Heading to the Disneyland Resort this holiday season? It truly is the most magical time of the year to visit with little ones. We’ve scoured both parks and come up with the must-do activities for toddlers, preschoolers and the young at heart this holiday season.
Take a photo with Mickey, Minnie and all the gang in their holiday best at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
This is a family tradition and you will love seeing your kids grow and change along side their best buddies throughout the years. Mickey, Minnie, Donald and all of the “classic” gang can usually be found on Main Street in Disneyland and on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure.
Live Entertainment Throughout the Resort
Great live holiday entertainment is available throughout the Disneyland Resort, including the both parks and the hotels. From drummers to carolers to high school bands and more, there’s something for everyone at holiday time. Many live performances can be found in the daily entertainment guide. If you are hoping to find a specific type of performance, the friendly Guest Relations cast members at the information boards, City Hall (Disneyland) and the Chamber of Commerce (Disney California Adventure) can help you track down what you are seeking. (Live entertainment at the hotels does not require theme park admission.)
Watch the Christmas Fantasy Parade.
For me, the holiday season officially kicks off (in my brain, at least) when I see the Christmas Fantasy Parade. There is just no way you can’t get happy and feel all warm and toasty inside when you see it! Children love the beautiful floats and seeing all of our their favorite Disney characters.
Take a cruise on “it’s a small world” holiday at Disneyland.
This is my other all-time favorite holiday tradition at the Disneyland Resort. I know… Disneyland fans fall into two camps when it comes to “it’s a small world”: you either love it or can’t stand it. I am on team “love it” and when it comes time for “it’s a small world” holiday I LOVE IT even more. That end scene gets me every time.
Experience snow fall on Main Street and at the Rivers of America in Disneyland
Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle is a holiday time favorite with its glistening snow and sparkles. Starting this year, guests can experience enchanting moments of snow fall both on Main Street with the beautiful castle backdrop and along the Rivers of America in Frontierland /New Orleans Square. I don’t want to give too much away, but don’t forget to pay close attention to the “smell” of the snow when it falls. Snow fall is not listed in the entertainment schedule, but typically happens twice per night: once around 7pm and again just before the fireworks. I recommend asking at the information board in Central Plaza (by the Partners Statue) to confirm the times the day of your visit.
Visit Santa at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
There is something very, very special about visiting Santa at the Disneyland Resort. My children have had so many precious moments with old St. Nick that we will treasure for the rest of our lives. This year’s locations at Disneyland in Critter Country and Disney California Adventure Park are dressed just as lovely as ever.
Experience the holiday-themed Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in Disney California Adventure.
My kids’ favorite place to go at the Disneyland Resort is hands-down, Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, and now that it is totally rethemed for the holidays, they love it even more! It is a great place for kids of all ages to stretch their legs (especially if they are tired of sitting in a stroller or having to wait in lines) and have fun.
See World of Color – Season of Light at Disney California Adventure.
The newest version of World of Color is definitely the best one yet and sure to be a holiday favorite for years to come. The show is full of classic Christmas music, as well as beautiful new music composed just for the show. I know it can be hard to get the kids to stay up late enough for the show, but this show is totally worth it. Be sure to keep an eye out for the floating hearts; your kids will flip out!
Experience ¡Viva Navidad! at Disney California Adventure.
The popular Disney ¡Viva Navidad!, part of Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure, offers lots of family fun, including a photo opportunity with the Three Caballeros, incredible food at Paradise Gardens and more. ¡Viva Navidad! culminates with Three Kings Day (Dia de los Reyes) Jan. 5-8, 2017.
Learn more in our exclusive video:
Meet Princess Elena of Avalor and see her show at Disney California Adventure.
Princess Elena, the first Disney Princess inspired by diverse Latin American cultures, performs in her very own daily holiday show, “Princess Elena’s Musical Grand Arrival” and even has a greeting location at Disney California Adventure at ¡Viva Navidad! in Paradise Gardens. See the show time schedule for details on her show and meet and greet times.
Take a rest and color at the coloring tables at the Festival of Holidays
Throughout the Festival Foods Marketplace in Disney California Adventure, young guests can color and make small crafts inspired by Diwali, the Eastern festival of lights, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and Three Kings Day.
Cookie decorating in Disney California Adventure.
At the Treats for Santa booth (located along the pathway leading towards Grizzly River Run if you’re waking from Ariel’s Under Sea Adventure), guests can purchase cookie decorating kits. These are a Disneyland Resort holiday staple for our family. (See the video at the end of the post showing just how far back our tradition goes.)
Learn more about great activities for kids at Disney California Adventure in our exclusive video with the park’s general manager!
No matter which activities you and your family experience during holiday time, the most important thing is that you are making memories and establishing family traditions you will treasure for a lifetime. When my boys have grown, our Disney holiday memories will always be nestled in my heart. I will forever see them as they were when they were toddling and rosy-cheeked in my mind’s eye.
This is my favorite Santa experience in 2008:
This is the most adorable Santa experience last year at Disney California Adventure:
And NOTHING can hold a candle to the first time my youngest son fell in love with Mickey at holiday time in 2010.
May you and yours have a wonderful holiday season full of happiness and cherished times together!
Thank you to the Disneyland Resort for providing my family and me with years of amazing access to the magic of the parks at holiday time.