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Disneyland Christmas: 7 Fun Things to Do with Your Family

Disneyland Christmas: 7 Fun Things to Do with Your Family

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Are you planning a trip to Disneyland for Christmas? Keep scrolling for the top Disneyland Christmas activities you won’t want to miss!
This list of things to do on a Disneyland Christmas vacation was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Are you looking for an epic Christmas vacation destination?

For many families, Disneyland is the place to be during the holiday season. With plenty of rides and attractions available and some specially-themed attractions, it’s a fun time for the entire family.

You just can’t beat a Disneyland Christmas!

To help you focus on the seasonal offering in Disneyland Park, we’ve compiled a list below that has some of our favorite ideas on how to spend time at Disneyland with your family this Christmas!

Don’t have time to read a bunch of Disneyland blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Disneyland with kids.

Where to Stay at Disneyland

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Disneyland Christmas FAQs

Can you visit Santa at Disneyland?

Absolutely! You can find Santa at both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Plus, he makes an appearance in Downtown Disney as well as nearby hotels.

Do the Disney characters have holiday outfits?

Yes! In fact, Mickey and Minnie just got updated holiday outfits for 2022! The Fab Five all have cute holiday attire and sometimes you’ll even see special characters.

Where are the best Disneyland Christmas photo ops?

There are SO many places to take photos at Disneyland each Christmas season. Main Street has tons of decorations, festive window displays, and a giant Christmas tree. “it’s a small world” has tons of holiday lights in the evening. And Cars Land in Disney California Adventure is pretty amazing!

What’s the Weather Like During Christmas at Disneyland?

I know that a lot of families imagine that it’s always sunny and warm in Southern California year-round. That’s basically what we expect, coming from the Pacific Northwest.

So, I wanted to kick off this post by shouting from the rooftops that it can be COLD and RAINY at Disneyland in December!

I’ll tell you more about what to pack for Disneyland in winter later in this post.

Magical Disneyland Christmas Activities

There are so many magical things to see and do at Disneyland during the holidays that it’s hard to get it all in on one visit. It seems like something magical like delicious Christmas treats are spread out in every corner of the park.

To help you celebrate the season right, these five must-do activities should be at the top of your list for your holly jolly Disney Christmas trip this year. In fact, visiting Disneyland is one of the best things to do in Los Angeles with kids this year.

1. Holiday Decorations

First, take time to enjoy your surroundings. Look at the shop window displays, see what the characters like Mickey & Minnie are wearing, and breathe in the smells of Christmas.

Image of Christmas Minnie ears in front of a giant Christmas tree at Disneyland
You can’t miss the GIANT Christmas tree at Disneyland! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Slowing down to enjoy the holiday topiaries, decorations and sounds might go against everything you’re trained to do at a Disney Park.

But this is such a special time you don’t want to go home and feel like you missed out on the magical feeling you get at Christmas time.

Both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are decked out for the holidays!

2. Christmas Fantasy Parade

If you’re looking for more of an activity, consider making it a tradition during your next visit to watch the park’s live parade. The Christmas Fantasy Parade runs daily during the holiday season. If you haven’t seen it yet, definitely check it out!

Your whole family will love seeing beloved Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Chip ‘n Dale, Elsa & Anna, and even everyone’s favorite Toy Story duo, Buzz Lightyear & Woody decked out in their Santa Claus-approved holiday best.

The parade brings all of your favorite Disney characters to life- including Santa! Plus, you can’t help but get in the spirit when you see so many holiday themed floats and performers.

3. “it’s a small world” Holiday

Disneyland’s classic attraction gets a holiday makeover. The facade of the building is decked out in, well, Christmas! You’ll also notice some new holiday garland and there are even Christmas decorations inside the attraction.

Image of "it's a small world" at Disneyland with Christmas lights on it
“it’s a small world” lit up for the holidays. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

It’s all so festive and fun, but it doesn’t stop there: with thousands of twinkling lights decorating the outside, it’s a special moment when the ride lights up each night.

The schedule of events usually announces the time the attraction lighting happens, but if not, ask a Fantasyland cast member and they should be able to tell you what time the “it’s a small world” lighting is each night.

It’s a beautiful sight that will make your family ooh and ahh when they see the lights lit up for the first time. It’s a total highlight for my family!

Image of the interior of the "it's a smal world" ride at Disneyland during Christmas
The ride itself is all decked out for the holidays, too! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

And be sure to hop in a boat and do the ride. Disney adds in a TON of holiday details that will bring joy to your family!

Want an epic Disneyland digital guide? This is my favorite Disneyland tool and guide!

4. “Believe…In Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular

For a Christmas treat, be sure to catch the “Believe…In Holiday Magic” fireworks show at Disneyland Park.

The name tells you exactly what to expect: it’s a spectacular firework extravaganza that is quite unique compared to other shows Disneyland has produced over the years. The music fits perfectly with the theme and there are some really fun pyrotechnics used throughout the show.

