The Best Ways to Celebrate the Holidays at Disneyland Resort

by | Nov 10, 2023 | Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland, Disneyland Parks

Here’s how to enjoy the holidays at Disneyland Resort to the fullest, featuring the best seasonal offerings at both theme parks. 

There’s nothing quite like the holidays at Disneyland Resort! From festively-trimmed and towering trees to glittering lights and sparkling snow atop Sleeping Beauty Castle to delicious foods celebrating various cuisines and holiday traditions at Disney California Adventure Park, it’s a special kind of holiday magic that you’ll find from November through early January here. 

Below, we’re sharing our favorite ways to celebrate the holidays at Disneyland Resort – so make sure to work these into your upcoming trip plans!

Ride Haunted Mansion Holiday

Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay at Disneyland

Photo by Dom Tabon

A staple at Disneyland Park since its very first holiday season in 2001, Haunted Mansion Holiday takes one of the most beloved attractions – the classic Haunted Mansion – and transforms it into a frighteningly festive destination, overseen by Jack Skellington of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Whether you’re a fan of Jack, Sandy, and the rest of the spooky but seasonal cast of characters from this animated film or you just can’t skip the happy haunts of the Mansion, it’s a must-ride!

Haunted Mansion Holiday runs from the Halloween season through the holidays at Disneyland, and it’s a totally different experience from the typical attraction. Featuring seasonal surprises (keep an eye out for Lock, Shock, and Barrel!) as well as festive touches like frightening snow angels and a towering gingerbread house, the attraction brings the film itself to life amongst the ghosts you already know and love inside the Mansion.

Join the ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party

Viva Navidad at Disney California Adventure Park

Photo by Regan Wong

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure Park is full of special treats, both literally and not-so-literally. You can discover delicious dishes inspired by holiday celebrations around the world at the Festive Foods Marketplace; listen to the tunes of musicians celebrating holidays like Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas; and even visit Santa himself. However, one of our can’t-miss experiences each year is Disney’s ¡Viva Navidad! – and the ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party.

¡Viva Navidad! is a seasonal celebration of the holiday traditions of Mexico and Brazil featuring cultural performers as well as musical performances, special character meet and greets, and even some delicious food options. The ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party brings the entire fiesta to life, though!

The ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party is a vibrant and exciting performance that brings those holiday traditions to life. Featuring incredible costumes and the fancy footwork of authentic folklórico dancers and Brazilian samba dancers, the musical mastery of mariachis and drummers, and some awe-inspiring mojigana puppets (you’re going to see Santa and Mrs. Claus like never before!), it’s a total feast for the senses. Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for Disneyland’s most iconic duo – Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse do make an appearance in some special fiesta-inspired attire during each performance.  

Catch A Christmas Fantasy Parade

A Christmas Fantasy Parade at Disneyland Park

Photo by Regan Wong

If there’s a classic Disneyland tradition during the holiday season, it’s the annual return of A Christmas Fantasy Parade. This beloved afternoon entertainment offering pairs all of your favorite Disney characters with adorable Christmas- and winter-inspired parade floats and the true star of the season: Santa Claus himself!

A Christmas Fantasy Parade has been a staple since it first premiered at Disneyland in 1995. Each year, fresh surprises and updates make it even more magical – and that means you never want to miss the opportunity to see it! As the parade makes its way down Main Street, U.S.A. you’ll catch prancing, dancing reindeer; marching toy soldiers come to life; dancing gingerbread cookies and frosty snowflakes; and even Santa’s naughty and nice list.

Of course, this parade is also filled with characters! Each section of the parades features a different cast of characters engaging in holiday fun, like Mickey and Minnie working with Chip ‘n’ Dale on Santa’s mail; Woody and Buzz from Toy Story with an array of toys; and the Disney Princesses decked out and dancing for the Candlelight Ball. And of course, it all wraps up with Santa in his sleigh.

