My Daughter and I in front of the Christmas Tree in DCA
Disneyland officially welcomed the holiday season on Nov. 9. I was lucky enough to visit the parks and get a full taste of what they’ll be offering guests this holiday season. Here are some of the important ones you should keep in mind.
Main Street, U.S.A.
Obviously, it wouldn’t be the holiday season without the giant Christmas tree towering over guests on Main Street. The normal seasonal garlands and banners decorate the entire street, and our favorite characters strut in their holiday outfits while meeting guests. The shops are filled with holiday merchandise, which isn’t too surprising. I have visited the parks during the holiday season in the past, but I can’t remember the train station on Main Street looking quite as spectacular as it did during this visit. It was a sight to see, especially at night. The entire street came alive, and brought the holiday joy—even in early November.
As far as merchandise goes, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the seasonal ears were fully stocked. When I visited Disneyland in early September, all the Halloween ears were sold out, except for the light up pairs. It was quite the disappointment, and we were told that there were no plans of restocking. After that I was very happy to see that they hadn’t sold out of these seasonal holiday ears yet. For me, I love the light up necklaces, and this year’s necklaces are jingle bells that light up. They are quite loud, but my favorite holiday pair I’ve seen yet. If you have a little one like I do, I definitely recommend taking them off when your kiddo takes a nap in the stroller. They can be a bit distracting.
Haunted Mansion’s Nightmare Before Christmas Overlay
We have already welcomed in the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay in the Haunted Mansion for Halloween, but we got to welcome in the It’s a Small World Holiday overlay. The outside of the ride was decked out with plenty of Christmas decorations, per usual.
The Jungle Cruise didn’t become Jingle Cruise as many (myself included) had hoped for. It definitely seems as though we have permanently lost this holiday ride overlay.
The Dapper Dans took over Main Street and sang some of our very favorite holiday songs. This was definitely a fun performance to view to get in the holiday spirit. The Dickens Yuletide Band also took over Main Street to play some holiday songs for us as well. There was plenty of live holiday music to listen to on Main Street.
A Christmas Fantasy Parade was one of the highlights of this trip. My daughter loves parades, so this was a fun thing for us to watch. I had never seen the Christmas parade, and I was thoroughly surprised when I finally did. Our favorite Princesses and Princes starred in the parade alongside gingerbread men, reindeer, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and many more. Oh, and don’t forget the man himself, Santa Claus. If you weren’t in the holiday spirit already, this parade definitely does the trick.
The parade was followed up with “Believe...In Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular. Now, I’m not a fan of fireworks, in fact I hit the deck whenever I hear them. However, I was trying to maneuver through Main Street during the show, so I caught a glimpse of it. It was pretty...well, spectacular. And yes, it snowed. It was a nice moment at the end of the show, and I watched many families enjoying it.
The holiday themed food is endless, but in a nutshell, they offered seasonal churros like gingerbread, sugar plum, peppermint and pretzel and more. They also offered peppermint beignets, and some different food options at select restaurants like Jolly Holiday, French Market, Harbour Galley, Cafe Orleans, and more. For a full list of seasonal food and restaurant offerings, click here.
I actually did the dinner plan at Plaza Inn that gave us reserved seating for A Christmas Fantasy Parade. I’m so thankful that we did that because it gave us amazing seats right next to Coke Corner. We sat down an hour before the parade and still had the perfect view. At Plaza Inn, my daughter got the Penne Pasta kids meal, and I got the Cobb Salad meal. You choose your meal from a special menu. I believe they had turkey, salad, and pasta to choose from. Everyone’s sides consisted of stuffing, green beans, mac and cheese, and a chocolate mouse and peppermint dessert. It was very fitting for the season.
Disney California Adventure
Buena Vista Street
Much like Main Street in Disneyland, Buena Vista Street welcomed DCA guests with beautiful holiday decorations and store fronts filled with holiday merchandise. There was also a Christmas tree at the end of the street. If you’re looking to take a picture in front of a Christmas tree in either of the parks, I definitely recommend taking it in DCA. The line is much less crowded, but still has the same background. There is also a tree lighting daily in DCA. See the Disneyland app for details.
The Holiday Toy Drummers were very fun to watch. They walked through part of DCA, and ended up in Paradise Gardens Park, I believe. They added to the holiday spirit, and had plenty of different show times, so they were hard to miss.
Wine Country Trattoria hosted Mostly Kosher on both of the days I visited. They played Jewish holiday music, and created a fun atmosphere. I grabbed a beer and watched them perform. Children danced off to the side of the stage while parents watched the live music. It seemed like a very relaxing show for the whole family.
There were some shows that I believe were holiday experiences as well. I believe I heard the Red Car Trolley News Boys singing along to Christmas music as well. I also heard “Suitcase and a Dream,” as they wouldn’t be the Red Car Trolley News Boys if they didn’t perform that song. I want to say that along with a Mariachi band in the Pacific Wharf, there was also a Coco experience as well.
Much like Mater’s Halloween ride overlay, the Christmas overlay, Mater’s Jingle Jamboree, included holiday decor and music in lieu of the regular ride experience. The same could be said about Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl.
I was more excited about the food offerings in DCA than in Disneyland. I visited the parks two holiday seasons ago, and fondly remember the kiosks that were set up. Once again, the kiosks were there filled with different seasonal foods and drinks. Something different from the past trip I took was the Sip and Savor Pass they offered. I took advantage of this pass when I went for the Food and Wine Festival this year, and was glad to see they did it for the holiday season as well. I definitely recommend this pass to people who are buying the more expensive foods and non-alcoholic drinks. If you’re visiting the kiosks for alcoholic drinks and cheaper foods, this pass will probably be a waste of your money. The price of the pass is $54, but an annual pass discount can be applied. You will receive a lanyard which is a fun keepsake, and you’ll also receive buttons at each kiosk you use the pass at.
The park had seasonal churros much like Disneyland, and special food offerings at restaurants like Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge, Award Wieners, Flo’s V8 Cafe, and more. For the full list of seasonal food and restaurant offerings, click here.
I was extremely surprised with how amazing Disneyland and DCA looked. I wasn’t expecting to be blown away since I’ve seen these decorations before, but it seemed to be even bigger and brighter than my last holiday visit. Even the castle looked prettier. Maybe it’s just that Disney magic…
I definitely recommend visiting the parks this holiday season. They have something special for everyone who visits, and you’re sure to have an amazing time. I am visiting one more time for the holidays, and I’ll definitely be sticking by the kiosks more often next visit. So, get in the holiday spirit and take a stroll down Main Street this season!
*There may be more holiday entertainment and shows than I mentioned in this column. This is just what I noticed on my own trip. You may be able to experience more than what I mentioned. To get a better idea of what Disneyland and DCA is offering this holiday season, click here.