A Disneyland Christmas is the stuff kids’ dreams are made of! And to be honest- mine too. We love spending the Christmas season at Disneyland and you will too. If you prepare, that is. Please: Christmas time at Disneyland is not for the faint of heart! Here are the top 5 tips for surviving Disneyland at Christmas this year. The holiday season starts November 11 and runs through January 8, 2023.
Yes, it’s early, but no, it’s never too early to talk strategy when it comes to Christmas time at Disneyland.
When have we ever steered you wrong when it comes to a Disneyland vacation?
If you’re thinking about a visit, be sure to check out these best Disneyland Christmas tips before you go!
Top 5 Tips For Surviving Disneyland At Christmas in 2022
We’ve been fortunate to spend some Christmas time at Disneyland. It is as magical as you might expect.
And as crowded.
And as frustrating.
And as wonderful.
Who doesn’t want to know what Christmas at Disneyland is like, right?
It’s the most popular time to visit for a reason, and we know people would appreciate hearing the frankincense (see what we did there?) version of making a trip work.
Here are the top 5 Tips For Surviving Disneyland At Christmas in 2022.
1. Disneyland At Christmas Is All About The Timing
Ideally, we’d suggest visiting the Disneyland Resort in the sweet spot right after the Holiday decorations arrive. Is Disneyland busy in November?
Christmas time at Disneyland gets real busy real quick as the month of November progresses.
The out-of-town travelers tend to hold off until school is out for Thanksgiving or Christmas break.
The locals will still be around- but often not until the late afternoon/evening when school and work are let out.
Or they know better and avoid the crowds altogether.
When is the best time to go to Disneyland at Christmas?
Ideally, we’d suggest visiting the Disneyland Resort in the sweet spot right after the Holiday decorations arrive.
You’ll beat the crowds and get a head start on the festive season.
Most of November is good to go, but avoid Thanksgiving week if possible. Early December is also a great time to visit Disneyland Park.
Is Disneyland busy in December? Find the best dates to go in 2022.
What Day Does Disneyland Decorate for Christmas?
Disneyland starts its decorating early when Haunted Mansion Holiday located in New Orleans Square opens in early September.
But the rest of Disneyland Resort waits until after Halloween to decorate for Christmas.
The Christmas trees sometimes show up the very next day on November 1, but the parks will be completely decorated by November 11.
2. Disneyland Christmas is About Managing Expectations
Our point here: don’t expect to ride all your usual rides or have perfect service from an overworked cast member when you go to Disneyland at Christmas time.
It is crowded and busy and people are human.
If you follow this tip and plan to go with the flow as much as necessary, you’ll have a wonderful trip.
Depending on when you arrive at the parks, you may experience crazy Disneyland Christmas crowds and long lines.
Or you may breeze right in.
The security lines are efficient and quick. Don’t forget to utilize mobile ordering at Disneyland too. It can save your bacon when it comes time to eat!
3. Packing Tip For Christmas At Disneyland: Layer It Up!
During our trip, we experienced chilly mornings & evenings but rather warm daytime temps.
Most hotels are within a 10 to 20-minute walk from the Disneyland Resort so you could make the case that leaving your jackets in the room would be no big deal.
This is an important point: if you leave, you may not get back into the parks.
Reservations are in play now, which helps this issue. But if you leave Disneyland Park and go to Disney California Adventure as a park hopper, that reservation is not guaranteed any longer.
Remember: everyone wants to see those Disney Christmas decorations! It can get that busy at times.
During crowded days, the park gates can be closed to incoming guests.
Reaching capacity happens frequently.
If you leave, you run the risk of not being allowed back in as a park hopper.
And if you promised your kids they’d get to see Santa Claus in the Christmas Fantasy Parade and get shut out? That’s no fun for anyone.
We wore layers and packed a bag with the change of clothing we would need for a stay at the parks the entire day.
Our first stop as we entered Main Street USA was the lockers.
They cost $7-10 for the whole day.
It was a simple in-and-out process, but it can get crowded during heavy times like New Year’s Eve.
That is one crazy fun crowded time of year and you might just want to dig deep and consider if New Year’s at Disneyland is worth it to you!
