This year I experienced the magic of the holidays at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. These are my thoughts, opinions, and must sees - a complete guide to the holiday season at both parks.
SHOWS / ENTERTAINMENT
Overall even though Disneyland is a lot smaller than Disney World, I think they pack so many more special experiences for each and every holiday. I must have seen at least 5 or 6 live performances just during one day in the parks.
On any given day the Disneyland Band and Dapper Dans can be found performing a variety of Disney classics, but they are especially active this time of year! The Christmas carols are everywhere you turn, creating a joyful ambience. I even caught the Dapper Dans performing some Christmas classics in Japanese!
FOOD / DRINKS
In addition to entertainment, I also have found that Disneyland offers a larger variety of seasonal treats than Disney World. Although there are a lot fewer dining options- almost everywhere has a special seasonal menu, from popcorn stands to reservation based dining experiences.
The biggest "must have" snack every single year at Disneyland is the Mickey Gingerbread Cookie. These are very popular and sell out fast- so if you hope to get one make sure you mobile order right away!
TIP: If Jolly Holiday Bakery is too crowded or mobile ordering is not working, try the Starbucks in DCA!
Red Rose Tavern is known for their specialty cold brews, and this holiday season did not disappoint. I highly recommend the peppermint mocha cold brew! As a peppermint mocha fan, this checked all the boxes for the perfect seasonal drink. The little peppermint candies on top were such a delight!
Of course, the perfect pair to go with a peppermint mocha is the peppermint beignets from the Mint Julep Bar. Since it's
reopening, the Mint Julep Bar has rolled out some delicious specialty beignets, and the peppermint flavor is no exception. I dipped the beignets in my peppermint cold brew to create the perfect mid day pick me up.
If you're interested in bringing some goodies home with you, there is always some adorably shaped sourdough waiting for you at this outdoor cart by Aunt Cass Cafe.
This year in addition to the traditional Mickey and Baymax, they had a Christmas Tree, Snowman, and Candy Cane.
SIGHTS / PHOTO SPOTS
There's so much to see this time of year, with the park almost completely decorated head to toe. Disneyland does not not skimp out on the details. Front and center is the beautiful Christmas Tree, then as you walk down Main Street you reach the stunning poinsettia flower bed in front of the castle- which is also decorated with garlands and snow.
Two of the best themed areas during the holidays are in Disney California Adventure. Paradise Gardens Park and Cars Land always get a complete makeover for each seasonal event. This year the park celebrated Viva Navidad, highlighting the holidays in hispanic cultures.
Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie? Disneyland says both!
Jack and Sally are hanging out outside the Haunted Mansion gift shop for both holiday celebrations. Jack was wearing his Sandy Claws outfit which I absolutely adore.
Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World is much larger and grander, offering new attractions and new experiences almost every visit. There is less of a homey cozy feel, but there's still so much to see and do.
Each park has a magnificent tree at the entrance, perfectly decorated with on-theme ornaments.
You can even find some festive characters out and about!
Adorable topiaries with Santa hats, cheerful garlands, and twinkling lights are among the many magical decorations throughout all four parks.
FOOD / DRINKS
Highlights of the holiday treats came mostly from EPCOT this year. In addition to the Festival of the Holidays booths, I recommend the Horchata Cold Brew from any of the Joffrey's Carts. This new themed cold brew was so refreshing- about time they introduced horchata drinks in WDW!
Hot chocolate from anywhere on property is always a delight, and customizations are available upon request if you're looking for a shot of Baileys!
The classic Thanksgiving Poutine is available every year at the Refreshment Port- and it's a must-have every single year. It's the perfect combination of all the Thanksgiving favorites. This year the cranberry seltzer was replaced with a pumpkin cider which I much prefer. This cider was so festive and so delicious.
It was such a treat being able to visit both Disneyland and Walt Disney World this holiday season! Each park offers a unique way to celebrate, full of magic and happiness.