Christmas at Disneyland is truly special! And for 2022, we are looking forward to the return of some of our favorite holiday festivities. If you’ve never experienced the Disney parks at Christmas, you’re in for a real treat. No one does the holidays quite like Disney, and the entire resort takes part in the action.
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**The phased reopening of the Disneyland Resort in California is an ongoing process. Be sure to visit our official Disneyland reopening post for updated information to guide your vacation planning! Some experiences listed below have been temporarily suspended or modified due to the pandemic.
** The holidays begin in Disneyland on November 11, 2022, and last through January 8, 2023! **
Tips for Celebrating Christmas at Disneyland
While celebrating Christmas at Disneyland can be truly special, there are definitely some things you’ll want to keep in mind when planning your visit.
- Christmas will be busy. Consider visiting the Disneyland Resort in November or early December when the parks are less busy. Decor typically arrives the second week of November and lasts until the end of December. The busiest weeks include the week of Thanksgiving as well as the final two weeks of December. So if you want to enjoy the holiday festivities without the crowds, consider visiting during an “off” time.
- Consider visiting on a weekday and arrive early. The parks will be busier in the evenings and weekends when locals are more likely to visit the parks. You may also want to consider taking advantage of a rainy December day. Be sure to bring a poncho or umbrella with you, however, as those can be quite pricey if you need to purchase them in the parks.
- Have a plan. Because both Disney parks will be busier, you will make the most of your day if you enter the park with a plan. What shows do you want to see? Where would you like to eat? Know before you go, so you don’t miss anything on your own personal “must-see” list!
Christmas at Disneyland Park
Seasonal decor arrives in November shortly after the Halloween decorations come down, and it is truly breathtaking. Main Street, U.S.A. will most certainly put you in the holiday spirit!
When you first enter the park, you will see an enormous 60-foot Christmas tree in Town Square. This beautiful tree features custom-made ornaments from top to bottom each year.
The rest of the park is decorated as well including festive decor in New Orleans Square. Each area of the park has its own uniquely themed decor.
Attraction Overlays at Disneyland Park
“it’s a small world” Holiday: This classic favorite is transformed each season inside and out. Experience holiday decor as well as changes to the famous song featuring the tune of “Jingle Bells.”
Haunted Mansion Holiday: Many fans claim that this holiday overlay based on Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is even better than the original ride itself! The main thing to watch for is the famous gingerbread house display. This display changes from year to year, and this year will mark the 20th Anniversary of this beloved holiday tradition.
*One thing to take note of is that this holiday overlay actually begins during Halloween in Disneyland. The ride will be closed from August 15 to September 1, 2022, and will reopen as Haunted Mansion Holiday on September 2, 2022.
Parades and Shows at Disneyland Park
A Christmas Fantasy Parade: This special holiday parade features prancing reindeer, marching toy soldiers, dancing gingerbread cookies, and some of your favorite Disney characters. Special parade floats include:
- Frozen featuring Anna, Elsa, and Olaf
- Letters to Santa featuring Mickey and Minnie with Chip ‘n Dale
- Toy Story featuring Woody and Buzz
- A Candlelight Ball featuring some of your favorite Disney Princesses
- A grand finale… Santa Claus!
Wintertime Enchantment at Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle: The transformation of Sleeping Beauty Castle is truly something special during the holidays. Daytime decorations greet you as you first make your way down Mainstreet, and it is illuminated at night with over 80,000 LED lights in spectacular fashion. In the evening (typically between 6:00 PM and 7:30 PM), there is a lighting ceremony in front of the castle which includes a brief snowfall.
“Believe…In Holiday Magic” Fireworks: Fireworks over Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle is truly special. Even the castle itself glows featuring 80,000 holiday lights, sparkling “icicles,” and “snow-capped” turrets. And did someone say “snow”? Enjoy special holiday snowfall near “it’s a small world” Holiday in Fantasyland, Main Street, U.S.A., and near the Rivers of America.
“it’s a small world” Holiday Lighting: The holiday lighting displayed on “it’s a small world” at night, is truly magical. Photos definitely don’t do this display any justice, as it’s something you have to see in person to fully grasp how amazing it is! At night, the exterior of this ride features nearly 250,000 holiday lights. There is also a short projection show that lights up the attraction every 30 minutes.
Holiday Dance Parties: Goofy, Pluto, Chip ‘n’ Dale, and others will participate in nightly holiday dance parties at the Tomorrowland Terrace.
Christmas at California Adventure Park
California Adventure also takes part in the holiday festivities. Cars Land is definitely one of my favorite areas of the park during the holidays, and it is also where the two attraction overlays can be found. The rest of the park is uniquely decorated as well including a 50-foot Christmas tree on Buena Vista Street.
