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Disneyland in December is a magical, festive time. Nobody does the Holidays like Disneyland. If you are planning a December visit to The Happiest Place On Earth, you will need to plan ahead. From special events, to crowds, and even ride closures, there is a lot to know about visiting Disneyland at the end of the year.
I love to head to Disneyland during the holidays, and December can be a great time to go. Cooler temps, crowds that CAN be lower at times, and nearly every ride open are all big wins.
But if you aren’t careful, you could end up in Disneyland on one of the most crowded days of the year. Whether you have booked a trip for this year, or are thinking about a December trip in the future, you will want to check out our December at Disneyland guide.
Disneyland in December – Annual Trends
If you are heading to Disneyland in December, you will need to plan ahead to make sure you are prepared for the crowds, activities, and special offerings. As always, we will start our monthly guide with annual trends before we get to specifics for 2021.
Crowds at Disneyland in December
Crowds at Disneyland during December can be some of the lowest, and some of the highest, depending on when you decide to go.
Crowds during the first two weeks of the month tend to be low during the week, but busy on the weekends and in the evenings.
Winter break brings the largest amounts of crowds you will see during the year. In past years, this meant Disneyland could, on occasion, hit capacity.
With the Disneyland Park Reservation system in place, hopefully this won’t be a concern this year, but we still expect the crowds to be large, with reservations booked up several weeks in advance. (In fact, reservations for December 2021 are currently full, but we will talk about how you can still get reservations in a moment.)
Weather at Disneyland in December
The weather at Disneyland in December can range from the 60’s with rain and feeling quite cool, to the 90’s and sunny. You will need to be sure to watch the forecast and pack layers.
The nights definitely get chilly, even if the days are hot, so bring a hoodie, some pants, and maybe even a hat.
Annual December Events at Disneyland – Christmas and more!
Here is a look at the events you can find happening around Disneyland in December.
This time-honored event takes place only one weekend of the year at Disneyland, unlike the dozen-plus performances at Epcot at Walt Disney World.
The Candlelight Processional is a retelling of the first Christmas, using scripture, song, and a celebrity narrator.
The event is invite-only for the seated viewing area, but guests who are lucky enough to be in the parks may be able to watch from Main Street USA.
We will cover the 2021 dates in more detail below.
Disney Merriest Nites
In 2021, a new event, Disney Merriest Nites, debuted at Disneyland Resort. We expect that this event, or a similar one, will make a return in the coming years, so we are including it in our Annual Disneyland in December coverage.
Disney Merriest Nites is an after-hours, ticketed event (read additional cost) held at Disneyland Park. The event includes party exclusive treats, photo-ops, Muppets Christmas Caroling, and reduced wait time for rides.
In 2021, the event sold out, but unless Disney makes some changes, I do not think there will be as high a demand for these parties next year. You can read if Merriest Nites was worth the cost to help decide if it will be on your radar for future years.
Hand-Pulled Candy Canes
I really struggled with where to put this but decided that the planning needed to score one of these candy canes qualifies it as an event.
Each year, Disneyland candy makers create hand-pulled candy canes, that guests can purchase for $15 or so (yes, you read that price correctly). The 18-inch treats are highly sought after and are only available on select dates and locations.
You can learn more about the dates and process for getting a hand-pulled candy cane if you are interested in purchasing one.
Attraction & Entertainment in December at Disneyland
Disneyland has no shortage of entertainment and special attractions in December. From live music at California Adventure, to Holiday parades and fireworks, you could easily fill your day and night with festivities.
Holiday Overlays on Select Attractions
Each year, Disneyland has holiday overlays on two rides per park. The rides that receive holiday overlays are:
- Haunted Mansion Holiday, New Orleans Square, Disneyland (runs September – January)
- “it’s a small world holiday”, Fantasyland, Disneyland (runs November – January)
- Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl, Cars Land, Disney California Adventure (runs November – January)
- Mater’s Jingle Jamboree, Cars Land, Disney California Adventure (runs November – January)
The Cars Land overlays are mostly a change in music, but Haunted Mansion Holiday and “it’s a small world holiday” are completely different experiences from their traditional rides, and I highly suggest taking them both in.
*We will cover “it’s a small world holiday” 2021 below. Sadly this ride is unexpectedly closed.
Special Holiday Entertainment
During the Holidays at Disneyland, and the entire month of December, you can take in special holiday entertainment. Here are the entertainment options you can expect to return each year:
- A Christmas Fantasy Parade – Disneyland Park
- “Believe… In Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular – Disneyland Park
- Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party – Disney California Adventure Park
- Multiple live musical performances at Festival of Holidays – Disney California Adventure Park
- Tree lighting ceremonies – both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure
- Wintertime Enchantment at Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle (a mini show and lighting ceremony) – Disneyland Park
- “it’s a small world holiday” lighting ceremony – Disneyland Park
- And more
Food Festival at Disneyland in December
One great thing about Disneyland in December is that the entire month you can enjoy Festival of Holidays.
