critter Country
- Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park
- Giant bear near Grizzly River Run at Disney California Adventure Park
- Characters in Seasonal Outfits
- All the regulars are decked out in special seasonal clothes!
- Visit Santa and his elves at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in Disney California Adventure Park.
- Ride makeovers
- It’s a Small World at night – longer lines at night, but worth the extra wait to see the lights
- Jingle Cruise
- Special Holiday Shows
- We got to the park early enough to score a limited wristband for a hand-pulled candy cane. Make sure you plan for this if you want one. They’re only made on certain days at each park and they only hand out a limited number of wristbands. If you don’t want to spend $13 on a giant candy cane, it’s still worth the (free) experience to check out the candy making room inside Candy Palace at Disneyland.
- After a quick search online, we have a pretty solid list of treats we’ll want to try on our next holiday visit: candy cane beignets, gingerbread popcorn, candy cane marshmallow stick, chocolate peppermint funnel cake, chocolate yule log, and so much more!
Disneyland Christmas Guide: Tips to Make Your Trip a Little Less Hectic
Disneyland WILL be busy. After all, what better place to visit during the holidays than “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Here are a few tips to help make your holiday Disney trip a little less hectic:
- Expect it to be busy. Embrace the crowds (not literally…). I’ve heard that November is much quieter than December; however, the park may reduce hours on slower days.
- Arrive early and go at your family’s pace. If you need a break, grab a snack or enjoy a show.
- Check the weather. In Arizona, we get used to our sunny skies and warm days. However, California in December will probably be a little cool and possibly rainy. Check the weather before you pack! Nobody wants to be cold and have soggy shoes on Christmas.
- Make time for California Adventure’s Festival of Holidays. This is a really fun experience. Keep in mind, it may cancel the parade.
- Eat during off-hours. This can save time in line waiting for food. You may also find shorter ride wait times during typical meal times. Our family’s main purpose of going to Disneyland is the experience (rides, characters, shows). We like to pack a lunch and then splurge on a few treats. Having a packed lunch makes it easy to eat while we wait in a long line. (Just be mindful of common airborne food allergies…skip the peanut butter!)
- Plan your days. If you’ve already seen the holiday parade, skip the next showing and go on a ride that would normally have a long wait time.
- Use the Disney Parks app. This can help you find characters and check on ride wait times. It can also help you find the bathroom for those last minute emergencies!
Planning Your Magical Vacation
Last year, our family went December 23-25. The 23rd was wonderful. We breezed through all of the rides our daughter was tall enough to go on without waiting in line for more than five or ten minutes. Christmas Eve was a little busier, but it rained, which slowed some people down. Christmas Day…it. was. crowded! We made sure to do our “must see” activities early in our trip and enjoyed Christmas Day as family time.
Disneyland during the holidays really is extra-magical. With a little planning, you and your family will have such a memorable time. Happy planning!