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  • Writer's pictureAnna Wildish

7 Reasons Disneyland is More Magical During the Holidays

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

So, there I was. Standing in the middle of the street, a giant Christmas tree to my right, and tons of garland and twinkling lights all around. Suddenly, snow starts falling and “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” starts playing.

No, I was not on the set of a Hallmark Christmas movie. I was on Main Street USA in Disneyland!

I just got back from an amazing trip to Anaheim and Disneyland during the holidays did not disappoint. All the gorgeous decorations, the special celebrations, the amazing parade, it was all so magical.

I think it might have been even more magical than any other time!

Are you dreaming of a magical Disneyland trip during the holidays? Here are 7 things that made my trip so magical, with tips to help you make the most out of your next trip to Disneyland.

You know, there is still time to put a magical Disney vacation under the tree…..

Haunted Mansion Holiday

Every year Disney transforms the Haunted Mansion into Haunted Mansion Holiday with a Nightmare Before Christmas overlay. It is AMAZING.

The exterior is decorated, the elevator scene is changed, the buggy loading area is transformed. Even Zero makes an appearance down the long hallway. It is all redone with so much detail, it’s incredible.

My favorite part is the real gingerbread house that is placed on the big table in the ballroom scene. It’s different every year, makes the entire room smell of gingerbread, and is HUGE. This year’s gingerbread house even had moving parts!

Pay close attention to the graveyard scene as well. It’s made over to be a Holiday party and life size versions of Jack and Sally are placed within.

Tip: Look for the Hidden Mickey’s in the ballroom scene.

“It’s a small world” Holiday Overlay

Disneyland during Christmas; Disneyland Holiday; Why Disneyland is so magical during the holidays.

Confession: we usually skip “it’s a small world” when we visit Disneyland. If you do as well, DO NOT skip it during the holidays.

The entire outside is lit up and the entire inside is transformed for the holidays, song and all. So many holiday details are added to the inside, you’ll have to ride it over and over just to catch them all.

My favorite part is the outside though. It’s gorgeous. And remember that snow I mentioned earlier? Yeah, it does that outside ‘it’s a small world” as well. So magical.

Tip: This is a great place to watch the fireworks and castle projection shows that happen at night. I think you can see them better here.

Festival of Holidays

Over at California Adventure Park there is the Festival of Holidays. It features food booths serving special holiday cuisine from different cultures, live entertainment also showcasing how different cultures celebrate the holidays, real-life toy drummers, and more.

Santa is even available for visiting at the Redwood Creek Challenge!

My favorite part may have been the special Holiday character cavalcade that marches through the park several times a day. Words don’t do it justice, so just watch the video I took of it.

How cute was that! Admit it, you got up and danced too. 😊

Tip: Purchase the Sip and Savor Pass and share it between your group. You’ll be able to try a lot of the amazing food at the booths and save some $$$ while doing it.

The Holiday Parade

I loved the holiday parade. Fun floats featuring your favorite Disney characters with some extra Christmas magic sprinkled in. Look for the girls that look like they are ice skating on the pavement and the adorable little snowmen. And listen carefully at the end. Santa has a special holiday message just for you!

Here is a little snippet:

Tip: Book a special dining package that includes reserved seating for the parade. That way you can maximize you time out in the park and head to the parade just before it starts knowing a front row seat is waiting just for you.

Cars Land Decked Out for the Season

My favorite land in any Disney Park really gets dressed up for the season, all using car parts! Who knew that hubcaps, tires, and oil cans made the perfect holiday decorations?

Really spend some time here and check out all the details. It’s incredible and so unique.

Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters also get special holiday songs for the season. So fun!

Tip: After grabbing a snack from the Cozy Cone Motel, peek into the window of the office and see if you can spot the Toy Story characters hidden inside!

Snow on Main Street

There is something so magical about snow falling softly around you while surrounded by incredible Christmas lights, decorations, and an icy castle.

Tip: Snow falls multiple times per day, and in multiple locations. It falls around an hour to 30 minutes before the firework show, and immediately following the fireworks. Stand in the middle of Main Street USA or in front of “it’s a small world” to catch the most flakes.

All of the Holiday Decorations

Holiday decorations are everywhere, even at the Disney hotels! Christmas trees, garland, twinkle lights, candy canes, nutcrackers, drummers, gingerbread men, it’s all there.

I highly recommend taking a break in the Grand Californian Resort and Spa lobby. There is an impressive Gingerbread house, a huge Christmas tree, and special holiday treats to enjoy by the roaring fire. It’s the perfect place to recharge.

Tip: Santa makes special appearances in the hotel lobbies throughout the day!

The special holiday celebrations take place now until January 9, 2022.

If you can’t make it this year, it’s not too early to book your trip for the next Holiday season! Disneyland Packages are available to book for all next year.

I am a travel agent with Magical Vacation Planner. I make it easier for you to plan an unforgettable vacation with your family. Click here to schedule a Magical Vacation Discovery Call to learn more and get your free, no-obligation quote.

Or head here to request access to my exclusive Disney Vacation Planning Vault, full of worksheets and resources you can use to plan your next Disney vacation.



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