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Guide to the ~Hoppiest~ Holidays at Disneyland 2020

Christmas at Disneyland - PinterestA note from Mommy Frog: Of course, 2020 is no ordinary year due to COVID-19. Disneyland theme parks have remained closed since March, but we can at least spread a little holiday cheer with some frogciting news. This season, you can step into the closed Disney California Adventure Park to do some holiday shopping and dining. Read on for those details and to also get a look at a typical Disneyland Christmas and the Festival of Holidays at Disney's California Adventure (in case you are planning next year's holiday getaway to Disneyland). For Disneyland reopening dates and details, hop over to our Disneyland reopening post. We do not know if Disneyland will fully reopen for the holidays this year, but we do know that the Candlelight Processional is officially canceled for 2020.

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 to your holiday wish list too!

Obviously, Christmas at Disneyland is a little different this year, with the theme parks and hotels currently closed. Downtown Disney is open for shopping and dining. We have some exciting news to share that might help you get into the holiday spirit. The Downtown Disney District is expanding into the theme park beginning in November. Let's explore what that means.

Holiday Shopping and Dining at Disneyland in 2020

Guide to the ~Hoppiest~ Holidays at Disneyland 2020-Minnie Santa appleAs you may know, Downtown Disney is the only part of Disneyland Resort that has reopened since the Disneyland resorts closed due to COVID-19 in March. Guests have been getting their Disneyland fix by enjoying treats (such as churros or themed caramel apples, crispy treats and cookies), shopping, dining, and simply hearing the Disney music.

Holiday merchandise is already appearing at Downtown Disney stores. Beginning in November, the Downtown Disney District is expanding into the closed Disney California Adventure park, Buena Vista Street area. Guests can access select shopping and dining experiences. Let's take a look at what we can expect.

Holiday Shopping

The following shops will be open:

  • Elias & Co.
  • Julius Katz & Sons
  • Kingswell Camera Shop
  • Trolley Treats (it's where to find all your favorite Disney treats such as caramel apples, crispy treats and baked goods)

The addition of Trolley Treats will hopfully relieve some pressure for Marceline's Confectionary, the candy shop in Downtown Disney. Since the reopening of Downtown Disney, Marceline's Confectionary frequently has virtual queues to enter the store at busy times.

These shops are in addition to the already opened Disneyland Resort Backlot Premiere Shop at Stage 17. This shop is technically inside Disney California Adventure, but it opened to expand the shopping area of Downtown Disney. The entrance to this location is near the Harbor security area to the left of Disney California Adventure. There is no word on whether the entrance will move once the shopping and dining open for the holidays on Buena Vista Street.

Disneyland and Holiday Eating

The following Dining establishments are open:

  • Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe - Grab a cup of coffee, cookie or scrumptious artisan sandwich and just enjoy being inside the park.
  • Carthay Circle Lounge - Unwind in the expanded outdoor seating area. Carthay Circle presents an all-new menu of cocktails and food.
  • Smokejumpers Grill -  Get your tasty American classics for lunch and dinner with a streamlined menu of burgers, fries, onion rings and craft beer. The primary way to place your order at this dining location is through Mobile Order on the Disneyland App.
  • Vending Carts -  The carts are open so you can get your Disneyland popcorn, churros, ice cream and other classic Disney snacks we know you miss so much. Oh boy!

As the theme park is technically closed, there are no characters, rides or entertainment. Admission is free since this is simply considered an extension of Downtown Disney. Be sure to keep hopping by for dates and further details as they are announced.

Read on below to get a sense of our guide to holidays at Disneyland for a typical year. Since we do not know if Disneyland can reopen for the holidays in 2020, we have our sights set vacation planning for 2021.

Holiday Crowds | Decorations | What to Expect | Seasonal Ride Overlays | Meeting Santa | Holiday Entertainment | Special Dining | Fun Facts

Guide to the Hoppiest Christmas at Disneyland (When the Parks are Open)

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 yet have any reoepning dates (or entertainment) for 2020; however, holidays at Disneyland 2019 began Nov. 8, 2019, and lasted until Jan. 6, 2020! In 2019, we enjoyed the all-new Mickey's Happy Holidays character cavalcade in Disney California Adventure. We hope it returns!

