The exterior of "it's a small world" during December. A Santa hat is displayed in the center of the building to mark the holiday season.

Disneyland in December: The Ultimate Guide for a Merry Adventure (2024)


As a Disney travel planner and frequent Disney park guest, I can assure you that any time of the year at Disneyland is magical.

However, December brings a unique sprinkle of festive magic to the park. β€οΈπŸ’š The twinkling lights, merry parades, and the overall holiday atmosphere bring an extra sense of joy and magic! ✨

And my family can vouch for this! My husband, our three kids, and I experienced the wonders of Disneyland during the Christmas season firsthand and I can confidently tell you there’s no better time to experience Disney than during the holiday season. πŸ‘

In this ultimate guide, I’ll unveil Disneyland’s holiday attractions and entertainment, provide insider tips on what to expect weather-wise, and offer strategies for navigating the crowds with ease.

Plus, I’ll share essential tips to ensure you fully enjoy visiting the Happiest Place on Earth when it’s decked out in its festive best. πŸ°β„οΈ

Pssst…..I’m also a travel agent who specializes in Disney, so be sure to contact me and I can help plan and book your Disney vacation.

Is December a Good Time for Disneyland?

Visit Disneyland in December to experience the best of the holiday spirit, especially if Christmas is your favorite holiday. Festive decorations fill the park with wonder and transform it into a winter wonderland.

Holiday lights make Sleeping Beauty’s Castle glow majestically, topped with a layer of snow.β„οΈπŸ° Enchanting Christmas trimmings welcome you as you stroll through Main Street, U.S.A. In Town Square, the towering Christmas tree serves as a breathtaking centerpiece, capturing the holiday season’s magic perfectly. πŸŽ„βœ¨

The towering Christmas tree located in Town Square at Disneyland Park. One of the many benefits to visiting Disneyland in December is seeing this along with all the other holiday decorations.

Many attractions receive a seasonal makeover, complete with holiday music and thematic touches. It’s a unique time to experience classic rides with a new twist. While crowds can be larger, especially later in the month, the special holiday ambiance is a compelling reason to visit.

Weather at Disneyland in December

The weather at Disneyland in December can be quite unpredictable, which you should be prepared for. Despite its Southern California location, it’s not always guaranteed to be sunny and pleasant throughout the month. 🌀️ There’s a fair chance you might encounter cold and rainy weather.

During a visit between Christmas and New Year’s, my family experienced this firsthand. Our trip started with mild and sunny weather but quickly shifted to cold and rainy conditions for the majority of our stay. β„οΈβ˜”οΈ I won’t sugarcoat it – the chilly and wet weather did make being outdoors less comfortable.

The Swanson Family posing happily in front of the festively adorned Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland in December

It’s crucial for you to be ready for this possibility, so packing layers, waterproof clothing, and even a warm hat or gloves is a good idea.🧣🧀 This way, you can still enjoy the magic of Disneyland, rain or shine.

With this being said, the average high temperature in December at Disneyland is around 64Β°F to 67Β°F, while the average low ranges from 48Β°F to 52Β°F. December at Disneyland sees an average of 5 to 6 rainy days.

Crowd Levels During December at Disneyland

A trip to Disneyland in December is a balance between soaking in the holiday spirit and navigating the varying crowd levels. Here’s what you can expect throughout the month:

  • Early December (First Two Weeks): This period typically sees lighter crowds, making it a more relaxed time to enjoy the holiday decorations and events.
  • Mid-December (Mid-Month to Pre-Christmas): Crowds start to increase as the holiday break nears, but the park is still less crowded compared to the peak holiday season.
  • Peak Holiday Season (Christmas Week to New Year’s): This is the busiest time at Disneyland, with high attendance levels. Despite the busy walkways and longer waits for attractions, the crowd levels at Disneyland during this peak time are generally manageable. It’s important to note that these crowds are less overwhelming compared to those at Walt Disney World.

As previously mentioned, I’ve visited Disneyland in the busiest week of the year between Christmas and New Year’s and I will tell you it wasn’t that bad especially if you’re used to Walt Disney World crowds.

