Holidays at Disneyland – Tips and What You Need to Know

From limited-time shows to beautiful decorations and themed attractions, the festivities abound during Disneyland’s 2023 holiday celebration. The holiday season at Disneyland runs from early November to the first week of January, so guests have a large range of time to enjoy the decorations, ride overlays, themed foods, and more. We will walk you through what you can look forward to for this year to celebrate the holidays at the happiest place on earth!

This week Disney is celebrating Halfway to the Holidays. Today they confirmed that “it’s a Small World” Holiday will return to the park this holiday season and revealed the new holiday look for Mickey & Minnie Mouse.

Below are the offerings from 2022 that will likely return in 2023.

A Christmas Fantasy Parade is Disneyland’s annual holiday parade that features favorite Disney characters like Mickey and Minnie, Chip and Dale, the Frozen characters, Woody and Buzz, and the Disney Princesses alongside Santa Claus, toy soldiers, reindeer, and dancing gingerbread cookies. The Plaza Inn will offer a dining package for this parade with reserved viewing areas and a holiday-themed menu.

“Believe…In Holiday Magic” is the holiday fireworks spectacular at Disneyland Park. Sleeping Beauty Castle, decorated with icicles and snow, is illuminated during this performance as fireworks fill the sky overhead. On Main Street and near “it’s a small world,” guests will experience snow falling on them! We recommend castle viewing for this experience for a front row view, though if you decide to do this, be prepared for a longer wait and crowds.

The Disneyland Candlelight Processional is a tradition dating back to 1958, where a celebrity narrator tells the story of the first Christmas, featuring scripture and musical performances. Last year’s narrator is Viola Davis, and dates have not yet been announced for 2023’s Disneyland Candlelight Processional, but it is usually held the first weekend of December.

The Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure celebrates Navidad, Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Three Kings Day through entertainment, food marketplaces, and merchandise across the park. The Festival of Holidays features “diverse festivities and beloved seasonal traditions,” with musical acts and character performances all throughout the day.

“World of Color–Season of Light” in Disney California Adventure projects moments from Disney and Pixar films (including Cinderella, Toy Story, Frozen, and more) onto a wall of mist while dancing fountains add to the spectacle. This holiday version of the World of Color show “brings stories of friendship, family and love to life.”

Additional holiday entertainment at Disney California Adventure includes the Holiday Sunset Concerts, featuring bands on select nights at the Palisades Stage, and “Mickey’s Happy Holidays” cavalcade, during which characters in festive outfits parade throughout the park.

Holiday Attraction Overlays are typically featured for a few attractions:

  • The Haunted Mansion turns into “Haunted Mansion Holiday” based on The Nightmare Before Christmas, featuring what happens when “two holidays collide” (Halloween and Holidays), and taking guests on a spooky, festive tour of the mansion.
  • “it’s a small world” turns into “it’s a small world” Holiday, where the facade is illuminated with brilliant lights for the season. We recommend riding “it’s a small world” Holiday at night to fully enjoy these as you wait in line! – Disney has already confirmed this overlay for the 2023 season.
  • Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters transforms into “Luigi's Joy to the Whirl” and Mater's Junkyard Jamboree becomes “Mater’s Jingle Jamboree,” which are holiday-themed versions of the attractions with holiday songs.

Holiday Decorations fill Disneyland and Disney California Adventure during this season, including a 60 foot tall Christmas Tree in Town Square, garlands and other festive additions around New Orleans Square, and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle that glows with over 80,000 LED lights at night. In Disney California Adventure, a 50 foot tree is in front of Carthay Circle, and holiday decor is heavily concentrated around Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. These locations make for excellent photo opportunities, so make sure to stop for some pictures or utilize PhotoPass to capture high quality photos and holiday Magic Shots!

There will be a variety of festive themed food available at Disneyland for the holiday celebration. From Mickey Mouse Gingerbread Cookies to Abuelita Hot Chocolate Churros, there is a wide variety of treats to choose from. As part of Halfway to the Holidays, Disneyland released a sneak-peek of what you can look forward to for this holiday season! Be sure to read our guide to Disneyland Christmas food for detailed pictures of the treats and their decorations.

There are many factors that go into deciding when to visit Disneyland for the holidays, but the biggest one is the crowd level of the park. You can visit on days that Magic Key Passholders are blocked or plan a trip for November (excluding Thanksgiving week) or the first couple weeks of December, as kids will still be in school during those times. If you do plan a visit for the crowded times of the holiday season, here are a few tips to make the most of your experience:

  • Arrive early so that you are able to enjoy popular rides with shorter lines at rope drop
  • Make sure you secure dining reservations in advance and utilize Mobile Ordering whenever you can
  • Try taking the train from land to land to avoid the crowds on foot
  • Don’t be afraid to pause if you feel overwhelmed, or take a break from rides to meet characters!

There are so many wonderful things to see and do at Disneyland during the holidays, from experiencing festive overlays of rides to trying delicious holiday treats. Read our full guide to Christmas at Disneyland for more information, details, and helpful tips!

At, we share the most important tips for planning your trips to Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, Universal, and beyond. Each week, we’ll share some of our top tips here on Laughing Place.

Gavin Doyle
Gavin Doyle is the founder of and the best-selling author of “Disneyland Secrets”. Mickey Visit has been featured by Travel+Leisure, ABC, the LA Times, OC Register, Forbes, and more and reaches millions of readers planning Disney vacations each month. Over 100K subscribers receive their free email planning newsletter.