Taking a Disneyland Christmas vacation is a wonderful way to make special memories during the holiday season. Disneyland Christmas parades, fireworks, holiday attraction overlays, and special entertainment are just the beginning of what to expect during the Disneyland holiday season. Take a tour of everything available for the 2023 Disneyland Christmas season with our holiday guide.
This article is continuously updated as details are released about the 2023 Disneyland holiday celebration.
When Is Christmas At Disneyland In 2023?
Disneyland officially transforms into a holiday wonderland November 10, 2023 and the celebration continues all the way until January 7, 2024. Enjoy the holiday season at Disney California Adventure, Disneyland, and all three on-site resorts.
The best time to visit Disneyland during the holiday season is mid-November a couple days after the start of the Disneyland Christmas season. Everything for the holidays is up and running, but avoids the heaviest of crowds around Thanksgiving and Christmas break.
- Disneyland Holiday Attractions
- Disneyland Christmas Entertainment
- Disney California Adventure Christmas Attractions
- Disney California Adventure Holiday Entertainment
- Meeting Santa at Disneyland
- Disneyland Christmas Decorations
Disneyland Holiday Attractions
Disneyland has two incredible holiday ride overlays each year during the Christmas season. Haunted Mansion and “it’s a small world” Holiday both completely shut down to transform these classic attractions into beloved holiday experiences.
Haunted Mansion Holiday
Jack Skellington, Oogie Boogie, and Sally completely remodel the Haunted Mansion each year for the holiday season.
Haunted Mansion Holiday is usually available from early September and lasts until just after New Years. Since The Nightmare Before Christmas is about what might happen if Halloween Town took over Christmas Town holiday preparations, the timing perfectly celebrates both holidays.
Almost every facet of the Haunted Mansion Holiday changes for the Halloween and Christmas season. The outdoor area, stretching chamber, and entire ride are beautifully themed to incorporate the Haunted Mansion and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Instead of the normal stretching chamber experience, this one has special flair. The usual portraits are replaced with The Nightmare Before Christmas characters and a different soundtrack. As a final surprise, Jack Skellington breaks through the stained glass ceiling above you with an enthusiastic, but slightly frightening, holiday greeting.
When exiting the stretching chamber notice paintings along the walls with iconic images from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Keep watching as you walk since these portraits alternate between Christmas and Halloween versions right before your eyes.
Board your “sleigh” and begin your ride through the Haunted Mansion Holiday. There are so many amazing The Nightmare Before Christmas details in Haunted Mansion Holiday that it’s nearly impossible to list them all.
Watch carefully as each year a different immense and gorgeously themed, spooky gingerbread house sits atop the dining room table while ghosts whirl around dancing. Also look for Jack in the cemetery sharing Christmas greetings while Oogie Boogie coaxes you to play roulette at the end of the ride.
Try and ride Haunted Mansion Holiday a couple times on your Disneyland Christmas vacation to find tons of subtle details easily missed during a single experience.
“it’s a small world” Holiday
The Haunted Mansion isn’t the only attraction that undergoes a huge transformation for the holidays. “it’s a small world” gets completely new decorations inside and out for Disneyland Christmas.
During the holiday season each country is decorated with culturally appropriate holiday attire and decor. Twinkling lights hang from the sky and add a special ambiance to the ride. Even the classic “it’s a small world” song gets a holiday twist with a mix of the normal soundtrack and Christmas music.
As if the amazing holiday changes inside “it’s a small world” Holiday weren’t enough, the entire outside of the attraction is covered in roughly 50,000 Christmas lights with thousands more adorning the topiaries.
Each night as darkness falls, a short presentation transforms the “it’s a small world” Holiday facade into a sparkling, colorful wonderland. Take a ride on the Disneyland Railroad which takes you between the towers and topiaries for an extra close view of these breathtaking lights.
Disneyland Christmas Entertainment
A Christmas Fantasy Parade
Disneyland is known for extravagant parades and A Christmas Fantasy keeps the tradition alive. A Christmas Fantasy Parade is full of favorite Disney characters dressed in holiday attire on cute seasonally themed floats.
In between the ornate holiday character floats, huge decorated Christmas trees somehow navigate the parade route. Entertainers also dazzle guests with incredible skating and dancing ability.
Santa Claus wraps up A Christmas Fantasy Parade with cheerful Christmas greetings to those along the parade route. The parade lasts about 20 minutes, but is so enjoyable the time seems to pass quickly.
“Believe…In Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular
Projections on Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and Main Street make “Believe…In Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular a Christmas spectacle.
We saw people securing spots in front of the castle two hours before “Believe…In Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular which is much sooner than for similar shows at Disney World.
If you are willing to enjoy the projections on Main Street buildings instead of the castle, grab a decent spot closer to fireworks time. This lets you enjoy other Disneyland Christmas activities instead of waiting around.
Pro tip: Make sure you have a good view of the left side of the castle. Most of the fireworks tend to be on that side.
My favorite part of “Believe…In Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular is at the end when “snow” starts falling over Main Street and a small area around Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
The fluffy “snow” makes for great ambiance as it peacefully drifts down among guests. Not surprisingly, I like Disneyland snow a lot better than the real snow we get at home.
