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A trip to Disneyland is magical, but a trip to Disneyland during the holiday season is extra magical! I love visiting Disneyland at Christmastime, both parks are decorated for the holidays and you can hear Christmas music playing everywhere. It’s the best combination…Christmas and Disneyland.
I just returned from a trip to Disneyland with my sister and here is a peek at all the fun we experienced at Disneyland during the holidays. This year the holidays season at Disneyland runs from November 8 – January 6, 2020.
We stayed at one of my “go-to” hotels which is right across the street from the entrance of Disneyland, the Tropicana Inn & Suites. You can check out our thoughts on all of the hotels we’ve used near the Disneyland Resort. Our trip was booked through Get Away Today, they really have some of the best deals when it comes to Disneyland vacations.
The parks are all decked out for the holidays, you’ll find a big Christmas tree on main street, garland, lights and decor all over the parks. They really go all out!
The holiday decor in Cars Land is so much fun! They are so clever and creative with the holiday decorations, they make sure it’s festive and that it fits with the theme of Cars Land. I swear, everywhere you look in Disneyland and California Adventure there are fun touches of holiday magic.
Even the characters are dressed in their holiday best! There are lots of opportunities to take photos with your favorite characters dressed up in their holidays attire. To find out when and where the characters will be, consult the Disneyland app.
Some of the attractions get dressed up for the holidays too, here are two of the most of popular ones:
It’s a Small World Holiday – It’s a Small World get’s decked out for the holidays. Listen as the costumed chorus of children sing a medley of traditional holiday tunes and the classic “It’s a Small World (After All).”
Haunted Mansion Holiday – Pumpkin King Jack Skellington has decorated the Haunted Mansion with frightfully festive touches inspired by Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.
You can be there the moment they flip the switch and turn on all the holiday lights on the facade of It’s a Small World, it happens everyday at 5:15. The building is absolutely beautiful all decked out in twinkling lights. I highly recommend watching it all happen one of the days during your trip. There really isn’t a need to wait, you can just walk up a few minutes before it happens.
Another fun lighting event that happens is the Christmas tree lighting on Main Street, this happens at 4:55. There is a tree lighting that takes place over at California Adventure too. You can see the Buena Vista Street Holiday Tree Lighting at 4:55 every night.
You can’t miss the lighting at Sleeping Beauty Castle, it looks absolutely beautiful all decked out in icicles, wreaths and festive décor. You can gather to see the castle glow. Times may vary, so consult the day you are there, but the lightings usually happen at 7:30 and 8:30 every night.
You can watch A Christmas Fantasy Parade with Mickey and Minnie and lots of your other favorite characters. We were there are the beginning of December and had no problem finding a spot just minutes before the parade started. We caught the parade twice while we were there and we had a great viewing spot both times.
If you are visiting during a busier time during the holidays you will probably want to grab a spot up to 30 minutes before the parade starts. This is definitely a parade kids will love because they will get to see their favorite characters.
In addition to all the fun Disney characters at the end of the parade you get a visit from Santa Claus himself!
Of course one of my favorite things about visiting the Disneyland Resort is the yummy food and treats and during the holidays there are tons of fun new things to eat. Here is a sampling of some of the food we tried, we’re sharing our thoughts on what you should eat and what you should avoid too.
Before our trip I checked out the Holiday Foodie Guide for Disneyland, I knew I wanted to try this Mickey Gingerbread Cookie, not only is he cute but he’s delicious too! You can find the Mickey Gingerbread Cookie at several places including Jolly Holly Bakery and Market House in Disneyland and at Clarabelle’s, Fiddler Fifer & Practical Cafe (Starbucks) and the Cappuccino Cart in California Adventure. If you have this on your list make sure you grab him sooner rather than later, he’s a popular one and sold out by the middle of the day when we were there. Luckily we were able to grab him on our last day.
I seriously make a mental list of the treats I want to try when they have special events. This one wasn’t on my list, but when we stopped at Market House (Starbucks) in Disneyland and I saw this beauty sitting in the case I knew we had to give it a try. It was good, I would buy it again. It’s almost too pretty to eat. This Holiday Linzer Cookie is only available at the Market House in Disneyland.
Whenever we head to Disneyland stopping at Cafe Orleans is a must! Our family love the Monte Cristo Sandwich and Pomme Frites. We always share the Monte Cristo because it’s way too much for one person, which meant we had enough room for dessert so we tried the holiday special of Hot Chocolate Beignets. Yum! These were so good. We actually saved some of the raspberry jam from our Monte Cristo and dipped the Beignets in that too and it made it even better.