Crowds During Disneyland Christmas

Christmas at Disneyland - Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure Entrance

Most of November and the beginning of December are incredibly quiet in the parks. However, higher crowds are expected during Thanksgiving week and on Veterans Day. Don your holiday spirit early with visits before Thanksgiving week or during the first two weeks of December for lowest anticipated crowds. Expect Fridays and weekends to be busier than Tuesday through Thursday.

Christmas at Disneyland - Parade Float with Mickey and Minnie

The weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year are very busy. New Year's Eve is one of the busiest days of the entire year! Still, that doesn't mean you shouldn't experience the holidays at Disneyland. Just make sure to adjust expectations for your time in the parks and expect longer delays in parking, security and lines. Even if you need to visit during more crowded weeks, you are 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.

Christmas at Disneyland - Snow WhiteIn 2019, the holiday filming of "A Christmas Fantasy" parade took place Nov. 13 and 14 at 11:00 a.m. There was filming throughout the day and evening those days for a special. 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." If you are looking for filming dates in 2020, you can usually find them in the paper Entertainment Schedule in the parks about a week before filming starts. We usually update this post as soon as we find out, so keep hopping back!

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). Be sure to dress festively if you wish to participate in future years! You might even get some props if you are in the right place at the right time.

When Does Disneyland Decorate for Christmas?

Christmas at Disneyland - Trolley

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 begin to appear, day by day. In 2019, we saw the Disneyland Christmas tree was installed Nov. 4 (four days before holiday time officially began) and Christmas carols filled the air.

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 to see the transition between Halloween Time and Disneyland Christmas time!

Christmas at Disneyland - Tree on Main Street

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 2019 began on Friday, Nov. 8. The festive foods and ride overlays will not be available until the official first day of the season, though, except for Haunted Mansion Holiday, which runs through both Halloween Time and the Christmas season.

So how and when does Disneyland decorate for Christmas with park guests about? Much of the decorating appears 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.

Christmas at Disneyland - Letters to Santa Bike

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 the festive foods!

What Can You Expect During the Disneyland Christmas Festivities?

Christmas at Disneyland - Partners Statue

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 5:00 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!

Special Ride Overlays During Holidays at Disneyland

Christmas at Disneyland - it's a small world

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!

Be sure to take a trip on "it’s a small world" Holiday. The seasonal overlay of this Disneyland classic features special decorations and music to get everyone in the spirit. The dolls add “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls” to their traditional song list. The ride was closed Monday Oct. 21, 2019, through Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, to decorate. We do not yet have the dates for 2020.

"it's a small world" Holiday offered FASTPASS distribution during the holidays last year. We highly recommend taking advantage of it, as lines are significantly longer than the rest of the year. FASTPASS distribution is located near Matterhorn Bobsleds.

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. (but sometimes at 5:00 p.m.), and then projection about every 30 minutes throughout the evening starting about 5:30 p.m. While viewing the magical exterior requires special timing, you can ride anytime — don’t worry, the inside is the same, day or night.

Guide to the Hoppiest Holidays at Disneyland - Projections on it's a small world

Jack Skellington and his crew take over the Haunted Mansion throughout the holiday season. The Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay 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. By holiday time, Haunted Mansion Holiday is already  in full swing, as it runs from Halloween Time straight into Christmas. For the 2019-2020 season, Haunted Mansion Holiday ran through Jan. 20, 2020, and then the ride closed for a few months to undergo refurbishment. The holiday overlay is brimming with scary Tim Burton-esque Christmas spirit. Be sure to 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 use FASTPASS to reduce the wait. Another fun tip: Jack and Sally greet guests in New Orleans Square all through the holiday season. Last year, Jack donned his Sandy Claws attire for certain days. It’s a joy meeting these unique characters! Jack is delightfully “horrible.”

Meeting Santa During the Disneyland Christmas Celebration

Disneyland Christmas - Meeting Santa at Disney California Adventure

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. 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. 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!

Visiting Disneyland for Christmas 2020 - Mrs. Claus

Entertainment During Disneyland Christmas

Holidays at Disneyland Park

Christmas at Disneyland - Belle

A Christmas Fantasy Parade is expected to make its return during Disneyland Christmas 2020, with Mickey, Minnie and a variety of Disney characters to celebrate the holidays alongside Santa Claus. Showtimes are typically 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., but can vary the week of Christmas and during the Candlelight Ceremony days (which took place Dec. 7 and 8 in 2019), so be sure to the check the Entertainment Guide. If you do not want to spend time camping out for the parade, Plaza Inn may offer a dining package that has a voucher for a reserved viewing area. The dining package is not offered on holidays (such as Thanksgiving day, Christmas Eve and Christmas day).

