Our tadpoles' wish lists for Santa always start with "VACATION TO DISNEYLAND!" We can't blame them, and we certainly won't complain. It's a gift that the whole family can enjoy. Falling right on the heels of Halloween Time, Disneyland Resort transforms from a fall festival to a winter wonderland for the holiday festivities. After reading this guide to the hoppiest Christmas at Disneyland, you'll want to add Disneyland tickets (and theme park reservations) to your holiday wish list too!
What's New in 2022
Christmas at Disneyland in 2021 felt almost like normal, with full entertainment, decor and holiday fun. One of the biggest things that was different — and we expect to continue — is that theme park reservations are required to visit. That just means you'll need to plan ahead, purchase tickets and reserve your days to visit early.
Otherwise, the good news is that it looks like a normal holiday season at Disneyland in 2022 with all of the holiday favorites, such as A Christmas Fantasy parade, Believe ... in Holiday Magic fireworks, snowfall, Santa, Holiday Drummers and more. We expect World of Color — Season of Light to return in 2022, since regular World of Color is back as of April 22, 2022.
Last year, we celebrated an additional intergalactic holiday ... in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Life Day (Nov. 17) is a (fictional) celebration on the Wookiee planet of Kashyyyk, honoring the life-giving powers of the Tree of Life. The understated celebration takes place during Holiday Time and includes special foods at Black Spire Outpost eateries and special merchandise.
Mickey and Minnie are showed off new holiday outfits in Town Square last season, so we expect to see them again! Last year we started our holiday snacking with holiday cookies from the candy shops and with the huge (5 inches across — we measured #research) wreath cookie from French Market. (It's not always on mobile order so you may have to hop in for it.) This cookie is the result of two holidays colliding, which hoppens each year at Disneyland when Halloween and Christmas blend into each other for one long season in New Orleans Square at the Haunted Mansion. We've updated our guide to holiday treats and foods. It will be hard to finalize our must-try lists this season!
A new after-hours party hoppened in 2021 and it could return in 2022! Disney Merriest Nites took place five nights on select dates in November and December last season. Tickets went on sale Sept. 14, 2021, both online and on the Disneyland app and were sold out early. We were there opening night to kick off the Disneyland holiday season. You'll want to keep in mind that Disneyland Park closes at 7 p.m. on party nights, so plan your visits accordingly in order to catch nighttime entertainment on other nights. Skip below for additional details!
Can't make it for holiday season? There is a new year-round holiday store on Main Street, U.S.A.! Plaza Point Holiday Shoppe turns Christmas into a year-round event so you can get your ornaments personalized any time you visit. The shop also sells items for Hanukkah, Lunar New Year, spring, Easter, fall and Halloween. But if you were hoping for more inclusive representation (such as a Disney Hanukkah menorah or dreidels), keep in mind that it's mostly Christmas inside except for some Hanukkah tea towels and a blanket. You can see a menorah in a two spots on Main Street U.S.A. There is one in a window above the jewelry store. The other is in a window to the left to the fruit cart when facing the locker area.
Guide to the Hoppiest Christmas at Disneyland
The Frog Family loves hoppin’ around the many Christmas trees at the Merriest Place on Earth. We know the best times to visit Disneyland and beat the crowds without missing any of the fun. We do not have the 2022 dates just yet, but Holiday Time kicked off Nov. 12, 2021, and lasted until through Jan. 9, 2022! The season ran later than usual last year, but we had some holiday time to make up for! Keep hopping back for the 2022 dates.
Crowds During Christmas at Disneyland
Most of November and the beginning of December are quiet in the parks. However, higher crowds are expected during Thanksgiving week and on Veterans Day. The first day of Holiday Time was also Disney+ day, which brought crowds in 2021. But we have found the holidays to be quite manageable up until it got closer to Christmas. Don your holiday spirit early with visits before Thanksgiving week or during the first two weeks of December for the lowest anticipated crowds. Expect Fridays and weekends to be busier than Tuesday through Thursday. That being said, the less-expensive weekdays also sell out lately, so crowds are more evenly dispersed with the new theme park reservation system.
The weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year are usually very busy. New Year's Eve in particular is one of the busiest days of the entire year! Last year was an exception with the reservation system, but we expect 2022 to be even busier due to increased capacity. So don't let fear of crowds scare you away — just make sure to adjust expectations for your time in the parks and expect longer delays in parking, security and lines when visiting at peak times.
Reserve your days early this year! Regular 1-Day through 5-Day ticket holders can reserve up to 120 days in advance. Magic Key holders can reserve up to 90 days in advance. If you're traveling from afar and purchasing tickets, we recommend buying and reserving as early as possible for the best selection, especially if you're visiting on peak days (when kids are off from school) and holidays. Get your theme park tickets and reservations before you get flights and hotels. Here's a hop tip: If you do stay on-site at the Disneyland hotels, link your hotel reservation to your app or Disney account and you may see a better pool of park reservation choices.
Even if you need to visit during more crowded weeks, you're in for a merry good time. The great news is that during busy times, the parks are open for longer hours and offer more entertainment. You can see Disneyland Park hours and showtimes on our crowd calendar.
In 2019, the holiday filming of A Christmas Fantasy parade took place Nov. 13 and 14 at 11 a.m. There was filming for a special throughout the day and evening on those days. We saw filming at the base of the Christmas Tree on Main Street, U.S.A., in front of the Millennium Falcon and by "it's a small world." We used to find filming dates in the paper Entertainment Schedule in the parks about a week before filming started, but those are no longer distributed. We did see a holiday filming sign on Nov. 16, 2021, and some celebrity performances (Gwen Stefani and Pentatonix!) on Nov. 17-18, 2021. Toadally cool! We can't wait to see what 2022 holds.
Keep in mind that if you choose to wait for a performance, you may be waiting for a while and may not get to find out who the performers are for musical acts until the last minute. All that waiting may keep you from enjoying other aspects of the park. Also, you may not get your iconic castle view that day due to filming (although in 2019, the castle was not affected the day we visited. Instead, the Millennium Falcon photo area was blocked off with a stage). Dress festively if you wish to participate in future years! You might even get some props if you're in the right place at the right time.
When Does Disneyland Decorate for Christmas?
The holiday decorations start going up in October, even before Halloween. The snow on Sleeping Beauty Castle is the first thing to arrive in mid-October. The fringes of the park get decorated before Halloween, so we see decorations going up in Critter Country, New Orleans Square and Toontown in October. As soon as Halloween ends, the Halloween decorations begin to come down and a flurry of Christmas decorations begins to appear, day by day.
I'll let you in on a Frog Family secret: The period between Halloween Time and Disneyland Christmas is one of the best times to visit the Disneyland Resort. The crowds are low, and the weather is usually mild. It's exciting to see the transition between Halloween Time and the holidays! Keep in mind there may be less entertainment and earlier closing hours to watch out for.
The start of the holiday season at Disneyland is usually about the second or third weekend in November, but it can vary slightly. The first day of Disneyland Christmas in 2021 was Friday, Nov. 12. The festive foods and ride overlays will become available that official first day of the season, except for Haunted Mansion Holiday, which runs through both Halloween Time and the Christmas season. Also, the festival booths soft opened two days, so keep them in mind for next year.
So how and when does Disneyland decorate for Christmas with park guests out and about? Many of the decorations appear overnight when the park is closed. Each morning leading up to holiday time is like Santa has magically visited overnight to leave new decorations while taking away bits of Halloween. A few decorations go up a bit later once the holiday season is underway. We usually do not see the Mickey garland across Main Street, U.S.A. until later in November, but last year it was up for the first day of the season.
Disneyland has been decorating for Christmas since the very first Christmas the park was open in 1955. The parks have sure come a long way since the first few wreaths were hung and the sparse stands of garland dressed the castle! The first Christmas tree was placed in the hub (instead of Town Square). Today, the Christmas season is breathtakingly beautiful at Disneyland with the twinkling lights, snowfall, a sprinkling of magic and décor that all guests can enjoy.
