Your Guide To Disneyland Resort Holidays 2019 Can’t Miss Happenings

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It is officially the happiest time of the year… Holiday Time at Disneyland Resort! 

Now through Jan. 6, 2020 you can come to Disneyland Resort for some super merry and bright fun just like we did! Special thanks to Disneyland for inviting and hosting our family for this day of fun.

We don’t consider our holiday season officially starting until we have spent the day at Disneyland.

 Once we see all the decorations, the treats and the big guy himself- SANTA we know it is really the holiday season. This year was even better than the past and we have so much to share with you. 

Here is your guide to Disneyland Resort Holidays 2019 can’t miss happenings!

First things first- you must plan for some holiday merch!

I am in love with the new ears… and the girls loved the onesies. The new popcorn buckets were also fantastic. This is all found throughout both Disneyland and also Disney California Adventure Park. There was so much available this year so be sure to keep your eyes open for it all.

Let’s start with Disney California Adventure Park and everything you will love!

Disney Festival of Holidays is what is happening at Disney California Adventure Park. It truly brings the spirit of the season to life through lively entertainment, festive food and beverages and special traditions. Children can enjoy craft stations and everyone will appreciate the delicious food at Festival Foods Marketplace, featuring a mix of holiday dishes and beverages that bridge many diverse cultures and family traditions. Plus there are tons of vegetarian and vegan options!

The Holiday Sunset Concerts features new music this year from The Suffragettes, who rock holiday chart-topping hits from favorite musical artists (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights).

This new band joins the explosive energy of Phat Cat Swinger, the West Coast’s “Little-Big Band” that plays a swinging selection of irresistible holiday music, presented with a fresh new twist (Wednesday through Saturday nights).

Additional Festival of Holidays entertainment includes musical and dance performances by Mostly Kosher, Blue13 Dance Company, The Sound and the GRAMMY® Award-winning Mariachi Divas. If you haven’t seen the Mariachi Divas, this is reason alone to go. They are so powerful and entertaining. We seek them out whenever we can!

The Three Caballeros host the popular “Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party” celebration, featuring folklórico and samba dancers, live musicians, and Mickey and Minnie in their fiesta best.

This is, of course, a pretty popular time of year to visit the parks, so be sure to get Disney MaxPass to save time waiting in line for rides. It also comes with Disney PhotoPass and there are so many festive photo opps you will want to capture and get everyone in the family in the picture. I love having professional photographers take great pictures of us while we are having fun!

The girls made a video of their Disneyland holiday favorites too. You can watch it here.

The first thing you will want to see at Disney California Adventure Parks is the beautiful 50-foot Christmas tree that adorns Carthay Circle on Buena Vista Street!

The tree and surrounding buildings are decorated with vintage-style ornaments in keeping with the theme of Buena Vista Street, inspired by Los Angeles as it appeared when Walt Disney arrived in the 1920’s. Pacific Wharf, Hollywood Land and Grizzly Peak also sparkle with holiday décor throughout the season.

The decorated tree makes the perfect background for Christmas pictures!

I had so much fun wandering through the park as a family and pointing out all of our favorite decorations. 

We also always take a picture in this same spot whenever we are in the park. I love looking back at them all.

We stumbled upon so many entertaining moments like “Mickey’s Happy Holidays”!

Mickey is joined by favorite Disney and Pixar characters as they dance along to high-energy music, led by the merry rhythms of the Holiday Toy Drummers. Mickey, Minnie, Chip n’ Dale, Goofy and Clarabelle all don new Festival of Holidays attire, specifically for the “Mickey’s Happy Holidays” celebration. The Country Bears and the Pixar characters also sport fun seasonal overlays for the show. “Mickey’s Happy Holidays” will run twice daily, with show moments at Paradise Gardens Park and Carthay Circle.

Cars Land is all decked out for the holidays too!

We look forward to seeing the festivities and decorations here too. There are even two attractions transformed with holiday magic into Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl and Mater’s Jingle Jamboree. The whimsical “Snowcar” greets guests on the road to Radiator Springs, and each “Cars” character also gets a holiday makeover at their Route 66 address to reflect their personality.

