Christmas at Disneyland already sounds magical, so why not make it a reality by getting into the holiday spirit and spending your Christmas season at Disneyland, California?
It is expected to run from November 4th to January 8th (2023), which gives you and your loved ones plenty of opportunities to experience the wonder-filled Disneyland Christmas-themed parades, decorations, foods, and rides.
Read further for our guide filled with tips on what to see and do during the Christmas festivities at the Disneyland Resort.
- When Does Disneyland Decorate For Christmas?
- What To See And Do At Disneyland During Christmas
- Disneyland Holiday Decorations
- Christmas Attractions at Disneyland
- A Christmas Fantasy Parade
- Disneyland Christmas fireworks
- Holiday-themed parties at Disneyland
- Enjoy a Christmas Fantasy Parade
- Candlelight Processional at Disneyland
- Disney Merriest Nites
- What To See And Do At California Adventure Park During Christmas?
- California Adventure Park holiday decorations
- Christmas attractions at Disney California Adventure Park
- Disney California Adventure Park: Festival of holidays and food
- World of Color – Season of Light at California Adventure Park
- A dance party with Mickey Mouse
- Holiday sunset concerts 2022
- Meet Santa
- Don’t forget Downtown Disney during Christmas
- Holiday gingerbread workshops at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen
- Downtown Disney’s seasonal holiday treats
- Entertainment and decorations: Christmas Downtown Disney
- Disney’s Grand Californian hotel decorating workshop
- Delicious Disneyland Christmas food
- How To Avoid Crowds When You Visit Disneyland At Christmas
- Final Thoughts
When Does Disneyland Decorate For Christmas?
Expected to be completed during the winter season of 2022/2023, decorations for each Disneyland Christmas are prepped throughout the year. The setup process usually starts in mid-October.
But how does Disneyland decorate for Christmas?
The fun part of the holiday season is that decorations appear overnight. It adds to the holiday magic of Santa’s elves working whilst you’re sleeping to transform the Disneyland resort.
Decorations include 29 large and 596 smaller Christmas trees, twinkle lights, garlands, pixie dust, and plenty more to get the Disneyland resort ready for a Disneyland Christmas celebration.
What To See And Do At Disneyland During Christmas
It is no doubt that Disneyland Christmas is full of magic, sparking lights, and an amusement park packed full of “Oohs and Awes”. So let’s take a look at what you can expect to see during your next visit!
Disneyland Holiday Decorations
Main Street, U.S.A
Each building making up the “town” on Main Street, U.S.A, is decorated with colourful twinkle lights and has garlands and wreaths adorned in Christmas baubles hanging from building to building.
This magnificent display of shimmer lights up the path home to the infamous Mickey’s Once Upon A Time Christmastime Parade and The Christmas Fantasy Parade. To see these parades in full value, it is best to attend the Disney Merriest After Hours, from 9 pm to 1 am. It features appearances by Santa Claus and all your favourite Disney and Pixar characters.
There is also a store that sells Christmas-themed gifts and ornaments all year round to keep Christmas at Disneyland alive throughout the year.
New Orleans Square
You can also find thousands of Christmas-themed decorations lining the streets of New Orleans Square. With festive music playing in the background of the attractions, you may recognise the tunes. It showcases The Haunted Mansion with its Nightmare Before Christmas overlay, plus Princess Tiana and her bayou-inspired music and beignets.
Toontown will be closed in 2022 for renovations and replaced with a new ride; Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. But once they reopen, you’ll be able to once again experience all of your favourite toons delivering the Disneyland Christmas spirit!
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
The castle transforms into a snow-covered palace. Thousands of blue lights projected on the castle tops create a cascading illusion of icicles. Be sure not to miss Sleeping Beauty’s Castle’s fireworks and nighttime spectaculars; it is truly an unforgettable Disneyland experience!
Christmas Attractions at Disneyland
The Haunted Mansion Holiday
Prefer a more ghoulish holiday season? The Haunted Mansion Holiday, which begins in early September to early January, overlays on New Orleans Square and is known for blending holiday décor themes of Nightmare Before Christmas and The Haunted Mansion. The Grand Hall displays a huge gingerbread house that is one of its main attractions. You’ll even get a whiff of gingerbread fragrance in the air!
It’s a Small World Holiday
‘It’s a Small World’ boasts thousands of twinkle lights at night. It happens every year and has become a traditional visit for resort goers. The light show is followed by a projection show repeated every 30 minutes. There are characters and even animatronic dolls singing Christmas carols at this attraction.
A Christmas Fantasy Parade
The Plaza Inn Dining Package for the Christmas Fantasy Parade
With this dining package, you will receive a voucher for a festive-themed lunch at The Plaza Inn and a ticket to the reserved viewing areas to watch the parade.
Lunch is served between 12 pm and 4 pm. Your ticket is for the second Fantasy parade performance.
