5 Free Things to Do at Disneyland During Christmas

5 Free Things to Do at Disneyland During Christmas

If you’re looking for some extra holiday magic this season, check out what a Christmas at Disneyland looks like! With ride overlays, Disneyland Christmas Decorations, and special parades you don’t need a Party ticket for, we think it’s the perfect way to start the season. Must Dos at Disneyland During Christmas can be found in each park. So, whether you’re heading to Disneyland Park, California Adventure, or celebrating Christmas at Disneyland without a park ticket, there is plenty to do for the season. Christmas at Disneyland happens from November 10, 2023 – January 7, 2024. In addition to Disneyland Christmas Must Do’s, we’re sharing our top 5 Free Things to Do at Disneyland During Christmas and the Holiday Season, in the parks, Downtown Disney, and hotels too. 

Disneyland Hotel Christmas Decorations

Free Things at Disneyland for Christmas Without Park Tickets

Disneyland Resort during the holiday season, brings the happiest place on earth to a whole new level. From Christmas decorations found around every corner to events both inside and outside of the parks, there is plenty to do if you’re visiting Walt Disney’s original park in Anaheim, California. As such we’re going to share all the things you can do for FREE at Disneyland during the holidays. As we’re used to having to pay for our holiday entertainment at WDW with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, it’s been great to see that Disneyland Resort on the whole offers plenty of seasonal fun at no extra cost! Fingers crossed it stays this way. 

Disneyland Hotel Christmas Tea Decorations at Disneyland

Visit the Disneyland Hotel for Christmas Decorations

Disneyland Christmas Decorations cover the parks, Downtown Disney, and the resorts. Disneyland Hotel, however, offers a whole kind of Vintage Christmas at Disneyland feel. With kitschy holiday decorations, and Christmas trees decorated to the nines. Disneyland Hotel at Christmas also offers seasonal foods and snacks in their restaurants, so be sure to check out our Disneyland Christmas Holiday Guide for the lineup of Christmas food at Disneyland. And, sometimes you can even enjoy the Holiday at Tea at Disneyland Hotel when it’s offered, if you’re looking for something special at Disneyland without needing a park ticket.

Disney's grand californian hotel

7-foot gingerbread house in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

See the Gingerbread House at Disney’s Grand Californian

One of our FAVORITE Free Things to Do at Disneyland During Christmas is to head to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. While this resort is beautiful, and cozy and offers up great dining and lounge options, we love seeing the Gingerbread Display at this resort. Complete with Hidden Mickeys and a nearby food stand filled with gingerbread treats, you can grab a coffee, take pics, and spend an afternoon here during the holidays. The hotel is free to visit, so why not enjoy it? 

Christmas at Downtown Disney Disneyland California
In addition to holiday shopping and dining in the Downtown Disney District during the holiday season, guests can groove to a variety of “mistle-toe-tapping” live musical performances on select evenings at the Downtown Disney LIVE! stage. (Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort)

Browse the Shops at Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney is Disneyland Resorts shopping district and connects several areas of the property. It includes entrances to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, and Disneyland Hotel and is within walking distance of Pixar Pier Hotel and both parks. As the central hub of all things Disney, you can be here for FREE to browse the shops, eat at the restaurants, look at the decorations, listen to live music, and take part in all the Holiday Activities at Downtown Disney through the season. 

Sharable Loaded Torta for Viva Navidad Disneyland 2023 Christmas Food

Stop at the Festival of Holidays Kitchens in Downtown Disney

While the Disneyland Festival of Holidays takes place mostly inside Disney’s California Adventure, you can also find several outdoor kitchens throughout Downtown Disney that feature some of the Festival of Holidays fare too. Check out the Disneyland Festival of Holidays Guide for all the foodie fun both inside and outside of the parks. 

Meet Santa at Disney Hotels

If you’re looking to Meet Santa at Disneyland, this is another fun and free thing to do at Disneyland for the holidays. Meet Santa at Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Grand Californian through the season for photos and Christmas list sharing from November 10, 2023, to December 24, 2023. 