Christmas at Disneyland - Fireworks

Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle will be back for 2020, and it 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!

Guide to the Hoppiest Holidays at Disneyland - Snowfall

Be sure to catch snowfall during the Wintertime Enchantment at Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle, usually at 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. each day. Snow will also fall immediately following the "Believe … in Holiday Magic" fireworks show.

Fireworks are usually at 9:30 p.m. Pro tip: Snow does not fall right in front of the castle, but it does fall to the sides. We recommend hanging back near the Jolly Holiday Bakery and Plaza Inn or in the middle of Main Street, U.S.A., which offers projection 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 four locations: the castle (snowfall is a bit farther back), Main Street, U.S.A., “it’s a small world” and Rivers of America. If you need help finding the correct viewing area, just follow the snowflakes on the park map.

There will be special fireworks on New Year's Eve. In 2019, there was a dining package through Plaza Inn, with reserved fireworks viewing from Plaza Inn and a special menu.

You can encounter snowfall along Rivers of America closer to New Orleans Square after fireworks. During the week when there is no Fantasmic! showing, you can also catch snowfall several times a night. Be sure to check the calendar for times. We recommend Main Street, U.S.A. (for extra projection) or the hub to view the dramatic castle lighting, as well as the snowfall.

You can expect other musical entertainment around Disneyland. The Dickens Yuletide Band performs throughout the day along Main Street, U.S.A. The Dapper Dans are likely to include holiday songs in their barbershop quartet selections.

Visiting Disneyland for Christmas 2020 - Dance Party

Put on your dancing shoes and join your Disney pals in Tomorrowland at the Disney Holiday Dance Party from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m on select nights. Hopfully, it will return for 2020! It takes place on weekends and holidays in the beginning, but may pick 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.

The Candlelight Ceremony, a musical retelling of the story of Christmas, is likely to be held twice nightly on a weekend in early December. This 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. 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! The narrator is 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. The event is canceled for 2020 due to the pandemic. Walt Disney World also canceled the much larger Candlelight Processional in EPCOT for 2020.

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 they let people queue for it and fill in empty seats. The process may vary each year, so be sure to ask a cast member about it that day if you are interested in catching it. The later ceremony may be easier to see. 

Holidays at Disney California Adventure Park

Guide to the Hoppiest Holidays at Disneyland - Cars Land

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.

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.

Disneyland Christmas - Disney California Adventure Festival of Holidays - Tres Caballeros

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 (for a fee), 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, will run Jan. 3 to Jan. 6, 2020.

Elana of Avalor - Disneyland Christmas - Disney California Adventure Festival of Holidays

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 water side 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.

Holidays at Disneyland - Kwanzaa Festival of Holidays Crafts

During the Festival of Holidays, you can typically decorate cookies at Treats for Santa (for a fee). Your tadpoles can also do free crafts related to many holidays, including Hanukkah, Christmas, Diwali, Kwanzaa and Navidad. Your little princesses can also design a tiara from Elena of Avalor. There are some interesting meet and greets to find throughout the parks, as well. Chip 'n' Dale are in Redwood Creek awaiting acorn gifts. In the Paradise Gardens festival, you can meet Goofy, Mickey, Minnie and the Three Caballeros. Elena also greets her guests in that area.

Visiting Disneyland for Christmas 2020 - Drummers

Along the Festival corridor and near the entrance to Paradise Pier, keep a lookout for one of our favorite acts, the highly entertaining Toy Drummers. Their show is short, sweet and definitely worth catching.

Guide to the Hoppiest Holidays at Disneyland - Mickey Show

In addition to their regular performances, the Toy Drummers joined up with Disney and Pixar characters for an all-new show in 2019. You can usually catch Mickey's Happy Holidays at 12:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. daily. The cavalcade makes stops at two locations twice a day — at the Obelisk and Carthay Circle. Many characters are dressed to impress in their holiday best, and they are dancing in the streets.