Attraction Overlays at California Adventure Park
Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl: One of my personal favorites, this Cars Land attraction features dancing cars to holiday tunes.
Mater’s Jingle Jamboree: Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree transforms for the holidays featuring festive decor and classic holiday music with a “Mater” twist.
Parades and Shows at California Adventure Park
Buena Vista Street Holiday Tree Lighting: Just outside Elias & Co., this 50-foot tall Christmas tree comes to life each night featuring beautiful holiday decor and twinkling lights.
World of Color – Season of Light: This spectacular nighttime show featuring dancing fountains and class Disney music transforms for the holidays. Featuring scenes and music from Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, Beauty and the Beast, and Fantasia as well as contemporary favorites like Frozen, Toy Story, and Inside Out.
Disney Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure Park
- Disney ¡Viva Navidad! – This seasonal festival features some of your favorite Disney characters, live musical performances, festive decor, and delicious holiday treats. The Paradise Garden Grill also serves authentic Mexican specialties throughout the holidays.
- Festival Feasting – Enjoy holiday culinary creations from around the world!
- Sip and Savor Pass – The Sip and Savor Pass provides 8 convenient entitlement tabs that you can redeem for select food and non-alcoholic drinks at participating Festive Foods Marketplace kiosks and dining locations through January 8, 2023.
- Mickey’s Happy Holidays – Mickey Mouse and friends dance to the rhythms of the Holiday Toy Drummers
- Holiday Toy Drummers – The holidays wouldn’t be complete without holiday toy drummers!
- Three Kings’ Day – This celebration honors the 3 Wise Men’s visit to the nativity.
- Santa’s Holiday Visit at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail – Explore while playing seasonal games and enjoying outdoor activities for all ages from November 11 through December 24, 2022. You will also be given the opportunity to meet Santa Claus and take pictures at the Ahwahnee Camp Circle near the trail’s entrance.
- Meet Mirabel – Meet Mirabel from Disney’s Encanto in Paradise Gardens Park
Disney Merriest Nites
Disney has not yet announced a ticketed holiday event at the Disneyland Resort for 2022. But the following includes information from the 2021 season. We will keep you posted as Disney makes further announcements!
- Dates: November 11, November 16, November 30, December 7, and December 9
- Time: The party begins at 8:00 PM and lasts until midnight. Guests will be allowed entrance into the park at 5:00 PM. (Theme park reservation is not required.)
- Tickets: Tickets will be available starting September 14, 2001, no earlier than 9:00 Am on Disneyland.com or via the Disneyland app.
- Price: All events start at $165 except for the first event on November 11, which starts at $175 per ticket for those ages 3 and up.
- Additional Details: Tickets will not be available for purchase on the day of the event and they are also non-refundable. (They cannot be resold or transferred.) There is also a purchase limit of 8 tickets per person per event.
What to Expect
- Select attractions will be open with low wait times, including some of your holiday favorites like “it’s a small world” Holiday and Haunted Mansion Holiday. (It is also worth noting that access to Mickey’s Toontown, Critter Country, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will not be available during the event.)
- There will be a special viewing of Disneyland’s “A Christmas Fantasy” Parade.
- You will receive unlimited digital PhotoPass downloads from the event.
- There will be character appearances featuring holiday attire and including Santa Claus, himself.
- Enjoy “snow” on Main Street, U.S.A.
- There will be themed photo backdrops, specialty food and beverages, and Disney Merriest Nites-themed merchandise available.
- Guests will be allowed to dress as their favorite characters during the event. (Please visit Disney’s website for more information on costume guidelines.)
Disney Merriest Nites Will Feature Six Different Parties All Throughout the Park!
- Mickey’s Victorian-themed Party on Main Street, U.S.A. – This party will also feature Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and many of their friends traveling in a special coach with Christmas carol sing-alongs and a few additional Muppet antics.
- Miguel’s Feliz Navidad Party in Frontierland – This dance-filled fiesta will feature Miguel from the movie Coco.
- Princess Tiana’s New Orleans Holiday in New Orleans Square – Beignets and beads will be included in this bayou-inspired celebration!
- Elsa’s Frozen-themed Party in Fantasyland – Enjoy a wintertime celebration with Elsa!
- Lilo & Stitch’s Tropical Party in Adventureland – For a tropical holiday celebration, join Lilo and Stitch for some mischievous fun!
- Buzz Lightyear’s Tomorrowland Party in Tomorrowland – Featuring a DJ, enjoy a futuristic holiday celebration!
*Be sure to visit Disney’s official website for more information on Christmas in Disneyland!
We hoped you enjoyed our guide to Christmas at Disneyland! If you’re looking to plan your next Disneyland vacation, be sure to visit my step-by-step guide to get started!