It goes without saying that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth. During the December holiday season, the entire resort is transformed into a winter wonderland, full of magical experiences and seasonal treats that will entertain even the Grinch-iest member of your party! And be sure to check out our entire Holiday Guide here!
There’s nothing quite like walking through the entrance gate, under the Disneyland Railroad tunnel, and then emerging to find Main Street decked out in its finest holiday splendor, with a giant Christmas tree on one end, and a snowy Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle at the other. There are seasonal touches everywhere you look, but the highlights here are:
- Visiting Santa at Pooh’s thotful spot (editor’s note: Pooh is a terrible speller)
- Watching A Christmas Fantasy Parade and “it’s a small world” holiday illumination show
- Sipping a peppermint hot chocolate from the Market House while it snows on Main Street during the “Believe…In Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular
- BONUS: Die-hard Disney fans in the know line up outside the Candy Palace at park opening for a wristband that entitles them to purchase one of these giant hand-pulled candy canes!
Disney California Adventure
You may think Disneyland has the market cornered on magical holiday experiences, but Disney California Adventure is a preferred favorite for many Disney afficionados, especially if you celebrate anything other than Christmas. During the Festival of Holidays here you can:
- Explore Santa’s Holiday Visit at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, where a crew of merry elves (aka Disney Cast Members) transform the outdoor playground into an even more fun version of itself. Little ones can go play reindeer games while you hold a spot in line to meet Santa, making this an ideal location to meet the Big Man himself
- Sample global holiday cuisine from 12 different food kiosks in the Festive Foods Marketplace
- Join in the Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party which incorporates musical styles from all over Central and South America
- Visit Cars Land and see all the clever vehicle-themed holiday decorations, including a photo opp with Santa Mater!
- BONUS: Annual Passholders have exclusive access to the AP Corner at Sonoma Terrace where they can take special holiday photos, receive a free holiday button, and more.
Downtown Disney District and Disneyland Resort Hotels
If you don’t have an Annual Pass or can’t afford the cost of a one day park ticket, despair not! You don’t need a park ticket to enter the Downtown Disney District, which is the site of the Downtown Disney Winter Village. There you’ll find tons of holiday decorations including a 30 foot Christmas tree, the cleverly-named Olaf’s Frozen Ice Rink, and live entertainment such as carolers, Nutcracker ballet performances, and more! Not to mention a great range of restaurants and shops which offer parking validation. Aside of the cost for parking and ice skating if you choose to do so, visiting Downtown Disney is entirely free of charge.
From Downtown Disney, you can also walk to any of the three Disneyland Resort hotel lobbies to see their beautiful holiday decorations. Don’t miss the impressive gingerbread house inside the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa – all 500 pounds of it! Plus, if you time your visit right, you can even watch Disneyland’s “Believe…In Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular for free from Downtown Disney.
For complete info on all the wintertime fun during the December holiday season at the Disneyland Resort, check out their website here.