Disneyland Sleeping Beauty Christmas Castle Lighting
Wintertime Enchantment at Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle generally occurs twice a night during the holiday season. This show brings the castle from darkness to sparkling beauty with some music and minor castle projections.
Although not a bad show, I did regret spending a lot of time staking out a spot. Don’t miss out on the other spectacular Christmas activities to see it, but certainly stop by if you happen to catch the show.
Disney California Adventure Christmas Attractions
California Adventure holiday attractions pale in comparison to those at Disneyland, but are still a fun way to enjoy the season with much lower wait times.
Luigi’s Joy To The Whirl
Listen to a holiday soundtrack crooned by Luigi himself during the Christmas season. Hop into a classic car and enjoy the seasonal version of this adorable ride aptly named Luigi’s Joy To The Whirl.
Mater’s Jingle Jamboree
Not one to be left out, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree gets some fun holiday jokes and a new soundtrack turning it into Mater’s Jingle Jamboree.
Disney California Adventure Holiday Live Entertainment
Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party
Unique to Disney California Adventure, Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party is a wonderful celebration during the Disneyland Christmas season. This joyful show celebrates Christmas with mariachi and samba musicians, folklórico dancers, and some of your favorite Disney characters.
Don’t miss this vibrant street party at Disney California Adventure in Paradise Gardens Park when visiting Disneyland at Christmas.
Disney Festival of Holidays Entertainment
There’s many different holiday celebrations happening during Disney Festival of the Holidays at Disney California Adventure. Expect something special for Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Kwanzaa and Three Kings’ Day during Disney Festival of Holidays.
A variety of live performances honor these holiday traditions with music, dancers, and Disney friends. Enjoy special holiday foods from around the world with Festival Foods Marketplace booths, too.
Mickey’s Happy Holidays
This mini parade features Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale, Clarabelle, Goofy, and Pixar friends who dance and wave through much of Disney California Adventure. Flag bearers and toy soldier drummers add to the fanfare of this cute walking cavalcade.
The route begins near The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, past Pacific Wharf, and then continues around Carthay Circle down Buena Vista Street. This means there’s plenty of areas to stop and wave to some favorite Disney friends.
World of Color – Season of Light
This special version of World of Color incorporates classic Christmas music like The Christmas Song, Feliz Navidad, and more with special lighting and projections for the holidays. This 20 minute Disney California Adventure holiday show is a great way to cap off a day celebrating the season.
There are four ways to watch World of Color – Season of Light. Join the World of Color – Season of Light virtual queue, book a World of Color dining or dessert package, or the least desirable option, wait to see if there is standby room available before the show.
Where Do I Meet Santa at Disneyland?
Meet Santa In Disneyland Park
If a quick wave to Kris Kringle during A Christmas Fantasy Parade leaves you wanting more, stop by Critter Country for a chance to really visit with Santa Claus.
Santa only stops by for a short time each day so make sure you check the Disneyland app to see when he’s at Pooh’s Thotful Spot.
Santa’s Holiday Visit at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
Santa returns to Disney California Adventure for a traditional meet and greet in 2023. Tell Santa your Christmas wish list before burning off energy with several holiday themed activities on the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.
Disneyland Resort Holiday Decorations
Each area of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure has a stunning array of holiday decorations perfectly coordinated for that land. An all encompassing list would be overwhelming so I’m just sharing a couple highlights of the Christmas decor at Disneyland Resorts.
Want to learn more about Disneyland Resort decorations and traditions? Take the Holiday Time and the Disneyland Resort guided tour!
Sleeping Beauty Castle and Main Street Christmas Decorations
Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle decor has stunning decorations that are gorgeous during the day or night. A large wreath, ornate garland, and snow capped towers make Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle a lovely sight to see during the day.
As beautiful as it is in the daytime, the castle is even more dazzling at night when hundreds of lights and illuminated icicles bathe the castle in a peaceful glow.
On the other end of Main Street an extravagantly decorated Christmas tree standing 60 feet (18 meters) tall begs you to admire all the special details. All down Main Street lighted garland complete with Mickey head wreaths hang above the street.
Christmas In Cars Land
The residents of Radiator Springs go all out for the Christmas season in Cars Land. The transformation begins outside of Cars Land with the addition of Snowy the Snow Car to the iconic Cars Land sign area.
Cars themed garland stretches across Route 66 where each shop is decorated in its own holiday style. Find whitewall tire wreaths, air filter garland, and wrench snowflakes.
Disney’s Grand Californian
The rustic beauty of Disney’s Grand Californian is enhanced by a soaring Christmas tree and detailed gingerbread house. Find both of these seasonal decorations in the lobby of this iconic hotel.
Take time to walk around the Disney Grand Californian gingerbread house. Stunning design and hidden Mickeys make this fragrant and delicious decor a special experience.
Final Thoughts on A Disneyland Christmas
Disneyland Christmas attractions, decorations, and entertainment are immersive, unique, and encompass a variety of holiday celebrations. This incredible array of seasonal options keeps us coming back during the holiday season.
We also love that Disneyland holiday offerings are available to daytime park guests unlike many Disney World Christmas options where an extra ticket is required.
I hope this 2023 Disneyland Christmas guide helps you plan your own special Disneyland vacation where you can make some wonderful holiday memories.
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