With that being said, to make the most of your visit during these crowded times, I highly recommend utilizing Genie Plus. This service can significantly shorten your wait times for attractions, allowing you to enjoy more of what Disneyland has to offer during the bustling holiday season.

Holiday Decorations at Disneyland Resort in December

In December, Disneyland Resort becomes a spectacle of holiday cheer. The entire area, encompassing Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure, and Downtown Disney, sparkles with festive lights, wreaths, garlands, and Christmas trees. These decorations adorn lampposts and buildings, transforming every corner of the resort, including the Disneyland Resort hotels, into a magical holiday scene. πŸŽ„βœ¨πŸ¦Œ

Upon entering Disneyland Park, you’re greeted by a majestic Christmas tree in Town Square. This towering and beautifully adorned tree serves as a festive centerpiece, welcoming all visitors with holiday warmth. Similarly, Disney California Adventure boasts its own 50-foot tall Christmas tree on Buena Vista Street, adding to the park’s yuletide splendor.

A stroll through the lobby of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is an experience in itself.

An opulent Christmas tree lavishly decorated with an assortment of colorful ornaments, lights, and stars, located in the grand lobby of Disney's Grand Californian Hotel in December at Disneyland.

The lobby’s stunning Christmas tree and the intricately designed gingerbread house are true visual delights. They add an extra layer of holiday magic to the resort, and the great thing is, you don’t need to be a hotel guest to enjoy them. πŸŒŸπŸŽ…πŸΌπŸ°πŸͺ

The gingerbread house at Disney's Grand California Hotel & Spa is a must see when visiting Disneyland during Christmas time.

➑️Having difficulty deciding which park to visit or maybe you don’t know the differences between the two, check out Disneyland vs California Adventure: Differences and Pros & Cons of Each.

Seasonal Attractions and Entertainment at Disneyland Park in December

December at Disneyland Park is a magical time, filled with holiday-themed attractions and entertainment that bring the spirit of the season to life. πŸŽ„βœ¨Here’s what you can look forward to, along with some of my personal favorites.

A Christmas Fantasy Parade is a lively celebration featuring Disney characters and Santa Claus, bringing joy and merriment to Main Street, U.S.A. The festive floats and music create a lively atmosphere that’s perfect for holiday cheer. I just love parades and Disney and this is a can’t miss one!

Enjoying a festive boat ride at 'it's a small world' Holiday, decorated with vibrant Christmas lights and cheerful seasonal decor.

I love the holiday makeover of this classic ride. Festive decorations from around the globe and a special seasonal soundtrack transform the attraction. Stunning exterior holiday lights turn the facade of “it’s a small world” into a breathtaking sight as the sun sets.

Disneyland during Christmas time, with the Haunted Mansion decorated in 'Nightmare Before Christmas' theme, featuring Jack Skellington and an array of pumpkins.

The Haunted Mansion receives a delightful “Nightmare Before Christmas” twist that is absolutely amazing! Merging Halloween and Christmas themes, this unique transformation creates a fun and memorable experience that has become a must-do for my family during our holiday visits.

The night sky above Disneyland lights up with an incredible fireworks display, accompanied by holiday music. The magical “snowfall” on Main Street, U.S.A., adds a special touch of winter magic to the experience.

Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland, enchantingly lit up with twinkling blue lights and icicle decorations, creating a stunning winter scene during the Christmas season.

Each evening, the iconic castle transforms into a frosty winter wonderland, with thousands of lights creating a fairy-tale ambiance.

Meeting Santa in Critter Country is a must-do experience for families with young children. It’s a great opportunity to share holiday wishes and capture a memorable moment.

Seasonal Attractions and Entertainment at Disney California Adventure in December

Disney California Adventure Park in December is a vibrant celebration of holiday traditions from around the world, offering guests a unique and festive experience. Here’s a detailed look at the seasonal attractions and entertainment.

Festival of Holidays is a celebration of diverse cultural festivities. It features an array of delicious food, lively music, and entertainment representing various holiday traditions. It’s a culinary and cultural journey that showcases the richness of holiday customs from around the globe.

