So, what can you expect this year at the happiest place on earth? Go no further, because here is your 2021 Disneyland holiday guide.
Both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure have holiday celebrations.
Each park’s festivities are very different from one another, which makes the holidays all the more special. There’s more to see, do, and enjoy!
Downtown Disney District and each of the official Disney Resort hotels also have holiday offerings, including decor, trees, treats, and, of course, gingerbread house displays.
Better yet, the majority of holiday offerings are available to every single guest that has valid theme park admission and a park reservation. That’s right, no need to pay extra.
However, Disneyland is introducing a brand new After Hours event for 2021 that is an additional charge. More on this limited-time event below.
Now, let’s take a look at all of the ways you can celebrate the 2021 holiday season at Disneyland.
Unless otherwise noted, all of Disneyland’s holiday events begin on Nov. 12, 2021 and run through Jan. 9, 2022 (three days longer than normal!).
From a parade, to fireworks, to two classic attractions with special overlays, to decor throughout the park and each land, Disneyland Park has a variety of holiday celebrations.
A Christmas Fantasy Parade
This holiday parade features a range of Disney characters, like Mickey, Minnie, Chip ‘n’ Dale, Anna, Elsa and Olaf, Woody and Buzz, and the Disney Princesses. Of course, Santa Claus is also included as part of the big finale.
Keep in mind that the parade route can vary.
If there’s only one parade a day, it usually begins on Main Street, U.S.A. and will end by “it’s a small world.”
If there are two parades a day, the first parade typically begins at “it’s a small world” and ends on Main Street, with the second starting on Main Street and ending at “it’s a small world.”
Believe…In Holiday Magic Fireworks
These fireworks are held nightly and last around 15 minutes over Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle. There are, obviously, fireworks, special music, more than 80,000 twinkling lights illuminating the castle, and even some snow on Main Street.
Tip: Plan to see the fireworks every night of your trip, because Disneyland fireworks are known to be cancelled much more often due to weather (specifically wind) compared to fireworks at Disney World.
Haunted Mansion Holiday
For both the Halloween and holiday seasons, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas takes over the Haunted Mansion both on the exterior and interior.
This is also the 20th year for the Haunted Mansion Holiday!
Per usual, there’s a massive gingerbread house you’ll see during the ballroom scene that is grand and miraculous. This year, the house (above) honors all of the previous gingerbread houses.
“it’s a small world” Holiday
During the holiday season, “it’s a small world” is transformed with holiday decorations both inside and outside.
When riding the classic attraction, you’ll also be able to hear traditional holiday tunes play, in addition to the “It’s A Small World (After All)”.
And at night, the façade is illuminated with lights and a holiday nighttime projection show that occurs every 30 minutes.
Wintertime Enchantment at Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle
Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle is covered in icicles, wreaths, and other décor for the holiday season. Every night, you’ll even be able to see the castle light up with falling snow and music.
Christmas Tree & Lighting
Located on Main Street, U.S.A., you can find the heavily decorated Christmas tree with thousands of ornaments. The tree usually lights up daily around 4:55 p.m.
There are, of course, decorations along Main Street, including storefronts, lampposts, and rooftops with festive wreaths and garland.
Disney Merriest Nites
For 2021, Disneyland Park is hosting a holiday-themed After Hours event called “Disney Merriest Nites.”
The event takes place on Nov. 11, Nov. 16, Nov, 30, Dec. 7, and Dec. 9. Tickets are available for purchase now online or via the Disneyland app.
The event grants you admission to the park starting at 5 p.m. (no theme park reservation is required) and the party will take place from 8 p.m. to midnight.
General admission starts at $165 per person (ages 3+). Parking is not included. Here are a few other things to expect:
- Unlimited digital Photopass downloads (for 45 days after initial capture)
- Character appearances, including rare and classic Disney characters dressed in their holiday best and even Santa Claus, himself
- Snow on Main Street, U.S.A
- Themed-photo backdrops
- Specialty food and beverages
- Disney Merriest Nites-themed merchandise available during the event
- Guests can dress as their favorite character during the event (more costume guidelines here)
There are also six different character-themed parties across the park. You can see them in the image below (click to zoom).
Disney California Adventure
Disney California Adventure’s holiday celebrations are so much more than Christmas. There are events that honor a range of holidays, traditions, and cultures, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Kwanzaa, and Three Kings’ Day.
Disney Festival of Holidays
The festival in Paradise Gardens Park celebrates diverse cultural festivities and traditions with multicultural music, food, merchandise, and entertainment, including:
Festival Foods Marketplace
The Festival Foods Marketplace features a variety of food and beverage booths celebrating global traditions.
You’ll also want to make sure you purchase a Sip and Savor Passport (price TBD), which offers 8 entitlement tabs that you can redeem for select food and nonalcoholic beverages at participating Festival Foods Marketplace kiosks and dining locations.
A few important details to keep in mind about the Sip and Savor Passport:
- Passes expire Jan. 9, 2022, and entitlement tabs may not be redeemed at any other event.
