Disneyland at Christmas

For Christmas, Disneyland decks the halls and gussies up some of its rides for the season.

It’s a Small World Holiday

The building was impressively decorated from the outside. After some line-waiting angst, the ride was a huge hit with the kids. And yes, after hearing “Jingle Bells” over and over (instead of the eponymous tune), it will get stuck in your head for hours. The dolls dressed up and danced around for Christmas, permanently stuck in charming 1950s stereotypes of flying carpets and poinsettia leis. The Egyptian, Thai and Zimbabwean dolls really seemed to relish those Christmas carols.

Santa’s Reindeer Roundup at Big Thunder Ranch

Squished in a corner, we found Santa’s house, Mrs. Claus and a mediocre craft project. The majority of space was taken up with a giant barbeque restaurant and stage for live performances. Four reindeer slept and noshed hay in a pen. The kids kept asking where Rudolph was. It’s a testament to Disney Magic that their stable was completely smell-free.

Holiday Haunted Mansion

Jack and his Halloween pals from Tim Burton’s movie “The Nightmare before Christmas” decorate the ride starting in September. Characters like Jack Skellington, Zero and Oogie Boogie are integrated into existing scenes, and music from the movie plays. My ghoul-obsessed kid loved the holiday mash-up. Tons of merchandising in New Orleans square testifies to the ride’s popularity with the tween/teen set.

Christmas Fantasy Parade

As always, you need to get there early to nab a good spot for the parade. All the traditional Christmas favorites like snowmen, Santa, and elves appear along with a generous sprinkling of princesses and Disney characters. Our favorites were the float with Goofy and son making a giant, livable gingerbread house and the skating snowflakes.

Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle

The castle was beautifully illuminated and covered in snow and icicles.

Believe in Holiday Magic Fireworks and Snow

We had to bail because the fireworks were too late for the kids (and it was cold!), but it would’ve been really cool to see real snow falling.

Main Street Decorations

With mouse ear wreaths, carolers, and the biggest tree I’ve ever seen, Main Street looked like a scene from It’s a Wonderful Life. The stores offered tons of adorable theme merchandise that we felt oddly compelled to purchase, although we’d never make mouse ear ice cubes or put out the Goofy salt shakers at dinner. Fortunately, we were too tired for shopping and were able to ignore the siren song of Mad Hatter tea and $20 ornaments. The restaurants also offered theme treats like mousse in Mickey Mouse Santa hat mugs.

As exhausting as the day was, everything pales in comparison to the magic and pageantry of Disney.

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