Disney California Adventure Park opens up the holiday celebrations with a cultural nod to various ways to celebrate Christmas, as well as many other winter holidays beyond Christmas, at Disney's Festival of Holidays. More holidays to share and new foods to try — hooray! The festivities tend to be more seasonal than religious, with the exception being the Candlelight Ceremony. The Disneyland Christmas decorations bring festive fun and excitement into a time of year when the days are shorter and colder. All of the lights warm and brighten the otherwise dark evening hours and spread holiday cheer. Plus we think it’s a great excuse to try all of the festive foods!
What Can You Expect During Disneyland Christmas Festivities?
You’ll find holiday decorations all around the Disneyland Resort. The Main Street, U.S.A. and Toontown characters are all dressed up in their holiday attire for special seasonal photo opportunities. Holiday music will entertain you, and certain attractions will be especially festive or even covered in snow! Foodie froggies will love that there are so many yummy holiday treats and foods at Disneyland during the holidays — we certainly can’t resist! There's a nightly Christmas tree lighting about 5 p.m. Holiday Time also brings seasonally-themed items into the stores (merchandise is usually available late October), making shopping merrier. Perhaps ‘tis the season to get some holiday shopping done!
Disney Merriest Nights — An All-New After Hours Event
Disneyland Park hosts Disney Merriest Nights on five select nights during November and December. The 2021 dates were Nov. 11, Nov. 16, Nov. 30, Dec. 7 and Dec. 9. We expect the announcement for 2022 could come in summer. The separately ticketed event grants guests exclusive access to select attractions and entertainment from 8 p.m. to midnight. (Party guests can enter the park as early as 5 p.m. with no need for a theme park reservation.) The park closes early those nights at 7 p.m. for daytime guests. In particular, Haunted Mansion Holiday, "it's a small world" Holiday and a special viewing of A Christmas Fantasy parade will be available! However, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, Mickey's Toontown and Critter Country will not be accessible during the party. Tickets went on sale Sept. 14, 2021, both online and on the Disneyland app.
Mickey Mouse is hosting Disney Merriest Nights and has a little help from his friends! There are six themed parties in one throughout the different lands at Disneyland Park. As the host, Mickey will welcome you on Main Street, U.S.A., joined by Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and their friends who will be singing Christmas carols as they travel in a special coach. Over in New Orleans Square, Princess Tiana arranges a bayou-inspired celebration with beads and beignets. Join Miguel for a Feliz Navidad party with music and dancing in Frontierland. Lilo and Stitch throw a tropical-themed party in Adventureland, Elsa hosts a flurry of festivities in Fantasyland and Buzz Lightyear parties to infinity and beyond in Tomorrowland. And of course, it's not a holiday party without Santa Claus! He's in the parade and greeting guests in the Royal Theater.
Costumes and festive attire are encouraged but review the special guidelines beforehand. Both rare and classic characters dressed in their holiday best may join the festivities, so keep a look out for them! Save the memories with festive photo-ops and unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads. Feast on holiday treats, such as hot chocolate and cookies, and grab an event-exclusive souvenir.
Special Ride Overlays During Holidays at Disneyland
Some of our favorite parts of Disneyland at Christmas time are the special holiday attraction experiences. Certain rides receive a festive makeover to really get your frog family into the spirit of the season!
Don't miss the sparkling lights of "it’s a small world." You'll definitely want to take time to bask in the glow of the festively lit exterior at night and catch one of the projection shows. Be in front of "it's a small world" for the awe-inspiring nightly lighting of the exterior lights with a projection show and music — check the entertainment calendar or ask a cast member for the time but expect the lighting of the facade at about 5:15 p.m., and then projections about every 30 minutes throughout the evening, starting about 6 p.m. While viewing the magical exterior requires special timing, you can ride anytime. And don’t worry — the inside is the same, day or night.
Jack Skellington and his crew take over the Haunted Mansion throughout the holiday season. The Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay usually takes about a week and a half to deck the spooky halls of the Haunted Mansion. The Haunted Mansion was closed Aug. 26 to Sept. 5, 2019, to make this transition. But in 2021, it was closed longer: Aug. 16 to Sept. 2, 2021. Expect a closure in January to return it to its normal state. By holiday time, Haunted Mansion Holiday is already in full swing, as it runs from Halloween Time straight into Christmas.