Also new for the 2019 season was the Holiday Sunset Concert series in the area in front of the water where you would find World of Color viewing. The rock cover band, the Suffragettes, played Monday and Tuesday, and Phat Cat Swinger took the stage Wednesday through Saturday evenings. You'll also find favorite returning acts at various stages. Listen for live entertainment from such acts as Mostly Kosher, Blue13 Dance Company, The Sound and Mariachi Divas.

We are sad to say that there no longer is snowfall in the Redwood Creek area. We are thrilled, however, that World of Color — Season of Light returned for Disneyland Christmas and the Festival of Holidays 2019! The holiday show is electrifyingly magical. We can't wait to catch it in 2020! Showtimes vary per night, so be sure to check the calendar. On weekends and holidays, there may be two shows. Weeknights that are not at peak times may have one show, depending on park hours. There is usually a special World of Color New Year’s Eve countdown with fireworks Dec. 31. You can usually find a New Year's Eve countdown in Hollywood Land.

Dining During the Holidays at Disneyland

Holidays at Disneyland - Turkey Dinner

If you are planning to visit Disneyland in 2020, especially 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 Reservations System. There are dining plans that offer preferred viewing for Fantasmic! and World of Color.

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. Practically every restaurant is offering a special seasonal dish, and some present a full spread. The Disneyland Hotel offered its fall harvest buffet in the ballroom in 2019. This 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, Disney's PCH Grill, 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. Be sure to check out the New Year's Eve Fireworks Spectacular dining package at Plaza Inn. There's also a New Year's Eve dinner buffet with characters at Disney's PCH Grill.

Special Reserved Experiences

Another toadally cool holiday experience at the hotels and open to all guests is the Grand Gingerbread House Experience. Meet the pastry chefs who made the giant gingerbread house in the lobby of the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and build one of your own! It's recommended to have a minimum of two guests to complete a house. Guests can enjoy tasty treats and will receive a holiday-themed apron amenity. The event is from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on select dates.

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 to 60 days in advance for Oga's Cantina and other experiences in the new land (such as building a lightsaber at Savi's Workshop or building a droid at Droid Depot). 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 do not 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.

Visiting Disneyland for Christmas - DonaldFun 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. In past years, there has been a menorah in a second-story window on Main Street, U.S.A. Can you find it? We have spotted two different menorahs across from the stroller parking near The Little Mermaid ride in Disney California Adventure too!
  • 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 2020 Disneyland Christmas tree!

Carthay Circle Christmas Tree - Disneyland Christmas

  • The Carthay Circle Christmas tree in Disney California Adventure is nearly 50 feet tall! It's decorated with vintage-style ornaments.
  • The tree lighting takes place at 4:55 p.m.
  • 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.Visiting Disneyland for Christmas 2020 - Joy
  • 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!
  • Be sure to check out the holiday decorations in Downtown Disney.
  • If you are staying at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels during Disneyland Christmas 2020, 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!

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: Yummiest Holiday Treats at Disneyland

Related: Favorite Disneyland Holiday Treats

Related: Tips for Spending New Year's Eve at Disneyland

Hoppy holidays!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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Mar 22, 2020 at 2:24 p.m. Stacy Says...


We are looking to reschedule our March 25th trip for November. I was thinking the first week of November but I would like to see the Christmas decorations and enjoy the Christmas festivities. What dates would you recommend in order for us to be able to do that?

Mar 23, 2020 at 3:26 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Stacy!

What a great idea! This year's holiday dates haven't been released just yet, but in 2019, the Holidays at the Disneyland Resort began on November 8th. This year's dates should be similar; we'd stick to the second or third week of the month to avoid the Thanksgiving crowd. Have a fantastic time!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Dec 9, 2019 at 8:17 p.m. Mercelena Vasquez-Funk Says...

What time do the Christmas Carolers Sing at the Grand Californian? on sunday?

Dec 11, 2019 at 2:34 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Mercelena!

Carolers do 30-minute sets Thursday through Sunday starting at 5:30 p.m.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Oct 30, 2019 at 7:02 p.m. Stephanie Says...

Love your site so much, so much great info!! I wanted to ask about Fantasmic! and Believe...In Holiday Magic. On Sat.11/30 Fantasmic! will play at 9:00 and then Believe... will play at 9:30. If we have fastpasses for Fantasmic! can we keep standing there for the Believe... show or is everyone moved immediately? Fantasmic! also plays at 10:30 should we try for that one instead? Your article says Believe... can be seen from the Rivers of America or should we try for the castle area? Thank you!!

