Are you planning to visit Disneyland Resort in California and wondering if you should visit Disneyland during Christmas vs. Halloween?
I have been to Disneyland during both holidays, and both have their own special charm. Disneyland and California Adventure are fabulous during both Halloween and Christmas.
Disneyland Christmas vs Halloween depends on whether you enjoy Halloween more or Christmas as a holiday, and everyone has their own favorite.
Personally, I like Christmas time more, and Disneyland feels extra magical during the Holidays. But recently, I visited Disneyland and California Adventure during the fall, and the Halloween festivities were Spooktacular too!
In this article, find out about the special events, entertainment, attractions, decorations, festive foods, crowds, and weather during the holidays at Disneyland. Then you can pick your favorite holiday and plan your Disneyland itinerary for either Halloween or Christmas.
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Overview of Holidays at Disneyland Resort
Disneyland Resort goes all out for holiday-themed decorations and events, and no matter during which holiday you visit, you are sure to have a great holiday celebration!
Halloween at Disneyland and California Adventure
Both Disneyland and California Adventure Park celebrate Halloween starting September 1st till October 31st. The theme parks have Halloween-themed decorations, events, entertainment, and special spooky foods to enjoy Halloween.
But nothing is too scary or creepy as they keep in mind that Disneyland parks are for all ages. So be assured that if you are traveling with little kiddos, they will be fine with the theme park decorations.
Christmas at Disneyland and California Adventure
Disneyland Resort celebrates Christmas and other winter holidays from around November 11th to January 8th.
Both Disneyland and California Adventure have Christmas-themed décor throughout the park, special parades, events, and Christmas-themed foods to enjoy the winter holidays.
Being at Disneyland Resort during Christmas and New Year holidays with your friends and family adds that extra magic to your holiday celebration with your loved ones.
Disneyland Christmas vs Halloween: Main Differences
Find out the main differences and similarities between Halloween and Christmas at both Disneyland and California Adventure so that you can decide for yourself which one appeals to you more.
Disneyland Resort decorations during Halloween vs Christmas
Both Disneyland and California Adventure Park have awesome and detailed decorations throughout the park, though the decorations differ in terms of whether it’s Halloween or Christmas time at the park.
Disneyland decorations during Halloween
You can see the Halloween decorations right at the ticket entrance! Above the ticket booth are pumpkin statues of Mickey and Friends. On the California Adventure side, there is an Oogie Boogie cutout above the gate greeting the guests.
The entire Main Street in Disneyland is a pumpkin fest with hundreds of carved pumpkins and a giant Mickey face pumpkin in the center square for photo ops.
Remember if you have purchased the add-on Genie Plus service, you can download all the photos taken by park photographers for free!
California Adventure has its own share of Halloween-themed decorations. Cars Land especially looks festive with all the spooky fun and decorations celebrating Haul-o-ween in Radiator “Screams”.
Buena Vista Street is decorated with purple and black. The Carthay Circle Theater has bats swarming on the tower. The Headless Headman statue across the Theater is a great photo op.
The Guardians of the Galaxy ride has a special Halloween-themed ride called Monsters After Dark.
Disneyland decorations during Christmas
Disneyland is all decked up for Christmas. The entire Main Street is covered with garlands, wreaths, and ornaments. There is a really huge Christmas tree in the center square for photo ops.
Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland is a sight to see at night time, with the holiday lights and icicles giving it a snow-covered castle appearance. There are Christmas-themed decorations and holiday lights seen throughout the park.
At Disney California Adventure, Buena Vista Street looks like a winter wonderland with holiday decorations like the wreath at Carthay Circle and the huge Christmas tree. Cars Land looks really magical with the holiday makeover.
Themed Characters at Disneyland during Halloween vs Christmas
Disney Characters put on themed costumes during both Halloween and Christmas time. Halloween time has more spooky costumes, and Christmas time costumes have more holiday magic.
Themed Characters during Halloween
At Disneyland, you will see Mickey and Friends in their trick-or-treat attire, delighting young kids! You will also find Jack Skellington and Sally (characters from Nightmare Before Christmas movie) near the Haunted Mansion attraction.