The Festival of Holidays is a food and wine style event, where guests can taste foods from around the world, and celebrate different holidays.
A Sip and Savor Pass is available to guests who want to sample several items from the festival. Each year Disneyland puts out a Foodie Guide for the Festival of Holidays so you can look over the menu to decide what you might like to try ahead of time.
Disneyland in December 2021 – What to know this year
If you are planning a trip to Disneyland in December 2021, this is your guide to all the 2021 specific details. From park hours, to ride closures, we are covering everything you need to know.
December 2021 Guidelines
I look forward to the day I don’t have to include this in my monthly guides, but until then…
All guests ages 2 and up are required to mask indoors regardless of vaccination status. Masks are also required on public transportation (shuttles and monorail) by all guests ages 2 and up.
The state of California and Disneyland highly encourage all guests to be fully vaccinated or have a negative test within 72 hours of travel to Disneyland Resort.
Guests of the Disney-owned hotels, ages 2 and up, are required to mask in public indoor settings.
Disneyland Holidays 2021
The Holidays at Disneyland in 2021 are similar to years past. In fact, typing out November’s Guide had me a bit emotional because it was the most “normal” the parks felt since reopening.
The Holidays at Disneyland include all of our favorite merry-time offerings. With one exception… “it’s a small world holiday” is currently not available. We will cover that in the Ride Closures section.
New in 2021 – Disney Merriest Nites
New in 2021 is Disney Merriest Nites, which has sold-out. This after-hours event was fun, but I hope we see improvements if it returns in 2022.
Our favorite characters also have new outfits in 2021. I love that they have been given a fashion update. If you are a fan of the traditional holiday outfits, they are still wearing those in A Christmas Fantasy Parade.
Disneyland Park Hours in December 2021
Through all of December, park hours are at their longest, with a few nights where Disneyland Park will close early.
On New Year’s Eve both parks will remain open past the stroke of midnight to ring in the new year.
|DISNEYLAND PARK||8:00 AM||12:00 PM*||2:00 AM|
|CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE||8:00 AM||10:00 PM||1:00 AM|
|DOWNTOWN DISNEY||8:00 AM||1:00 AM||1:00 AM|
Rides Closed at Disneyland in December
Unfortunately, there will be some rides and attractions closed at Disneyland in December. World of Color and Fantasmic still have not returned to the Disneyland Resort. In addition to these shows, the following ride closures are listed for December.
- Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is closed through the end of the year
- Tarzan’s Treehouse is closed through the end of the year
- “it’s a small world holiday” is closed at this time, reopening date unknown though it only shows closed through December 4th at this time
“it’s a small world holiday”
Unfortunately, when they went to refill the moat for “it’s a small world” holiday, there was some flooding that damaged the ride. They were not able to open the ride on November 11, 2021 as planned.
While the ride only shows as closed through December 4, 2021 online, there is no exact reopening date set, and we expect to see this updated as Disney learns more about the expected timeline.
Even though the ride itself is closed, the lights and projections are still displayed. You can catch the “it’s a small world holiday” lighting each evening.
What To Look Forward to in December 2021 at Disneyland
There is a lot to look forward to at Disneyland in December 2021. If you have a trip on the books, here are just a few things to look forward to.
The Candlelight Processional takes place December 4 and 5, 2021 on Main Street USA, in Town Square. There are two performances each day. The first is at 5:30 pm and the second at 7:45 pm.
If you are hoping to view the procession, you will need to stake out a spot hours in advance, and even then, viewing is limited. Reserved seats are for invited guests, VIPs and some lucky Club 33 members. Not for general park guests.
You may have an easier time sneaking in between the 2 performances and grabbing a seat.
Or, as one member of my Disneyland with Kids Facebook group mentioned doing, enjoying a seat at Jolly Holiday, watching the procession down Main Street, and listening in on the event, without a view.
Holiday entertainment, lighting ceremonies, and more are plentiful during December at Disneyland. Here is a brief overview of what you will be able to enjoy. Be sure to check the Disneyland App for times on the day of your visit.
- A Christmas Fantasy Parade – A Disneyland tradition, this parade happens twice daily. In general, the times are usually 3:00 and 5:30, but there are a few exceptions. Check your Disneyland App for your dates
- “Believe… In Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular – During the holidays, this firework show filled with music, projections, and even snow happens nightly. You can view the fireworks from Main Street USA or near “it’s a small world holiday” to get all of the projections and snow
- Winter Time Enchantment at Sleeping Beauty’s Wintertime Castle – There are 2 lighting times each day, but the times vary from day to day. The show is about 5 minutes long and includes snow on Main Street
- The Dickens Yuletide Band – These guys are fun. I was able to see them on my mid-November trip
- Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party – This is my favorite offering during the day. A must do celebrating the holiday traditions and festivities of Mexico and Brazil. The show takes place several times through out the day
- Various bands and performances at Festival of Holidays – Includes Mostly Kosher, Mariachi Divas, Blue13 Dance Company, Phat Cat Swingers, The Mistletoes!, The Suffragettes
- Buena Vista Street Holiday Tree Lighting
- Holiday Toy Drummers – This is a super cute show, that takes place where Paradise Garden Park, Pacific Wharf, and Pixar Pier come together.
