Showing Our Merry Disney Side at Disneyland
This is a guest post by Kim Tracy Prince.
Whenever I get a chance to visit the Disneyland Resort at Christmas time, I take it. I was happy to bring my 2 children to the parks last month to experience the Disney Holiday magic for MomsLA.
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Disneyland and California Adventure are popular places, even more so during the winter holidays. That means if you go at this time of year, it’s best to adopt a patient attitude and pick two or three of your most favorite sights to see or rides to ride, because maneuvering through the parks among all of the other people in the world, it seems, takes some extra time. On this visit, it was a perfect Saturday – a high of 72 degrees and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. I gave each of my children a special map of the holiday offerings at each park and asked them to pick the one thing they really wanted to do, and put them at the top of our list.
Kyle, aged 9, who is already a hopeless romantic, chose The Jingle Cruise. This is the ride normally known as The Jungle Cruise, but for this holiday season, as the cruise captain told us during our ride, a shipment of holiday decorations, gifts, and tasty treats has been lost in the jungle. My kids and I haven’t been on this ride since they were very small, so it was fun to revisit the winding river and its residents and their mischief with holiday gear.
Brady, who is 7 and loves thrill rides, chose the Matterhorn. Fun fact: three years ago when he was four he was already tall enough to go on this ride accompanied by an adult. But when we finally got to the front of the line and settled into our car, he changed his mind and threw a rip-roaring tantrum, so our car was pulled off the track and we happily slunk away, parents of the year.
Sadly, on this visit to Disneyland the line for the Matterhorn was 2 hours long. See what I meant about patience? But young boys are not known for this virtue, so we traipsed off through the park to find more delights. We hit the usuals: Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, the Jedi Training session, and the Haunted Mansion, all dressed up as a destination for Nightmare Before Christmas lovers. Over in Frontierland, the new Jingle Jangle Jamboree is a wonderland of holiday crafts and entertainment. Kids can color sherriff badges and be featured in the wacky stage show. There’s a petting zoo, a Santa Claus cottage with a fiddler playing Christmas music who urges you to sing along, and a section of Reindeer Games. You have to answer a trivia question about Disney movies before you play!
Brady wasn’t too disappointed about skipping the Matterhorn, because his second pick was the same as my #1 which was “A Christmas Fantasy” Parade on Main Street, U.S.A. The parade features classic and newer characters marching from It’s a Small World all the way down through Main Street, dancing and waving to Disney’s special holiday music, with Santa Claus as the spectacular finale. As guests of the park, we had a great viewing spot, and I love watching my children’s faces as each new float or feature emerges from the back. Even my “cool” boys were enthralled by Anna and Elsa on the “Frozen” float. They won’t admit it, but I know it’s true.
There are several features that the Disneyland Resort brings back every holiday season – the Main Street parade, the “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” street party returning for its second year, the specially decorated It’s a Small World ride, the fantastic gravity-defying Christmas tree just before Main Street, Christmas decorations all over Carsland at California Adventure, and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus. In fact, I’ve found that the resort is the perfect place to collect photos of the children for Christmas card collages and blog posts. My favorite is in A Bug’s Land in California Adventure – giant Christmas decorations and ornaments – the perfect backdrop!
Also in California Adventure, if you and your littles can make it all the way to the end of the day (and they will likely be fueled by the spirit in the air, the music, and the excitement of being at the Happiest Place on Earth) is the special World of Color lights and water show that takes place on Pacific Wharf. This year the star of the show is Olaf, the lovable snowman from “Frozen,” who hosts this medley of classic Disney holiday scenes, songs from “Frozen,” and some new scenes shot especially for this show. Make sure you stick around for the rousing finale, when candy cane cannons positioned all around the viewing area release giant snowflakes that float up into the night sky. (They are made of soap bubbles, I am told. Environmentally conscious.)
A few practical notes: make use of the FastPass especially for the holiday-themed rides. Run the kids’ extra energy out at Pirate Island. This was our first time visiting this attraction, and my kids loved exploring the caves and bridges. (Another great photo op is the giant treasure!). Eat a good sit-down meal if you can, but make reservations before you come to the park so you don’t have to wait too long for a table. On this visit we dined at Storytellers Cafe in the Grand Californian Hotel near California Adventure, where the kids made their own pizzas and Mom enjoyed a relaxing beverage. Also, this was the first time I ever rented a locker, and I will never skip this step again. There are several locker locations throughout the park – I used the one between the two entrances. This was crucial for stashing our fleece jackets so we could access them as the sun set. Even though it was nice and warm during the day, it was chilly at night. We also stashed some snacks in there too so I didn’t have to spend all of my money on churros!
The holiday season at the Disneyland Resort runs through January 6, 2015. It’s the perfect time to experience a double dose of magic: the magic of Disney and the magic of the holidays.
Kim Tracy Prince is a writer/editor and mom blogger in Los Angeles. Visit her (please visit her!) at House of Prince.
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