It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all Disney Holidays choices in the Disneyland Parks and Resort. Here’s our don’t miss picks for 2016.
Even after years of attending holiday celebrations in the park, we have to make a plan, and make decisions about what we will do when we visit. It’s simply impossible to do, taste and see it all. Plus this year is extra special! Oh we wish we could borrow Santa’s sled and try everything!
This year the attractions we made a point to visit did not disappoint. We were thrilled to make it to all of them in our one day in the park and if you plan well, you can too. Many of the rides I’m about to list have fast passes, something you’ll want to take advantage of.
We started our day at the California Adventure Park, and walked the parade route taking in the new Festival of Holidays and noting all the delicious food and crafts along the way.
From the Disney site:
Nosh your way through holiday favorites in a culinary celebration of different cuisines and traditions. From belly-loving bites to spirited libations and decadent desserts—there’s a world of possibilities to please your palate at these marketplace kiosks during Disney Festival of Holidays, happening through January 8, 2017 at Disney California Adventure Park.
- Abuelita’s Kitchen cooks up Feliz Navidad wishes with warm tamales and sopes
- Brews & Bites clinks flights of beer for yuletide cheer
- Fiesta en Familia makes merriment with savory dishes like pozole and ceviche
- Southern Home Holidays spreads southern comfort classics like spicy chicken sausage and sweet potato pie
- Good Fortune’s Feast adds a little flair to the festivities with pork bao and winter mint milk tea
- Heritage Cottage serves up tasty goodies with hardy holiday short ribs and rice pudding
- Making Spirits Bright shows what fun it is to celebrate with wines and seasonal beverages
- Mistletoe Morsels melts hearts with Swedish meatballs and eggnog
- Mosaic Delights moffers mouthwatering munchies like roasted lamb and baklava
- Nosh & Nibbles is horsera-dishing out brisket potato croquettes and sweet spiced noodle kugel
- Spicy Salutations celebrates with inspired cuisine like curry and mango lassi
- Treats for Santa twinkles with fruit punch and holiday cookies
- Winter Sliderland roasts and toasts with succulent sliders and hard cider
- Yuletide Yummies puts a twist on the traditional, with creations like pumpkin spice hot chocolate and gingerbread Bundt cake
Delight in unique menus at all 14 marketplace kiosks at different locations around the park—a celebration of diverse cuisines, cultures and traditions.
The path of the Festival of Holidays is also the Parade Route, so you can pick a spot to park yourself for the parade as well.
While you are in California Adventure Park, make sure to pick up a fast pass for Radiator Racers as early as possible, then come back after dark.
Fun Fact: did you know that Radiator Racers just went solar? Here’s a post about the solar transformation
The Jingle Cruise is the holiday version of the Jungle Cruise. It’s packed with all new jokes like “Pirhanakka – the festival of bites!” During the holiday season the jungle is full of floating fruitcakes and gift wrapped surprised around every corner. I recommend doing this ride at night as well. Not so hot for photos but it’s such a radically different experience than the daytime, normal version of the ride and you and your kids will definitely get a kick out of it.
The Haunted Mansion gets a makeover every year when Jack Skellington skulks into town, sometime before Halloween. He occupies the Mansion through Christmas and what I love most about his haunting the place is that every single year is a little bit different. This is why we must go back every year! We note all the differences and the similarities and marvel at what clever new things Jack’s team of decorators have dreamed up. What is the same however, every year, is the beloved scent of gingerbread that wafts through the dining room. Breathe deep!
Small World is another classic that stays on our “must do” list from year to year. Though it’s not radically different from years past, we still feel the need to visit every year and point out our favorite things; My husband’s name on Santa’s list, Ariel’s fish offering for Santa, the Elvis Bobblehead on Lilo’s surfboard. I’m sure every family has their stuff that they play “iSpy” games with while riding this one. It’s a visual feast. Outside the facade of Small World is its own wonder of light.
The holiday light show on the Castle, and the lit up Castle itself are wondrous to watch, if you can time it right.
The usual World of Color light/sound/water/fire show has been re-calibrated and re-imagineered for the holidays, and Season of Light has an uplifting message of peace . You’ll see all of your favorite characters in there and my new favorite Disney Magic “how did they do that?” effect of hundreds of heart shaped balloons being released into the night sky. Except they are not balloons. They are magic.
Here’s an extra local “pro-tip” for you as well. Exit California through the Grand Californian lobby (near Grizzly Rapids) when you leave, rather than the main entrance plaza if you are planning to walk to your car or hotel. Even if you are catching the tram from Downtown Disney to the parking lots, you might beat the crowds by taking this shortcut.