The holiday overlay is brimming with scary Tim Burton-esque Christmas spirit. Check out the gingerbread house featured in the ride; it’s different each year!
Haunted Mansion Holiday attracts much scarier wait times than the classic Haunted Mansion attraction, so we recommend that you visit this ride in the first hour of park opening or book a Lighting Lane through Genie+. Another fun tip: Jack and Sally sometimes greet guests in New Orleans Square all through the holiday season. This year, you can spot them from the balcony of the Haunted Mansion or a balcony in New Orleans Square. Jack sometimes dons his Sandy Claws attire for certain days. It’s a joy meeting these unique characters! Jack is delightfully “horrible.” At dusk, keep an eye and ear out for the Haunted Mansion lighting each evening.
Meeting Santa During the Disneyland Christmas Celebration
You can find the big man himself at two locations. Santa Claus typically greets guests at Critter Country in Disneyland Park and at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail area, along with his mischievous elves, at Disney California Adventure Park. Meetings were more distanced in 2021. In Redwood Creek, we were separated by a table from Santa, but we had so much fun talking to him. In Critter County, you can sit on a bench in front of Santa for photos. Santa also visits each of the hotels. After Christmas Eve, Santa must hop on his sleigh, so Santa Goofy takes over at Disney California Adventure for the rest of the season. Santa also greets guests at Disneyland Resort hotels closer to Christmas. You might also get a chance to meet Mrs. Claus in normal years. She is so sweet! She roams around Critter Country and hands out recipes for her special cookies. And we all know how much her hubby loves cookies!
Entertainment During Christmas at Disneyland
We are so hoppy that most of the usual holiday entertainment has returned!
Holidays at Disneyland Park
Let's first look at the holiday at Disneyland Park. This is where you will find big entertainment, such as fireworks and parades.
A Christmas Fantasy parade with Mickey, Minnie and a variety of Disney characters celebrates the holidays alongside Santa Claus. Showtimes are typically 3 or 3:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. but can vary the week of Christmas and during the Candlelight Ceremony days (which are Dec. 4 and 5 in 2021), so double-check the entertainment calendar. On days that have a Disney Merriest Nites party that evening, there will be one daytime parade (usually at 3 p.m.) and one exclusively for party guests at 9:30 p.m.
If you don't want to spend time camping out for the parade, Plaza Inn offers a dining package that has a voucher for a reserved viewing area (although if you want a good spot in the viewing area, you'll still have to camp out). More on that in the dining section below.
In addition to the parade, be sure to catch showings of the new holiday cavalcade! It's not on the entertainment schedule, but it's usually at 12:40 p.m. each day and runs from Main Street to "its a small world."
Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle is the perfect backdrop for your annual holiday card — be sure to ask a PhotoPass photographer to add a little magic to some of your photos. In 2018, they put us in a snow globe!
Catch snowfall during the Wintertime Enchantment at Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle and on Main Street U.S.A., usually at 7:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. each night (but check the entertainment calendar). Snow will also fall immediately following the "Believe … in Holiday Magic" fireworks show over portions of Main Street, U.S.A. Take a big whiff. Is that a gingerbread smell wafting in the snowy air?
Fireworks were generally at 9 p.m. in 2021, but check the calendar when you visit. There are no fireworks on nights when the park closes at 7 p.m. for Disney Merriest Nites. Pro tip: Snow does not fall right in front of the castle, but it does usually fall to the sides and on Main Street, U.S.A. We recommend hanging back near the Jolly Holiday Bakery and Plaza Inn or in the middle of Main Street, U.S.A., which offers projections on the buildings during snowfall and the fireworks, as well as a view of the castle. Pick a spot with a nice castle view. You can view the fireworks and enjoy the snowfall that follows at three locations: the castle (snowfall is a bit farther back and to the sides), Main Street, U.S.A. and “it’s a small world."
If you are looking for a peaceful and uncrowded spot to watch fireworks. Rivers of America is our choice. You can hear the music and see the bursts (complete with reflection on the water), but will not see projection. Snow falls there after the show!
