Ultimate 2015 Disneyland Christmas Guide

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Disneyland Resort’s Christmas season runs mid-November 2015 through early-January 2016 with tons of holiday entertainment, decorations, and attractions. Is there anything better than experiencing Disneyland and Disney California Adventure during the holiday season? Perhaps only experiencing Walt Disney World, which, with its four parks and myriad of resort hotels, has a bit of an unfair advantage over the more compact Disneyland Resort. Pound for pound, though, Disneyland Resort arguably has the better Christmas offerings, although it’s unclear what Christmas entertainment might be cut for 2015 due to the new parade, fireworks, and World of Color that are debuting for Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary. If the 60th shows are popular enough with guests, Disney may run them instead of Christmas entertainment, but this remains to be seen and we won’t know until word leaks out or Disneyland makes an official announcement.

This “Ultimate Guide” will give you tips about visiting Disneyland at Christmas, including Jingle Cruise, World of Color – Winter Dreams, Haunted Mansion Holiday, ‘it’s a small world’ holiday, the Believe… In Holiday Magic fireworks, A Christmas Fantasy parade, Candlelight Processional, The Holiday Time at Disneyland Tour, Disney California Adventure’s decorations and offerings, and everything else Disneyland has to offer at Christmas! Along the way we’ll offer some of our tips and tricks for best-experiencing the Disneyland Resort at Christmas-time, and we hope this thorough guide will prove helpful for everyone from first-time guests to yearly visitors.

This isn’t merely the Disney-marketing copy you’ll find on every other site offering the same generic information about Christmas at Disneyland with “helpful” tips such as making such to check out Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle. Of course you will check it out…any idiot who strolls into the park is sure to check it out by virtue of strolling into he park. Instead, we’ll try to offer things that are less intuitive or well known. Unfortunately, we haven’t visited Disneyland Resort at Christmas since Cars Land or Buena Vista Street opened, so we don’t have photos of its decorations, but we’re heading back for Christmas this year, so we’ll update the guide once we have photos of everything new!

Unlike a Christmas overlay to Captain EO (fortunately, there isn’t one!), this guide will be sure to make your holidays at Disneyland better!

When To Visit



If you’ve read our When to Visit Disneyland or Disneyland Trip Planning Guide posts, you may know that the holidays at Disneyland are a veritable “Tale of Two Seasons” when it comes to crowds. There are times when crowds are relatively low, and times when the parks are so slammed that you’ll think it’s spring break all over again! (more…)

Ultimate 2015 Disney World Christmas Guide

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Christmas and the holiday season at Walt Disney World is a very special time of year. This 2015 Ultimate Guide will give you tips about Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Candlelight Processional, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, and everything else Walt Disney World has to offer at Christmas. Note that full details about the 2015 Christmas season at Walt Disney World have yet to be released, but we will update this guide further once announcements are made, so make sure to check back!

We’ll include some of our tips and tricks for best-experiencing the Walt Disney World at Christmas-time, and we hope this thorough guide will prove helpful for everyone from first-time guests to yearly visitors. This isn’t merely the Disney-marketing copy you’ll find on every other site offering the same generic information about Christmas at Walt Disney World. Much like Captain EO, these tips are here to change the world. Or, at least, the way you experience the World at Christmas!

When To Visit



If you’re visiting Walt Disney World at “Christmas,” the first thing you’ll need to figure out is when you want to visit. There are quotes (they would be air quotes, but science has yet to invent a way to type those) around Christmas back there because the holiday season at Walt Disney World, much like the holiday season at your local mall, actually begins in early November and doesn’t conclude until after Christmas, in January.

Veterans know that the week leading up to Christmas and the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve are terrible times to travel if you dislike crowds. The idea that anyone should avoid these times at all costs, however, is actually a misconception that has been perpetuated for years and has just become repeated so often that it’s accepted. Both of these weeks can be great times to go, but only if they closely match your personality and touring style. If you don’t like being in dense crowds, these times of year are probably out. If you can’t get up really early and take a long midday break, these times of year are also probably out.

No matter when you go, you will also want to remember to pack for the season. Check out our Winter Packing Tips for Disney post for more insight on what to take on your trip. Just because it’s Florida doesn’t mean it won’t be cold!

Now, let’s take a look at all of the Christmas offerings at Walt Disney World for the 2015 season, plus how and when to best see it all… (more…)

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2015 Tips

Walt Disney World ResortMagic KingdomMickey's Very Merry Christmas PartyFireworks at the conclusion of the Celebrate the Season stage show during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party! For more Disney Christmas content, check out: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/tag/christmas/

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a special hard ticket event held in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. For 2015, the party will be held on select nights in November and December on the following dates: November 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 29 and December 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 18. After December 18, the party entertainment will be available to all day guests (and included in theme park admission), but waiting until Christmas week also means going during the busiest time of the year, and when rooms and dining are most expensive.

Last year, Frozen-mania spread to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Not only was there the new stage show, but the Frozen characters were also in the parade at the Christmas Party, too. There was also the ‘A Frozen Holiday Wish’ Cinderella Castle lighting show. With the Frozen Fever now out and rekindling some interest in Frozen, we expect plenty more Frozen this year, possibly more than last year as Disney tries to promote the short or tie in elements with it.

Beyond that, the characters at the dance parties in Frontierland and Tomorrowland have changed, as have a couple of meet and greets. The big news in terms of meet & greets this year is that Jack Skellington appears as Sandy Claws! There’s also a rumor that Olaf from Frozen will be meeting guests for the first time at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but he was not meeting the general public at the first party. We will keep you posted if this changes.

