Christmas at Disneyland: An Experience Like No Other

While Walt Disney World tends to cast a large shadow over its older sibling in California, when it comes to celebrating the holidays, Disneyland is second to none. With the resort’s unique mix of nostalgia, intellectual property and creativity, Christmas at Disneyland is a truly magical time.

Christmas at Disneyland officially runs from November 8 to January 6 this year. Here is a rundown of what visitors can expect this year. as always, I will be updating this post as new events and celebrations are released, so be sure to check back soon.

Christmas at Disneyland

Image Credit Disney

Christmas at Disneyland Park

Holiday Photo Spots:

Looking for that perfect family holiday photo? With such a festive environment, there are a number of great spots to snap a family pic, but the best spot is in front of Disneyland’s iconic 60-foot Christmas tree on Main Street USA. The tree features 1,500 Victorian-inspired ornaments and 100 over-sized faux candles. A close runner-up is in front of the recently refurbished Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, which features 126,000 twinkling LED lights, sparkling faux icicles and shimmering snow-capped castle turrets.

“Believe … in Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular:

Disneyland goes all-out with their special holiday edition of their nighttime fireworks display. The show is capped off with a magical snowfall finale that is not to be missed.

A Christmas Fantasy Parade:

Mickey, Minnie, the Disney Princesses and Santa Claus celebrate the season in this fun and festive parade, a daily procession with floats, music and marching toy soldiers. Guests may wave to Anna, Elsa and Olaf, who bid them a warm winter welcome from their magical “Frozen” float.

Disney Holiday Dance Party:

Bring the kids over to Tomorrowland Terrace to burn off a bit of energy at this fun and festive Disney Dance party. A live DJ spins your favorite holiday tunes to sing along and dance to. Special guest Disney characters are known to pop into the party from time to time, so you never know who you might bump into on the dance floor.

It’s a Small World Christmas Overlay:

If you haven’t seen what Disney does to It’s a Small World at Christmas time, you are truly missing an experience. 50,000 colorful Christmas Lights are strung throughout the attraction along with music, projections and nostalgic dolls and toys. Each country depicted in the attraction is decorated with its unique native holiday traditions.

The Haunted Mansion “The Nightmare Before Christmas” Overlay:

Similar to It’s a Small World, The Haunted Mansion gets an amazing holiday overlay. The old house is transformed into a cross between a Halloween and Christmas celebration as Jack Skellington and friends take over.

Christmas at Disneyland

Image Credit Disney

Christmas at Disney California Adventure Park

Mickey’s Happy Happenings:

Guests will dance and sing along with Mickey Mouse and friends during the all new “Mickey’s Happy Holidays”Mickey is joined by favorite Disney and Pixar characters as they dance along to high-energy music, led by the merry rhythms of the Holiday Toy Drummers. Mickey, Minnie, Chip n’ Dale, Goofy and Clarabelle all don new Festival of Holidays attire, specifically for the “Mickey’s Happy Holidays” celebration. The Country Bears and the Pixar characters also sport fun seasonal overlays for the show. “Mickey’s Happy Holidays” will run twice daily, with show moments at Paradise Gardens Park and Carthay Circle.

World of Color – Season of Light:

World of Color, arguably Disney’s BEST nighttime show, gets an amazing holiday overlay this year. Holiday music and themeing is interwoven into the show for a cool mashup of holiday tradition and Disney films.

World of Color – Season of Light Soundtrack:

    • “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole
    • “Let It Snow” by Dean Martin
    • “Baby It’s Cold Outside” by Michael Bublé and Idina Menzel
    • “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Amy Grant
    • “Mele Kalikimaka” by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters
    • “Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano
    • “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies” by Pentatonix
    • “Wizards in Winter” by Transiberian Orchestra
    • “Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley
    • “Let There Be Peace on Earth” by Heather Headley

World of Color – Season of Light Themes (source):

    • Snow: The Frost Fairies from “Fantasia” create a shimmering winter wonderland.
    • Love and Romance: Favorite Disney fairytale couples show the meaning of true love as their romance brings warmth to the holiday season.
    • Family and Home: The holiday season is filled with family memories to last a lifetime. From Andy’s family in “Toy Story” to a “Mele Kalikimaka” with Stitch and his ‘Ohana’ and a “Feliz Navidad” from the Three Caballeros, this story demonstrates that these precious family moments are cherished for years to come.
    • The Nutcracker: The dancing hippos, ostriches, elephants and alligators from Disney’s “Fantasia” add a comical moment to this performance as they dance to the holiday classic of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” ballet.
    • Lights: All is merry and bright as Goofy prepares his holiday light display — until his over-the-top spectacle short circuits, leading to a “Blue Christmas” with Sadness from Disney and Pixar’s “Inside Out.”
    • Peace on Earth: In the enchanting finale, the lagoon is illuminated with the light of hope, leaving guests filled with the spirit of peace, joy and goodwill that will last throughout the holiday season.

Disney Festival of Holidays:

Similar to its Florida counterpart, Disney Festival of the Holidays features a healthy mix of holiday entertainment, food and activities. Guests can enjoy festive food offerings from the Festival Foods Marketplace while the kiddos can participate in a number of special craft stations.

Holiday Sunset Concerts:

Enjoy holiday tunes with a twist with musical guests The Suffragettes (Sun/Mon/Tues) and Phat Cat Swinger (Wed-Sat).

Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party:

The Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party, hosted by the iconic Three Caballeros, features folklórico and samba dancers, live musicians, and Mickey and Minnie in their fiesta best.

Cars Land Christmas Overlay:

Cars Land gets an immersive holiday makeover, creating a themed overlay for the land itself as well as its rides. Guests can enjoy Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl (Rollickin’ Roadsters) and Mater’s Jingle Jamboree (Junkyard Jamboree) for the season.

Santa’s Holiday Visit:

Guests enjoy special holiday-themed activities with Santa and his sleigh full of mischievous elves at Santa’s Holiday Visit at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.

So that’s all we know for now. I hope you all get a chance to visit Disneyland this holiday season. It is an experience you will truly cherish.

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About the Author

Craig Smith
I am founder and editor of DisneyNews.us. My passion for all things Disney goes pretty far back but was deepened by two semi-recent developments: 1) The birth of my son (who is now 7 years old and can't get enough Disney); and 2) Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm/Star Wars (did I mention I was a super Star Wars geek?) I recently came to the realization that I spent a significant portion of my day reading articles about Disney and watching it with my son, so it only made sense that I would start sharing some of what I read and see and building a little community around it. Other interests include Disney, Sports, 80's Nostalgia, LEGO, Star Wars and Tech Gadgets. Other sites include DMR and VideoGamesStats.com.