Christmas at Disneyland is a wonderment of music, decorations, special events, holiday food and fun. See below for insider info on special Christmas holiday events. Crowds are definitely a factor this time of year – read further for scoops on best/worst crowd dates and tips on how still have a fabulous visit on busiest days. Mostly, enjoy! Disneyland does Christmas like no other…
Navigating the Holidays Park by Park
Both parks offer unique Christmas experiences – so you can’t go wrong. Here’s some of the special events in each:
- Exceptional decorations throughout
- It’s a Small World Holiday Ride – iconic
- Haunted Mansion Holiday Ride – classic
- Christmas Fantasy Parade – retro floats, dancers and fun
- Believe…in Holiday Magic Fireworks – gorgeous
California Adventure Park
- Carsland decorations – adorable and amazingly creative
- Festive Foods Marketplace – kiosks of holiday treats
- Viva Navidad – special celebration with food/activities
- World of Color Season of Light – night time holiday spectacular
Holiday Rush Tips
(Week before and after Christmas, New Years Eve)
- BUY YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE. The parks will sell out and you avoid the ticket purchase lines.
- DOWNLOAD AND INSTALL THE DISNEYLAND APP. It is invaluable with critical park information you’ll need.
- If you want a sit-down dinner, MAKE DINNER RESERVATIONS ASAP. Use your Disneyland App or visit Disneyland website
- Consider purchasing the Disneyland Holiday Tour. It offers lots of perks – including VIP parade seating (see below).
- GET THERE AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE! Allow at least 60″ to get from the parking lot to the parks and another 15-30″ to get through the security checkpoint.
- If you like rides, GET A MAX PASS! Purchase it on your Disneyland App after you enter the park.
- GET YOUR “WORLD OF COLOR”/”FANTASMIC” FAST PASS FIRST THING WHEN YOU ENTER THE PARKS. You CANNOT get these with Max Pass and they go VERY quickly.
“Insider” Disneyland Christmas
There are several “insider” activities for Christmas at Disneyland that adults should know about. If you are interested, make your plans/reservations ahead.
Disneyland Candy Canes
These culinary holiday gems are exceptionally popular. They are hand-pulled delicious wonders that last up to a year in beautiful seasonal packaging. Candy canes are sold on special days at either Candy Palace or Trolly Treats at park opening. People line up 1-2 hours ahead to enter the park and get in the candy cane line. 120 candy canes are available per day – one per customer – and are sold out in less than an hour. Get in line, get a wristband, then queue to the front to get your 5 ounce $12.99 candy cane.
2018 Candy Cane Schedule:
The 2019 Candy Cane schedule should be published in late fall. We’ll post it here when it becomes available.
Candy Palace (Disneyland Park)
- November: 23, 26, 28, 30
- December: 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24
Trolley Treats (California Adventure Park)
- November: 24, 27, 29
- December: 1, 4, 6, 8, 11, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 25
TIP: Avoid days with “Early Magic Hour”. It adds another hour onto the wait…
Disneyland Holiday Tour
Disneyland offers a 2.5 hour walking holiday tour in Disneyland Park. The tour group gets audio enhanced holiday focused information and special privileges as they walk the park with a Disneyland tour guide. The cost is $85 per person (annual pass holders get a discount) and does not include park entrance (buy your park ticket separately). Reviews have been mixed, but this tour offers some distinct advantages:
- VIP entrance to “It’s A Small World” and “Haunted Mansion” holiday rides
- Reserved seating for the “Christmas Fantasy Parade”
- A collectible pin
- Holiday treat samples
If you know the day of your visit will be crazy crowded and you are a ride/parade goer – this option is definitely worth checking out. CLICK HERE for details.
Grand Californian Hotel and Spa
For adults, the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa is a sanctuary of holiday amazement, shops, eateries and gardens. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, put this one on your list of “must dos” for the holidays. Sit down in an overstuffed lounge chair in the main lobby and take in the sights:
- One of the most stunning Christmas trees in Disneyland parks
- A huge handmade gingerbread house with ornate intricate decorations
- Holiday drinks, snacks and meals in restaurants/lounge
- Napa Rose restaurant – rated one of the best in all of Orange County CA
TIP: Remember, you don’t need a Disneyland park ticket to enjoy this fabulous landmark! You can park in Downtown Disney for free if you get your Downtown Disney parking ticket validated. Validate ticket at hotel restaurant/lounge, or purchase $20+ at hotel gift shop.
Other Insider Tips
Here’s some other things to put on your holiday Disneyland list:
- Downtown Disney: Ice Skating Rink (pass holders get discounts)
- Disneyland Park: Holiday beignets at the Mint Julip Bar (New Orleans Square)
- Both Parks: Nightly Tree Lighting Ceremony (@ 5 PM)
When to Visit
Holidays are incredibly popular. Expect crowds no matter when you go. The Christmas Season 2018 starts November 9, 2018. CLICK HERE for Disneyland’s 2018 Christmas season details. Some recommendations:
- Try the week before Thanksgiving for lowest projected crowds.
- Consider New Year’s Day. Crowds were light on January 1, 2018.
- Weekdays are less crowded than weekends – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday are best.
- The weeks before/after Christmas are insanely crowded. Be prepared.
Whenever you go, get there as early as possible and be sure to have dinner reservations if you want a sit down restaurant. Most of all, have a wonderful time!