Family-friendly tips for celebrating at the Merriest Place on Earth

The holidays have arrived at the Disneyland Resort! From now through Jan. 8, 2023, families can get their fill of holiday magic that includes everything from a new food and drink lineup fit for foodies, to gorgeous holiday decor, and seasonal ride overlays.

We got a sneak peek on the first day the parks opened up donned in their holiday best and have all the tips for making your trip to the Happiest Place on Earth the best during this magical time of year.

What to Know about Holidays at Disneyland

Magic Bands Have Arrived in California

Karly Wood

After jealously ogling the Magic Bands that all the Florida resorts have been using for years, Californians and visitors to the Disneyland Resort can finally pick up their own! Magic Bands are multi-functional bracelets that let you store tons of information, like your entry pass and Lightning Lane reservations.

We love them because there are tons of designs to choose from, everyone can wear their own, and it makes getting into the parks and onto rides where you are redeeming a Lightning Lane pass a cinch. Just hold your band up to the sensor and you're in!

You can enjoy the parks without a Magic Band, just as always. But if you're interested in purchasing your own, they are available all through the parks and start at $35 (and they work at Walt Disney World, too!).

Seasonal Attraction Overlays

Karly Wood

Every year, select attractions get a holiday makeover which makes a trip to the parks even more magical. Be sure to hit up "it's a small world" Holiday in all its lit-up glory both inside and out.

The other can't-miss ride is the "Haunted Mansion Holiday" where Jack Skellington has transformed the New Orleans house into his own world.

Related: 20 Genius Ways to Save on a Disney Trip This Year

Holiday Entertainment

Disneyland Resort

Get into the holiday spirit in a jiffy with the annual “A Christmas Fantasy” Parade. This daily trek down Main Street U.S.A. boasts everyone's favorite characters, dancing gingerbread cookies and marching toy soldiers, and lots of festive music.

Once it gets dark, snag a spot to catch the “Believe… in Holiday Magic” fireworks show, complete with a “snowfall" and vibrant projections.

Enjoy the Festive Menu

Karly Wood

There is no shortage of amazing holiday-themed food this season at Disneyland. Enjoy the likes of the Jolly Holiday Bakery's Peppermint Cookie Doughnut, a Haunted Mansion Cake, Cranberry BBQ Chicken Sandwich, and even a Charcuterie Pizza Slice.

Don't forget the annual, special-edition popcorn bucket! This year's most coveted option is the musical holiday popcorn tin and the line to pick one up proves it. If this is a must-have item, be sure to get to the parks early for the shortest line possible.

Disney California Adventure Disney Festival of Holidays

Holiday Decor

Karly Wood

Once again, the Festival of Holidays has returned to Disney California Adventure, celebrating Christmas, Navidad, Three Kings Day, Hanukkah, Diwali, and Kwanzaa. From the moment you enter the park, you’ll be greeted with the sights and sounds of this wonderful time of year.

Buena Vista Street welcomes you with a 50-foot Christmas tree, decorated in vintage ornaments and Cars Land has been decked out in whimsical holiday decorations like a tire Christmas Tree. Even Mater has gotten a fun makeover!

Sip and Savor Pass

Karly Wood

As you make your way toward Paradise Gardens Park, you’ll be treated to many food and drink options at the Festival Marketplaces. In order to get the full experience, we highly recommend picking up a Sip and Savor Pass. Each one comes with eight tabs that you can redeem on hand-crafted food items and non-alcoholic beverages. It’s a great way to let everyone pick something they want, and the sizes are perfect for sharing when you pick out a few at a time.

We tried a variety of diverse options, and we thoroughly enjoyed the curry mac and cheese, Tikka Masala, Turkey Poutine, and the delicious pumpkin cheesecake!

Family hack: You can place your order for all your food at ONE cart––even if that cart doesn’t carry your menu item. Then, when you’re ready, take your receipt to the correct cart and pick up your food. This way, you only wait in the order line one time!


Disneyland Resort

Disney California Adventure has plenty of family-friendly entertainment, including “Mickey’s Happy Holidays.” This procession brings Disney and Pixar characters together as they dance and march to the sounds of the Holiday Toy Drummers.

The “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” street party is back this year and features both Mickey and Minnie Mouse wearing fiesta outfits alongside Mexican folklórico dancers, Mariachis, Brazilian samba dancers, percussionists, and giant mojiganga puppets.

If you love the nighttime spectacular, World of Color, get ready for the Season of Light version! This special holiday show brings holiday music and all the special moments from Disney animated films together for an unforgettable and brilliantly lit show. It features lights, lasers, water, fire, and hundreds of fountains, as well as 120 characters in this mesmerizing production set to treasured holiday tunes. Be sure to snag your spot when reservations open on the Disneyland app at 12 p.m. daily.

Looking for Santa? Like last year, you can find him hanging out at his rustic home on the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. 

Festive Attractions

Disneyland Resort

While most of the attractions will remain the same this season (with the exception of some fun decor) you can experience two special seasonal experiences in Cars Land. Be sure to check out Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl, where you can enjoy Luigi’s magically light backyard, as well as Mater’s Jingle Jamboree.

Visit Disneyland & Disney California Adventure now through Jan. 8, 2023, to experience the Merriest Place on Earth for the holiday season.

This trip was paid for by Disneyland, but all opinions here belong to the writer. 

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