At California Adventure Cars Land, various cars from the popular Cars movie Lightning McQueen, Mater, and Cruz will be decked in spooky and eye-catching costumes! You can sometimes catch Mickey and Friends at Buena Vista Street for photo ops.
Themed Characters during Christmas
You will see Mickey and Friends in holiday attire at both Disneyland and California Adventure.
Santa Claus makes an appearance in both parks! You can meet Santa Claus at Disneyland in Critter Country and in California Adventure at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. The Redwood trail is transformed into a holiday playground with games and activities.
Night entertainment during Christmas vs Halloween at Disneyland
There are special nighttime entertainment shows during both Halloween and Christmas though they differ based on the holiday being celebrated.
Night entertainment during Halloween
Disneyland Resort has a themed night show called ‘Halloween Screams‘ with projections of Disney villains on Snow White’s castle and Main Street walls which is quite phenomenal along with the music and lights. On select nights the Halloween Screams show is accompanied by fireworks.
Night entertainment during Christmas
During the holidays, the Disneyland fireworks show gets a transformation and is called ‘Believe in Holiday Magic’ with holiday-themed music and projections on the Main Street walls.
The entire Sleeping Beauty Castle illuminates with thousands of twinkling lights and the splendid display of fireworks music takes your breath away. You are sure to get mesmerized by all the holiday magic around you!
There is also snowfall (even though fake) on Main Street at the end of the fireworks, which adds to the magical experience.
The World of Color show at California Adventure gets a holiday makeover called the ‘World of Color – Season of Light’ which is pure holiday magic created by water, light, music, and Disney movies. It is quite mesmerizing to see thousands of colorful water fountains dance to festive music.
Themed Attractions and Rides at Disneyland during Christmas vs Halloween
A lot of rides and attractions get seasonal makeovers, and they differ during Halloween and Christmas. Halloween is more spooky, and Christmas is more magical and merry.
Themed Attractions and Rides during Halloween
Haunted Mansion, one of the best Disneyland rides, gets its very popular makeover inspired by ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ and is renamed Haunted Mansion Holiday. This theme starts in September and remains till New Year.
During Halloween time, there are some special decorations outside the mansion, like a pumpkin-faced Jack Skellington, and some that you will notice during the ride, like a Halloween-themed tree in the main hall.
In California Adventure, the Cars Land rides, which are some of the best rides in California Adventure, are given a spooky makeover and renamed Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree and Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween and are cutely frightful and a lot of fun.
Every evening the Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout ride converts into a special Halloween-themed ride called Monsters After Dark.
Themed Attractions and Rides during Christmas
The ‘Haunted Mansion Holiday‘ makeover remains in effect from Halloween to Christmas, but there are some details that are changed in the ride décor.
The fall pumpkins are replaced by presents and ornaments. The main hall during the ride displays a Christmas tree instead of a Halloween-themed tree.
It’s a Small World ride’s exterior façade gets illuminated with holiday lights and colors every evening and is really spectacular.
In California Adventure, the Cars land rides are given a magical holiday makeover and are renamed Mater’s Jingle Jamboree and Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl. The festive music promises a merry spin time to all riders!
Disneyland Halloween vs Christmas: Special Events
Special events make an appearance during both Halloween and Christmas, and they are really popular. Oogie Boogie Bash during Halloween is a widely popular sold-out event every year.
Special events during Halloween
California Adventure Park hosts Oogie Boogie Bash, which is a Halloween party from 6 to 11 PM. This is a sold-out event and very popular.
This is a separately ticketed event, and after 6 PM, only the guests with Oogie Boogie Bash tickets are allowed in the park. There are themed live shows, parades, character experiences, and much more, plus you can also ride all attractions!
California Adventure also celebrates the Day of the Dead with a special musical parade inspired by the Disney movie Coco.
Special events during Christmas
At Disneyland, the ‘Christmas Fantasy Parade‘ returns during Christmas time. Watch Mickey and Friends, Chip and Dale, Disney princesses including Elsa and Anna from Frozen, Toy Story characters, and Santa Claus take part in this musical celebration on the streets of Disneyland.