Nov 4, 2019 at 7:58 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Stephanie!

Thanks so much. We are so hoppy you like it! You can stay in place after Fantasmic! and watch Believe … in Holiday Magic from there. You will not have enough time to move after Fantasmic! since the shows are just minutes apart. If you end up getting FASTPASSes for the 10:30 show, you can watch from any of the viewing areas before hopping over to Fantasmic!. Have a wonderful time!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Oct 9, 2019 at 9:31 p.m. Rob Says...

This is a great article thanks! It sounds like some decorations will be up when I'm there this year November 2-5th. Do they start playing Christmas music that early?

Oct 10, 2019 at 12:15 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Rob!

Thank you! We’re so hoppy you like it! You’ll see a lot of decorations going up day by day. We aren’t sure if Christmas music will be on that early. It’s more likely to play Nov. 6-7. Be sure to catch Mickey’s Mix Magic with fireworks on Nov 2 or 3!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Oct 4, 2019 at 2:29 a.m. jasmine picanco Says...

Hi im planning a family vacation dec 20-26 ; whats the best way to reserve fast passes for fantasmic and world of color? and do you know if they have those shows everynight or just on the weekends?

Oct 4, 2019 at 10:08 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jasmine!

Being that it is a peak time, we expect the shows to run every day. The best way to get FASTPASSes for those shows is to get MaxPass, and reserve those shows on your phone as soon as you enter a park that day. There are some dining packages that give you FASTPASS vouchers. We think the free FASTPASS for World of Color you can reserve on your phone is great. People really like the World of Color Dessert Party package, as well, which is the only seated option. However, the dining packages for Fantasmic! are the only way to get front and center. All three packages have great seated (on the ground) viewing, although with Blue Bayou, you do get a cushion to sit on. If you choose the free FASTPASS for Fantasmic!, be sure to arrive earlier than instructed so you can get a front view. The second showing of Fantasmic! can have decent stand-by viewing if you hop in place as soon as fireworks end.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Oct 23, 2019 at 9:09 p.m. jasmine Says...

thanks ! also what kine of weather should i expect ? how should i dress my family? i heard it gets cold.

Oct 25, 2019 at 9:13 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jasmine!

The best plan is to check the weather closer to your event. It could be warm, cool, cold or rainy. We’ve seen it all in December. Dress in layers with pants and a short-sleeved shirt if the temperatures are reaching the 70s. A long sleeved shirt is good if it is cooler. Bring heavy sweatshirts or light jackets for night, when it does get cold. Bring rain gear if rain is in the forecast. The average high is in the upper 60s (the sun makes it feel warmer during the day) and the average low is in the mid-40s at night that week. We get a locker to store sweatshirts and maybe a hat until we need them. But when you move around with all those people at Disneyland, you do keep pretty warm. Hope this helps!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Sep 30, 2019 at 10:02 p.m. Lisa Says...


Do you happen to know whether or not Fantasmic! will be on during this December? The last time we went at Christmas time it wasn't on, but I think that was when it was on hiatus.


Oct 1, 2019 at 12:48 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Lisa!

Fantasmic! should be showing during Christmas time! It was closed one season due to work on Rivers of America, but it usually runs during the holidays and peak times.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Sep 17, 2019 at 5:55 p.m. Tracy Says...

Heading to Disneyland this November for the Holiday experience. Any restaurants you would recommend that are extra special during the holiday season??

Sep 18, 2019 at 2:16 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Tracy!

There are so many yummy things to eat during the holidays. Each restaurant and food stand has something special to offer. If you want fine dining, go for Napa Rose or Steakhouse 55. There may be a nice afternoon tea on select days at Steakhouse 55. Otherwise, you can get a lot of different tastes by simply hopping around the festival booths at Disney California Adventure. If you are looking for a special holiday meal (say Thanksgiving dinner) be sure to reserve 60 days in advance.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Sep 16, 2019 at 1:45 p.m. Gretchen Says...

Any thoughts as to which weekend Candlelight will be? I know it’s usually the first weekend, but with December 1st falling on a Sunday, I wasn’t sure if there was a chance they’d have it Nov 30/Dec 1 rather than Dec 7/8. I’ve been saving all year to go see Candlelight - I’d hate to show up the wrong weekend! :-)

Sep 17, 2019 at 2:58 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Gretchen!

