It's that time of year — the tadpoles have started their wish lists for Santa Frog. Rather than the same old requests — endless Minefrog games — they've put VACATION TO DISNEYLAND on their wish list. We can't blame them. Falling right on the heels of Halloween Time, Disneyland Resort transforms from a fall festival to a winter wonderland, seemingly overnight (but really over a whirlwind 10 days). There are some new and exciting additions this year to look forward to (as well as some returning holiday favorites), so you might want to put Disneyland tickets on your holiday wish list.
The Frog Family loves hoppin’ around the many Christmas trees at the Merriest Place on Earth, and we know the best times to visit Disneyland and beat the crowds without missing any of the fun. Here are the Holidays at Disneyland 2017 dates: The holiday fun begins Nov. 10, 2017, and runs through Jan. 7, 2018.
Crowds During Holidays at Disneyland 2017
Most of November is incredibly quiet in the parks. Higher crowds are expected during the Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend on Nov. 11-13 and Thanksgiving week. The beginning of December is also quiet. Don your holiday spirit early with visits before Thanksgiving week or during the last three days of November through the first two weeks of December, and expect weekends to be busier than the weekdays. There's also the possibility that ABC's Christmas Parade will be filmed in early December or November. Stay tuned. The religious Candlelight Procession is expected to be held the evenings of Dec. 2 and 3, which puts parades and other events on a special schedule.
The weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year holidays are very busy times, with New Year's Eve being one of the busiest days of the entire year! Still, that doesn't mean you shouldn't go! Just make sure to adjust expectations for your time in the parks. Even if you need to visit during more crowded weeks, you are in for a merry good time. The advantages to visiting during busy times is that the parks are open for longer hours and there is more entertainment in terms of fireworks, parades, and shows.
What Can You Expect During Holidays at Disneyland 2017?
You’ll find holiday decorations all around the Disneyland Resort. Decorations start going up Nov. 1 and should be in place by Nov. 10. The characters are dressed in their holiday attire, holiday music will entertain you, and certain attractions will be more festive or even covered in snow! There are even special holiday treats available during the holidays. Holiday time also brings special holiday-themed items into the stores, making shopping merrier. Perhaps ‘tis the season to get some holiday shopping done! Plus there are exciting holiday additions over in California Adventure.
Holidays at Disneyland 2017 Rides
Be sure to take a trip on "it’s a small world," which gets a seasonal overlay, with special decorations and music to get everyone in the holiday spirit. The dolls add “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls” to their traditional song. Be sure to bask in the glow of the festively lit exterior at night. But here is a time-saving tip: Ride the ride during the day or during a parade, and then go back to take pictures at night. Once the exterior lights turn on, the wait grows much longer (from 5 to 40 minutes almost instantly the night we visited). And the inside is the same day or night.
Jack Skellington and his crew take over the Haunted Mansion all throughout the holiday season. The Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay takes about two and half weeks to deck the spooky halls of the Haunted Mansion, but the good news is that it was is already in place for HalloweenTime and brimming with scary Tim Burtonesque Christmas spirit. It will close for a few weeks after the holidays end because it takes another two and a half weeks to remove the overlay. Haunted Mansion Holiday attracts much scarier than usual wait times than the classic Haunted Mansion, so we recommend visiting this attraction in the first hour of opening or utilizing FastPasses to reduce the wait. Another fun tip: Jack and Sally are greeting guests in New Orleans all through the holiday season. We highly recommend meeting them. Jack is delightfully “horrible.”
The Jungle Cruise has transformed again into the Jingle Cruise. Hop on this cruise, which offers a cargo-full of holiday fun and hijinks. You can expect a lot of corny fruitcake jokes and holiday decorations. You can visit during the day or in the dark.
Meeting Santa During Holidays at Disneyland 2017
Santa Claus will be greeting guests at Disney California Adventure. The jolly old elf will set up shop at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail area, along with his mischievous elves. You’ll be able to take part in a series of holiday-themed activities along the trail. Be sure to sign your name on his “Nice” list.
Holidays at Disneyland 2017 Entertainment
Holidays at Disneyland Park
A Christmas Fantasy Parade makes its return in 2017, with Mickey, Minnie and a variety of Disney characters to celebrate the holidays alongside Santa Claus. Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle will be back and will feature magical snowfall moments three times a night (check with cast members each night) at 7:30, 8:30, and at the end of the new holiday Believe… in Holiday Magic fireworks.
Snow falls on parts of Main Street U.S.A., by “it’s a small world,” and in Frontierland on select nights. We recommend the Main Street U.S.A. location because there is a dramatic castle lighting. Snow does not fall right near the castle. so hang back near the Jolly Holiday Bakery and Plaza Inn. Pick a spot with a nice castle view.
