California’s theme parks are gearing up for the return of Christmas celebrations. Here are some of the highlights from Disneyland Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood and beyond from November to January
Disneyland Park at Disneyland Resort
The Happiest Place on Earth will become even more joyous over the festive season, with a range of fun parades, shows and twinkling decorations. Guests will be greeted by an 18-metre-tall Christmas tree as they enter Disneyland Park, where Mickey, Minnie, Santa and many other friends will celebrate the season in A Christmas Fantasy Parade — a daily musical procession of floats, marching toy soldiers and dancing gingerbread cookies. Each night the sky will come alive with the Believe… in Holiday Magic fireworks spectacular, which features magical “snowfall” and colourful projections on Main Street, U.S.A. Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle will enchant guests day and night with shimmering icicles and twinkling lights, while The Holiday Time at Disneyland Park guided tour will offer a hosted experience of select seasonal offerings and reserved viewing for the A Christmas Fantasy Parade. Two beloved Disneyland attractions will enjoy seasonal transformations, with “it’s a small world” taking guests around the world as dolls and toys representing children enjoy the holiday traditions of their respective countries. In New Orleans Square, Jack Skellington and his friends cause a collision between Christmas and Halloween to transform the Haunted Mansion into Haunted Mansion Holiday.
Disney California Adventure Park at Disneyland Resort
The night-time spectacular World of Color – Season of Light fuses cherished holiday music with memorable moments from animated Disney films. Disney Festival of Holidays will highlight a diverse season of celebrations, including Christmas/Navidad, Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Three Kings Day with live entertainment, food, and traditions. A procession of Disney and Pixar characters will dance and march along to the upbeat rhythms of the Holiday Toy Drummers with Mickey’s Happy Holidays, while the Disney ¡Viva Navidad! will see Mickey and Minnie accompanied by Mexican folklórico dancers and Mariachis, Brazilian samba dancers and percussionists, and giant mojiganga puppets. The yuletide spirit will shift into high gear in Cars Land with two seasonal attraction transformations, Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl and Mater’s Jingle Jamboree. There will also be a gingerbread house display at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, while all three Disneyland Resort hotels will display Christmas trees, with performances from convivial carollers and visits from Santa Claus.
Universal Studios Hollywood
The village of Hogsmeade™ will be transformed with festive décor and merriment for Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™. Guests can enjoy a delicious Hot Butterbeer™ alongside a special holiday a capella performance from the Hogwarts Frog Choir. Activities also include holiday shopping for exclusive items within the village shops, and dining on hearty holiday fare at Three Broomsticks™. In the evening, Hogwarts™ Castle will come to life with a spectacular light projection show accompanied by music and sounds from the Harry Potter film series. The cheerful Grinchmas Who-bilation will also return to Universal Plaza, with a topsy-turvy Grinchmas tree decorated with hundreds of ornaments and thousands of LED lights. There’s also a jovial tree-lighting ceremony every night as the Grinch tells his story along with the Who-ville Whos, ending in a snowball flurry. The Grinch and his dog Max will also be available for photo opportunities throughout the day and the Who-ville post office will be accepting postcards with holiday messages.
SeaWorld San Diego
Enjoy a fun-filled holiday feast at the Holiday Brunch with Elmo & Friends in the twinkling Sesame Street Christmas Village. Families can eat cookies with the legendary Cookie Monster and sing and dance with Elmo and his furry friends, and get their photo taken with them. Stop by the Holly Jolly Marketplace at Rudolph’s Christmastown boutique, which features a fun-filled collection of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer™ gifts and apparel. Purchase a snow globe, plush reindeer or other keepsake to remember your time at SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration! The Christmas Shoppe also sells unique gifts for everyone on your list, including ornaments, home décor, kitchen items and more. The Christmas holiday would not be complete without a photo with Santa Claus, so bring the whole family to meet him at SeaWorld.
LEGOLAND California Resort
Santa, the Toy Solider and The Gingerbread Man are ready for holiday hugs, pictures and selfies at LEGOLAND California Resort. Then head over to Fun Town where there’s a nine -metre-high LEGO® Christmas tree decorated with more than 400 LEGO ornaments. As the day winds down, the tree gets a-twinklin’ to holiday tunes at the Holiday Light Show, complete with falling “snow”. There is so much to do, you’ll want to spend the night at one of the two LEGOLAND Hotels located right at the main entrance to the theme park.
Knott's Berry Farm
Southern California’s original theme park transforms into ‘Knott’s Merry Farm’ over the festive season, with twinkling lights, jumbo snowflakes and garlands galore throughout its five themed lands. There will be lots of fun Christmas shows to see at the theme park at Buena Park, ten minutes’ from Anaheim, including Home for the Holidays — a musical revue featuring classic Christmas tunes, spectacular lights, magical dancing toys and snow. Also returning is the beloved ice-skating extravaganza Merry Christmas, Snoopy! starring the famous beagle and the rest of the Peanuts Gang. There will also be a Christmas crafts village offering one-of-a-kind gifts, Santa’s Christmas Cabin, a nightly Christmas tree lighting ceremony, the enchanting Snow and Glow experience where snow falls throughout Ghost Town, a Christmas light show at Camp Snoopy, and much more.
Six Flags Magic Mountain
A Victorian-era Christmas village called Merry Marketplace will transport guests back to a time gone by, with cheerful costumed characters, handcrafted wares, and fanciful décor. One of the best things about the holiday season is the tasty treats, and there will be plenty of these on offer. Think hot chocolate, funnel cake, and special flavoured fudge. Gather around for the nightly lighting of the 20-metre-tall Christmas tree, then watch in wonder as thousands of brilliant lights animate to a choreographed soundtrack of holiday hits. Santa will also be around for photos at the theme park in Valencia, around 95 kilometres’ north-west of Anaheim.