The Happiest Place on Earth Celebrates the Holidays in Style

This is the third and final piece in my series about where to go to get a little holiday cheer.  I previously wrote about Leavenworth and Quebec City. Today, I’m taking you to the “Happiest Place on Earth.”  Yep, Disneyland.

Why Disneyland?  Well, they do a great job with decorations and festivities.  I have always enjoyed going to Disney World and Disneyland, but something about going when it is all decorated up for the holidays is really special. My partner and I first went a few years ago. I was instantly smitten with all the decorations.  First things first though, grab a hot chocolate (flavor it with hazelnut or cinnamon) from the little café on Main Street.  (We usually grab at least two hot chocolates per visit!).

Grilled cheese and hazelnut hot chocolate. Yum!

As you are visiting Disneyland, you can see all the decorations – from the shops decorated, to the characters in holiday attire, to the light posts decorated with garland (and of course Cinderella’s Castle.)  The décor is amazing.  But some of the rides have also changed it up for the holidays.  Here are the ones I’ve liked:

The animals get decked out for the holidays.

The Jungle Cruise.  OK – it’s a bit cheesy with the various holiday decorations thrown in, but the tour guides have a fun attitude, and you’re guaranteed to get at least a few chuckles.

Pumpkins + Christmas = win

The Haunted Mansion. I LOVE this.  The theme is the Nightmare Before Christmas so there is Halloween décor.  For me, that’s the best of both worlds since I’m a HUGE Halloween fan.  Every little detail in the Haunted Mansion is converted over from the movie so it’s always a treat to see what you will notice this time that you didn’t before.

It’s a Small World.  I will admit, I won’t go on this ride when it’s not Christmas.  But for the holidays, the lights, the song, the decorations are incredible.  There is something amazing about standing in front of the attraction at night with it all light up.

Of course, the park does fireworks which are spectacular over Cinderella’s Castle, various parades, and a candlelight processional (which I haven’t seen).  They do really go all out.

Cinderella’s Castle is beautiful to see.

And, California Adventure also decorates.  I haven’t been to California Adventure in several years, but both times we went were in December.  I’m not a big fan of this park itself, but the way they decorate Cars Land is really cute – I love the little motel all lite up for the holidays.  My take is if you can go to both, try to visit both, but if it comes down to one, stick to Disneyland.

Cars Land always decorates nicely.

Other tips:  Disney keeps raising their prices which is a bummer.  Check out their calendar to see if the pricing is better during the week.  We went once on a weekend and it was super crowded.  Going more mid-week is definitely recommended.

You do not need to stay in a Disney hotel to enjoy the park.  We stayed in a Marriott Suites in Garden Grove and spent a few bucks on a shuttle over there.  This was easy because even though we had a car, we didn’t need to bother with traffic or the cost of parking.

Familiarize yourself with what you can and can’t take into the park.  Bring snacks and water.  It rained on our first trip. We had taken a break from the park to go back to the hotel, and lucky us, there was a Target right across the street that sold these ugly yellow rain ponchos with Mickey and Minnie on them. I think they were a few dollars each. Much cheaper than getting them in the park.

But bottom line is – if you like amusement parks and want to have some thrills while still experiencing some holiday cheer, check out Disneyland (or Disney World).

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