A Disney family vacation is on many wish lists this season. For good reason, Disney is guaranteed entertainment for every age.
When you enter Disneyland during the holiday period, you’re effortlessly transported into your own little winter wonderland. It looks like a classic Christmas card with garland-wrapped lamp posts tied with big red ribbons. The bows are tied just right and for some reason, there never seem to be any strings of lights out.
Disney’s incredible attention to detail is apparent in all of the holiday attractions — when it “snows” on Main Street, you may forget for a moment that you’re in Southern California.
Holiday Favorites and a Frontierland Surprise
The holiday Haunted Mansion and It’s a Small World are done so well that I wish they’d stay a little longer. There is no FASTPASS service available but don’t be deterred by long lines as they move quickly.
The Haunted Mansion. The Haunted Mansion is described during the ride as a “collision of two holidays.” The frightful characters from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” show you their version of Halloween and Christmas.
Nothing is as it seems. Just as you smell the aroma of gingerbread you are greeted with a lively “ginger-dread” house scene. We couldn’t take our eyes off the frightful scenes. Note, little children may find them too scary and like the bright and cheery scenes from It’s a Small World better.
It’s a Small World. This classic ride transforms into a world holiday celebration in several languages. The traditional “It’s a Small World” song is joined by Jingle Bells and other holiday favorites.
Our family had lots of fun trying to find all the holiday changes. Look closely and you’ll see that goats have turned into reindeer and tropical flowers have turned into poinsettias. You could easily ride several times and still not figure out all the holiday changes.
A Christmas Fantasy Parade. My six and eight-year-old sat mesmerized during this 40-minute parade. Guests begin staking out their spots an hour early so be prepared. The parade is a feast of color and characters with Mickey and Minnie ice skating, waving princesses, dancing reindeer and some very cute Santa’s helpers at the end.
Santa’s Reindeer Round-up. During the holidays, Big Thunder Mountain Ranch in Frontierland is home to Santa and his reindeer. The reindeer didn’t seem very impressed by all their visitors, but Santa was very interested in what the kids had to say.
Mrs. Claus even made a visit in the line of waiting families. There’s also a coloring craft table where the little ones can color reindeer hats and pictures.
A Surprise. This surprise has nothing to do with Christmas but one of the things I love most about visiting Disneyland with kids is that we always discover something new. Our musical chairs with the Alice in Wonderland cast still ranks as our favorite but on a short cut (or long cut) to the Haunted Mansion we stumbled upon the Shootin’ Exposition in Frontierland.
We’ve passed it before but I always thought it wasn’t appropriate for my kids. I’ve changed my opinion. The kids shoot at all kinds of targets and if you hit one, a bird may fall off its’ branch or a squirrel may pop up out of a stump. For 50 cents this is easy amusement.
Two holiday attractions we missed were the lighting of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and holiday fireworks – we just couldn’t fit everything in — they’re on the list for next time. Disneyland holiday decorations and attractions are featured through January 8, 2011.
If You Go: If you are planning a full day at Disneyland with your family consider using the lockers to store extra clothing for nighttime. The temperatures drop considerably when the sun goes down and it feels more like winter than you might imagine.
Kristi and her family received complimentary admission to Disneyland. She was not asked to express any particular opinion about her experience.
Photos courtesy of Kristi Marcelle