Perennially known as the “Happiest Place on Earth,” Disneyland glows extra bright with holiday magic this time of year. Of course, the holiday season—celebrated at the Disneyland Resort now through January 7, 2018—also draws the biggest crowds, which can swiftly turn even the most enthusiastic visitor into a scrooge. If you’re thinking of making merry with Mickey and friends, follow these five tips to ensure your Disneyland vacation is joyous.
Slide Past the Box Office (Like Santa Down a Chimney)
Consult any Disneyland crowd calendar (like those at TouringPlans.com), and you’ll see that late December puts the “eek!” in peak season. You’ll confront mandatory queues at the security screening and turnstiles, but you can bypass the line at the box office. Purchase passes in advance and head straight to the gate. AAA also offers various discounts and special perks for Members. Click here to learn more.
Use FastPass For Festive Favorites
Two of Disneyland’s most beloved rides receive temporary transformations at Christmastime: The Nightmare Before Christmas–inspired Haunted Mansion Holiday and the “Jingle Bells” makeover of It’s a Small World both draw long standby waits, making them perfect candidates for the free FastPass line-skipping service. Better yet, purchase MaxPass ($10 per person, per day) to reserve scheduled ride times on your smartphone without having to run around the park.
Celebrate the Season with International Style
While Disneyland mostly celebrates a traditional Dickensian Christmas, Disney California Adventure Park honors many traditions, with 12 different Festive Foods Marketplace kiosks serving diverse cuisine and live bands Mostly Kosher and Blue13 marking Hanukkah and Diwali. Whatever you do, don’t siesta through ¡Viva Navidad!, California Adventure’s spectacular street party with the Three Caballeros, featuring giant mojiganga puppets and folklórico dancers.
Take a Holiday “Brake” in Cars Land
Also in California Adventure, the automotive citizens of Radiator Springs are rejoicing because Christmas has come to Cars Land. New this year, Mater has turned his Junkyard Jamboree into a "Jingle Jamboree," and Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters are spreading "Joy to the Whirl.” Both attractions feature new seasonal soundtracks and décor but neither accepts FastPass, so ride early in the day.
Save Room for Sweets
Exclusive seasonal snacks can be savored across the resort, from the Yule log cake at Plaza Inn on Main Street to eggnog lattes at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. The granddaddy of must-have Disneyland holiday treats is the famous giant candy cane (as featured by Guy Fieri on the Food Network), handmade in small batches and sold while still warm. Line up early at the Candy Place in Disneyland (sold Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) or Trolley Treats in Disney California Adventure Park (sold Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays) now through December 25 for your chance to taste old-fashioned peppermint perfection.