A Holiday Evening With Kids at Disneyland Parkby Lisa Maulhardt, contributing writer
And just like that, the holiday season is upon us. With all of the chaos and stress that can come during this time of year, one of our favorite ways to enjoy it is by spending an evening at the Disneyland Resort as a family. Every year, we plan to go later in the day, so we can enjoy all of the nighttime offerings.
Since our kids are still on the younger side, staying late at Disneyland doesn’t happen very often. We usually spend our mornings there and head home mid-afternoon. But with all of the holiday decorations and festivities, we always make the effort to go at night at least once during the Christmas season.
Almost every year since my boys have been born, we have taken holiday pictures at Disneyland Park. With all of the decorations that are up throughout the park, there is no shortage of backdrops for cute pictures to send to family in your Christmas cards. One of my favorite places to take pictures used to be in the Big Thunder Ranch, but that is no longer an option thanks to the Star Wars Land construction. With that area closed, we took pictures with Santa last year in Critter Country which is where you can find him again this year. Santa has also been available in California Adventure and this year is scheduled to be in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Both parks also have their Christmas trees set up for the holiday season. They make for another beautiful spot to take some family photos.
On our evening trips, we always make sure to grab some special limited-time goodies. There are several special treats throughout the park that are only available during the holiday season. There is nothing like being bundled up (OK, that means a sweatshirt and a beanie in SoCal) with a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate while eating some pumpkin fudge or a Mickey-shaped gingerbread cookie. Grab something to snack on while you walk around and enjoy all of the lights at “it’s a small world" Holiday.
Another option while you are enjoying your delicious holiday treat, is to grab a seat along Main Street U.S.A. and watch A Christmas Fantasy Parade. The parade usually runs a couple times a day, but, when it is available, I prefer to watch the later one (some years it was offered at night after the sun went down). I don’t know why, but it feels more festive. Check the schedule online for parade times before you go.
One of my favorite things about an evening at Disneyland during the holidays is the Believe … in Holiday Magic fireworks show. When my boys were younger, it was typically the only time we would get to see the fireworks, due to an earlier start time. Since the typical fireworks show doesn’t start until 9:25 p.m. or later most of the year, the holiday season and the earlier sunsets allow for the fireworks to start at 7:30 p.m. or 8 p.m. on some nights. For those of you with young kids, you know how much of a difference those two hours can make. Check the entertainment schedule to see what days the shows are early before you go.
Another thing to note about evenings during the holidays is the crowds. It can get very busy with people staying late to do all of the things I have mentioned above. It can be especially trying for those parents with double strollers while trying to get down Main Street after the parade or fireworks. If your kids are still too young to walk that much on their own, consider bringing a single stroller, and making them take turns. Now that my kids are getting older, we have found that to be a much easier way to travel through the crowded parks. Also, if we plan to spend the evening enjoying the holiday offerings, we typically don’t ride the “holiday-themed” attractions (like Jingle Cruise, Haunted Mansion Holiday, or “it’s a small world" Holiday). Those we save for another time, usually in the morning, when the park isn’t as crowded.
There is a lot to do and enjoy at the Disneyland Resort during the holiday season. If you have the chance to see it a little at a time, it will be a lot less stressful. Going just for the evening with little ones makes it so much easier, since they haven’t been overwhelmed being at the park all day. It makes for a festive good time for all.