4. Disneyland Christmas Tip: Handle The Long Lines By Avoiding Them
You’ll zig when everyone else zags.
Around mid-morning, the park will be insanely packed. This is when you get creative.
Visit some of the off-the-beaten-path attractions that will have shorter or no waits.
- Take a trip to explore Tom Sawyer Island
- Paddle the Disneyland Canoes
- Walk through Sleeping Beauty Castle
- Explore Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge and use your Data Pad (cell phone) to play games
- Stake out a spot on the parade route
- Check the Disneyland app for your favorite characters sighting like Minnie Mouse. Town Square is a great place for characters in the morning!
Think outside of the traditional box and you’ll find some great things to experience during a Disneyland Christmas trip.
5. Do Not Miss The Christmas Ride Overlays
Since the crowds should be heavier than normal, you would be wise to prioritize your attraction choices. By mid-morning, the wait times for these specific attractions will be huge.
In addition to the expected Christmas decorations throughout the parks, some attractions get extra special attention.
Holiday-specific overlays are in place for Haunted Mansion and “it’s a small world.”
Your family will love seeing Jack Skellington playing Sandy Clawz.
Our biggest tip yet: Don’t skip them! They make Christmas time at Disneyland special.
You’ll want to make them a priority and that means you’ll want to get to the parks early for rope drop.
If you are a Walt Disney World vet, it’s especially important to experience these attractions since they do not get the same overlay treatment on the East coast.
This attraction is the best example of Disney Christmas decorations out there!
You must ride this to enjoy your Christmas at Disneyland- it will definitely get you into the Disneyland Christmas spirit- I cannot say enough.
You. Must. Not. Skip!
Bonus: Disney Festival of Holidays Details
Disney California Adventure Park also decorates and celebrates Disneyland Christmas.
And DCA adds some great overlays to Cars Land which is a must-see. Be sure to ride Mater’s Jingle Jamboree and Luigi’s Joy when you’re there.
But one of the standouts of the holiday season is the Disney Festival of Holidays.
This runs from November 11 to January 8, 2023, as well.
If you are a Disney World regular and love the Food & Wine Festival, this is a mini holiday-specific version of that.
Holiday foods, festivities, and fun! It’s not to be missed.
Summary Of Our Disneyland At Christmas Tips
If your dream is to experience a Disneyland Christmas, we hope these tips will help you plan that trip.
Is Christmas time at Disneyland easy? No.
But was it still perfect? YES!
Despite showing up at a busy time, we still managed to have a fantastic trip.
It was a Disney Christmas after all at the Happiest Place on Earth.
But you’ll do better than we since you have all our best tips now!
Disneyland Christmas FAQ
We heard about the famous Disneyland Candy Canes. How can we score one?
Disneyland does something truly special each year. They offer handmade candy canes made onsite but only on special days.
Breaking news from Candy Palace and Trolley Treats- the two locations where you can get your Disneyland candy canes from: here’s everything you need to know about scoring a Disneyland Candy Cane in 2022.
Where Can You Meet Santa At Disneyland?
Luckily, the big guy gets around!
You can meet him if you are staying at any of the Disneyland Hotels (which are gorgeous for the holidays!).
We love the Disneyland Hotel the most when we’re visiting Disney parks.
You can also meet him in each park: Critter Country at Disneyland Park and in the Ahwahnee Camp Circle in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail at Disney California Adventure Park.
Does Disneyland Have Any Christmas Parties Like Disney World?
Not in 2022, sadly.
For the first time ever in 2021, Disneyland did have a limited-time Christmas party on select nights. It was called Disney Merriest Nights.
These special events full of holiday spirit were raved over and well attended.
It was recently announced that they would not return for 2022.
Tell Us About The Candlelight Processional At Disneyland. Is It Like Walt Disney World?
The basic premise and story/songs are the same, but the availability and location are drastically different.
Disneyland only holds its Candlelight Processional 2 nights a year, typically in early December. The narrators are not announced in advance, though you can usually spy them during rehearsals early in the day.
2022 Candlelight will happen on December 3 and 4, 2022. The shows will run two times a night at 5:30 pm and 7:45 p.m.
Invited guests will have seating, but regular theme park guests are able to see the show from Main Street.