Disney Β‘Viva Navidad! is a lively celebration that includes music, dancing, and vibrant dΓ©cor, showcasing the Latino holiday traditions. It’s a colorful and energetic experience that brings the spirit of Navidad to life.

World of Color-Season of Light is a nighttime spectacular combining classic holiday songs with the stunning visuals of the World of Color water show. It’s a breathtaking display that beautifully captures the essence of the holiday season.

PRO-TIP: For prime viewing and a stress-free experience, book the World of Color Dessert Party.

These popular Cars Land attractions receive a holiday makeover with festive music and decorations. They offer a fun twist on the usual rides, making them extra special during the holiday season.

At the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, you have the chance to meet Santa Claus in a rustic, woodsy setting. It’s a unique experience that adds a touch of wilderness charm to your holiday greetings.

Festive Foods and Souvenirs at Disneyland at Christmas Time

Christmas time at Disneyland is a treat in every sense, especially when it comes to the special festive foods and charming souvenirs available. As someone who loves this time of year, I find the array of holiday treats to be one of the highlights of visiting Disneyland in December.

A confectionery artist at Disneyland meticulously decorating blue candy apples with white snowflake designs, displayed on a tray in the kitchen workspace.

Every corner of the park offers delightful seasonal treats, from peppermint and gingerbread-flavored churros to rich, creamy hot chocolate and beautifully decorated holiday cookies. These sweets are not only a joy to taste but are also crafted with such attention to detail that they’re a feast for the eyes. Enjoying these festive treats amidst the magical setting of Disneyland is everything!

In addition to the delicious treats, the holiday shopping experience at Disneyland is equally amazing! The park overflows with cute and festive Disney-themed souvenirs and clothing. Whether it’s a cozy holiday sweater, a unique Disney Christmas ornament, or a festive-themed Mickey Ears, the variety of merchandise is sure to bring out the holiday spirit.

Both the festive foods and the unique holiday souvenirs at Disneyland contribute significantly to the joy of a December visit. πŸŽ„πŸ›οΈπŸ°πŸŽ…πŸΌ

How To Experience Disneyland in December Without a Ticket

Experiencing the magic of Disneyland during the festive month of December doesn’t always require a park ticket. If you’re exploring Southern California or looking for a Disney experience on a non-park day, visiting Downtown Disney is a wonderful idea. 🌟

My family and I discovered this fun opportunity on our first family trip to Southern California while traveling from Los Angeles to San Diego. It was a wonderful way to enjoy a taste of Disney magic without the full park experience. ✨

Downtown Disney, part of the Disneyland Resort, is a vibrant hub for shopping, dining, and entertainment. In December, it transforms into a holiday wonderland. πŸŽ… The area is adorned with festive decorations, including a large Christmas tree and magical holiday-themed adornments. πŸŽ„

Ethan smiling in front of a towering Christmas tree adorned with white and turquoise ornaments at Downtown Disney, with a whimsical snowman decoration to the side.

A little secret not widely known is the nightly snowfall near Tortilla Jo’s, Jazz Kitchen Coastal Grill & Patio, and Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes. ❄️ This magical snowfall happens every half hour from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, running from November 24 to December 31, 2023. πŸ••

But the charm of Downtown Disney isn’t limited to decorations and snowfall. There’s also a lineup of musical performances at the Downtown Disney LIVE! Stage, along with holiday crafts for kids. πŸŽΆπŸ‘Ά Don’t miss the chance to indulge in a Disney holiday treat from one of the bakeries or shops. πŸͺ🍰

And of course, a visit to Downtown Disney isn’t complete without exploring The World of Disney. This store is a paradise for those looking to shop for Christmas souvenirs, clothing, and more. πŸ›οΈπŸŽ

Festive decorations in the Downtown Disney District at Disneyland in December, featuring brightly adorned Christmas trees with red and green ornaments, and a classic toy soldier.

