It’s no secret the Calandro Clan loves Disneyland (or the big D as we call it). Every six months or so we get cravings to see the Mouse and experience the magic. The holidays at Disneyland are spectacular and we love seeing the park at this time of year. We traveled to Disneyland recently and as we wandered around, we realized the last time we experienced Disneyland at the holidays was back in 2005 when I won tickets for us on a radio show. Wow -it’s been a while!
Well, it was as magical as we remembered. The Christmas trees were HUGE and they were everywhere; California Adventure looks amazing with their newly-themed entrance and Buena Vista Street all decked out for the holidays; and Cars Land -oh my heck -Cars Land for the holidays is spectacular! Of course, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disneyland is always gorgeous at the holidays with the snow on the peaks, the decorations, and icicles on every inch of the roof-line.
We exhausted ourselves seeing as much as we possibly could in the two days we played at the parks.
The Haunted Mansion
The park is packed with things happening at this time of year that don’t happen any other time. One of the hottest attractions at Disneyland is The Haunted Mansion all decked out thanks to Jack Skellington and his crew from the Nightmare Before Christmas.
The always-outstanding entrance and grounds are even more ornate as Jack took a try at decorating for the holidays. The tour through the mansion is themed all around Jack and his friends, making the ride less-scary than usual. M3 was just fine and all the other times we’ve gone we won’t take him in. When it’s the regular Haunted Mansion he’d just be too scared.
I’m not sure if Jack and Sally come out into the park at any other time of year (I don’t think they do), but if you’re lucky you can see them and get your photo taken with them. I saw them, but didn’t get a photo. Keep your eye on the area in front of the Haunted Mansion down by the Rivers of America -that’s where they create the photo opps and the crowd gets pretty thick pretty quick.
Jingle Jangle Jamboree
We’ve been fans of this area of the park for years. It’s always a quiet pathway to get from Frontierland to Fantasyland and it’s a little secret spot snuggled away for some holiday fun.
Jingle Jangle Jamboree is themed for the holidays with games, food, crafts and photos opps. Our boys stacked a tower of presents while we tried to knock it down, M3 played a “plinko” style game, and we all pet a sweet donkey.
If you’re hungry or looking for a special treat, this area has some delicious items on the menu. Kids of all ages can decorate a cookie all for themselves and even take their creation home in a special box. One of our favorite meals at the park is the monte cristo at the Blue Bayou -and you can get monte cristo BITES in the Jamboree area. Nice! We’ll take two orders, thanks. (They’re bites, so that makes sense, right?)
While you decorate your cookie, eat your delicious monte cristo bites, and get your photo taken with Santa (of course he’s there -and Mrs. Claus, too), you can listen to the fun sounds of Billy Hill and the Holiday Hillbillies. This area is so fun, we had a hard time getting the boys to leave so we could go have fun in all the other places in the park.
You all know I’m a huge car nut, right? Well, you can easily figure out how much I ADORE Cars Land. And Cars Land at Christmas time? Forget about it! There are trees made of license plates and hubcaps, garlands made of radiators, and the holiday lighting is even more spectacular with the neon that usually lights up the night.
At the far end of the Main Street in Radiator Springs the statue of Stanley gets into the Christmas spirit with a Santa hat and bag of toys on his back (or in his truck bed). Be sure to grab a photo there -the wreath made of radiators is so cool!
If you’re lucky enough to snag a fast pass for the Radiator Springs Racers (get one early in the day -they go quick!) you’re in for a treat. This ride is beyond incredible with details and story from the movie inside and out. Riders sit in cars and meander around the track as McQueen and Sally do on their drive together. Suddenly the mood changes and you’re in a race with the car next to you! You never know if you’re going to win or not -but if you do, and tweet to @DCAToday you’ll get a photo with your name on a Piston Cup. (How cool is that?!?)
If you don’t get a fast pass, the ride is amazing, but you’ll have to wait for it. Folks who didn’t have a fast pass waited for about two hours to ride. The single rider who joined us in our car told us that was the secret to getting through the line a bit faster. She rode with us (poor thing -you know how yelly I can get) but she got to cut her wait time for the ride considerably.
Fireworks and Parade
It just wouldn’t be a trip to Disneyland if we didn’t experience the fireworks and a parade or two. The “Believe…In Holiday Magic” fireworks show that takes place around Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is so gorgeous and impeccably timed with wonderful music.
Want to add to the magic of the show? Buy the special mouse ears that light up in time with the music. Yep. They do. How do it know? I have no clue. It’s Mickey Magic or something, but they light up and blink in time with the show -it’s so cool!
The fireworks show is massive, of course, with a climax of lights and fireworks -plus a little something unexpected: snow! If you’re standing in certain areas of Main Street, you’ll get a light dusting of snow as the fireworks show ends. Sadly, this and the snow we get on our front lawn is the only snow M2 and M3 have ever seen!
Watching the “Christmas Fantasy Parade” with M3 is something I won’t ever forget. He enthusiastically waved to all of his favorite characters “Hi Buzz! Hi Tigger! Hi Mickey!” and that was cute, but it’s not the part that made me grab a tissue. When Santa appeared at the end, M3 waved harder and higher for him than for any of the other parade participants. “Hi Santa! Hi Santa! I BELIEVE! I BELIEVE IN YOU!” Oh. My. Heart. I got teary. I did. It was just too sweet. I had no idea he’d get so excited! (Where would he get that from?!?!)
I could go on and on about how wonderful it all was and what an amazing time we had! If you’re thinking about heading to the Big D (Disneyland) this holiday season, you really should go. You’ll see decorations and attractions you can’t see any other time of year. The most wonderful time of the year happens at Disneyland and California Adventure from November 12 – January 6, 2013.
Stay for the fireworks, get the holiday treats and sweets all over the park, take photos in front of as many trees as possible, and say hello to Mickey from the Calandro Clan when you’re there.
Disclosure: I got a trip to the Big D and experienced some really cool things for information to write this post -food, a place to stay, and entrance to the parks -but the opinions here are all mine. The Calandro Clan loves Disneyland. That’s just all there is to it.