Holiday Photo Ops Throughout the Disneyland Resort

by Lisa Stiglic, contributing writer

Every year, a familiar sight of Disneyland's iconic holiday tree arrives in Town Square the first weekend in November. And, every year the queue for photographs in front of said tree adds a few more guests. Whether you hope to take a holiday snapshot of you and your family, or a quick selfie, this festive backdrop is the most popular throughout the Disneyland Resort.

If you can think a bit outside the Christmas gift box this season, there are PLENTY of other holiday themed locations and a few not so themed that are perfect for you and your group for those Christmas, holiday, or New Year's cards.


The Disneyland Resort is full of iconic backdrops and locations, even more so this time of year. Besides Disneyland's own decorated tree, you can find less-crowded and just as festive trees elsewhere including the Buena Vista Street Holiday tree in Disney California Adventure, Downtown Disney District, and in each of the resort's three hotels.

This majestic, stunning tree highlights the rustic Christmas decor in the Great Hall Lobby of Disney's Grand California Hotel and Spa.  Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

Aside from Disneyland's tree popularity, Sleeping Beauty Castle is next in line.  Most guests tend to take straight, head-on photos but every angle of the castle adds the holiday ambiance. Take a side trip around the moat to look at other possible shots. 

Have your subjects wave or raise their hands while on the bridge for a different angle of the castle.  Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

And "it's a small world" Holiday captures the holiday magic for any sized group.

Put on some Santa hats to match the giant clock face.  Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

If you happen to visit Disneyland Park the week leading up to Disneyland Candlelight Processional, grab your phone or camera and take advantage of this opportunity.  

The poinsettias and evergreens add an elegant element to this annual tradition — perfect for any holiday photo.  Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

Next door in Disney California Adventure, make sure to pose with your posse one last time in front of the Paradise Pier skyline as it will be changing next month to make way for the new Pixar Pier.

Holiday Mickey ears and hats can are perfect accessories for a photo in front of Mickey's Fun Wheel.  Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

Finally, if you're short on time but want to take a fun family photo, or even a selfie, Downtown Disney District has some bright and festive pop-up ornament decorations.

Choose from green, red, gold, and silver color schemes for a colorful Christmas photo.  Photo by Lisa Stiglic.


If you're solo at the Disneyland Resort this time of year, the parks are your canvas. Besides dressing the Christmas part in a festive sweater or a set of cheerful Mickey ears, consider some character for your photos — as in characters. Mickey and friends are usually found in Town Square in Disneyland for photo ops all dressed in their winter wear. You can also take a great shot with the horses on Main Street in between their sets. With their Christmas bells and bright ribbons, the horses add a festive touch to your holiday snapshot. And don't forget the carolers! Found on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure, and on Disneyland's Main Street, costumed carolers are out and about singing joyous melodies to guests. Make sure to check the day's entertainment guide for times so you can catch the perfect photo with the singers.

The holidays at Disneyland Resort can also be a romantic event for couples. Sharing good photos are a fun way to commemorate the festivities at the resort whether sharing candy cane Mickey Mouse beignets from Mint Julep bar in New Orleans Square, or sampling Plaza Inn's yule log together. Ask any cast member to take the photo for you; they are always happy to help create magical memories.

And, to toast to the New Year, order a habenero-lime margarita at Disney California Adventure's Cove Bar (due to close next month as well) or sip some chardonnay at nearby Carthay Circle Restaurant. Get that perfect New Year's shot as you clink your glasses together then caption your photo card with "ChEARS to a New Year!"

If your duo has graduated to a trio or more, or your just enjoying the holidays with a band of other Disney fans, take note of a few fun group photo ops. One of the best group poses — holiday or otherwise —is right on Main Street or rather right on a Main Street vehicle. Line up for the double decker bus and utilize the curved stairwell for a perfect stairstep photo from youngest to oldest.

Matching shirts or Santa hats really make this option stand out for a memorable Christmas pose.  Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

Another fun option is located across from the Enchanted Tiki Room. You've probably passed this location at least once on a visit to Disneyland but if you stop and look, you'll see it's a perfect backdrop for a crazy Christmas photo.  Remember to bring the Hawaiian shirts, grab a frosty Dole Whip, and say "pineapple!"

This array of tiki masks makes for a totally tropical holiday backdrop.  Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

Away from the tropics, Grizzly Peak in Disney California Adventure beckons you to dress warmly for the occasion — with ugly Christmas sweaters, that is.

Your group can decide who has the ugliest Christmas sweater while standing next the big bear at Grizzly River Run.  Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

Behind the queue for Grizzly River Run, a spectacular waterfall creates a mountain scene worthy of a picture perfect card.

Have your group dress in flannel shirts or matching scarves and hats to make the most of this location.  Photo by Lisa Stiglic.


I'm a sucker for a good pun so of course I have to throw in a few for the article. 

Join the Avengers on the Hollywood Land backlot for a photo op — both Spiderman and Captain America appear daily for character experiences.  Make sure you caption your card "Have a Marvel-ous Holiday" when you send it out.  Get it?  Marvel-ous?  Marvel?  

Check the daily entertainment guide for times to meet Spidey and Cap.  Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

And, you can have a "Bear-y Christmas" with a photo op with Winnie-the-Pooh in Critter Country or with another Disney bear who is visiting Grizzly Peak.

One of the many Disney photographers is on hand to get a holiday shot with Country Bear Jamboree's favorite star.  Photo by Lisa Stiglic.


Although smaller guests will fit in with all of these possible photo shoots, if you really want kid-friendly and fun photos, drive over to Cars Land.

This pint-sized snowcar is perfect for little guests to pose for that holiday card.  Photo by Lisa Stiglic.

In fact, any of the Christmas decor in Cars Land is picture perfect.  From wrench wreaths, to Santa Mater, to the hub-capped dotted tree, Cars Land is filled with whimsical and silly sights for the whole family.

And, I can't forget the big guy — no, not Mickey but Santa Claus!  Santa is visiting in Critter Country in Disneyland, Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in Disney California Adventure, the hotels of the Disneyland Resort, and he's making a special appearance in Downtown Disney at Catal Restaurant.  Each Santa is themed to his specific location.


If you can, stay for the later hours when the lights twinkle and the snow falls.  The entire resort is transformed into a magical wonderland.  From the sparkling trees, to "it's a small world" Holiday, to the colorful veil over Paradise Pier, the nighttime landscape provides some spectacular backgrounds for your holiday photos.

And, if you want the convenience of a photographer, I would recommend spending the $10 per person for each day you're there for the MaxPass photo option. You'll be able to download your attraction photos, character dining photos, and designated photographer shots to print out at a later date. Plus, you can coordinate a few FastPasses along the way.

I hope this guide helps you look beyond the traditional when taking those classic seasonal photos at Disneyland. Remember to have fun with photos and next time you visit, bypass the long lines and look around you — you'll be surprised at what you see from a different perspective.  The holiday season at Disneyland Resort runs through January 7th.