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Disneyland Holidays: Disney’s Theme Park Christmas Season

Published by Anissa Messano

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Disneyland Park guests can enjoy an extra magical Disney Christmas season at the theme park, which adds seasonal touches during the holiday. Highlights include holiday overlays to favorite attractions, themed entertainment and activities, and special treats.

As with Christmas at Walt Disney World Resort, the Disneyland holiday season lasts for nearly six weeks, from a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving to just after New Year’s Day. This year, Disneyland’s Christmas runs from Nov. 12 through Jan. 2.

Disney Christmas Decorations at Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle & Main Street, U.S.A.

At Disneyland Park, the original Disney theme park, Christmas traditions include holiday overlays. Sleeping Beauty Castle is outfitted in seasonal décor for a holiday appearance and a focal point for Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle Presentation. Its holiday decorations place pristine snowdrifts atop the castle’s towers and turrets, and icicles provide a sparkling touch.


While Sleeping Beauty Castle is the park’s centerpiece, Main Street’s nostalgic look at American small-town life is also central to Disneyland’s Christmas season. Main Street features Disneyland’s 60-foot-tall Christmas tree. Decorated with more than 62,000 LED lights, the tree becomes a centerpiece during the holiday presentation set off by rest of Main Street that is decked in lights and garland.

In the evening, Sleeping Beauty Winter Castle Presentation showcases the castle’s and Main Street’s holiday lighting and special effects. The presentation features three acts in which Disneyland’s regular lights dim and then the LED holiday lights come on, as the Disney holiday magic comes alive in stages.

The highlight for Sleeping Beauty Winter Castle Presentation is Disneyland’s “Believe… in Holiday Magic,” a fireworks extravaganza celebrating the Christmas season. It showcases a version of “White Christmas” matched by a dreams-come-true snow on Main Street, New Orleans Square, and “it’s a small world.”

Guests are encouraged to participate in holiday activities throughout the park. For instance, on Main Street children can decorate cookies and guests of all ages may enjoy the seasonal treats that taste as good as the smells that waft out into the street. And Main Street holiday entertainment includes orchestra and a chorus to provide seasonal music.

Disneyland Christmas Attractions – “it’s a small world” Holiday & Haunted Mansion Holiday

Some of the most fanciful elements of a Disneyland Christmas are the holiday decorations and overlays featured at key park locations. While much of the them park takes on a seasonal feel, two attractions in particular stand out: “it’s a small world” and Haunted Mansion.

“it’s a small world” Holiday offers a global, multi-cultural holiday celebration. More than 300,000 lights adorn the popular attraction, which is particularly lovely at night and during the snowfalls. The holiday feel extends to decorations, costumes and songs appropriate to the season.

Haunted Mansion takes on elements inspired by “Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas,” the stop-motion film starring Jack Skellington and his friends from Halloweentown. Sandy Claws, better known as Jack in his Christmas suit, greets guests and welcomes them to enjoy his scary Christmas fun.

Among the extra-special treats – not tricks – of Haunted Mansion Holiday décor is a special gingerbread sculptured that becomes a centerpiece of the dark ride’s ballroom scene. The Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay is in effect over Disneyland’s Halloween and Christmas holiday seasons.

Disneyland’s “A Christmas Fantasy Parade” & Santa Claus

Disneyland also hosts a seasonal parade, where “A Christmas Fantasy Parade” is something of a holiday tradition. Disney characters, along with seasonal floats and energetic entertainers, provide a holly jolly look at the holiday. The parade’s loose theming shows Disney characters – also dressed in their holiday finery – preparing to celebrate the season.

Highlights of the parade include:

  • Goofy and Max find fun decorating a life-size gingerbread house.
  • Mickey and Minnie enjoying a romantic skate on an icy pond.
  • Geppetto and Pinocchio creating toys for Santa.

Disneyland’s “A Christmas Fantasy Parade” also stars an extra-special character, Santa Claus, who greets Disney guests while traveling along the route.

Guests who would like to see Santa Claus up close may visit Santa Claus at Santa’s Reindeer Round-up, which features live reindeer in the corral. Located in Big Thunder Ranch, in Frontierland, the Round-Up offers kids of all ages the opportunity to take their case to the man in red– and hopefully make Santa’s nice list. While visiting Big Thunder Ranch, kids can participate in crafts, dancing, and an assortment of reindeer games.

Disneyland Holiday Time Tours

During the Christmas season, Disneyland offers guests the opportunity to book guided “Holiday Time” tours. These informative and entertaining tours, which last approximately 2 ½ hours, focus the history of Disneyland’s holiday traditions.

Festive activities are central to the tours, providing entry to “it’s a small world” Holiday and Haunted Mansion Holiday and reserved seating for “A Christmas Fantasy Parade.” A small souvenir provides guests with a memento of the holiday tour.

Discounts on “A Holiday Time” tours are available for Annual Passholders, AAA Members and Disney Visa

Cardholders. For information and reservations on these holiday tours, guests should visit Disneyland City Hall or call 714-781-4400 up to 30 days in advance. Not the Disneyland Park admission is required, and not included with the tours, and space is limited.

Enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas at Disneyland holidays is part of the holiday season, and is included with theme-park admission. The irresistible tastes of treats, like the Holiday Time Tours, do cost extra. Before you visit, be sure to check the Disneyland Resort calendar for operating hours and performance times.

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