Character Meal at One of the Disneyland Resort Hotels

Enhance your December visit with even more Disney enchantment by booking a character dining experience at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels β€” no park ticket required. I highly recommend Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel, where delightful food meets fun interactions with Disney characters.

Immerse yourself in the joy and magic of Disneyland’s holiday season by exploring these options, all without setting foot in the parks!

What to Wear & Pack for Disneyland in December

Ensure you’re perfectly prepared with this checklist on what to wear to Disneyland and what essentials to pack for a magical and comfortable holiday experience at the parks! πŸŽ„βœ¨

βœ… Check the Weather Before Leaving: Start by checking the Southern California weather forecast. This will help you pack appropriately for any unexpected weather changes.

βœ… Layered Clothing: The weather can vary, so dress in layers like breathable base layers, cozy sweaters, and lightweight, waterproof jackets for easy adjustment. β˜”οΈπŸ§£

βœ… Comfortable Footwear: Since you’ll be walking a lot, choose comfortable, and preferably waterproof, shoes or sneakers. Your feet will thank you! πŸ‘ŸπŸŒ¦οΈ

βœ… Accessories for Warmth: Scarves, gloves, and beanies not only add warmth but also a stylish flair. They’re compact and easy to carry when not in use. 🧣🧀

βœ… Rain Gear: Pack a compact, foldable umbrella or poncho to stay dry during those surprise rain showers. β˜‚οΈ

βœ… Festive Attire: Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit with holiday-themed sweaters, Disney Christmas T-shirts, or fun holiday hats. πŸŽ…πŸ‘š

βœ… Comfortable Pants or Jeans: Opt for pants or jeans that are comfortable and versatile for all-day wear. πŸ‘–

βœ… Backpack or Crossbody Bag: A comfortable bag is essential for carrying your items and storing layers. Choose a backpack or crossbody bag for Disneyland for a hassle-free day. πŸŽ’

βœ… Sunglasses and Sunscreen: Don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun with sunglasses and sunscreen, even in the cooler months. πŸ•ΆοΈβ˜€οΈ

βœ… Character Gear: For fans, themed hats, ears, or accessories can enhance the Disney experience and are great for memorable photos.

Tips for Visiting Disneyland at Christmas Time

Kim and Ethan smiling for a selfie at Disneyland, with Kim wearing festive Mickey Mouse ears adorned with snowflakes, and the whimsical 'it's a small world' attraction facade in the background.

Visiting Disneyland in December is a magical experience, and with a bit of planning, you can make the most of your holiday trip. Here are some essential tips to consider:

βœ… Plan and Prioritize: Before your trip, decide on your must-do attractions, shows, and dining experiences. A well-thought-out plan helps maximize your time at the park.

βœ… Use the Disneyland Mobile App: This app is invaluable for checking ride times, finding characters, and quick food ordering, helping you navigate the park more efficiently.

βœ… Consider Genie Plus and Lightning Lane: These services can significantly reduce your wait times on busy days, making them worth the investment.

βœ… Arrive Early or Stay Late: Early mornings and late evenings usually see fewer crowds, giving you a more relaxed experience and shorter lines.

βœ… Dress Appropriately for the Weather: December can be quite cold, especially in the evenings. Dress in layers and consider bringing a jacket, coat, hat, and gloves to stay comfortable.

βœ… Pack Ponchos for Rain: Rain can happen unexpectedly. Bring ponchos to avoid the need to buy expensive ones at the park.

βœ… Take Breaks and Enjoy the Decor: Disneyland’s holiday decorations are a sight to behold. Take breaks to relax and soak in the festive atmosphere.

βœ… Shop for Souvenirs Later: Stores tend to be less crowded after the nighttime shows, making it an ideal time for souvenir shopping.

βœ… Stay Flexible and Patient: Crowds can lead to longer wait times. A flexible attitude will enhance your enjoyment, regardless of the crowds. Also, know you might not be able to ride one of your must-do rides because of the weather. For example, we weren’t able to ride Radiator Springs Racers during our trip because of the near-constant rain.