We recommend Main Street, U.S.A. (for extra projections) or the hub to view the dramatic castle lighting, as well as the snowfall.
There are typically special fireworks on New Year's Eve with not one but two fireworks shows. Our New Year's Eve post has the details. There is also a New Year's Eve parade viewing package available at Plaza Inn.
Other Musical Entertainment at Disneyland Park
You may expect other musical entertainment around Disneyland. The Dickens Yuletide Band usually performs throughout the day along Main Street, U.S.A. The Dapper Dans are likely to include holiday songs in their barbershop quartet selections.
During normal years, you can put on your dancing shoes and join your Disney pals in Tomorrowland at the Disney Holiday Dance Party from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m on select nights. In past years, it has taken place on weekends and holidays in the beginning but often picks up more nights as the season gets underway, so check the calendar if you want to get your boogie on. The dance party takes a break during fireworks. Now that dance parties have returned to Disneyland, we have our froggy fingers crossed that a holiday dance party is in the works for 2022.
The Candlelight Ceremony, a musical retelling of the story of Christmas, is held twice nightly on a weekend in early December. In 2021, it was Dec. 4 and 5. The show can put parades and other events on a special schedule, so plan accordingly! The parade may run early at 12:45 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. on those days. (In 2018, Candlelight Ceremony was held Dec. 1 and 2 and featured narrator Chris Pratt! In 2019, the dates were Dec. 7 and 8, and the narrator was Lin-Manuel Miranda!) In 2021, the ceremony was hosted by Sterling K. Brown. The narrator is usually a surprise until the first show each year. The Candlelight Ceremony began in 1958 as a way for Walt Disney to thank the Orange County community.
Disneyland keeps quiet about the details (unlike its EPCOT counterpart) because the event is more intimate at Disneyland. The seats are for invited guests, such as Club 33 members, VIPs and some high-profile guests. You can usually see the setup for the event in Town Square during the day. You might be able to find some standing room on the fringes or catch sight of the ceremony as you walk by. Some park guests camp out early in the day for standby viewing. Sometimes cast members let people queue for it and fill in empty seats. The process may vary each year, so ask a cast member about it that day if you're interested in catching it. The later ceremony is be easier to see with lighter crowds.
Holidays at Disney California Adventure Park
Disney California Adventure Park is the place to be during the holiday season. There are decorations throughout the park, including Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. Every address along Route 66, including Flo's V8 Cafe, Fillmore's Taste-In, Cozy Cone Motel and Luigi's Casa della Tires, gets a holiday makeover. Two Cars Land rides get seasonal overlays — Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl and Mater’s Jingle Jamboree! At dusk, check out the Cars Land lighting. There is a nightly Christmas tree lighting on Buena Vista Street at 4:55 p.m.
The Festival of Holidays
There are also frogtastic food offerings at Disney's Festival of Holidays. The festival marketplaces offer delish dishes and delectable desserts from around the world. The Paradise Garden Grill gets a whole new menu, as well, during the Festival of Holidays, and restaurants throughout the parks sell special holiday treats and seasonal delights. The Sip and Savor Pass returns with eight tabs for eating your way around the festival booths. Our Disney's Festival of the Holidays post and holiday food post will have all of the delicious details.
This can't-miss celebration will delight you with diverse cultural celebrations, including the popular ¡Viva Navidad! holiday street fiesta. Enjoy lively Mexican music, crafts, festive foods, photo-ops with favorite characters and tasty Mexican specialties. Three Kings' Day, a traditional festival celebrated in Mexico, Central and South America, runs near the end of Holiday Time.
There are some interesting character sightings to find throughout the parks, as well. Last year, Mirabel from "Encanto" made her park debut in Paradise Gardens Park. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and the Three Caballeros also greeted guests in that area. Chip 'n' Dale and The Country Bears are outside the Redwood Creek area (towards The Little Mermaid). Around Carthay Circle Fountain, the Disney characters show off their holiday clothes.
