Christmas is best time of the year to visit Disneyland. On November 8, 2019 Disneyland will begin the Christmas Celebration. Which runs until January 6, 2020. If you are fortunate enough to visit during the holidays, it is a Christmas you will never forget. Disney offers the full Christmas experience before Thanksgiving. The park looks beautiful, and the atmosphere is friendly. Disneyland is at its best. The pitfall is that Christmas at Disneyland is crowded. Crowds are almost impossible to avoid. That is why I am sharing with you my best tips, and suggestions help you avoid the crowds.
Visit Disneyland early in November. Or wait until after December 14. Many Disneyland annual pass holders passes are blacked out. This is the easiest way to avoid the larger crowds. Disneyland is crowded during Christmas so arrive when the park opens. Make the most of the first 2-3 hours Disneyland is open. Before the locals show up. I find you can ride many rides especially ones without FastPasses the first 2-3 hours after the park opens.
Parking can turn this trip into a nightmare, and you can miss rope drop. Many people try to park in Mickey and Friends. Sometimes cars block traffic to get into Mickey and Friends. Rather than get stuck in that traffic Park at the Toy Story lot and take the shuttle bus. If the park opens at 8 AM try to be in the parking structure or lot before 6:30 AM.
That gives you time to park and get through security. Please check isitpacked.com before planning your trip. Check the crowd calendar this will tell you when to avoid Disneyland.
Disneyland has two rides themed for Christmas. I hope the Jingle Cruise is back in 2019 but as of now the Disneyland website has no sign, it will be returning. The first themed ride is the Haunted Mansion Holiday. The second is It’s A Small World Holiday.
Haunted Mansion Holiday
I love the Haunted Mansion. However, I love the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay just as much. Jack Skellington and crew take over the Haunted Mansion. Which is right next to Critter Country.
California can get a little cold in winter so nobody wants to go on Splash Mountain. Not everyone wants to go on the Winnie the Pooh ride. Most days the line isn’t half as bad as the one at the Redwood Creek Trail. Pooh Corner is also an excellent place to pick up Holiday sweets because the line is shorter. People often overlook critter Country in winter which can save you time.
Disney is empty when they open ride Pirates of the Caribbean or the Haunted Mansion Holiday. The Haunted Mansion Holiday offers FastPass. You could also try to MaxPass instead. Some people wait for two hours!
Head on over to Critter Country to see Santa and visit Santa before it gets crowded. Or take Big Thunder Trail to Fantasyland and go left. Ride It’s A Small World Holiday which is now on the FastPass System.
It’s A Small World Holiday
Festive lighting, decorations, and music transform this ride. You will hear the traditional It’s A Small World song along with other Christmas Music. I love this ride more at night. With 50,000-plus lights, music and video projections. Projections and music make a quick and festive light show. This completes a Christmas Disneyland visit for me.
I also recommend visiting Toontown since it’s right next to It’s a Small World. They also decorate Toontown for Christmas and is adorable.
Main Street USA
Main Street has a 60-foot tall Christmas tree decorated with nearly 1,800 ornaments! This is the best spot for a Christmas picture and in my opinion to watch A Christmas Fantasy Parade. I always ask which parade time starts on Main Street. I then get a spot near the door and watch that parade.Taking pictures on Main Street? Arrive early. Because the picture line with the Castle in the background or with the Christmas tree get’s long.The earlier you arrive the better. Make rope drop if you can.
Hand-Pulled Candy Canes
People like to wait in line for the handmade candy canes. They sell the candy canes at Candy Palace and Trolley Treats. The Disney parks blog will post information about the candy canes. You must arrive early and get a wristband to get the candy canes.
2018 Candy Cane sale dates. 2019 Candy Cane dates are TBD.
Candy Palace: November 23, 26, 28, 30, and December 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24
Trolley Treats: November 24, 27, 29, and December 1, 4, 6, 8, 11, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 25
Festival Of Holidays
The Festival of Holidays at California Adventure is a do not miss. Twelve Festival Kiosks offer food and drinks from all over the world. The Festival of Holidays are an amazing way to discover new cultures and foods. The festival can get crowded so visit as soon as possible. Remember to save room. Disneyland has a lot of great christmas treats like cookies and candy apples you will eat a lot. The food is one of the best perks of being at Disney during Christmas. Also check the park schedule brochure when you enter. Because the Toy Soldier Drummers are a do not miss! They make their way through festival drumming up some Christmas cheer!