We went searching for Santa and learned that he is hanging out at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.

He is hosting some special holiday-themed activities with his sleigh full of mischievous elves!

Around lunchtime, the girls all split off from us to enjoy some attractions they had a FASTPASS for so Pete and I headed to our go-to dining spot, Lamplight Lounge. We both love this place because it is so relaxing. The section we eat in offers full-service dining with this view!

Lamplight Lounge: Falling with Style

My go-to non-alcoholic drink is Falling with Style. It is delicious and refreshing. 

Lamplight Lounge: Infinity Fizz

Pete always gets the Infinity Fizz. It is one of those accidentally festive drinks right now as it is offered year-round, but it totally looks like a Christmas special!

Potato Flautas Plant-based Chorizo, Vegan Piquillo Crema, Serrano-Tomatillo Salsa, Arugula Salad, and Escabèche

Our go-to meal is the Impossible Burger, but since it was brunch time, it wasn’t available. I was bummed at first, because they offer a meat-based burger during brunch, but not the plant-based one. This turned out to actually be a good thing because they had vegan brunch options I didn’t know about. 

The Potato Flautas are on the menu as plant-based, and our server said that the chef could also veganize the Chilaquiles and add vegan Chorizo.

(Off- Menu) Veganized: Lamplight Chilaquiles with Chorizo

We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try them both in the name of research and to share our findings with you… so we did. The verdict- oh my! I would for sure order either of these any time I possibly could. They were very similar in flavor, a bit spicy and so flavorful. We also left super full! I am so thankful that Disney is offering so many plant-based options. I heard that they will be offering even more into next year!

That yummy food wasn’t even part of the fantastic Disney Festival of Holidays.

The festival features tons of new options available just during this time. I had planned to try all the plant-based options (noted in the parks with a leaf) but was just too full after lunch. 

One this I did have was the Shepherd’s Upside-down Pie. You can find this at the Grandma’s Recipes food stand. It was so good. Like full-on comfort food. I am so excited that this is being offered this year!

Photo Credit: Disneyland Resort

There is also the big bowl of pumpkin soup available at Pacific Wharf Cafe. This is so perfect for the holidays!

Photo Credit: Disneyland Resort

I didn’t get a chance to try it, but the Plant-Based Chile Relleno was also on my list. It can be found at Paradise Garden Grill.

Photo Credit: Disneyland Resort

Jumping around here, but since we are talking about food, over in Disneyland you can get this yummy dish! It is the Yellow Curry Rice Plate at Bengal Barbecue. Another option in Disneyland is the Holiday Pozole at Harbour Galley in Critter Country.

Photo Credit: Disneyland Resort

Jumping back to Disney California Adventure Park, there are a few other plant-based options for the holidays.

They include the above candy cane-shaped Holiday Sourdough available throughout the park and the plant-etarium street tacos at Studio Catering Co.  Yum! 

If you are not a plant-based eater, there are tons of options for you too! So many fun spins on holiday favorites from the past that will keep you full and happy all day long.

Here are the vegetarian favorites of Emmy’s: 

Photo Credit: Disneyland Resort

The top of her list was the Holiday Stuffing Mac & Cheese. She said it was super kid-friendly and tasted like Thanksgiving! This is part of the festival of Holidays and found in Disney California Adventure Park.

Photo Credit: Disneyland Resort

Next favorite- Sugar Cookie Churros. Just imagine how good these taste just based on how good they look! They are found at the Cozy Cone Hotel in Cars Land!

Photo Credit: Disneyland Resort

This cake screams the holidays are here and YUMMY! It was also a favorite of hers.

Lastly, there are so many cookies and other sweet treats that will for sure thrill everyone in the family. Em loved this cookie and all the others she tried so we will just say you need to make sure to save room in your tummies for treats this year!

After you are full of food and good cheer in Disney California Adventure Park, head straight over to Disneyland.

This is the perfect time to make sure you have park hopper tickets!

First up is the fan-favorite, “it’s a small world”.