Our holiday tip for this park is to know where to stand to watch the ¡Viva Navidad! dancers, along with the Three Caballeros, Mickey and Minnie. For a front-row, straight-on view of the float, you'll want to stand near the Paradise Gardens area, halfway between the Jumping Jellyfish ride and the Silly Symphony swings on the waterside of the street (across from the middle entrance to Paradise Gardens). Consult the Entertainment Guide for showtimes and get in place about 15 minutes early.
During the Festival of Holidays, you typically decorate cookies at Treats for Santa (for a fee) near the exit of meeting Santa. Your tadpoles can also do free crafts related to many holidays, including Hanukkah, Christmas, Diwali, Kwanzaa and Navidad. There are also free coloring pages in Paradise Gardens Park.
Other Holiday Entertainment in Disney California Adventure
Keep a lookout for one of our favorite acts, the highly entertaining Toy Drummers. Their show is short, sweet and definitely worth catching. This year, they take the main stage in front of Paradise Bay.
In addition to their regular performances, the Toy Drummers join up with Disney and Pixar characters for a cavalcade procession. The showtimes are not on the calendar but you can catch Mickey's Happy Holidays at 12:30 p.m. and 4:14 p.m. daily. The cavalcade goes in one direction from The Little Mermaid to Hollywood Land and has brief show moments but not big stops like it did in 2019. Many characters are dressed to impress in their holiday best and Santa hats, and they dance in the streets. A great place to watch is in Hollywood Land in front of Off the Page.
Catch the Holiday Sunset Concert series in the area in front of the water. The rock cover band, the Suffragettes, and Phat Cat Swinger take the stage in Paradise Gardens Park. You'll also find favorite returning acts at various smaller stages. Listen for live entertainment from such acts as Mostly Kosher, The Mistletoes, Blue13 Dance Company and Mariachi Divas as well as other smaller acts on various stages.
Dining During the Holidays at Disneyland
If you're planning to visit Disneyland around Thanksgiving or the school winter break, expect heavier crowds. If you plan to eat at any table-service restaurants in the parks, Downtown Disney or the Disneyland Resort hotels, we recommend making reservations up to 60 days in advance through the Disney Dining Reservation System. If it's too late to reserve, keep checking for cancellations that pop up or try checking for walk-up availability in the Disneyland app once you arrive.
Reservations open about 60 days before Thanksgiving Day (in fall 2019, reservations opened a few days after the 60-day window started) and fill up quickly for Thanksgiving dinner. Reservations were not announced in 2021. Practically every restaurant offers a special seasonal dish, and some present a full spread. The Disneyland Hotel offered its fall harvest buffet in the ballroom in 2019 but not in 2021. In 2019, it included carved roasted turkey breast, prime rib, homemade stuffing, sweet potato soufflé and so much more in years past. Yum!
There are Christmas Day dinners available at the Disneyland Resort hotels at Storytellers Café, Goofy's Kitchen and Napa Rose. The special New Year's Eve celebrations fill up quickly, so set your calendar to make reservations about 60 days in advance. Also, check out the New Year's Eve Fireworks Spectacular dining package at Plaza Inn.
Parade Viewing Dining Package
Plaza Inn offers a dining package that has a voucher for a reserved parade-viewing area. The dining package isn't offered on holidays (such as Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day) or on days with Disney Merriest Nites parties. Reservations may also be unavailable in early December.
The package includes Roasted New York strip loin and house-made mac and cheese with autumn vegetables, Texas toast and chocolate bread pudding. There are kid and vegetarian options. After your meal, you can enjoy prime viewing for the merry mayhem of the second “A Christmas Fantasy” Parade. Reservations opened Nov. 5, 2021.
We tried the 2021 dining package. The food was good, but keep in mind that if the package meal is not to your taste, you can substitute the fried chicken dinner instead. (It's a frog family favorite!) You'll receive a parade voucher lanyard and a ticket, which they will collect, so hold onto that. Continue to wear the lanyard while in the viewing area.
Where is the viewing area? It's across the street from the Main Street train station. We hopped by about 4:15 p.m. and saw the area roped off, so we sat on the curb. By 4:30 p.m., it was filling in. We were treated to Flag retreat at 4:30 p.m., the holiday tree lighting at 5 p.m. and the Dapper Dans performing at the train station. So we were pretty entertained up until parade time. The parade starts at Town Square, so we were near the beginning of the parade.