Experience “it’s a small world” Holiday

it's a small world Holiday at Disneyland

Photo by Jaysen White

In addition to Haunted Mansion Holiday, there’s a second seasonal attraction overlay that’s absolutely magical this time of the year: “it’s a small world” Holiday. The classic boat ride through different regions of the world receives a festive, Yuletide-inspired overlay just for the holidays, and it becomes even more incredible to behold.

Inside, the dolls and Disney characters you know and love get decked out for the holidays, with whimsical decor like stockings, garlands, Christmas trees, tinsel, and more. All of the decorations are regionally inspired, so you’ll see items that are representative of each area within “it’s a small world.” You’ll also enjoy holiday tunes as you set sail, including the classic “It’s a Small World (After All)” as the grand finale. 

Oh, and make sure to check out this attraction after sunset, even if you don’t ride it at night. In the evening, the exterior of “it’s a small world” Holiday transforms into a holiday wonderland, covered in thousands of shimmering lights. It’s a glow-up that’s absolutely gorgeous to see firsthand!

See World of Color – Season of Light

World of Color – Season of Light

Photo courtesy of Richard Harbaugh/Disneyland Resort

You might think you’ve already seen all World of Color has to offer if you’ve caught this captivating show outside of the final months of the year. But we’re here to tell you that you cannot miss the special holiday version of this beloved California Adventure nighttime spectacular!

World of Color – Season of Light takes the aspects you know and love from the original nighttime spectacular, like towering walls of mist, vibrant and colorful lights, and mesmerizing fountains (and even a little fire!), and puts a holiday spin on the show. It weaves together beloved moments from Disney and Pixar films, set to festive holiday music. The spectacular will warm your heart, giving you the chance to relive scenes from classics like Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, Toy Story, and Frozen. Plus, you’ll also get to experience Goofy’s musical light display for a bit of extra fun!

Don’t Miss the “Believe…In Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular

Sleeping Beauty Castle during the holidays at Disneyland

Photo by Jaysen White

Even the fireworks get some special seasonal flair during the holiday season at Disneyland Resort! During this time of the year, you can catch “Believe…In Holiday Magic”, a fireworks spectacular that’s absolutely magical. Oh, and it’s your chance to catch some snow (that famous Disney snoap!) even on warmer California nights!

“Believe…In Holiday Magic” is a pyrotechnical spectacle that lights up the night sky with an amazing display of colorful fireworks paired with festive tunes and glittering lights. While the fireworks occur overhead, you’ll also be able to see more than 80,000 twinkling lights aglow on Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle, from sparkling icicles to shimmering, snowy turrets. 

Plus, there are multiple magical locations to watch “Believe…In Holiday Magic” from. While the classic viewing spots along Main Street are great, you can also catch a special view by “it’s a small world” Holiday. There, the attractions own lights twinkle and glow along with the show.

Of course, as the spectacular winds down, snow will fall from the sky, making for one stunning grand finale. 

Thanks to Disney for hosting us on the opening day of The Holidays Begin Here in Disneyland® Park and Disney California Adventure® Park, where we were able to experience food, beverage, and entertainment options including the Disney Festival of the Holidays Sip & Savor pass. #Disneyland #FestivalOfHolidays #VivaNavidad

Posts by Heather Adams

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Heather is a lifelong Disney fan who grew up at Disneyland and loves spending as much time as possible in the parks. As WDW Magazine’s Content Operations Manager, Heather is a content creator and strategist with experience at a wide variety of different outlets. She’s written for publications including Clean Eating Magazine, Fatherly, The Drive, Task and Purpose, Healthversed, Nation.com, and Car Bibles. Heather also authored the book Fidget!: 101 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Decrease Stress.
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Authored by
Heather Adams

Heather is a lifelong Disney fan who grew up at Disneyland and loves spending as much time as possible in the parks. As WDW Magazine’s Content Operations Manager, Heather is a content creator and strategist with experience at a wide variety of different outlets. She’s written for publications including Clean Eating Magazine, Fatherly, The Drive, Task and Purpose, Healthversed, Nation.com, and Car Bibles. Heather also authored the book Fidget!: 101 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Decrease Stress.
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