No news on exactly when Candlelight will hoppen this year, but we've got our eyes and ears open!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Sep 1, 2019 at 10:33 p.m. Aubrey Durkin Says...

Last year the food was available the day before the official date. We were so excited because we were heading home on the official day and it was a nice surprise with low crowds. And we took advantage of single rider options. Many popular rides have it.

Aug 6, 2019 at 5:29 p.m. TIFFANY Says...

If I come in November, will all the lights be up? Or is it a special date when everything will be up? I don't wanna miss anything, so basically what day is the best day to come on?

Aug 6, 2019 at 1:43 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Tiffany!

The holiday season at Disneyland officially starts Nov. 8 - so anytime thereafter you should be able to catch the decorations! Have fun!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Jun 30, 2019 at 8:28 p.m. Debra Bradford Says...

We are taking 23 family members. I want

To make sure to get dinner reservations for

Christmas Dinner at Bay By Blue I know there’s a 60

Day wait to book. Is there any way to book sooner? Also my friend said there’s a Christmas Party you can buy tickets for like the Halloween Party where do I find the info for that?

Jul 1, 2019 at 8:24 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Debra!

Sixty days is unfortunately the soonest that you can book. Be sure to call right away at the 60 day mark to try to secure reservations, as it books up very quickly! There are Christmas festivities that are included with general admission at Disneyland (no separate ticket needed), though Disney World offers a separately ticketed party called Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Jun 20, 2019 at 6:12 p.m. Jill Says...

Hi! We are hoping to visit Disneyland in the first week of December for my son’s birthday. We are really hoping to see a parade and fireworks while we are there. Are the parades and fireworks typically only offered on weekends, or could we go on a weekday?

Jun 26, 2019 at 9:31 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jill!

There is typically a Christmas Fantasy Parade every day. There may be fireworks every day at that time, as well. You can check the entertainment schedule up to 6 weeks in advance to find out. It’s a great week to visit!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Jun 7, 2019 at 1:49 a.m. Sonya Says...

Planning a family trip this year during the holiday season. Preferably November. Having the hardest time finding a hotel, is this typical for hotels to be booked in June?

Jun 7, 2019 at 12:42 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Sonya,

Hotels are booked out pretty early, especially the on-site Disneyland hotels, but you should still be able to find some availability for them and more for the nearby off-site hotels. Here is a link to search: https://www.undercovertourist.com/los-angeles/hotels/

Keep hopping!


Nov 29, 2018 at 4:53 a.m. Wendy Says...

Family is coming out after Christmas..is the park less crowded New year's day or the day after? Than before New year's? Jan1-5 we are planning 2 out of those 5 days to go..what's best?

Nov 29, 2018 at 9:55 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Wendy!

You'll find the answers you're looking for on our Crowd Calendar :)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Nov 10, 2018 at 7:56 p.m. Rene Says...

Does Disneyland still have their candle lite parade?

Nov 13, 2018 at 2:48 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Rene!

Yes - it looks like it will be taking place Dec. 1 and 2 this year :)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Nov 8, 2018 at 1:53 a.m. Andrew Says...

Hi Mommy Frog,

Thanks so much for your blog.

We are visiting Disneyland from the 27-29 December as a family with two children aged 10 and 7. Can you please provide some tips as to how to manage this period?

Best wishes


Nov 8, 2018 at 10:37 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Andrew!

We recommend checking out our Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland. This will be super helpful as you are visiting during a busy time. You'll have SO much fun enjoying the holiday festivities in the parks :) Enjoy.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Oct 17, 2018 at 9:08 p.m. Mike Says...

It appears Christmas will be in full swing on Nov. 9. What will I miss if I'm there on Nov. 8?

Oct 26, 2018 at 7:55 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Mike!

On Nov. 8, the day before it starts, the decorations will be up and they will likely have the Christmas music flowing. Last year they had the music and all the decor happening, but there are no seasonal parades or shows yet, and the ride overlays will probably not be open. Holiday food choices may not be out yet, but the trees and snow on the castle and sounds of Christmas will make you feel like it’s Christmas already. Nothing is guaranteed, but things were getting revved up early last year before the official start and you can at least count on most of the decor being done. Haunted Mansion Holiday is already open, so you won’t miss that.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Oct 15, 2018 at 4:37 p.m. JulesA Says...

