If there is anything more magical than Disneyland it’s Disneyland during the Holidays! The park is transformed into a holiday wonderland with whimsical decorations, yummy holiday treats and holiday music that fills the air! Mickey and friends get festive too with new costumes to celebrate this wonderful season. This is my absolute favorite time of year to visit the parks. Disneyland offers so many fun experiences during the holidays so I’ve put together my TOP 10 FAVORITE DISNEYLAND HOLIDAY EXPERIENCES to share with you.
1. Winter Enchantment – Sleeping Beauty’s Castle all lit up at night is a sight not to be missed!! Two times nightly during Wintertime Enchantment the castle lights up as holiday music fills the air and snow falls by the castle! Everytime I see the glistening lights and snow capped peaks I am in complete awe. I could stand and stare at it for hours. Anywhere that you can see the front of the castle will be a good viewing spot for Winter Enchantment. Even if you don’t get a chance to see Winter Enchantment don’t miss the castle all lit up!!
2. A Christmas Fantasy Parade – Really get into the holiday spirit by watching the Christmas parade. This parade is filled with characters spreading tons of holiday cheer. The decorations, the costumes, the music! It’s all so festive! Everything about the parade is pure holiday spirit. To ensure a good viewing spot for the parade you will want to arrive at least 30-45 minutes ahead of time. In my opinion any place along the parade route is a good spot. We often choose to sit on Main Street or near “it’s a small world”. There are typically two parades each day but as always check the times beforehand.
3. “it’s a small world” Holiday Lighting – This is magnificent. Watch as the facade of “it’s a small world” comes to life complete with projections and lighting all synchronized to festive music. This will truly bring you holiday cheer! There are several lightings nightly so be sure to check the times so you don’t miss out. For this experience you will need to arrive 5-10 minutes beforehand to get a great view. Of course, don’t forget to ride “it’s a small world” as it’s completely transformed with a holiday layover making it even more whimsical and fun. “it’s a small world” now offers fastpass so be sure to grab one as the line can get quite long during this time of year.
4. “Believe…In Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular – Ahhhhh the fireworks… The fireworks are my absolute favorite! An absolute must! The fireworks are choreographed perfectly with the music and projections. It even snows!! You can view the projections as well as see the snow on Main Street, near it’s a small world, near Rivers of America and of course Sleeping Beauty’s Castle! There is something truly magical about the fireworks. The holiday fireworks and snow are one of the most special memories I have from Disney with my family. Watching my kids’ faces light up as they watch the fireworks and the look of pure wonder as they reach their little hands out to touch the snow is a memory that I will have forever. And yes, I shed happy tears every time. My family’s favorite spot to watch the fireworks is the end of Main Street closest to the castle. We arrive to find a spot here about 45 minutes before they start. Anywhere you choose on Main Street you will have a great view. This just happens to be our favorite spot. The viewing areas near “it’s a small world” and near Rivers of America tend to be less crowded however you will not see the castle but will be able to enjoy the fireworks, projections and snow. The fireworks happen nightly but sometimes get canceled due to winds. I suggest seeing them early in your stay so you have multiple opportunities to see them in case there is windy weather.
5. Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party – This is one of my NEW favorites! Join Donald as he leads this holiday performance. There are folkloric dancers dancing along to live mariachi and samba music. This will be sure to have you dancing along too! Mickey and Minnie even make an appearance! There are 6 shows daily so plenty of opportunities to catch one. This fun street party is located in Disney California Adventure near Paradise Gardens. Sitting in front of Bayside Brews or Jumpin’ Jellyfish will give you a prime viewing location. I would arrive 20 minutes before to snag a good spot. I will admit that this year was our first time seeing this show. But we fell in love with it instantly! Adaley danced and clapped the entire time and Kaleb was so excited when one of the performers came by and let him play his conga drum. This will be a must see for our family from now on.
6. The Toy Drummers – These guys are such a treat. They march and rat-a-tat-tat their way through this holiday performance. The show is filled with talented drumming, precise formations mixed in with tons of fun! They have several shows daily and can be found right across from The Little Mermaid attraction in Disney California Adventure. You can arrive 5-10 minutes before show time and get a great spot.
7. The Tree Lighting – The lighting of the the tree on Main Street in Disneyland and the tree on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure happen around 5pm daily. Watch as the trees come to life with dazzling lights. This is something you can arrive at 5-10 minutes beforehand.
8. Princess Elena’s Musical Grand Arrival – This is a favorite among children. You will see Elena arrive on her float along with her dancing court. She will tell a story and sing songs from her home. This happens right in front of Paradise Gardens several times a day. Arriving 20 minutes before will give you enough time to get a good seat.
9. Santa Claus – You can see Santa at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure. In Disneyland Santa is located in Critter Country at “Pooh’s Thotful Spot”. In Disney California Adventure he can be found at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Here you can even sign Santa’s nice list! Be sure to check the times so that you can plan accordingly as Santa’s line can get long. Our last year’s Santa picture has a smiling Kaleb and screaming Adaley. You know one of the classic Santa photos with the terrified crying child. I hoped to get a picture of just the kids and Santa this year but as soon as I sat Adaley down she started to cry. As you can see in the picture she tried to put on a brave face once the whole family joined in. There’s always next year. HA!
10. Mickey and Friends in their Holiday Costumes – As always it’s fun to meet the characters but during the holidays they get out their festive wardrobe! Be sure to visit and wish them Happy Holidays!
As always be sure to check the helpful Disneyland App or the Entertainment Guide for daily showtimes. Pro Tip: You can check times up to six weeks in advance.
When visiting Disneyland during the holidays I hope you feel as much magic as I do.
Happy Holidays to you and don’t forget to … Live the Magic!!