You’ll especially enjoy the over 80,000 twinkling lights that light up Sleeping Beauty’s winter castle. It’s a gorgeous awe-inspiring moment for your family to enjoy during the show. The music is beautiful, with some holiday classics mixed in.

The highlight of the show is when portions of Main Street and by “it’s a small world” get sprinkled with snow, but the whole show is so much fun- it’s definitely one you don’t want to miss.

5. Haunted Mansion Holidays

Another must-do at the Disneyland Park during the holidays is celebrating the season with your favorite characters from Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. Join Jack Skellington and Sally in their very best holiday garb as the pumpkin king leads the Haunted Mansion Holiday display.

In this special holiday version of the popular attraction, you’ll see a few of your favorite characters from Jack’s story as they scare up cheer throughout the decorated house.

The Nightmare Before Christmas overlay is a perfect example of how Disney goes above and beyond to make their parks special at Christmas time. With so many exclusive touches, it’s really a special way to celebrate the season.

6. Visit with Santa

While a lot of families make a point to take photos with Disney characters, sometimes they don’t realize that Santa Claus is also a fun Disneyland character photo op!

Image of two boys wearing plaid jackets chatting with Santa at Disneyland
My kids love chatting with Santa at Disney California Adventure! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

You can chat with Jolly Ole Saint Nick at both Disneyland (in the Critter Country area) or at Disney California Adventure (in the Redwoods Challenge area).

We’ve done both and it’s much more magical at DCA. Plus, your kids can get a lot of wiggles out on the course while you’re waiting in line.

Book a Family Photo Shoot

Whenever we travel, we almost always book a family photo shoot with Flytographer. They are super easy, affordable, AND guarantee that I’ll be in some photos. You can get $25 off if you book through this link or use the code HAWAIITRAVEL.

7. Do a Disneyland Christmas Photo Shoot

I LOVE doing photo shoots when I travel with my family. We’ve done photo shoots at Disneyland in the past, but it was extra special to do one during the holidays.

Image of a family posing in front of the Disneyland castle during Christmas
This is the most popular place to take photos at Disneyland. Photo credit: Alvin with Flytographer

There are SO many fun backdrops all over the parks. The most popular Disneyland Christmas photo spots are along Main Street and in front of the Castle.

I suggest wearing something festive that will complement the holiday decor. And don’t forget to pick up a pair of holiday Minnie Ears!

Where to Stay at Disneyland this Christmas

Disney Grand Californian

If you’re looking for the ultimate Disneyland Christmas hotel, it honestly doesn’t get better than the Disney Grand Californian.

The entire lobby is decorated, you can buy Disney Christmas treats there, and Santa Claus even stops by for photos. Read my hotel review.

Plus, you get a special entrance into Disney California Adventure and it’s right in the heart of Downtown Disney. Check rates and availability.

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    Howard Johnson

    While the Howard Johnson Anaheim is not as decked out as the Disney Grand Californian, they do have some adorable holiday decor. And there’s a place to write a letter to Santa, which is cute.

    One of the biggest perks of staying at the HoJo is that it’s pretty close to the park entrance and you’ll walk past some easy grab-and-go breakfast places. Check rates and availability.

    Fairfield Inn Anaheim

    This is another one of my favorite Disneyland hotels for families. The Fairfield Inn Anaheim is basically across the street from the park entrance and there’s a Panera Bread right in the parking lot.

    It’s great to stay so close to Disneyland in case you need to change your clothes, drop off Disney loot, or just take a break. Check rates and availability.

    What to Pack for Disneyland at Christmas

    Like I said at the beginning of this post, the weather at Disneyland in December can be chilly and wet. And it can feel freezing as soon as the sun goes down.

    Image of a mom and son taking a selfie with Goofy at Christmas
    We’re all about the layers at Disneyland at Christmas! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    I recommend bringing warm clothing options like sweatshirts, sweaters, or jackets that you can layer up. Long-sleeve shirts go great under Disney t-shirts, if you need a base layer.

    If rain is in the forecast, I highly recommend wearing rain boots or at least water-resistant shoes. It’s no fun walking around with wet and cold feet. You might also want to bring extra dry socks in your bag.

    Otherwise, it’s always fun to pack outfits for Disneyland! We like doing matching Disney Christmas shirts one day. Plaid shirts and jackets are also a festive touch that’s practical in the chillier weather.

    Christmas at Disneyland Wrap Up

    Disneyland is an ideal destination for families during the holidays. With so many wonderful things to do, you’ll want to make sure you visit more than once if possible!

    Make some new traditions or create your own Holiday memories at Disneyland Park in Anaheim this year!

    Looking for more Disneyland content? Check out how to book a Disneyland photographer, how to announce a trip to Disneyland for Christmas, Disneyland facts, Disney Christmas countdown, and Gingerbread Mickey craft!

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