Your holiday info says 2017, will you be updating for December 2018? What are the chances World of Color will be back for the Christmas show?

Oct 15, 2018 at 4:43 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi there!

We will be updating soon. No word yet on whether or not World of Color will be returning, but we sure hope so!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Sep 16, 2018 at 4:38 p.m. angie Says...

I am visiting Jan 1-6. It looks clear that the parade, decorations and holiday overlays are still going. However, I read that Santa will be gone as of Dec 24th so it left me wondering if other things will end as well. I am hoping to see characters still dressed for the holidays.

Sep 20, 2018 at 4:22 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Angie!

The characters will still be dressed up. Santa is probably the only thing that goes ... he’s probably tired and isn’t taking requests for the next year yet! We have seen Santa Goofy move into his place at DCA in past years.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Dec 1, 2017 at 12:18 a.m. Jessica Campbell Says...

Universal is awesome!

Nov 26, 2017 at 11:50 a.m. DOMINIQUE DEVINE Says...

Disney is the best at Christmas.

Nov 22, 2017 at 7:45 a.m. Kari Jay Says...

What time are they filming the abc disney special on Nov 30th? We were considering coming that day but wanted to know what areas will be closed in the park

Dec 22, 2017 at 8:55 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Kari,

So sorry for the delay in responding, but your comment ended up in our spam filter.

Hope you have a wonderful holiday.

Mommy Frog

Nov 16, 2017 at 8:42 p.m. Jackie Says...

We are planning on going to Disneyland and California Adventure on Wed Dec. 13 which according to the crowd calendar a green day. I heard Disneyland is normally slower on Thurs. which is the 14th. Is the Wed still a better day to go?

Thank you for this site! It's awesome and truly appreciated!

Dec 22, 2017 at 8:37 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jackie,

So sorry for the delay. You comment ended up in our spam filter. We hope you had a great trip and thank you!

Mommy Frog

Nov 13, 2017 at 5:13 p.m. Matt Says...

I am looking to visit Dec 18-20, but it looks right now like park hours are crazy short those days (DL closes at 9!). Why is that, considering it is open until midnight every single night before that in December?

Is there a chance those times might be extended? Seems really strange to me they would shorten the hours so close to Christmas…?

Nov 27, 2017 at 4:12 p.m. Yasmin Says...

Agreed! I'm also curious and was surprised by the hours. We have 5 day hopper tickets and will be there Dec. 18 to 22nd. It seems very odd.

Nov 10, 2017 at 7:57 a.m. Adi Says...

We are coming to L.A for two weeks in December and am eager to take my 13 year old for a Disneyland visit. Any discounted tickets for a mid week pre christmas visit? Thinking about Dec 6th... Thank you

Nov 17, 2017 at 2:31 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Adi,

Unfortunately, we do not yet offer Disneyland tickets. Have a great time!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Nov 9, 2017 at 6:58 a.m. JC Says...

Hi I have been before over Xmas and will be there this December again. I have been to Disneyland Hotel ballroom for Xmas lunch but cannot find any info this year. Any suggestions for a Xmas buffet Lunch for 14 ppl.

Nov 1, 2017 at 5:49 p.m. Aaron Says...

Hello, we will be going Nov 29-Dec 2. Do you know of any special parades or events only happening on that Saturday, Dec 2? Thanks!

Nov 1, 2017 at 3:42 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Aaron,

We don't see any exclusive activities scheduled Dec. 2. Have a good time!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Oct 18, 2017 at 1:14 p.m. Adrian Camacho Says...

Hi. Wondering if you can tell me the date when the christmas tree is turned on for the first time this year in Disneyland Main Street

Oct 18, 2017 at 8:17 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Adrian,

Disney does not publish an exact date, but it is usually up during the first few days of November.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Oct 18, 2017 at 1:33 p.m. Adrian Camacho Says...

Thanks a lot Mommy Frog

Oct 19, 2017 at 8:12 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Adrian,

You're very welcome!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Oct 3, 2017 at 6:18 p.m. Hilary Adams Says...

