The Magic of Christmas at Disneyland

The word Disney is synonymous with entertainment even more so during the holidays.  Our favorite time to visit the Disney parks is during the holiday season when they are decked out in festive splendour.  They don’t leave anything untouched.  We spent my daughter’s 10th birthday at Disneyland last Sunday and got a wonderful dose of holiday cheer that will last us the whole season.  I wanted to share some of that holiday goodness here and show how they transformed the happiest place on earth to the merriest one during Christmas at Disneyland.

Disneyland Holiday Wreaths

Despite the cloudy skies and impending rain, it was still pretty crowded.  As soon as we walked in and saw the train depot all decorated and Mickey’s smiling face at the entrance, we felt the holiday spirit rush and gloomy weather didn’t matter.

Disneyland sign

The 60-ft Christmas Tree at the town square and the start of Main Street has been a staple here for many years. The huge and colorful ornaments and the presents underneath make it a popular photo spot.

Disneyland Christmas Tree

I have always loved standing on Main Street and seeing the garlands and Mickey wreaths strewn across the street with balls of poinsettias hanging on lampposts.  It is amazing to see how much attention to detail is put in decorating the park.

Disneyland Main Street Holiday

Plenty of red poinsettias surrounded the Walt Disney and Mickey statue.

Walt Disney Partners statue

Despite seeing Sleeping Beauty Castle many times over the years, its transformation as a winter castle during the holidays has always left me in awe. Its towers and turrets are covered with snow and icicles hanging from it.  It makes a perfect backdrop for many of the celebrations around the park.

Disneyland Sleeping Beauty Castle Holiday

Disneyland also completely changes a couple of the rides for the holidays.  One of my favorite rides at Disneyland has always been It’s A Small World.  For those unfamiliar, it is a boat ride through the many lands with the dolls in their native costumes singing along. It’s travel inspiration – Disney style.

Disneyland Small World holiday

Its facade is adorned with some merriment including the main face with a Santa hat.   The ride is completely transformed with a holiday theme and decorated with 300,000 lights.

Disneyland Small World Holiday

The It’s A Small World song is still playing through the duration of the ride but it is mixed with Jingle Bells sung in different languages. Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas signs in different languages were also displayed in the various lands.  Feliz Navidad from Mexico

Disneyland Small World Mexico Holiday
Mele Kalikimaka from the Hawaiian Islands.

Disneyland Small World Hawaii Holiday
Buon Natale from Italia.

Disneyland Small World Holiday Italy
Then, there was winter wonderland which included a giant snowman and numerous dolls representing many of the countries singing their hearts out.  This was the first time we’ve been here since they incorporated Disney characters in the rides.  It was fun trying to look for the characters throughout the ride.

Disneyland Small World Snowman
The other ride that is transformed during the holidays is the Haunted Mansion where it is taken over by characters from the movie, the Nightmare Before Christmas.  The mansion is adorned with Halloween and Christmas decor.  I’ve never been a fan of the Nightmare franchise and we’ve never seen the movies so I didn’t get a lot of the references.

Disneyland Haunted Mansion Holiday
Toon Town was decorated with whimsical garlands and trees. This is a common place for many families especially those traveling with babies and toddlers.
Disneyland Holiday Toontown

The highlight for many visitors though is the Christmas Fantasy Parade which occurs twice a day. It starts from Small World and travels to Main Street USA and reverses in direction and gets everyone into the holiday spirit.  Many people stake out seats along the route an hour or so before the parade starts to get front row access to the floats.  It gives everyone a chance to see many of the characters.

Disneyland Christmas Fantasy Parade
Mickey and Minnie in their finest holiday outfit enjoy their own ice skating rink float.

Disneyland Holiday Parade Mickey Minnie
Some of the classic characters and floats return every year that always bring smiles like dancing holiday gingerbread cookies.

Disneyland Holiday Parade Gingerbread
Adorable snow creatures bouncing along to the music.

Disneyland Holiday Parade snowman
The characters dressed in their holiday attire were enough to get so many toddlers excited.  I loved hearing screams of joy and recognition as each float passed them by.  I remember those sweet days.  My 7 and 10 year old have given up calling out to the characters and frantically waving to them.

Disneyland Holiday Parade Princess
Of course, the grand marshal of the parade is Santa Claus preceded by the dancing, upright reindeer.

Disneyland Holiday Parade Reindeer

I love watching all the kids’ faces light up as Santa waved to the crowd and shouting out holiday greetings in many languages.

Disney Holiday Parade Santa Claus
Of course, we can’t visit Disneyland without some photo ops with some of their favorite characters.

Disneyland Holiday Pluto Minnie Mouse
As dusk settled, the lights transformed Disneyland into an even more magical place.  I actually love seeing the decorations and attractions more when they’re lit up at night.

Disneyland Sleeping Beauty Castle holiday night
All the Disneyland merriment and decorations are enough to make even the Grinch or Scrooge smile a bit.  Disneyland is a wondrous place for all kids and the young at heart.  But, the holiday atmosphere, sights and scents make for quite an amazing experience and a special time to visit.

Disneyland Main Street Night

In addition to the parade, these are the holiday events around the park:

  • Jingle Jangle Jamboree.  Kids can meet Santa and Mrs. Claus with holiday crafts, live music and games at Frontierland.
  • Believe… In Holiday Magic” fireworks spectacular over Sleeping Beautify’s castle.  It ends with falling snow on Main Street.  Truly magical! Unfortunately, it was a school night for the kids and work for us the following day so we didn’t stay long enough for the fireworks and snowfall afterwards. But, we will be back next week to experience its wonders at night.
  • Candlelight Ceremony and Processional.  This event occurs 20 nights during the holidays when part of Main Street is closed off and a candlelight procession begins and a celebrity narrator, several choirs of 600 singers and the Disneyland orchestra tell the first Christmas story with holiday music.  The stage is set up behind the train station on the town square.  Seating is limited to annual passholders based on a sweepstakes or guests booking dining packages.  This was the stage set up during our visit.Disneyland Holiday Town Square

Spending Christmas at Disneyland Tips/Basics:

  • Expect crowds to increase as it gets closer to the holidays.  Best times to visit may be Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.
  • Grab Fast Passes to your favorite rides early to get your preferred times.
  • Stake out places for the parade and fireworks display early.
  • Ride the train, cars, omnibus, carriages along Main Street to save walking with the little ones or for the experience.
  •  Download Disney park apps on your smartphone for wait times and events (Disneyland Wait Times, Disney Mobile Magic)
  • Check the park hours and attraction closures by visiting the Disneyland website.
  • Holiday Decorations and events will continue at Disneyland until Jan. 6, 2013.

*Have you visited the Disney parks or other theme parks during the holidays?  Worth it or not?

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