Disneyland Christmas fireworks
Believe… in Holiday Magic Fireworks
Holiday Magic fireworks are an evening display over Sleeping beauty’s castle and can be seen from Main Street, U.S.A. It is a spectacular show that occurs throughout the holiday season at Disneyland, featuring a mix of Christmas and Disney music. It is one of the leading fireworks shows at Disneyland and should be added to your to-do list while you are there!
Holiday-themed parties at Disneyland
There are six holiday-themed parties at Disneyland under the Disney Merriest Nites umbrella.
- Victorian Themed Party on Main Street, U.S.A. Hosted by Mickey Mouse
- Feliz-Navidad Party in Frontierland
- New Orleans Party in New Orleans Square
- Frozen-themed Party in Fantasyland
- Tropical Party in Adventureland
- Tomorrowland Party in Tomorrowland.
Enjoy a Christmas Fantasy Parade
This 40 minutes Christmas Fantasy Parade is included in The Plaza Inn Dining package and consists of 7 magical units. Every day between 3:30 pm and 5 pm, you can see your favourite Disney and Pixar characters as well as Santa Claus waving and filling the street with holiday cheer. There is even special snow called “snoap” made by the Disneyland staff using soap. It truly is a spectacular display!
Candlelight Processional at Disneyland
The Disneyland candlelight processional will take place on the 3rd and 4th of December, occurring twice on each date, at 3:30 pm and 7:45 pm.
At this very intimate processional, the narrator tells the story of Christmas while the mass choir sings Christmas songs. You cannot purchase tickets for this as it is by invite only for Club 33 members of Disneyland and Disney’s high-profile guests.
Disney Merriest Nites
Disney Merriest Nites is an extra-ticket event that occurs on select nights at the Disneyland resort during its festive season. You get special access to the Christmas Fantasy Parade and the after-party. Each ticket for the respective parties is sold separately and must be purchased with your Disneyland park ticket.
These tickets include meet and greets with popular Disney characters, access to rides, and live entertainment. It is the best way to experience what the nighttime and holiday entertainment the resort offers!
Knowing when Disneyland sets up for Christmas gives you an idea of when tickets for these events will potentially be available.
What To See And Do At California Adventure Park During Christmas?
California Adventure Park holiday decorations
Holiday decor is mainly concentrated in Cars Land and on Buena Vista Street. It is decorated with “Cars” inspired festive decorations and even has a giant 50-foot tall Christmas tree in front of Carthay Circle.
The attractions are covered with holiday décor, and festive music fills the air, making it a fun-filled holiday season at Disney California Adventure.
Christmas attractions at Disney California Adventure Park
You can meet Santa at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Two attractions turn into ‘Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl’ and ‘Mater’s Jingle Jamboree’ after their Christmas makeover in Cars Land.
There are Festive Food Marketplaces that form part of the Festival of Holidays. You can enjoy food from all over the world. There is also live entertainment throughout the park, such as ‘Viva Navidad!’ which offers a Latin American-inspired Disneyland Christmas parade.
There is also a World of Color-Season of Light show, a holiday sunset concert series, and a super fun dance party at the Carthay Circle to music from the Holiday Toy Drummers, which falls under Mickey’s Happy Holidays.
Disney California Adventure Park: Festival of holidays and food
The Festive Food Marketplaces offers a vast selection of food from diverse cultures and regions. You can purchase a Sip and Savour Pass, which allows you access to eight different dishes or non-alcoholic beverages within the marketplace.
Alternatively, you could get a free Disney Festival of Holidays Tasting passport, which you can use at any of the marketplaces to help you locate the delicious foods available to you. You get your passport stamped at every location, and after visiting all of the food stores, you get a completion stamp.
World of Color – Season of Light at California Adventure Park
It happens every night, with two shows every evening—the first show between 8 pm and 9 pm, and the second show between 9:15 pm and 10:15 pm.
It is a beautiful spectacle of light, water, and music, playing Disney classics and holiday music while the water fountains and lights move to the music, so high it looks like it is in the sky. An absolute must-see!
A dance party with Mickey Mouse
The dance party happens twice a day and is an opportunity for you to see your favourite Disney and Pixar characters while dancing to the tunes of the Holiday Toy Drummers. This is about a 23-minute-long showcase and can be found at the Carthay Circle and the Paradise Gardens Park Obelisk.
Holiday sunset concerts 2022
The below bands are on the lineup for this year’s concert series. See the concert calendar of the day to see which of these bands will be playing while you are there.
- The Suffragettes – a cover band that covers holiday songs
- Phat Cat Swinger – Plays swing music
- Blue 13 Dance Company – Indian folk music and dance
- Mariachi Divas – Grammy award-winning singers
- The Mistletoes – Acappella, singing R&B songs inspired by Christmas and Kwanzaa.
You can meet Santa at Critter Country in Disneyland Park. The key tip here is to go in the morning as soon as you arrive, so your wait time is not as long. If you want to take a picture, you, your kids, and Santa will be looking fresh! You can also meet Santa in the lobby of any of the hotels.
California Adventure Park
You can meet Santa at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Again, the tip is to go in the morning when everything and everyone are still fresh!