I also consulted the Holiday Foodie Guide For Disney California Adventure and made my list. A churro is a must on every Disney trip and this time we tried the Sugar Cookie Churro. It was good, but the frosting made it a little too sweet. I think it would have been much better if it was just drizzled on top. I wouldn’t buy this one again.
I was really looking forward to trying the Peppermint Soft Serve cone from the Cozy Cone Motel. Unfortunately, I was not impressed by this one at all (and so many other people have raved about it, I’m totally confused). I couldn’t eat it all, the peppermint ice cream just wasn’t that great. Skip this cone and go for the Chocolate-Peppermint Sundae at Clarabelle’s, it was divine! The peppermint ice cream is how Peppermint ice cream should taste, plus it has chocolate which takes it to the next level.
Once of the fun events that happens this time of year is the Festival of Holidays over at California Adventure. It is similar to the Food & Wine Festival where booths are set up and you can sample different food and drinks. There is an option to buy a Sip & Savor pass but I didn’t see huge savings in buying the pass so we skipped it. I of course consulted the Holiday Foodie Guide for Festival of Holidays and made our wish list.
Here is what we tried at the Festival of Holidays:
Chorizo Fundido – Served with House-made Tortilla Chips. This dip was so good! Definitely one of our faves. We could have used a little more tortilla chips though because we had some dip left over. We just stopped by the Boudin Bakery and got a couple of sourdough bread samples to finish off our dip.
Holiday Stuffing Mac & Cheese – This was really good too! I loved the little crunch from the stuffing crumbled on top of the mac & cheese.
Pork al Pastor Naan Taco – With Pineapple Pico de Gallo and Cilantro-Lime Crema. I absolutely loved this one! I was surprised how much I really loved the pineapple with the pork. Yummy!
There were several other items we would have loved to try, I think the offerings during the Festival of Holidays are great!
The Festival of Holidays also includes some great entertainment too. You can catch a street party hosted by the Three Caballeros, bands, groups and a dance company too.
You’ll also find holiday entertainment to end your evening at both Disney Parks for the holidays.
“Believe…in Holiday Magic” Fireworks show – Over at Disneyland you can enjoy the “Believe…in Holiday Magic” Fireworks show. It ends with it snowing on Main Street. It’s really is a magical feeling! My favorite place to view the fireworks is on Main Street, U.S.A. You’ll be able to see the fireworks and the projections on Sleeping Beauty Castle and the Main Street buildings. Another great option for fireworks viewing is at It’s a Small World, they also do projections on the facade of the building. I personally don’t recommend standing directly in front of the castle, it gets super crowded. At the end of the show it will begin to magically snow on Main Street. It’s so festive!
World of Color: Season of Light – This is a combination of cherished holiday music with memorable moments from treasured Disney animated films. You can get a FASTPASS to view the show (or use MAXPASS). You can also get a voucher for the show with a World of Color Dining Package.
I’m going to share my World of Color viewing tip with you…make a late as possible reservation at Lamplight Lounge and you should be able to stay and view the show from your table. We’ve done this three times now and it’s a very relaxing way to view the show. You may not always have the best view, but it’s nice to be able to sit and watch the show at the end of the day rather than watching it standing on your feet in a crowd. While there, make sure you order the Donuts with Raspberry & Chocolate dipping sauce. They are divine!
I highly recommend visiting the Disneyland Resort during the holidays! I prefer to visit earlier in the holiday season and not anytime near the week of Christmas. That’s a crazy time! If you are looking to plan a Disneyland vacation I recommend booking your trip through Get Away Today, you can purchase individual tickets or a package deal that includes tickets and a hotel. The Get Away Today vacation packages often beat the prices of booking your hotel and buying tickets separately. You can save an extra $10 off the low package price by using the discount code THRIVING10 at checkout.
We love Disneyland and have numerous posts and tips to help you make the post of your trip. If you have any questions, let me know, I am always happy to chat Disney.
- Hotel reviews of all the hotels we’ve used around Disneyland
- Complete Guide to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
- Ultimate Guide to Disneyland Snacks
- Complete Guide to Pixar Pier
- Make a custom lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop
- Tips for One Day at Disneyland
- Saving Money when Dining at Disneyland
- 10 of the Best Places to eat Lunch at Disneyland
- 10 of the Best Places to eat Breakfast at Disneyland
- Our visit to Club 33
- Mickey Tic Tac Toe in a Bag
- 7 Reasons I Prefer Disneyland over Disney World