It has been transformed each evening of the holiday season into “it’s a small world” Holiday, with 50,000-plus colorful lights, music, and video projections. Inside the attraction, holiday magic takes you around the world and back as dolls and toys representing children enjoying the distinctive holiday traditions of their countries.

We love singing along! Do you too?

Quick note- even though it is holiday time… don’t forget your year-long favorites! We made sure to enjoy ours!

We went to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and you should too!

Pete and I were there for the opening… but this was the girls first time. 

They had some blue milk! Loved it!

Took a stroll through Batuu…

Hung out with some friends…

And went on Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. 

Another thing you must do is take in the magic of ‘A Christmas Fantasy’ parade on Main Street, U.S.A.

Grab a sweet treat or as it gets cooler into the day, a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy the parade! 

This isn’t holiday-specific, but it sure made our holiday visit pretty spectacular.

We used mobile ordering for the first time. It was like having a VIP pass for food and drinks and made our day so smooth!

Emmy wanted some Dole Whip, but there is always a line and we just didn’t have time to wait, even though the line moves pretty quick. Maddie went to the app, ordered Emmy her Dole Whip and by the time we walked over to the stand it was ready! I can’t wait to keep using this with future visits!

Once it is dark and evening is upon us… it is time for “Believe … in Holiday Magic” the fireworks spectacular with the magical snowfall finale! Main street offers a great place for viewing this, but get there a bit early to get a good spot!

Photo Credit: Disneyland Resort


Photo Credit: Disneyland Resort

The Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle is so gorgeously decorated with shimmering icicles and twinkling lights on!

We have found that the best angle to take pictures of it is all the way to the left. You can still get the whole castle in, but there aren’t as many people there.

We aren’t done yet! 

Walking back down Main Street U.S.A. you can take in all the lights, and also see the tree!

The magnificent 60-foot tall Christmas tree on Main Street, U.S.A. is decorated with nearly 1,500 ornaments. The classic tree is an ideal location for holiday photos, to document the magical memory for a lifetime.

If you still have energy be sure to enjoy some good times as the DJ spins at the new Disney Holiday Dance Party at Tomorrowland Terrace, where you can dance, sing and play along to favorite holiday tunes with beloved Disney characters.

Of course, no visit to Disneyland is complete without a visit to the Haunted Mansion.

‘Twas “The Nightmare before Christmas” and all through the Haunted Mansion, Jack Skellington and his friends are causing a collision between Christmas and Halloween to transform the Haunted Mansion into Haunted Mansion Holiday.* This is one of those attractions you could go on over and over again and still want to go on again! It is even more fun this time of year!

Photo Credit: Disneyland Resort


Back at Disney California Adventure Park, I have one more thing to share. 

The nighttime spectacular “World of Color – Season of Light” fuses cherished holiday music sung by beloved artists with memorable moments from treasured Disney animated films, this sparkling winter fantasy is magical for all ages. This production of “World of Color” is brilliant with dazzling lights, lasers and high-definition projections. I love that Frozen is featured. I’m getting so excited to see Frozen 2!

Photo Credit: Disneyland Resort

Don’t forget to stop into the Hotels of the Disneyland Resort or book a night or two for the ultimate holiday vacation! They are also joining the yuletide celebration with twinkling lights and ornaments, holiday displays, special entertainment, and holiday-inspired eats and treats.

Photo Credit: Disneyland Resort

We have a tradition of enjoying the gingerbread house at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. It is so fun to see and smell!

Right alongside the house is a stand with lovely treats and drinks. 

If you have a little bit more time, explore Downtown Disney District which is full of festive new décor, shopping, dining, and entertainment.

We love to do some Christmas shopping here!

This time we stopped for the kids to get milkshakes before driving home.

It was in the mid-eighties and perfect shake weather! CrazyShake™ Window by Black Tap has both vegan and regular shakes… although you can see, there is nothing regular about any of their shakes! Ha!

The holidays are being celebrated now through Jan. 6, 2020 at Disneyland Resorts, which means there is plenty of time for a visit or two!

Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog, It's a Lovely Life®! For the past decade, she has vacationed over 150 days a year with her family. She is a vegan, and loves being by the water, spending time with her children, husband, 2 Shih Tzus and Cat.