Disneyland is magical at any time of year, but the holiday season is an extra special time to visit the park. So much detail can be found in every corner of Disneyland and California Adventure Park, with each ride, statue and café filled with tiny nods to the character or movie that was the inspiration.
From November to January the parks have a festive makeover with the season celebrated with holiday decorations, light projections and themed tasty treats throughout, making Christmas at Disneyland something not to be missed. We’re sharing our tips for accessibility and Disney’s Christmas magic.
TRAVELLING TO DISNEYLAND FOR THE CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS
We’ve visited Disneyland several times as a family and we never tire of the rides, character interactions and the hard-to-explain Disney magic infused into cast members. Everything that is special about Disneyland and California Adventure Park is multiplied by a hundred during the festive season.
A team of fast-moving elves must work to a military-style operational plan to transition the park from Halloween decorations to Christmas in the short hours the park is closed. The detail in the transformation is simply dazzling.
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is the centrepiece of Disneyland and the focus of the evening’s celebrations but It’s a Small World has its own glittering spruce up for the holidays.
It’s a Small World is always one of my favourite rides, no matter how many times I take a ride I see something different. And for the holidays, the attraction takes on a festive look from the outside in.
DISNEYLAND’S CHRISTMAS FANTASY PARADE
Nothing beats a Disney parade and the Christmas Fantasy Parade is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit. Marching soldiers, dancing snowmen, prancing reindeer, Disney characters atop floats and Santa Clause all make their way down Main Street. It’s the most dazzling spectacle of a parade I’ve ever seen. It’s absolutely beautiful.
Those keen to get a front row view of the parade start to line Main Street long before the parade starts. Accessible viewing areas are clearly marked and available to those needing it. Speak to a cast member for directions or check with staff at City Hall.
Even if you are normally half-hearted about a parade, this one will surely win you over with it’s incredible detail and heavily decorated floats.
In the lead up to Christmas I watched on with wonder and child-like excitement much to AJ’s amusement, and at times embarrassment. I don’t suppose their are many times parents show their inner child and that’s one of the many things I love about Disneyland.
If you have a Disney lover in your family, make sure they watch the Disney parade on the video below –
IS DISNEYLAND TOO BUSY DURING THE HOLIDAYS?
We visited Disneyland and California Adventure Park 10 days before Christmas and we had no problem doing everything we wanted to do in two days. Keep in mind we were travelling without BJ on this occasion so we moved through the parks much quicker, but the crowds were manageable. AJ and I used a combination of the extra magic hour allocated to guests staying at a Disney hotel and the MaxPass to maximise our time in the parks. The extra magic hour was particularly helpful. You can read more about that at the bottom of my hotel review here.
I have noted that between Christmas and New Year the parks often reach capacity, which means the parks limit entry until numbers are back to a safe level. I would suggest avoiding this period or allowing extra days in the park to ensure you can do all you’d like to fit in to your Disney itinerary.
Unique Christmas inspired photo opportunities, characters dressed in their Christmas best, and themed decorations are found around every corner of the parks.
Given we’ve visited the parks several times it was refreshing to visit when everything looked so different.
The unique detail which goes into the decorations in each land had me fascinated. You don’t see hubcap decorations on many Christmas trees, but you do in Radiator Springs.
Fuelling your days at Disney is important given the stamina required for a full day at the parks.
Holiday inspired sugary treats are sure to delight and entice, and there’s no shortage of options.
You can even watch the magic happen in the kitchen.
Accessible accommodation within walking or wheeling distance of the parks will maximise your time at Disneyland. We’ve reviewed two accessible options which we’re sharing below.
A little further away is the Anaheim Marriott
DIFFICULTY QUEUING? TRY THE DISNEY DISABILITY ACCESS SERVICE
BJ has zero ability to sit still and a particularly low tolerance for waiting in lengthy queues. He tends to wheel himself off at any chance he gets, because waiting is clearly wasting time for our go-getter. Therefore the Disability Access Service (DAS) at Disneyland and California Adventure Park helped us enormously. It should be noted the DAS is only intended for guests whose disability prevents them from waiting in a conventional queue environment. This service allows visitors to the park to schedule a return time that is comparable to the current queue wait for the given attraction. Once a return time is issued, you are free to enjoy other activities such as character meet and greets, dining or parades until your listed return time.
Please note you can only have one active return time at a time. As soon as an outstanding attraction return time is redeemed, you can receive a return time for the same or a different attraction.
This service can be used in addition to Disney’s FASTPASS® Service.
When we used the Disability Access Service there was a card used, this has since changed but the arrangements are similar so my blog on our experience may be of use. You can read about it here.
The Disneyland website has a step-by-step guide to getting and using the Disability Access Service here.
FASTPASS & MAXPASS
For many people a trip to Disneyland is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, so it’s all the more important to maximise ride time and experiences while you are there. Using Disney’s FASTPASS® Service will help.
If you are travelling at a particularly busy time, and depending on how many in your group/family, you may find it worthwhile investing in MaxPasses. When AJ and I travelled before Christmas, we took advantage of the extra magic hour we received by staying at a Disney hotel and also purchased MaxPasses. This allowed us to do everything we wanted to do in two days. We had considered purchasing tickets for a third day at the park but it wasn’t necessary when utilising the MaxPass. This is something to consider when deciding whether to invest the additional money into purchasing the MaxPass. You can read about how we used the Disneyland App and MaxPass to make the most of our days here.
I’m a fan of Disneyland at any time of year, but if you’ve visited before, or you’re looking for that extra special experience, then we highly recommend visiting in the holiday season. This was the perfect way to celebrate the lead up to Christmas and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
We were hosted at Disneyland, but as repeat visitors our glowing review is most definitely our own opinion.