the holidays at disneyland

Spending Christmas time at Disneyland is an iconic tradition. The Christmas Day Parade that airs Christmas morning on ABC is only a hint at the magic at the happiest place on Earth. The way the snow settles on Sleeping Beauty’s castle is irreplaceable, and no one can compare to the cold Anaheim evenings with fireworks and music. This year, my family went to Disneyland for the holidays for the first time. We’ve been to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but now I understand why kids rush to Disneyland instead of their Christmas tree on Christmas morning.


The attraction for most famously getting into the spirit is the Haunted Mansion Holiday. What is otherwise a pretty spooky ride gets dressed up to the theme of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Man-eating wreaths, gingerbread scented air, and Jack Skellington greet haunts, ghouls, and guests. Likewise, ‘it’s a small world” Holiday celebrates winter traditions around the world with over 300,000 twinkling lights, and a show on the promenade every 15 minutes after dark. Lastly, the Jungle Cruise has started a new winter theme by setting sail on the Jingle Cruise. The jokes are equally corny, but now with yuletide spirit. I still love some of the slower storybook rides, and they’re gentle enough for Whistler to enjoy, too.


Food is always a tough topic at any theme park. Prices are usually high, and selections limited to burgers and fries. Disney has improved on their culinary offerings and the value you get with each order, so to no surprise, there are lots of affordable, winter exclusive treats. “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” is bringing Latino culture to Paradise Garden at Disney California Adventure with pozole (hearty stew), chicken mole drumettes, pescado (fish) Veracruzano, champurrado (Mexican-style hot chocolate), sweet tamales, torta al pastor (pork sandwich), buñuelos (deep-fried sweet treat) and choco flan as limited time additions to the menu. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, a ton of cupcakes and candies shower Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe in Disneyland, and Yule Log coffee butter cream cake is offered at the Plaza Inn in Disneyland, Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta in Disney California Adventure, and at PCH Grill at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. Also on the semi-secret dessert menu are Gingerbread Beignets shaped like Mickey Mouse from Cafe Orleans and the Mint Julep Bar at Disneyland. They’re so light, fluffy, taste like Christmas, and look like they’ve been snowed on. What could be better?


After a long day of rides (and eating, ha!), two nighttime spectaculars light up the evening. “World of Color – Winter Dreams” at Disney California Adventure has new additions of around the world celebrations, plus some epic cameos from the new movie Frozen and a Nutcracker featuring Toy Story favorites. Overhead Disneyland, “Believe…in Holiday Magic” fireworks take to the sky. Disney knows how to put on a firework show like no other, and this show is no exception. “Believe…in Holiday Magic” is the perfect nightcap to a day filled with holiday cheer.

Images copyright Disney.


  1. I hope to do the holiday at Disney one year, when the kids are older. I think it would be the one time they wouldn’t mind not being home to open presents under the tree!

  2. one day, i will get to disney at the holidays. its on my bucket list! we did get to see one tree outside hollywood studios last year all decorated. it was gorgeous!

  3. I never thought that spending Christmas at Disneyland could be so much fun. There is one Disneyland in Hong Kong so I might go there pretty soon. Love the Christmas spirit there! What a huge and lovely Christmas tree!

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