Best Tips for Surviving Christmas at Disneyland

Christmas at Disneyland is one of the things I look forward to the most. I usually get my fill when I head to Disneyland with the Super Hero Half weekend, and this year is no different! It was such a great weekend at Disney. Be sure to check here for 5 tips to the season of Christmas at Disneyland. 

 

Yes, it’s November, but no, it’s never too early to talk strategy when it comes to visiting Disneyland during the holidays.

When have I steered you wrong when it comes to Disney?

If you’re thinking about a visit, be sure to check out these tips before you go!

 

 

Tips for surviving Christmas at Disneyland. Know these things before you go, and a magical time with gingerbread, overlays, Walt and Mickey is sure to be had!

 

Tips for Surviving Christmas at Disneyland

 

I’ve been fortunate to spend some time at Disneyland during the Holidays. It’s as magical as you might expect.

And as crowded.

And as frustrating.

And as wonderful.

Who doesn’t want to know what the holidays at Disneyland are like, right?

It’s the most popular time to visit for a reason, and I know people would appreciate hearing the frankincense (see what I did there?) version of a trip with four kids and a non-crowd loving husband in tow.

 

Timing Christmas Attractions at Disneyland

Ideally, I’d suggest visiting the Disneyland Resort in the sweet spot right after the Holiday decorations arrive.

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 let out.

Or they know better and avoid the crowds altogether.

The smart traveler will make plans to visit somewhere around November 10-13.

Hey Shenanigans, isn’t there a race somewhere around then? 

 

Tips for surviving Christmas at Disneyland. Know these things before you go, and a magical time with gingerbread, overlays, Walt and Mickey is sure to be had!

 

 

Bingo. Super Heroes Half Marathon weekend. And that’s when I traditionally go.

Unfortunately, this year was the last year that will happen.

I definitely made the most out of it- recaps coming soon!

Our first Christmas visit, we, of course, went completely against this tip and arrived on December 28 and left on January 2.

Prime crowd time, y’all.

Doh! The rest of the tips will be in reference to that particular (crowded!) trip.

 

Tips for surviving Christmas at Disneyland. Know these things before you go, and a magical time with gingerbread, overlays, Walt and Mickey is sure to be had!

Managing Expectations at Disneyland at Christmas

I am totally that glass half empty person.

I expect the worst and if it doesn’t happen, MAN, that’s AWESOME, right?

My point here: don’t expect to ride all your usual rides or have perfect service.

It’s crowded and busy, and people are human.

This tip I followed… and guess what, it WAS awesome!

 

Tips for surviving Christmas at Disneyland. Know these things before you go, and a magical time with gingerbread, overlays, Walt and Mickey is sure to be had!

 

I did not experience the crowds that I had built up in my mind.

The security lines were efficient but quick, and FastPasses were aplenty as long as you got to the parks early.

Space Mountain was a hard pass for us to nab due to the popularity, however. If there is something you must ride, make it into the parks early AND use FastPass MaxPass (you can read more about that in this post!)

 

What to Pack for Disneyland at Christmas

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.

During crowded days, the park gates can be closed to incoming guests.

Reaching capacity happens frequently.

You leave, you run the risk of not being allowed back in. No Bueno.

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: the lockers.

They cost about $7 for all day.

It was a simple in and out process, except for New Year’s Eve. (side note: New Year’s Eve honestly needs a post all on its own, so I won’t go into too much detail here.)

Tips for surviving Christmas at Disneyland. Know these things before you go, and a magical time with gingerbread, overlays, Walt and Mickey is sure to be had!

How to Handle Long Lines at Disneyland

At the peak of the day, I took #OhLucy (who wasn’t feeling well) back to the hotel for her nap.

The older kids discovered FastPasses gone, and extremely long lines.

Instead of getting down, they decided to explore!

Mr. Shenanigans took them over to Tom Sawyer Island, and they had a blast.

This was all new territory for my kids and they really enjoyed it.

They also experienced the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough.

Claire loved being able to go inside the castle and it’s become a favorite of hers to this day.

 

Tips for surviving Christmas at Disneyland. Know these things before you go, and a magical time with gingerbread, overlays, Walt and Mickey is sure to be had!

 

Best Rides at Disneyland at Christmas

Since the crowds should be heavier than normal, you would be wise to prioritize your attraction choices.

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”.

Don’t skip them!

