I live just a few miles away from Disneyland and we’ve had annual passes every year since we moved here (except when I worked at Downtown Disney and had a cast member pass). I love love love Disneyland, and the holiday transformation of the park is absolutely second to none. The entire park looks great–but there are two absolute must-do’s: the fireworks and the Holiday Small World.
(also, the holiday Haunted Mansion, but that starts in October so I don’t consider that 100% Christmas holiday–but do that too)
The fireworks were a total bust last year. One, I didn’t get to see them because we were so busy leading up to the holiday (we were in Europe for the first half of December) we just didn’t go that often, and the one time I went at night determined to see the fireworks, they were canceled due to weather. Train Guy and Mouse went on a different night, and Mouse was pretty much terrified and cried the whole time. So much for Disney Magic. So this year we decided to give the fireworks another try.
Mouse did much better. He didn’t actually, like, smile or anything, but spent the whole time pointing and saying, “wow! Wow! WOW!” And as expected, the fireworks were amazing. Seriously, after being spoiled by years of Disney fireworks, every other fireworks display pales in comparison. I’m always left saying, “that’s IT?” This year we stood in the middle of Main Street about halfway down the street. It turned out to be a good spot because we were right up against a crosswalk rope so there was a gap between us and the people in front of us. It was still quite crowded.
After the fireworks, it “snows”, which involves bubble machines spewing out small bubbles that fall like snow. It’s actually really cool–the best part being the faces of the kids as they realize it’s snowing.
And if you do nothing else in Disneyland at the holiday, ride on It’s A Small World. I know, I know, Small World gets a bad rap because the song is repetitious and annoying, but it’s actually a very cool ride, and they change pretty much every single detail for the holiday. Plus they intersperse the Small World song with Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls, so instead of just an endless loop of It’s A Small World After All, it’s an endless loop of Small World/Jingle Bells/Deck the Halls. Which doesn’t sound better, but it really is.
Of course, now I have It’s A Small World After All stuck in my head, but anyway…
Actually a short while ago they refurbished Small World. One of the main problems was that the boats kept getting stuck. You see, when Small World was built (in 1966), Disneyland guests were–how shall I say this–less hefty than they are now. Therefore, the boats ran in a trough propelled by water current alone. Which was fine until the average guest started gaining weight. The boats would get a bit weighted down and sort of creep along, often stopping completely. It was actually kind of fun when that happened, because you’d kind of reach out and help your boat along by grabbing the sides of the trough which is pretty much as anti-Disney as you can possibly get (“come and ride the ride that doesn’t really work and you can pull yourself along!”). All the dolls in the ride were getting a little tired too, so Disney shut the whole thing down for major renovation and when they brought it back, there were different (presumably more bouyant) boats, a track to help the boats along when they needed it, and awesome-looking dolls inside. They even added Disney characters (like adding Ariel in the underwater scene) which I thought would be really lame but they actually did it very well. So anyway, the holiday Small World is pretty much the most awesome holiday thing in the park.
Oh, also, they do this projection music thing on the Small World facade that I personally call the “Psychedelic Nutcracker.” It happens every ten minutes or so and it’s a short medley of songs including, but not limited to, selections from the Nutcracker, that plays while a sort of movie/cartoon/lights/flashing thingies goes on in a bit of a frantic way. But it’s very cool. And I’m sure that after that vague, somewhat bizarre description, you’re sitting there thinking, “We are SO making a special trip to Disneyland next year to see the Psychedelic Nutcracker at the Small World, whateverthehell that is!”
And of course, no Disneyland holiday trip is complete without family pictures at the castle and tree!