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Christmas at Disneyland sounds like the most magical of holidays, especially if you’re waking up with an easy walk over to the gates from the Grand Californian Hotel. Keep reading for all the details to plan a very merry Christmas at Disneyland.
If you’re planning a Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or even the day after Christmas trip to Disneyland this article is for you. It will detail crowds, rides, entertainment and food, along with strategies to keep everyone happy and entertained. If you’re visiting during the Christmas season, but not on actual Christmas Day, check out our complete holiday guide to start planning.
Christmas at Disneyland Tickets & Crowds
Let’s get a few things settled right off the bat. Is it going to be crowded at Disneyland on Christmas Day? Yes. Absolutely crowded. The same goes for Christmas Eve, the day after Christmas and pretty much all the days until January 3rd-ish and maybe even longer.
Sometimes Disneyland even reaches capacity during this week when everyone is out of school and everyone wants to go to Disneyland. But before you stop reading and vow to stay away forever, hang in there with me. We can get through this. And even you can do Disneyland on Christmas Day with the right plan and information.
Even with massive crowds, here’s how to make the most of Christmas Day at Disneyland, while maintaining your sanity.
Before Your Arrival on Christmas Day
Disney MaxPass will be essential to getting on the most rides possible, but keep your expectations for high ride counts low. Here’s everything you need to know about Disney MaxPass. Read that MaxPass article now and save it for reference. Have everyone in your party read it. You want all the adults to know how it works so not everyone is relying on you the entire time.
Another thing to do before your arrival is download the official Disneyland app and get familiar with layout layout of the resort. This is also where you will access Disney MaxPass during your trip.
While we’re talking about the Disneyland App, be sure to buy a portable charger or two. The app and MaxPass will drain your battery fast.
Next up, print your Disneyland Plan or schedule a one-on-one phone call with me to formulate your game plan.
Christmas Morning at Disneyland Resort
The best tip I can possibly give you, even above buying your tickets early (you have them right?) is to arrive at Disneyland 60-90 minutes before the parks open. Yes. I am completely serious. This one step can save you so much in determining how your day will go.
How do you go about arriving 60-90 minutes early? Plan smart with these tips:
- Review parking options and driving routes. Traffic in LA and Orange County on Christmas morning should be next to nothing, so you’ve got that in your favor.
- Be prepared for security check points.
- Most important, see why I recommend arriving so early. Note: today I recommend arriving even earlier because of the huge crowds that come for Christmas.
- See what holiday festivities you can enjoy during your visit.
- Print out a Disneyland Plan to get you from ride to ride in less time.
- Plan out your Christmas Day meals which we’ll dive into below.
Disneyland Christmas Dinner
I mentioned dining reservations briefly above. There are so many places to enjoy Christmas dinner at Disneyland and some require advance reservations. Make them up to 60 days in advance by calling 714-781-3463. The most popular dining options will fill up fast:
- Blue Bayou inside Pirates of the Caribbean
- Cafe Orleans
- Carthay Circle
- Carnation Cafe
- Goofy’s Kitchen
- Napa Rose
- PCH Grill
- River Belle Terrace
- Steakhouse 55
- Storytellers Cafe
- Wine Country Trattoria
If you’re spending a day at Disneyland, you may not have time to sit down for a long Christmas Day meal. Or maybe you missed out on dining reservations, and that’s totally okay.
There are many restaurants across the resort for delicious and filling food, and some I’d consider choosing for a Christmas meal:
- Flo’s V8 Cafe Fried Chicken with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Gravy and Seasonal Vegetables.
- French Market Restaurant Southern-style Oven Roasted Half Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, and Seasonal Vegetables.
- Pacific Wharf Cafe specialty soup in a sourdough bread bowl.
- Paradise Garden Grill Traditional Pork Tamales with Golden Rice and Black Beans, topped with Cheese and Red Chile Sauce.
- Plaza Inn three pieces of Chicken fried to a golden brown and seasoned with distinctive Herbs and Spices, served with Mashed Potatoes, Buttermilk Biscuit and a mixture of Vegetables.
- Turkey Leg Carts throughout the park for turkey on the go.
- Rancho del Zocalo 1/2 Chicken seasoned in a Savory Marinade of Chile and Citrus served with Mexican Rice and Refried Beans.
Time saving tip! On busy days, food lines can sometimes be longer than ride lines! Use the Disneyland App for mobile ordering. You can place your order while you’re in line for a ride and have it ready for pick up when you’re ready to eat.
Christmas Day Festivities
It’s not all about rides! Ok maybe it is, but there’s so much to do and see, you’ll want to add these into your plan as well. These are a few of the things you can only see during the holidays at Disneyland. Many people put these as a priority during their Christmas visit:
- Haunted Mansion Holiday. FASTPASS recommended, or ride first thing in the morning for a shorter wait time.
- “it’s a small world holiday”. Secure a FASTPASS for later in the day to also view the beautiful light display at night.
- A Christmas Fantasy Parade and Viva Navidad mini-parade, at Disneyland and California Adventure respectively.
- Family photos at iconic spots like Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle and others noted here.
- Snacking your way through Festival of Holidays.
- Snagging one of the coveted Disneyland Candy Canes.
- Night time entertainment like World of Color Season of Light and Believe in Holiday Magic fireworks.
We’ve covered a lot of ground here for your Christmas Disneyland visit. How are you feeling about it? If you need more help, print your Disneyland Plan or schedule a one-on-one phone call with me to formulate your game plan. Christmas at Disneyland is coming soon, let me know if you’ll be there.