Don’t forget Downtown Disney during Christmas
Here you can find everything you need for shopping and holiday treats. You can get yummy food, holiday and Disney-themed gifts, and decorations.
You can also look forward to events such as Gingerbread house workshops and breakfast with Santa at Catal Restaurant.
Holiday gingerbread workshops at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen
Here you can enjoy a fun-filled day building a gingerbread house. A buffet brunch, carols, and even meeting the chefs!
This super fun event is 3 hours long. Starting at 11 am to 2 pm. You even get to enter your house into a competition of who is the best, standing a chance to win a cash prize!
Downtown Disney’s seasonal holiday treats
At Downtown Disney, you will find a wide variety of festive treats! You and your family can have breakfast, lunch, dinner, and especially desserts all day. These are what you can expect:
- Ballast Pointing Brew Co. – Has a Christmas-inspired who beer Ale Nog
- Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beers – A peppermint and chocolate shake with loads of extra toppings!
- Catal Restaurant – A sophisticated full 3-course meal on Christmas eve that is Christmas inspired
- Earl of Sandwiches – Holiday turkey sandwich with many layers of turkey and traditional festive meal trimmings
- Kayla’s Cakes – Delicious snowmen, gingerbread men, and snowflake macarons
- Salt and Straw – Festive season flavoured ice creams such as gingerbread cookie dough, peppermint cocoa, and more
- La Brea Bakery Café – Festive season-inspired cocktail selection
- Sprinkles – Festive season-inspired cupcakes such as Christmas cookie cupcakes and chocolate peppermint
- Wetzel’s Pretzels – Offering an earth-conscious reusable mason jar that lights up in eight different colours.
Entertainment and decorations: Christmas Downtown Disney
There are plenty of ways to stay entertained here, especially in the evenings. If you are spending the day enjoying all of the yummy festive treats, why not wait for the nighttime entertainment. You can listen to musical talents from the Acapella carolers, Sugar Plums, and the Jingle 5, to name a few. Be serenaded throughout the promenade while enjoying what a Christmas Downtown Disney offers.
You can also enjoy the picturesque UV light tree display, Let it Glow. Over 200 colourful trees glow in different colours. The perfect background for that post-worthy holiday selfie, commemorating that you had been to Downtown Disney. An absolute must-see!
Disney’s Grand Californian hotel decorating workshop
The hotel has a gingerbread house workshop where you get to build your very own with the professional Disneyland gingerbread house makers.
It is a 90-minute event and is available to all park guests, not only those staying at the hotel.
Delicious Disneyland Christmas food
Let’s be honest. As much as you go to Disneyland for the attractions, you are also there for the food! These are some of what you can expect during the holiday season.
There are plenty of super fun festive-themed dessert options to choose from. Such as churros, ice cream at Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, and beignets at the Mint Julep Bar. A Christmas bayou-inspired menu at Café Orleans and Blue Bayou Restuarant.
How To Avoid Crowds When You Visit Disneyland At Christmas
A Disneyland visit during Christmas time leads to large crowds. There is nothing a little planning can’t fix so that you get the best out of your visit.
Check out the crowd calendar guide and the blockout calendar to plan your trip around the annual pass holders and the local school district holidays. Avoid the locals who are Magic Keyholders and the influx of the local school learners when they are on holiday.
You would also want to get to the park relatively early to avoid large crowds and waiting times for the attractions and PhotoPass lines.
Use the train to get around the resort, walk through huge crowds, and find less crowded spaces to take breaks. Plan your trip accordingly. You will enjoy it!
How long do Christmas decorations stay up at Disneyland?
Disneyland Christmas decorations stay up until early January. It usually stays up for about two months, from mid-November to early January.
Is Epcot decorated for Christmas?
Epcot is the last park to get its Christmas makeover. It is decorated throughout the holiday season at Disneyland.
Is it worth going to Disneyland for Christmas?
It is very much worth it! There is no other place where you can find entertainment for the whole family. Where adventure and yummy food makes up core memories that will last for a lifetime.
Ensure that your to-do list covers everything!
Is Disneyland more expensive at Christmas?
Disneyland at Christmas can get expensive. Try to set a budget and plan a trip that is a sure way to get the best out of your buck!
If you want to have a Christmas season like no other, then a Disneyland Christmas is a spectacular way to experience holiday magic with your family in California. If you are asking, when are Christmas decorations in Disneyland going up? Check the website for details.
A Christmas adventure for the whole family, where you get to experience entertainment, Instagram-worthy festive foods, and bragging rights to say you’ve experienced “The Happiest Place on Earth” during the most wonderful time of the year!
Plan your trip, create a must-see list, budget accordingly, and enjoy the Magic Kingdom!
Here are some more great articles about Disneyland!
- How Many Rides Are In Disneyland And California Adventure? Park Breakdown!
- Disneyland Fireworks: Time, Schedule, And The Best Places To Watch Them.
- Best Disneyland Restaurants Revealed: Where To Eat At Disneyland California!