- Sip and Savor menu items are only tasting-size portions, so similar to Epcot festivals.
- Sip and Savor Pass are nonrefundable and nontransferable.
- Valid admission and a theme park reservation for Disney California Adventure Park are still required.
Disney ¡Viva Navidad!
This is a fun street party featuring Disney characters (like Mickey and Minnie in their “fiesta best”), Mexican folklórico dancers and Mariachis, Brazilian samba dancers and percussionists, and giant mojiganga puppets.
Holiday traditions from Mexico and Brazil are brought to life by cultural performers, authentic Mexican specialities served throughout the holidays at Paradise Garden Grill, and more.
There’s also a Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party featuring Donald Duck and his friends during this “ultimate family fiesta,” which includes mariachi and samba musicians, folklórico dancers, and a 12-foot tall mojiganga puppets of Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Meet Mirabel from Encanto
New this year, you can meet Mirabel (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz) from Disney’s new film, Encanto. She’ll show up in Paradise Gardens later in the holiday season.
Mickey’s Happy Holidays
This is a brief street party starring Mickey Mouse and pals as they dance to the magical merry rhythms of the Holiday Toy Drummers.
There are a range of bands performing during the festival.
- Mariachi Divas: festive spin on classic holiday tunes
- Mostly Kosher: honor Hanukkah with an eclectic blend of musical styles from klezmer and jazz to Latin and rock
- Blue13 Dance Company: salute Diwali with traditional dances during a Bollywood party
- Phat Cat Swinger: brassy, classy, swinging and holiday music selections
- The Suffragettes: a cover band performing chart-topping hits from favorite musical artists
Holiday Toy Drummers
In Paradise Gardens Park, the Holiday Toy Drummers march to their own beat while drumming. There are multiple performances daily and they are not to be missed.
Santa’s Holiday Visit
From Nov. 12 through Dec. 24, 2021, you can wave hello and snap socially-distanced photos of Santa Claus a the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. The trail is also transformed into a holiday playground with seasonal games and outdoor activities.
Cars Land Holiday Transformation
Similar to Halloween, Cars Land is transformed into a holiday wonderland. Two of the attractions even have themed-overlays.
Buena Vista Street Tree & Holiday Lighting
The 50-foot tree on Buena Vista Street lights up in the plaza outside Elias & Co. daily (usually around 4:55 p.m.).
The entirety of the street transforms into a “nostalgic winter wonderland filled with festive sights and friendly folk straight out of 1930s Hollywood.”
Three Kings’ Day
Technically part of Disney ¡Viva Navidad!, Three Kings’ Day is also known as El Día de los Reyes Magos and occurs over four days (Jan. 3-Jan. 9, 2022) in Paradise Gardens Park.
This event honors the 3 Wise Men’s visit to the nativity. There’s traditional decorations and a photo opportunity.
There are also usually displays of Magi figures showing the gifts brought to Bethlehem and children’s shoes that were left outside to be filled with toys.
You can typically expect activities for kids, where they color themed-pictures and design their own custom crown.
Disneyland Resort Hotels
While there may not be as many activities as the hotels on property, the holidays are very much present.
The Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa each have their own respective:
- Holiday decorations and displays
- Holiday trees “decorated with whimsical flourishes, traditional trimmings, and dashes of pure Disney magic”
- Christmas carolers
Downtown Disney District
Downtown Disney District will have trimmed holiday trees, twinkling lights, and dressed up shop windows. You’ll also be able to spot Christmas carolers throughout the shopping and dining area.
“Holiday Time At The Disneyland Resort” Guided Tour
Important: This tour is currently unavailable. We’ll let you know if or when it returns. The following information is based on what the tour offered in pre-pandemic times.
This is 2 and a half hour guided walking tour, where guests learn about worldwide holiday traditions and enjoy holiday sections at both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure.
The tour ends with reserved seating for A Christmas Fantasy Parade and participants also receive holiday treats, a collectible pin, and more.
Every year, parts of the tour are refreshed, so there’s always something new offered. It costs $99 per person (ages 3 and older; tax not included), in addition to theme park admission.
Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members, and Disney Visa Cardmembers receive a 15% discount. You can usually book the tour up to 30 days in advance.
- New 2021 Holiday After Hours Event Coming To Disneyland Park
- Holidays Return To Disneyland November 2021 With A Parade & Fireworks
- Magic Kingdom Holiday Cavalcades Will Run 7 Days A Week, Except For One
- Oogie Boogie Bash & More Halloween Fun Returning To Disneyland In Fall 2021
- Passholders Receive Discount At Select Festival Of The Holidays Kitchens
- 2021 Disneyland Holiday Guide (including the new After Hours) - September 23, 2021
- New 2021 Disneyland Fall & Holiday Room Offers Now Available - September 23, 2021
- California Grill Offering Limited-Time Menu For 50th Anniversary - September 20, 2021