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.

 

Christmas at Disneyland

 

This year it’s a small world has FastPasses available: guys! This is a game changer!

This attraction is one of the best ones to ride to get you into the Disney spirit- I cannot say enough.

You. Must. Not. Skip!

And with FastPass access, you won’t need to.

 

Tips for surviving Christmas at Disneyland. Know these things before you go, and a magical time with gingerbread, overlays, Walt and Mickey is sure to be had!

 

If your dream is to see Disneyland in all its holiday glory, I hope these tips will help you plan that trip.

Was it easy?  No.

Was it still perfect?  YES!

Sure, some considerations need to be addressed, but we planned our trip on the fly.

And we still managed to have a fantastic time.

Have you been to the Disney Parks during the holiday season?  What tips would you add to visiting Disneyland?

 

Tips for surviving Christmas at Disneyland. Know these things before you go, and a magical time with gingerbread, overlays, Walt and Mickey is sure to be had!

Comments

  • Suzanne says:

    You know this post just made me a little giddy, right? So excited to see Disneyland in November and the Jack Haunted Mansion takeover.
    Suzanne recently posted…Fundraising Friday: 2014 EditionMy Profile

  • Cara says:

    We go before Christmas every year to Walt Disney World I love seeing the parks all decorated, and getting some cooler weather too! We usually stay at fort wilderness and the campers are all decorated too. We always get our picture taken with the downtown disney Santa and have used it for our Xmas card for the last 4 years.

  • Erika Rodkey says:

    Love the tips for holiday time! I’ve never been to DLR, but my entire newly extended family is all heading to WDW for the holidays this year to officially welcome our Disney virgins into the fam (my husband and my brothers new wife have never been, but I grew up a little Disney fanatic like your little ones!). It’s been a while since we’ve been at Christmas time, so these tips were great reminders!

    • patty says:

      Oh exciting! I was at WDW for wine and dine last year which means I saw the decorations there too! Really magical. Hope you have a great time!

  • Lesley says:

    My parents and I were at Disneyland last November. We did the Haunted Mansion many times since it was our first time to DL after the overlay. The first two days were great, but Saturday wasn’t. It should’ve been great, but they were filming for the Christmas parade they show on ABC. Ummm really no bueno! It was November and I shouldn’t expect to battle that.

  • My first Disney park experience EVER, Disneyland the day after Christmas….yeah we were noobs and didn’t know any better, but lucky for us it was raining so it could have been worse. We didn’t know ANYTHING and yet we had fun and went back. I think attitude is so important like you said, just know it will be crowded and go with the magic. Great series though….wish it had been around when we went. And please warn people WHY Snow White has a short ride in the AM, its NOT for most 3 year olds LOL

  • Tania says:

    Oh Disneyland at Christmas is beautiful!! I’m excited to live closer now to take my family! Love, love!

  • I love Christmas at Disney! I’ve only ever been for WDW, but am excited to see all the DL Christmas glory next year for the Avengers weekend!

  • Heidi says:

    Disneyland is on my Bucket List – during the holidays or not! I cannot wait to make it out to the west coast and see Walt’s original!

  • Danielle J says:

    Great tips! I have definitely followed a few of those! I would love to take my mom and dad to Disneyland during the holidays! My mom works too hard and makes up too many excuses not to relax, but I know she loves holiday decorations!

  • Leila Holmes says:

    I love your blog! We are huge runDisney fans here! I’d take my whole family if I could!

  • Dani says:

    I would definitely take my dad. I need a Disney fix. D:

  • Lesley says:

    I hope that weekend for Avengers is better scheduled now. I was there with family in 2013, that very weekend, and they were filming everything for the Christmas Day broadcast. Talk about headache!

  • Tracy Martin says:

    Heading out on Friday for Avengers!! SO so excited the Christmas decorations will be up!! I cannot wait. Finding it super hard to focus on anything. Thanks for all the great suggestions and tips.

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Patty Holliday


Patty is a 40-ish mother of four living in Virginia. A bit geeky, sometimes sarcastic, lover of a candid confession. She's trying to love running, she swears. But much like her marathon, it’s taking a very long time. Ahem. She's searching for the perfect way to balance family, work, travel, and fitness. Perfect defined as high on fun, low on guilt.

TMOM Travel Writer

Copyright 2017, My No-Guilt Life | by Patty Holliday