The time we’ve been waiting for is finally upon us: the holidays at the Disneyland Resort. The second those glittering icicles top Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, Disneyland transforms into a place of even more magic than usual (plus the cooler weather and new sweet treats everywhere you look don’t hurt either).
If you were considering visiting the Disneyland Resort this Holiday season, here’s a quick roundup of all the things you can look forward to:
Main Street, USA
The Holidays transform Main Street into a winter wonderland, complete with festive garlands above every door, Christmas carols piped through the loudspeakers, and, of course, the colossal Christmas tree at the end of Main Street. This update also comes with a parade - A Christmas Fantasy Parade - which we found skippable, unless you’re really into not-quite-cute, more-like-nightmarish snowmen and one (bad) Christmas song repeated over and over and over (and hey, Small World is one of our favorite rides, so we have a high tolerance for repetitive songs).
"it's a small world" Holiday
Every time Small World gets its’ holiday overlay, we find ourselves asking why the ride doesn’t look as nice year-round. The additions to the ride are over the top, changing what is usually a pretty hokey ride (we love you, small world) into a truly magical one. Plus, the nighttime lighting is particularly loud and unsubtle, in true Disney fashion.
Haunted Mansion Holiday
If you didn’t make it for Halloween, have no fear - Jack Skellington and the rest of the citizens Halloweentown stick around through Christmas, so enjoy the Tim Burton-ed Mansion while you can. We recommend either getting to the ride first thing in the morning or investing in a Fast Pass, because that line gets long FAST.
This year for the first time, both Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree (now Mater’s Jingle Jamboree) and Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters (now Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl) have gotten Christmas overlays, including new songs and decorations. While you’re there, be sure to check out the holiday decorations all over Cars Land, especially the various Christmas trees of Radiator Springs residents and the themed Radiator Springs entryway billboard.
Buena Vista Street
DCA’s main thoroughfare gets the holiday treatment with the Christmas tree next to the famous ‘Storytellers’ statue of Walt and Mickey, decorations in the shop windows, and general holiday magic. Mickey and friends can be found down Buena Vista sporting new Christmas outfits, and even the various street performers get into the holiday spirit.
Festival of Holidays
Paradise Pier is now home to the Festival of Holidays, a street fair celebrating food, music and dance throughout the world. Sample treats from or inspired by faraway countries, watch some dancing or a live performance as you munch, or head down to Paradise Garden Grill to say hello to Elena of Avalor.
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
Pick up a treasure hunt map and go explore the holiday version of the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. There are holiday decorations at every turn, a surprise stand with warm bourbon cider (oh heck yes), and even Santa makes an appearance!
Have we mentioned the holiday decorations on Sleeping Beauty’s Castle? Because they’re amazing. Nothing says the holidays like seeing lit garlands, glittering icicles, and white snow covering the castle turrets. Pose for a picture in front if you can - if not, try taking one from one of the smaller paths around the castle - it’s almost as good of a view, with nearly no crowd.
World of Color: Season of Light
For a limited time, Paradise Pier hosts World of Color: Season of Light. Honestly, we’ve never been able to sit through this show (we left halfway through the one time we tried it because we found it particularly grating) but if you’re into holiday cartoons, Christmas carols, and the general feel of the World of Color show, give this a try!
Be sure to set some time aside to view the holiday “Believe...In Holiday Magic” fireworks show on Main Street, complete with projections over Sleeping Beauty Castle (and Small World, if you don’t feel like fighting with the Main Street crowds for a castle view) and the magic of snow.
Don’t forget to look for Holiday magic everywhere you are: part of the beauty of Disneyland is in the more subtle details, and almost nowhere is left undecorated. Check out the decorations in every shop window, most rides and attractions, and always be prepared for some holiday cheer to pop out of nowhere!