The dining package is not cheap. And you'll still want to arrive early for a curb or bench, so it does not really save time. You can find your own parade spot for free and get in place about 90 minutes (depending on crowds) early if you want a good spot. If we chose our own spot, we would've preferred to sit across the street so we could see the parade coming around the bend and not have large lights shining at us as much. We also like the raised area near "it's a small world" or to see the afternoon parade near the castle's churro stand with the sun to our back and the Matterhorn in the background.
There will be a special package on New Year's Eve, so keep an eye on that.
Reservations in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
While having a drink at Oga's Cantina in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge does not fall under traditional Christmas activities, you can certainly raise a glass in good holiday cheer ... if you get a reservation. Reservations are available 60 days in advance for Oga's Cantina and other experiences (such as building a lightsaber at Savi's Workshop or building a droid at Droid Depot). We recently used the Disneyland app in the park to score a walk-up reservation at Oga's Cantina and got in within about 30 minutes. With many new travelers coming from galaxies far, far away to make a stop in the trading outpost on planet Batuu, you'll want to have reservations in place so you don't miss out. Some of these experiences can make a great holiday gift (as does a "Batuuan Spira" gift card). Read more about these exciting details and about the new land in our Galactic Guide to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.
Fun Facts About the Holidays at Disneyland
You can typically find a menorah and Hanukkah decorations in the window of Julius Katz & Sons on Buena Vista Street in California Adventure.
- Enjoy Hanukkah music throughout the Festival of Holidays, as well as Mater’s take on the Dreidel Song (“Oh, tractor, tractor, tractor, I love to watch ‘em spin; and when they get all tired, they stop and then I win”). We always enjoy musical performances from Mostly Kosher.
- There were 3,500 colored lights, 1,500 Victorian-inspired ornaments and 100 faux candles on the 60-foot-tall Disneyland Christmas tree in 2020!
- The Carthay Circle Christmas tree in Disney California Adventure is nearly 50 feet tall! It's decorated with vintage-style ornaments.
- Disneyland pumps Christmas-y smells into a treat section of “it’s a small world” during the holidays. Get your sniffer ready to identify three additional new scents in "it's a small world!" You'll also notice a gingerbread aroma in Haunted Mansion Holiday. Note yummy smells that accompany snowfall, as well.
- Disneyland also pumps holiday scents into Main Street during the holidays. We kept getting whiffs of pumpkin spice or perhaps gingerbread last year.
- “it’s a small world” Holiday glows with over 50,000 lights and video projections.
- It takes almost three dozen cast members 35 days to install the glittering lights on the facade of "it's a small world." Plus it takes nearly 18 days to decorate the interior.
- Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle is illuminated with over 126,000 twinkling LED lights and icicles.
- Disney ¡Viva Navidad! at California Adventure is an authentic Latino street fiesta, featuring musicians, dancers and storytellers.
- The Main Street, U.S.A. exterior is decorated with about 220 garlands, measuring more than four miles long! About 80 wreaths and 120 bows bring the seasonal charm to life.
- More than 80,000 ornaments are used to decorate Main Street!
- Take some extra time to check out the holiday decorations in Downtown Disney.
- If you're staying at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels, you can plan ahead for personalized holiday in-room celebrations and decorations to make your trip extra special.
- Disney's Grand Californian Hotel lobby hosts a giant gingerbread replica of the hotel, created with over 500 pounds of gingerbread and 60 gallons of frosting and icing. Hop in to enjoy it and bask in the glow of the beautiful Christmas tree, along with some delicious cookies, treats and beverages near the crackling fire. Perhaps you’ll even get a chance to tell Santa what you’d like for Christmas! Be sure to check the holiday cart hours, which are generally later afternoon and evening.
- At the end of the night, you can catch a bunch of characters in their new holiday outfits, dancing and waving goodbye from the train station. It's a great way to end your night at Disneyland.
No matter how you choose to celebrate the holidays at Disneyland, expect to make magical holiday memories. What questions do you have for us about this year's event?
Related: Favorite Disneyland Holiday Treats