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Top 5 Tips For Surviving Disneyland At Christmas For 2023 (Yes, You Can Survive & Thrive!)

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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 10 and runs through January 7, 2024.

mickey mouse in front of a christmas tree at the disneyland christmas parade

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!

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!

Top 5 Tips For Surviving Disneyland At Christmas in 2023

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 2023.

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. 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.

Sleeping Beauty Castle with snow and Christmas decorations. disneyland christmas tips

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 2023.

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 10.

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. 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.

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.

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 with 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!

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


4. Disneyland Christmas Tip: Handle The Long Lines By Avoiding Them

That’s right.

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!
Christmas at Disneyland: Disney Christmas decorations on the Disneyland castle

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.

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

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 10 to January 7, 2024, 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 did 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 2023.

candy canes at disneyland hand made

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 2023, 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 are full of holiday spirit raved over and well attended.

It was recently announced that they would not return for 2023. 

Tell Us About The Candlelight Processional At Disneyland. Is It Like Walt Disney World?

Not exactly.

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.

2023 Candlelight will likely happen on December 2 and 3, 2023. 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.

Disneyland at Christmas: Mater wearing a santa hat.

More Disneyland Posts You’ll Love

Holidays at Disneyland: Everything You Need To Know

Race To Disneyland Halloween

Unique Ways to Remember Your Disney Vacation

Find the Closest Airport to Disneyland

Hotels Around Disneyland: Good Neighbor Hotels

Make Your Own Christmas Red Velvet Mickey Waffles

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Leeann Jacket

Thursday 29th of September 2022

You can leave the park now that you have to make reservations because your spot is secured.


Thursday 29th of September 2022

True- but only if you don't park hop. If you park hop, that cancels out your reservation and you may not be let back in. If you go to the hotel or home or whatever--- you will be let back in with your reservation.

How Universal Studios is Better Than Disneyland | TravelingMom

Monday 10th of December 2018

[…] never played me that way, so of course, I had a natural inclination to return there. Any season, any reason, I can find an excuse to go to […]

Tracy Martin

Wednesday 9th of November 2016

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.


Wednesday 9th of November 2016

I can't wait for this weekend! Christmas and Avengers make for a perfect Disney day.

How To Christmas At Disney - Traveling Mom

Saturday 8th of October 2016

[…] Tips for Disneyland at Christmas […]


Monday 19th of September 2016

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!

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