Christmastime is here! The park has been transformed into the merriest place on earth.
For the past year, we’ve tended to go to the parks earlier in the day, getting there maybe at nine or ten, and leaving around four. But this time we knew we wanted to see the sights at night, so we arrived at the park, dropped off by the tram at 1:30.
First stop was Earl of Sandwich for some lunch. They have this amazing chipotle chicken sandwich that Thor gets, chipotle sauce and avocado and bacon. I got a simple turkey wrap. Pretty inexpensive eats that keep you going a long time. Also in Downtown Disney were the macaws from Rainforest Cafe; they are always fun to see.
I had a brilliant idea this time and it really paid off. You see, over the past year they’ve really stepped up their security, adding metal detectors and stuff. It’s gone from a five minute wait to get your bags checked to a wait of possibly an hour JUST to get into the main entrance, and THEN you have to wait more to actually get into the park. It’s honestly ridiculous and everyone’s unhappy about it. God forbid you want to leave the park and go to Downtown Disney to eat during the day, because then you have to stand in the security line all over again. In fact, I’ve heard that they will be moving the security checkpoints to include Downtown Disney as well so that won’t be an issue.
Anyway, at the risk of tipping people off, we went into the Grand Californian Hotel. You can get into California Adventure straight from the park. We usually don’t carry any bags so we breezed right through security and into California Adventure, no waiting at all. We could’ve hung out in CA for a while but we were on a mission for a Haunted Mansion Holiday fast pass. A fast pass, for those who don’t know, is a really nifty feature where you basically check into an attraction say at 2, and you get a ticket for a future return time, for instance, 4:30, and you simply come back at your designated time and pretty much walk straight on to the ride with minimal line waiting. Then you can get another fast pass for another attraction in a few hours, it’s printed on your ticket. It’s really the way to go.
So we hit up Haunted Mansion Holiday and then just walked around, taking in the sights. It was super crowded, partly because either the day before or earlier that same day was the Dr. Strange Marvel Marathon.
We felt like doing something so we went on Jingle Cruise. It was about a thirty minute wait and it was hot in the park for sure. But one of the many things I appreciate about Disneyland is that even in line, you’re surrounded by thoughtful imagineering, so it’s not like I remember at Six Flags where if you’re not on a ride you’re just surrounded by concrete boringness. Picture from Micechat. The whole ride really depends on your skipper’s presentation of the jokes and puns. It can be hit or miss. It was kind of a miss this time. She just seemed like she didn’t really want to be there and didn’t care about what she was doing at all. We’ll go on it again next time. Still fun to see the jungle all dressed up in their “missing Christmas cargo.”
We walked around til 4:30–the parade! I was a little disappointed that the parade times were something like 1:30 and 4:30. I love the parade at night but for some reason they just didn’t do it that way. If you are so inclined, you can watch the parade here. Highlights include the Christmas Candlelight Ball float with Disney royalty, and Santa’s sleigh. I probably won’t post many pictures of parades or fireworks. I believe in watching them and enjoying them as they happen, instead of what other people do, taking their big iPads out and trying to get a good shot, blocking other people’s views as they record something that they’re never going to watch again. I believe in living in the moment!
When that was over, night was falling, and it was finally time for Haunted Mansion! We had our fastpass but the outside is dressed up SO COOL, I don’t mind waiting a few minutes.
The ride tends to stop and start a lot, so we got stopped right at the man-eating Christmas wreath.
And here’s an outside shot of the mansion taken by my lovely husband.
From there we actually went back to the Grand Californian. They haven’t put up their tree yet, or their gingerbread house, but they did have a picture of what it’ll be and it looks great. We stopped in to try their holiday drinks and it was totally worth it. I got the peppermint hot chocolate with marshmallows, and it was rich and creamy perfection. Really, their hot chocolate never disappoints. Thor got the hot apple cider which he was also quite pleased with.
But then it was on to the big one–the Festival of Holidays at Disneyland California Adventure. From Micechat.
Dozens of little stalls, all selling unique food items, scattered all around. There is so much to try and only so much we could do in one night! I stopped at the Southern Home Holidays kiosk for the southern mac and cheese with jalapeno cornbread crumble. I didn’t have crazy expectations for this but OH MY GOODNESS it was delicious. Thor said it was too saucy for him, and that it reminded him more of an alfredo than mac and cheese, but I think he’s crazy. It was perfectly cheesy and warm on what turned out to be a cool evening. Could have done without the cornbread crumble though; it was too sweet and made an odd contrast to the pasta. 9/10, would totally eat again.
Thor stopped at the Mosaic Delights stall, for the roasted lamb with masala spice Basmati rice and poached raisins, and a generous piece of baklava. I don’t eat lamb but Thor really liked it. He says it wasn’t maybe the best cut of lamb ever but he liked the preparation. The baklava was tasty but was a little cold, so it was kind of congealed and difficult to eat. I posted it last time but here’s the entire list of food again. The small plates are from $6-$8 each so it’s a little difficult to just pig out over, but they’re really filling and we didn’t need to stop for any more snacks. There are definitely more things on my to-eat list, and I’m excited that it’s going to be here through the end of the year.
All of this is great, but it was super packed at the park. It makes me wonder if this festival is really bringing in more of a crowd. DCA has always been a little bit quieter and it would be sad if that refuge didn’t exist anymore, but it’s still a nice addition.
Then it was onto Cars Land, one of my absolute favorites. The decorations are second to none.
The Cozy Cone!
Radiator Springs Town Hall!
I didn’t check to see if they had any seasonal eatings, but it’s a great culinary corner of the park. Flo’s Diner has some real winners for breakfast, especially. I like their caramel bread pudding and Thor likes the chicken tamale with scrambled egg. The Cozy Cone is home to my favorite mac and cheese cone with bacon crumbles, and apparently they have a bunch of interesting popcorn flavors, like salt & vinegar, pickle, bacon & cheddar, sweet & spicy, or nacho cheese.
One last look at DCA for the night with the tree in the main square, right outside of Carthay Circle:
Back to Disneyland to take a look at everything under cover of darkness and Christmas lights! The entrance is all decked out.
Take a look at the tree in Main Street.
A view down Main Street.
We made our way back down to Critter Country. I was surprised there aren’t more decorations out that way, especially considering that Santa is posted out there this time of year. Here’s a little Christmas cheer:
I really appreciated Frontierland’s decorations. Take a look at the Golden Horseshoe.
And of course it’s not Disneyland without the castle!
We happened to be walking by when they lit it up for the night, and got some bonus snow as they did that. You can see the 2016 fireworks here. It’s worth a watch. And then of course they played White Christmas, and it snowed, and I cried, and it was great.
Then we had a fast pass for Star Tours so we made our way through the crowd to Tomorrowland. Had a great time, even if we did the Naboo scene for the billionth time. But after that, it was off to It’s a Small World Holiday! Have some pictures.
Here’s what it looks during the daytime.
Had a great, relaxing time on the ride. Nothing like ending a long day standing and walking around with sitting down in some air conditioning and letting the world revolve around you.
That was our last big stop for the day. Like every visit, we finished with a walk down our bridge where Thor proposed, and a really quick walk through of the shops. They’ve had their Christmas merchandise out for a while so we’ve definitely already seen it. Still love it though.
And that was our first Disneyland Christmastime 2016 trip! A very successful day, filled with love and happiness! We plan to go most weekends through the end of the year so there will be much more where this came from. If you’re reading this, thanks! I hope you enjoyed it!