Disneyland Holidays Guide for 2016

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Last weekend we were at Disneyland Resort previewing their holiday celebration. There is a lot going on at both parks all day and all night long, but for some reason we don't get tired, and we want to see it all! That is the magic of Disney. Yes, we want to see and do it all, but it is not possible in one day (we were there for 12 hours that day and still missed half of it because we were at both parks) so you'll want to do a little research before you get there especially if you're visiting with small children.

For example, we all know that Disneyland's fireworks are at 9:30 pm nightly but if we're over at Disney California Adventure watching World of Color at 9 pm, we might be walking over while the fireworks are going and miss half of it because we don't walk looking up at the sky and risk not running into people or things. (I've done that.) I've highlighted some helpful things to note below for both parks. 


Main Street, USA is so pretty in both the daytime and especially at night. Mickey and his friends were dancing with a marching band when I was at City Hall and instantly felt happy. You really don't know what you're going to see and no matter the age, you're just excited to see Mickey. 

  • Sing along to familiar tunes on this most joyous holiday cruise as various cultures are featured in "it's a small world" Holiday bringing peace on earth.
  • It's Jack Skellington's dream come true in Haunted Mansion Holiday. Some of it is creepy, but still fun to experience. I love this version of Haunted Mansion the best!
  • A shipment of holiday decor went missing, and we soon find them scattered in a comical safari throughout the rainforeston Jingle Cruise.
  • Watch beloved Disney Characters join Santa Claus for a merry musical celebration in "A Christmas Fantasy" Parade (about 40 minutes).
  • Paint the Night Parade is back on select nights lighting it up.
  • Santa Claus is over there at Pooh's Thotful spot in Critter Country.
  • Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle undergoes an enchanting transformation.
  • "Believe... in Holiday Magic" Fireworks Spectacular are nightly at 9:30 pm.

Disney FASTPASS Service are available for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Haunted Masion, Indiana Jones Adventure, Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Star Tours. 

Here is where you will find Disney Characters for Meet-and-Greets: Disney Princesses are at Royal Hall, Tinker Bell is in Pixie Hollow, Darth Vader and Chewbacca are inside Star Wars Launch Bay, Mickey Mouse is at his house inside Mickey's Toontown, and Minnie Mouse is at her house inside Mickey's Toontown.

Disney California Adventure 

This year  Disney California Adventure is featuring Festival of Holidays throughout the park! Celebrate cultural traditions from around the world with various offerings - food, drinks, music and dance. Be sure to check the daily program as performance times could change!

  • Cars Land's holiday decorations are up! You'll want to cruise down Route 66 and meet some of the residents of Radiator Springs. One of my favorite rides, Radiator Spring Racers, can be enjoyed daytime or nighttime. 
  • Don't miss Santa's Holiday Visit at Redwood Redwood Creek Challenge Trailand. "Explore a jolly playground of fun and games created by his merry elves."
  • Welcome Princess Elena of Avalor as she makes her Grand Debut at Paradise Pier.
  • Join the Three Caballeros for a fun street party featuring folklorico, samba dancers, and live music in Disney ¡Viva Navidad! over at Paradise Gardens.
  • Buena Vista Street Holiday Tree Lighting happens daily!
  • This year World of Color - Season of Light features a beautiful display of classic holiday music to lights and dancing fountains at the Paradise Bay. TIP: You'll want to pick up a FASTPASS early in the day at Grizzly River Run for preferred viewing areas. They have two shows nightly.

Other Festival of Holidays live performances includes Holiday Toy Drummers at Boudin Bakery, Stilt Circus at Festival Corridor, Blue13 Dance Company by Paradise Park, Mariachi Divas at Pacific Wharf, RAISE over there at Pacific Wharf Stage, Mostly Kosher at Sonoma Terrace then later at Paradise Park and more! 

Here is where you will find Disney Characters for Meet-and-Greets at Disney California Adventure (check the schedule upon arrival for updated times): Princess Elena of Avalor is in the Paradise Gardens Gazebo, Anna & Elsa's Royal Welcome are in Hollywood Land inside the Disney Animation, Chip & Dale will be in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, Country Bears are at Grizzly Falls, Captain America & Spider-Man are in Hollywood Land, Goofy & The Three Caballeros will be in the Paradise Gardens Gazebo, Residents of Radiator Springs are in Cars Land, and there will also be Disney Characters on Buena Vista Street. 

Disney FASTPASS Service are available for California Screamin', Goofy's Sky School, Grizzly River Run, Radiator Spring Racers, Soarin' Around the World, and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. 

We had a wonderful time celebrating the holidays with Disneyland. My children are into Star Wars right now. We didn't make it to Jedi Training in Tomorrowland but they enjoyed meeting Darth Vader and visiting the exhibits in the Star Wars Launch Bay.

Disney PhotoPass Service helped us capture our memories and we were able to download them later, but if you download the Disneyland app before you arrive to the park, they can link up your photos and they'll ready for faster downloads and previews. There is no charge to use Disney PhotoPass to capture or preview your photos. Just remember to view them before they expire. You can also download the Disneyland App for wait times, entertainment schedules, and more at www.disneyland.com/shows. Have a magical time! ~Mary

Disneyland is located at 1313 Disneyland Dr. in Anaheim, California. For more information, please call (714) 781-4565 or visit their website at www.disneyland.com