What’s New at Disneyland for the Holidays This Year

Plus get tips on when to go and how to save money on your trip.

Disneyland's "It's a Small World" Holiday ride decked out in thousands of lights for the holidays.
The “Happiest Place on Earth” becomes the merriest place every holiday season. 
Courtesy Disneyland Resort

Come the holiday season, it’s easy to see why Disneyland Resort is dubbed the Merriest Place on Earth. The already magical Disneyland and California Adventure Park are transformed into holiday wonderlands with enchanting decor, spirited entertainment at nearly every step, and some of your favorite rides remade for the season. And, because no holiday celebration is complete without a feast, the resort becomes a foodie destination with festive foods, drinks, and treats that celebrate a variety of traditions. Here’s everything you need to know about making your holiday Disneyland visit the most wonderful time of the year.

When the Holiday Festivities Kick Off

Starting November 10, 2023, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure are bedecked with heaps of seasonal splendor. Main Street, U.S.A., greets visitors with storefronts and lampposts draped in wreaths and garland, as well as a skyscraping Christmas tree bedazzled with glittering ornaments. The park’s iconic Sleeping Beauty’s Castle also gets the winter treatment with snow-capped turrets and sparkling icicles. At Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, a massive gingerbread house delights onlookers. In the past, it stood over 7 feet tall and featured hidden Mickeys that you could search for amidst the fondant and jewel-like candies. Also, don’t miss the scheduled “snow” flurries that delight guests alongside “It’s a Small World” and Main Street. The merry-making continues through Jan. 7, 2024.

Holiday-Themed Rides

Each year, the resort’s best-loved rides are remade for the holidays. The multi-story facade of “It’s a Small World” is illuminated with over 50,000 multicolored lights and video projections while the adorable animatronic children sing carols such as “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls” and scents of peppermint fill the winterized boat ride. Over at the Haunted Mansion, Jack Skellington is a featured guest star as the attraction is transformed with the festive frights of the Nightmare Before Christmas. Lightning McQueen fans should motor over to Disney California Adventure’s Cars Land, which is festooned with lighted garlands and wreaths. Mater’s Jingle Jamboree and Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl offer riders a cheerful spin to holiday tunes.


Seasonal Food and Drinks

Disney California Adventure’s Festival of Holidays celebrates a diversity of traditions with food and drink inspired by Christmas, Hanukkah, Navidad, Diwali, Kwanzaa, and Three Kings Day. With a host of marketplaces—or themed food booths—you’ll enjoy creative, contemporary takes on traditional dishes which, in previous years, included Esquites Carnitas Mac & Cheese from Merry Mashups, A Twist on Tradition’s Lox & Everything Bagel Nachos, and a Milk & Cookies Hot Cocoa from Treats for Santa. Sample a variety with the Sip and Savor Pass which lets you choose eight items (excluding alcoholic drinks) to share with friends and family.

A drummer performs in Disney ¡Viva Navidad! at Disney California Adventure Park.
Disney ¡Viva Navidad! at California Adventure features Mexican folklórico dancers and mariachis, Brazilian samba dancers and percussionists, and Disney characters.
Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort

Holiday Shows You Shouldn’t Miss

At Disneyland Park, Anna, Elsa, and Olaf join other beloved characters such as Woody, Buzz, and the Disney princesses as they frolic down Main Street in “A Christmas Fantasy Parade,” which culminates with a visit from jolly St. Nick. Come nightfall, “Believe…In Holiday Magic” lights up the sky with an over-the-top fireworks display above the twinkling lights of Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle.

At California Adventure Park, ¡Viva Navidad! has become a Disney favorite that celebrates the traditions of Mexico and Brazil. Under the piñatas and papel picado adorning Paradise Gardens Park, The Three Caballeros host a buoyant street party with colorful folklórico dancers, Brazilian samba performers, and giant mojiganga puppets. Plus, watch for a special appearance by Mirabel, the star of Encanto.

Also in Paradise Gardens Park, you can stomp along with Disney and Pixar characters as they bop to the beat of the Holiday Toy Drummers in “Mickey’s Happy Holidays.” In the evening, “World of Color – Season of Light” is a must-see with hundreds of soaring, lighted fountains displaying cherished moments from Disney and Pixar animations against a rousing score of holiday tunes.

Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse, and Donald Duck on a float in the "A Christmas Fantasy Parade” at Disneyland.
"A Christmas Fantasy Parade” features a flurry of characters, including Mickey, Minnie, Disney Princesses, and more.
Courtesy Disneyland Resort

Tips for Visiting During the Holidays

Though the holidays can be an especially bustling time at the parks, there are ways to keep your spirits bright during a visit. For an additional $25-$30 per ticket per day, Genie+ allows guests to bypass the lines for select attractions by reserving time slots for the park’s Lightning Lanes via the Disneyland app. For popular shows such as “A Christmas Fantasy Parade,” plan to arrive 1-2 hours in advance to secure a good viewing spot, especially along Main Street, U.S.A, which fills up early. For “World of Color – Season of Light,” you may be able to join a virtual queue earlier in the day via the Disneyland app. Or, take advantage of the World of Color dining or dessert packages which offer premium viewing areas and, depending upon your selection, a buffet-meal, after-dinner goodies, and unlimited non-alcoholic drinks.

For a little extra holiday magic, book a 2.5-hour Holiday Time at the Disneyland Resort Guided Tour, which offers an insightful peek at holiday traditions and stories from each park. You’ll also enjoy numerous holiday nibbles, reserved Main Street viewing of “A Christmas Fantasy Parade,” and a line-free, walk-on of “It’s a Small World.” Plus, you'll go home with a collectable souvenir.