The Holidays at Disneyland
In the spirit of Santa, I figured I’d put a little hold on the rest of my Tokyo Disney recap to share the holly jolly that is Christmastime at the Disneyland Resort.
November & December are, without a doubt, the BEST months to spend at Disneyland. The resort really goes all out with the Christmas decor, parades, themed eats, and general holiday cheer. The winter weather is also far superior to Anaheim’s 90+F degree summers, especially since SoCal’s definition of “winter” means temps rarely dip below the 50s. And, if you’re lucky, you might even get a rainy day! Pro tip: if it’s raining, grab a poncho and GO TO DISNEYLAND. The crowds clear out, wait times are short, and the park is even prettier with the twinkly lights reflected on the rain water.
It rained on our first day back in Los Angeles after getting home from Tokyo, so we decided it was the perfect opportunity to head to Disneyland & take in the Christmas sights. It ended up being one of the best weekends! On Saturday we were in Japan, spending the whole day at Tokyo Disneyland in the rain. We didn’t leave Tokyo until late Sunday evening, but because of the crazy time change got to essentially relive Sunday again in Los Angeles. That meant spending a rainy Saturday at Tokyo Disneyland, and then a rainy Sunday at the OG Disneyland.
Disney’s Paint the Night Parade
Christmastime means Paint the Night is back! The nighttime spectacular premiered during the 60th Anniversary Celebration, in May of 2015. It’s a fan favorite, and probably the best parade they’ve had in decades.
They retired it in September, but promised another limited time go during the holidays. I’m SO glad it’s back; I adore this parade, and I’ll be sad to say goodbye come 2017. Disney’s been pretty hush hush on where this parade will be heading after it’s done at Disneyland. We’re getting the original Main Street Electrical Parade again in January, which has been camped out at Walt Disney World for the last handful of years. So maybe that means Walt Disney World will be getting Paint the Night?
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
It’s not just the parks that get all dressed up for the holidays. The Disney hotels do, too. And to me, Christmas and The Grand Californian — Disneyland’s premier resort hotel — feel pretty damn synonymous.
My family and I been staying at the Grand Californian over the NYE holidays for the last 5 years or so, and seeing it all decked out with the tree and the garland and the huge gingerbread house always brings back the warm and fuzzies. And then there’s the rum hot chocolate, aka an entire glass full of warm and fuzzies. It’s my favorite thing about Christmastime at Grand, so make sure you stop by and grab a cup. (They have rum-less versions for the kiddos, too.)
( ^ How ridic x amazing is this Rex hat? We got it from Tokyo Disney, of course.)
Festival of Holidays
A new addition to Disneyland’s Christmas lineup is the Festival of Holidays, an Xmas version of the Food and Wine festival that California Adventure hosted last spring.
The format is simple: food stalls line the street leading to Paradise Pier, serving tasting sized bites of multicultural eats. We’ve done a few laps of the stalls, and (almost) everything we’ve tried has been delicious. My personal favs: falafel donut, turkey and stuffing slider, mac ‘n cheese, and eggnog cocktail. (Oh yeah, did I mention there are alcohol-only stalls? Run, don’t walk…)
Apart from the food, they have a rotation of live musical entertainment, and daily Latin-American inspired shows. It’s a nice draw to pull some of the crowds away from the always-packed Disneyland park. But heads up — food items are pricey for what they are (as in, $8 for maybe 1/2 cup of mac ‘n cheese) and costs easily add up.
And a note for Annual Passholders — there’s a Festival of Holidays “AP Corner” back behind Grizzly Rapids. It’s a little sparse, and all they have to offer is a coloring station, photo opp, and free pins.
World of Color – Season of Light
Last up, we have World of Color “Season of Light,” the new Christmas version of the nighttime show along the water in California Adventure. It’s a HUGE improvement from the cheesy 60th Anniversary World of Color, and also a step up from last year’s Christmas show.
We ended up booking the World of Color Dessert Party, which came with guaranteed seating,a big ‘ole plate of mini desserts, and all-you-can-drink hot cocoa – for $79 a person. It’s a little pricey in my opinion, especially for what you get, but it’s worth it if you don’t want to have to muscle through the vast Christmas crowds to get a viewing spot.
Only 3 more days till Christmas, which means the holidays at Disneyland are wrapping up. Just a couple more weeks to enjoy the holiday fireworks and Christmas Fantasy parade – both of which I haven’t seen yet this season!
We’ll be heading to the resort this time next week for our annual NYE staycation, so I’m sure I’ll get to knock ’em off my list then. Can’t wait!
I’m new to your blog but I’ve been following your Instagram for probably at least a couple years now, and I love hearing you talk more in depth about all your experiences! The last time I was at Disneyland was almost exactly a year ago, early-mid December-ish, so this post made me really nostalgic!! Your photos here are so warm and fun and dreamy, perfect for the holidays 🙂 thanks so much for sharing!!
(Also, is it alright if I ask what camera/editing software you use? Your photos CONSISTENTLY blow me away, I need to get on your level!!)
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Oops, can’t believe I missed this comment! I use mostly a Leica Q and sometimes a Fuji X100T (or iPhone 7 Plus). 🙂