8 Tips For Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland
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Get the most out of your Disneyland vacation with these insider tricks.
The holiday season truly is magical at Disneyland, bustling with special events, parties, parades, entertainment and elaborate decorations. Plus, Disneyland Resort offers special annual events, from the Festival of Holidays entertainment to the "World of Color -- Season of Light" spectacle at Disney California Adventure Park. However, Disneyland is also bustling with holiday crowds and steep price tags this time of year, which can dampen your experience. Here's how to enjoy all the holiday magic on your Disney vacation while navigating the masses (and high prices) this season.
Know when to go.
The holiday season at Disneyland and California Adventure officially launched on Nov. 10, and it continues through Jan. 8, 2017. Crowds will be lowest before Dec. 19, which is the week most kids are out of school, so plan a trip earlier in the month to battle fewer tourists at top attraction rides and restaurants and secure cost-effective accommodations. Best of all, you and little ones can still enjoy vibrant parades, shows and festive holiday-focused programming without the crowds.
Know what's new this year.
New this year is the Festival of Holidays at California Adventure, which celebrates the festivities of many cultures at kiosks offering multicultural crafts and holiday food, plus performances showcasing iconic holiday songs and dances. Families can even join in the fun during select performances and learn holiday dance moves. Think of the family-friendly Festival of the Holidays as a mini, seasonal World Showcase mixed with the International Food and Wine Festival.
Know what to expect from nighttime entertainment.
Families can expect a holiday-themed World of Color show at California Adventure nightly, now called "World of Color: Season of Light." Over at neighboring Disneyland, visitors can enjoy "Believe... in Holiday Magic," a spectacle that includes a dazzling nightly fireworks display, along with snowfall on Main Street. FastPass tickets are available for World of Color shows, which take place twice nightly during the popular holiday season.
Know which attractions will be 'dressed' for the holidays.
At this time of year, three rides undergo a holiday transformation, including Haunted Mansion, which gets a Tim Burton "Nightmare Before Christmas" theme, and It's a Small World, which adds carols from around the world and magical lighting after dark. And the Jungle Cruise turns into a holiday-themed cruise during the winter season, with special details incorporated into the ride, including holiday twists and jolly jokes added to the script.
Know where to see Santa.
At California Adventure, the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail features the usual offerings of fun hands-on activities for kids during the winter season. But at this time of year, it also includes a holiday-themed scavenger hunt where kids look for "presents" along the trail (ask a Cast Member for a sheet to get started), and kids can visit with the main man of the season: Santa. Santa can also be visited in Disneyland Park at Critter Country.
Know how to navigate parade routes.
To view the Disneyland holiday parade, Christmas Fantasy, plan to find seating in designated areas a full hour before the parade start time. Ask Cast Members where you can sit or stand to view the spectacle, as certain high-traffic viewing areas are limited. Once the parade starts, Cast Members will move along foot traffic, so don't plan to watch on the fly. Also keep in mind, visitors are unable to watch from the parade store and restaurant doorways; however, if you're within a store, you can usually catch glimpse of the ornate parades, making it a smart option if you can't snag a prime viewing location.
Know where to view the 'World of Color' spectacle.
If you're staying in either park for the nightly "Holiday Magic" or "World of Color" shows, popular viewing areas will fill up about an hour and a half beforehand. For the "World of Color" show, get a FastPass (available by Grizzly River Run in California Adventure) or book a dining package at a California Adventure restaurant. Of, if you plan to simply stake out a spot, look along the benches by California Screamin' or Ariel's Grotto, but arrive early to secure an unobstructed viewing area.
Know where to view 'Believe... in Holiday Magic' fireworks display.
To catch the fireworks in a prime location, plan to line up a full two hours early. You'll need to wait for the rope to drop in front of the castle for an ideal vantage point (and the opportunity to put down a blanket), or you can find a curb along Main Street. If you want to exit quickly afterward, grab a spot well in advance at the train station platform by the entrance to Disneyland. Remember there are no dining packages available for the fireworks, so it's a wise idea to arrive early.
Haunted Mansion Holiday
It's A Small World
It's A Small World Holiday
Christmas Fantasy Parade