Christmas Fantasy Parade
Join Mickey, Minnie, Disney Princesses and Santa. A Christmas Fantasy Parade takes place daily. There are floats, music and marching tin soldiers. The Frozen float is popular. You will see many beloved Disney characters. A few things are worth waiting for like the Christmas Fantasy parade. I see people claiming a spot hours before. Waiting hours for a parade is a waste of time and your admission money. About 45 to 30 minutes before the parade you should find a good spot. Ask a cast member on Main Street if the parade is starting in Fantasyland or on Main Street. If you’re on Main Street and the parade is starting in Fantasyland, the parade will take about 20 minutes to get you.
Viva Navidad is something you do not want to miss. You should arrive about 20 minutes before the parade. This parade is delightful. It features folklórico and samba dancers. There is live music, and Mickey and Minnie in their fiesta costumes. They offer crafts near Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta. This is a great place to take your kids and let them relax enjoy a free activity.
World of Color Season of Light
This nighttime spectacular is a mashup of holiday music and scenes from Disney films. Season of Light is for children and adults of all ages. This wonderful show is brought to life with lasers, lights, and projections.
The World of Color Season of Light is fantastic. FastPasses will be available, but you cannot choose where your viewing area is. I recommend taking advantage of the World of Color dining package. You receive priority seating this is a standing room type of event.
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🎅🏻🏰 The Camera gets a little shaky a couple of times. I apologize for that. This usually happens at nightly at Disneyland if you ask a plaid they’ll tell you when to come back and stand by the castle. Snow will come down and the castle will light up with different colored lights. #disneyland #instadisney #disney #disneygram #disneylandchristmas #instadisney #disneygram #disneygrammers #disneyig #sleepingbeautycastle #christmascastle #christmas
Believe in Holiday Magic Fireworks and Snow On Main Street
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is gorgeous. It wish the castle looked like this forever. At night the castle is lit with overhead lights. A Cast Member told me there are 80,000 lights illuminating the castle. Disney also adds sparking icicles to the snow capped turrets.
The Believe in Holiday Magic Fireworks is fifteen minutes.And will help get the holiday season started. Holiday music and projections will dazzle you. Songs you will hear:
March of the Wooden Soldiers
I Have a Little Dreidel
All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
O Holy Night
We Three Kings
Joy to the World
Carol of the Bells
Russian Dance from the Nutcracker Suite
Arabian Dance from the Nutcracker Suite
The Christmas Song
The fireworks finish and snow falls while White Christmas plays. The front of the castle gets crowded, and you will be shoulder to shoulder. Snow falls at It’s a Small World. You can view the projections there too.
Fewer people watch the fireworks in Fantasyland. A light show occurs every 15 minutes at night. I would suggest if you will be at Disneyland more than one day to view the fireworks from both locations.
Santa’s Holiday Visit
Kids can visit Santa at the Redwood Creek Trail in California Adventure. The wait can be long, and I don’t feel the wait is worthwhile. However there are some fun Christmas activities and snacks at Redwood Creek Trail. I suggest you get there early and avoid the lines.
An alternative I suggest is to visit Santa in Critter Country if you’re at the Haunted Mansion Holiday. The line is much shorter in Critter Country.
Seeing Radiator Springs at night during Christmas will get you in the holiday mood. Two rides also transform. Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl and Mater’s Jingle Jamboree. Both rides feature Christmas music and are so much fun. The Snowcar that is one of the hottest picture spots. There are always a lot of delicious Christmas treats offered.
Goofy’s Holiday Dance Party
This takes place at night in Tomorrowland. Rare characters show up for this. So stop on by and dance. Be aware characters will not sign autographs at the dance party. Pick up a schedule when you enter the park for party times.
Disneyland decorates the entire resort for Christmas. Even the gift shops will have Christmas trees. The Grand Californian Hotel decor is gorgeous. Check out the Christmas tree. The Christmas tree Main Street has a long line. If you want to take your picture with a Christmas tree, I recommend the California Adventure tree. Which has vintage decorations, and the line is much shorter.
I’ve written on how to avoid standing in line at Disneyland. Read this it save you time and hassle.
Avoid the hub at Disneyland if you can at night the hub is worse. This time of year Disneyland is a major tourist destination so crowds are given. Plan and try to make the best of the situation if the crowds worry you. I hope this guide will make your visit more enjoyable.
To have the best experience possible it helps to know it will be very crowded most days. During shows and parades the crowds will be crazy.
My best advice to you is this read my other posts on Disneyland. Since I visit once or twice a week I have a lot of great advice to give to make the day less stressful.
I will link you to some posts below. Being prepared for crowds and having a great attitude about them helps a lot. Disneyland is more fun when it is not packed. The reality is though Christmas season is the busiest time of year.
If you let the crowds affect you, you will feel miserable. Plan ahead. Keep in mind that once you make it to your destination crowd or not what Disneyland offers is amazing.
Here are some helpful posts to help prepare for your visit to Disneyland.