Whether you’re bringing a date to Disneyland, going with family and friends or indulging in a solo outing, one of the best, most magical times of the year to visit the happiest place on Earth is the winter holiday season. Not only do you have the everyday Disneyland charm, but the whole experience becomes enhanced with even more enchantment. For an expedition that will inspire you to totally embrace the season with your entire being, this is the place to be! If you want to nosh on cute holiday treats or put on a funky Santa hat and greet the big man himself, here are 10 ways to make your holiday visit the best one yet.
1. Feast your eyes on the castle. Srsly, Sleeping Beauty’s castle is always stunning, but during the holidays they totally kick it up a notch. Aurora’s crib is decked out for the season with faux snow, bows and baubles, and it’s covered in a plethora of lights that shimmer at night. So Instagram-worthy.
2. Go global at the Festival of Holidays. Experience the world’s holiday traditions — from Diwali & Hanukkah to Kwanzaa — all without leaving Anaheim (which is not only convenient but cost-effective). Over a dozen marketplace kiosks set up in California Adventure serve up an international array of goodies, like brisket potato croquettes and sweet spiced noodle kugel from Nosh & Nibbles and pork bao and winter mint milk tea from Good Fortune’s Feast. If you’re thirsty, you can indulge in a wine or beer flight. But it ain’t all about the yumminess going into your belly: Bollywood dancers, an all-female mariachi band and a klezmer ensemble are among the performers who will be on hand to entertain you.
3. Feliz Navidad it up in California Adventure. Disney ¡Viva Navidad! returns as a key part of the epic Festival of Holidays with a street party, crafts for kids, special character appearances (such as the Three Caballeros) and delish menu items like sopes de barbacoa, torta al pastor and house-made pozole. The festivities will end with the grand finale (January 5-8, 2017) of a Three Kings Day (Dia de Los Reyes) celebration.
4. Bask in the glory of a cavalcade of winter fun. Twice a day, A Christmas Fantasy Parade brings Minnie, Mickey, Elsa, Anna and (of course) Santa Claus to Main Street during the holiday season. It will totally get you into the whole spirit of the season.
5. Stick around for “World of Color — Season of Light.” This water spectacular is a must for anyone who’s longing for an unforgettable example of Disney magic. At 9pm (daily), World of Color — Season of Light takes over the lagoon in California Adventure with powerful streams of water (shooting as high as 200 feet), pyrotechnics and, of course, beloved Disney characters past and present (all with a nod to the holidays).
6. Take a whiff of the gingerbread house at the Grand Californian. In the lobby of the Grand Californian Hotel, you’ll see (and enjoy the nostalgic aroma of) the most epic gingerbread house in the land. This inspired arts-and-crafts masterpiece, standing seven feet tall by 12 feet wide, was created from 600 pounds of gingerbread, along with 600 pounds of powdered sugar. Grab a drink and a cookie from the nearby kiosk while you sit and admire it for a spell.
7. Cold chill with the big man. Mickey and Minnie aren’t the only celebs hanging out at the happiest place on Earth: Santa is there too, natch. Jolly old St. Nick holds court at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in California Adventure, with meet and greets available as well as fun and games.
8. Pay a visit to Cars Land. Those Cars, they know how to decorate. The crafty Pixar stars have done up Radiator Springs with automobile-inspired decorations. Think hubcap-decorated Christmas trees, garlands made of car parts and an adorable “snowcar.”
9. Hop on the holiday rides. The Jingle Cruise, the Haunted Mansion Holiday and It’s a Small World Holiday are all total MUSTS. Each of these classic attractions gets a temporary makeover for the season. This also happens to be the 20th anniversary of It’s a Small World Holiday, so along with the festive touches, they’ve included hidden 20s throughout the ride to search for.
10. Indulge in delicious Disney delicacies. Some of the most enticing elements of the holiday season are the glorious gastronomic delights to be gobbled up. From savory to sweet, Disneyland has a treat for every type of taste bud. A few must-try culinary experiences include the tamales at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante in Frontierland, the seasonal beignets in New Orleans Square, and brand-new offerings like the reuben potato smash and adobo pork bao at the Festival of Holidays. And don’t forget all those scrumptious desserts!
What’s your #1 holiday activity at Disneyland? Let us know @BritandCo!
(Featured photo via Disneyland)