βœ… Capture the Memories: With so many beautiful holiday decorations, Disneyland is full of photo opportunities. Don’t forget to capture these special moments.

These tips will help ensure that your December visit to Disneyland is both enjoyable and memorable, filled with holiday magic and fun.

Book Your Disneyland December Vacation

A festive mural in the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel celebrating the holidays with vintage Disneyland attractions and characters, flanked by decorative floral arrangements.

Planning a Disneyland vacation can be overwhelming! Let me help you take the stress out of the planning!

I have years and years of experience planning Disney trips, so contact me today!

Planning a Disney vacation is one of my favorite things to do. I look forward to hearing from you!

FAQs-Disneyland in December

Visiting Disneyland in December comes with its own set of wonders and queries. To help you prepare for your festive trip, here are some frequently asked questions about Disneyland during the holiday season:

Holding a Starbucks iced coffee with a festive Disney-themed cup in front of a beautifully decorated Christmas tree at the Starbucks on Main Street at Disneyland Park.
Does it snow at Disneyland during Christmas?

It would be pretty rare for it to snow at Disneyland in December given Southern California’s climate. However, guests can experience magical snowfall during certain events, particularly in the “Believe… In Holiday Magic” fireworks show. This enchanting snow-like effect along Main Street, U.S.A., creates a delightful winter wonderland experience, adding to the holiday magic of Disneyland.

Is Disney crowded in December?

December is a peak time at Disneyland, especially closer to Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The crowds tend to be less in early December but increase as the holiday season progresses.

What are the slowest days at Disneyland in December?

Typically, the first week or so of December experiences lighter crowd levels. This is before the holiday break for most schools, making it a quieter time to visit.

Is Disneyland too cold in December?

While Southern California’s winter is milder compared to many other regions, the evenings in December can get quite cool at Disneyland. It’s wise to dress in layers and bring a jacket, hat, and gloves to stay comfortable during nighttime activities.

When does Disneyland decorate for Christmas?

Disneyland begins decorating for Christmas in early November, with the full transformation typically completed shortly after Halloween. For 2023, the official Christmas season at Disneyland is scheduled from November 10, 2023, through January 7, 2024.

Key Takeaways for Visiting Disneyland at Christmas Time

  • Festive Decor and Attractions: Disneyland transforms into a winter wonderland, with stunning decorations, a towering Christmas tree in Town Square, and holiday-themed makeovers of classic attractions. Experiencing these special festive touches is a must-do for any visitor in December.
  • Weather Preparedness: Southern California’s unpredictable weather in December calls for packing layers, waterproof clothing, and warm accessories. Being prepared ensures that you can comfortably enjoy the park’s offerings, rain or shine.
  • Crowd Navigation: December sees varied crowd levels, with the busiest time being the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Utilizing services like Genie Plus can help manage the crowds and maximize your time at the park.
  • Dining and Shopping: Indulging in seasonal treats and hunting for unique holiday souvenirs adds an extra layer of joy to your visit. Each bite and purchase carries the essence of Disney’s holiday spirit.
  • Beyond the Park: Remember, the magic of Disneyland in December isn’t confined to the park. Downtown Disney offers a festive experience with its decorations, entertainment, and shopping options, all accessible without a park ticket.

The Wrap-Up: Disneyland in December

The Traveling Swansons posing with Minnie Mouse, who is wearing a festive holiday dress and bow, at Disneyland Park.

Disneyland in December is more than just a theme park visit; it’s a dive into a festive, joyous, and magical world. It’s about creating memories that will last a lifetime, filled with the sights of dazzling lights, the sounds of holiday music, and the warmth of spending time with loved ones in a place where dreams come true.

So, if you’re contemplating a visit to Disneyland in December, let this guide be your compass to navigating and enjoying the park at its holiday best. And if the planning seems overwhelming, remember that help is just a message away. As a Disney travel agent, I’m here to make your Disney holiday dreams a reality.

Until then, may your days be merry, bright, and filled with the magic of Disney! πŸŽ„βœ¨πŸ°πŸŽ…πŸΌπŸŽ†