We’re posting this a little late, but better late than never! Christmas time at Disneyland is absolutely amazing. Everything is decorated perfectly, and they have lots of extra holiday experiences available. We are very lucky to have annual passes to Disneyland this year, so we were able to visit Disneyland during the holiday season multiple times this winter.
Here is a video of the highlights of our visits to Disneyland during the holiday season:
Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are located in Anaheim, California. This Southern California city is near Los Angeles and the beach. It is also semi-near San Diego.
We have annual passes this year, so I’m not sure how much the admission prices were during the holiday season. One day ticket prices now depend on how busy the day is expected to be. The busier the day, the more expensive the ticket.
As of February 2017, these are the admission prices for 1 day, single park tickets:
Value Tickets: $97 for adults and $91 for children ages 3 to 9
Regular Tickets: $110 for adults and $104 for children ages 3 to 9
Peak Tickets: $124 for adults and $118 for children ages 3 to 9
The above prices are just for visiting one park per day. If you want to visit both parks in one day, you will have to purchase a park hopper ticket. They also offer multiple day tickets, which end up being much cheaper per day to buy if you plan on going multiple days.
It is very crowded during the holiday season at Disneyland! The best time to go during this time period is usually during the week (especially Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday).
Our best advice for avoiding the crowds is arriving early. This is extremely important if you want to really enjoy your day there. Disneyland and Disney California Adventures usually allow guests to enter the parks 15 to 30 minutes prior to the posted opening time. They won’t allow you to go on rides during this time, but you can enter the park and visit the shops.
We try to get there before opening every time we go! Once the parks officially open, we can usually go on quite a few rides before most people even arrive to the parks. The first hour in the park is usually very empty. It continues to keep getting more crowded as the day goes on. Once it starts getting crowded, we usually take a break from rides to enjoy some food and some shows.
There are multiple places to park when visiting Disneyland. The two main parking areas are the Mickey and Friends parking structure and the Toy Story parking lot. Both of these parking areas cost $20 to park per day.
We usually try to park at the parking structure. There is a ton of parking available here, but sometimes the lines get backed up. When this happens, they divert traffic to the Toy Story lot. Both parking areas are great, so don’t be upset if that happens to you.
If you park at the Mickey and Friends parking structure, you can choose to walk to the parks or take a tram. We usually walk if we have the stroller with us because riding the tram requires you to take the kids out of the stroller. Also, depending on where you are sitting on the tram, you may have to fold up your stroller. We find it’s just easier to walk. The walk isn’t too long, and it is a nice walk through Downtown Disney, so we don’t mind at all.
If you park at the Toy Story parking lot, you can choose to walk or take a bus to the parks. Again, we usually walk if we have the kids in the stroller. This walk is about 1 mile long and will take you through the streets of Anaheim. This is great if you need to pick up something before or after you go to Disneyland. You will pass a CVS, Walgreens, 7-11, Subway, and more on your way. If we don’t have the stroller with us, we hop on the bus for a quick ride to the parks.
Riding the bus from the Toy Story parking lot
There is SO much to do during the holidays at Disneyland! One of our favorite parts about Christmas time at Disneyland is the decorations! There are decorations covering every area of the parks! Disney is AMAZING with every single detail in their parks! There is a huge Christmas tree in both parks, in Downtown Disney, and in all three Disney hotels. There are wreaths, garland, lights, gingerbread houses, nutcrackers, and more as well!
Even the characters get into the Christmas spirit by wearing holiday outfits. The main Mickey and friends characters will wear winter outfits in the front, main area of both parks. There will also be special character experiences that are only available during the holiday season. In Disneyland, Jack Skellington and Sally are out for meet and greets while the Three Caballeros are out in Disney California Adventures.
One of the most special experiences for our kids was being able to meet Santa! They have five different places to see Santa. Each park and each hotel had their own unique Santa setup. Be sure to check ahead of time to see when Santa will be visiting each spot as each location has a different time schedule.
Santa at Disney’s California Adventures
Santa at Disneyland
During Christmas time, Disneyland also has a parade called A Christmas Fantasy. This was super fun for the kids to see their favorite Disney characters as well as more traditional Christmas characters (snowmen, reindeer, Santa, etc). Be sure to find a spot for this parade semi-early. We were lucky and were able to snag a bench seat front row one hour prior to the parade!
Another great holiday experience was the Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure. This park had a huge area set up to celebrate holiday events from other cultures. The Festival of Holidays featured unique food choices, entertainment, and activities for the children. This was a fun way to see how other cultures celebrate the holidays!
At night time, there are also special tree lighting and castle lighting ceremonies. We were able to experience the castle lighting ceremony. This was so fun! They play special music and light up thousands of lights on the castle and surrounding trees while blowing snow onto main street and the area in front of the castle! I believe there was also a special Christmas firework show, but we didn’t get a chance to see it.
There are three rides that get decorated for the holiday season: It’s A Small World, Haunted Mansion, and the Jingle Cruise (known as the Jungle Cruise during the rest of the year).
Haunted Mansion is our 3-year old’s favorite ride. We have to go on it every time for him! It’s completely decorated with Nightmare Before Christmas decorations during the holidays. They do an incredible job decorating this ride!
We also love the Jingle Cruise! It is decorated perfectly and is such a funny ride! The skippers that run the boats on this ride have their own jokes about each part, which allows the ride experience to be a little different each time.
We didn’t get a chance to ride It’s A Small World during the Christmas season this year. The lines were just too long for us. We hear it is also a fun ride to get you into the Christmas spirit!
In general, Disneyland offers tons of food! Pricey, but usually pretty delicious. During Christmas time, they bring out tons of seasonal treats. We didn’t get to try any this year, but some of the normal favorites include gingerbread men, candy cane flavored beignets, and handmade candy canes. California Adventure also offered special holiday treats from other cultures during their Festival of Holidays.
Disneyland offers stroller rentals if you need to use one. They are $15 per day for one stroller and $25 per day for two strollers. They also offer $12 manual wheelchair rentals and $50 for electric wheelchair rentals.
There are lockers available inside both parks as well as outside of the parks. Prices range from $7 to $15 per day based on the size of the locker. There are also charging lockers available as well. This is a great option to charge your phone or other electronics while you do other things in the parks. These run $2 per hour.
Another cool feature Disneyland offers is their pet kennels. You can leave your dog, cat, and some other types of animals at the kennel by the main entrance to Disneyland. This is a great service for people who are visiting the area with their pets. The price is $20 per pet, per day.
There is a first aid station available for guests in both Disneyland parks. There are nurses there to offer advice, over-the-counter medications, bandages, etc. We have used these first aid stations quite a few times over the years of going to Disneyland. Whether it be for some medication for headaches or ice packs for when our kids fall, it has been a great experience every time!
If you are bringing a baby to Disneyland, both parks also offer baby care centers. These centers offer nursing rooms, changing rooms, highchairs, microwaves, and other useful things that are nice to have when traveling with babies. There is also a shop inside of the centers if you need to buy things such as formula, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, etc.
Christmas at Disneyland is such a magical experience. It can be busy, but try not to let that ruin your trip. Arrive at the parks early, ride the rides first thing when you get there, and then relax the rest of the day when the crowd levels peak. You will be glad you got to the parks early, and you will be able to enjoy the decorations, yummy food, and entertainment for the rest of the day!
If you have any questions about visiting Disneyland, please feel free to leave us a comment! We would be more than happy to provide help any way we can!
Here are some additional pictures from our adventure:
Have you ever been to Disneyland during Christmas Time? What was your favorite part? We’d love to know!