If you’re in the parks Santa Claus is also available at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in Disney’s California Adventure Park. Or you can meet Santa at Critter Country in Disneyland as well. 

Disneyland Christmas, Disneyland holidays, christmas at Disneyland, cars land christmas, disneyland holiday rides, holiday ride overlays disneyland, california adventure, disneyland holiday offerings

Disneyland Christmas, Disneyland holidays, christmas at Disneyland, cars land christmas, disneyland holiday rides, holiday ride overlays disneyland, california adventure, disneyland holiday offeringsDisneyland Christmas, Disneyland holidays, christmas at Disneyland, cars land christmas, disneyland holiday rides, holiday ride overlays disneyland, california adventure, disneyland holiday offerings

Disneyland Festival of Holidays | California Adventure 

Every holiday season, Disney’s California Adventure hosts the Disneyland International Festival of Holidays. This event includes Festival Entertainment featuring Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Kwanzaa, and Three Kings Day. There are also festive foods to be found at booths throughout the park at the Festive Food Marketplaces. Also part of this event is Disney Viva Navidad, which only happens this time of year, honoring authentic holiday music, and decor. 

Disneyland Christmas, Disneyland holidays, christmas at Disneyland, cars land christmas, disneyland holiday rides, holiday ride overlays disneyland, california adventure, disneyland holiday offerings

Disneyland Christmas, Disneyland holidays, christmas at Disneyland, cars land christmas, disneyland holiday rides, holiday ride overlays disneyland, california adventure, disneyland holiday offerings

Disneyland Christmas, Disneyland holidays, christmas at Disneyland, cars land christmas, disneyland holiday rides, holiday ride overlays disneyland, california adventure, disneyland holiday offerings

Visit Cars Land for the Holiday Decorations | Disney’s California Adventure

Seeing Cars Land decked out for the holiday is a must. The attention to detail is amazing and everything is decorated in Cars-themed décor. With all the cars dressed in their holiday best, you can see the decorations around every corner. And hear the holiday music blasting from the speakers above. Be sure to check out the Christmas transformations at Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl and Mater’s Jingle Jamboree.  

Disneyland Christmas, Disneyland holidays, christmas at Disneyland, cars land christmas, disneyland holiday rides, holiday ride overlays disneyland, california adventure, disneyland holiday offerings

Disneyland Christmas, Disneyland holidays, christmas at Disneyland, cars land christmas, disneyland holiday rides, holiday ride overlays disneyland, california adventure, disneyland holiday offerings

Disneyland Christmas, Disneyland holidays, christmas at Disneyland, cars land christmas, disneyland holiday rides, holiday ride overlays disneyland, california adventure, disneyland holiday offerings

Believe In Holiday Magic Fireworks Spectacular | Disneyland

If there’s one thing we noticed about Disneyland during the holidays, it’s that there is festive fun everywhere, and it’s FREE. What?! Free, at a Disney Park? Crazy right? I have to say, it was really nice not having to fork over an extra $100 or more per person just to be able to experience more of the Christmas magic. 

Believe In Holiday Magic Fireworks Spectacular at Disneyland Park display happens on Main Street and at the castle. There are fireworks, holiday projections, and snow! If you want to see the projections on Main Street, you’ll have to actually be on Main Street. The snow falls on Main Street and also at the hub near the Walt and Mickey statue, so if you want to see either of those things, keep that in mind when finding your viewing spot. There are projections on the castle as well, so if you don’t care about Main Street, at least make sure you have a good view of the castle. 

Disneyland Christmas, Disneyland holidays, christmas at Disneyland, cars land christmas, disneyland holiday rides, holiday ride overlays disneyland, california adventure, disneyland holiday offerings

Disneyland Christmas, Disneyland holidays, christmas at Disneyland, cars land christmas, disneyland holiday rides, holiday ride overlays disneyland, california adventure, disneyland holiday offerings

A Christmas Fantasy Parade | Disneyland

Yet another FREE holiday offering?! What is this!? The Christmas Fantasy Parade is held at Disneyland Park. This parade runs from Small World all the way to Main Street. It’s held twice a day, at 3:30 pm and 6:00 pm., although be sure to check the times before committing. It’s about a 15-20 minute parade and we recommend sitting anywhere on Main Street for the best views. But that’s just us. We love Main Street. 