Hi! My fiancée and I are going for my 30th birthday :) wondering if we should do one day with park hopper or two days without park hopper to be able to see it all! Sounds like the events happen every night so maybe two days would be best?

- Hilary

Oct 4, 2017 at 8:19 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Hilary,

Go for two days. You'll have more time to experience things, rather than rushing between the parks.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Sep 24, 2017 at 2:56 a.m. Ana Says...

I plan on arriving at Disneyland on Dec 31st like around 7pm. Do you think there will still be tickets available for a group of 8? thank you!

Dec 3, 2017 at 4:46 p.m. Kathy Says...

We visit the Disneyland Resort every year at Christmas. Two years ago we decided to ring in the new year and held park hopper passes. The crowds were huge. DCA was not as busy as Disneyland Park but we were told to get back into Disneyland by 5PM because the park had a very high chance of reaching capacity. Crowds were shoulder to shoulder everywhere. There wasn't a seat available on any bench in the square or in front of the castle. We decided that while it was fun to ring in the New Year at Disneyland it definitely was a one time experience for us.

Sep 1, 2019 at 10:34 p.m. Aubrey Durkin Says...

We did the same thing in 2016. Never again! It was sooo busy and cold.

Sep 24, 2017 at 8:50 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Ana,

It's possible, but the parks could close due to capacity. No tickets will be sold until the gates re-open.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Sep 21, 2017 at 4:54 p.m. Kelly Says...

Hi there!

We are going to be there December 3rd-8th! Can't wait!!! We usually go during Halloween time and love it! Excited to see what the Holiday Season is like! Have you heard who the narrator of the Candlelight Processional will be?


Sep 21, 2017 at 12:07 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Kelly,

We haven't heard who the narrator will be. We'll update it when we know!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Nov 15, 2017 at 6:45 a.m. Kelly Says...

Thank you!

Sep 17, 2017 at 3:31 p.m. Sue Case Says...

We will be @Disneyland November 3-6th what will we see in the way of decorations?

Sep 18, 2017 at 8:37 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Sue,

In previous years, you'd see the Christmas tree as well as many decorations on Main Street U.S.A. during that time frame. Other places will start to have decorations as well.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Nov 14, 2016 at 7:14 p.m. Ada Says...

Hi! We have booked Jan 3-5 at the Disneyland Grand Hotel. Will the timing be just right to catch some of the holiday stuff? Or are we going at a bad time? We have 2 year and will be his first time. Thanks!!

Nov 16, 2016 at 11:03 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Ada,

The holiday decorations and entertainment go through Jan. 8.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Oct 13, 2016 at 4:01 p.m. Gina Payne Says...

Check out Catal Restaurant in Downtown Disney – they host a Breakfast with Santa event on December 10, 11, 17, 18, 19 and 23. It’s a great time for the entire family and includes a family-style breakfast, hot cocoa cart manned by an elf, personalized stockings for the kids, kid’s activities, carolers, cookies and milk station and pictures with Santa! You can buy tickets here http://bit.ly/29fBIyv and this is a great blog of the event we attended last year http://bit.ly/1UFZbr2

Nov 11, 2015 at 10:58 p.m. Elle Says...

Add me to the list of folks bummed out that the Believe in Holiday Magic and snowfall will not be occurring this year.

Where can I get a list of this year's special holiday snacks? =)

Nov 6, 2015 at 9:31 p.m. PC Barnes Says...

Thanks for this great piece! Our family are Disneyland at Holiday Time vets, but I still learned new things. Especially appreciate the heads up regarding the filming of the ABC Disney Parks parade (which I want to avoid!). Thank you!

Nov 10, 2015 at 1:40 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi PC,

Thank you! We're glad you found it helpful. Have fun at the parks!

Mommy Frog

Sep 8, 2017 at 5:37 a.m. Tommy Says...

Does the ABC parade filming normally take place on a weekend or weekdays? In the parks Dec 4-7. Trying to avoid it. Thanks

Sep 8, 2017 at 7:52 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Tommy,

The parade filming normally takes place on a weekend. We'll update the post when we know the filming dates.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Nov 5, 2015 at 4:17 p.m. Jann Says...

We are arriving at WDW January 3,2016!! Any knowledge of when Christmas decorations are no longer visible??? Thanks!

Nov 10, 2015 at 1:31 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jann,

Some of the decorations will still be up!!

Mommy Frog

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