Holidays at Disney California Adventure
California Adventure is the place to be this holiday season. There are many returning and new holiday celebrations in California Adventure this year.
Once you enter the park, you’ll want to jump on grabbing a FastPass to catch an all-new "World of Color — Season of Light," in the evening. The water show is bursting with colorful, lights, lasers, animation, holiday music, and a winter fantasy of Disney magic. The holiday World of Color features Olaf and classic winter scenes from Disney films such as "Bambi," "Toy Story" and "Frozen.
Back for more fun this popular Festival of Holidays. This can't-miss celebration will delight you with diverse cultural celebrations, including the popular ¡Viva Navidad! Holiday street fiesta. Enjoy lively Mexican music, face painting, storytelling, crafts, photo ops with favorite characters and, and tasty Mexican specialties. Bring your appetite because there are 14 internationally inspired themed food and beverage festival marketplaces through the Pacific Pier area very similar to the Food and Wine festival, but with new delicious tastings with inspiration from seasonal celebrations of Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzas, Christmas/Navidad, and Three Kings Day. We enjoyed the tamale, Swedish meatballs, and the sweet potato pie. YUM! Three Kings Day (a traditional festival celebrated in Mexico, Central, and South America) will run in early 2018.
We enjoyed “noshing” on nibbles from the marketplace booths (brisket, noodle kugel, and Rueben potato smash) while watching Mostly Kosher, a Jewish klezmer band that added a little culture to our day as we learned a bit about Hanukkah. There are a number of bands like Mariachi Divas, Blue13 Dance Company (Bollywood), Raise (a cappella R&B), and more performing throughout the season. International indeed!
Our holiday tip for this park is to know where to stand to watch the Viva Navidad dancers along with the Tres Caballeros. You want to stand near the Paradise Gardens area right in front of the Jumping Jellyfish ride on the water side of the street for a front row, straight on view. Consult the Entertainment Guide for show times and get in place about 15 minutes early.
You can decorate cookies at Treats for Santa (for a fee) or do crafts around the Festival of Holidays. There are also some interesting Meet and Greets. Chip and Dale are in Redwood Creek. Be sure to offer them an acorn gift. We happened to catch some Country Bears—again a nice salmon or picnic basket, or beehive gift is much appreciated. In the Paradise Gardens festival, we saw Goofy and the Tres Caballeros.
You can count on the residents of Radiator Springs to be decorating again for the holidays, and same for the critters in "a bug's land," with oversized Christmas lights and holiday ornaments. At dusk check out the Cars Land lighting.
Around the park keep a lookout for toy drummers and stilt circus walkers.
Dining During Holidays at Disneyland 2017
If you are planning to visit Disneyland during the holidays (especially around Thanksgiving or the school winter break) you can expect heavier crowds. If you plan to eat at any table service restaurants (including character dining) in the parks, in Downtown Disney, or in the Disneyland Resort hotels, we recommend making some reservations (up to 60 days in advance) through the Disney Dining Reservations System.
Reservations open 60 days before Thanksgiving Day, with practically every restaurant offering some seasonal dish and some offering a full spread. If you really want to splurge, the Disneyland Hotel offers its fall harvest buffet in the ballroom from noon to 5 p.m. There will be carved roasted turkey breast, prime rib, homemade stuffing, sweet potato souffle and so much more. Foodies may want to drop in at the new culturally diverse festival marketplace at California Adventure.
Fun Facts about the Holidays at Disneyland
- You'll find the Menorah and Hanukkah decorations in the window of Julius Katz & Sons on Buena Vista Street in California Adventure. There is a menorah in a second-story window on Main Street USA—can you find it?
- There are 6,000 lights on the Disneyland Christmas tree.
- Disneyland pumps Christmasy smells into a treat section of “it’s a small world” during the holidays.
- During Disney Viva Navidad! at California Adventure, authentic Latino street fiesta has musicians, dancers, and storytellers.
- Disneyland pumps Christmas peppermint smells into Main Street during the holidays.
- Historically, 1.4 miles of ribbon have gone into making bows in the parks each year!
- During seasons of Christmas past, more than 79,000 ornaments have been used to decorate Main Street! Perhaps this year there will be even more?
- If you are staying at one of the resort hotels during the holiday season you can plan ahead for the personalized holiday in-room celebrations and decorations to make your trip extra special.
No matter how you choose to celebrate the Holidays at Disneyland this year, it promises to make magical holiday memories. What questions do you have for us about this year's event?