- Mickey’s Happy Holidays – A holiday character calvacade
Foodies will love the Holidays at Disneyland! Between Festival of Holidays and other specialty items, you can eat and eat. Good thing calories don’t count at Disney!
The Festival of Holidays features tasty offering from around the world celebrating different holidays. Be sure to check out the full Festival of Holidays Foodie Guide before you go.
Even if the Festival of Holidays isn’t your style, you will surely find a treat or seasonal offering somewhere in the park that you will want to try.
From Mickey Gingerbread, to specialty churros, to meals offered only during the holidays, there is something for everyone.
Disneyland Candy Cane Dates and Locations
While I won’t go into detail on how to get these treats, here is a list of the dates and locations you can hopefully snag one of the famous Candy Canes.
Disneyland Park – Candy Palace will have Candy Canes on December 7, 9, 15, 21, and 23, 2021
California Adventure Park – Trolley Treats will have Candy Canes on December 9, 14, 16, and 22, 2021.
Disney Genie Being Released?
We expect Disney Genie will be released at Disneyland soon. In fact, knowing my luck, I will publish this article and we will get an announcement within a day or two.
Disney Genie is the long-anticipated park touring guide through the Disneyland App. Its upgrade – Disney Genie+ is a replacement for MaxPass, which was discontinued when Disneyland reopened.
If Disney Genie is released during the month of December, I hope it is before the holiday break, and I will hopefully be able to make a trip down to test it out for you.
Disneyland in December – Travel Deals
If you are planning a trip to Disneyland in December, hopefully you have already purchased your tickets and made reservations. The reservation calendar is booked up… UNLESS you choose to stay at a Disney-owned property.
You can book, and stay at one of the three Disneyland Resort hotels, and get a separate reservation calendar.
The good news is, my partners at Get Away Today can book the Disney hotels for you, and package them with discounted tickets. Use code CrazyAdventure on stays of 2 nights or more to get additional savings.
Savings for December 2022 and 2023
If you are planning ahead to Disneyland for December 2022 and 2023, you can purchase tickets now through Get Away Today, and even use their layaway plan, to lock in the current pricing. And the good news is, if a better deal comes out later, they will price match! Tickets purchased now are good through December 2023.
Book your Disneyland vacation today and give the gift of Disney!
Current Disneyland Ticket Prices October 2022
Below are the current Disneyland ticket prices as of October 11, 2022. I have added a comparison chart of Disneyland prices and Get Away Today’s prices. (Click on the Get Away Today Price to purchase tickets!)
Insider Tip: If you find a lower price for the same ticket, Get Away Today will price match!
|Get Away |
|1-Day Tier 0 Ticket 1 Park||$104||$98|
|1-Day Tier 0 Ticket Parkhopper||$169||$163|
|1-Day Tier 1 Ticket 1 Park||$114||$108||N/A||N/A|
|1-Day Tier 1 Ticket Parkhopper||$179||$173||N/A||N/A|
|1-Day Tier 2 Ticket 1 Park||$129||$122||N/A||N/A|
|1-Day Tier 2 Ticket Parkhopper||$194||$187||N/A||N/A|
|1-Day Tier 3 Ticket 1 Park||$144||$136||N/A||N/A|
|1-Day Tier 3 Ticket Parkhopper||$209||$201||N/A||N/A|
|1-Day Tier 4 Ticket 1 Park||$159||$150||N/A||N/A|
|1-Day Tier 4 Ticket Parkhopper||$224||$215||N/A||N/A|
|1-Day Tier 5 Ticket 1 Park||$169||$159||N/A||N/A|
|1-Day Tier 5 Ticket Parkhopper||$234||$224||N/A||N/A|
|1-Day Tier 6 Ticket 1 Park||$179||$169||N/A||N/A|
|1-Day Tier 6 Ticket Parkhopper||$244||$234||N/A||N/A|
|2-Day 1 Park Per Day Ticket||$285||$270||$253||$238|
|2-Day Parkhopper Ticket||$345||$330||$313||$298|
|3-Day 1 Park Per Day Ticket||$360||$340||$325||$305|
|3-Day Parkhopper Ticket||$420||$400||$385||$365|
|4-Day 1 Park Per Day Ticket||$395||$370||$355||$335|
|4-Day Parkhopper Ticket||$455||$430||$415||$395|
|5-Day 1 Park Per Day Ticket||$415||$390||$360||$340|
|5-Day Parkhopper Ticket||$475||$450||$420||$400|