At California Adventure Park ‘Disney Viva Navidad‘ Street Party returns with lively traditional music and dance and a full-blown street party. You will see Mickey and Friends dressed in their holiday best and even see characters from the Encanto movie.
Santa meet and greet happens in California Adventure park at Redwood Creek Trail which is sure to delight kids and adults alike. The area is full of holiday-themed games and activities.
Disneyland Christmas vs Halloween: Festive foods
There is an abundance of unique seasonal-themed foods at California Adventure and Disneyland during both Halloween and Christmas! You will have a hard time choosing what to eat or, better yet, just eat treats all day like me!
Festive foods during Christmas
There are so many seasonal holiday-themed treats available throughout Disneyland and California Adventure.
The churro carts have many seasonal flavors with chocolate, cinnamon, frosted sugar, holiday spices, marshmallow, coconut, and many more! You are sure to find a favorite. All bakeries will have holiday-themed cookies and desserts like gingerbread cookies.
Below are some great holiday treats to look for –
- Alien Pizza Planet – Alien Holiday Macaroon
- Blue Bayou Restaurant – Cookie Butter Cream Brulee
- Cafe Orleans – Hot Cocoa Cream Brulee
- Galactic Grill – Peppermint Mocha Frappe
- Gibson Girl Ice-cream Parlor – Peppermint Holiday Sundae
- Tropical Hideaway – Holiday Dole Whip Sundae
California Adventure has its own share of holiday-themed treats at most restaurants, Marketplaces, and snack carts.
Festive foods during Halloween
Most restaurants in both Disneyland and California Adventure have special seasonal treats and desserts to celebrate Halloween.
There is Alien Macaroon at Pizza Planet, The Grave stuff at Red Rose Tavern, Halloween Cake from French Market Restaurant, Darth by Chocolate at Galactic Grill, and many more.
All bakeries and dessert carts will be carrying Halloween special seasonal treats!
On the California adventure side, also we have a lot of Halloween-themed treats like the Oogie Boogie cookie and Gingerbread zombie cookie at the Grand Californian Hotel.
Disneyland Halloween vs Christmas: Crowds
Disneyland is very crowded during both holidays, but crowds are generally more during Christmas time.
That is mainly because schools have a 2-week winter break around Christmas, which brings in large numbers of people. Halloween time in the park is during September and October, and schools are in session during that time.
To make the best of your visit to Disneyland and beat the crowds, remember to use rope drop strategy to maximize your morning time in the park.
Disneyland Halloween vs Christmas: Weather
It is generally colder during Christmas time than Halloween, as the winter season is colder than the fall season. During Halloween time, day times are quite pleasant, and nights might be slightly colder.
But during Christmas time, you will definitely need to keep warm layers for the night if you are staying for nighttime shows and fireworks. There might be chances of rain or light showers too during Christmas time.
Where to stay at Disneyland
There are several amazing hotels near Disneyland for your stay. Disneyland Resort has three on-property resorts, and there are several Disney Good Neighbor Hotels nearby.
Below are some of the best hotels within walking distance of Disneyland:
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa is a luxury Disney resort inside California Adventure Park. The hotel has several restaurants, pools and a spa.
Disneyland Hotel is another luxury Disney Resort located near Downtown Disney. The hotel offers an immersive Disney experience to its guests and has an awesome pool area with waterslides.
Disney Paradise Pier Hotel is a mid-range Disney Resort located nearby and has a pool area with a mini-waterpark.
Fairfield by Marriott Anaheim Resort is a great mid-range hotel across the street from Disneyland, on S Harbor Blvd. It is only a 10-minute walk to the parks.
Best Western Plus Park Place Inn is the closest budget hotel on S Harbor Blvd and only a 5-minute walk to the park entrance. It has free breakfast and a pool.
In Conclusion: Disneyland Christmas vs Halloween: Which is better?
Disneyland and California Adventure are spectacular during both Christmas and Halloween, and choosing when to visit is totally up to which holiday you enjoy more.
For me, it’s the magic of the holidays and the merriment in the air that is so unique to Disney. They know how to keep the holiday magic alive!
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