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Disneyland Article
7 Unusual Things You Did Not Know About Disneyland At The Holidays
Megan Dubois
If Disneyland uncovers your inner child during the summer months, you've got to see the resort when the holiday season rolls around. From icicles draping the spires of Sleeping Beauty Castle to hand-pulled candy canes, the entire Disneyland Resort is a remarkably festive place to celebrate the winter holidays.

With this year's celebrations running from Nov. 11 until Jan. 8, 2023, there’s plenty of time to hug Santa, try limited-edition treats and ride on the Haunted Mansion Holiday before the dreaded January Blues kick in.

Even if you’ve experienced a Disneyland Christmas before, there are likely special things you still haven’t done or things you didn’t even know about the the seasonal celebrations that will change how you plan your next winter trip to the resort.

The Haunted Mansion Holiday ride features a 300-pound moving gingerbread house

While you're riding Haunted Mansion Holiday, the must-try overlay that themes the iconic ride after “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” you’ll glide by a large gingerbread house on the table in the ballroom scene. This authentic display changes every year and is created by the pastry team at Disneyland. Creating the structure and getting it assembled in the ride building takes the pastry team more than 20 days. This year’s gingerbread house weighs nearly 300 pounds and has three moving elements.

Disneyland's Grand Californian is home to a 7-foot-tall gingerbread house

For even more gingerbread action, head to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, where you can see the resort’s gingerbread house in the lobby starting Nov. 14. The structure stands 7 feet tall and a whopping 12 feet wide and is made to look just like the beautiful hotel that houses it. This year's gingerbread house is made from more than 600 pounds of gingerbread and powdered sugar, and contains 25 hidden Mickeys.

Pro-tip: a day or two before the official opening of the gingerbread house, onlookers can watch the pastry team build and decorate it.

The Candlelight Processional is as intimate as any Disney parks event

Almost every year since 1958, Candlelight Processional has taken place at Disneyland Park. The event is much more intimate than the Candlelight Processional that runs at Walt Disney World's EPCOT. Disneyland's version happens on just two nights over the entire holiday season, versus EPCOT's weeks-long program with multiple performances each night. At Disneyland, Candlelight Processional is mainly attended by invited guests and VIPs, like Club 33 members and Disney executives.

The show runs about 45 minutes long, and retells the story of the first Christmas through songs and Bible readings. Each year, a celebrity narrator takes the lead to do the readings and invites guests to take in the sights and sounds of one of Disneyland’s oldest traditions. Former narrators have included Chris Hemsworth, Sterling K. Brown and Dick Van Dyke, though narrators are usually not announced publicly before the season's first performance.

For those who want to see the show, if you happen to be at Disneyland Park on Dec. 3 or 4, get to Town Square early to stake out a standing-room-only spot. If you just wish to see some of the show, you can stand on Main Street USA and watch the choir walk down the street to the train station before continuing on your way to see all of the other festivities the park has to offer.

It's not just about celebrating Christmas

At both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, you’ll find activities, shows and plenty more celebrating Christmas, but you’ll also find plenty of festivities built around other winter holidays. During the Festival of the Holidays event at Disney California Adventure, for example, guests can take part in traditions from Navidad, Hanukkah, Diwali, Kwanzaa and Three Kings' Day.

More than 100,000 lights cover Sleeping Beauty Castle

The sheer amount of holiday lights on Disneyland's most iconic structure would make Clark Griswold's knees shake. During the day, guests see the snow-topped turrets and larger-than-life wreath that adorn Sleeping Beauty Castle, but at night the castle truly shimmers and shines. To make those sparkly icicles come to life, Disney drapes more than 126,000 LED lights over the castle for the holiday season.

Twice each night, at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m., the castle does a little lighting ceremony as fake snow falls over Main Street USA. We’ve been told the snow smells like gingerbread, but you should verify that for yourself.

It’s a Small World becomes a must-see spectacle

While you may not enjoy hearing the notorious earworm that goes with a ride on It’s a Small World, you’re going to want to make your way over to the attraction during the holidays, even if it’s just to see the facade. Normally white and gold, it turns into a menagerie of color thanks to the 50,000 colored lights that are installed on the ride building each year. Then, to bring even more sparkle to the attraction’s entry, an additional 350,000 mini-lights are used to cover bushes, trees and animal topiaries around the ride.

Candy canes become the hottest treat in Anaheim

One of the most sacred Disneyland holiday traditions is the making and selling of hand-pulled candy canes. The 18-inch candy canes are all made from scratch, starting with a batch of peppermint-flavored molten candy all the way to the treats getting hand-wrapped before going to guests. This sweet tradition started in 1968 and today, is one of the most popular treats at Disneyland Resort's two parks. On select days in December, either Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure Park will be offering the famous candy canes, which go for $20 apiece.

If you want to snag one of these coveted candy canes, be sure to line up at the designated park at least an hour before opening. Then, when the gates open head straight for Candy Palace on Main Street at Disneyland or to Trolley Treats at Disney California Adventure. Candy canes can be found at Disneyland Park on Dec. 4, 6, 11, 13, 18, 20 and 24, while Disney California Adventure will have them on Dec. 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21 and 25.

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