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How to Join in the Holiday Fun at Disneyland

Calling all Disney aficionados. The holidays have officially arrived and Disneyland and California Adventure are throwing one spectacular celebration filled with Mickey and friends, festive parades, and an explosion of seasonal treats to put you right in the Christmas spirit. Here’s what's happening at Disneyland and California Adventure until January 7, 2018, plus insider tips on surviving the holiday crowds.

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Don’t miss these holiday attractions at Disneyland and California Adventure!

Christmas lights at Disneyland

  • “It’s a Small World” Holiday
  • Haunted Mansion Holiday
  • Christmas Fantasy Parade
  • “Believe…in Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular
  • Festive Treats and Goodies
  • World of Color – Season of Light
  • Meet Santa
  • Holidays at Cars Land

Christmas at Disneyland

It’s a Small World turns into a Christmas dream with over 250,000 lights placed around the entire attraction with projection video. Luckily this can be enjoyed from the outside, therefore waiting in line is unnecessary.

Across the park in New Orleans Square you have the spookier side of Christmas at Haunted Mansion. Jack (aka Sandy Claws) invites you to experience the Nightmare Before Christmas filled with ghost carolers and a custom cake in the ballroom. (Did you know Disney makes a custom cake every year for the Haunted Mansion feast in the ballroom?) Due to popularity, you will want a Fastpass or risk a long wait in line. You can enjoy the attraction first thing in the morning, but be sure to swing back around at night to see the mansion all lit up.

christmas fantasy parade at Disneyland

Give yourself plenty of time to find a front row seat for the Christmas Fantasy Parade. The best viewing spots are along Main Street USA, It’s a Small World, and the Matterhorn. It is a winter wonderland party not to be missed with special appearances from Santa himself!

“Believe…in Holiday Magic” Firework Spectacular is the pyro effects show at the end of the night. Everyone knows Disneyland puts on one heck of a fireworks show and this one is no exception. Christmas music blasts through the square with fireworks going off to the beat from behind Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Unless you plan to use your last hour in the park shopping, best to watch the fireworks from Main Street for a quick escape out.

From Mickey shaped macarons to their famous candy canes, indulging in holiday treats is part of the fun. Try one or try them all. If you are after their limited candy canes, you will need to arrive at the park an hour early to get in line. With limited wristbands available, getting the Magic Hour is well worth it. You can find these specialty candy canes at Candy Palace (Disneyland) or Trolley Treats (California Adventure).

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California Adventure

Carls Land is going all out this year! Spin, twist, and twirl to holiday tunes on Mater’s Jingle Jamboree and Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl ride. Be sure to walk through the rest of Radiator Springs to take in all the Christmas decorations.

Cars Land in California Adventure Disneyland

Meet Santa at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Don’t forget your Christmas list and photo for some one-on-one time with ol’ Saint Nick.

Although there are no christmas decorations spilling onto the new Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout, it is the latest and greatest attraction happening between both parks! You absolutely cannot miss it. This super charged free fall attraction is sure to get your heart racing.

World of Color Season of Lights is the relatively new water effects show. Sing along with all your favorite Disney characters to Christmas classics while the water moves to the rhythm in vidid colors. You too will need a Fastpass for this show.

A Few Tips on Surviving the Holiday Crowds

Disneyland caste during christmas time

-Save time by booking your park tickets in advance online.

-Take advantage of rainy days for the park is typically less busy.

-Opt-in for single rider if available.

-Don’t eat lunch and/or dinner between 12-2pm and 6-8pm unless you have a reservation. The more open you are with dining times the better chance you have at getting a table.

-Fill your downtown up with pin trading.

-Get your main attractions out of the way as soon as the park opens. Most people will get their fast pass as soon as possible, then go wander around. But not you! You are racing to the next ride setting yourself up for a stress free day.

Fly to California to visit Disneyland

-Starting your day in California Adventure? Quickly grab your Fastpass for World of Color, then rush to ride Guardians of the Galaxy. As soon as you are free to get another Fastpass, grab one for Cars (or Guardians again) then wait it out in line for the other. Don’t bother getting a Fastpass for California Screamin as wait times are usually around 30 minutes.

-Starting your day in Disneyland? Grab your FastPass for Haunted Mansion then run to ride Indiana Jones and Space Mountain. As soon as you can, get another FastPass for Big Thunder Mountain and wait it out in line for Peter Pan. This will get you riding all the top attractions before lunch time. By then you can reserve your spot just in time for the Christmas Fantasy Parade.

-Save money and book your flight and hotel on Skyscanner today to get the best deals out there.

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About the Author

Allison Judkins// Seeking Neverland

Allison is the energetic travel blogger behind Seeking Neverland. With no plans to slow down her life of adventure, she spends most days getting lost in foreign places, collecting photographs, and sharing all her findings with you. Check out her blog for city guides and travel tips..