In Photos: Disneyland's Spectacular Christmas Decorations

  • 01 of 14

    Castle Decorated for Christmas

    Disneyland Castle at Christmas
    Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

    The centerpiece of the park is the castle. It takes on a dusting of (fake) snow, a fringe of icicles, and a necklace of holiday garlands. At night, a light show plays across its face.

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  • 02 of 14

    Characters Posing in Christmas Outfits

    Posing for Photos with Goofy in His Christmas Outfit
    ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    Goofy put on his best Christmas sweater before he posed with guests for this comical photo.

    Many of the characters wear holiday-themed clothing this time of year, making for exceptionally festive souvenir photos.

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  • 03 of 14

    New Orleans Square Christmas Decorations

    Christmas Decorations at New Orleans Square, Disneyland
    ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    Some of these Christmas decorations look suspiciously like Mardi Gras beads, but this is New Orleans Square, so it makes sense.

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  • 04 of 14

    Santa's Hot Popcorn

    Santa Claus figure in a popcorn stand at Disneyland Anaheim
    ©2009 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    There's no place too small for a Christmas-themed decoration at Disneyland. Even on the popcorn carts, you'll find Santa relieving the character who turns the crank the rest of the year.

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  • 05 of 14

    Haunted Mansion Holiday

    The Hatbox Ghost at Haunted Mansion Holiday
    Courtesy of Disneyland Resort

    The holiday crossover film "The Nightmare Before Christmas" makes a great theme for the holidays at Haunted Mansion. The decorations go up before Halloween and stay up through the end of the year. After that, the attraction will be closed while they take it all down again.

    In 2015, the Hatbox Ghost returned to the mansion, added as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration. Keep your eye on him - there's trickery afoot that involves that box and his head. 

    Elsewhere at Haunted Mansion Holiday, 13 gingerbread zombies take over the ballroom to construct a teetering gingerbread house of cards that's nearly 8 feet tall. And take a sniff as you pass — it just might smell like gingerbread.

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  • 06 of 14

    It's a Small World

    it's a small world Holiday
    ©Betsy Malloy Photography

    The entire it's a small world ride takes on a Christmas theme, a process that takes weeks to complete. Outside, the attraction's facade is lit with more than 60,000 LED Christmas lights and hundreds of thousands more tiny LED lights sparkle in the trees, hedges, and topiaries. 

    Inside the attraction, you'll find holiday touches everywhere. And here's the best part if you enjoy the ride but hate that repetitive tune that you can't get out of your head all day: During the holidays, they play seasonal music instead.

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  • 07 of 14

    Holiday Parade

    Christmas Fantasy Parade at Disneyland
    ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    The Disneyland parade lineup changes every few years, but there's another version that's just for the Christmas holidays. It's one of the longest-running parades at the Disneyland Resort.

    In fact, it takes an entire warehouse just to hold all the floats and equipment needed for the seasonal event.

    The Christmas Fantasy parade starts running shortly after Halloween and continues through Christmas. This holiday extravaganza features 16 floats and a cast of more than 100 performers, including 15 elves, 12 toy soldiers, six snowflake skaters, four roller skiers, six gingerbread cookies, and an entire toy soldier marching band.

    After the parade, you can stick around to watch the holiday fireworks display, which is created just for the season.

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  • 08 of 14

    Mickey and Minnie in the Holiday Parade

    Mickey and Minnie Mouse in Disneyland's Christmas Fantasy Parade
    ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    Mickey and Minnie get all dressed up for the holiday parade.

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  • 09 of 14

    Main Street U.S.A. Christmas Tree

    Christmas Tree at Disneyland, Main Street U.S.A.
    ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    This big tree near City Hall is a popular place for photo-taking.

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  • 10 of 14

    Main Street U.S.A. After Dark

    Main Street U.S.A. After Dark, Decorated for Christmas
    ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    Main Street is especially festive after dark. This photo was taken just before the Candlelight Processional started, giving a rare chance to see part of the street empty of people.

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  • 11 of 14

    Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle at Night

    Cinderella's Holiday Castle at Disneyland
    ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    During the day, you can see snow on the castle, but after dark, the transformation is show-stopping, with thousands of lights in the garlands. Check the day's schedule to find out when the castle illuminations will happen to see an even more spectacular show.

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  • 12 of 14

    Cars Land Holiday

    Holiday Decorations in Cars Land, Disney California Adventure
    ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    At first glance, it looks like the kind of traditional holiday decorations in any small American town, but look closer. Are those automotive air filters? Snowflakes made from wrenches? Exactly what you'd expect from the residents of Radiator Springs.

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  • 13 of 14

    Cars Land Holiday

    Cars Land Decorated for Christmas at Disney California Adventure
    ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    Mater puts on his Santa hat, and the Cozy Cone Motel hangs out the holiday decorations.

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  • 14 of 14

    Candlelight Processional

    Candlelight Processional at Disneyland
    ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    The Candlelight Processional at Epcot in Florida is a big production, accommodating lots of visitors. It wasn't always like that—and it still isn't—at Disneyland in California where the event has been happening since 1958.

    It's an hour-long, old-fashioned Christmas musical done in true Disney style with a choir that numbers in the hundreds, a full orchestra, and a celebrity narrator. The processional starts midway down Main Street U.S.A. and proceeds to the stage set up in front of the train station.

    If you've been to Disneyland before, you know there's not a lot of room in that area.

    Seating in front of the train station is for VIP invited guests only. For everyone else, it's standing room. Get there about an hour or so ahead of time to get a good viewing spot. Some attendees suggest lining up during the first show to get a chance at any empty seats for the second one.

    Celebrity narrators are announced in advance each year. The best place to get that info is to follow their blog.

    If you want a better idea of what it's like, check these Candlelight Processional videos at YouTube.