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
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?
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.
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!
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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?