A Disneyland Christmas Survival Guide (Yes, You Can Survive Christmas at Disneyland!)

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A Disneyland Christmas is the stuff kids’ dreams are made of! And to be honest- mine too. I love spending Christmas 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 5 tips to surviving a Disneyland Christmas this year. Disneyland Christmas starts November?9 and runs through?January 6, 2019.?

Yes, it’s July, but no, it’s never too early to talk strategy when it comes to Christmas time at Disneyland.

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!


disneyland christmas decorations and gingerbread man cookie disneyland at christmas

Christmas at Disneyland is magical! From the Disney Christmas decorations to the holiday snacks, you will love your Disneyland Christmas vacation if you plan a little!


A Disneyland Christmas Survival Guide

I’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 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.

Here are 5 tips for surviving Christmas at Disneyland.


A Disneyland Christmas is not to be missed! But it is to be planned for. Here are some tips to enjoy your Christmas at Disneyland this year. #Disney #Disneyland #Disneytips #DisneyChristmas #Christmas #traveltips #travel


1. Time Your Disneyland Christmas Visit Smartly

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

Or they know better and avoid the crowds altogether.

What Day Does Disneyland Decorate for Christmas?

So when do Disneyland Christmas decorations go up around the park? Typically you can plan on seeing a Disney Christmas in the parks the week leading into the Veteran’s Day holiday.

To see a Disneyland Christmas 2018, you’ll want to plan to arrive sometime between?November 9, 2018 and January 6, 2019.

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


Superheroes Half Marathon weekend Doctor Strange 10K finishers Disneyland Christmas Time

Annual runDisney Superheroes race was the perfect time to celebrate Christmas at Disneyland! But now that the races are on hold, it might be an even better time with less crowds looking at the Disney Christmas decorations.


WhompWhomp. Nope. Not anymore.

The?Super Heroes Half Marathon weekend?is currently on hiatus along with the other runDisney Disneyland races. There is no current info on when (if?) they will return at this time.

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

Prime Christmas time at Disneyland crowd time, y’all. But we did get to see ALL of the?Disneyland Christmas decorations.

So there was that. #silverlining

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


Disneyland Christmas decorations in Cars Land include a hubcap tree

Our first Disneyland Christmas was magical— and not so magical. But we learned some tips for spending Christmas time at Disneyland that I’ll pass on to you.

2. A Disney Christmas is About Managing Expectations

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 when you go to Disneyland at Christmas time.

It is crowded and busy- and people are human.

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


Disneyland Festival of Holidays set up at Disneys California Adventure

The new Disneyland Festival of Holidays is a must see while visiting Disneyland at Christmas time.


I did not experience the crazy Disneyland Christmas 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 FastPass 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.

3. What to Pack for Christmas at Disneyland

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. Remember: everyone wants to see those Disney Christmas decorations!

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. 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!

Tips for surviving Christmas at Disneyland includes going to the lockers on Main Street right off!

4. How to Handle Long Lines During a Disneyland Christmas Trip

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 that FastPasses were gone, and met some extremely long Disneyland Christmas time 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.


Christmas at Disneyland: Disney Christmas decorations on the Disneyland castle


5. Christmas Time at Disneyland: Best Rides

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! They make Christmas time at Disneyland special.

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.


its a small world holiday Christmas at Disneyland

Hands down: the best Disney Christmas decorations belong to a Disneyland Christmas. its a small world holiday is breathtaking!


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

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!

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


its a small world holiday had FastPass access at 2017 Christmas time at disneyland

its a small world holiday had FastPass access at Disneyland Christmas 2017. Let’s hope this returns for 2018!


Disneyland Festival of Holidays Details


If your dream is to experience a Disneyland Christmas, I hope these tips will help you plan that trip.

Was Christmas time at Disneyland 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, I mean: it was a Disney Christmas after all. But you’ll do better than me since you have all these great tips now!

Have you been to the Disney Parks during the holiday season?? What tips would you add to enjoy a Christmas at Disneyland trip?


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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

If she isn’t chasing her four kids around Northern Virginia, Patty is chasing four bars on her phone to share her authentic and fun stories on social media and her blog, My No-Guilt Life. She’s also one half of the Marvel Moms, an online community for discussing the Marvel fandom. You can catch up on her runDisney fun at No-Guilt Disney.

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