You’ll see all of your favorites in this parade, including Mickey and Minnie in their holiday attire, the princesses, your favorite toys from Toy Story, and Santa himself! 

Disneyland Christmas, Disneyland holidays, christmas at Disneyland, cars land christmas, disneyland holiday rides, holiday ride overlays disneyland, california adventure, disneyland holiday offerings

 

Disneyland Christmas, Disneyland holidays, christmas at Disneyland, cars land christmas, disneyland holiday rides, holiday ride overlays disneyland, california adventure, disneyland holiday offerings

Christmas Holiday Ride Overlays | Both Parks

If you’re visiting Disneyland, then surely you’re excited about the rides! And at Christmastime, you can get even more into the spirit of the season with holiday ride overlays. From festive music to ride additions there is extra fun during the season. 

Haunted Mansion Holiday | Disneyland

Haunted Mansion at Disneyland is completely redone and decked out for the season. Jack Skellington has taken over the Haunted Mansion and trust me when I tell you, it’s a completely different ride than the Haunted Mansion you’re used to.  We personally loved it and probably rode it way too many times. But is there really such a thing as too many times? If you’re a Nightmare Before Christmas fan, then this is a must-see and actually runs from October through January, so it’s not just limited to the Christmas season.

“It’s a Small World” Holiday | Disneyland

This classic ride gets decked out for the holidays! Where friends from all over the world come together for various holiday carols. It’s so festive and fun! Both of these rides can get very long lines, so we recommend getting a Lightning Lane Pass or Disney Genie+ for these if you want to experience the holiday magic.

Mater’s Jingle Jamboree and Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl | Disney’s California Adventure

Both of these Cars Land rides are both fun festive overlays as well and can be found in Cars Land, which you should be visiting anyway!

Disneyland Christmas, Disneyland holidays, christmas at Disneyland, cars land christmas, disneyland holiday rides, holiday ride overlays disneyland, california adventure, disneyland holiday offerings

Disneyland Christmas, Disneyland holidays, christmas at Disneyland, cars land christmas, disneyland holiday rides, holiday ride overlays disneyland, california adventure, disneyland holiday offerings

Must Do’s for a Disneyland Christmas

So there you have it! Our Disneyland must-do’s for the holiday season. Disneyland may be smaller than Walt Disney World, but they sure do know how to make magic at Christmastime. Check out everything happening at Disneyland for the holidays.  Need a place to stay? Check out the Disneyland Hotels within walking distance of the parks, for your best chance to get close to the action. We hope this post has helped you get a handle on what to include in your Disney Christmas Trip plans! 

Disneyland Christmas, Disneyland holidays, christmas at Disneyland, cars land christmas, disneyland holiday rides, holiday ride overlays disneyland, california adventure, disneyland holiday offerings

 

5 must do's for Disneyland during the holidays. Our best tips for Disneyland at Christmas! #disneyland #disneychristmas #familytravel

Co-Founder and Director at Polka Dot Pixie Co LLC | Website | + posts

Melanie Renee is a photographer, writer, designer and mom. Visiting Disney destinations since 2010, she is also an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. When she's not creating her next coffee recipe, or designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's seeking beautiful sunsets and planning her next trip .


Related Posts



4 thoughts on “5 Free Things to Do at Disneyland During Christmas”

    • I do have to say I am very glad we still have Jingle Cruise at WDW and I’m surprised that Disneyland doesn’t. After pulling it last year and everyone being upset about it, I honestly thought they would bring it back. I feel like that’d be such an easy overlay to incorporate into the season!

  • I love Christmas at Disneyland, it’s so beautiful! I have to say when Disney makes it “snow” with bubbles… Its just pure magic! This is a great list!