This post covers our Christmas Party tips based upon our experiences attending the party for the last six years. The Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2015 schedule is now set, with parties starting in early November and continuing through December! Ticket prices will vary for 2015 based upon whether you purchase in advance or on the day of, are a child or adult, and whether you have an Annual Pass, Disney Vacation Club membership, or some other affiliation that entitles you to a discount. In any case, the event is not cheap, starting at $62 for children with advance purchase on select nights and exceeding $70 for adults on the “Premium” night! To purchase tickets (which are now on sale for 2015), visit Disney’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party page. If you’re looking for more info and tips about what happens during the holiday season, read our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Walt Disney World.

That said, if you’re visiting Walt Disney World in November or December, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is an absolute must-do! But more on that later. First, let’s provide an overview of the events to those who haven’t been.

Overview



Here are the things that Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party includes, that are unique to the parties (at least for November 7th through December 19th):

  • Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade (view our parade photos)
  • A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show
  • Celebrate The Season Stage Show
  • Character Dance Parties (usually in the Golden Horseshoe and Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe)
  • Holiday Wishes Fireworks
  • Disney character Meet and Greets with characters dressed in their holiday attire
  • Complimentary cookies and hot cocoa
  • Snow on Main Street

It’s worth noting that after December 18, 2015, for the remainder of the holiday season, the standard daytime parade in the Magic Kingdom becomes Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, and the Holiday Wishes fireworks are shown nightly. This entertainment is arguably 75% of the draw for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but in exchange for not having to pay extra to see these things, you will face some of the worst crowds of the year after December 18th. If you want the best of both worlds, there are some other tricks you can use to avoid crowds during Christmas and New Year’s Eve weeks. So obviously there’s a trade-off!

Now that we’ve set forth what entertainment you can expect at the parties, let’s give you some more details, tips, and our review of whether Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is worth the money… (more…)

Scenes from Disney Parks: Reflections of Christmas

Merry Christmas Eve! Hopefully you’re done with the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, present wrapping, making cookies, and are snuggled up at home by the fire watching The Muppet Christmas Carol. My plan for a quiet Christmas Eve calls for a traditional viewing of that (plus A Muppet Family Christmas, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, The Bishop’s Wife, Christmas Vacation, Elf, and It’s a Wonderful Life, for all of you keeping score at home…), but first I wanted to share a quick post with you. Last Christmas Eve, I shared a post about Country Bear Christmas, something with a lot of personal meaning to me. I thought I’d continue the tradition this year with something else I love: rain.

I’ve spent a decent part of the last month or so in the pouring rain, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Really. When it starts raining in the Disney Parks, other guests start heading towards the exits, leaving those who are willing to “brave” the precipitation the parks at their prettiest (save for perhaps when the parks are snow-covered, which I have yet to see) and least crowded. This is especially true at Christmas-time, when the reflections of the lights form long streaks of light on the ground.

If you only focus on the soggy feet or soaked shirt, it probably doesn’t seem worth it to stick around once the rain starts falling. However, if instead of heading for the exits, you take a moment to pause and soak up not just the rain drops but the serene scenes of the park, you’ll notice there’s beauty all around you. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound like a ton of fun to get soaked in a Disney theme park, but trust me: it’s worth it for the beauty…or for the shorter lines, in the event that you don’t care about the “extra” beauty and would rather just enjoy the beauty when it’s nice out!

You can click on each photo to view it larger (and with high resolution) in my gallery and to see the camera settings I used. All photos in this post were captured with my Nikon D750 DSLR and Nikon D810 DSLR.

Hope you enjoy the photos. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your families! (more…)

Scenes from Disney Parks: Christmas in the Kingdom

Here’s another collection of Disney photos, this time featuring Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom at Christmas, including Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party photos. I said this set of photos was coming back in the last “Scenes from Disney Parks” in early November, but I guess I forgot. Christmas is always a “last minute” time of year for me, so I’ll be sharing a few sets of last minute Christmas photos between now and Christmas.

Christmas is my favorite time for photography in Walt Disney World. From the vibrant decorations to the starbursts on the Christmas lights to wonderful bokeh, the decorations offer new avenues for creative photos. All the lights and different things going on can make for challenging photography (see my Christmas Photography Tips post if you need some pointers), but it’s a fun challenge, and there are a lot of different ways to approach photographing the Christmas offerings in Walt Disney World.

Besides the obvious Christmas theme of these photos, I’ve tried to focus these photos on how perspective dramatically impacts a photos. Whether it’s a change in location, angle, or even lenses, I think a big part of what separates an ordinary photo from a good one is the conscious choice of a better (or just different) perspective by the photographer. Standing in the middle of Main Street and taking a normal ‘field of view’ shot is the obvious choice–it’s what virtually everyone does and how the park was constructed to be viewed (almost as a frame from a movie). With so many photos taken of Walt Disney World, it’s tough to take a photo that’s totally “fresh”, but thinking about perspective is a good first step to unique shots.

For the photos here, after each photo I’ll share some thoughts on perspective or whatever else, and technical details like which lens I used for the photo. All photos in this post were captured with my Nikon D750 DSLR and Nikon D600 DSLR. You can click on each photo to view it larger in my gallery and to see EXIF data on it. Hopefully other photographers find this useful.

If you’re a casual reader not interested in photo jargon, hopefully you still enjoy this new set of photos from Walt Disney World! (more…)