The holidays successfully turn Disneyland Park into the ‘merriest place on earth’

The holiday season brings a nostalgic twist to the original “Magic Kingdom”


Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle was a highlight of the Holidays at Disneyland Park that set a magical, festive atmosphere.

Every year, the holiday season brings fresh, exciting, festive magic to Disneyland Park. This year is no exception. The 2019 holiday season brings back delightful, classic experiences from the past along with some new, fresh ones that truly transform the renowned resort into the “merriest place on earth,” despite the miserable crowds and high admission prices. 

At Walt Disney’s original Disneyland Park, Christmas is the star of the show, despite Disney advertising the “holidays.” Lavish decor adorns the park and its icons. The turn of the century Main Street U.S.A. buildings are dressed in elegant garland and wreaths that fit with the Victorian setting. The music loop playing classic Christmas songs is a nice, minor touch that set the joyful mood. 

Subtle, but lavish garland and ornaments adorn the buildings on Main Street U.S.A., giving the land a cozy holiday feel.

Main Street U.S.A. is the best dressed out of the nine themed lands. Lands like Tomorrowland and Adventureland pale in comparison due to the small amount, if any, of decor. Other lands, such as Fronteirland and Fantasyland, have minimal amounts of intricate decor which makes the lands feel as if the decor is incomplete. If the amount of effort and creativity applied to Main Street would have been applied to the rest of the park, it would look better than it does.

The most stunning and best elements of the holiday season at the park are the attraction overlays. Several famous attractions are given a holiday twist that tie the holiday season together.

Long lines from in the queue for Haunted Mansion Holiday, one of the most elaborate and popular offerings for the holidays at Disneyland.

The Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square becomes Haunted Mansion Holiday, an impressive overlay of the classic attraction based on Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. The classic clash between Christmas and Halloween is apparent at Haunted Mansion Holiday as wreaths and Jack-O-Lanterns compete to dominate the attraction’s elegant facade. Inside, it is very impressive how the attraction is completely transformed, from the decor and animatronic figures that tell the story of Jack Skellington’s mansion takeover in an entertaining, captivating way.

It’s a small world is changed into it’s a small world holiday. The classic earworm tune of “It’s a Small World” is mixed with classic Christmas songs such as “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls.” On the inside, the attraction maintains Walt Disney’s original intended message of unity across the world while celebrating the different beliefs and cultures during the holiday season through clever cultural lights and decorations. A nice touch is seeing that holidays other than Christmas, such as Hanukkah, are represented in the park where Christmas was dominant.

The best decorative overlay is Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle. Standing gracefully at the center of the park, Sleeping Beauty Castle’s turrets and towers are dominated by snow and icicles, giving the 64 year-old icon a festive twist. The entire castle is decorated intricately, which makes it interesting to look at from all angles due to the exquisite amount of detail put into the overlay.

Disneyland Park’s entertainment offerings are not to be missed. Parades and nighttime spectaculars are staples of the park and during the holiday season, they are reimagined to fit the festive ambiance the holidays bring.

The classic A Christmas Fantasy Parade returned this year and showcases iconic characters celebrating Christmas. From Mickey Mouse to Anna and Elsa to Santa Claus — each unit of the parade is elaborately themed with snow, ornaments and wreaths while festive music Christmas music plays during the fantastic procession down the parade corridor. However, being that the parade has been running since 1995 and has suffered noticeable budget cuts, it seems a little bit outdated given the standard of other recent Disney parades such as Disneyland’s version of Paint the Night or Festival of Fantasy at Magic Kingdom Park. The parade itself is enjoyable nonetheless.

Two times a night, Wintertime Enchantment at Sleeping Beauty Castle transforms Main Street U.S.A. and the hub in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle with elaborate projections and “snow” as Walt Disney’s original castle is transformed into its icy self for the night. The entire show is around three minutes, but the simplicity and beauty of it made it worth watching both times. The “snow” machines are a nice touch which gives the Southern Californian park a magical feel.

To top the festive night off, Believe… In Holiday Magic, another classic entertainment offering, returned this season with its festive music, projections and impressive pyrotechnics. While the show is enjoyable, it feels short and outdated compared to previous shows. This show pales in comparison to other fireworks shows such as Disneyland Forever and Remember… Dreams Come True due to its short length and basic projections. The pyrotechnics themselves, however, are fantastic.

This year, Disneyland is able to deliver a magical holiday experience to its guests despite some outdated entertainment offerings. Despite a few shortcomings, the “Magic Kingdom” succeeds in offering an experience different than Disneyland on a normal day, but still as magical as ever.