For those looking for something special to do over the holidays, Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure offer unique experiences and activities not available any other time of the year. The holiday season at Disneyland Park generally lasts from mid-November until just after the New Year. In addition to many small treats like special food items and holiday-themed merchandise throughout the park, the parks abound with the special parades, decorations and rides.
Disney Holiday Theme Rides
The most dramatic ride makeover is undoubtedly the “Haunted Mansion Holiday,” which completely redesigns the traditional mansion in the theme of Tim Burton’s “A Nightmare Before Christmas” movie. Also in Disneyland Park, “It’s a Small World Holiday” adds beautiful holiday set pieces, costuming and music to the standard ride. In California Adventure, giant ornaments are added to the rides in the “A Bug’s Land” children’s ride area to show Christmas from a bug’s point of view.
A Christmas Fantasy and Disney’s Electrical Parades
In California Adventure, Disney brings back for the holidays a reduced version of the classic electrical parade. The moniker may no longer include “Main Street” but the parade still has many of the best features including Pete’s Dragon, twirling snails and turtles, Mickey and friends and dancing princesses all adorned in sparking lights. And of course the spectator is treated the famous “Baroque Hoedown” electrical parade music.
The Christmas Fantasy Parade in Disneyland Park is also a special treat. All of the favorite characters make an appearance, from the full complement of princes and princesses to the classic Disney characters. Some of the less known friends like Clarabelle cow show up to delight more dedicated Disney fans. But what makes the parade truly special is the unique holiday characters – marching soldiers that play real horns through their round little mouths, dancing gingerbread men, snowmen and reindeer, and of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Disney Christmas Decorations and Santa
Each of the two Disney Parks feature an opportunity for children to visit with Santa – California-style by the pier in California Adventure and at the Big Thunder Ranch in Disneyland. Each park features a breathtaking tree with tens of thousands of lights and decorations, perfect for family pictures. In Disneyland Park, Sleeping Beauty’s castle is a masterpiece, decked out in lights and snow. In the daylight, every nook and cranny features holly and tinsel, and once night falls, the entire park becomes a wonderland of lights.
Believe in Holiday Magic Fireworks
The one truly can’t-miss part of the visit is definitely the once-a-night special holiday fireworks show. If possible, it’s best to get a spot close to the front of the castle, as some special features are visible only from there, but spaces fill up sometimes hours before the start of the show. The show itself is well-done, but it’s really the finale that makes it unique. Foam “snow” falls from the sky (well, from light posts throughout the park), the music slows and a warm hush falls over the thousands of spectators. Children reach out to catch falling snow and hair and coats are convincingly speckled. The effect is truly magical.
For locals or travelers alike, a visit to Disneyland Resort during the holidays is sure to create wonderful memories (and photographs) that will last for years to come.
Note: This writer of this article/review received no compensation or park admission from Disney or any related company. Passes to the park and food for trips related to the writing of this article were purchased by the writer.